August 29, 2010
Final Project: World Religions Report
I will be explaining information from various resources covering the United Methodist Religion. I will give a comparison to the Islam Religion and reference Jesus and Muhammad from the tenth chapter of the class textbook. Although there are many similarities, there are also many differences. The United Methodist Church Location and Interview
My interview took place at the United Methodist Church. I spoke with Michele Virnig; a Catholic who has worked for the United Methodist Church for the past one and one-half years as the Director of Communications and the Media Consultant. She obtained her Journalism Degree with a minor in Political Science. After working for 15 years in advertising and marketing, she came to work for the church office in Sun Prairie.
The motto for the United Methodist Church is “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World.” Michele told me that they do not require her to be Methodist to work for them. She said, “They are very open to others.” She told me that they are very Reverent and sing songs together and pray before meetings. (She informed me that the songs they sing are not the same ones used by the Catholic Church.) The people who are allowed to perform mass are called Clergy or Reverend. They can be male or female, married or single, with or without children. I had a chance to meet Reverend Deborah Thompson, Missions Coordinator who told me that the Religion is very strong into the idea of Missions. They go to help people in any way they can, by raising money, or even by cleaning homes damaged by natural disasters such as in Haiti and to help the victims of hurricane Katrina. The Sun Prairie office was designated in 2008 by the federal government to administer funding to the victims of very bad flooding in the State of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Conference has adopted East Angola to help them in any way possible. UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) helps disaster reliefs such as the Pakistan floods. Money comes from apportionments of the churches as well as direct donations. Church apportionment goes into a bigger fund. Reverend Deborah told me that her continued education includes high school, a college Bachelor’s Degree, three to four years in Seminary, and two to three years of service in the church including psychological testing and writing of papers. There are 480 United Methodist Churches in Wisconsin, of which most have one Pastor, or possibly a local Pastor. The elder Pastor is appointed to their place of need, where the Deacons find their own job due to the special services that they may have and where they may apply themselves. Michele informed me that the texts they use are The Book of Resolutions (The Beliefs) and The Book of Discipline (The Laws). The Book of Resolutions has been published every year following The General Conference (the next one is in 2012) since 1968. Only valid Resolutions are published in it, with superseded or rescinded ones removed. Expressions last for eight years then expire unless readopted. Expired ones are not printed. In the 2008 edition the Resolutions are in seven sections: The Natural World, The Nurturing Community, The Social Community, The Economic Community, The Political Community, The World Community, and Other Resolutions. The first six section titles match the sections of the Social Principles found in The Book of Discipline so users may be able to easily connect the Principles to the Resolutions. The United Methodist Church acts in comparison to The United States Government. They appoint Bishops from each state to represent the thoughts and ideas of what the people of the church want to have happen with different situations and ideas. The Wisconsin Conference meets every year. Delegates and lay people meet to pass budgets and for approval of multiple purposes and goals. The State Conference chooses which of these Bishops will attend the International meeting, The General Conference, to speak on their behalf. Open to the World, this is where the ideas and laws are created and passed and will then be printed in the new Book of Resolutions. Sunday is the Sabbath, however going to services at Church is not required and is not viewed wrongful or a sin if not attended. Communion is not offered at all services, but rather only once per month and on special occasions. (There is an effort to increase this to be provided weekly.) Belief of the bread and wine is that it is Symbolic, and representative of the body and blood of Christ. It is frowned upon to drink alcoholic beverages, so the wine offered at mass is really Welch’s Grape Juice. There are only two Sacraments of the Church, which are required before being allowed to Marry, The Eucharist and Baptism. Date, Location, and Other Facts
John Wesley founded the Methodist Religion in England in the year 1787. Worship is from The Book of Discipline. Dominant regions are England and The United States of America (USA). As of 2003, there are over 8.3 million followers of this religion. Jesus and Muhammad
Evan though Jesus and Mohammed are from two different religions, they both have similarities between them. They both lived without any type of wealth to support them and traveled from place to place spreading the Word of God. Jesus Christ
What we know about Jesus’ life and teachings come from biblical texts known as the first four books of the New Testament. These are called the Gospels (meaning good news) and were written between 40 and 60 years after his Jesus’ death. They are written by his followers Matthew and John, and the Apostle Paul’s companions Mark and Luke. Written in Greek (perhaps Aramaic) and later copied and translated different ways in different languages.
