Staying UMC

By Jessica Brodie

As this edition of the Advocate goes to press, I am preparing to head to Charlotte to cover the long-awaited General Conference. I was at the 2012, 2016 and 2019 general conferences, and I’m a little nervous about what to expect this time around. Still, I go excited to watch my denomination come together to do God‘s work and move forward in spite of our many differences.

The United Methodist Church is a denomination I intentionally chose as an adult. I was raised Lutheran, and when I moved to an area that had no Lutheran churches in the vicinity, I went “church shopping” and decided the UMC was the best fit. 

Last year, my United Methodist church disaffiliated from the South Carolina Conference, and while I still love them dearly, I’ve decided over the last year that I need to remain in The United Methodist Church. Recently, we announced the Advocate went through a period of discernment and decided to own its allegiance to the UMC (March Advocate). I went through my own period of discernment personally and did the same. Like all of us, I don’t agree with everything about our denomination. But that’s OK, because the things I do agree with far outweigh anything else. So again, I found myself church shopping, this time seeking the right fit in a UMC. And I’m happy to say we’ve found ourselves at a wonderful place now.

Hindsight is always so clear, and I know we’ve been in a time of transition as a denomination, but it would have been so helpful to have had a list of churches available to me at the outset of my search. I would have loved to know whether a church had decided to stay in the UMC and would welcome me. While I found all churches I visited extremely welcoming, it was still a strange thing to wonder—is this church also going to disaffiliate? Am I going to have to do this again in another year or two? Frankly, I didn’t want that heartbreak again.

That’s why I particularly appreciate the story on Page 1 about Lee Road UMC, Taylors, making the decision to become a lighthouse congregation inspired by the movement in the North Carolina Conference. Lee Road wanted to let people know they welcomed anyone who was seeking a UMC whose church had disaffiliated and themselves had decided they were going to stay UMC

Inspired by this, we’ve decided to collect our own list in the Advocate of any churches who have been through the process of discernment and decided they want to stay UMC, or any churches that have decided not to go through the process at all and plan to stay UMC regardless. 

If your church hasn’t decided yet, it’s OK. Everyone is on their own journey, and it’s really important that we do what God is calling us to do. We all know there will be no denominations of heaven, every question will be answered and all of us will be brothers and sisters together in the kingdom of God in heaven. 

However, if your church has decided, I invite you to let the Advocate know so we can include you on our list of congregations who are staying UMC. Email me at [email protected].

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