An Open Letter to the Design Task Force

To: The members of the Conference Design Task Force
From: Rev. Scott Grotewold, Collegiate UMC & Wesley Foundation, Ames
Re: The Information Sharing and Gathering (“Town Hall”) Meetings

Dear Friends:

It was with great interest that I attended a couple of the Town Hall meetings scheduled by Conference Treasurer Terry Montgomery and including a presentation by the Conference Design Task Force. One of these meetings was held at Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation in Ames (where I serve) on the evening of December 16. About seventy people from the congregation were in attendance, attesting to their understanding of the meeting’s importance with
regards to possible proposals impacting the future of our Conference. . . . (Read More)

What Gift Can I Bring?

There is a United Methodist Spiritual Gifts Assessment online at www.umc.org. If you are interested in taking it, you can click here—> SGA

I took that assessment, and I was intrigued by many of the options. In particular were the options for section 8 which is about how I respond “when faced with human need.”I couldn’t actually find an option that fit. I had to choose something which was “most like” me, rather than one which really expressed what action I am motivated to take when faced with human need.

When faced with human need, I am motivated by my baptismal covenant to “resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever form they present themselves.” This motivation is what lands me in the part of our faith tradition which supports women’s equal status and pay, a living wage for workers, and a stance for equal access for all God’s people to clean water, shelter, nourishing food, an education and healthcare.

It is this motivation which leads me to support the efforts of our church in Iowa to host events such as The United Methodist Advocacy Day on Tuesday, February 17th.

To participation in events like United in Christ Across our Differences:

 “Celebrating differences of race and gender in the Iowa Annual Conference and examining the way systemic oppression of women & minorities lives with us and how we can unlearn old ways of thinking, speaking & acting. To embrace new ways of being together as Brothers & Sisters in Christ”

Or to promoting opportunities to think creatively about how we live in creation such as Creation Celebration and Garden to Garden.

And when conversations, commissions and advocacy fail, it is the motivation that underscores my belief in civil disobedience-in the responsibility of the people to resist unjust laws and to refuse to participate in them as far as they are able.

When faced with human need, I am not so much a starfish saver or the EMT at the bottom of the cliff. Instead, I tend to wonder what led that starfish to get stranded, or who it was at the top of the cliff that pushed my sister over.

I am not sure what that Spiritual gift is, and I am still puzzling at its absence from the assessment because it is not absent from scripture. It is not absent from the life and teachings of Jesus. It is not even absent from the acts of the apostles in building the early Christian movement. What’s more, it is an integral part of the Methodist movement-in our histories and traditions across the Methodist spectrum.