I’m in the Kansas City airport. I was here for the UMCNext Conference held at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. This group of over 600 clergy and laity were asked to be here by a team of conveners to help chart out a hopeful future for the United Methodist Church. The public face of this movement is Rev. Adam Hamilton, the pastor at COR. There is also a diverse group of other conveners who helped guide the conference.
Walking away from this conference, we developed key principles for the future of Methodism we would like to see. Among those principles include:
- We are serious about a Wesleyan Christian faith. This means we believe in an evangelical and social gospel. John Wesley, the founder of our movement, was passionate about evangelism and social action. We believe the church needs to share the good news of Jesus Christ to a broken world. We also believe there are social ills that call for action. These two emphases go hand in hand.
- We are committed to being a church of justice and inclusion for all people. This means we are calling for the elimination of the discriminatory language in our Book of Discipline against the LGBTQ community. We believe this language has far too long caused harm and it’s time to eliminate it from our doctrines. We believe the Traditional Plan passed at the 2019 General Conference is wrong and we will work to correct it.
I’ll leave it there for today. These two principles especially spoke to me. I have always loved the United Methodist Church. I love its emphasis on grace. I love how we believe that grace is active in our life before we ever realize it. I love how we open our communion table to all people. I love our love for the Bible, education and traditions. I love how we value the experience of faith. I love Mr. Wesley’s words, “There is no holiness without social holiness.” We are called to be engaged with the world around us. My hope is that this UMCNext movement will reform the United Methodist Church and further perfect it.
There is a hopeful future for our church on the horizon, one that is more gracious and less punitive. Our church is ready for joy! As we work towards reform, let us show our joy. I’m hoping many like-minded people will opt in for this reform movement called UMCNext. It’s a movement that Holy Spirit is behind. The United Methodist Church will be kinder, more gracious and more inclusive because of it. Get ready for UMCNext.