The United Methodist Church and Me
Raised in the Nazarene Church for the first one-third of my life, I found the transition to the United Methodist Church (UMC) to be painless. I remember that Nazarenes were strict in our personal lives and emphasis was on being “Saved and Sanctified” where Grace seemed to be reserved for those who were Sanctified. As a 12-year-old, I answered alter calls at Williams Memorial Church of the Nazarene in Bethany OK and became both saved and sanctified. I am not a biblical scholar nor theologian, but I do know and follow Matthew 7:12: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you . . .” This “Golden Rule” should be how we conduct our life and our duty to our neighbor. It represents my basic principle of ethics and tells me that I should treat all people as equals, which I do.
When becoming serious with my future wife, Janice Cox, I became a Methodist. Her church in Weatherford, TX became the church we attended after I was discharged from the U.S. Army. After we were married and had children, I became more involved in activities of the UM church in Rhode Island, in Tulsa and in San Antonio at Laurel Heights UMC. I learned early on that the UMC is more subtle with respect to rules for personal behavior (less micro-managing) and focuses on God’s big plan for us. As Christians and Methodists, we believe in the statements found in the Apostle’s Creed. And now, the three types of grace are something I appreciate and believe. I have learned more as a Methodist about God’s plan and purpose for me to love and worship Him; love family and neighbors together in fellowship; to make disciples through teaching the words and deeds of Christ; to give back through ministry; and to “go tell it on the mountain” in my witnessing. I know that each UM Church is a part of something greater at higher levels through the District, the Conference, and the General Conference of United Methodists. That connect us and allows us to grow to do great things for God’s purpose.
I am drawn to the United Methodist Church by the theology of John Wesley. Like Wesley, I believe that “the Christian faith is revealed in Scripture, illuminated by tradition, vivified in personal experience and confirmed by reason.” Wesley still plays a part in my favorite form of worship – hymn singing. His “Directions for Singing” are great advice and are my partial guide for worship, too. Who can argue with “do no harm, do good, and attend to the ordinances of God.”
Although I appreciate our connection to the larger Methodist Church, I will continue to be more active in the local church. When we moved to San Antonio, we found that our needs were being met abundantly by Laurel Heights with its music program, worship services, fellowship through SS classes and Wednesday night dinners, classes of Disciple bible, and modest mission work which has grown immensely over the years. Laurel Heights UMC has played a tremendous role in the lives of each of our three sons through music, youth fellowship and worship.