Historians believe that Jesus was born a few years before what is now called the Common Era (or C.E.). Christians believe he was born in Bethlehem. Some scholars think that he was really born in or near Nazareth, which was his own home town in Galilee.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from virgin mother Mary whose husband was Joseph, a Bethlehem carpenter. From the age of 12, Jesus’ stories begin, according to the Gospel of Luke, where he was accidentally left behind during the family’s yearly trip to Jerusalem for Passover. He was later discovered by his parents in the Temple discussing the Torah with the rabbis.
When Jesus was about 30 years old, he came to John the Baptist to be baptized and then went on a 40 day retreat in the desert and fasted. During this time he was tempted by the Devil Satan to use his spiritual powers, but he refused. After his time in the desert, he assembled his first disciples: the fisherman Simon (called Peter), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James, and John (brother of James). James recognized him as the Messiah. Jesus told them that they must leave their possessions behind to follow him. He told them to pay attention to the life of the Spirit and not to the physical comforts and wealth. He told them that they should concentrate on Spiritual Treasures in Heaven and not the material things on Earth. During Jesus’ travels he spoke of the Will of his Father in Heaven (God) and performed miracles: turning water into wine, healing the sick, bringing the dead back to life, walking on water, removing devils from the possessed, and turning a few loaves of bread and a few fish into enough to feed thousands with leftovers. He healed lepers, a bleeding woman, made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the mute to speak. He ate meals with all classes of people. He welcomed women as his disciples in a time when women’s roles were limited. Jesus tells us that God is forgiving to those that repent. He told stories presented as parables, in which current events and situations were used to make a spiritual point. He made statements referring to supreme happiness called the Beatitudes. According to the Gospels, Jesus referred to the Kingdom in two different ways. One is that the Kingdom is expected in the future, while the other is that the Kingdom is already here. When Jesus traveled through Galilee, people would gather around him to be healed. The Roman ruler of Galilee (Herod Antipas) executed John the Baptist and became concerned that Jesus might be trying to support a political uprising. Because of this, Jesus moved out of Herod’s jurisdiction for a time so that he could carry on his work in Tyre and Sidon. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and the scribes were also suspicious of his intentions. Jesus did not challenge Mosaic Law, but rather the ways of those claiming to follow the law. In private talks he asked his disciples who they thought he was. Peter said, “You are the Christ”. (Greek for “anointed one”- which is translated from Aramaic M’shekha; which means Messiah, or, “perfected” or “enlightened one.”) Jesus returned to Jerusalem during Passover riding a donkey with supporters waving palm branches and calling him the Messiah even though he knew it was dangerous to do so. During the Last Supper, he told his disciples how to perform a ceremony with bread and wine in order to maintain a relationship with him. He then took three of his followers to Gethsemane, a garden on the Mount of Olives to pray intensely. Then he told them, “It is all over. The hour has come.” He was taken away by a crowd with swords and clubs to be questioned. He was then taken to Pontius Pilate who gave in to the crowd’s desires and let his military guards execute Jesus by crucifixion. Jesus died on the cross. He was then put into a cave with a large stone in front and a guard. When women wanted to prepare him for burial, they discovered that he was gone. He had risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Jesus’ death has caused all that followed him to continue to do so. His teachings spread to others and the number of his followers continued to grow, to this day. Worshipping is done through Bible readings and prayers, as well as attending Worship services at a Church on Sundays and Religious Days. Jesus’ word continues to be spread daily in the world today. Muhammad Around 570 C.E. (Common Era) the Muslim prophet Muhammad (means “the praised one”) was born. Muslims believe that he came to restore the true religion of Islam. He was born into a poor clan of the most powerful of tribes in the area. His Father died before he was born. After his Mother and Grandfather’s deaths, he was raised by his Uncle as a shepherd. Muhammad’s life stories and teachings are in the Hadith. This is a collection of the Prophet’s sayings and actions (called his Sunnah). “When he was a teenager on a trip to Syria with his Uncle, [he] was noticed by a Christian monk who identified marks on his body indicating his status as a Prophet.” (Fisher, 2005). At the age of 25, he was asked to be married by a wealthy 40 year-old woman named Khadijah. When he turned 40, he took a spiritual