Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As United Methodists we don't always get it right. As our Communion liturgy of confession states, “We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy.” And although at times we do fall short, I feel so blessed to be a part of a denomination that has, since its very beginning, sought to love its neighbors and to hear the cry of the needy.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, was a strong proponent of the social Gospel. Wesley emphasized care for prisoners, the poor, the sick, the children, the elderly, and the uneducated. As early as the 1800's Methodists instituted preparatory schools such as Wesleyan Academy at Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and a number of colleges like Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, a home for the elderly in New York City, a home for children in Berea, Ohio, and opened their first hospital in Brooklyn.
Methodists worked for humane treatment of prisoners and changes in the criminal code. John Wesley spoke out passionately against slavery. The 1784 Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, following Wesley's lead, gave Methodists two choices: free their slaves or leave the church (United Methodism in America, McEllhenny, 1992).
Early Methodists also were concerned about the plight of workers. They supported improving working conditions, equitable wages, and protection for women and children in the work force. The Methodist Social Creed originated over 100 years ago to express Methodism's outrage over the lives of millions of workers in factories, mines, and mills.
Over the years the Methodist Social Creed expanded. Today our Social Creed is a basic statement of our convictions about the fundamental relationships between God, God's creation and humanity. This basic statement is expanded in a more lengthy statement called the Social Principles. The Social Principles are divided into six parts that explain how United Methodist Christians are called to live in God's world: Natural World, Nurturing Community, Social Community, Economic Community, Political Community, World Community (Social Creed and Social Principles are located on the UMC website, www.umc.org. Click on Our Faith and then on Church and Society).
Very recently our church was awarded the 2012 Rainbow Covenant Award, Third Mile. In order to receive a Third Mile Award, churches have to first meet the requirements for the 1st Mile and the 2nd Mile. The 1st Mile requirement is to pay Apportionments in full, which you have done. Congratulations! You will find a copy of the appreciation certificate signed by our District Superintendent, Brian Milford, and our Bishop, Julius Trimble in this newsletter.
The 2nd Mile is completed when the church contributes $12 or more per member to mission projects over and above apportionments and when the church has fully supported projects in every rainbow mission category, which you have also done. Following is a list of the missions you contributed to in 2012 making it possible for us to reach the 2nd Mile goal:
Upon completion of the Rainbow Mission Categories, a church can go “Over the Rainbow” (3rd Mile) by contributing to local needs and missionary support, which you did through your donations to:
As I said earlier in my article, I feel so blessed to be a part of a denomination that has, since its beginning, sought to love its neighbors and to hear the cry of the needy. I need to add to that statement. I feel so very blessed to be serving a church who takes this call to love its neighbors and to hear the cry of the needy to heart. Through your generosity in giving to the mission projects of our church, you have reached out to countless people in need with the love of Jesus Christ. Thank you for sharing your gifts with others.
And All God's Children Said,