By Jessica Brodie
I don’t know about you, but I love my church. I love the music and the warm, welcoming feeling I get when I walk inside. I love that it’s all about God and about serving others in Jesus’s name. I love the small group Bible study I help lead and the countless opportunities my local United Methodist church offers to help me in my faith and discipleship walk.
But there’s one very special thing I love: the connection my local church has to the missions and ministries of The United Methodist Church, a global denomination with 12.5 million brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world. That’s right—I can go to Harare, Zimbabwe, and find a United Methodist Church to attend, or to Manila or London or Frankfurt. I might not speak the language, but I can see the familiar insignia of the United Methodist Cross and Flame, raise my hands to God, and know I’m safe among friends.
I can give funds to the UMC and trust that my dollars are going to help people in my community as well as in far off places, helping to spread the mission of Jesus Christ in cities or villages I might never have the opportunity to set foot.
I can pack a cleaning kit or health kit for the United Methodist Committee on Relief and know it will get to the people who need it the most, whatever the reason.
The concept of the United Methodist “connection” has been central to this denomination from the beginning, stemming from our founder John Wesley and the “connexion” he encouraged to help us stay accountable and in touch. After all, as I’ve heard former Columbia District Superintendent Dr. Tim McClendon say a dozen times, “Together we can do more.” And it’s true! Together as God’s body, we the people of Jesus are a powerful army of the Lord. When we put our hearts and minds and dollars and prayers together in His name, nothing can stop us.
Call me a utopian, but the image of the early church from Acts 2 makes my heart go pitter-patter: “All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone” (44-47).
Or, from Acts 4:32, “The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, ‘This is mine!’ about any of their possessions, but held everything in common.”
Can you imagine? How beautiful!
Earth is most decidedly not heaven, but as followers of Jesus, I think we’re obligated to do our part to be one with other believers, spread the Good News, and make more disciples—to help bring about a semblance of heaven on earth. And my favorite part about the UMC is that, in its structural unity, it strives to be that biblical model of the community of believers, sharing together, eating together, missioning together, all for the good of the Kingdom.
Now it’s your turn. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the UMC (April 23, 1968), we’d love to know your thoughts. What do YOU like best about the UMC?
We welcome all responses. Email your story to the Advocate here (50-500 words) with your name, church name and city, or mail to Advocate, 4908 Colonial Dr., Columbia, SC 29203. Deadlines are the 10th of the month with the exception of the July paper, which has a June 1 deadline because of Annual Conference.
By Jessica Brodie