Holy Conversation

April 1st, 2016


As United Methodists, what do you view as distinctive about our Christian identity and character? At our best, what do we offer the wider community that is important to sustain?

Wesley called Christian perfection the “grand depositum, which God has lodged with the people called Methodists.” This understanding of the way we are formed into people who love God and love others continues to be Methodism’s great gift to the whole church. 
James A. Harnish
Author of
A Disciple’s Heart 

A beautiful, widely deployed base of leadership (both clergy and laity) with strong theological education places us in position to engage the massively changing world with the wisdom of scripture, the legacy of tradition, and the grace of reason and experience. We are United Methodist for such a time as this.
Scott Hagan
Pastor of Bonaire UMC in Bonaire, GA

One UM distinctive: our Wesleyan theology of grace. By holding together our accountability/responsibility to God and our need for God’s help to be accountable, it helps us avoid both double predestination and universalism. It also emphasizes that God’s grace (the power of the Holy Spirit) not only accepts and forgives us but transforms us into Christ’s likeness.
John Breon
Pastor of First UMC in Durant-Caddo, OK


I have found The United Methodist Church to be an inclusive denomination that embraces both a personal and social gospel message that calls for a clear personal acceptance of God’s grace and a commitment to sharing God’s love in every possible way as we reach out to a hurting world. Although our ability to agree to disagree on thorny issues puts our connection to a test, we have maintained our unity.
J. Fay Cleveland
Retired elder in the Upper New York Annual Conference


John Wesley wrote that Christian perfection “is the essential heart of Methodism and the chief thing for which it stands.” This doctrine is the “grand depositum, which God has lodged with the people called Methodist; and for the sake of propagating this chiefly He appeared to have raised us up.”
Nickolas Campbell
Pastor of Nelson Memorial UMC in Boonville, MO


The most distinctive character of our church according to friends and family is that we allow clergy and lay folks to dialogue. My own opinion is that we sustain what we teach by having adult Bible study in Sunday school. Most important to the younger generation, we are able to have a special service for them with the type of music and reading matter they enjoy while we stay with what we were brought up with.
Emmalou Kirchmeier
Retired chaplain in Bradenton, FL

United Methodist Christian identity and character are distinctive because we’re thought of us as people of faith who can be depended upon for proper response in times of disaster or celebration. Jesus could have been a Methodist.
Eldon Smith
Retired chaplain in Louisville, KY

I give thanks for our bold emphasis on grace for all people. In many communities where I’ve served, we were often the only place of worship offering that kind of understanding and healing. Often we’re the only “open” communion table in town. I’m also grateful that we have open itinerancy, which has empowered women as deacons, elders, and local pastors in ministry. I have witnessed the transformation not only of UM churches but whole communities with the witness of women in leadership and power. In every place I’ve served, community leaders and other faith leaders have always acknowledged the mission and justice commitments of United Methodists, who often lead others to more profound witness and action.
Steven K. Brown
Retired elder in the East Ohio Annual Conference

United Methodism offers a unique combination of joyfulness in grace and concern for making the world a better place, all in the name of Jesus Christ. Something very valuable to the Christian faith would be lost if this stream of it went dry.
David A. Bard
Pastor of First UMC in Duluth, MN

The local UM church, at its best, is a witness to God’s kingdom already initiated by Christ Jesus. It’s a community animated by the Holy Spirit, focused attentively on the living Christ, individually and collectively, and bearing the work of reconciliation in humility and grace to the marginalized.
Ralph W. Howe
Pastor of First UMC in Pittsfield, MA

What I appreciate most about The UMC is the way clergy and laypeople work together, officially and informally, when important decisions about the church are made. It’s cooperative and collaborative leadership (at its best when it’s working the way it’s supposed to), rather than decisions from the top clergy coming down, leaving little room for discussion.
Dorcas Linger Conrad
Elder in the West Virginia Annual Conference

United Methodist local churches are often community-minded congregations. Our church works with community leaders in reaching out to care for others. We are known locally as “the church that helps people.”
Ray Crawford
Pastor of First UMC in Claremore, OK

I dare not speak for the entire denomination, but I believe our desire is to be a healing presence in our community, a place where people who hear the word no repeatedly can come and hear God’s “yes” at last! The Christ has made all people worthy.
Amanda Burr
Pastor of The UMC of Palm Springs in CA

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