The #BeUMC campaign reminds us of who we are at our best — the spirit-filled, resilient, connected, missional, faithful, diverse, deeply rooted, committed, disciple-making, Jesus-seeking, generous, justice-seeking, world-changing people of God called The United Methodist Church.
Our focus this month is on our commitment to Christ and His teachings, social and racial justice, remembering our history, and commitment in relationships. Our community of faith is steadfast, loving, and supportive.
Committed to Christ
Use these DVD-based small group studies at your church to encourage a deeper commitment to Christ and His teachings. Find additional resources in the Discipleship pathfinder.
Creed: What Christians Believe and Why by Adam Hamilton. Hamilton explores not only what Christians believe, but also why they believe, and why it matters, which in turn leads readers to confront and examine their own core beliefs and go beyond reciting the familiar words of the Apostles’ Creed.
Revolutionary Kingdom: Following the Rebel Jesus by Mike Slaughter with Karen Perry Smith. Welcome to the revolution, a revolution led by Jesus, who provided us with the vision of a kingdom worth dying for, making him the most radical revolutionary of all time. In Revolutionary Kingdom, we learn that to join this revolution…to be considered true disciples of Christ…we must exchange comfortable cultural worldviews and values for the radical requirements of living out the Kingdom in the here and now. It’s when we get serious about God’s call that we, too, live revolutionary, world-changing lives.
A Disciple’s Path: A Guide for United Methodists by James A. Harnish with Justin LaRosa. Prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness…this is what we commit to when we become members of The United Methodist Church, and it’s a big step. But A Disciple’s Path helps us look beyond membership, presenting an engaging approach to discipleship from a distinctly Wesleyan perspective. It helps you develop spiritual practices, discover your unique gifts, and engage in ministry that brings transformation to your own life and to the lives of others and the world.
The Jesus Challenge: 21 Days of Loving God and Neighbor by Justin LaRosa. To stay in relationship with God is a journey that never ends and one that requires us to focus on love. The Jesus Challenge: 21 Days of Loving God and Neighbor is a 3-week study that will help us become more attentive to our relationship with God. It invites us to move from forgetfulness to remembering, from being distracted to becoming intentional, and from self-sufficiency to reliance on God, so we can live lives that center on loving God and loving others as ourselves.
Reckless Love: Jesus’ Call to Love Our Neighbor by Tom Berlin. In his exploration of Jesus’ teaching and travels with his disciples, Tom Berlin suggests that Jesus teaches us how to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength by showing us how to love our neighbor. In Reckless Love, you will see the ways Jesus’ care for others disrupted the way his disciples thought and acted so deeply that they learned to love God fully and join Jesus’ mission to share the good news unambiguously. In so doing, you will have the opportunity to consider your life, and learn how loving the people around you will completely renew your faith and give you a new experience of loving God.
Called: Hearing and Responding to God’s Voice: Lessons from Six Biblical Characters by Susan Robb. Susan Robb shows us how God interrupts the lives of ordinary men and women, calling and empowering them to lives of service they never would have imagined on their own. And she shows us that the same God who called six of the Bible’s most iconic characters calls us, too, to bring hope and transformation to the world. Discover how to hear and respond to the unique call God is placing on your life in this six-week study.
Committed to Racial Justice
Justice or Just Us? The Biblical Call to Confront Racism (DVD) by Rob Fuquay, Nicole Caldwell-Gross, and Jevon Caldwell-Gross. Confronting racism is not just a social or political matter, but a theological one. It is the Bible that calls us to pursue justice, and the Bible that calls us to oppose racism. Justice or Just Us is a four-week video curriculum based on a sermon series and anti-racism commitment at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Pastors Rob Fuquay, Nicole Caldwell-Gross, and Jevon Caldwell-Gross help you acknowledge the reality of racism in our world today, as well as our Christian responsibility to oppose it as individuals and together as the church.
I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist. edited by Rudy Rasmus. Ten Black women and men explore life through the lens of compelling personal religious narratives. They are people and leaders whose lives are tangible demonstrations of the power of a divine purpose and evidence of what grace really means in face of hardship, disappointment, and determination. Each of the journeys intersect because of three central elements that are the focus of this book. We’re Black. We’re Christians. We’re Methodists. Each starts with the fact, “I’m Black,” but to resolve the conflict of being Christian and Methodist means confronting aspects of White theology, White supremacy, and White racism in order to ground an oppositional experience toward domination over four centuries in America.
