By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor
We Methodists take our cues for organization from our founder John Wesley. He was very methodical (thus the name Methodists) in every aspect of his life, including his faith life. It stands to reason that we would continue that tradition today. This is why we have The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (BoD). It is updated every four years when Methodists gather from all over the world to decide if there are any changes needed to our positions on what matters to the Church and, in turn, needed changes to the BoD.
In this book, you will find all things Methodist, from how many people should be on a committee, to how clergy become ordained, to our doctrinal heritage, to our denomination’s official stance on civil disobedience. There is an entire section on social principles. In fact, there are 61 pages on social principles found in this latest BoD. John Wesley was very aware of the role the church could and should play in seeking justice in the world. (This includes clergy and laity alike.) These principles mattered to Wesley and they still matter to us today. The reason I became a United Methodist in 1991 was because of the Church’s position as a social justice champion.
While our denomination struggles to define our position on homosexuality (namely same-sex marriage and gay clergy), there are dozens of other topics we have managed to compile. Here’s a look at a few (very abbreviated) examples of our positions. While shortened, these examples are direct quotes from the BoD.
Science and Technology: We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology.
Right to Health Care: Providing the care needed to maintain health, prevent disease, and restore health after injury or illness is a responsibility each person owes others and government owes to all, a responsibility government ignores at its peril.
Consumption: Consumers should exercise their economic power to encourage the manufacture of goods that are necessary and beneficial to humanity while avoiding the desecration of the environment in either production or consumption.
Political Responsibility: The strength of a political system depends upon the full and willing participation of its citizens. The church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs that are unjust.
If you would like a copy of the Social Principles, just let us know. We’re happy to share. I’ll see you in church!