retreat during Ramadan. An Angel named Gabriel came to him and dictated the beginning of what would be known as the Qur’an. The revelations continued intermittently. He told others of what had happened. Three years later, the revelations instructed him to preach to the public. The Qurayshites ridiculed him and threw stones at him. Muhammad and his followers were banished for three years where they struggled to survive. During his 50th year, his wife and his uncle died. It is said that later that year he ascended through the seven heavens to the Divine Proximity where he met former Prophets and teachers including Adam and Jesus, was shown Paradise and Hell, and given the great blessings of the Divine Presence. Muhammad and his followers then secretly left Mecca and moved to Yahrib. Later is became called al-Medina (the city of the Prophet). While living in Medina, he wrote a constitution for the city of Yathrib/Medina that became a model for Islamic social administration. Mecca declared war on Medina, and many lost their live in battles between the two cities. Muhammad finally negotiated a truce between them. In 630 CE Muhammad returned to Mecca with a huge amount of followers. Most people were okay with it, but about 30 people were killed in the conquest. He then forgave those that were against him. He then returned to Medina which he kept as the center of Islam, from which he spread the faith. In the 11th year of the Muslim era, he traveled to the Ka’bah and returned to Medina. He then became very ill, gave instructions to his followers, and died in 632 CE. After Muhammad’s death, his friend Abu Bakr was elected as the first successor to the Prophet (known as a caliph). Tradition states that Muhammad transferred his spiritual light to his favorite daughter Fatima. The Shi’ites later would claim ‘Ali (Fatima’s husband and Muhammad’s cousin) as the legitimate heir. Muhammad was a kind, noble man, who was very well liked. He said there was no shortcut to heaven, but that Paradise lies under the feet of the mother. He was devoted to God, and was poor while spreading God’s message. He told people to feed the hungry and spread peace to all. The heart of Islam is the Qur’an (meaning “reading” or “reciting”). The Prophet Muhammad received the messages for the Qur’an over a 23 year period. Islam In The Future
Islamic fundamentalists have declared war and are trying to impose their idealism on the rest of the World, including their own people. There seems to be violence between nations and peoples due to this kind of thinking. This causes a bad influence and causes others to look at Islam in a bad way. The Qur’an permits violence only when very specific conditions are met. This includes depriving people of their right to live and support themselves. Action is not to be taken by individuals, but rather by the Muslim community. Harming of women, children, or unarmed civilians in not allowed. Destroying of property is not permitted either. So, it is evident that terrorist acts are not permitted by the Qur’an, even though they try to get people to believe that it is. This is a false premise. “Islamic values are not aimed at creating a political state but rather a harmoniously integrated world society.” (Fisher, 2005, p. 413). In Conclusion
Religions all have different views of the events that lead up to the current day. They also have different idealisms about what is Sacred and what is not. There are similarities and differences in all religions. But, by believing in a Higher Power, God, or Supreme Being, or Beings, we all have the same underlying objective, which is to do what is right.
Clergy Spouse Support Network of Ministers’ Mates with encouragement and assistance from the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Bishop’s Cabinet. (2010). A Handbook for Non-Clergy Women and Men who are the Spouses of Clergy in the Wisconsin Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Retrieved August 18, 2010. \www.wisconsinumc.org\content\documents\clergyspousehandbook.pdf. Fisher, M.P. (2005). Living Religions (6th ed.). Prentice-Hall Publishing. Pearson Education, Inc. Religion Facts. (2010). Comparison of Facts and Stats of Christian Denominations. Retrieved August 18, 2010. http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/charts/denominations_stats.htm. Thompson, Reverend Deborah. Missions Coordinator. (2010). United Methodist Church. Wisconsin Conference. 750 Windsor Street, P.O. Box 620, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin 53590. Interview August 25, 2010. [email protected] United Methodist Organization. (2010). Retrieved August 29, 2010. www.unitedmethodist.org or http://www.10thousanddoors.org/site/c.ruI4KbMRIvF/b.4877557/k.BF1F/Home.htm. Virnig, Michele. Director of Communications. (2010). United Methodist Church. Wisconsin Conference. 750 Windsor Street, P.O. Box 620, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin 53590. Interview August 25, 2010. [email protected] Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church. (2010). Retrieved August 29, 2010. http://www.wisconsinumc.org/content/index.php. Wisconsin Council of Churches. (2010). Retrieved August 29, 2010. http://www.wichurches.org/ |