Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A.M.E. in G.C.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church has, this day, entered into their quadrennial General Conference.  Delegates have gathered in Nashville, TN for this 49th quadrennial meeting.

News and information concerning the A.M.E. General Conference can be found at this website.

As followers of this blog will know, this is the third major (U.S. based) Methodist denomination to hold their General Conference, this year.  (The other two were the United Methodist Church and The Wesleyan Church.)  The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church will hold their General Conference July 18-24 of this year, while the Church of the Nazarene's General Assembly will take place in 2013, and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church will not meet again until 2014.

One highlight noted on the schedule for this quadrennium's meeting is that First Lady Michelle Obama will be the keynoted speaker, tomorrow, June 28.  Then Senator (now, President, of course) Barack Obama addressed the 2008 meeting.

The Conference will conclude (with a bang?) on the 4th of July.

Founded in 1787, the African Methodist Episcopal Church is understood to be the oldest Black religious denomination in America, today.  The first A.M.E. General Conference took place in 1816, when the A.M.E. became an official religious denomination.  The church claims a membership of more than three million people worldwide with approximately 7,500 churches throughout North and South America as well as Europe, Africa and India. The Church has established and supports 12 higher education institutions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Authentic Christian Worship: Wesley's Criteria

Just wanted to draw attention to a new addition to my side-bar.  Just below my profile information, I have included a link to the paper I presented at the 2009 meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society.

This paper was based on a portion of my dissertation work.  And an edited version of a portion of this paper was subsequently published in the Wesleyan Theological Journal.

I believe I may have mentioned it in a much earlier article, and I likely included a link to it, there.  -  I don't know why I never included it on my side-bar!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Nazarene's Methodist Identity Shown (Yet Again) in Recent Article

Nazarene Communications Network has started a new, monthly segment called "Archives' Answers" written by my friend and Nazarene Archivist, Dr. Stan Ingersol.

Stan and I attended the 2001 World Methodist Conference in Brighton, England together.  He represented the Church of the Nazarene, and I carried the Nazarene banner in the parade of banners during the Conference.  Stan and two others (as I recall) served on the World Methodist Council, that year, and he and I were two of four official delegates to the Conference.

In this month's "Archives' Answers" article, Stan answers the question of where the name, Church of the Nazarene, originated.  -  I won't repeat his answer in this post.  Rather, you can read it for yourself, here.

However, I would point out one line in his article.  He writes, "Other proposed names included various uses of 'Methodist.'"  -  This only further emphasizes my own assertions, and one of the themes found in Our Watchword & Song: The Centennial History of the Church of the Nazarene, viz., that the Church of the Nazarene did not simply "leave the Methodists" (as some like to claim), but rather, the Church of the Nazarene is a Methodist denomination.

Other indications of this underlying Methodist identity include the origin of all of our major parent churches, as well as the majority of our early general superintendents; our book of discipline (the Manual); our basic structure; our General Rules (now called The Covenant of Christian Character); our system of superintendency; our connectivity; our understanding and emphasis on higher education; our ordination practices; and, of course, our theology. 

Quotes from early Nazarene leaders show the same understanding. 

Assistant General Superintendent, C.W. Ruth said, "The Church of the Nazarene is nothing in the world but old-fashioned Methodism" (1903).

General Superintendent E.F. Walker said, "Scratch a real Nazarene, and you will touch an original Methodist; skin a genuine Methodist, and behold a Nazarene!" (1909).

And early Nazarene theologian, A.M Hills said, "Our theology is that of Methodism, and our mission is that of early Methodists, to spread holiness throughout the world."  "The Church of the Nazarene is the fairest flower that has ever bloomed in the Methodist garden, the most promising ecclesiastical daughter the prolific Mother Methodism has ever given to the world."

Then, too, there is our full, participatory membership in The World Methodist Council.  -  Beyond that, on a more personal note, the recognition of this Methodist identity is why the United Methodist Church, according to their Book of Discipline (par. 246.1), identify me with the status of "Other Methodist," as I serve as pastor to a United Methodist Church.

