Behold! The Blessed Promise of Unity

M. Kathryn Armistead makes a plea for unity and shares how disagreements within the church in recent years have overshadowed the Missio Dei: “We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will; we have broken your law; we have rebelled against your love; we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy.”

Reflections on Native Christian Identity and the Longing for Coming Home

Lisa Dellinger, of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Area of the United Methodist Church, draws parallels between the children of Israel, who lived in forced exile under the Babylonian Empire, and Native Christians, whose ancestors who endured a forced, genocidal removal in the Trail of Tears. Both groups learned how hard it is to “sing the Lord’s song in a strange land” (Psalm 137:4). Native Christians are rebuilding their own Temple today by claiming their Indigenous cultures and identities in light of Christ Jesus.

Lament, Gospel, Response

Five ordained women come together to lament, confess, celebrate, and ultimately reclaim an embodied and faithful way to move in their professional, spiritual, and personal lives.

Shared Thoughts on a Worldwide Church

Tracy Smith Malone, of the Northern Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church, and Barbara Dick, of the Wisconsin area, draw parallels between the development of a worldwide church and the birthing process. “We are going to be in the womb together for a long time. Are we going to be Jacob and Esau, fighting in the womb all the time?”

By the Renewing of Our Minds . . . for the Sake of Vital Leadership

By Lallene J. Rector.

“The theology of clergywomen in vital leadership”: this was the phrase used in describing the focus for this theological reflection. Note that this does not explicitly suggest attention to “clergywomen leading vital congregations,” the specific theme of this issue. I do not know if a deliberate distinction was intended, but I think the difference is an important one. While we recognize that United Methodist work dedicated to developing and supporting vital congregations relies heavily on external and quantitative measures to assess vitality, we also believe at least some of these measures directly pertain to the nature of leadership. I am confident that vital leadership results in vital congregations—whatever the numbers! So, how do we think theologically about clergywomen in vital leadership?

Beans and Rice: A Theological Reflection on “Empowerment for All”

By Ellen Blue, Louisiana Annual Conference.

In an issue of WellSprings published a dozen years ago, I wrote about a group of my female colleagues in seminary.[1] We met each week, initially as a study group but soon as a support group for processing what it meant to be second-career women preparing for ministry. One of us compared our time together with the necessary escape for steam when cooking beans. “If you don’t let that steam off, you wind up with beans on the ceiling,” she said, and we became the Bean Group.

God Still Speaks: UMC Restructuring

By Beauty Maenzanise.

Since 1996, I have attended the United Methodist General Conference as an observer. The climax of pressure and divisions has been increasing each quadrennial. Each past General Conference had its thorny issues at the table. The 2012 conference was buzzing with talk of restructuring. Not that the other issues were not important, but restructuring has been shaking every corner of the denomination, from local churches to seminaries worldwide to the general boards and agencies. This has drawn a lot of attention around the globe where the UMC is. It has also drawn a lot of money, time, and energy.

Salary Study

By Hee An Choi.

When people are called to ministry, salary is not the first thing they consider in their hearts. The common assumption in Christian ministry is that pastors should expect to “leave everything behind,” including material possessions and personal comforts. Discussions of pastor salaries have long been taboo in Christian ministry practices in many denominations. While salaries are the first and the most important issue for personal well-being in secular society, salaries are the last and least important issue for a pastor’s well-being in the practice of ministry. As a result, very little research has been conducted on this issue. In fact, this study is the first research on pastor salaries in The United Methodist Church that considers crucial multifaceted contexts, such as race, gender, conference context, seniority, and others.

The Widow of Zarephath: A Story of Empowerment in Marginality

By Quynh-Hoa Nguyen.

This article represents a Vietnamese woman’s reading of the story of the widow at Zarephath in the context of the Christian marginality of women. The marginal widow of Zarephath, as this reading articulates, represents divine empowerment in her marginality.