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Hymn History: All Saints Day

November 1 is All Saints Day, a sometimes-overlooked holy day in United Methodist congregations. It is not nearly as well known as the day before, All Hallows’ (Saints’) Eve, better known as Halloween, but is far more important in the life of the church.

John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, enjoyed and celebrated All Saints Day. In a journal entry from November 1, 1767, Wesley calls it “a festival I truly love.” On the same day in 1788, he writes, “I always find this a comfortable day.” The following year he calls it “a day that I peculiarly love.”

This may sound odd. United Methodists don’t believe in saints. Right?

Well, yes… and no.

Wesley cautioned against holding saints in too high regard.The Articles of Religion that he sent to the Methodists in America in 1784, include a statement against “invocation of saints” (Article XIV—Of Purgatory, Book of Discipline ¶104). Wesley did not see biblical evidence for the practice and discouraged Methodists from participating.

However, he also advised against disregarding the saints altogether.

In an All Saints Day journal entry dated Monday, November 1, 1756, Wesley writes, “How superstitious are they who scruple giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints!” If your 18th century English is as rusty as mine, it might help to know that the word scruple means, “to be unwilling to do something because you think it is improper, morally wrong, etc.” (Merriam-Webster.com).

All Saints Day is an opportunity to give thanks for all those who have gone before us in the faith. It is a time to celebrate our history, what United Methodists call the tradition of the church.

From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living believers, but also all who have gone before us. For example, in Hebrews 12 the author encourages Christians to remember that a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounds us encouraging us, cheering us on.

Charles Wesley, John’s brother, picks up on this theme in his hymn that appears in our United Methodist Hymnal as “Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above,” #709. In the first verse, he offers a wonderful image of the Church through the ages:

Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone,
for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.

On All Saints Day we remember all those—famous or obscure—who are part of the “communion of saints” we confess whenever we recite The Apostles’ Creed. We tell the stories of the saints “to glory gone.”

Alongside the likes of Paul from the New Testament, Augustine, Martin Luther, and John and Charles Wesley, we tell stories of the grandmother who took us to church every Sunday. We remember the pastor who prayed with us in the hospital, and the neighbor who changed the oil in the family car. We give thanks for the youth leader who told us Jesus loved us, the kindergarten Sunday school teacher who showered us with that love, and the woman in the church who bought us groceries when we were out of work.

Retelling these stories grounds us in our history. These memories teach us how God has provided for us through the generosity and sacrifice of those who have come before us. The stories of the saints encourage us to be all God has created us to be.

Charles Wesley’s hymn tells us those “to glory gone” are joined by the “saints on earth,” whom we also celebrate on All Saints Day. We think of the inspirational people with whom we worship on Sunday, and those across the world we will never meet. We celebrate fellow United Methodists who inspire us, and those of other denominations whose lives encourage us. We give thanks for those with whom we agree, as well as those whose views we do not share.

Additionally, we remember and pray for our sisters and brothers in Christ who faithfully follow Jesus in places where being labeled a Christian puts them in harm’s way.

On All Saints Day, we recognize that we are part of a giant choir singing the same song. It is the song Jesus taught his disciples; a tune that has resonated for more than 2,000 years; a melody sung in glory and on the earth. Our great privilege is to add our voices to this chorus.

The last verse of “Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above” encourages us to sing faithfully while on earth, so we might join the heavenly chorus one day.

Our spirits too shall quickly join, like theirs with glory crowned,
and shout to see our Captain’s sign, to hear His trumpet sound.

O that we now might grasp our Guide! O that the word were given!
Come, Lord of Hosts, the waves divide, and land us all in heaven.

On All Saints Day, let us give thanks for both the saints in glory and those on earth, who have led us to Jesus. As they have shared the gospel with us, may we add our voices so someone else may hear about the grace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God for the lives of his saints.

Adapted from https://www.umc.org/en/content/all-saints-day-a-holy-day-john-wesley-loved

 

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2022 in Holidays, Hymn History, Posts of Interest

 

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Memorial Day 2020

memorial-day

 

 

A UMNS Report by Barbara Dunlap-Berg*

From sea to shining sea, United Methodists are finding special ways to observe Memorial Day in the United States. Here is a sampling of ideas.

  1. Pray for all who have given their lives for our freedom. “The major emphasis of the Memorial Day worship time,” said the Rev. Alan Brown, Hayes Memorial United Methodist Church, Fremont, Ohio, “is not on a secular observance; rather, it is the message of the gospels and the sacraments of the church.”
  2. Read the names of fallen veterans, and toll a bell after each name is read. The Rev. Walter L. Graves encourages people to read the names when they see a war memorial. “Remember,” said the pastor of Reelsboro United Methodist Church, New Bern, N.C., “that was a person who had… dreams and desires.”
  3. Provide special worship music with a PowerPoint presentation. “My church has a slide show of friends and family, living and dead, who have served in the military,” reported Leslie Haggs, lay leader at Angelica United Methodist Church in New York.
  4. Offer a candlelight service. Bishop James Swanson of the Holston Annual (regional) Conference will preach at joint services of three congregations — Mount Wesley and New Victory, Telford, Tenn., and Mayberry, Jonesborough, Tenn. A candlelight service for those interred in the church cemetery will be part of worship.
  5. Wave a flag. Youth of First United Methodist Church, Koppel, Pa., raised money to buy an American flag for all 225 residences in the little town. “I’m a flag-waver,” admitted the Rev. Donald A. Anderson. Quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he expressed hope that the flags would “bring Koppel a sense of pride in participating in this great holiday honoring those who fought to protect our freedoms.”

