Rev Karen Greenwaldt - Reflections on Being a United Methodist

Searching through ‘historic’ files always brings surprises. Over the weekend, I found my baptismal certificate. I didn’t remember that I had it. As I read it, I discovered that Mom and Dad made certain that I was baptized 3 1/2 months after my birth. I don’t remember that day. Yet, this certificate and an accompanying picture remind me of my baptism and the promises my parents and church members made to ‘bring me up’ in a Christian home and in the Church.

As a young child, I made a profession of faith and joined the church. I recall that Sunday and the dress I wore. More importantly, I remember saying that I would be ‘loyal to the Methodist Church and that I would uphold it with my presence, prayers, gifts and service’.

All along the way, my parents, my pastor (who also was my Dad), adults in each church where we lived, and family and friends taught me the Christian faith. They schooled me in Wesleyan theology, practices, and patterns of faith. They invited me to worship, to study the Bible, to pray, to sing the hymns of faith, to participate in the sacraments, and to live daily as a follower of Jesus Christ.

When I began to question various things about the Christian faith, my questions were honored, and deep and rich conversations occurred. Other people invited me to come to their churches, and I did visit other places (including a synagogue). The prevailing internal response after each of these visits was the same – I preferred to be a Methodist.

I continue to choose to be a United Methodist. Our church’s theology, patterns of worship, daily and seasonal practices of faith speak to my understandings of who God is and who God calls me to be. My heart and mind resonate with John Wesley’s invitation to hold in tension vital piety and social holiness. I thrive in a church that helps me discover the ongoing invitation of God’s grace and presence in my life. The General Rules of the church affect the choices that I make daily. I struggle with the rule to ‘do no harm’ as I realize that harm is often done in the midst of seeking ‘to do good’. I engage seriously the faith disciplines that call for daily and weekly attention to prayer, Bible reading, worship, living justly, participation in the sacraments, and other practices of faith.

I believe that United Methodists offer to the world a perspective on faith and faithful living that no other denomination has. Boiled down to the essentials of who we are as United Methodists, the phrase ‘my grace is sufficient for thee’ claims my allegiance to God. My daily decisions focus my life as I practice the means of grace and live a life that balances social holiness, vital piety and Mr. Wesley’s General Rules.

While I was born into this Church, I choose to be United Methodist. To quote Dr. Randy Maddox, this faith given to me and now personally claimed is in “my bones”. I AM United Methodist and can be no other.

An ordained elder from the Central Texas Conference, Rev. Karen Greenwaldt served as Associate General Secretary of GBOD’s Discipleship Ministries Division and as Director of Young Adult, Single Adult and Church Leader Development Ministries prior to her election to General Secretary in 2001. Karen is a bead and fabric artist specializing in art dolls, art quilts, beaded boxes, beaded flowers and jewelry.

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