This coming Sunday is recognized in the United Methodist church as “Heritage Sunday.” It is designated as the Sunday closest to May 24. Why is May 24 so significant? It is the date that John Wesley, the founder of this movement known as Methodism, had his “Aldersgate experience.”
Aldersgate was a street in London, where there was a Moravian Chapel. Wesley attended a Bible Study there, and on May 24, 1738, records in his journal that as Martin Luther’s preface to the book of Romans was being read, “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” ("What is Aldersgate Day?" umc.org. The United Methodist Church.) History records this as a turning point in the life of Wesley, and ultimately for a movement that would have significant impact on the world.
Many have said that this was the “conversion” experience of John Wesley. Though he was already a Priest in the Anglican church, though he was dedicated to the faith and had long preached the Word, this was a moment that would re-shape his life. Wesley, maybe for the first time, received that assurance of God’s love and forgiveness and it changed him. It was the start of something that began to shape first the Church of England, and would later become a people derisively called “Methodist.”
This Sunday, I will share a bit about why I am a part of this Wesleyan church, and what makes us a bit “unique” or “special.” Having been raised in a different expression of the faith gives me a good insight, I believe, into the strengths and weaknesses of the United Methodist Church. Not to give away all of my sermon, but being United Methodist combines the best of the “evangelical movement”, those concerned with “social holiness” or social justice issues, and, sacramental. I will flesh out a bit of what those mean for us in the church today.
In addition, at the 10:30 service, we will have a recognition time for our Preschool, children, teachers and families. That is followed by a great BBQ fundraiser for our Youth mission trip. I hope you will plan to join us!