United Methodist Church welcomes differences, exemplifying true Christian spirit
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Church diversity intrigues us, whether one is affiliated or unaffiliated with a particular religion, sect or denomination.
Today, many churches are exploring the idea of adding diversity to their congregations, and charge themselves to invite different cultures into their church families.
Many congregations in the United Methodist Church (UMC), a denomination that 6.2 percent of America's population identify themselves with, are at the forefront of this movement. Their conferences, pastors, and members feel called to invite individuals different from themselves into their sanctuaries for worship and spiritual growth within the community.
But what does "different" mean to the people of the UMC? Does it include people of different political thoughts, races, economic statuses, backgrounds? What about those struggling with very idea of a god or gods and its existence, or those who identify as non-heterosexuals? I say yes, to all of these.
The United Methodist Church that I know wants you to allow yourself to be loved, and certainly invite others to do the same with you.
My favorite thing about the UMC is its tag-line, "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors."
As a current and long-standing member of the UMC I see congregations from all over the nation challenging themselves to keep their doors, hearts, and minds open to all people.
Entering Oak Lawn UMC every Sunday morning gives me a sense of peace not because the environment is familiar to me, but because I am met each time with joyous faces and congregation members explaining to me that the only requirement to worship with them is to be flawed.
A church, that actively seeks out the broken? Fascinating.
The UMC differentiates itself from other denominations by allowing different congregations to explore controversial aspects of Christian theology and thought, even though each congregation affiliates itself with the national United Methodist Church. Many of the practices are the same. The congregations are not.
Within the walls of the church you will encounter prayer, worship, and complex discussion. You can eat, play basketball and even Zumba. Most importantly, you will experience love.
So what if you are African, Chinese, British or Brazilian? Who cares if you identify as gay or transgendered, rich or poor, or something in the middle? Confused about the world and what happens in it? Are you searching for an answer to God's existence? The United Methodist Church has a place for you.
Michael Graves is a first year religious studies and communications studies double major. He can be reached for comments or questions at email@example.com.