Thursday, June 20, 2013

Jane Finley - Why I Remain a United Methodist?

Why I remain a UM?
It’s all about reaching the world for Christ!

As the old familiar hymn, “Others” so eloquently expresses:  “Others, yes others! ~ Let this my motto be.  Help me to live for others that I might live like Thee.” I feel strongly that my United Methodist upbringing and heart is a constant reminder to me of my calling to be a lay servant leader and a servant to others.

As I  reflect on the many blessings that we as Methodist bring to the world in outreach of mission and ministry as a denomination that holds churches together through the connection ~ other helping others.  I read with great interest a recent blog by Joshua Harris regarding “humble orthodoxy” and his statement: “Trust in the power of the gospel and the sufficiency of God’s word” as he emphasizes that “truth matters, but so does our attitude.”  If we concentrate on being the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world and we carry out the Great Commission and the United Methodist theme: “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” we are servants in ministry and mission.  We make sweet music to God’s ears and celebrate His greatness as we span the world with love through our attitude of gratitude.  When we are in mission and ministry together with those in need, we receive blessings beyond measure; and it is these blessing that in turn bless others, keeping us humble with a grateful attitude for the opportunity to serve Christ.

As a child in an urban setting, I was raised in the United Methodist Church where I first learned to appreciate our Wesleyan heritage.  The church where my family and I worshiped was located in close proximity with other denominations, but there were no opportunities to serve in an ecumenical event, but Martha Brown UMC did our own thing as did the other churches.  Time has brought significant change to emphasize the “connection” ~ to partner the local church with others in the same geographic area as well as churches around the world.  This is a wonderful example of what we can do together that we cannot do alone as we live out Wesley’s 1739 statement, “the world is my parish”. 

Through the Call to Action and the 16 Drivers for Vital Congregations, we are re-thinking our many ways to be a healthy local church and to welcome the stranger into an encounter with the God of grace and second chances.  As so many people feel unworthy and guilty, they shun the church and getting to know God feeling that they must “earn” salvation.  Again, Wesley’s teaching of grace brings us to the reality that we must share and exemplify.

Our conference has focused on ways to make our best efforts even better.  Having just completed our North Georgia Annual Conference where some 2,000 Methodists gathered to learn about the Bridges to Mission that we have established with Methodists throughout the globe as well as a local mission bridge with Action Ministries that enables any church regardless of size or financial status to be “on a mission bridge.”  This does make the value of “the connection” come alive and provides an avenue for sharing new ideas and meaningful ministry which equals vitality. 

I am excited and humbled by the unlimited witness opportunities to make a difference in the world ~ one life at a time, and one heart and life to know peace that comes only with a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Come Holy Spirit and dwell in every heart with the desire to touch another soul for the Kingdom. That is the United Methodist way, and my conviction as a United Methodist to live that others might see Jesus in me.

Jane is a member of Toccoa First UMC in Toccoa Georgia. She has served in various leadership roles within the conference including conference lay leader and is currently the North Georgia Conference Lay Delegation Head and Director of Leadership UMC.  She has served as a member of the Board of Discipleship.  She and her husband, Roger, have 4 adult children and 8 grandchildren.