Psalm 59:10 says, “My God in his steadfast love will meet me” (NRSV). An anonymous writer had written in the margin of a Bible next to 59:10, their paraphrase of that verse, “My gracious God in his loving kindness shall meet me at every corner.” This old quote has been used by many preachers. The United Methodist Church has been the tent where I have lived my life and turned many corners. And when my church turns a corner, I turn as well. God’s grace has met us in past turns and will meet us now.
I was baptized 67 years ago in the Guntown United Methodist Church, in Guntown, Mississippi, pastored by my late father, Rev. Dr. William P. Bailey, Jr. My grandfather, Rev. William P. Bailey, Sr. initiated me into the faith and the Methodist Church, when he dipped his hand into the baptismal waters. My late mother, Sarah Doris Ford Bailey, spent her early life in the Brownfield United Methodist Church, Brownfield, Mississippi and later residing in many parsonages within our beautiful itinerancy system. I also committed my life to our church and itinerancy, as well as my brother and sister, and now a nephew. My family and I will never leave a church that has never left us. Every corner we have turned has been filled with the presence of God. The church that I know and love, welcomes all of God’s children, without exception. From my grandfather preaching against bigotry in 1950’s Mississippi, to my father’s activity during the fight for civil rights in 1968, to being a leading writer of our Social Principles, to encouraging the appointments of female clergy when he served as a District Superintendent: The United Methodist Church has stood for an unending table where all are welcome, not just the chosen few.
The United Methodist Church is turning a new corner. I will be there and will turn with her, because around the corner is a gracious God who fills the future with his loving, accepting, gracious presence.