Methodists who make Pentecostals look like Baptists. This was my thought as I participated in the United Methodist Church (UMC) Central Conference of Africa Worship Service on Sunday, May 15. A beautiful picture of a vibrant global church came to life as delegates and visitors from across the globe paused from General Conference business to hold hands together while dancing and singing praises to the Lord.
In a booming voice, Rev. Dr. Jerry Kulah, delegate of the Liberia Conference, delivered the service’s powerful message entitled, “UMC at the Crossroads.” The text he preached on was Jeremiah 6:16-17:
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’”
“So what does this mean for United Methodists in Africa? What does this mean for the global United Methodist church?” asked Kulah. “I’ve come to realize that our life’s journey there are always crossroads to encounter. At the crossroads of life it becomes our responsibility to carefully identify the paths that lead to our destination.”
Kulah continued, “At the crossroads you decide for God or you decide against God. At the crossroads you choose to take the right direction or take the wrong direction. …The United Methodist Church is at the Crossroads. [God] is asking us, ’What path are you taking? Will you take a new path or will you take my path? Will you take the path that looks good and feels good or will you take the path that leads the wrong direction? The crossroads is the point of decision making.’”
Like Esther, Kulah explained the UMC faces a costly crossroad moment. The church must choose whether or not we will be obedient to God and risk the consequences. A difficult test. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” declared Kulah, recalling Joshua 24:15.
The Africa Worship Service concluded with the administration of Holy Communion, hand-holding and hugs as worshipers sang the closing hymn, “Take the Name of Jesus with You.” A very fitting hymn, don’t you think?