the beginnings of the Methodist Mission in America?

A number of years ago when the Episcopal church has elected Bishop Gene Robinson and had gone through the turmoil of theological, ethical, and cultural debates of gay clergy and affirming those positions there were many from the Episcopal church. Not just because of that reason, there were a few localized reasons, my friend Thomas left his position within the Episcopal church and started an Anglican church under the direction of a Rwandan Bishop and the Anglican Mission in America. So essentially he started a new church a few miles from his prior church and was ordained as a missionary to America.

Yes, this is a very short history to some really complex decisions and people. But this is a blog posting, not a book.

With that short history in mind, I am curious to see if something similar would be at play within the United Methodist Church as they approach General Conference 2012 and American United Methodist Pastors have become more vocal in their intentions and support of a full inclusion into the church.

Africa is our fastest (and maybe only) growing region of the church and they are extremely influenced by a conservative methodist framework. Again, more sweeping generalizations.

So I was reading this article on a “Splinter Group” of Methodist leaders who have resigned their credentials and started a “Methodist Revival” group.

five former United Methodist Church pastors who recently hogged the limelight when they resigned from their church at the same time, will today launch their church, the Methodist Revival Church (MRF) at Harare Gardens today.

Former UMC pastor and MRF leader Philip Mupindu, will be the main speaker at the event that is expected to run from 8am to 2pm. MRF marketing officer Francis Chitambira said various gospel musicians including Agatha Murudzwa were lined up for the event.

Also expected to perform at the event are various choral groups including Methodist groups Marimba aJehovha Gospel Singers and Nyevero Dzedenga. “Many people from various parts of the country confirmed they will attend,” Chitambira said.

“We also invited members of other churches, including our former church’s bishop (Eben Nhiwatiwa) and pastors. although I am not sure whether the bishop will be able to accommodate our event in his schedule, some pastors confirmed.”

Chitambira said the aim of the launch was to explain the new church, its origins and mission, which will serve as apostles seek to bring more people to God through working with other churches to spread the word. The new church maintains the red colour being used by UMC, but dropped the colour blue for green.

“The red on our church logo symbolises the Holy Ghost fire coming from heaven towards the church and also the blood of Jesus who died for all humankind,” Chitambira said. “Green symbolises life. We also have the Bible, showing that we are bound by the word of God, which is a living word.”

The new church will also use hymns, from both the UMC and the Methodist in Zimbabwe, together with other praise and worship songs. Although UMC and the Mupindu group maintained that the UMC as a church did not split, but that just five people withdrew their services from the church, the fact that some congregants left the UMC to fellowship with them means there was a split.

Call me alarmist if you like. History does repeat itself and I am sure that this idea could be a real possibility at play if/when all things go crazy in the United Methodist Church.

Surviving to Thriving in Youth Ministry #psym11

I’ve been at Perkins School of Youth Ministry this week teaching a number of topics. One of my classes is on the web, one of my ‘short shops’ was on “Brand YOUth Ministry.” The big one for me was teaching a class on moving from surviving in youth ministry to thriving in youth ministry.

At the core, there is a lot of self reflection, discernment and then team building to set the culture and vision before all the planning and implementations. Then it is a matter of “rinse & repeat” of the planning and communications.

Here’s the outline of our class that we worked through. If you haven’t used a Prezi for a presentation, do yourself a favor and play around with it. They are fun to create and are a nice break from a keynote or powerpoint.

a Life Giving Christmas

Friends at United Methodist Communications sent me a copy of their media pack for “A Life Giving Christmas” as part of their ReThinkChurch campaigns. I thought it’d be something pretty lame that I wouldn’t want to pitch, but it really isn’t. I wouldn’t go so far as to say its the next best thing, but for a four week period of Advent this has a little bit of everything to generate some ongoing communications & hopefully transformations.

In the digital media package you receive a four week series of resources;

  • Sermon Starters: Not full sermons, but a lot of ideas and add on to plug into service. Starters are also lectionary based
  • Questions to Toss out into Facebook & Twitter: Those are social mediums, so doing more than being an extra version of the newsletter is best practice. You may not care for the questions, but they should remind you to have conversations digitally in the in-betweens of the week.
  • PDF’s for Door-hangers, Direct Mailing, Bulletin Covers or Inserts
  • Videos to show as part of worship or put online for teasers before services..
  • Presentation software slides

All these things come at a cost of just $25, which, if you need something to plug into the four weeks of Advent still, then this could be some of the best $25 you’ve ever spent. I have to say it is good value for the price..

The big drawback is that we are already at Advent (one more Sunday till) and many of us have already got stuff in the hopper. So implementing this would be a hard time line to keep faithfully. However, I know many of you have plans to make plans still out there lingering. It is you who could pull that together. It might be that you want to download it now & use it next year.

