The theme for 2013 Heritage Sunday, as set by the General Commission on Archives and History, is “The Power of Place: The Contemporary Mission of Heritage Landmarks and Historic Sites.” The date is Aldersgate Day or the Sunday preceding that day, this year May 19. A local church is free to observe it on another date.
Even though the date reminds us of John Wesley’s “heartwarming experience” at meeting on Aldersgate Street in London, it also can call to mind Otterbein’s and Albright’s experiences of the grace of God as these experiences lead to the evangelical revival. According to the church’s Discipline, “Heritage Sunday calls the Church to remember the past by committing itself to the continuing call of God.” (par. 264.1)
The theme will remind the church that there are 46 Heritage Landmarks and almost 500 Historic Sites. As resources are developed for the observance of Heritage Sunday, they will call upon United Methodists to consider the role that pilgrimage has played in spiritual formation, what it means to understand sacred space, and how location can inform efforts for evangelism, mission, and social transformation today.
Powerful images of place arise from the biblical witness. When Jacob awakes from his dream at Bethel he said, “How awesome is this place. This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:17)
Also, when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River they were commanded to take stones from the river and build a monument at Gilgal so that future generations would ask what those stones mean and would be taught about God’s actions (Joshua 4). There are those places whose very history can inspire visitors to faithful living and can inform inquirers about meaningful ministry.
More information about the Heritage Landmarks is available at www.gcah.org.