Still loving my United Methodist Church

May 15th, 2016

As a lifelong United Methodist, I’m watching the events of our quadrennial, worldwide General Conference 2016 meetings in Portland with interest and anticipation. It’s painful to see all the disagreement and wounding around issues of what truth is and what love looks like. What is our way forward? What does “unity” mean in this confusing and contentious climate? There aren’t easy answers. If the answers were easy, we’d have found them by now.

Personally, these struggles in my church bring up profound reflections about the tradition I love as deeply as my most intimate personal relationships. Into this church tradition, I was baptized as a baby, confirmed as a teen and eventually ordained as an elder to serve in leadership — to help order the life of the church that loved and nurtured me in my faith.

 In the United Methodist Church, I came to saving faith in Jesus Christ. There, I learned the truth of Scripture and the beauty of our Methodist heritage. I experienced the sustenance of true community and transforming connection. Spiritual mothers and fathers mentored, modeled and shaped my faith— and were the conduits of God’s all-consuming grace and presence in my life.

I’ve never known another faith tradition. I am a United Methodist from cradle to grave (at least that’s the hopeful trajectory). My heart feels heavy and sad to see the church I love in such turmoil.

This particular verse of the hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation” keeps running through my mind:

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

I wish I had simple answers for the complex trials that face my beloved church or knew the best way forward in the midst of distress … but I don’t. All I know to do right now is to wrestle in prayer, to diligently seek Christ, and to listen intentionally for the voice of God.

The United Methodist Church will always hold an unparalleled place in my heart. My relationship with the UMC is a lifelong love story and always will be. I know I’m not alone in that love. Whatever “side” my various colleagues and I may find ourselves on, we are united in the love we have for our church — the love we have for our spiritual home.

That’s what makes this all so painful. If it weren’t for the depth of love involved, it wouldn’t be so difficult. Love stories are never easy, as Shakespeare so wisely reminds us: “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

Tina Fox blogs at

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