Response: July/August 2017 Issue

Responsively Yours: God Is Calling Us Forward

Responsively Yours: God Is Calling Us Forward

As we’ve been praying for the Commission on the Way Forward along with the Council of Bishops and our annual conferences, I’ve been thinking about why I am a United Methodist Christian.

Grace seems like the place to start. United Methodists begin thinking about our relationship with God by focusing on God’s love for us, searching us out before we sought a relationship with God. I am so grateful that I have been invited, over and over, to commit to loving God through Jesus Christ and to being changed in ways that make me more whole and more able to love God and neighbor. The way this is woven into our Methodist patterns of worship and ordering of our activities resonates deeply with me. Because of the image of God, we can respond to God’s invitation and are drawn deeper and deeper into this relationship.

Methodism’s emphasis on a life of discipleship is also important to me. We include daily practices of prayer and readings, which are common among many Christian faiths, but founder John Wesley’s focus on learning to put the leadings of the spirit into practice resonates with me. We learn not only to master a subject or simply to understand but to be formed in the way of love. And we do this together—in small groups and as a community.

One of the expectations of a Wesleyan faith is that our discipleship leads us to action. I am grateful to be part of a community in which each one of us is called to make a difference in the world, to exercise compassion and to work for justice. This is not just the responsibility of the ordained or those serving on a particular committee; it is to be a way of life. Each one of us is called. United Methodist Women is one way that we join together to do this and amplify our impact.

There is also singing. Hymns and spiritual songs are a shared heritage, going all the way back to the Psalms in the Bible, but the role of singing is very significant for The United Methodist Church. Through singing we learn theology and let our theology root deeply in our hearts. Learning theology through poetry is quite different than focusing on a catechism. While Wesley wrote and preached prolifically, he did not develop a systematic approach. Albert Outler’s work on that, notably in the “quadrilateral” (scripture, reason, experience, tradition), reminds us that our personal experience of God and our reason are vital to who we are becoming in Jesus Christ. The way the Spirit moves in human beings is more like poetry or dance than like logic or a geometric proof. This is part of what moves me, puzzles me, excites me and inspires me in my faith.

And, of course, we operate with a blend of tradition and innovation in our structures and initiatives, involving both clergy and laity, because God is calling us forward.

What is important to you about the United Methodist way of being Christian? Will you share some of your thoughts with us? E-mail us at We will collect and share posts as we continue to pray for the Commission and for our church. God bless you!

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women 

Posted or updated: 6/30/2017 12:00:00 AM