January 1, 2009 the 2008 Book of Discipline became the guide book for the life and ministry of the United Methodist Church. Much of the book is the same as in past years but there are some notable changes. In the membership vows there is an important addition. Previously members were asked to support the church by their “prayers, presences, gifts and service.” The word “witness” was added to the list in our new Discipline. A witness is someone who tells what they have seen and experienced. When Jesus rose on Easter morning Mary Magdalene told the disciples that she had seen the risen Lord. We should tell people about the risen Lord in our life and how having a relationship with Christ has made a difference. People simply won’t know about Jesus until we who know him tell people. But just as surely people won’t believe that Jesus is real in our lives unless we back up our talk with our actions. A witness not only talks, they DO. Our Christian witness can be seen in the way we treat people. Do we show respect and honor to all people no matter who they are? Our Christian witness can be seen in how we care for the earth and our stewardship of our precious natural resources. Our Christian witness can be seen in how we spend our money, how we speak out on issues of social justice, and how we refuse to go along with the crowd when they are doing an expedient, wrong thing. There are many ways to be a witness.
If you have not joined the United Methodist Church in the past month then your membership vows are out of date. Why not take the time to renew your membership vows before God at your church this Sunday? Promise to uphold the church with your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service and your witness.
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson