A Love Letter to United Methodists
I was thinking...
Dear People of The United Methodist Church,
I write this to you out of a nudge of my heart. There are forces that seek the demise and division of our branch of the Christian Church. Some are spreading misinformation filled with half-truths, at best, and outright lies at worst. Some are passionately eager to begin a new branch of Methodism of which I acknowledge as their prerogative. However, some tactics are insulting and off-putting. Therefore, I write this to help us be aware of the realities happening within the North Georgia Conference.
I am proud to be a United Methodist Christian. All my life I have seen the joy of a balance of biblical preaching and teaching alongside social engagement in communities where United Methodist churches are located. We are fully Christian on our way to perfection. We believe in God as creator, sustainer and wise beyond worldly wisdom. We believe in Jesus, born of the virgin Mary, as the Son of God, lived, was crucified, dead and buried. And we believe that on that third day, Jesus arose from the dead (Easter). We believe a post-resurrected Jesus walked the earth for forty days and nights and then ascended into heaven. On the fiftieth day the Holy Spirit descended with a power to invade life’s realities and empower the living with heavenly power.
I am thankful for all the connections that have occurred through the power of Christ through the United Methodist Church. Together we have fed countless numbers of people, been first to arrive to assist during natural disasters, encouraged education of the mind as well as the soul, loved and embraced children around the world, and given our best talents to camp ministries for children through mature adolescence. We are local and we are global. We have agreed to disagree on many issues, which is our challenge as well as our legacy. We are United among diversity.
We are currently 12.5 million lay people across the globe. We are 50,000 plus clergy serving 43,000 places of ministry all over the world. We are in mission to more than 130 countries. We are 550 relief and refugee workers. We are health and welfare ministries serving more than 32 million people in 1,555 locations across the US. We are 52 hospitals and health care systems. We are 95 colleges and universities. We are over $2 billion in charity care annually. (Note that some stats were only available as of 2019.)
But mostly I want to celebrate that being a United Methodist means that no United Methodist Church stands alone. Each UM Church is a part of a larger connection of shared purpose and mission that has been in existence for hundreds of years. This is at the core of who we are as United Methodists. We are a part of something larger than ourselves…together we reach the world to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
I am proud to be United Methodist and wanted you to know why.
The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop