Musings & Younger Perspectives:
Being Transformed
By Nico Romeijn-Stout | Photo by Jesse N. Love

“As I look at the United Methodist Church today, I see a church that is not able to fully love one another, not able to honor the contributions of each member of the body, and is forgetful of the fact that we belong to each other.”

Since November 19th I’ve had a lot of things on my mind, as have many of my colleagues at Boston University School of Theology – especially the Methodists. Floating near the top of the many non-school related thoughts was a repetition of The United Methodist mission statement, refined in 2008 to add an important finish: “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Looking at the state of the UMC back in November, it was hard to see how we were prepared to change the world. While we are doing great work in the world and have things to be proud of (UMCOR, Imagine No Malaria), we are also a broken church.

In order to transform the world, I believe we must first be able to transform our church. And in order to transform the church, we must first be transformed ourselves. As Methodists, our heritage and theology calls us to live at the intersection of social holiness and personal piety. We here in the Northwest are particularly good at recognizing our call to social holiness. We are willing and able to be prophetic voices on issues of societal concern, sometimes before they enter the secular spotlight even (how many of our churches serve fair trade coffee for example?). But do we have a deep sense of personal piety to undergird our social witness?

Paul’s “ethical manifesto” (a phrase I’m borrowing from Walter Brueggemann, a theologian and Hebrew Bible scholar) in Romans 12 lays out the life at the intersection. Go ahead and grab your Bible and follow along with me (really, I can wait). Paul starts with us as individuals: we are first called to be transformed so that we “may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Our place as transformed individuals is then within the one body of Christ – “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another.” Our actions as transformed members of the body of Christ, the Church universal, are inevitably social. Brueggemann calls this “holiness as relational engagement” (in his “Vision for a New Church in a New Century”). As a Methodist, I see this as our charge to social holiness accomplished through our individual transformations.

What does all of this have to do with our broken church? As I look at the United Methodist Church today, I see a church that is not able to fully love one another, not able to honor the contributions of each member of the body, and is forgetful of the fact that we belong to each other. As I was writing this article, I paused to read a blog post from a person I recently met at Exploration. In it, she writes: “It is with immense pain in my heart that I confess to you, my beloved United Methodist Church, that I have to leave the ordination process in order to follow God.” This young women was not raised a Christian, but found the UMC to be a welcoming church after painful experiences in another tradition. She has a strong and vibrant call to work with people on the margins of society. Her gifts and graces for ministry are abundant and evident, and yet we (not “you” or “they,” but we) have forced her out. How many more will follow her?

Church, God has blessed me with this opportunity to write to you. And here’s the take-home message: we must allow ourselves to be transformed, because we must transform this church. Without the transformation of our church, I have less and less faith in our ability to live into our mission to transform the world.

May God bless you and me and all of us together on the path ahead of us.

Nico Romeijn-Stout is a student at the Boston University School of Theology and
is a member of The Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The Wesleyan Way

The Wesleyan Way (D2034)
John Wesley lived approximately 300 years ago – but the Christianity he taught, practiced and preached still matters to people now. Wesleyan Christianity based on grace is challenging and rewarding, revolutionary and edgy. This DVD features interviews with Wesleyan Christians who are making a difference. The program consists of a leader guide, participant booklet and eight 10-minute sessions covering such topics as following Christ is a way of life, love and grace can turn your life around, you are not alone, you can transform yourself and the world, inviting others on the Christian life journey and love ultimately wins.

To reserve this video now, e-mail The Regional Media Center.

A Disciple’s Path

A Disciple’s Path (D3046)

This kit contains resources that provide an engaging approach to discipleship from a distinctly Wesleyan perspective. It can be used as a course for new members or a renewal course for existing members. The program guides individuals to take the next step in discipleship and become dynamic, engaged followers of Jesus Christ. The study combines a Wesleyan understanding of God’s love and grace with time-tested practices of spiritual discipline and encourages members to uphold the church with their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Participants will develop spiritual practices, discover their unique gifts, and become engaged in transformative ministry.

To reserve this video now, e-mail The Regional Media Center.

Key United Methodist Beliefs (B005)

Key United Methodist Beliefs (B005)
This book discusses key beliefs of United Methodism including the Trinity, Humans, Sin, Salvation, the Church, Sacraments, the Bible and Creeds, and how Wesleyans should live. Endorsed by a number of Methodist leaders, the back cover of this book sums up its contents: deepen your faith and enrich your life through this study of core Methodist beliefs.

To reserve this video now, e-mail The Regional Media Center.

Channels 69

Channels 69, January 2014 (NOW AVAILABLE!)
Seeing Christ in “the other” • Bishop: Securing Growth and Vitality • [GEN]ERATION TRANSFORMATION • Holy Interruptions • Musings: Being Transformed • Elders: Pogo and Jesus are Still Right!

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  1. Nico, I heartily agree with you. Our social holiness must have its roots in our relationship with God as the source of our love and grace so that it is truly God’s love and grace flowing through our uniqueness and our unity in the Body of Christ. I lead workshops that emphasize that connection. I would like to dialogue with you more.

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