In our current struggles as United Methodists over differing views, particularly on those related to same sex marriage and the acceptance of LGBTQ persons in the full life of the Church, I have heard numerous predictions that we will split as a denomination. I’ve heard others suggest that a split might be the best thing. Or, similarly, if my side (pick yours) does not get its way, we should split because we do not want the other side to have the choice to disagree with us.
The drum beat that a split is the only fix or the only real answer, as the UMC has struggled with these issues all these many years, can be compelling for many. Lets face it, isn’t it much easier and much less difficult to relate to people who think like we do? Wouldn’t it seem easier if “progressives” and “conservatives” did their own thing?
I’ve prayed about what I love about United Methodism, what called me to be in fellowship with my UMC sisters and brothers and what makes me still want to be a United Methodist. It is our connectionalism matched with a wide and generous diversity the is compelling and life giving. I’ve joked that “where there are two Methodists there are at least three opinions!” But that is what I love about our Church.
John Wesley said it best when he said, “Though we can’t think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.”
While some United Methodists see a split as the only option, I see the opportunity to find a new diverse way more compelling, more exciting, and more of what I would like to see the Church in the world to be about. We have hundreds of little splinter denomination in the US. If the UMC splits we only give further evidence of the lack of unity and diversity in the body of Christ.
While it may not seem likely, or even humanly possible, I want to see our Church hold together empowered by the Holy Spirit in the United Methodist faith we all love.
I also do not want us to become what United Methodists decry in other denominations. I do not want to see one side in our divisions force (or continue to force) their will on the other side. While those of you who know me know that my understanding of the gospel is quite progressive, a progressive/liberal Methodist denomination that does not allow for differences wouldn’t be much better in my mind than a doctrinaire conservative Methodist denomination. If diversity dies, the heart of Methodism dies with it!
In pursuit of the aim of keeping our great connection together, I’d like you to prayerfully check out the Uniting Methodist Movement. What I see this group of committed United Methodists doing is working for the diversity AND the unity that I long for in the UMC.
Many would say it would take a miracle to keep the United Methodist Church together. I am praying for that miracle!
You can find the website of the Uniting Methodist Movement here. I hope you will consider that God may want to perform a miracle, that God may want to keep the body of Christ found in the UMC together in ministry!