UMVIM-SEJ director speaks out on conflict in UMC

As rumors and heated debate continue to circulate about denominational affiliation, the director of one critical regional ministry agency has spoken out, urging people to remember that God brings people of all opinions together for the good of his kingdom.

The Rev. Matt Lacey, executive director of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Southeast Jurisdiction, shared his thoughts on the current conflict in The United Methodist Church in a video available at

UMVIM is the official short-term volunteer sending agency of the UMC. Their work is to equip those in churches to go out into the world to serve with their hands and feet in the name of Jesus.

“I come to you this morning with a heavy heart,” Lacey stated in the video. “During the last several weeks, we have received emails, letters and phone calls about the conflict going on in The United Methodist Church and the potential fragmenting of our denomination. Most of these comments have no basis in reality; they’re simply rumors. Those are easy to ignore.

“But we’ve received hurtful comments from those we know and have been active in our ministry for many years. These are the ones that hurt the most. These are team leaders, team members, donors and other participants who, almost overnight, have dismissed our work in mission simply because there is a ‘United Methodist’ in our name.

“I want to be clear I don’t speak for anybody else except myself and the UMVIM office for the Southeast Jurisdiction. The lies, innuendo, rumors and dog whistles are having a real, negative impact on ministry and will hurt those who are living in the margins of society around the world. I know people are very passionate about these issues; I am myself. But I fear we’ve become so blinded by our passions that many ministries will suffer, ministries that will be judged simply by their name or denominational affiliation instead of being judged on the work they do out in the world to spread God’s love to those in need.

“I hope and still do that mission can be a place where people with differing opinions can come together and bridge the divide, to work together despite differences and to see God moving throughout the world. I’ve seen it myself—mission is that powerful. God is that powerful. But we have to be willing to give each other a chance.

“UMVIM is going to remain open to anyone who wishes to use our resources in the Southeast Jurisdiction. It doesn’t matter if you call yourself United Methodist, Methodist, Wesleyan, Global Methodist or have membership in another denomination. I don’t know what the future holds for this ministry, but I do know that God is not going to stop moving, and we won’t stop doing our best to follow God.

“To those who wish to move on from our ministry, I thank you for your years of service, your support and your prayers and hope you can find another ministry that is an outlet for you to show God’s love. For those who wish to work with us, we welcome you despite where you may find yourself.”

Lacey also invited people to a livestreaming event with a question-answer session that was held in December.

To learn more about UMVIM in the SEJ:

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