Not ashamed of UMC – Just the American Church

Logo of the United Methodist Church
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I am not writing this as a member of a local congregation, but as a Christian.

Kelly Figueroa-Ray writes,

Something is broken in my denomination, when this sign is allowed to stand uncontested.

It is an ugly sign, and one unfounded in reality. Further it is a sign commenting on English and, well, you know, doesn’t get it right. Further, the sign is on an UMC church campus and across the street from a Hispanic-owned convenience store.

But, back to the statement. It is not that the UMC is broken – instead, it is that the whole of the American Church is broken. While she is right to be upset, I think that she needs to step back and not see this as a Methodist problem, but as an American Christian problem. We are allowing ourselves to lose the Kingdom and to confuse it with the American empire.  Once this happens, we adopt the liturgy of our society, with banners such as that sign. We adopt the culture language as our language of study. The Bible’s canon is expanded to included secular documents, such as the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We lose our Christianity. We lose our ‘apartness’, our holiness.

State of Formation – Why I am ashamed to be a United Methodist..

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3 Replies to “Not ashamed of UMC – Just the American Church”

  1. Hi Joel,
    Thank you for your post.

    I agree with your assertion that this is an “American Christian” problem (although I would probably rephrase it to be a “United States-ian Christian” problem, since we tend to over take a term (“American”) that applies to people in Central and South America as well).

    In my post I made it a denominational-ly specific problem because I feel that making it a more general problem is less likely to hold any one group to account. Plus I am more familiar with the theology of my own particular denomination enough to know that if formation within the Methodist church was being done adequately, a sign like this would not stand. In terms of other denominations I cannot be as sure.

    I’d be very interested in future dialogue with you about how culture is adopted into the liturgy of the church. I am interested in studying communities that I believe are resisting cultural semiotics/logics, but not culture per se. I am interested in how churches can express themselves in culture or in a variety of cultures, but also live a Biblical logic.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    1. Kelly,

      You are correct about the ‘American’ part, although in recent discussions with Canadians (generally in the West), they are having much of the same problems.

      In my recent ‘conversion’ to Methodism, I have been amazed that near-fundamentalism still exists, and this is no way a slight to those who continue to serve without seminary, among local pastors. But, it seems that some of these local pastors are coming over from other denominations.

      Always open to future dialogue!

      Peace as well – Joel!

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