Now, to be clear, that does not mean that we are just like the United Methodists, any more than other "Methodists" (e.g., The Free Methodists, The Wesleyans, the Evangelical Methodists, the British Methodists, etc.) are just like the UMC.  -  No, Nazarenes are specifically a Wesleyan-holiness expression of Methodism, but Dr. Ingersol's article points out, Nazarenes are an expression of Methodism.

Nazarene Greetings to The Wesleyan Church

In the most recent e-mailing from Nazarene Communications Network (NCN), an article is posted about Dr. Lyon's election as General Superintendent in The Wesleyan Church.

It seems that, contrary to my article, below, Nazarene General Superintendent, Dr. J. K. Warrick was actually at the General Conference in Lexington.

The article also notes an official letter of sent to Dr. Lyon and The Wesleyan Church by Dr. Eugenio Duarte on behalf of the Nazarene Board of General Superintendents.

Let NCN article can be read, here.

Dr. Duarte's letter can be read, here.

Anglican's in Assembly

I have made it a point to post concerning the various Methodist denominations meeting in General Conference this summer.  First was the United Methodist Church.  The Wesleyan Church has just concluded their General Conference, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church will begin their G.C. later this month.

However, I have failed to make any report on the Provincial Assembly 2012 of the Anglican Church in North America.  They began arriving in Ridgecrest, North Carolina this past Sunday, and they are scheduled to continue through tomorrow, Saturday, June 9.

For those who may be interested in ACNA happenings, news of the Assembly can be found, here.

Archbishop Robert Duncan's State of the Church Address can be read, here.

One disappointing note is that,  especially with the transition of former AMiA churches into the ACNA, they have had difficulty coming up with any accurate statistical information.  Another disappointing note is that there does not seem to be any word on the newly developed (or developing) Eucharistic services.  I don't recall if these were expected to be approved at this Assembly, or just prior to it, or if the approval had been expected next month.  (I suppose I could go back an read one of my earlier articles to find out!)

Nevertheless, despite these slight notes of disappointment from the perspective of this "outsider," it seems that God is at work in the ACNA!  For this we give praise to our Lord!

I am especially excited to watch two aspects of the ACNA's activities unfold.  First is their effort in church planting.  It is exciting to learn how they go about planting a church in the Anglican tradition.  While, certainly, there are those among them who plant churches that really don't look Anglican, there are others who plant churches that do look very Anglican.  It seems that the latter must, to some degree, work against what has become the dominant "church growth" model that makes cultural relevance the primary determinant for worship.  I am very interested in learning more about how they go about planting Anglican churches.

The second exciting thing for me is how involved the ACNA is with ecumenical dialogue partners.  This seems unusual for such a new church, yet their dialogue partners have tended to seek them out.  -  I would love for the Church of the Nazarene to seek to dialogue with the ACNA.  I do think that we have much to contribute, and, certainly, we could learn much about our Wesleyan/Anglican liturgical and sacramental heritage.  My concern, I suppose, is that we are really not used to such ecumenical dialogues.  We are used to cooperation with other Wesleyans, and we are members of the National Association of Evangelicals, but one-on-one ecumenical dialogues with those outside of our immediate tradition seems to be a bit new to us.  Still, I think it would be a great move.

According to ++Duncan's address, a new catechism is in development.  I look forward to seeing the finished product.  I also look forward to seeing how the groups that make up the ACNA solidify as one church, rather than just a federation of churches.  I did not find any word on how they are coming concerning the one divisive issue among them, viz., women's ordination (a topic recently discussed in other articles on this blog).

For those who would prefer to watch ++Duncan's State of the Church Address, rather than read it, the video has been provided, below.  -  May God's guidance and blessings be upon the ACNA!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

J. K. ("K" I Say) Warrick Brings Greetings to The Wesleyan Church

Nazarene General Superintendent, J. K. Warrick brought episcopal & fraternal greetings to the General Conference of The Wesleyan Church.  (The reason for the title, above, as you will see, is that they got his name wrong.  Ooops.)