    At Arlington (Va.) National Cemetary, flags decorate the tombs of those who died in the service of their country. Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

    At Arlington (Va.) National Cemetary, flags decorate the tombs of those who died in the service of their country. Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

  6. Lay a wreath. In Illinois, Malta United Methodist Church will have a special worship service. The congregation invites veterans of the community to pay tribute to fellow soldiers by marching as a unit from the church to the township library, where a wreath will be dedicated.
  7. Decorate veterans’ graves. “After Sunday service,” said the Rev. Charlie Johnson Jr., a local pastor serving three congregations in the Lynchburg, Va., area, “we go into the church cemetery, remove the old flags placed on the graves of veterans last Memorial Day and replace them with new ones…We remember our active-duty military every Sunday during prayer.”
  8. Do a project for active troops. In Maine, the North Searsport United Methodist Church is recruiting the community to join parishioners in a mission project to benefit soldiers going overseas. Participants will sew small pillows for military personnel. The project is in response to recent articles about soldiers having to pay for pillows on their flights.
  9. Make military care packages.  The congregation of First United Methodist Church, Alice, Texas, brought items for military care packages to mail to troops serving overseas. “Many of us have loved ones who are serving in the military,” member Stefany Simmons explained. “Each of us signed cards to include for the troops.”
  10. Be part of a community-service day. Manatee United Methodist Church is one of two Bradenton, Fla., locations for the Journey of Remembrance, an annual community-service day honoring U.S. military veterans and their families for their care and sacrifice.

    Parades are one way to honor those who sacrifice daily for our freedom. A web-only photo by Dee Dee Cobb.

    Parades are one way to honor those who sacrifice daily for our freedom. A web-only photo by Dee Dee Cobb.

  11. Learn about issues affecting veterans. At Christ United Methodist Church, Troy, N.Y., a guest speaker will focus on the history and social justice issues related to military mental illness. “At Christ Church,” said the Rev. Nina Nichols in the Bennington Banner, “we honor those who serve their country, who served with the hope of bringing justice on behalf of our nation. But as a people of faith, we must not fail to call for a better way to peace than war. This Memorial Day we pray for peace for the war-weary.”
  12. Glorify Jesus as the Prince of Peace and reach out to those whom others may forget. On Memorial Day – as he does throughout the year – John Alexander, a member of East Lake United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Ala., will be involved with Kairos Prison Ministries. A Christian, lay-led, ecumenical, volunteer, international prison ministry, Kairos brings Christ’s love and forgiveness to incarcerated individuals and their families.

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., 615-742-5470 ornewsdesk@umcom.org.

From http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/twelve-ways-to-observe-memorial-day

 

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Memorial Day 2019

memorial-day

 

 

A UMNS Report by Barbara Dunlap-Berg*

From sea to shining sea, United Methodists are finding special ways to observe Memorial Day in the United States. Here is a sampling of ideas.

  1. Pray for all who have given their lives for our freedom. “The major emphasis of the Memorial Day worship time,” said the Rev. Alan Brown, Hayes Memorial United Methodist Church, Fremont, Ohio, “is not on a secular observance; rather, it is the message of the gospels and the sacraments of the church.”
  2. Read the names of fallen veterans, and toll a bell after each name is read. The Rev. Walter L. Graves encourages people to read the names when they see a war memorial. “Remember,” said the pastor of Reelsboro United Methodist Church, New Bern, N.C., “that was a person who had… dreams and desires.”
  3. Provide special worship music with a PowerPoint presentation. “My church has a slide show of friends and family, living and dead, who have served in the military,” reported Leslie Haggs, lay leader at Angelica United Methodist Church in New York.
  4. Offer a candlelight service. Bishop James Swanson of the Holston Annual (regional) Conference will preach at joint services of three congregations — Mount Wesley and New Victory, Telford, Tenn., and Mayberry, Jonesborough, Tenn. A candlelight service for those interred in the church cemetery will be part of worship.
  5. Wave a flag. Youth of First United Methodist Church, Koppel, Pa., raised money to buy an American flag for all 225 residences in the little town. “I’m a flag-waver,” admitted the Rev. Donald A. Anderson. Quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he expressed hope that the flags would “bring Koppel a sense of pride in participating in this great holiday honoring those who fought to protect our freedoms.”

