Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Aldersgate Day


It's been a while since my last entry, and with the activities coming up this summer, it may be some time before my next entry. However, having missed discussing Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, I didn't want to miss Aldersgate Day, as well.


For those who don't know what Aldersgate refers to, let me explain briefly. Aldersgate is a street in London, and on that street, in 1738, there was a meeting of a certain society. It was a kind of Bible study or prayer meeting. It was at one of those meetings on May 24, 1738 that John Wesley had an experience that would forever impact the Methodist/Wesleyan movement.


After years of struggling to know his own sins forgiven, during that society meeting, while Martin Luther's Preface to Romans was being read, John Wesley experienced his heart "strangely warmed," and an assurance was given him that Christ had saved him from his sins. It is that doctrine of assurance that has become one of the distinct contributions of Methodism to the larger Church.


This past Sunday evening, we held our annual Aldersgate Service. This is a practice that I began while pastoring in Greencastle, IN. It was quite successful, there. However, it has been slow starting in Evansville. Nevertheless, I was thrilled to have the Rev'd. Charlie Cross and his wife, the Rev'd Karen Cross participate with us. Charlie is the senior pastor, and Karen the associate pastor at Alexander Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Evansville.


We had a wonderful time celebrating our common heritage and worshipping the God who still strangely warms the hearts of those who place their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.


I wish I had more time to focus on Aldersgate, but, at the least, I wanted to make a brief mention of that which has become a spiritual touchstone for the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition.

5 comments:

Eric said...

Thanks for bringing this up Todd. I was amazed in my years at MVNU to find out that the Aldersgate experience was so controversial.

Our main theology prof always pointed toward Aldersgate as Wesley's ES experience. Yet just a few miles up the road at Ashland, their main theology prof pointed to it as a salvation experience.

After listening to the discussions on both sides, I would not categorize it as fully either.

Anyway, it is amazing the influence of a single night, and the discussions that have followed.

Pastor Steven said...

Todd,

I was just reading about the Aldergate street experience this past Saturday night. What a great day to celebrate our Wesleyan/Methodist heritage.

Peace,

Steven

Todd Stepp said...

The UM have the observance listed in their Book of Worship. I have done something most of my pastoral life. In Greencastle, as I mentioned, it was pretty successful. But I have had difficulty getting others to participate. - Slowly, but surely. - The AME folks really seemed to like our getting together.

As to what the Aldersgate experience was: My opinion, it was not Wesley's ES experience. (That doesn't even come close to be convincing for me.) - I like the concept of it being his "evangelical conversion." That is, it is not simply about "he wasn't 'saved,' but now he is."

Whatever one thinks concerning Aldersgate, it does seem to embody at least the third "distinctive" of the Wesleyan/Methodist doctrinal distinctives. (All need to be saved. All may be saved. All may know that they are saved. All may be saved to the utmost.)

Pax,

Todd+

Todd Stepp said...

The UM have the observance listed in their Book of Worship. I have done something most of my pastoral life. In Greencastle, as I mentioned, it was pretty successful. But I have had difficulty getting others to participate. - Slowly, but surely. - The AME folks really seemed to like our getting together.

As to what the Aldersgate experience was: My opinion, it was not Wesley's ES experience. (That doesn't even come close to be convincing for me.) - I like the concept of it being his "evangelical conversion." That is, it is not simply about "he wasn't 'saved,' but now he is."

Whatever one thinks concerning Aldersgate, it does seem to embody at least the third "distinctive" of the Wesleyan/Methodist doctrinal distinctives. (All need to be saved. All may be saved. All may know that they are saved. All may be saved to the utmost.)

Pax,

Todd+

Katharine said...

sorry I missed it!