Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Recommended reading: The relatively wealthy American UMC

The Pew Research Center recently published an info graphic ranking major US religious groups, including The United Methodist Church, by household income. While the UMC isn't the highest on the chart, its American members do make more than the average American family. The UMC has a lower percentage of households making less than $30,000/year and a higher percentage of families making more than $50,000/year than the US average, giving some credence to the old joke, "Q: What does UMC stand for? A: Upper middle class."

Two brief observations about these data are appropriate:

1. These results again raise questions about the UMC's ability to reach out to new population groups within the US beyond its base of mostly white, mostly middle to upper-middle class American members. As this blog has indicated before, the UMC in the US struggles at times to recognize and go beyond its cultural location, and its class base is part of that cultural location.

2. These results raise questions about relationships between relatively wealthy American United Methodists and relatively poorer United Methodists in Asia and Africa. United Methodists everywhere around the world need to be cognizant of the potential distortions and conflicts financial inequalities can introduce into the familial relations of faith.

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