Bishop James Dorff - Why I'm a United Methodist Today

I am a United Methodist today for two reasons.  I can explain one in fairly short order.  The other takes a bit more unpacking.

            First, I am a United Methodist today because I've been one all my life, and I am not about to change now.  I was born into a parsonage family; graduated from high school; attended a United Methodist university; then to a United Methodist seminary; then on to my first full-time appointment.  I've been at work ever since. I was born a Methodist.  I will die a United Methodist. Simplistic and shallow?  Perhaps, but true.

            Second, I am a United Methodist today because I observe and experience the presence and working of the Holy Spirit among us.  Not everywhere, not all the time, but often and unmistakably.  In my current corner of the church, I see committed faithful persons—lay and clergy—engaged in life-changing ministries.  Their lives are being changed and the lives of those they encounter are being changed.

            Sacrificial leadership is being offered at every level of the church. Not by everyone, not all the time, not perfectly, but faithfully.  I am continually humbled and awed to witness it and experience it.  The risen Christ is among us.

            Believe it or not, there are United Methodists all over the connection that are urgently seeking the will of the Spirit and are anxiously, expectantly, and courageously following after it. There are some individuals, churches, and institutions near literal and/or spiritual death.  But many of those folks— churches and institutions—are earnestly seeking new life, while at the same time being willing to accept death as a part of life.  I have even seen large groups of faithful people be willing to offer themselves up for institutional death in order for new life to emerge.  Wow!

            We United Methodists can be a committed, thoughtful, faithful and Spirit-filled bunch of folks, though not all of us all the time.  But many of us are some of the time.  I have seen it and experienced it myself.  I am not ashamed to say that my United Methodist brothers and sisters have brought me to tears more than once, recently.

            The United Methodist Church is in the process of transforming itself and the world into Christ's likeness.  It is a work in progress. The Spirit is leading us, I do believe.

            To tell you the truth, the Spirit is continuing to transform ME, through the United Methodist Church. I want it, I need it, I am a work in progress and I can't stop now.  Thanks be to God for the United Methodist Church!

Jim Dorff

Bishop Dorff is the resident bishop of the Southwest Texas and Rio Grande Annual Conferences. Dorff serves on the Board of Trustees of the Methodist Mission Home of San Antonio, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, the Texas Methodist Foundation, and the World Methodist Council.  He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Africa University, Southern Methodist University, Southwestern University, Huston-Tillotson University, Lydia Patterson Institute, and the Executive Board of Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

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