Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Opening Hearts, Minds and Doors

When I first created this blog, I was in the middle of an internship with the United Methodist Church - at their Indiana headquarters. I wrote for Hoosier United Methodist Together publication. I feel it is time to give them due credit to what I learned. 

Church operations are a fascinating thing; it works something like a business, with clergy for employees and believers as the clients. But there's one difference.

Church staff members, clergy and members aren't working on commission; they're working for The Great Commission. 

Before I started work at IAUMC, I didn't know much about the United Methodist Church - other than that it was one of many Christian denominations. And with my solid Catholic upbringing, I hadn't heard much about the "other guys."

This weekend, my former supervisor, Dan Gangler, and the rest of the office will be at Annual Conference. It's the big event where all UMC Hoosiers get together to talk about ministries, missions and the church structure, outlined in The Book of Discipline. It's happening at Ball State University, and will include a one-day mission project in town to promote "Rethink Church," the campaign to drum up UMC support and members. I'm praying it will be a fruitful weekend for them.

Don't know much about Methodism? Well here are a few things I learned as an outsider:
  • It is a mainline evangelical branch of Christianity.
  • United Methodists are different from Methodists or the Free Methodists.
  • UM is based on the teachings of John Wesley, who believed in using faith as a catalyst for social justice. 
  • UM has a strong relationship with church plants in Sierra Leone
  • Ever wonder what Cokesbury is? A UM publishing company, named after US Methodists Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury.
  • There is a strong emphasis and stance against gambling, smoking and abortion. One of favorite experiences was my first trip to the Indiana State House. We got to hear HB1213, which would ban smoking in restaurants and bars. Dan presented his reasons on behalf of the Hoosier Health and Faith Coalition
  • The official motto is "open hearts, open minds, open doors."
  • The symbol is a cross with a red flame running through it. 
  • UMC has a history, but it also keeps a new generation engaged. The extensive summer camp options and community centers keep kids involved and learning about the Lord.
  • UM churches are diverse. Some are more inner-city focused, while others might have eco-friendly efforts or a conservative approach.
I have been so blessed with the folks I have met through this internship, arranged through Butler's Center for Faith and Vocation. During this time, I've become highly interested in religion reporting - thanks also to my trip to RCC in Boston this past March. 

Who knows what's next? But this was one internship I won't - can't - forget.


HeLeNa said...

So I was walking around the campus here in California yesterday and guess who I ran into? The South Pacific UMC conference! Luckily I blog stalk you and so I knew something about them and had fun talking to them. See your blog is entertaining and educational ;)

Post a Comment