I recently received the following question via email from a member at Resurrection.
I was brought up my whole life roman catholic and I have asked my friends who I have attended resurrection with and they cannot answer maybe you can help me. Why in our church do we not make the sign of the cross after communion or after prayer? being brought up catholic you have the rituals that are imbedded in your head to do and not ask why. I was just curious. Also Do the United methodist believe in saying the rosary?
And here is how I responded:
Thanks for the email, these are great questions. My best answer to your questions would be in reference to the Protestant Reformation. In the early 1500’s Martin Luther became quite concerned about what he perceived to be great corruption within the Catholic Church. Through a process of trying to reform the church he was ultimately kicked out and a new form of Christianity (Protestant) was born (please forgive this gross oversimplification). In that process of reforming, many traditions that had been observed ceased to be observed. I would suspect that genuflecting was one of those and that praying the rosary was another. Neither are typically practiced in protestant (Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian) churches today.
That said, I know of many members at Resurrection (and in other United Methodist Churches that I have served) who grew up Catholic and continue to find great meaning in both of those rituals (as well as in praying the Hail Mary). It is not uncommon for me to see people cross themselves after receiving communion or in conclusion to a prayer at Resurrection and this is perfectly acceptable. If crossing yourself, praying the rosary, or praying the Hail Mary are meaningful aspects of your connection with God, they are welcomed in United Methodist Churches, though they’re not a historical part of our tradition.
What do you think? Did I miss anything that might have been helpful to include? What would you add? How would you answer the question differently?