We aren’t striving to be all the same, but we are striving to work together to make a significant difference in the world. We have created an extensive Volunteers in Mission effort, which is the fastest growing mission movement in the United Methodist Church today. It provides an opportunity for practically anyone to experience Christian mission around the world, including the Caribbean, Latin America, many American states, Africa, and Europe.
The Methodist movement founder, John Wesley (who began his ministry in England in 1738), said it almost 300 years ago, and it’s truer today than he could have imagined: The world is our parish. The United Methodist Committee on Relief responds to disasters in Hindu India and Islamic Turkey. Volunteers in Mission teams go to the most poverty-stricken parts of the globe. Bishops and regular church members live out lives of faith in war zones. United Methodists in the U.S. support brothers and sisters around the globe through the general funds of the church.
Although local churches are joined by an organizational network, it is not a traditional hierarchy. There is no one person who leads the denomination. Once every four years, members of the United Methodist Church get together for our General Conference to make important decisions governing our policy and practices. We aren’t afraid to tackle the tough issues: racism, poverty, human rights, human sexuality, labor issues, the farm crisis, gender equality, environmental problems. Social advocacy and action have been part of our church since it began. We are no less committed today.