Feast of the Inauguration of The United Methodist Church (April 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Cross and Flame Logo of The United Methodist Church

Image in the Public Domain

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THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

Constituted at Dallas, Texas, on April 23, 1968

In 1968 The Methodist Church (1939-1968) and the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1946-1968), both results of mergers of denominations with roots in the 1700s, united.  Originally language had been the main reason for them not being one denomination; the predecessors of the Evangelical United Brethren Church used German.  The language barrier fell over time, however.

My theological formation occurred in a series of United Methodist parsonages in the South Georgia Conference.  There I learned much about the Bible that has continued to influence my life in positive ways.  There I also learned much about the Bible that I went on to learn was not accurate.  My father mostly served rural congregations in which even a ministerial robe smacked too much of Roman Catholicism for the parishioners.  My experiences as a United Methodist (1980-1991) were mixed.  I came to despise The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal (1938) and adore The Methodist Hymnal (1966), which many of the churches my father served condemned as being elitist.  Since I had a limited frame of reference, I could not identify conclusively what bothered me in general about church until I saw worship in The Episcopal Church.  Then I began to realize that I was on earth to be an Episcopalian.  So I became one on December 22, 1991.  I have been content with that choice since.  In the words of someone with whom I engaged in conversation years ago, I left the church John Wesley made for the church that made John Wesley.  Certainly I have learned much more about church history after the Apostles and prior to the Reformation since becoming an Episcopalian.

My experiences occurred in a particular context–rural Southern Methodism, as opposed to the more liberal, formal, urban variety, complete with Gothic buildings.  That sort of Methodism would have been more to my liking.  Stylistically the United Methodism of my youth was similar to the dominant Southern Baptist religious culture in those communities.  (According to an old joke, Methodists are Baptists who can read.)  In 1996 the religious context of my youth became more clear to me as I watched the every-four-years dual-biography of the major presidential candidates.  The documentary explained the essence of Methodism in Kansas, in the context of Robert J. Dole.  I realized that I preferred the Kansas variety of Methodism to that dominant in the South Georgia Conference.

I have remained much fonder of the The United Methodist Church as a denomination than of any of the congregations thereof to which I have belonged.  The Social Principles (a document worth reading) have long been more progressive than many members would like, if they knew about them, for example.  I have evolved into an Anglican-Lutheran-Catholic, going so far as to accept Single Predestination and a canon of 73 books, so I have come to regard United Methodist congregations as ecumenical partners and places where I engage in community volunteering, not as churches I would ever consider joining.  Nevertheless, the influence of the United Methodism of my youth was mostly positive.  It taught me, for example, that the ordination of women should just be a given and that God does not discriminate on the basis of X and Y chromosomes.

May The United Methodist Church and its successors (via mergers) continue to serve Christ faithfully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOME DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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O God, who to an expectant and united Church granted at Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit,

and has wonderfully brought into one fold those who now worship here:

Grant, we ask you, the help of the same Spirit in all our life and worship,

that we may expect great things from you, and attempt great things for you,

and being one one in you may show you to the world into which you sent Jesus Christ our Lord,

to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

Ezekiel 37:15-22

Psalm 122

Ephesians 4:1-16

John 17:20-26

–Adapted from The Book of Common Worship (1962), The Church of South India

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