By Heather Hahn
Retired United Methodist Bishop James K. Mathews, who had a lifelong passion for mission work and evangelism, died September 8 in Washington, D.C. He was 97.
The son-in-law of noted evangelist E. Stanley Jones, Mathews traveled the world as a Methodist missionary. He made more than 60 trips to India, 28 to Africa, 16 to Latin America, and a dozen to Korea and Japan during his lifetime.
Throughout his travels, he brought a commitment to Christian service, said his daughter Anne Mathews-Younes. “He loved life, he loved to serve, and he was always willing to share of himself,” she said. “He worked all the time because that’s what you do when you’re a Christian. There’s always something to do.”
John “Jack” L. Ewing Jr., the executive director of the Foundation for Evangelism, called Mathews one of “the giants of the faith.”
However, the office of bishop was not a distinction he sought.
Mathews declined the post when he was first elected to serve as bishop in India in 1956. He suggested that Indians should be ministered to by their own people.
In 1960, he was on a mission trip in India when he was elected to the episcopacy again. This time, he accepted. He served as bishop of the New England Area for 12 years and then the Washington (D.C.) Area for eight before retiring in 1980.
In 1985, Mathews came out of retirement to serve as bishop in Zimbabwe for a year, and during his tenure, he helped establish Africa University. He was called into service again in 1990, leading the newly created Albany Area in upstate New York until 1992. He later served as bishop of the New York Area starting in 1995, when its bishop went on medical leave.
Mathews retired again in 1996 as one of the longest-serving bishops of the United Methodist Church.
Wesleyan evangelism. In many ways, Mathews embodied what was best about Wesleyan thinking, friends say.
David McAllister-Wilson, president of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington and a longtime friend, said Mathews combined John Wesley’s ideal of “knowledge and vital piety.”
The late bishop also had a very Wesleyan understanding of evangelism that combined personal holiness with social holiness, said both McAllister-Wilson and Ewing.
“Mathews clearly understood it is not just about our personal relationship with God, our personal holiness,” Ewing said. “It is about our responsibility for our fellow human beings through social holiness.”
He was equally passionate about giving an altar call and calling for civil rights, McAllister-Wilson said.
As a bishop, he participated in the 1963 March of Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1978, he participated in “The Longest Walk” in Washington, which drew national attention to the plight of Native Americans.
On Easter Sunday in 1964, he and African-American Bishop Charles Golden were barred from entering an all-white Methodist church in Jackson, Mississippi. Decades later, Mathews-Younes said, her father was invited to preach at the church. The church is integrated now.
“My dad was on the right side of the issues,” his daughter said. “He wasn’t a rabble rouser at all. He was just patiently on the side of justice and Jesus.”
From medicine to mission. One of eight children, Mathews was born February 10, 1913, in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. His father was an itinerant Methodist preacher, but Mathews initially aspired to become a physician and was a pre-med student at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.
While in college, he had a “profound conversion experience,” his daughter said, and his now-deceased brother, the Rev. Joseph W. Mathews, convinced him to enter the ministry.
He used to joke that he “saved a lot of lives by not becoming a surgeon,” Mathews-Younes said.
Mathews received a second bachelor’s degree from Biblical Seminary in New York City, earning his way by teaching newly arrived immigrants at the Five Points Mission on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
He was ordained a Methodist minister in 1937. He then earned a master’s degree in theology from Boston University School of Theology where a lecture by an Anglican bishop from India inspired him to become a missionary.
In 1938, he set sail for India. The following year at the Sat Tal Christian Ashram in northern India, he met E. Stanley Jones and, just as importantly, Jones’s daughter Eunice. The two married in June 1940.
After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Mathews returned with his wife to the United States, where he pursued his Ph.D. in theology at Columbia University under the G.I. Bill. He also took a post with the Methodist Board of Missions, the predecessor of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
As a missionary, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean some 220 times and mastered several languages, including the Indian languages of Marathi, Hindustani, Urdu, and Sanskrit.