Another option to check out is to look into Advent Conspiracy. “A Life Giving Christmas” has a similar social action angle.

gold, silver, bronze : top methodist moments on youtube

so why not!

on monday i gave out medals for the top john wesley moments on youtube. figured i'd give out medals for methodism realized over youtube.. why not!

this list i couldn't help but get onto some of my soapboxes, so i hope you don't mind some of my subjective judging.. feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments

Clayride gold medal: the methodist clayride – i was pleasantly pleased to see this back on youtube. years ago i had a copy of it that i uploaded to youtube but was asked to take it down by a certain agency. i felt that was a real loss at the time because the video then created a lot of buzz and nostalgia amongst us methoblogger types. not to mention, its a great video for sharing the history of the methodist church. if i remember correctly it had over 15k views (mind you this was the early days of youtube as well). so i hope the clayride gets to ride on & as the methodist presses in the early days of the movement shared its stories, theology, sermons, etc. maybe you all can help share this gold medal of methodism.

Picture 1 silver medal : methodist amendments  maxie dunnam – whoa the scandal!! maxie gets the medal for this one because his video showed up on my radar first, though eddie fox put his up a few days earlier. these videos struck off the biggest abuse of the youtube medium by methodist pastors at large. seriously, lets take our sermoning communication medium to a media medium that is short, sweet, entertaining, and engaging (see how youtube community reacts by how they mashedup maxie). still, in the metho-nerd circles, this was scandalous to take the churches business outside the authorities of the general/annual conferences. which, may or may not be a bad thing.. not to leave them out, bishop jones & tex sample took notice and made their counter arguments as well. for stirring the pot and getting a whole lot of amendment mush on youtube, maxie gets the silver medal.

Picture 8 bronze medal : hallelujah chorus by mute monks – okay, this is silly, its only methodist because this one happened to have happened at a methodist church and the youth basically ripped off an otherwise other youtube sensation, but with a hit count of 100k and just observing the reaction of the congregation (or lack there of) and the pastor (what was that?) at what i assume was a christmastide service.. oh boy. bronze medal for having the cajones to try it pine castle umc

Picture 4 standing looking up : patriot guard – this a news report, from united methodist news (i assume), on the methodist pastor who helps with the patriot guard. for those that don't know what the patriot guard is there is just a simple search on youtube and you will get countless videos, some even by national news coverage. this gets the honorable mention for a couple of reasons, 1. it tells the story of how some have take their community into action for the forgotten and the fallen of our culture. 2. it has a pretty decent hit count (i have a version of same video on my youtube channel) which almost doubles it. yes, #2 is not nearly as noble as #1. 

so tell me who got robbed from the podium. there's lots to choose from

gold, silver, bronze awards : top john wesley moments on youtube

as i look over the church landscape & how they use technologies, i started wondering.. how is our church founder, john wesley, being represented on youtube? and with looking over all this (and the winter olympics in play right now), i decided to medal the top wesley moments on youtube.

 Wesleychapel gold: john wesley chapel linebacker : the young folks at houghton college put this satirical parody of the terry tate office linebacker commercials together & they are just brilliant. involved a bunch of the students and some of the faculty. they reflect some of the core wesleyan theology tenants within the video mixed into a bunch of "ouch" and laughing moments. clear cut gold medal winner!

Wesleysermon2a silver: john wesley sermon, thoughts on war : mark topping is apparently know as a john wesley impresonator. this excerpt is taken from his dvd doing his shtick. the except is posted on the or more about the methodist church of great britain channel which has a few other cool videos. this sermon has the most hits of the excerpts. what i think is funny is quickly wesley would be run out of a pulpit in todays umc for preaching the way he did. the solid silver winner!

Wesleyvideo bronze: john wesley a heartwarming story : this is our dark horse that came out of no where in the medal podium to sang the bronze. i give you the history of john wesley via the confirmation class of first united methodist church of mercedes, texas. what are you doing with your claim the name curriculum? bet it is not as cool as a silent movie motif of wesley's life. anyways, this campy funny approach to sharing wesley's story is by far more entertaining than any of the other powerpoint movie presentations (though some of the foreign language, to me, ones were pretty cool).

Picture 8 standing looking on: relcaiming wesleyan tradition : yup, we tried to see if this thing could go viral for kevin some time back, so it had itself on the 'watch' list, but in the end, it couldn't pick up the medal. this little diddy by the gbod spins off the guinness commercials, which i suppose it okay since wesley had some guinness influence.

**look for the top medalists videos for the united methodist church. that's going to be a tight competition

kleenex & tissues : talking about the holy spirit

kleenex & tissues and the Holy Spirit from Gavin Richardson on Vimeo.

last week i went to hang with my friends at the nashville cohort. we had our annual, ‘what are you thinking about’ session. one of the questions had to do with the our understanding of the Holy Spirit and how to communicate to others what that is.

certainly as methodists we have our ‘strangely warmed‘ historic experience that we can be comfortable with a physical reaction in our bodies to the spirit’s movement, but for so many people our modern idea of the Holy Spirit comes from azusa street & the birth of pentecostal movement.

my odd connection in our conversation this day was to say, this is basically a kleenex & tissue issue. when you grab something to blow your nose what do you call that thing? many times you’d call it a kleenex.. however, kleenex is just a brand name for a tissue. however, we often don’t distinguish the two as different. they are one in the same. the tissue has been has a history longer than the kleenex, but we still mix the two. same thing with the Holy Spirit.. sorta..

we’ve allowed the pentecostal movement to lay claim to the Holy Spirit and brand it as what we often times know today. so there is a need to, as we talk about & experience the Holy Spirit, to let folks know that we are experiencing the ’tissue’ not necessarily the kleenex.