I’ve been associated with the Methodist Church literally all of my life. Growing up I was in the UMYF and spent lots of time in middle school and high school with friends there. Drifting away in college years, I tried some other places: spent some time at the Baptist Student Union, but never really fit there. Later on, in grad school, I started attending a Unitarian Universalist Church and was pretty active with them even after getting my first job in the “real world.” But I was led back to the United Methodist denomination 20+ years ago, and even through this worked for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, but this “Methodist” thing kept calling me back.
Little did I know that I would finally heed the “call” and begin Lay Speaking, then become a candidate for licensing and then receive an appointment just a few years later! The United Methodist Church has always been there for me and there’s a certain degree of loyalty, but it’s more than that.
Diversity of thought and discussion has been a part of church history from the start. From the early Christian church, through the Reformation, denominational splits, and even within Methodism throughout our history, as we fuss and argue, split, come back together, find common ground and still survive. And I know that this is another part of this whole process. We have disagreements, but at the heart of all of our discussions, the ONE thing that keeps me here and the ONE thing that all should remember is the account from Matthew 22: 36-40 where Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment. He didn’t go into a list about little particulars and things that would be divisive, but he answered simply with what brings us back to the heart of the church: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
It is here in the United Methodist Church that we can still have differences of opinion over methodology and procedures, but at the heart we continue to recognize the ONE thing that keeps us united in Christ: Love.