Holding Up Your Corner: Video Stories About Race (DVD) by F. Willis Johnson. Holding up Your Corner walks you through a self-directed process of determining what role your church can play in your specific community. You’ll learn how to use testimony and other narrative devices, proclamation, guided group conversations, and other tactics in order to own the calling and responsibility we have as Christians. Examples from a wide variety of churches and leaders make this a valuable resource for everyone concerned with racial justice.
There’s a Storm Comin’: How the American Church Can Lead Through Times of Racial Crisis by Harold Dorrell Briscoe Jr. Drawing from current sociological, psychological, and political research, Dorrell makes the case that the church must take proactive measures to prepare for racialized crises. Churches must prepare for these crises to reduce their severity and impact in their communities and cities. Dorrell then recommends strategies drawn from the academic and professional fields of climate change adaptation and natural disaster mitigation. These insights are synthesized with biblical data to create a framework that gives churches practical steps to prepare for and respond to racialized crises that inflict trauma to the social fabric of America.
Black & White: Disrupting Racism One Friendship at a Time by Teesha Hadra and John Hambrick. Working against racism is part of what it means to call Jesus Lord and Savior. Most of us don’t need to make speeches. We need to make friends. This is the core message of Black and White by authors Teesha Hadra, a young African American woman, and John Hambrick, a 60-year-old white man. The book helps us see the various and often subtle ways racism continues to be a part of American culture, but then, using their story of friendship as an example, we learn how racism can be disrupted when we risk forging friendships with those who do not look like us. Readers are equipped to take faithful, practical, next steps in obedience to God’s call to join the movement against racism, changing the way we see the world, which, in turn, could actually bring change to the world.
Who Lynched Willie Earle? Preaching to Confront Racism by Will Willimon. How do pastors of white, mainline Protestant churches preach effectively in situations of racial violence and dis-ease? Even though you long to address contemporary social crises, how do you know where to begin when it’s simply not possible to relate to black pain? Who Lynched Willie Earle? uses the true story of pastor Hawley Lynn’s 1947 sermon, a response to the last lynching in Greenville, South Carolina, to help pastors preach on race and violence in America, inviting and challenging the church to respond.
Committed to Social Justice
John Wesley was clear about a commitment to social holiness. Use these resources to engage your church in the civic work of your community and consider the weight of social issues. Find additional resources in the Mission Areas and Social Issues pathfinder.
Creating Change Together: A Toolkit for Faithful Civic Engagement (PDF) by The General Board of Church and Society. Within these pages, you will find the biblical and United Methodist grounding for civic engagement as well as strategies and tactics that you can do as an individual or group to pursue the common good. Creating Change Together will equip you with essential tools to address public concerns. This resource is available as a free PDF download.
A House Divided: Engaging the Issues through the Politics of Compassion by Mark Feldmeir. Mark Feldmeir, pastor of a 3,500 person, politically diverse United Methodist congregation, explores eight of the most divisive issues of our day—climate change, racism, immigration, healthcare, medical aid in dying, Islamic extremism, homosexuality, and social isolation and suicide—through the lens of “a politics of compassion,” the motivating, unifying ideals of the gospel that insist that we work together for the benefit of the common good. Through a series of axioms, or principles we can all agree on, Feldmeir seeks to identify those shared values that affirm our commonality and inspire a more creative and collaborative approach to finding practical solutions and healing our divisions. Each chapter includes a study guide for small group conversations.
Vital Conversations on Race, Culture, and Justice (DVD) by The General Commission on Religion and Race. This video series features thought leaders, pastors, theologians, activists, authors, and scholars who share their stories, insights, and expertise on issues related to faith, culture, and fighting oppression in the church and world today. Through these studies, you are invited to engage in relevant and real conversations. This a great resource for small groups or individuals seeking to begin a dialogue, face our misconceptions and fears, and move deliberately to spiritual, community, and social transformation. These videos and accompanying study guides can be viewed online.
When Christians Get it Wrong (DVD) by Adam Hamilton. When young adults talk about the problems they have with Christianity and the church, they often name certain attitudes and behaviors they believe are practiced too often by Christians: judging others, condemning people of other faiths, rejecting science, injecting politics into faith, and being anti-homosexual. With his familiar style, Adam Hamilton tackles these issues and addresses the how’s and why’s of Christians getting it right when it comes to being Christ in the world.
