Valley and Mountain is connected to the United Methodist Church (UMC). We are grateful that the UMC helped us get started in the beginning, and that it continues to provide a network for mutual support, solidarity, and accountability. One of the first questions we get from newcomers to V&M is "Do I have to be a Methodist, or to want to be a Methodist, to be part of Valley & Mountain?" The short answer is: "No, V&M is all about radical hospitality, and you don't have to have any label, including Methodist, to be fully included at V&M. We have people with all sorts of labels and people who don't identify with any religious label, and most of our folks don't describe themselves as Methodists." People are still curious what the UMC is about, and here's a very brief snapshot of the history.
In the 1700's an innovative Christian movement centered on grace (grace = love without condition) exploded across Britain and North America. The small band of founders, led by John Wesley, were motivated by a desire for a passionate, justice-oriented spirituality that was rooted in authentic and vulnerable community bonds.
They saw so much artificiality, apathy, and acceptance of social injustice in the institutional church, so they organized small groups of people who desired a deep intimacy with God and others, and who were committed to participating in Jesus’ vision of a just and loving society. The movement challenged the aristocratic status quo, started free schools for the poor, allied itself with the emerging working class, inspired fervent abolitionists (including William Wilberforce), and developed vibrant prison ministries. This movement is the direct ancestor of the modern United Methodist Church, which is still rooted in grace and focused on the twin pillars of (1) developing a vibrant personal spiritual life and (2) working for social and economic justice.
Today the UMC is organized by regional networks called al conferences” (because all member church gather for an annual conference). Valley & Mountain is a member of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.