Why I will stay United Methodist:
What a bizarre question to consider: will I remain United Methodist?
My family for generations were members of Indian Mound Episcopal Church South which then became The Methodist Church in 1939. In 1968 the church became The United Methodist and I have remained United Methodist to the present and will remain so until my call to glory.
I relate this part of my ecclesial origins in order to state at the onset that I am United Methodist now and will remain so because ordinary, loving, and faithful people at Indian Mound United Methodist Church made me United Methodist.
No! I didn’t choose to become United Methodist any more than I chose to become John Wesley Vaughan. Would I be more capable to answer the above question if I were able to tell you that I became a United Methodist only after years of tortured reflection, hours spent in anguished prayer, and deep study? I can’t. I am United Methodist because I was put here by generations of Vaughan’s and nurtured by countless loyal and loving folk at Indian Mound United Methodist Church.
Many folks strive to live life and claim to be self-made individuals, folks who are who they are based on decisions they have made in life. I would argue, however, that religion is never really yours unless you somehow found it on your own without any assistance from others.
In no way did I choose many of the very important aspects of my life. I didn’t choose my looks, my name, my family, nor my tradition – these came through the choosing of others. So, this means that many of the really important things in my life have come as gifts. Another very important word for gift is “grace.” For me this means that as United Methodist we are who we are because of grace rather than through our individualistic achievement or choice.
So, if I consider myself a believer today, if I answer to the name of Christian, it is mainly because folks like Elizabeth Grasty, Una Vaughan, Jewell Vaughan, Ora Moore, A.C. Moore, and the rest of the dedicated folk at Indian Mound United Methodist Church who told me their story and lived the Gospel before me in a place called Indian Mound United Methodist Church in a way that made me know that this was my story, my name, my salvation.
Why will I remain United Methodist? I will remain United Methodist because of a gift, because of grace!
For me, grace means I have been given gifts, and gifts received means indebtedness. I am thus indebted to people whose names I struggle to remember, in a little community in Stewart County, Tennessee, and those faithful who have listened throughout the years as I tried to share grace with them in congregations to which I have been appointed. For you see, it’s all about grace, amazing grace!