Our greatest heritage

April 13th, 2016

One of the most meaningful ecumenical moments in my experience occurred just before the final year of undergraduate studies. That summer I was appointed to serve a five-year term as the young adult representative from the African Methodist Episcopal Church to the World Methodist Council. At the meeting of the council in Brighton, England, I was amazed by the contributions made by Methodists across the globe.

Upon the conclusion of the conference, I visited several historic sites in London, including the home of John Wesley. I vividly remember entering his home and being struck by a palatable power inside Wesley’s prayer room. The experience convinced me about the necessity of prayer to guide, sustain, and strengthen us for the vocation of ministry.

Fifteen years later, on a rainy Saturday afternoon in December 2015, I participated in a meaningful interfaith experience. I marched, stood, and spoke out alongside many faith leaders in solidarity with the Muslim community, which is presently facing heinous acts of intimidation, racism, and terror in north Texas.

I was amazed to realize that the Christian ministers present at the march and rally were nearly all Methodists. So were the laypeople who showed up and spoke in support of the cause. Is there something unique about our Methodist heritage and purpose that draws us together beneath cloudy skies?


Methodists have been committed since inception to personal piety and social transformation. These inseparable pursuits are our greatest legacy and remain a key reason why we persist. The worldwide body of Christ would be diminished without our stamina for personal holiness and social innovation. As Methodists we stand together with eyes set toward the parousia, committed to a personal holiness that fits us as followers of Jesus Christ. We stand rooted and resolved in the present with hands and feet committed to working for peace and justice as followers of Jesus Christ. For Methodists, it’s never either/or but always both/and.

John Wesley departed his prayer room with an abolitionist’s fire and was outspoken against the sin of American slavery. I think that if he were alive today, Wesley would join us in marching under a cloud-covered sky. So would Richard Allen. And Rosa Parks. And living Methodist legends such as James Lawson, Vashti McKenzie, and Zan Wesley Holmes. And countless other witnesses throughout time. This is who we are, and it’s what we do as the family of Methodism. Our faith is committed to action. Let’s work daily to ensure that our greatest heritage is passed on for generations to follow.

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