Becoming United Methodist

I haven’t always been United Methodist. I was raised Southern Baptist. In fact, my father was a pastor. I went to Baptist universities for my undergraduate and master’s degrees. I even served with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as one of their field personnel (missionary) in Romania. Being Baptist was all I had ever known, and I felt my identity was so deeply rooted in this denomination.

Over the years there began a shift and ultimately a rift between what some of the Southern Baptist denomination stood for and what I had come to believe. It was during this time that Wes and I entered an exploration of becoming United Methodist. There is so much history during 2004-2012 that I can’t cover in this short article. If you ever want to know, just ask. I am transparent and will tell you. For the sake of conciseness, I will say that it ultimately led to Wes, an ordained Baptist pastor, being appointed as Clergy from Other Denomination. He eventually became a licensed local pastor and subsequently became an Elder in Full Connection in the Rio Texas Conference. His journey is his own and will not be shared here.

So, coupled with the fact that I no longer felt at home in the Baptist denomination and having a strong conviction to raise my family together in the same church, I chose to leave the Baptist denomination and transfer my membership to the United Methodist congregation where Wes had been appointed. There were so many conversations on what it meant to be Methodist. I wish I could point to some deep theology or insightful history that resonated with me, but it was simple. At the time, the United Methodists I was surrounded by showed compassion to others, especially when they didn’t look like themselves. United Methodists showed love and it was evident that love was the primary driver for all other decisions. They were inclusive without condition. United Methodists said welcome. Period. No ifs or buts. Wes made a profound statement to me once that said, “I am tired of being on the side of history that tells people who have a sense of calling to ministry that they can’t.” One of the most important things I value is the inclusion and empowerment of Women in Ministry. Having come from a background of being told that women can’t, it was liberating and refreshing to see United Methodist embrace all genders, all people.

More recently, since becoming United Methodist, I have come to understand more of what it means. I think the intentionality of John Wesley and his followers is captivating. To do things with such purpose and meaning gives a richness to our worship and relationship with God. As John Wesley so simply put it, to #BeUMC to me means to do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God. I want to be part of a church that shares in this same value.

Susan Craig