Subversive Witness: Scripture’s Call to Leverage Privilege (DVD) by Dominique DuBois Gilliard. Dominique DuBois Gilliard inspires groups and individuals to reimagine how they think about privilege and exercise power. Instead of denying the existence of privilege or feeling incapacitated by it, Christians can learn to wield privilege as an instrument to advance the kingdom and sacrificially love our neighbors. Gilliard illustrates how the faithful witness of biblical figures, from Esther to Zacchaeus, provides a blueprint for modern believers. By embodying Scripture’s subversive call to leverage–and at times forsake–privilege, you will learn to love your neighbors sacrificially, enact systemic change, and grow more Christlike as a citizen of God’s kingdom.
Fearless Dialogues: A New Movement for Justice by Gregory C. Ellison II. Drawing on all the community’s collective voices—from “doctors to drug dealers”—Fearless Dialogues is a groundbreaking program that seeks real solutions to problems of chronic unemployment, violence, and hopelessness. In cities around the United States and now the world, the program’s founder, Gregory C. Ellison, and his team create conversations among community members who have never spoken to one another, the goal of which are real, implementable, and lasting changes to the life of the community. These community transformations are based on both face-to-face encounters and substantive analysis of the problems the community faces. In this book, Ellison makes this same kind of analysis available to readers, walking them through the steps that must be taken to find common ground in our divided communities and then to implement genuine and lasting change.
Black History Month
February is Black History Month, and there is much to celebrate in the Black history of The United Methodist Church. Find additional resources in the African American Ministry Resources pathfinder.
African American History & Devotions: Readings and Activities for Individuals, Families, and Communities by Teresa L. Fry Brown. Within these 28 devotions, you’ll discover new ways to celebrate your heritage, deepen your faith, and build stronger communities. A Scripture verse, a reflection on the Scripture, a prayer, and related activities are included for each day and are perfect for use by families and groups as well for individual devotion.
Pioneer Black Clergywomen: Stories of Black Clergywomen of the United Methodist Church 1974-2016 by Josephine Whitely-Fields. Black clergywomen are pioneers of the United Methodist Church who continue to significantly contribute to making disciples and spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their stories are inspiring illustrations of the Holy Spirit at work in ordinary people who said yes to ordained ministry.
Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land by Joseph E. Lowery. Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery has been an eyewitness to some of the most significant events in our history. But, more important, he has been a voice that speaks truth to power–inspiring change that moves us forward. In Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land, you will find Dr. Lowery’s most enduring speeches and messages from the past fifty years including Coretta Scott King’s funeral and the benediction given at President Obama’s inauguration.
Reflect Reclaim Rejoice: Preserving the Gift of Black Sacred Music (DVD) by Discipleship Ministries. Four centuries ago, Blacks enslaved in America created a music form that gave solace even during the most inhumane conditions. This DVD study traces the music’s history and invites readers to see and experience the ways it is being kept alive. Filmed on location in Methodist churches where the oldest living African American music is still sung–Georgia, Maryland, and South Carolina–viewers come to understand the key role that spirituals played in liberating a people who had little more than a song.
We’ve Come This Far By Faith: A History of Black Methodism in the Southeastern Jurisdiction (DVD). The African American Methodist Heritage Center published this series of DVDs for each jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. For many years, there was a concern that the legacy of African Americans in Methodism was being lost because heirs were not always aware that papers, journals, etc. were of value to the church and to black Methodists in particular.
Black Methodism: Legacy of Faith Revival (DVD) by The General Commission on Religion and Race. A special anniversary DVD to help United Methodists celebrate the 40th anniversary of several related and pivotal events in the life and history of the church: the end of the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction in 1967; the founding of Black Methodists for Church Renewal in 1967; the birth through merger of The Methodist Church in 1968; the establishment of the General Commission on Religion and Race in 1968.
Committed in Relationships
February also brings St. Valentine’s Day. Use these resources to help couples strengthen their commitment to one another. Find additional resources in the Love and Relationships pathfinder.
Love to Stay: Sex, Grace, and Commitment (DVD) by Adam Hamilton. Adam Hamilton explores how, with God’s help, we can make love last. Drawing upon a survey of thousands of couples and singles, interviews with relationship and marriage therapists, the latest research in the field, and wisdom from the Bible, Hamilton looks at what it takes to create and sustain healthy, meaningful romantic relationships across the course of a lifetime.
