An Open Letter From North Georgia United Methodists on the Future Of The United Methodist Church


October 20, 2022

Greetings in the name of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ,

We are lay and clergy leaders from the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church who love the denomination in which we serve. We acknowledge that there is no perfect institution here on earth, but we love the denomination which has called us, nurtured us, brought us into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and brought us into connection with God’s children within North Georgia and around the world.

North Georgia United Methodists have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, and each of us has found the grace of Jesus Christ in United Methodist congregations. We are committed to preaching and teaching the faith that we proclaim weekly in the creeds of the church. We affirm the traditional Methodist view that scripture is the primary source and standard for Christian doctrine. The Bible is primary to our understanding of the Triune God, the world, and ourselves, and it “contains all things necessary for salvation,” as stated in The United Methodist Church’s Articles of Religion. We are committed to John Wesley’s charge to “spread scriptural holiness over the land.” The primacy of scripture, the necessity of our witness for Jesus Christ, and the creeds are doctrines rooted deeply in our worship, our lives, and our Book of Discipline; they are nonnegotiable, and they will not change.

We believe in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We affirm the Wesleyan distinction of a theology that is captivated with the grace of Jesus: prevenient grace, justifying grace, sanctifying grace, and the means of grace. We believe that salvation cannot be earned or rendered by human action. It can be earned neither by being good nor by cutting ourselves off from those we deem bad. Salvation only comes as a gift from God. We believe that God loves the entire world and sent Christ to die for its salvation. We endeavor to be the kind of people that reflect Christ so he can “draw all people unto himself” (John 12:32).

We are Wesleyan evangelicals whose mission is summed up in the mission of The United Methodist Church, as we endeavor “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” We are blessed to see Jesus changing lives weekly in our churches. As a result, we serve churches that are growing and witnessing regular professions of faith, as they also feed the hungry and meet the needs of our neighbors in our local communities.

We serve people who kneel side by side to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, even as they disagree on how best to live according to the example of Christ. These faithful United Methodist Christians have chosen humility and loving service to God and neighbor over any issue that can divide them. We clergy and laity believe that The United Methodist Church is strategically positioned to reach the unchurched and those who do not yet know the love of Jesus Christ.

We know that the Triune God is not finished with The United Methodist Church. The world does not simply need more denominations or church growth strategies. The world needs the message of Jesus Christ and the witness of those willing to follow him. During this time of great division in the world, we are grateful for the continued renewal and rebirth in our denomination. We are praying that the Holy Spirit will continue to move in our time and do what the Spirit has done through the ages: bring us together, as on the day of Pentecost. All of God’s beloved are invited to be a part of this renewal.

We recognize that for the Body of Christ to be whole, those who call themselves conservatives, centrists, progressives, traditionalists, moderates, liberals, and any other distinction must be included. We have welcomed and will continue to welcome any and all.

We commit to the work of revitalization among all United Methodist congregations in the North Georgia Conference. We will continue to plant new United Methodist churches to share the transforming love of Christ. We will help all people to discern God’s call into ministry and equip them to lead in and through United Methodist Churches.

We will continue to offer Christ to our communities. We will continue to love our neighbors, despite our disagreements about politics or scriptural interpretation. We will continue to proclaim and uphold the orthodox faith as contained in our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith. We believe that these foundational Christian truths are a means of uniting us as one in Christ.

We will continue to celebrate the diversity in our 12-million-member church, active in more than 100 countries, as we grow in faith alongside United Methodists from all over the world. That diversity means that United Methodism is expressed differently in different contexts, from Freetown to Fresno, Quezon City to Copenhagen, North Germany to North Georgia. This diversity is not always easy to maintain, but it is a hallmark of The United Methodist Church, and it is key to our lived expression of God’s love.

We in The United Methodist Church are committed to loving God and neighbor, next door and across the world. We invite you to join in the exciting United Methodist movement in North Georgia, as we joyfully recommit to be faithful United Methodist Christians, sustained by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.