Legends about St. Patrick started to spread during his lifetime.
As John Wesley would some 1,300 years later, Patrick combined evangelical zeal with social teaching. Rev. George Hunter III noted that Patrick was the first well-known man in Europe to stand publicly against slavery.
But it’s for his evangelism that Patrick is most often remembered. Even the famous story about the snakes may be a reference to how Patrick’s ministry supplanted the serpentine symbols favored by Druids.
“Most churches assume that their main priority is taking care of the people we’ve got, and, of course, that job is never finished,” Hunter said. But the calling to make disciples also persists.
Like Patrick, Hunter said, today’s United Methodist churches in the United States need to reach the “pagans in their own communities who are looking for life in all the wrong places.”