Book series tells history of United Methodist mission
11/17/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
By Linda Bloom*NEW
YORK (UMNS) - In the 19th century, the religious groups that eventually
formed the Evangelical United Brethren Church ministered to the German
immigrants who made their home in the United States.
mostly rural Protestant denomination had an international impact far
beyond its size, eventually establishing mission work in Sierra Leone,
China and elsewhere in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America.
And its involvement in the ecumenical movement was so strong that it
became the first denomination to join the World Council of Churches when
the organization was founded in 1948.
"By the time of its union
with the Methodist Church in 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren had
developed mission leadership so well that in many places, churches were
able to be come autonomous at the same time as their countries became
independent following the colonial movement," reports a new book, On the
Journey Home: The History of Mission of the Evangelical United Brethren
Published by the United Methodist Board of
Global Ministries, On the Journey Home is one of a seven-volume series
exploring the history of mission within the United Methodist Church. The
book, written by J. Steven O'Malley, can be ordered through the
agency's Service Center.
Charles Cole, a retired board executive,
serves as editor of the series. A second book, Initiatives for Mission,
1980-2002, will be published by the end of the year.
earlier volumes about Methodist mission work were compiled through the
former Methodist Church Board of Missions, the written story of mission
essentially stopped at 1939 and included only one branch of today's
church. That was a reason Cole conceived the idea for the series in
1998, and the project later received funding through the office of the
board's top staff executive.
A larger reason was to educate the
church's membership. The mission agency had became aware, according to
Cole, "that people in the churches didn't understand why we were
carrying out mission the way we were."
A general question, for
example, was why the board's entire mission budget was not used to
deploy missionaries. "As these histories will show, beginning in the
'50s and crystallizing in the 1960s, the church came to the conclusion
that we needed to develop indigenous leadership in other countries," he
The churches in those countries also wanted greater
participation in mission, Cole added. The results of such an emphasis
are evident in such places as the Philippines and parts of Africa, where
membership is growing.
Another concern, voiced by those teaching
mission in seminaries and others, was that "the standard history of
mission just emphasized the role of leadership, which was mainly white
men," he said.
When the United Methodist History of Mission project was initiated, the board had four goals:
Â· To complete the history started in The History of Methodist Missions by Wade Crawford Barclay and J. Tremayne Copplestone.
Â· To provide readable narratives accessible to both scholars and general church membership.
Â· To do justice to the contributions of women, ethnic minorities and indigenous leaders to the history of mission.
To compile information for a video and other resources that could be
used to orient staff and missionaries on mission history.
volumes are not being published in order - the first book is actually
volume 4 - but Cole hopes the entire series will be available by the end
In addition to Initiatives for Mission, which is volume
6, the other books in the series are The Missionary Spirit: The History
of Mission of the Methodist Protestant Church, 1830-1939, Volume 1, by
Ruth Daugherty; Five Dollars and Myself: The History of Mission of the
Methodist Episcopal Church South, 1845-1939, Volume 2, by Robert Sledge;
Mirror and Beacon: The History of The Methodist Church, 1939-1968,
Volume 3, by Linda Gesling; From Missions to Mission: The History of
Mission of The United Methodist Church, 1968-2000, Volume 5, by Robert
J. Harman; and Christian Mission in the Third Millennium, Volume 7.
books must be ordered individually through the Service Center, but the
whole series can be purchased at a discount, Cole said. For more
information, call (800) 305-9857.
Back : News Archives 2003 Main
“We believe in God and in each other.”The people of The United Methodist Church
Still Have Questions?
If you have any questions Ask
Purchase a $20 buzzkill t-shirt and help save a life
Buy a t-shirt