United Methodist Forum: Why I am United Methodist (Betty Spiwe Katiyo)

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Focused on the Scriptures

By the Betty Spiwe Katiyo
September 27, 2017

Courtesy photo of Betty Spiwe Katiyo.

Courtesy photo of Betty Spiwe Katiyo.

I was born to a couple who were very strong members of The United Methodist Church. I grew up in the church environment and was nurtured to be a United Methodist. I was educated in United Methodist institutions.

I remember, as a child, being taught how to pray and to read the Bible. Every day, we had our evening prayers as a family. At church, we were taught the catechism, the origins of our church and had Bible study. As a teenager, I took junior Sunday school classes.

Mine was not a question of choosing which denomination to worship in — I was born, bred and educated in The United Methodist Church. As I grew up, I easily could have decided to join another church, but I decided to stay and I am proud to be a strong member of The United Methodist Church.

I choose to remain in the church because:

  1. The United Methodist Church is grounded in and upholds the Scriptures as they are in the Holy Bible.
  2. Its emphasis is on personal and social holiness and upholding morality, which is held supreme more than dogmatic decisions.
  3. The church believes in the priesthood of all believers, and as such, laity are given space to participate together with clergy. This is the DNA of The United Methodist Church. The church is like the body where each part performs its function for the good of the whole body.
  4. The church has a very clear mission as outlined in Matthew 28, verses 19 and 20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” We are a church on a mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and this is a very clear mission statement for us to follow.
  5. The United Methodist Church is a committee-driven church, thereby involving its members in decision-making. The governance structures are such that both laity and clergy take part in these processes. I particularly like this aspect, because no one can dictate or impose their wishes on the church, as the church practices representative democracy in governance.
  6. Also of interest is the global nature of the church and the fact that we have a Book of Discipline that has our constitution. It is the instrument that sets the laws, polity and processes by which the church governs itself worldwide.
  7.  Our church is a connectional church, horizontal and vertical, and as such, we are all connected at circuit, district and annual conferences and globally.
  8. The church has social principles that speak to human issues from a sound biblical and theological foundation.
  9. The church has an “Ecumenical Commitment,” which sees it being in Christian unity at local, national and worldwide levels with other Christian churches. I admire that through our United Methodist Committee on Relief programs, we extend help to all, regardless of their denominations.

Coming to the question of what all members within the connection can celebrate about the church, there are a lot of milestones to celebrate, but I will highlight just a few that are worldwide:

  1. The United Methodist Church has and still is spreading the gospel worldwide, making disciples of Jesus Christ.
  2. The growth of the church in Africa and Asia is worth celebrating, as noted by the increased participation at General Conferences by delegates from the two continents.
  3. The increase in female clergy numbers throughout the connection.
  4. The number of schools, hospitals, training centers and theological seminaries that accommodate even non-United Methodists.
  5. The establishment of Africa University in Zimbabwe, and its influence on educating Africa and the world.
  6. The mission work being done worldwide through the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and UMCOR.
  7. The church can celebrate that it has, to date, upheld the Scriptures. It has followed in the footsteps of John Wesley and other predecessors to be obedient to the will of our Lord, and to be under the discipline of the Holy Spirit.

It is my fervent wish that this denomination will remain focused on the Scriptures and will not let human rights take away our humanity as expounded in the Bible. Human rights should be applied with sense, and not go against the norm.

We should not be conformed to this world, which tends to officialize and legalize things that are contrary to the Bible. John 15:12 tells us to love one another as Jesus loved us.

Betty Spiwe Katiyo is a lay member of the West Zimbabwe Conference.

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