We Stick Together

posted on May 01

by Rev. Fred Jordan

This article was first published in the May 2023 issue of the First UMC (Salisbury) newsletter, Ecclesia. It is offered here, as will follow up articles, for the edification of others across the Uwharrie District. Rev. Jordan is a retired Elder, former District Superintendent, and adjunct faculty member at Hood Theological Seminary.

Families stick together, and The United Methodist Church is a living expression of God’s family. We are the body of Christ. We follow Jesus. We look to him for direction in every decision we make. We draw missional strength from his spiritual presence.

We are also lovingly and legally connected to every other United Methodist throughout the world. We are united by our theology and our practice. That historic tie goes all the way back to our founding in 1784 as the Methodist Episcopal Church. The word episcopal is our link to every other Methodist. We derive at least three key benefits from these ties.

First, The United Methodist Church annually provides each local congregation with an unending supply of academically trained and carefully vetted pastors. No church is ever without a pastor and no pastor in good standing is ever denied a place to serve. Independent churches in “called” systems may search months or even years for a new pastor. United Methodists receive a new pastor the same day the previous pastor leaves. If the current pastor becomes ill or temporarily cannot fulfill his or her duties, our denomination immediately supplies a new or interim pastor.

A number of conference agencies work together to make this possible. They include the district committee on ordained ministry, conference board of ordained ministry, bishop, district superintendents, board of pension, ministerial education fund, joint review committee, and medical insurance committee. This does not mean every clergy/church match proves successful. It does mean that if personnel problems occur, there is an orderly way to provide supervision and correction.

Secondly, The United Methodist Church helps each local church fulfill its ministry. It sponsors lay and clergy training events and maintains a free media resource center for local churches. We have a publishing house producing literature suitable for congregational use. We have United Methodist camps for youth and retreat centers for adults. And our denomination provides well qualified consultants to assist local congregations with any church related issue. When you are a United Methodist, you never face life’s challenges alone.

Finally, our denominational ties allow us to be in ministries which no single congregation could attempt on its own. Our annual conference gave birth to three homes for the elderly: Charlotte’s Aldersgate, Asheville’s Givens Estates, and Winston-Salem’s Arbor Acres. Methodists started Pfeiffer University, High Point University, Brevard College, Greensboro College, and Bennett College. We launched a children’s home in Winston-Salem. We send missionaries all over the world. Closer to home, when tornadoes recently hit the deep south and mid-west, the United Methodist Committee on Relief quickly responded. United Methodists are seldom the first agency to arrive on a disaster scene, but we are usually among the last to leave. Working together we accomplish great things with God’s help.

None of this happens without years of preparation. That is our history. Some of these ministries have matured to the point of self-sufficiency. We celebrate their growth and move on to develop new ministries and launch new congregations.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we stick together. We belong to each other. It is what it means to be part of The United Methodist family.