Monday, December 16, 2013

The Rev Mike Slaughter: Why I am United Methodist

When I was asked by the United Methodist Church to write a blog about why I choose to be United Methodist, I decided there are two influential drivers. First, it is an inheritance from my parents. My dad was raised Roman Catholic; my mom was from a Southern Baptist tradition. My birth convicted them to return to church but left them with the dilemma of "which church?" The neighborhood United Methodist congregation fit the bill. Part of our Methodist DNA is to see all Christians, everyone connected to Christ, as equal. That's why we have an open communion table and don't practice re-baptism. My boyhood church provided a safe place for both my Catholic dad and Baptist mom to experience acceptance and inclusion. This inclusiveness and our United Methodist emphasis on Holy Conferencing make us stronger as a faith movement. We embrace the Christ worthiness of all who come to the table, no matter how much we may disagree politically or theologically on the nonessentials.

Of course, as an adult, I could have easily shrugged off my spiritual inheritance. But, our United Methodist theological underpinnings keep me firmly committed.  Over a two-year period in my late teens, I had a radical new birth experience with Jesus Christ that transformed my life completely. It continues to shape who I am, what I do and how I believe almost 45 years later. The Trinitarian faith I learned about as a boy that proclaimed I could experience a deep and personal revelation of God through Jesus Christ laid the groundwork for all that I have become as a husband, father and pastor.

I am also completely sold out to our United Methodist emphasis on social holiness, the belief that we have power with God through our actions toward other people. I am grateful for our connectionalism and for the opportunities Ginghamsburg has had to work with our general boards and agencies to advance God’s mission. We have partnered with United Methodist Communications on annual Change the World weekends, challenging 11 million Methodists worldwide to take the church into the world, renewing, restoring and rebuilding communities. Our partnership with the United Methodist Committee on Relief within The General Board of Global Ministry (GBGM) has resulted in a $6.1 million investment for our sisters and brothers in Sudan and South Sudan to create new life pictures, job training, education, healing and hope. The child development and protection program alone has impacted over 30,000 children. We are now partnering with GBGM and our West Ohio Conference to help eliminate death from malaria in our lifetimes through Imagine No Malaria.

Especially this time of year as we remember that Christmas is not our birthday, I am honored to be part of this United Methodist faith movement –a people and a church that actively demonstrate Jesus’ authority over our lives by daily living out the sacrificial love of Christ toward the least and the lost.

Mike Slaughter is lead pastor and dreamer of GinghamsburgChurch. He represented the West Ohio Conference as lead delegate of the 2012 General Conference. His life-long passion is to reach the lost & set oppressed free; he is a tireless advocate for the displaced people of Darfur, Sudan.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Meredith Hoxie Schol - Route 122: "Leading Toward Transformation rather than Managing Collapse”

In addition to my appointment to the work of the Connectional Table, I am also deeply involved in the life of a small urban congregation on the northwest side of Chicago.  I love it dearly, and I’d like to think it is a church I would have found on my own, but, as luck (or itinerancy) would have it, my husband was appointed there in January 2012.  In our (almost) two years there, we have been a part of some really exciting work of the Holy Spirit, as this congregation on the brink of closure has more-than-doubled, largely because of new attendees and members under the age of 40.

I carry this story of this small church with me and tell it everywhere I can.  Not only am I proud of the work my husband has done, but I think it points to the reality that there are people (and I’m talking young people… those ever-so-elusive millennials everyone is blogging about these days) who are still looking for Christian community, and for the life transformation that comes along with finding a church home.

Last week, I had the chance to attend part of the Route 122 Network event in Indianapolis, put on by the General Board of Discipleship.  The theme of the event was, “Leading Toward Transformation rather than Managing Collapse.”  It brought together conference staff, district superintendents and other leaders focused on the renewal of existing congregations.  Sessions focused on a variety of ways to address change, including reports of best practices from local churches and annual conferences across the denomination.

In my life as a United Methodist, and particularly since coming to work at the Connectional Table, I sometimes hear lament over the disconnect between the local church and the broader denominational bodies.  While we continue to work on what it means to be a global, connectional church, I think events like the Route 122 Network are bright spots that show how our connectional nature truly allows us to accomplish more together than we could on our own.  Conference leaders sharing stories, sharing strategies, and agency leadership providing consultation and resources… it was an experience I found deeply enriching, both in terms of my work at the Connectional Table (primarily researching denominational collaboration) and in my identity as a participant in the life of a small, revitalizing church on the northwest side of Chicago.

For more information about Route 122 you can contact Betsey Heavner at

Meredith Hoxie Schol is the Missional Collaboration Coordinator with the Connectional Table.