He was “one of Methodism’s mission stalwarts of the 20th century,” said Thomas Kemper of the Board of Global Ministries. “His mission was the message of God’s love in Jesus Christ, proclaimed in acts and words,” Kemper said. “He wrote, preached, taught, and traveled for the gospel.”
As part of Mathew’s ministry, he also met a number of powerful people. He was lifelong friends with Mahatma Gandhi’s grandsons. He met with Jackie Robinson, the black player who integrated Major League Baseball. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun spoke when he retired as the Washington Area’s bishop in 1980.
He was invited to the White House to discuss civil rights with President Kennedy. During the administration of President George H.W. Bush, he helped establish an interdenominational chapel at Camp David. He flew on Air Force One with President Clinton on the way to help lead a ceremony at Pearl Harbor to commemorate the end of World War II.
But he touched the lives of far more than celebrities and presidents.
Mathews-Younes said that when her father made what would be his last visit to the hospital, the nurse who cared for him recognized him from seeing him preach 25 years ago in her native South Africa.
“She changed all of her shifts so she could be his nurse,” Mathews-Younes said. “I never saw such gentle caring. It was a blessing. We knew God was there, and God was putting people around him.”
His survivors include his wife of 70 years, Eunice; his daughters, Mathews-Younes and Janice Stromsem; and son, J. Stanley Mathews, as well as six grandchildren, and soon to be three great-grandchildren.
Gifts can be made on behalf of missionary work in India through the E. Stanley and Mabel Jones Foundation at the General Board of Global Ministries, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115.
Heather Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service.
By Jim Nelson
In mid-September, pastors and laity from around the country gathered for three days at the Dunwoody United Methodist Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, for the “IN Conference: A Leadership Nexus Event.” The event centered around five crucial concepts of church health, all of which begin with “IN.” The intent of the Conference was to give attendees a “chance to engage in innovative and integrative ways to empower their churches to Invite, Involve, Inspire, Invest, and be a congregation of Integrity.” The gathering was sponsored by the North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Dunwoody UM Church.
According to the Rev. Dr. Bob Pierson, executive director and founder of Leadership Nexus, one of the primary purposes of IN conferences is to help pastors and church leaders “navigate and reach the post-modern culture.” The conference featured seven keynote speakers, each exploring one of the “IN” words, and 30 workshops, plus several panel discussions by a variety of church leaders.
Attendees also enjoyed several entertaining as well as informative presentations. Coach Dan Reeves, former NFL player and coach, gave one of the morning devotionals. He spoke about his faith, and how it helped him as a player and as a coach, steering him through some of the more difficult times in his life.
Bishop Larry Goodpaster, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, spoke about the future of the United Methodist Church, the struggles the church is facing, and possible changes to come. This was a highlight for the Rev. Larry Van Camp, a United Methodist pastor from Rockport, Indiana, who attended Bishop Goodpaster’s Q & A. “He was honest and truthful talking about changes that may come,” said Van Camp.
Bishop Mike Watson of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church delivered the first keynote address. His focus was “Integrity,” which he said people can smell in a pastor. “All preachers only have one sermon,” he stated, “and that is his or her life. It is what the people remember about you when you leave.” He said pastors should not trust themselves. “You better have some help,” he challenged. “We are all sinners and need others to hold us accountable.” Pastors, he said, need to be part of small groups with people they can trust.
The Rev. Tyrone Gordon, pastor of the St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas, shared thoughts to “Inspire.” “We need to do things in new and radical ways; we need to ReThink Church,” he said. Gordon then added that if we are going to be inspirational as a church, “We need to move from a maintenance mentality to a missional mentality. We cannot just be caretakers, and we cannot waste people’s time doing church as usual.”
