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History groups to observe Wesley 300th anniversary

1/30/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom (646) 369-3759 New York

NOTE: An artist's rendering of John Wesley is available with this report.

United Methodist News Service

The 300th anniversary of the birth of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, will be the focus of a major convocation of church historical groups this summer.

The Fifth Historical Convocation, "John Wesley: His Life and Legacy," will feature major addresses by five noted scholars. The event will be held Aug. 14-17 at Drew University in Madison, N.J., and Xavier Center in nearby Convent Station. Wesley, the creator of the practical piety movement that became Methodism, was born June 17, 1703, in Epworth, England.

Speakers will include:

· The Rev. Justo Gonzalez, a professor of church history at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., who has written extensively on church history and Hispanic theology.

· The Rev. Henry Rack, a British Methodist minister, who is the author of Reasonable Enthusiast, the classic biography of John Wesley.

· The Rev. Richard Heitzenrater, a professor of church history at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C., who "broke the code" of Wesley's diary and is editing the new multi-volume bicentennial edition of Wesley's works.

· The Rev. Randy Maddox, professor of Wesleyan theology at Seattle Pacific University, who has written Responsible Grace, a book on Wesley's theology.

· The Rev. S T Kimbrough Jr., a staff member of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, a musician and scholar of the theology of both John Wesley and his brother, Charles, who is particularly remembered for his hymns.

A panel by the five presenters and a Wesley "hymn sing" led by Kimbrough will also be offered. Registrants will be able to tour the Archives and History Center of the United Methodist Church and to select four workshops from a list of 10 topics, including oral history, Methodist hymnody, fund raising for historical societies and sites, and planning local church historic celebrations.

The event will conclude with John Wesley's Covenant Service and Holy Communion.

The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History will present its 2003 Distinguished Service Award to Jean Miller Schmidt, a professor of church history at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and it will give special recognition to Bishop James Thomas in recognition of his work in preserving the history of the denomination's Central Jurisdiction.

The convocation is being co-sponsored by the commission; the Historical Society of the United Methodist Church; Drew University, the Divinity School; the World Methodist Council; the Charles Wesley Society; the North American Section of the World Methodist Historical Society; and the Northeastern Jurisdiction Commission on Archives and History.

Registration, including housing at the Xavier retreat center and meals, will be $310; without housing, $230. For additional information or registration materials, contact Arthur Swarthout, convocation coordinator at P.O. Box 268, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745 until June 15. Inquiries after that time, along with registration fees, should be directed to the Commission on Archives and History, P.O. Box 127, Madison, N.J. 07940.

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