In today’s constantly evolving world, society is always looking for advancement in culture. Individuals desire the newest developments in technology, medicine and even religion. The United Methodist church, Elm Park, understands this concept. In order to keep a modern appeal to their faith, Elm Park uses their available technological resources to the fullest. While staying true to traditional Methodist beliefs, the church offers many intriguing benefits for its members.
The church’s website features frequent video news reports along with many ways for members to stay current. Elm Park also offers masses on TV. This allows not only those of the Methodist faith to view their services, but also those who are curious to see what they are all about.
Thinking this new look at religion would interest students, I sat down with Reverend Mike Bealla. Before taking on the role as lead pastor at Elm Park, Bealla served as the director of connectional ministries for Susquehanna Conference. As the DCM, Bealla was responsible for providing resources and training churches for their disciple-making ministry. In his 42nd year of pastoral ministry, he was appointed to be Elm Park’s new leader.
When asked to describe Elm Park in his own words, Bealla chose to speak about the connectional system. “Elm Park continues to be a vital church in the city of Scranton and throughout the world through the connectional system. Being connectional means that we are not an independent church, but we combine our resources of people, gifts and ministry with nearly 12 million other United Methodists around the world.” Continuing the idea further, he said, “While the city is changing around the church and culture and society is less church-oriented, Elm Park UMC finds itself with a huge mission field (to keep members’ attendance and involvement in the church up) … We continue, however, to carry out our primary mission shared by all United Methodist Churches.”
For readers unfamiliar with the United Methodists’ beliefs, Bealla explained, “We are a mainline protestant denomination which follows the Wesleyan tradition. John Wesley left the Anglican Church over his concern that the church had become inwardly focused and was ignoring the needs of poor. His teaching brought together piety with social action creating an unique approach to faith.”
United Methodists believe that through faith they are made whole by grace and that it is grace that becomes the motivation to respond to God’s out pouring of love. Methodists strive to live more and more like Christ throughout their lives. This concept of living ‘holy’ lives is one we can all learn from, whether of the Methodist domination or not.
According to Bealla, students can practice faith easily within their daily routine. “John Wesley taught what he called the “means of grace.” These include, worship, prayer, the study of Scripture, the giving of alms to the poor, practicing the sacraments and living in Christian community. Students can actually practice many of these things, and as they do, they strengthen their relationship with God through the practice.”
If students wish to learn more about the United Methodists’ way of religious practice, they can visit the denominational web site at www.UMC.org and at www.umcgiving.org.