April 25, 2005
A UMNS Feature
By Linda Green*
For 70 years, The Upper Room has been bringing people together to experience Christ.
daily devotional guide is a spiritual companion for more than 2.5
million Christians seeking to know and experience God more fully.
2005, the magazine is celebrating 70 years of helping people make space
for God in their daily lives and of teaching ways to faithfully respond
to God’s calling, says the Rev. Stephen Bryant, editor and publisher
for Upper Room Ministries, a division of the United Methodist Board of
Discipleship of the United Methodist Church.
Upper Room helps people focus on what is central to faith—their
relationship with God. The magazine “keeps people in touch with the
here-and-now reality of God’s presence in their lives,” Bryant says.
is unique because it is written by its own readers including lay and
clergy from around the world and representing many denominations. Thus,
the devotions provide a glimpse into God’s work in the lives of ordinary
people. “The devotions come out of the real experience, needs and
surprises of grace in people’s lives,” says Bryant.
devotional guide began during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when a
group of women in San Antonio discerned, through prayer, that families
need daily worship and Bible study to sustain them. They asked their
church for a devotional guide. That request inspired the Board of
Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, to publish a
quarterly devotional booklet to be sold in the local church. The
magazine was born in 1935.
The Upper Room is published worldwide in 73 editions and 44 languages.
It is used by individuals and families and in meetings and other
ministry settings in vastly different cultures in 100 countries. A free
e-mail edition devotion is available, and it also can be read on the
Internet at www.upperroom.org/devotional.
guide has lasted because it continues “being true to the intention of
the prayer group,” says Sherry Elliott, director of administrative
services for Upper Room Ministries. “Those women knew exactly what
Christians needed, and we have stayed on the path and keep that at the
heart of the ministry.”
its 70th anniversary, The Upper Room is at a critical juncture in its
efforts to support people’s spiritual lives. A redesign is under way to
include a new cover, photos of the writers and small group discussion
questions. “We are in a time of revisioning,” says Bryant, “and working
closely with churches to find their deepest needs and respond.”
The Rev. Stephen Bryant
Publishers of The Upper Room say the magazine is the most accessible resource in the church today.
guide provides a brief devotional for each day of the month, including a
Scripture passage, prayer and “thought for the day.” It is designed to
give Christians simple ways to practice the presence of God every day.
And, in the process, it can be a practical and cost-efficient resource
for churches and ministries. “People do not realize that you can do so
much with it,” says Elliott. “It is perfect for outreach, evangelism.
There is so much to it.”
the devotional ministry has expanded to include additional
publications, spiritual formation and nurture programs, prayer support
through the Living Prayer Center and other resources to serve believers
of all ages and denominations.
in Nashville, Tenn., Upper Room Ministries publishes books, online
resources and five other magazines: Weavings, Devo’Zine, Pockets, Alive
Now and El Aposento Alto. It provides discussion space and other
interactive features on Web sites for each magazine.
Room Ministries has developed seven events that bring people together
in face-to-face communities for spiritual nurture. Among those are the
Walk to Emmaus and the Academy for Spiritual Formation. All provide
spiritual renewal and a nurturing of the mind, body and spirit.
Upper Room Ministries is more about building community than individual meditation. A community space, created at www.upperroom.org/devotional/stories.asp
as part of the anniversary activities, asks “How did we meet?” and
“When did you first come in contact with The Upper Room daily devotional
“We are always creating space for people to come together to experience Christ and learn practices of the faith,” Bryant said.
More information about Upper Room Ministries is available at www.upperroom.org or by calling (615) 340-7200
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.