I did not watch the live streaming coverage of the entire General Conference.  As indicated in my previous articles, I was mainly interested in the one g.s. model proposal and the election of that g.s.. Therefore, I did not see Dr. Warrick's greeting as it happened.  It appears that the greeting was a live video feed.
Here is Dr. Warrick's greeting:

Along with Dr. Warrick, I celebrate the relationship that exists between the Church of the Nazarene and The Wesleyan Church.  She is our closest sister denomination, and, as long time followers of my blog will likely know, I have previously supported the idea of merger between our two churches.  In fact, I have done so, not only vocally, but actively by sending a resolution to the Nazarene General Assembly, and by talks with my presiding general superintendent and one of their general superintendents (both of whom are now retired).  -  It seems, though, that the wisdom of the two groups has seen fit to strengthen our partnership rather than work toward organic union.

I do recognize that there are strong strands of fundamentalism within The Wesleyan Church, and that a merger would likely not do much for my liturgical goals.  Still, I think the plusses of merger far out-weigh the minuses.  Not to mention, I have family in TWC, and have ministered in local Wesleyan churches on a number of occasions.  Therefore, I do indeed embrace our continued close partnership, and I am thankful for Dr. Warrick's address.

(I am still looking for indications of fraternal greetings from other denominations at the Wesleyan General Conference.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jo Anne Lyons, Sole General Superintendent

In 2008 I reflected on the election of the Rev'd. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon to the general superintendency by the General Conference of The Wesleyan Church.  She was the first (and only, so far) woman to be elected to the general superintendency in TWC.

Dr. Lyon & Dr. Gunter at the Wesleyan 2008 G.C.

It was especially joyous in that her election was on the heals of the 2005 General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene, which had just elected the Rev'd. Dr. Nina Gunter as the first female general superintendent for the CotN.  To top it off, Dr. Gunter was at the 2008 G.C., representing the CotN to TWC.

Now, four years later, The Wesleyan Church has decided to move from a board of three general superintendents (for the U.S.), to one, sole general superintendent.  When that resolution was passed, the Conference voted to suspend the rules, which would have meant voting for Dr. Lyon as an incumbent, and, instead, have an open ballot election (meaning that any ordained minister in TWC could be named as the new g.s.).

However, even with this suspension of the rules, Dr. Lyon was (re)elected as the first sole general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church!  -  Congratulations, Dr. Lyon!

I think that it is significant that four short years after having elected the first female g.s., they elected her to be the sole g.s. (i.e., the "head of the denomination").

It should be pointed out that holy orders have ALWAYS been open to women in The Wesleyan Church and in the Church of the Nazarene.  In fact, the Wesleyan/holiness churches were ordaining women long before the "liberal" mainline denominations (e.g., it took the mainline United Methodist Church a quarter of a century to catch up with the Church of the Nazarene on this point).  However, it has taken the Nazarenes and the Wesleyans far too long to catch up with the UMC regarding women in the episcopal role.  Thus, there were some concerns that the delegation may revert to electing a man simply because they would not want a woman as the "head of the denomination."  Of course, the most important thing is that the Church seek the mind of Christ and the will of God, and then follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  -  I believe that they have done that very thing!

Again, congratulations, Dr. Lyon!  May God's rich blessings and anointing be upon you and The Wesleyan Church!

(The news release about the election can be read, here.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wesleyan General Conference (Updated)

The original article is posted, below.  However, the vote on the One General Superintendent Model has been cast.  The General Conference has passed the model 61% to 39%.

They have also suspended the rule concerning the election of an incumbent, so as to have an open ballot when they come to elect the person who will be the one general superintendent.

The original article follows:

The Wesleyan Church is currently (until June 6) meeting in General Conference.  -  The schedule for the Conference can be viewed, here.

As of the typing of this post, the Wesleyan G.C. is currently debating the move to a single general superintendent structure.  The Conference can be viewed live, here.

Let us be in prayer for our sisters and brothers as they meet in Conference.