“Ministry is hard,” Gordon said, “and unless we replenish ourselves we cannot inspire others.” Gordon posited that people do not share with others about their church, “because they are not inspired by their church.” To be inspirational, he said that we need to be risk takers, and we need folks in our congregations who are risk takers as well, and who are willing to “step out of the boat.”
Bishop Goodpaster also spoke on the church’s need to “Inspire.” He talked about the nominal or “almost” Christians who are members but attend only occasionally because they “do not feel included: God and Gospel do not matter in their lives.”
Dr. Jan Love, Dean of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, spoke on the word “Invite.” Dean Love stressed the point that we need to invite those who are different from ourselves to journey with us. “We need to share our faith with one another if we are to continue to grow.”
One of the problems she highlighted was the fact that, “We spend more time fighting with others within the faith, than we do reaching out into the community.” Christians on both sides of the political and theological spectrum have more in common with each other than they do with those who are outside the faith. She urged participants to set their differences aside and work together so that the church can effectively offer Jesus to everyone.
Leadership Nexus’ Bob Pierson also spoke on “Invite.” He stressed that, “Making disciples of Christ needs to be a priority. Jesus is not only our Savior, but our Lord, and we need to do what he commands.”
He went on to say that to be an inviting church, “We must pay attention to cultural shifts and changes in the family structure. And we need to know how to communicate in today’s environment,” because people need to know that God loves them.
The Rev. Dan Kimball, pastor and author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church, highlighted how to “Invest.” “We need to invest in the future of the church by investing in those who are not part of it yet,” he said. “If you care about the future of the church, we must invest in the younger generation.” Pastors and church leaders must have a passion for investing in others.
“Jesus called disciples to go out and get new disciples,” which is what we are all called to do. Kimball added, “We need to train the people of our churches to see themselves as local missionaries every day.” He then challenged those in attendance by saying, “What if we really viewed our local town or city as a ‘mission field’ in the same way we do other countries? What would you do differently?”
The Rev. Wiley Stephens, pastor of Dunwoody UM Church, focused on the last word, “Involve.” Stephens believes that pastors should use administration to involve people in the church, which will help “to create ownership” on the part of our members.
Stephens said, “We must value the potential of every person.” He went on to say the people must feel that it is “our responsibility” to be in ministry to Jesus and to grow the church.
The IN conference primarily focused on the emergent church, understanding the current culture and how we can reach the new generation that for whatever reason has dropped out of church. The workshops offered ideas for designing more creative worship experiences, how to overcome objections from existing congregations, how to use social networking as a part of our overall communication effort, and practical advice on various aspects of church administration.
Jim Nelson is the pastor of the Dawson Street UM Church in Thomasville, Georgia, and was the last editor of the Wesleyan Christian Advocate, the newspaper for United Methodist in both North and South Georgia.
By Isaac Broune (UMNS)
African United Methodists desire a greater voice, more sharing of power, and the ability to adapt some church rules to local contexts. And a study committee exploring the global nature of the denomination is listening.
After meeting with church leaders throughout the continent, the Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church decided to work toward goals that include defining the covenant that unites the global church, promoting greater regional connections, exploring how the denomination’s Book of Discipline can be adapted for local needs, and examining the U.S. and international roles of general agencies.
Throughout their visit, committee leaders were encouraged by the church in Africa’s great commitment to and desire to serve the United Methodist Church.
“We understood over and over again that it was a vision to not only serve the needs of people in this country, but also to be engaged in worldwide ministries,” said Bishop Scott Jones, study committee chair.
Hearing global perspectives. The committee studying the global nature of the church visited Africa in August 2010 as part of its mission to hear representative voices throughout the denomination before it makes its recommendations to the 2012 General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body.
Divided in four groups, study committee members listened to church representatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe from August 14 to 17.
The committee asked three basic questions: “How is God at work in your church to accomplish the mission of the United Methodist Church? What are the things that are working well? If you could change one thing in the United Methodist Church, what would you change?”
