Faith Made Tangible
By Nico Romeijn-Stout
In 1990 the United States Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, an important step forward in civil rights laws in this country. And that step forward was written by a bipartisan group of folks who met each week at 100 Maryland Ave., Washington D.C., also known as the Methodist Building.
I had the extraordinary opportunity this summer to intern with the General Board of Church and Society, working in the Methodist Building. I would walk into the lobby each morning and walk by the quotes from Micah 6:8 “and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” and Isaiah 2:4 “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks.” En route to my desk with a view of the Supreme Court, I’d take a turn by the elevator to head up the stairs, passing giant copies of the 1908 Methodist Episcopal Church’s Social Creed and our current Social Creed (¶166 for those keeping track at home).
If you’re anything like me, you’ll need a moment to think about all that. Or grab your Bible and Book of Discipline.
We Methodists stand rooted in a long tradition of public witness to issues of social concern. It’s integral to our history and our theology – the Methodist movement was founded on beliefs that loving our neighbors means more than just caring for their souls. Our belief in the need for a public witness to the needs of society is why I walked through a lobby adorned with prophetic quotes each morning this summer; it’s why in 1924 Methodists built a building on Capitol Hill.
That’s a lot about “we,” and I really do hope you’ll take some time to read up on it all. But what about you? If Methodism is to continue as a movement, and to continue to publicly witness to the greatest needs of society, then you, and I, and that person who sits on the other end of the pew/row on Sundays needs to continue carrying the tradition started by those trouble-making college students back at Oxford in the 1720s. And while John and Charles Wesley may have been more interested in asking you about your rules for holy living, I’ve got a slightly different question for you:
What’s your social creed?
Don’t have one? That’s ok, I didn’t either. But then I challenged a congregation one Sunday to each write their own. And so I wrote mine, and now you, yes you, can write your own. Then share what you came up with: talk to someone about it, post it on Facebook, preach a sermon, or better yet, share it by living it.
Make your faith tangible this fall.
and is a member of The Pacific Northwest Conference.
This article will be featured in Channels 76, October 2014.