Will you support and maintain them [our Church government and polity]?
I suppose it was pretty clear in my last reflection—in fact, I think I may have started reflecting on this question during the last, that having studied and approved of our church discipline, government and polity, I do pledge my support and maintenance.
I will support our discipline and polity by agreeing to be held accountable to the covenant I’ve made as a United Methodist elder in full connection. I will support our structure by working within the covenant. That to say that I don’t think Wesley intended this to be a question to which the answer was blind loyalty. I fully believe that the Church always stands in need of reform and that includes our structures….government and polity. We need to continually be inquiring whether our government and polity are structured in such a way to give us the greatest effectiveness to “Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” If something needs reformed, then appropriate channels should be pursued for achieving that reformation….not simply ignoring the problem or structure. I believe this constant striving for perfection of our government and polity is actually an important part of supporting it.
I will keep our church government and polity by teaching it. Frankly, I’m growing weary of the number of people who think that the denomination, or the bishop, or the cabinet, or open itinerancy, or apportionments, or the conference are some kind of sworn enemies of the local church. Our Church is organized to be connectional and we need to wave the flag on that…embracing our structure and working within it so that the whole Church moves forward in the establishment of God’s Kingdom. None of the aforementioned entities are perfect (that’s where the previously referenced reformation may come in) but we need to embrace all of who we are as United Methodists.
Will you support and maintain them? I will, with God’s help.