The whole committee then met in Abidjan from August 19-22, where members shared their experiences and heard from leaders of the Côte d’Ivoire Annual (regional) Conference.
After listening to African leaders speak of their desire to be of greater service to the denomination, the study committee assigned four goals to subcommittees.
The first goal is to develop a covenant that helps the church express its theology in ways—including multiple translations of resources—that serve the global church. As United Methodists think more globally, Jones said, “They understand cultural differences in relating to each other.”
Another subcommittee will look at ways to provide greater regional connections. “In Africa, there are three central conferences. How often do people from all parts of Africa meet to talk about things like theological education and other issues related to them?” Jones asked.
A third subcommittee will prepare recommendations on adaptations that can be made to the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s book of rules and bylaws, to meet local needs. A fourth will study general agencies to determine whether they are global agencies or U.S. agencies.
Voices of hope. “Coming to Africa to hear the voice of the church is something that we need to celebrate,” Bishop Benjamin Boni of Côte d’Ivoire said in his welcoming words to the committee.
That optimism extended throughout the consultation.
Bishop John Innis of Liberia, a study committee member, said the African visit promises “great things for the church by the time the committee completes its work.”
Boni also expects a lot from the study. He said the denomination needs to advance into “the deep waters of evangelization” and social action with efficient policies that bring forth the glory of God to the world.
“African realities are different from those of Asia or America. The study committee’s concern to hear all parties involved in the global church needs to be praised, all the more so since we all have certain features in common as well as specificities,” Boni said. “We must continue to live the global dimension of the denomination while taking into account our specific characteristics. This is extremely important.”
Isaac Broune is a United Methodist communicator based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. This article was distributed by United Methodist News Service.
By Frank Decker
My home airport is the world’s busiest, and when traveling, I often come across groups of work teams headed to some foreign place to serve for a week or two. They are not difficult to spot, and they sometimes even have matching t-shirts. I often ask them about their plans. “We’re going to build a church,” “We are conducting a Vacation Bible School,” etc. A colleague recently told me of a mission work team whose matching t-shirts displayed a map of their home state with an arrow pointing from home to their Latin American destination. The caption proclaimed, “Bringing Jesus from Texas to Costa Rica.”
I cringed when I heard that story. And if you have served on a work team, lived overseas, or as a Wesleyan simply have a basic understanding of prevenient grace, perhaps you bristled with a vicarious sense of embarrassment on hearing it, too.
We need to pay attention to how others perceive us as we come in the name of Jesus. Perhaps we assume that our identity as Americans is an advantage to our witness. However, this is not the case. Eugene Peterson has written about what people who come from other cultures into ours see and hear. He says, “In my experience, they don’t see a Christian land. …They see something almost the reverse of a Christian land.” “They see a lot of greed and arrogance. And they see a Christian community that has almost none of the virtues of the biblical Christian community, which have to do with a sacrificial life and conspicuous love. Rather, they see indulgence in feelings and emotions, and an avaricious quest for gratification.”
Author and educator Bill McKibbin chimes in on the disconnect between our self-identity as a Christian people and the reality that our collective cultural behavior indicates something quite to the contrary. For example, the United States is the most violent rich nation on earth with a murder rate over four times that of Europe. American prisons house six or seven times the population percentage of other developed countries. And, “Despite Jesus’ strong declarations against divorce, our marriages break up at a rate—just over half—that compares poorly with the European Union’s average of about four in ten. …Teenage pregnancy? We’re at the top of the charts. Personal self-discipline—like, say, keeping your weight under control? Buying on credit? Running government deficits? Do you need to ask?”
America is attractive to outsiders, in Peterson’s words, because of our materialism, not our spirituality. “What they want are cars and televisions. They’re not coming after our gospel, unless they’re translating the gospel into a promise of riches and comfort.”
