I remain a United Methodist because I believe that we can follow the way of Jesus and bring about more love, justice, and goodness in the world through a global connection than we can on our own. If it only came down to agreeing with everything the United Methodist Church believes or the positions it takes at General Conference, I probably would have left a long time ago, but we are more than just our beliefs and our General Conference positions and politics. We are our connection. We are our relationships. And I still have faith and hope that through these relationships, through this connection, we can do the world more good than if we all go our separate ways.
One of the things I hear from some people and churches disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church is that they want to keep more of their church’s money in the local church for local ministries rather than contributing to the general agencies of the United Methodist Church. As someone who has followed the work of the general agencies for decades, worked very closely with two of them and interacted in some way with almost all of them, I can say without reservation that the work of the general agencies is life giving, peace making, justice seeking, wisdom producing, diversity creating, accountability providing, and mission supporting. Our general agencies are a key reason that we United Methodists have become a worldwide church with worldwide impact for the transformation of the whole world. The work of our United Methodist general agencies is like a circulatory system that supports the life and mission of all parts of our denominational body.
It is our connection, including the connectional work of our general agencies, that will help us address the most urgent crisis facing the church today, and that crisis is not church growth, church membership, or even church unity. Rather it is the most urgent crisis facing all of humanity and the community of all creation, and that crisis is the climate crisis. The crisis is real, it is happening here and now, and overwhelming evidence points to the fact that we human beings and the economic systems we have created are responsible for it.
In Methodism, the newly formed Global Methodist Church has made it clear in its founding documents that it currently does not have the global will to address the climate crisis. Other churches disaffiliating from United Methodism and forming stand alone or very loosely connected independent churches may or may not have the will to address the climate crisis, but they will not likely have the global connection to effectively do so. In worldwide Methodism, that leaves the United Methodist Church and a number of other regional expressions of Methodism that together participate in the World Methodist Council and other worldwide Methodist collaborations as the only forms of Methodism with both the global connection and the global will to address the most urgent global crisis facing the community of all creation today.
This is a matter of preserving a livable climate to maintain the possibility of a flourishing human civilization. This is an existential threat, a matter of life and death for billions of humans and numerous species of life on earth. This matters! Addressing the climate crisis is the most sacred work we can do for the sake of God’s very good creation. The world needs the global will and the global connection of the United Methodist Church and the other members of the World Methodist Council to help in this sacred work.
Borrowing words from Martin Luther King Jr., the climate crisis confronts us “with the fierce urgency of now,” and as King further reminds us, ”there is such a thing as too late.”* Inaction will lead us almost certainly to climate chaos, forever hindering the creation of beloved community. In and through our connection, we may find the hope, resolve, and resources to work together for climate justice for all creation.
For some excellent United Methodist climate justice resources, check out the following links and see ways that you can get plugged in to this sacred work:
*See MLK, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?