Understanding the challenges facing the United Methodist Church requires prayer, communication, and a commitment to unity. This page provides important resources from the UMC Book of Discipline, UMC Discipleship Website, and the Commission on the Way Forward. You can also read stories from members of Cullman First, and find official UMC resources to equip and inform.

God has called us to pursuing unity in Christ, who offers grace to all people.

Unity isn’t the progressive’s unity or the conservative’s unity. It’s God’s, and our sharing in that unity is the confession that we are indeed flawed, broken people, riddled with contradictions and unholiness.

We’re grace people. We should not merely tolerate but actually expect and embrace those times we see others in the Body who hold differing views.

Unity does not come naturally, especially in matters of the church.

Unity requires intentional work empowered by the grace of God.

Unity is not to be desired for its own sake, but as the best means toward holiness of heart and life, as God uses the entire church in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.



Chuck Petty and Family

I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church in Decatur, AL from the time I was born until I moved away to attend school at Auburn University. I have many fond memories of the friends and role models I had from this church growing up.

During my college years and after, I rarely attended church. I felt a lot of my views, and my lifestyle didn’t comply or wasn’t compatible with being a regular churchgoer. I saw everything through the lens of evangelical faith and often felt guilty for many of the things I thought or believed.

I became a Methodist because Methodist theology keeps its core belief based on the Apostles’ Creed yet is open to all people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, political beliefs, education, wealth or any of the false or worldly gauges we put on ourselves. I was, and still am, very inspired by the fact that Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as George and Laura Bush, are devout Methodists and members in good standing of their churches. That speaks to me about the power, diversity, and love of the United Methodist Church.

I love the diversity within the UMC. When we first came to Cullman FUMC, there was a woman pastor. I was so happy that my boys were able to see an intelligent, confident woman in the pulpit. She enriched their faith and gave them a better outlook on the world.

It’s imperative to me that the UMC maintains an open, loving, and a diverse congregation with diverse beliefs while keeping the core beliefs based on the Articles of Religion of the United Methodist Church. Even if there is someone you strongly disagree with or someone that is the odd man out with the rest of the church, the church should always listen to what the odd man has to say, regardless of how unpopular that view may be. Because sooner or later, you will probably find yourself to be the odd man out, and trust me, it’s good to be accepted regardless of how people may disagree. It is essential to stay together to continue to enhance one another’s faith with our diversity.

The two people who have influenced me the most in my Christian walk were my grandmother and aunt. My grandmother was a very conservative Southern Baptist woman, and my aunt was a liberal, feminist Presbyterian. Both were giants of the faith. Both had a very clear and deep understanding of scripture and a firm foundation of what they believed about morality and theology.

My grandmother, the Southern Baptist, taught me Psalm 23 and had deep and frank conversations with me around sensitive subjects like racism and abortion. Aunt Louise would often quote scripture and teach me about finding comfort in God and the Holy Spirit.

One of these women was the daughter of a Klansman. The other went to concentration camps in Europe after the war to help the survivorsBoth would have been loved and cherished members of the United Methodist Church. Both would have been leaders. Both would have had a tremendous impact on all of us. Although I find it hard to believe, there are people in the United Methodist Church right now as intelligent, strong, pious, and diverse as these two women. As essential as these two women.

This is why I love the United Methodist Church.

This is why I am a Methodist.

Casey & Markus Doering

I grew up as Methodist and was baptized, and later confirmed, as a member in this very church in Cullman. As an adult, I have lived in a few different cities in other states and yet I always return to my Methodist roots. I choose to be a Methodist – not just because of my family roots, but because of the focus on loving God and loving our neighbor as well as seeking to live like Jesus.

I cherish the diversity of the Methodist Church and the balance of the heart and the head. I also believe very much in the mission of the UMC: “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The core Methodist emphasis on service to others, outreach and evangelism is a key part of how I seek to live my life. It is a critical part of my faith that while the Bible is the “word of God and primary authority for Christian life,” it is also accepted that Scripture can be interpreted through reason, tradition, and experience. While my beliefs might differ amongst fellow Methodists on various topics, I embrace these differences and seek to be a part of His very diverse kingdom.

I identify as a Christian foremost, and everything else comes after, such as my commitment to this denomination of which I am a part. Still, I am a proud Methodist because of what this denomination represents, and that is one that demonstrates love and compassion for others because of God’s love and grace for each of us. To me one element that makes the Methodist Church special is how service, missions and compassion for others-of both a local and global nature-are threaded throughout the core beliefs and doctrine.

This all traces back to its founder John Wesley who began the Societies and class meetings to instill a sense of social justice in its members. Ultimately, it is our faith in God that should inspire such a walk and life of service and compassion. Our heart transformed must lead us to social action. I believe that it is in living the Methodist tradition that I’ve grown in my faith and seek to be the hands and feet of Christ in my daily life: equipped to be a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ in service and mission to the world.

After all, we best share the love of Christ through both our words and our actions.

As United Methodists, our foundation is a theology of grace, hearts warmed by the Holy Spirit, and an open table at Communion.

We are the people of the “extreme center,” balancing faith and works, conversion and social justice, and the centrality of Scripture with tradition, reason, and experience.

We can remain one church and allow grace for a variety of opinions; in some ways we always have. We can give room for different applications of the Gospel in various contexts, as long as the fundamental values of the faith are maintained.In Christ, diversity is a means to holiness, allowing us to more deeply understand the ways that God is at work with us and through us in our communities.

John Wesley is an example of how to remain united in areas of disagreement. He coined a term that serves us well: agree to disagree. He said,

“There are many doctrines of a less essential nature. … In these, we may think and let think; we may ‘agree to disagree.’ But, meantime, let us hold fast the essentials. …” (Book of Discipline: Our Doctrinal Heritage)

This was a hallmark of Wesley’s way of holding to his convictions while remaining in connection (united) with those with whom he disagreed.