Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters from Home: Change is inevitable

By Rev. Ann Mann
annmann@comcast.net

Change is inevitable. Over my lifetime, I have experienced many changes, some welcome and some not. More than 40 years ago, my transition from single to married was a welcome change. Becoming a mother and then a grandmother brought me immense joy. However, becoming a widow was a change I did not welcome, yet I had to accept it, just as I did with all other changes, because change is inevitable.

For most of my career, I was a journalist. Then, I received a call to full-time ministry. Initially, I resisted this change because I doubted my call to become a pastor. I kept my “day job” and engaged in various church activities, becoming a certified lay speaker, facilitating a four-year Disciple Bible Study, and even taking in a homeless teenager with my husband. Despite these efforts, I knew I wasn’t fully answering my call.

I resisted the change because I was raised in a faith tradition that did not support women serving as pastors. Even though I received numerous affirmations of my calling, I still said no. Then, I read, as if for the first time, John 20:17, where Jesus instructs Mary (a woman) to “Go and tell” about his resurrection. It was as if the scales fell from my eyes, and I finally said yes with my whole heart.

My life changed forever that day. For the first time I found the kind of peace that comes from walking in the will of Christ. I thought I had been walking in God’s will all along, and there were countless joys in that journey. But the joy of full surrender was even greater. Since that life-changing “yes”, I have served faithfully in the United Methodist Church.

Now, this denomination faces significant changes. While the United Methodist Church was officially formed in 1968, the Methodist movement began in the 18th century as a revival of personal and social holiness within the Church of England, led by John Wesley and his brother Charles.

The American Revolution disrupted affiliations with the Church of England, prompting the American Methodist movement to become its own denomination, the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1784. Since then, the church has undergone many changes, and more are on the horizon.

Changes in leadership and governance are being planned, aiming to decentralize decision-making processes and empower local congregations, creating a more flexible and responsive organizational structure.

Doctrinal shifts may also occur as the United Methodist Church seeks to adopt more inclusive policies. Reactions among church members vary widely; some welcome these changes as necessary steps toward inclusivity, while others mourn the potential loss of a unified church.

It is my hope that these changes will bring renewal and revitalization. By opening doors to all who believe in Christ, we can reimagine our mission and role in a rapidly changing world. As the United Methodist Church stands at this crossroads, it faces a future filled with both challenges and opportunities. These changes could lead to a more inclusive, dynamic, and resilient institution.
While I see the possibilities of a stronger, more vital church, I am also concerned about a significant threat described by Pope Francis as the “globalization of indifference.” He observed that people increasingly see injustice and simply look away, indifferent.

Together, we can do more than we can alone. This is the beauty of God’s holy church. We have an opportunity to stand together for the things that matter most to God. Change is coming, and we have an opportunity to shape that change through open hearts, open minds, and open doors.

When we stand before the God of creation and he asks, “Did you love others as I have loved you?” what will we say? Did we help the widow, the orphan, the homeless, the hungry, the sick, and those in prison?

What matters most is standing together as the people of God and standing up for those the world would cast aside. By your Spirit, Lord, make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world. That is the kind of change I pray is coming!

Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is annmann@comcast.net.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Website by NewsintheCloud.com - Copyright 2021