Five decades is always an important milestone, and 2018 marks the Big 5-0 for The United Methodist Church. That’s the reason we’ve compiled a quick list of 50 reasons the world is a better place thanks to the witness and work of the people of the UMC.
There are so many more we could list and you surely have your own reasons. We encourage you to share them using #UMC50.
- John Wesley, who was called to create a movement, that grew into a church. He could’ve been a Jedi, really.
- Susanna Wesley, whose steadfast faith and bold witness inspired her children and made her the true “Mother of Methodism.”
- The 750,000 members of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and 10.3 million members of the Methodist Church who came together in the tumultuous year of 1968 and created a new church.
- More than 300 missionaries who serve across the world.
- So many amazing kids, doing so many acts of kindness for their neighbors.
- Leaders and trailblazers like Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala of Mozambique, who is the first female United Methodist bishop in Africa.
- Young adults sharing their gifts, like blind artist Jeff Hanson who has raised millions for charity.
- Our bishops, past and present. You can get to know more about their personal faith journeys in podcasts, like the one with Bishop Harald Rückert of Germany who had a previous career in food technology.
- The Methodist mother-daughter team who created a holiday for moms.
- Members of the two United Methodist churches that were the first to host Father’s Day celebrations.
- The Philippines, where United Methodists care deeply about climate change and planted more than 3,000 trees on Mindanao.
- Washington, DC, where we have the only non-governmental bldg. on Capitol Hill and it has a green roof!
- Honduras, where the only United Methodist church in Latin America is found.
- Kansas, where a United Methodist Church houses the world’s largest stained glass window.
- Congo, where ministries like the Goma Orphanage offer job skills and education to those struggling after wars.
- China, where United Methodists continue to support Chinese Christians and promote ecumenical dialogue.
- Côte d’Ivoire, where The Voice of Hope radio station transmits to more than 1 million people in 18 languages daily.
- Alaska, where United Methodists preserve Native culture and share God’s message no matter the weather.
- New Jersey, where “God’s Square Mile” can be found on the beach at Ocean Grove.
- Sierra Leone, where the United Methodist University of Sierra Leone opened in Freetown in 2017.
- Charles Wesley, whose hymns were considered as influential in the Methodist movement as his brother John’s sermons.
- Fanny Crosby, a blind, musical visionary who penned “Blessed Assurance” and more than 8,000 songs in her lifetime.
- Choir members the world over, who use their talents to praise God and grow their own faith while inspiring others with their music.
- The Amazing Grace Guitar Ministry in Dallas, that offers young people lessons and rewards them with a guitar as part of a mentorship program.
- The Africa University Choir, who sang for South Carolina United Methodists in the wake of the 2015 shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
- Composer, conductor and teacher Jane Marshall who debuted in a big way with the anthem “My Eternal King.”
- Ukelele choirs like the one from Frisco, Texas with musicians aged 8 to 60, who performed at the 2016 General Conference.
- Betty Trotter, who has played the piano for Spring Creek United Methodist Church in Tennessee for more than 70 years.
- Beyonce, who sang her first solo at her home church, St. John’s UMC in Houston. In 2017, she teamed with her pastor Rudy Rasmus and the congregation to help survivors of Hurricane Harvey.
- The Steel Pan Ministry at Westchester UMC in the Bronx, which combines the influences of many cultures to create a unique orchestra that serves the church and the community.
- To alleviate human suffering and advance hope and healing. Since 1940, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has been providing aid to families like those hurt by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
- To focus on ministries with women, children and youth. 800,00 United Methodist Women work across the globe, including in Liberia where UMW offered meals and lifesaving information during the Ebola outbreak of 2014.
- “To empower the ministry of Jesus Christ through men within the congregations of the UMC.” United Methodist Men offers spiritual resources, like Strength for Service devotionals for the U.S. military.
- To volunteer in relief efforts around the world. Volunteers in Mission do construction, teach, conduct medical clinics, lead Bible study, and more.
- To plant new churches and encourage congregations to “see all the people.” One vibrant example is Embrace Church in northern California, which launched in July 2015.
- To discern God’s call in our lives and use our spiritual gifts.
- To address the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of all. The church’s Abundant Health initiative encourages members to embrace healthy living and hula-hoops.
- To support the rights of workers and fight for a living wage. Learn ways you can support worker justice.
- To remember our role as stewards of God’s earth and care for Creation.
- To recognize the sin of racism and seek racial justice. Learn ways you can take a stand against racism.
- Core spiritual practices, which led to the nicknames for early Methodists.
- Our Wesleyan heritage, which put an emphasis on “practical divinity.”
- A history of disciple-shaping groups, the foundation of the movement.
- The Articles of Religion and other foundational documents.
- Four theological guidelines.
- Sacraments and sacramental acts, which are part of our life’s journey.
- Prayer, which comforts and connects us.
- Our Social Principles and Social Creed, which guide our thinking and acting.
- General Conference, which is the only body that speaks officially for the church.
- Our history, which gives us roots and can inspire us today.
*Fran Coode Walsh is Director, Member Communications at United Methodist Communications. Click here to connect to UMC.org.
Contact her at 615-742-5458.
This story was first published on April 18, 2018.