Tomorrow is Heritage Sunday and our United Methodist Church was born 50 years ago. As many of you have seen, our Conference Committee on Archives and History has shared articles on how we came into being as one church and I am encouraging local churches to take time to celebrate the anniversary of the merger between the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) and the Methodist Episcopal Church that took place in May 1968.
While the word merger is used, The EUB and Methodist coming together are more appropriately described as a union between two churches that shared a common heritage and a belief in pietism with an enthusiasm for revival. Methodism was successful among English speaking people and to a lesser degree German-speaking people who were concentrated in Pennsylvania.
For many years, The Evangelicals and the United Brethren reflected their German heritage and ministered to German-speaking people migrating to America. As the 19th century progressed a strong culture of revivalism and evangelization persisted.
Membership grew rapidly in Methodist and Baptist Churches with the advent of the Second Great Awaking between 1790 and 1820. Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren were part of early reform movements including the Abolitionist Movement, Temperance Movement, and Women’s Suffrage Movement.
The uniting conference which created The United Methodist celebrated the formation of a new denomination April 23, 1968, in Dallas, Texas, where the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist Churches merged (together we are more decision) and formed The United Methodist Church. This also marked the end of the segregated Central Jurisdiction where Black Methodists were separated into regional conferences. In the United States, the United Methodist Church remains the third largest Christian denomination with over 7 million in the United States and over six million outside the United States with the fastest growing being United Methodist in Africa.
Most United Methodist churches in Indiana can trace their roots to the earliest arrivals of Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren over 100 years ago. How many for EUB churches are in your county? Is your congregation a result of an earlier merger or relocation from its original beginnings?
April 22, I had the privilege of celebrating the 50th birthday of the UMC at Churubusco. They also celebrated the birthday of their pastor, Rev. Kent Lundy who was born on the day the UMC was formed. After worship, they hosted a meal with birthday cake and a fashion show with children and youth dressed in clothing from the last five decades – creative, inter-generational and fun.
Heritage Sunday, tomorrow May 20, is another opportunity to launch into a time of reflection and celebration - tomorrow and beyond as we continue to commemorate this monumental year in our Wesleyan history. As you look at celebrating this why not download a 50th-anniversary bulletin insert and utilize available resources to take time this month or this year to mark the birthday of The United Methodist Church. One of the best resources for study and discussion of our United Methodist Heritage and Beliefs is in the 2016 Book of Discipline.
“Under the Discipline of the Holy Spirit, the church seeks to provide for the maintenance of worship, the edification of the believers, and the redemption of the world.” (Preamble of the Constitution of the UMC)
*Bishop Trimble offered this message earlier; however it was embargoed until this evening due to a delay in Communications. Please accept our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience. -Skyler Nimmons, Communications Director