On Sunday May 19, I had the opportunity to celebrate in worship with First United Methodist Church in Connersville for their Heritage Sunday, as they commemorated the Fayette County’s Bi-Centennial and the congregation’s 130th Anniversary; I would like to thank Rev. Frank Oakman and the members for the warm invitation. I must say, this was not an ordinary Heritage Sunday celebration…much to my surprise, there were many women and men dressed in garb from the 1800s and beyond; laughs and an electricity of energy filled the sanctuary. I witnessed many reminiscing about times gone and reflecting on the “Old Time Religion” with lots of smiles through these story sharing times. It was good to see United Methodists, filled with a sense of pride about being part of the faith community. As I left that day, I began to reflect on my own journey and I began to ask a question of myself…Why am I a United Methodist?
For many may not know, I grew up experiencing many faith traditions, such as CME, Apostolic, Baptist, Non-denominational, and Church of God in Christ. Through these experiences, I grew to understand the ritual of church-going, but missed learning about a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. It was not until I entered Jubilee United Methodist Church in Duncanville, Texas, where I was received with open arms, extended grace beyond measure, and supplied a village to help raise my son. In addition, I was discipled under the leadership of two phenomenal female pastors; I am grateful to God for the United Methodist Church!
The reason I remain a United Methodist is because the UMC has invested so much in me, and I believe I have a responsibility to share it forward. I love our theology of grace, our understanding that all are welcome at The Lord’s Table, and the ways for which the Connection extends into places for transformation occurs. Additionally, as a pastoral leader, I have the opportunity to confirm emerging leaders, and baptize others, as both the candidates and congregation members commit by affirming our baptismal vows. Lastly, I remain a United Methodist because John Wesley and the Methodist movement’s origins were a disturber of systems and an agitator of the status quo. I would hope that those of us, who proudly proclaim the UMC as our faith home, can move beyond our complicity and reclaim our heritage, by agitating the consciousness of our communities to share about the Love of God grounded in Jesus Christ. May our hearts be so strangely warmed by the ways God works in the heart through faith in Christ…and we get to be part of the greater works!
So Friends, in a few weeks, we who are called United Methodists in Indiana, will participate in our annual gathering, called Annual Conference Session. We will conduct the business of the Indiana Annual Conference, hear reports, celebrate ministries and baptisms, and connect with new persons, while fellowshipping with familiar faces. However, in the days to come, my hope is that each lay and clergy person would also take time to truly reflect on what it means to be United Methodist. And in that reflection, recommit to what it means to DO NO HARM (by avoiding evil of every kind), DO GOOD (doing good of every possible sort), and STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD (by attending upon all the ordinances of God)!
To read more about the General Rules, please visit: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/the-general-rules-of-the-methodist-church
Proudly serving as a United Methodist….Many Blessings!
Dr. Aleze M. Fulbright (she/her/hers)
Just a note about Heritage Sunday: Heritage Sunday shall be observed on Aldersgate Day (May 24), or the Sunday preceding that date. The day provides an opportunity for reflection on heritage, celebration of where the Church has been, how it understands itself as it shapes us today, and the meaning of Christian conferencing. Heritage Sunday calls the Church to remember the past by committing itself to the continuing call of God (paragraph 264.1, The Book of Discipline, 2016). For more information visit: http://www.gcah.org/resources/heritage-sunday