What does it mean to be United Methodist?
Find out from Dr. Ashley Boggan Dreff, General Secretary of the General Commission on Archives & History, as she shares what United Methodists believe and how we are to live our faith in the world around us.
Our spiritual goal as United Methodists is to embody the love of neighbor in a constant and consistent fashion, but when people look at us, all they see is the love of God shining forth from us. This is our understanding of God's grace working in us.
God loves us and works in us before we even know that God is there. God's grace changes how we understand ourselves as individuals, and as a society. And once we accept the love and grace of God in us, we are so moved that we feel joy, peace, happiness, and a drive to spread that love around us. We must be sacramental agents in the world because we are so moved by the love of God. We must become a means of grace.
Throughout our history, we've lived into Wesley's emphasis on social holiness, both individually and as a denomination.
Methodists built hospitals. They opened the doors of their educational institutions to girls by the 1830s! Early on and still, we've financially supported more Black institutions of education than any other denomination. Our deaconess movement, has consistently been made up of bold women who live into their unique calls to serve those in need around them and across the world in new ways. Together we have sought to provide relief, programming, radical new ministries, and education for all levels of the church. We've lived into our unique form of multi-layered connections in order to better the world in every single way that we can.
We, as United Methodists, have been consistently challenging ourselves to be better, to live better, to love better. And we know when we fail – and historically we have failed to fully live into the equitable love of God.
We've begun to be vulnerable with our past, admit our shortcomings, tell whole stories, and repent for our past social sins of racism, sexism, colonialism, and homophobia - all so that we can be God's grace and love shining in and through the world.
Our faith cannot be truly lived out in an individual setting; we are called to live out our faith by witnessing the love of God amongst others.
The Wesleys were both practical theologians - they did not write new statements of faith, but wrote sermons and hymns to show Christians of their time – and ours - how to embody faith and live it out in the world.
John Wesley didn't only preach in the pulpit on a Sunday, but he left the comfort of the pulpit to preach in fields and coal mines - and even from atop his father's grave. He visited the sick, the poor, and the imprisoned. He dared to let women preach because he recognized the movement of the Spirit in them.
He broke the rules of his institutional church because he recognized that the Spirit of God was moving in new ways and sometimes this required a bit of rule bending.
As a United Methodist, my faith causes me to challenge the norms, to confront and break down systemic injustices, to carry the word of God to those who haven't heard it, to those who've been told by society that they aren't worthy, aren't equal, or aren't loved.
That's what it means to be United Methodist - to recognize, absorb, and live out the love of God in order to tear down barriers of injustice and seek bold ways to change the lives of those around us - this is how we make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world.
This video was published on May 11, 2022.