Monday, April 30, 2012

What does God require of UMC?

by Young Dong (Steve) Kim

In the morning April 25, I listened to amazing addresses by clergy, laity, and young adults. Hearing an episcopal address, when bishop Peter Weaver mentioned the first Discipline of Methodist Episcopal Church 1912, I was surprised to see the size of the book because the current Book of Discipline of 2008 seemed extremely huge. I thought to myself, perhaps an enlargement of the size of the book depicts the development of the UMC. However, I questioned myself if such enlargement of the Book of Discipline does reflect any improvements of the UMC; I questioned this because of two reasons: on the one hand, how can one explain a declining membership of the UMC in U.S if UMC is in its advanced form as the large volume of the Book of Discipline suggests? On the other hand, if UMC claims to be the Global Church, how can one explain a vast amount of rules and regulations that focuses the U.S?

"If it's to be, it's up to me." This powerful statement was spoken by one of the three lay speakers who were very passionate and faithful United Methodists. One of the three speakers also delivered a strong message of change, "Unless we don’t change, the world will not change." Here, I asked myself, ‘What can UMC do to change the world?’ I stepped back and thought about an inception of UMC. In 1968, the Methodist and the Evangelical United Brethren came together to form the United Methodist Church. And since then, the UMC played a major role in five cultural currents: the current of liberation, inclusion, autonomy, participation, and globalization (Yrigoyen et al, 10-13). I have realized that these five currents are still at work in the General Conference 2012. Here, I personally think that UMC is still struggling in some of these cultural currents; for example, an issue of homosexuality in ordination, marriage, status, etc within UMC disrupts the current of liberation, inclusion, and participation. Furthermore, it seems that UMC disturbs the current of globalization because its polity does not reflect churches outside of the U.S.

"We are changed! Rooted! and United!" Two young adult speakers spoke boldly and passionately about the significance of young adult leadership in UMC. When one of the young speakers spoke, "Life is not about what you want to be, but about what others want of you," strongly encouraged/challenged me "to do justice, to do kindness, to do God’s work," for others in response to what Jesus said, "love your neighbors!" Does UMC truly love our neighbors? Does UMC being in the cloud of witnesses? I prayed with hope that UMC does.


Young Dong (Steve) Kim, 2nd year at Drew Theological School and an intern at United Methodist Campus Ministry at Drew University called, Drew On Fire.

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