“Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel.”
Philippians 1:27 CEB
On April 23, 1968, the United Methodist Church (UMC) was created by the union of the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) and the Methodist Church. The questions asked by the bodies formulating the Plan of Union had everything to do with how we would live faithful lives together. They covered a multitude of organizational and ethical concerns—most importantly, how to address the racism enshrined in the Methodist Church’s jurisdictional structure.
The Central Jurisdiction was created in 1939 to avoid disunity in the church over race and was rightfully a major concern prior to the Uniting Conference. Unfortunately, the Plan of Union did not erase the tarnish of hypocrisy that accompanied that institutionalized racism. This week—just past our 44th anniversary—at the 2012 UMC General Conference, delegates are again addressing questions both organizational and ethical.
As in the past, contentious issues bring the threat of disunity. We would do well to remember these words written prior to the Uniting Conference of 1968: “When you postpone doing the right thing, you only make it more difficult to do it later. . . .To those who contend that to try to do more now would be to divide the church, it is appropriate to reply: ‘It would do no such thing. It would reveal a division which already exists.’ Disunity is deplorable but hypocrisy is disastrous. And if we institutionally assent to what we individually deplore, we are guilty of hypocrisy.” Only by upholding Christ’s promise of freedom and full humanity for all can we avoid that hypocrisy and live lives worthy of the Gospel.
To think about: What does a life worthy of Christ’s gospel look like?
 Richard Benjamin Garrison, “A Dim View of a Bright Prospect: the Proposed United Methodist Church,” Christian Century 84 no. 10 (March 8, 1967): 315.