As we prepare for Thanksgiving, members of the Mainstream UMC Board invite you to give a gift of Gratitude for our work on behalf of our United Methodist Church. Today’s message is from Jay Brim.
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The United Methodist Church descends from the first new, Christian denomination established on the North American continent, as a direct result of the Revolutionary War. Mr. John Wesley encouraged the growth and spread of Methodist societies across the colonies in the mid-1700’s. At the conclusion of the successful war for independence waged by the colonists, Mr. Wesley ordained elders to lead those societies in becoming true churches, offering the sacraments to the citizenry of the United States of America.
The zeal of those elders and those they in turn ordained, as well as of the lay preachers they mentored and instructed, made the Methodist Episcopal Church the foremost spiritual organization on the North American continent. In 1850, census takers found that 1 in 3 of those responding identified themselves as Methodist, an almost unbelievable diffusion of faith given the many differences to be found among Americans.
It was this deep set of roots in the American Revolution that led the church to adopt the structure it did, reflecting the checks and balances in the new American Constitution. Mr. Wesley believed holy conferencing is a means of grace, similar to Bible study and worship. He believed holy conferencing is the best model to build understanding and consensus as exemplified in the Christmas Conference of 1784.
American Methodism used the annual conference as its basic structure, the General Conference as its leading body, and as it grew, a Council of Bishops to hone the principles by which it would bring social holiness to the land. Though it took until 1939 for the denomination to establish the third leg of separated powers in the founding of the Judicial Council to decide appeals, the United Methodist Church today reflects in its own way the historical forms of American republican democracy in its governance.
We still believe in the Biblical example of the elders gathered in the Upper Room to hear Paul and Barnabas explain why Gentile converts need not adhere to every tenet of Jewish tradition. It is this combination of old and new values that has made the United Methodist Church one of the most vital Christian denominations in the world today, and for the future before us.
Mainstream UMC is committed to holy conferencing at General Conference. Unfortunately, there are many individuals coming to this conference who are not interested in growing our church, but further dividing it. We cannot be complacent in the face of this coming disruption. Please support our work to build consensus with those who wish to remain United Methodist as we look forward to our next 240 years!
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Lay Delegate, Rio Texas Conference
Board Member, Mainstream UMC
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