Monday, October 29, 2012

End of the Century Wesleyan (1990s): Black and Drury

Only one chapter again today from Bob Black and Keith Drury's, The Story of the Wesleyan ChurchSo far it's been:

Chaps 1-2  About Wesley and the origins of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in abolitionism
Chaps 3-4  About its activist early days that were low church, pro-women (and anti- some other things)
Chaps 5-6  The post-Civil War let down, when the best and brightest returned to the Methodists
Chaps 7-8  Birth of Pilgrim Holiness Church
Chapter 9   Multiple Ministries
Chapters 10-11 Roaring Holiness 20s
Chapters 12-13 Institutional Solidification (30s/40s)
Chapters 14-15 Prelude to Merger
Chapters 16-17 The Wesleyan Merger
Chapter 18 The Decade of Evangelism (1970s)
Chapter 19 The Decade of Church Growth (1980s)
No drastic events in the Wesleyan Church of the 90s, but time marched on.  United Wesleyan College closed and Indiana Wesleyan skyrocketed with its adult and online programs. The church grew to where there were more churches overseas than here at home. We went down to 3 general superintendents and Ken Schenck was ordained (not mentioned ;-).

Church Membership has been one of the biggest issues in the recent history of the WC.  Large congregations in certain locations have struggled with parts of the Wesleyan membership rules that are more our culture than biblical (e.g., drinking).  The solution over time has been two kinds of membership: 1) covenant membership for those who are firmly Wesleyan in tradition and 2) community membership for people who attend local churches, are clearly Christians, but who don't hold to all our traditions. It's a complicated issue, and it remains a work in progress.

We had worship wars in the 90s as those who liked "traditional" music (meaning whatever they grew up with) fought those who wanted "contemporary" music.  The contemporary folk often thought they were enlightened, and the traditional folk often thought they were spiritual.  Both were wrong.  Tiny congregations stayed traditional.  Large congregations went contemporary.  Middle sized churches either went to multiple services or alternated styles.

The most significant thing about the Wesleyan Church in the 90s was actually something that happened on the side, namely, the founding of World Hope with Joanne Lyon at its helm.  This great NGO did Jesus work in Sierra Leone in the aftermath of its civil war with prosthetics and has helped people all over the world start micro-businesses, providing for and empowering poor people, including women, in impoverished nations.  They have also worked against human trafficking.

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