Therein lies a huge missiological challenge. Let’s say that I feel compelled to serve cross-culturally, and I get it that my cultural identity is not an advantage but sometimes a handicap. I am like a baseball player beginning my appearance at the plate with two strikes against me. The necessary process to avoid striking out is doable, but not easy. And it cannot be accomplished alone.
The Mission Society has a group of workers-in-training who are currently living among mostly Muslim refugees here in the Atlanta area, and one of the books we are studying is Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Prior to his martyrdom in a Nazi prison camp, Bonhoeffer wrote that the essential element of authentic Christian life and work is the very presence of Jesus in our midst. Anything we seek to do that is void of his presence is of no value to the Kingdom. Each and every step along the way must necessarily involve a collaborative process of prayer, meditation, and Scripture study in which Christ is invited to reveal himself.
So, as I relate to the hundreds of missionaries with whom I work, I realize that there is a lot at stake as Americans go out to minister in Jesus’ name. And I always go back to Bonhoeffer’s question: Is Jesus himself evident in this work? If one’s doing ministry involves serving AIDS orphans in Kenya, or children at risk through human trafficking in Bangkok, or forgotten villagers in the Peruvian Andes, or struggling adolescents in the Ukraine, or Dalit (“untouchable”) women in India, or the training of pastors, the question must perpetually be asked: Is the presence of Christ himself evident in this?
When Jesus’ presence is experienced as a reality, we might not need a t-shirt to advertize it.
Rob Renfroe’s editorial in the September/October issue (“Tone Deafness and the Call to Action”) is on target and very encouraging. As a person in the pew, let me also ask a question.
Why should I distrust a Board that continually labels conservative Americans in favor of a smaller government and less debt as racists? I was at the August 28th Restoring Honor rally in Washington, D.C. and I was humbled by the presence of such a large crowd gathered peacefully with no political signs to hear Dr. Alveda King (Martin Luther King’s niece) speak of her uncle’s “dream”; which gathered to honor everyday Americans for their bravery and generosity and stood with over 200 clergy of all faiths (Christian, Jews, and Muslims) in proclaiming the greatness of this country and praying for a return to God as our savior and leader, and for a renewal of our faith and a return to the founding principles of this nation.
Yes, I too hope and pray that the Call to Action Committee will take its charter seriously. Leadership must be trusted to carry out its role and responsibilities based on biblical foundations and not some political agenda.
It might be my own middle-age crisis, but September/October’s “West Coast Lament” pushed several of my buttons. My call to ministry was shortly after the apex of Methodist membership (unification in 1968) and it’s been all downhill since. Like Bishop Swenson, I came west to serve, convinced the world would very soon be transformed for Christ; but as retirement comes onto my horizon, I sometimes wonder what has happened.
Andrew Miller’s analysis and Steve Beard’s story tag some of the probable factors, and George Mitrovich asks directly what might be the other causes for our decline than a failure to honor our Wesleyan heritage. The author asserts that the liberalism that characterizes the West has undermined the Wesleyan witness out here. I would suggest some other factors.
First, I’d like to know why there can’t also be a Christian, Wesleyan church for liberals? Aren’t we eligible for the good news too? Just because there’s not a lot of us doesn’t mean we’re not faithful. Miller’s analysis skips over these facts, culled from the same sources:
• Attendance per member in Cal-Pac is 57.44 percent, while attendance per member in North Georgia is 39.2 percent.
• Despite Cal-Pac’s 16.5 percent decline over the past ten years, giving per member increased 45 percent. In fact, for 2009, per capita giving to the Advance in the Western Jurisdiction is $6.38, with Cal-Pac giving at an even higher rate of $7.37. In contrast, the per member rate for the Southeastern Jurisdiction is $2.74, and specifically for North Georgia, $1.86. If you’re going to compare apples to apples, compare all the apples.
