I am part of the Methodist Federation for Social Action because it both inspires me and gives me hope. For me, MFSA lifts up the greatest strengths and addresses the greatest areas of weakness in my denomination.
One of the biggest things that drew me to The United Methodist Church as a college student was the denomination’s commitment to mission work that equips and empowers, and never uses assistance as a bait-and-switch conversion tool (read more about the UMC’s values with respect to relief work here). So many times, I hear people who are skeptical about organized religion say things like, “Christians talk a good game, but they don’t actually try to live like Jesus.” I believe that the UMC and MFSA stand in counterpoint to this view. Although not an official board or body of the UMC, for me MFSA has functioned as the heart and soul of our denomination, inspiring us to continually seek peace and people’s rights, to address systems of poverty, promote progressive initiatives, and work for justice in our own church. Foremost for me, I appreciate a strong witness for pacifism, as I believe that organized religion has too often been used to sound the drums of war.
MFSA inspires me by holding my denomination to a high standard in seeking peace and justice, which I understand to be at the heart of the Reign of God as Jesus proclaimed it. That witness calls the UMC to be the best representation of Christ’s body that we can be.
And yet, we are far from perfect.
Like any human institution, my beloved denomination struggles to be a faithful witness to the vast and encompassing love of God. We fall short in our pacifism; we do not stand strongly enough in defense of the natural world, which we have been told to care for; we botch our inclusivity. We have not fully broken free of– let alone repented of– the racism and Anglo-North-American privilege that saturates so much of our movement. We cut couples off from the blessing of the church and deny the call of God to ministry in persons based on sexual orientation. And we spend so much time arguing about these things– particularly the last– that we neglect our call to be Christian community and extend the love of Christ to the world for its (and our!) transformation.
There are days when that list of shortcomings makes me want to give up.
But for the witness of MFSA, which reminds me that I am not alone. I am not the only one who wants to see a stronger pacifist stance. I am not the only one who weeps when I have to tell a couple I can’t marry them.
I am not the only one who believes that we cannot tend souls without tending bodies, and we cannot preach a just and inclusive Reign of God unless we work for a just and inclusive human society.
MFSA gives me hope by naming the places where The United Methodist Church needs to become more Christlike, and building community to lovingly call us to that work. None of us needs to carry the weight of our brokenness alone, nor shoulder the burden of our need for healing as a denomination.
And that’s why I’m part of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. Why are you?
4 thoughts on “Inspiration and Hope: Why I am part of MFSA”
If there is something that must be filled out, then I am not a part because I haven’t filled out the form yet.
On the other hand, if my words and actions are the indicators of my mind and soul, then I am very much a part.
For those that wish to be an official part of the Federation, what must one do?
Well now that’d be a good thing to share, huh?
I get involved through my annual conference’s chapter of MFSA. You can find yours by searching the MFSA site: http://mfsaweb.org/?page_id=103
If your conference doesn’t have a chapter or you wish to affiliate nationally, you can find that link here: http://mfsaweb.org/?page_id=97
There are annual membership dues, which are the only way MFSA is financially supported. In most chapters, if the dues are too steep for an individual member, the chapter lets you set your own dues. I did this for a time because I couldn’t afford the full dues.
Thanks for reading and for asking such an important question!
I’m not a member of MFSA. I’m not inclined to join, not am I inclined to prevent others from doing so. I think the main reason I’m not a member is because I think of the local church where I serve as my ‘MFSA’.
It may also be a carry-over from my 60s youth – a kind of fatigue when it comes to organizations (read: establishment). I think I don’t want to join organizations that are doing what the organization I joined (the UM Church) is supposed to be doing, on the assumption that one more organization intending to do what so many organizations are supposed to be doing is counter-intuitive – but that’s just me. I can certainly understand a different perspective.
I can completely see where you are coming from, Mark. And yes, the church itself, at all of its levels, should be what MFSA seeks to be. For me, the gap between what is and what I believe we are called to be is sometimes so vast that I find it discouraging, and the added community and connection around bridging that gap is a blessing for me. That’s why I advocate it for myself and for others for whom it is helpful. I definitely applaud your stance, however. However we live into our calling is a good thing!
And yes, we Methodists/Christians/people have a way of over-organizationizing. Burnout helps no one, and any illusion that organizationalism for its own sake is a good thing can become downright dangerous.