It has occurred to me that before I go much farther with this blog, I need to clarify something.
Around this neck of the woods, when people talk about the Methodist Church, they’re referring to the United Methodist Church. That is because there is no other “Methodist” church around here. I never knew there was any other “Methodist” church until about five years ago. I had heard of the Nazarine Church, but I had no idea it was a cousin of the UMC; and I knew there was such a thing as the Wesleyan Church, but I never really made the connection, because there weren’t any around here.
Now, keeping this situation in mind, let’s consider what happens in this area when a person, or a family, decide for whatever reason that they want to leave the UMC, they just can’t in good conscience continue in that church. Where do they go? Well, here in Mankato there are about 17 Lutheran churches, 4 Roman Catholic churches, several Baptist churches, a Congregational – UCC, a couple others who call themselves Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Presbyterian-USA, Presbyterian-PCA, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, Charismatic. There’s little churches like Family Life, Victory Life; there’s a new Anglican church; there’s even a Latin-rite Catholic church! We have three Methodist churches, all of them UMC. Our only non-UMC Methodist-type church, the Church of the Nazarine, closed up a couple years ago.
In other words, if a Methodist wants to leave the UMC, he can only go to a different tradition.
And so I have a burden. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream. I have a dream that when Methodists become disillusioned with the UMC and all the corruption in that church, they can go to a church right here in Mankato that is a real, Wesleyan, Bible-preaching METHODIST church, a Methodist church that is faithful to its witness to the Lord and His power to change people’s lives.
Now it’s not my desire, and I don’t believe it’s my calling, to start a whole new denomination, to “re-make” the Methodist church as my brother Mike described it. It’s not my desire, nor do I believe it’s my calling, to be a pastor in any new Methodist church either. But what I feel IS my calling is to work with some existing Methodist church, like the Free Methodist Church, the Evangelical Methodist Church, or the Wesleyan Church, in order to get a new congregation started here, so Methodists will have a real Methodist church to go to, a real Methodist church to call home.
And I don’t think that is unreasonable, or unrealistic, or foolish. I think it’s noble – a noble dream. And maybe someday it will be realised.