Is it just me . . . or is something missing? I see less and less of our beloved United Methodist cross and flame symbol. It apparently is being hidden under the proverbial bushel. It is becoming less predominant on church buildings, websites and even denominational publications.
Most of us know the origins of our insignia (brand) . . . having been created in 1968 at the merger of two great denominations, but have you taken a hard look at it lately? The official version depicts the dual flame (representing the Holy Spirit) slightly taller than the slender cross. No mistake that the predominant feature is the flame and has a direct association with John Wesley, whose “heart was strangely warmed.”
Are we subconsciously hiding our connection to the Holy Spirit? We believe in a Triune God, but maybe we simply are embarrassed about proclaiming that we are “filled with the Holy Spirit.” That phrase alone has gotten a bad rap in the past several decades. Maybe it is because the Holy Spirit is the least understood of the Three and harder to explain? Maybe we are trying to distance ourselves from a perceived “old style” denomination and offer a generic worship experience that can’t be discerned from any other “non-denominational” service? In either case, I’m disappointed that we don’t have more outward signs of our denomination and internal discussions of Wesleyan heritage and the Holy Spirit. Personally, I’d like to be a walking billboard for the UMC (on coffee mugs, satchels, phone cases, etc.) for nothing else than to spark conversations about my faith and my church. Every fire starts with a spark!
Now I’m the first to agree we shouldn’t try and market a church by corporate standards, but in light of the studies of the past few years that rank the United Methodist Church as one of the most respected denominations, we should do a better job of letting people know who we are. The 1968 hymn “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love” by Peter R. Scholtes, is a true statement and a noble aspiration. We should proclaim our love for Jesus Christ (simply by our actions) and proclaim our Methodism by our brand; neither of which should be hidden under a bushel.
David M. Vaughan
Fort Worth, Texas