2020 State of the Church Report: Blessed is the Church
May 4, 2021
The United Methodist Church has continued to carry out its mission despite the unique challenges and uncertainties of 2020. That’s according to the new 2020 State of the Church Report produced by the Connectional Table and United Methodist Communications, themed “Blessed is the Church.”
The report uses the framework of the Beatitudes to share a compilation of stories that provide an inspiring look at the ways the church responded in an unprecedented year – which included a global pandemic, renewed calls to end racism, a delayed General Conference and the possibility of a denominational split.
The stories share how United Methodists looked to God for hope and guidance in the face of extraordinary challenges, shared resources and wisdom, offered comfort in the face of grief, practiced spiritual disciplines, provided physical aid and spiritual support, continued to be a force for peace and reconciliation, stood up for the persecuted and oppressed, sought justice and stayed true to the denomination’s mission.
“This was hardly a year of blessing. Yet we have chosen to use these Matthean blessings (Mt. 5:1-14) — these Beatitudes — as the framework for this report. That is because they describe our identity as a church, not our circumstances,” said the Reverend Kennetha J. Bigham-Tsai, Chief Connectional Ministries Officer.
The report features a video message from Bishop Christian Alsted, chair of the Connectional Table, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president of the Council of Bishops, Bishop Michael McKee, chair of the General Council on Finance and Administration, and Bishop Mande Muyombo, incoming chair of the Connectional Table. The video incorporates original music – a song created around the Scriptural theme.
“We have been the Christian community of which Jesus spoke in his Sermon on the Mount,” said Bishop Alsted. “We have been the poor in spirit. We have been those who mourn. But we also have been the Church, living out a Gospel of love and being in ministry with and for a world that has faced untold illness and millions of deaths.”
“All of our people have had to deal with the loneliness and isolation that has come with this pandemic. Yet, United Methodists have still done the ministry to which we are called,” said Bishop Harvey. “We have found ways to continue ministering to one another and to reach out, beyond the walls of the church, to engage the community as never before.”
Bishop McKee noted church members gave almost $40 million to apportionments to support ministry around the globe in December 2020. “It was the highest rate of giving in one month in the history of The United Methodist Church. And it came during a global health crisis. It came during a time of economic stress. It came because United Methodists are faithful in their mission and ministry,” he said.
“If we continue to let our light shine, it will draw others to the light of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Muyombo. “If we continue to hold onto our saltiness, we will be a church that is salt to the earth. If we continue to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to work for peace, to comfort the mourning and lift up the poor, then we will be God’s blessing to the world.”
The State of the Church report is available in its entirety online, along with previous reports, at ResourceUMC.org/church-report. Local churches and annual conferences are encouraged to post on their websites and there is an option to download the video for use in Sunday worship or annual conference sessions.