Rev. Dr. Jennifer Browne states ten core beliefs that she embraces as a United Methodist and provide the foundation for her staying in The United Methodist Church.
Clergy Assistant to the Bishop & Director of Clergy Services, Michigan Conference
As all of us grapple with the delay of the General Conference, the May 1 start date of the Global Methodist Church, and the wide spectrum of congregational and clergy opinions and plans regarding the United Methodist Church, I decided I needed to take time to articulate my own standpoint. It was a helpful exercise for me, and I offer it hoping that it encourages others to take time to do the same.
I believe in God who created us in the divine image to be a diverse and creative people, connected in faithful, reconciled relationships to our Creator and each other. I believe God’s intention for the church is to guide the world into this relationship by our practice and example.
I believe in Jesus, God incarnate, fully human and fully divine, who is both the sign and the means of this reconciled, faithful relationship. I believe Jesus’ life is our example of and his death and resurrection the gateways to the fully human life – here and hereafter – that God desires for us.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the power of God in this world to inspire creative growth in all of us, igniting our mission to, with, and in the world.
I believe the Bible is inspired by God, written by human beings, and incorporates within itself our best example of how to interpret its wisdom for an always-changing world. Just as Jesus used the Torah to bring the word of God alive for his time, we are biblically-led to understand Jesus as the Word of God alive for our time and to prayerfully study the Bible for the light it sheds on the future.
I believe that John Wesley and our other founders intended us to be a church that is unified by theological essentials (see above), offering life-giving mission and ministry whether or not we agree on the rest.
I believe that works of piety and works of mercy cannot be separated. Each depends on the other for guidance, sustenance, and integrity.
I believe that the Wesleyan Quadrilateral – the use of reason, experience, and tradition to reflect upon Scripture – is the best way to build a theologically-based ethic for living as Christians.
I believe that constant change is part of God’s design for the world and for us. Therefore God intends for us to grow in imagination, understanding, knowledge, and experience, using our minds and hearts to respect difference, care for creation, work for peace, and advocate for the oppressed. Just as Jonah learned that God loved the Ninevites too, just as Peter learned that Gentiles could be Jesus-followers, we have learned that members of the LGBTQ+ community are called to the covenant of marriage and the vocation of ordained ministry.
I believe that the structure and polity of the United Methodist Church, for all its flaws, is the most effective way for the church to live out our God-given purpose. Having been ordained in a denomination built on congregational (vs. connectional) authority in which clergy are called (vs. appointed), I am proud now to be part of a system that reflects a larger vision of the church: one that allows, encourages, and expects laity and clergy to do more together than they can do separately.
I believe in UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, JFON/Justice for Our Neighbors, the Midwest Mission Distribution Center, Cass Community Social Services, and all the food banks, tutoring programs, long-term flood relief efforts, prison ministries, youth groups, prayer circles, and innumerable other ministries of love and action that our churches, conference, and denomination support.