By Jessica Brodie
Emotions are running high across the annual conference these days as God’s people wrestle with decisions and how best to serve the Lord during a time of deep uncertainty. What’s happening to The United Methodist Church? What will happen to my local church?
After years of change because of a pandemic, not to mention issues of racial disparity, economic hardship and so much more, having to address basic decisions such as which denomination a church should (or shouldn’t) belong to can be exhausting and polarizing.
Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ have been going through the difficult task of understanding God’s will as their churches engage in the Local Church Discernment Process (see article, Page 1). Other churches are not going through this process, but are troubled nonetheless by theological questions, financial concerns and a general feeling of doom and gloom.
The other day, I was at a doctor’s office for a checkup when the technician and I started to chat about faith. When I mentioned I was United Methodist, she winced.
“Oh, y’all are going through a time of it, aren’t you?” She shook her head, referring, of course, to the headlines blanketing most cities in America about the ongoing schism in the UMC over issues of sexuality and more.
She’s right—it’s a tough time for us in the church. But hasn’t it always been? We are “children of the light” (John 12:26), tasked to share the Gospel in a broken, dark world filled with division.
As we all engage in this difficult work, let’s remember one thing we can do in the midst of it: We can represent that light well. We can step up as loving, kind, compassionate followers of Jesus and seek conversation and humanity even with those we disagree with. We can honor our role as “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20) whether we’re speaking with a stranger at a doctor’s office or engaging on social media with people on the opposite side of the political spectrum.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Let’s be good representatives of our faith in spite of what our denomination is going through. Remember: The world is watching.