Thursday, June 21, 2012

World Religion Series: The United Methodist Faith

I was raised in the Methodist church in a small town called Lodi, WI.  When my parents moved to the community, my mom decided to attend all the churches in the town and she ended up picking the Methodist church because the people there were the friendliest to her.  That's where she met Leslie Evert, who had a big influence on my childhood.

Leslie was not only my mom's good friend, but she was mine as well.  She always treated me like an equal, and was actually the first person to hire me as a babysitter... she hired me to babysit her son Josh- at a very mature 11-years-old.  She was around most of the time, but still... she had confidence in me!  She and my mom taught me how to ride horses together, and they were always sewing and doing projects, so that's definitely where I got the "project bug" from.  She was also the person I chose as my "mentor" as I went through my confirmation class at church.

Years went by and we lost touch a little.  When David and I got married I made sure the Everts were on the guest list.  Unfortunately, they couldn't make it to Idaho for the wedding, but the invitation re-connected us.  Then, last year, Leslie's son Josh, the same kid I used to babysit, showed up on my door at 2:30am with his band the Fatty Acids, looking for a place to crash.  I have to tell you, I could hardly believe it was the same kid... not such a "kid" anymore- 23, tall and extremely handsome and talented.

Well, when David and I were back in Wisconsin in May I posted our arrival and Leslie asked if we could find time for her to finally meet David.  Of course I made sure to squeeze her in, and Leslie met us at a coffee shop on our last day in town.  It was so good to see her after so many years!  While we were together, she also handed me her responses to the World Religion Series questions I'd asked her to answer for my blog.  So... with out further ado, here is my dear friend and mentor Leslie Evert:

As Anabel knows I struggled with this even though my faith is so strong and I am very comfortable talking about it.  But figuring out how to express it on the web was difficult for me.  Also, the word "religion" sometimes brings bad thoughts to peoples minds- religious fanatics and such.  That said, I will try my best to explain my faith and being part of the United Methodist Church Family.

What religion do you practice, and how did you come to practice it? 
I attend United Methodist Church.  I was brought up in a Presbyterian Church,  however, my husband Bob's family was Methodist.  So basically really practice a Protestant Christian philosophy.   However, I also went to a Catholic High School and sat through religion classes and went to Catholic church services with my classmates.  When we moved to Lodi, Wisconsin I started attending the Lodi Methodist Church with my family, and have stayed it ever since.  And, that's where I met my sweet Anabel!
I stayed within the United Methodist Church because of my friendships and love for the members of the church.  I taught 3rd and 4th grade Sunday school for years.  I was also extremely involved in bible studies both inside my church and outside the church.  My thirst for God's word is never satisfied!

Tell me about your religion.  Describe what the tenants of your religion are in your words.
As Dayna said in her response to her Mormon Faith, "Wow!"  There is so much to say without boring you.  This past fall I took a class on the Methodist's Social Principles-All in God's Timing.  Some of this is from that study.  
To begin, the word Methodist came from the "method" 3 young men at Oxford University gathered together to study and read the Bible.  They invited a 23-year-old professor, John Wesley, who was a newly ordained priest in the Church of England to lead their studies. The name came out of their "methodical" pattern of Bible study, prayer, fasting, and service.
United Methodists are first and foremost people who read the Bible and seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ.  United Methodist Christians accept most major beliefs of other orthodox Christians.  We affirm that we are all Christians first, United Methodists second.  
We believe in the trinity God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  United Methodists practice two sacraments, Holy Communion (Lord's supper), and baptism.  United Methodists also practice open communion which means all are invited to Christ's table if they love Him, earnestly repent of their sins and seek to live in peace with one another.  In baptism, we are initiated into Christ's body- the church, and are members of the family of God.  
I believe the most important thing is "love."  God's love for us is self evident: He gave us Jesus, Jesus so loved us he died for us. The holy spirit lives within us and directs us.  Prayer, is our time to talk with the Lord and let him direct us daily.  The Bible, which to me is God's word.
Through prayer and the Bible I try to live my life.  My personal relationship with Jesus is everything to me.  I love the word of God and for me its a daily ongoing conversation with Him.  Through Christ, I have realized that I can't make the right decisions on my own and need His help and guidance daily.  It is important to me to wake and in the morning have time to pray and do my devotional studies first thing.

What are five things you love about your religion?
Here are the things that come to mind:
  • I love the small groups within the Methodist churches; Bible studies, Women's groups, etc.  I feel that helps people to meet other people and share their feelings and feel more comfortable being part of a worth while community of God.
  • I LOVE that women can be pastors.  One of my best friends is a Methodist pastor.
  • I love the singing and the fellowship of the church.  I feel sad when I'm in a church and people don't sing out and make a joyful noise
What are five things you don’t particularly agree with about your religion?
Again here are the first things that come to mind:
  • I wish everyone would actually open the Bible and read it and let God speak to you through it.  I believe it's God's living word.  I feel like people are scared of it or think its just "stories."
  • I also believe that we aren't supposed to judge others.  Let God do that.  We are supposed to love all people just like Christ loved us.
  • I'm not thrilled with the United Methodist's process of moving pastors.  I know why they do it, but I'm not a fan of it.  
What are the most common misconceptions about your religion and how do you address them?
I wish that older people in the church would love and open their arms to the youth and let them be a part of the church in their own way.  Change is hard. 

How does your religion affect your family life? Your work life?
My faith journey and my love of the Lord is everything to me.  Everyone that knows me and works with me knows it.  I believe its important to live out your faith-which I try to do.  I'm not perfect.  Everyday is a new day.  Everyone at work knows how I feel and respects it.  They are respectful of my feelings.  They also know that I would much rather see the good in people and trust them instead of the opposite.  Everyone at work knows of my work ethic and my faith is very much a part of that.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 
Love, Love, Love.  I feel like I'm back in hippy times with the Beatles.  But, that's what its all about.  We love because he first loved us.  Sometimes things don't work out the way I would like and I falter, but in overtime I forgive and I'm back to my Love of all.  Just like with Jesus I ask for guidance and His forgiveness daily.  God Bless you all... and thank you for letting me share. 

Thanks again Leslie!

To check out the rest of my World Religion Series click on the links below:

No comments:

Post a Comment