United Methodist News Service (UMNS) has just released its list of its top 5 stories for 2018. The list is determined through voting by UMNS staff and other church communicators. Those top five stories are as follows:
1. The struggle to hold The United Methodist Church together despite longstanding division over homosexuality
2. United Methodists offering asylum and engaging in mission with immigrants, especially in the US and Mexico
3. United Methodist responses to natural disasters around the world
4. The detention and then release of Global Ministries missionaries in the Philippines
5. United Methodist responses to mass shootings in the United States
It is worth noticing that the majority of these top stories are mission-related. Stories 2, 3, and 4 are clearly about mission. The top story has implications for mission, and depending on how one construes the relationship between social/political witness and mission, the fifth story could be read as missional as well.
The missional nature of these stories is important, because it provides another narrative for the denomination. Many of the standard narratives about the UMC revolve around its conflicts over sexuality or its decline in the US. But there are other stories that are being told: stories about how United Methodists are joining in the missio Dei and engaging the world around them as messengers of Christ's love, healing, justice, and truth.