Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020 Year in Review

This is the 148th and final post on UM & Global for 2020, and it's time for the annual year in review. 2020 was quite a year for a number of reasons, and the themes that were prominent on this blog were prominent in many other media sources. There were three themes that received consistent attention in a variety of posts throughout the year:

1. The COVID-19 Pandemic
2020 will be remembered around the world as the year in which the COVID-19 pandemic struck at aspects of society from healthcare to the economy to family gatherings to church meetings. UM & Global examined several issues related to the pandemic. We shared information when United Methodist churches outside the US closed due to restrictions ([1], [2], [3], [4]), but also the new possibilities for connection made possible ([1], [2]). We talked a lot about how pandemic-related travel restrictions impacted mission and missionaries ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]) and gave rise to the phenomenon of virtual mission trips ([1], [2], [3], [4]). We shared videos discussing the impact of COVID-19 on the church around the world ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]). We explored how the pandemic impacted theology and ethical issues ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5]). We examined how the pandemic might still impact a rescheduled General Conference in 2021 ([1], [2], [3], [4]). We talked about whether the Payroll Protection Program eroded the separation of church and state in the United States ([1], [2]). We speculated about what might be different about mission after the pandemic's impact subsides ([1]). The pandemic featured in a quarter of our posts from 2020, more than any other topic.

2. United Methodist Division
When the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation dropped on January 3rd, it was clear that a split in the church would be a major story of 2020. While that division has not yet formally occurred, that possibility has been a major focus for UM & Global, along with other United Methodist news sources and commentators. At UM & Global, we have explored the financial issues associated with division ([collection of posts here]), tracked European efforts to find their own ways forward ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5]), examined the Christmas Covenant ([1], [2], [3]), discussed the roots of division ([1], [2], [3]), followed the various political maneuverings in advance of such a division ([1], [2], [3]), and examined the how the COVID-19 pandemic (see above) might impact denominational division ([1], [2], [3], [4]). These posts included a fifth of the total published in 2020.

3. Racism
The #BlackLivesMatter protests that swept around the world starting in June focused attention on the ways in which racism is woven into US society and the global social order. UM & Global picked up this theme by looking at the global dimensions of this and other nonviolent protests ([1], [2]) by examining the intersections between race and mission ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]) and race and other aspects of the church ([1], [2]). Related to the topic of race and racial hierarchies, there have also been a number of posts over the year examining the relationship between religion and empire ([1], [2], [3], [4]) and how this connection may be driving the decline of Christianity in the United States ([1], [2]) in ways that intersect importantly with race.

Other topics that crossed multiple posts included evangelism, missionaries, theological education, ecumenism, women in mission, understanding cultural difference, and an evaluation of the ecclesiology document Sent in Love.

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