Staying in Love: Falling in Love is Easy, Staying in Love Requires a Plan (DVD) by Andy Stanley. Pastor Andy Stanley discusses how to stay in love once you fall in love. With more than a thousand matchmaking services available today and new ones springing up all the time, finding a romantic match can be easier than ever. But staying together with the one you’ve found seems to be the real challenge. So, is it possible for two people to fall in love and actually stay there? Absolutely!
Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary Thomas. Gary Thomas invites you to see how God can use marriage as a discipline and a motivation to love Him more and reflect more of the character of His Son. Your marriage is much more than a union between you and your spouse. It is a spiritual discipline ideally suited to help you know God more fully and intimately. Sacred Marriage shifts the focus from marital enrichment to spiritual enrichment in ways that can help you love your mate more.
Saint Valentine’s Day: How the Life of the Saint Illustrates the Four Loves Found in the Bible by Stephen Skelton. Skelton recounts the real life of Saint Valentine and how his faithful Christian devotion illustrates each of the four types of love found in the Bible, the love of romance, family, friendship, and God. Each short chapter ends with discussion questions. This booklet can be reproduced for everyone in your group. A PDF copy of this booklet is also available.
Preparing Couples for Love and Marriage: A Pastor’s Resource by Cameron Lee and James L. Furrow. Pre-marriage guidance in a flexible four-session framework to help couples begin a successful marriage. While no one can smooth away all the rough spots in the marital road ahead, couples can be coached to pay attention to warning signs, see the bumps before they hit them, and deal more skillfully with inevitable conflicts. The good news is that you don’t need any formal background in counseling, because the kind of work we’re talking about isn’t counseling—it’s coaching couples to respond positively to the differences between them. It’s not about having all the answers; but helping couples manage difficulties before they become serious threats to the marriage.
Some Pre-Marital Points to Ponder by H. Maurice Barnes. This engaging book is for individuals and couples interested in pursuing, establishing, or maintaining a long-term relationship. A short point is made by the author on one page with space for reflection by each partner in the couple on the opposite page. 25 points in all.
For Youth & Children
Affirm: God’s Call / The World’s Need / Your Purpose (DVD). While teenagers may have a basic understanding of what it means to be Christian, they still need help developing, deepening, and strengthening their faith. Affirm was written with that challenge in mind. This six-week discipleship resource provides a flipped classroom experience, enabling teens to articulate what they believe and why, helping them see how faith can be practiced in their everyday lives. Youth leaders will find everything they need to guide their teens through a transition in their faith journey, including tools to help enlist the support of parents and the entire church family.
Connecting Faith & Justice: Junior High Curriculum by The General Board of Church & Society. This curriculum is designed to help students actively engage the intersection of faith and justice and explore why our faith compels us toward justice. It is available to download for free. Junior high is usually around the time of confirmation and a perfect time to walk alongside your students, encouraging them to search deeper within themselves, their relationship with God, and their role within their community and the larger world.
The ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and Ourselves!) Embrace Our Differences by Carolyn B. Helsel & Y. Joy Harris-Smith. This book equips parents, teachers, and community leaders to address children of all ages on complicated topics of race, political affiliation, gender, class, religion, ability, nationality, and sexual orientation. Such intercultural dialogues can support communities as they work for the mutual well-being of all. The book includes specific resources and activities for younger and older children that parents and community leaders can employ to encourage compassion and empathy. Questions at the end of each chapter invite reflection and group discussion.
Hand in Hand: Helping Children Embrace Diversity. Help children in grades K-6 learn to appreciate and celebrate the diversity in God’s family with this flexible five-session course. Sessions address issues of differences, prejudice, inclusion, unity, and how to celebrate diversity. Includes audio CD of songs and stories.
Luis y Mia / Mia and Luis by Mónica Reyna y L.J. Zimmerman. This flip-over book tells the story of a cross-cultural friendship from each child’s perspective. Luis is the child of Mexican immigrants and Mia is a White American child. This book will help children ages 6-9 understand the importance of showing love to people who are different, apologizing when you’re wrong, forgiving one another, and making everyone feel welcome. Both stories are in English and Spanish.
The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights by Carole Boston Weatherford. In this book, the Beatitudes — from Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount — form the backdrop for Carole Boston Weatherford’s powerful free-verse poem that traces the African American journey from slavery to civil rights. Tim Ladwig’s stirring illustrations showcase a panorama of heroes in this struggle, from the slaves shackled in the hold of a ship to the first African American president taking his oath of office on the steps of the United States Capitol.