2020 State of the Church Report
Blessed is the Church
In 2020, our identity as Christians, formed in the Wesleyan tradition, helped us to face the challenges of a pandemic, rising authoritarianism, racism and violence around the world.
In this video, four of our bishops tell how United Methodists, in spite of the trials of 2020, have been “salt and light” to the world, sharing God’s love to a suffering world. As we reflect on the celebrations and difficulties of the past year, we have used Jesus’ beatitudes to frame our experiences and tell the story of how The United Methodist Church continues to transform the world.Download video
Few would characterize this past year as one of blessing. We came into 2020 off of a disastrous 2019 Special Session of the General Conference, which damaged our witness and caused untold suffering within our body. Barely into 2020, we were devastated by a global pandemic, which has killed millions, many in our own families, congregations and communities. And 2020 awakened us to the ravages of racism, painfully epitomized by the slow and public murder of George Floyd.
This was hardly a year of blessing. Yet we have chosen to use these Matthean blessings — these Beatitudes (Mt. 5:1-14) — as the framework for this report. That is because they describe our identity as a church, not our circumstances. As one commentator put it, the Beatitudes “…declare the notae ecclesiae, the ‘marks of the church.’” They are the marks of a community of believers formed through the redemptive acts of Christ. They are the marks of a church, challenged by its own brokenness and the brokenness of the world, yet called to bring about salvation and hope.
Uplifting the poor in spirit
In the face of the unprecedented challenges and uncertainty, United Methodists are a people who look to God for hope and find their identity in the teachings of Christ.
Grieving and comforting
United Methodists mourn those lost in the pandemic as well as natural disasters, acts of violence and other tragic circumstances over the past year.
Sharing the inheritance of the meek
The challenges of 2020 humbled people in parts of the world unaccustomed to fighting pandemics and gave United Methodists the opportunity to share resources, wisdom and faith. Tackling the pandemic required shared sacrifice and learning in a spirit of meekness and humility.
Thirsting for righteousness
In response to the recent murders of people of color, United Methodists called for the dismantling of racism both within the Church and across society.
United Methodists acted as Christ’s healing hands in 2020 by providing aid and spiritual support to communities affected by the pandemic and natural disasters.
Even as United Methodists struggled with practicing ministry at a distance and uncertainty about the future, they turned their hearts to God for comfort and guidance.
As the world faces war, ethnic violence, hyper-partisanship and rising nationalism, United Methodists strive to be peacemakers who see and affirm everyone as a beloved child of God.
Persecuted for Christ's sake
The cost of discipleship is high. Christ tells us to expect resistance and even persecution, but also to take hope in the fact that God is always with us.
Being light and salt
Now more than ever, people need Christ’s good news. By finding our identity in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, we become the salt of the earth and light of the world. See examples of how United Methodists have been salt and light to the world.
"Beatitudes" Music Video
Even in the darkest times, we find hope in God’s blessings. United Methodist Communications produced an original song and music video based on the Beatitudes from Matthew 5:3–12. This video contains images of United Methodists experiencing and responding to the unique challenges of 2020.