• The article notes the need for a dedicated staff person for church planting. Also reported was the impact of the Pacific-Homes crisis in Cal-Pac—care to guess one of the many places where staffing was cut? Update: since the late 1990s, Cal-Pac has rebuilt its new ministries staff to include an executive director, and directors in both Hispanic and Urban ministries. We’re going in the right direction.
• But wait, there’s more: even though we are committed to planting new congregations by all viable means, Cal-Pac ranks first in the denomination for cost per member to operate a church: $1,297. This indicates the cost of real estate and infrastructure in the second largest metro area in the country. Plainly, this impacts both the vitality of existing congregations, and establishing new ministries, for new people, in new places.
It is interesting to play with numbers and statistics, but personally, I think the reasons for decline are much more personal. The Rev. Adam Hamilton talks about the traditional equation for discipling as “believe, behave, belong.” First, profess faith, as I did in my call experience at senior high church camp. Then learn how to be or “behave” as a Christian and in community and service. The fruit of this for me has become a deep-rooted belonging in the United Methodist fellowship of faith across my life and several western states.
That priority sequence is also at the heart of the accusation that the liberal West has lost its Wesleyan fire and thus its market, its ministry, its witness. But the West is too small to account for the loss of millions of members in the total denomination, and what really drives that loss across much (not all) of our church is not about belief, but how we have behaved. If we take seriously what surveys of those outside the church say, especially those who have actually visited, then the other end of the sequence comes to the front: today, young people in particular come seeking a sense of community and belonging. Hamilton has built his successful ministry by flipping the sequence to begin with belonging, then learning the behaviors (“discipling”), the fruit of which is ultimately profession of faith.
This locates the breakdown at our doorstep. Belonging never gets started because we have not only forgotten true hospitality, we’ve twisted our need for belonging into a cold shoulder. Our need to greet our friends, to sit in our pew, to have only people who look, act, and speak like ourselves to bolster our sense of belonging has effectively closed many of our doors. The root cause is not in our heads, what we believe, but what is in our hearts.
California and the West are booming. It is the mission frontier of our time on this continent. It is packed with folks of all sorts, including more than enough spiritually-rooted, God-seeking persons who are also, by the way, liberal and would welcome Wesley’s open hand, and the idea that Kennedy’s one hundred churches of a thousand members is entirely possible. We will have to deal with the high cost of land and buildings, with multiple languages and colors, and real competition from other faith traditions; but first we will have to open our hearts and minds, and only then should we open our doors. We will have to re-learn and learn anew the ways that match this population—not Georgia’s or anyone else’s. Those who wish to join us in doing so are welcome to go west.
Gary M. Keene
California-Pacific Annual Conference
More needs to be said
Thank you for the very fine article regarding the decline of United Methodism in Southern California and its growth in North Georgia. I appreciate the fact that you were more than fair to Bishop Swenson. But more needs to be said.
The bishop states one reason for Methodism’s decline in the Cal-Pac Annual Conference is its diversity. But the truth is Bishop Swenson has no truly large churches or rapidly growing churches of any ethnic group under her charge. The problem in that conference is not that they have learned how to do “Anglo church” or “Hispanic church” well, but haven’t learned how to do church well for other ethnic groups. Reality is that they aren’t meeting the spiritual needs of any ethnic group sufficiently to make large numbers of disciples—and this in an area where some of the nation’s largest churches of all ethnic groups exist, only they are not United Methodist. A diverse population is not the reason Cal-Pac is failing. There is something systemic that needs to be addressed.
The fact that the bishop points to a financial and public relations problem (the Pacific Homes debacle), which occurred roughly 30 years ago as a reason for a lack of growth today, is both sad and deflective. It is indicative of a mindset that is content with a lack of growth and that is more comfortable with excusing present-day failure than expecting churches to be growing centers of Wesleyan spirituality.
In the past 40 years, the Western Jurisdiction has lost 45 percent of its membership, far more than any other jurisdiction. The reason is not diversity or problems with retirement homes. The reason is systemic. Thus, systemic failure is at hand with the absence of any passion for saving souls; an ambivalence to the poor historical performance; and, as it is with any failing organization, a leadership deflective and blaming like Adam did with Eve. If we mirror contemporary culture, we will be conformed to the world and the world will not need us.
Texas Annual Conference
I was blessed to read “Celebrating James Arminius” by George Mitrovich in the May/June 2010 issue of Good News. It sounded themes of which we United Methodists need to be reminded. As the recent anniversary celebration of Calvin’s birth showed, certain debates are still very much with us. Lesser debates have often consumed more energy than the Calvinism-“liberty of the will” issue. Mitrovich points out that our beliefs have consequences; therefore, the debate must still be joined. Also, unwarranted suffering can result from falsified doctrine.
Methodism came into being for many reasons; one of the most important was recovery of nearly-forgotten traditions. For us, tradition was a positive force, at least potentially. More than a reaction to Calvinism or Lutheranism, tradition was at stake. The Wesleys looked farther back than these Reformations. We sometimes forget that Arminius and all were preceded by at least a thousand years of living doctrine. A bearer of this continuity was the Eastern Orthodox Church, which continues to this day.
The tradition from which Orthodoxy draws includes the Cappadocian (4th Century) theologians. Their message, as I understand it, was a both/and approach. Both God and humans are somehow involved in what we call salvation. It is about synergy, if you will, more than energy. The alternative to “total depravity” is “energy together” (syn-ergy), a potent force indeed. It does not have to be explained to be true. It has been courageously upheld by Wesleyans and Disciplinary statements through the years.
Your magazine is to be commended for its coverage of both the Early (pre-Schism) Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church (e.g. Archpriest Hardun, p. 8 in September/October 2010 issue). This provided many connections for us to explore.
I enjoyed Rob Renfroe’s challenge (“calling out”) for integrity from the top in “Tone Deafness and the Call to Action” in the September/October 2010 issue of Good News. Robert Greenleaf, known as the father of the modern day servant leadership model in the education sector, admonished boards and ad councils of organizations across our society to do their job—hold leadership accountable, thus being good stewards (Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, Paulist Press, 1977). Those in any field, not just the church, who push their own agenda at the expense of the common good, assist in the erosion of the core values of the organization. Your article explains this well.
Thank you for reminding us of what is at stake. Those at the top of the chain seem to have so little of an idea of what the grassroots of Methodism really think, and are so thirsting for from the bureaucracy. Simply, the grassroots so thirst for true, ethical, transparent leadership that is not aligned with a political party, or the whims of special interests groups, but aligned with Christ, and the biblical principles Wesley assumed we would know how to cling to.
Joseph “Rocky” Wallace,
Doctor of Strategic Leadership
Foundational and Graduate
Studies in Education
Morehead State University
Thank you for your editorial about accountability and autonomous organizational structure (“Tone Deafness and the Call to Action” in the September/October 2010 issue of Good News).
I am a fairly recent graduate from one of our United Methodist seminaries, and during my four years there, I found myself asking a question over and over: How did it (and how could it) come about that the UM seminaries are not accountable in any truly meaningful way to the UM Church? Sure, we have our six hours of United Methodist classes. But the other 84 hours required for a Masters of Divinity degree will not have much if any focus on Methodist doctrine and beliefs, (and lots of times not even just basic Christian beliefs), unless the student specifically seeks it out.
How did we ever get to this point in the theological education of Methodists? And how can we ever get out if it?
What hope is there for our seminaries becoming accountable, and actually emphasizing and believing Methodist doctrinal beliefs? This would be a major joy and opportunity for renewal.
Thanks so much for all your efforts! Thanks also for not getting all political about everything. No political party is ever going to be our Savior, and I thank you and praise God that Good News magazine does not fall into that trap, but continues to focus on Jesus Christ!
Sedgwick and Bentley UM Churches
Kansas West Conference