    At Arlington (Va.) National Cemetary, flags decorate the tombs of those who died in the service of their country. Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

    At Arlington (Va.) National Cemetary, flags decorate the tombs of those who died in the service of their country. Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

  6. Lay a wreath. In Illinois, Malta United Methodist Church will have a special worship service. The congregation invites veterans of the community to pay tribute to fellow soldiers by marching as a unit from the church to the township library, where a wreath will be dedicated.
  7. Decorate veterans’ graves. “After Sunday service,” said the Rev. Charlie Johnson Jr., a local pastor serving three congregations in the Lynchburg, Va., area, “we go into the church cemetery, remove the old flags placed on the graves of veterans last Memorial Day and replace them with new ones…We remember our active-duty military every Sunday during prayer.”
  8. Do a project for active troops. In Maine, the North Searsport United Methodist Church is recruiting the community to join parishioners in a mission project to benefit soldiers going overseas. Participants will sew small pillows for military personnel. The project is in response to recent articles about soldiers having to pay for pillows on their flights.
  9. Make military care packages.  The congregation of First United Methodist Church, Alice, Texas, brought items for military care packages to mail to troops serving overseas. “Many of us have loved ones who are serving in the military,” member Stefany Simmons explained. “Each of us signed cards to include for the troops.”
  10. Be part of a community-service day. Manatee United Methodist Church is one of two Bradenton, Fla., locations for the Journey of Remembrance, an annual community-service day honoring U.S. military veterans and their families for their care and sacrifice.

    Parades are one way to honor those who sacrifice daily for our freedom. A web-only photo by Dee Dee Cobb.

    Parades are one way to honor those who sacrifice daily for our freedom. A web-only photo by Dee Dee Cobb.

  11. Learn about issues affecting veterans. At Christ United Methodist Church, Troy, N.Y., a guest speaker will focus on the history and social justice issues related to military mental illness. “At Christ Church,” said the Rev. Nina Nichols in the Bennington Banner, “we honor those who serve their country, who served with the hope of bringing justice on behalf of our nation. But as a people of faith, we must not fail to call for a better way to peace than war. This Memorial Day we pray for peace for the war-weary.”
  12. Glorify Jesus as the Prince of Peace and reach out to those whom others may forget. On Memorial Day – as he does throughout the year – John Alexander, a member of East Lake United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Ala., will be involved with Kairos Prison Ministries. A Christian, lay-led, ecumenical, volunteer, international prison ministry, Kairos brings Christ’s love and forgiveness to incarcerated individuals and their families.

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., 615-742-5470 ornewsdesk@umcom.org.

From http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/twelve-ways-to-observe-memorial-day

 

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Memorial Day 2016

memorial-day

A UMNS Report by Barbara Dunlap-Berg*

From sea to shining sea, United Methodists are finding special ways to observe Memorial Day in the United States. Here is a sampling of ideas.

  1. Pray for all who have given their lives for our freedom. “The major emphasis of the Memorial Day worship time,” said the Rev. Alan Brown, Hayes Memorial United Methodist Church, Fremont, Ohio, “is not on a secular observance; rather, it is the message of the gospels and the sacraments of the church.”
  2. Read the names of fallen veterans, and toll a bell after each name is read. The Rev. Walter L. Graves encourages people to read the names when they see a war memorial. “Remember,” said the pastor of Reelsboro United Methodist Church, New Bern, N.C., “that was a person who had… dreams and desires.”
  3. Provide special worship music with a PowerPoint presentation. “My church has a slide show of friends and family, living and dead, who have served in the military,” reported Leslie Haggs, lay leader at Angelica United Methodist Church in New York.
  4. Offer a candlelight service. Bishop James Swanson of the Holston Annual (regional) Conference will preach at joint services of three congregations — Mount Wesley and New Victory, Telford, Tenn., and Mayberry, Jonesborough, Tenn. A candlelight service for those interred in the church cemetery will be part of worship.
  5. Wave a flag. Youth of First United Methodist Church, Koppel, Pa., raised money to buy an American flag for all 225 residences in the little town. “I’m a flag-waver,” admitted the Rev. Donald A. Anderson. Quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he expressed hope that the flags would “bring Koppel a sense of pride in participating in this great holiday honoring those who fought to protect our freedoms.”

    At Arlington (Va.) National Cemetary, flags decorate the tombs of those who died in the service of their country. Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

    At Arlington (Va.) National Cemetary, flags decorate the tombs of those who died in the service of their country. Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

  6. Lay a wreath. In Illinois, Malta United Methodist Church will have a special worship service. The congregation invites veterans of the community to pay tribute to fellow soldiers by marching as a unit from the church to the township library, where a wreath will be dedicated.
  7. Decorate veterans’ graves. “After Sunday service,” said the Rev. Charlie Johnson Jr., a local pastor serving three congregations in the Lynchburg, Va., area, “we go into the church cemetery, remove the old flags placed on the graves of veterans last Memorial Day and replace them with new ones…We remember our active-duty military every Sunday during prayer.”
  8. Do a project for active troops. In Maine, the North Searsport United Methodist Church is recruiting the community to join parishioners in a mission project to benefit soldiers going overseas. Participants will sew small pillows for military personnel. The project is in response to recent articles about soldiers having to pay for pillows on their flights.
  9. Make military care packages.  The congregation of First United Methodist Church, Alice, Texas, brought items for military care packages to mail to troops serving overseas. “Many of us have loved ones who are serving in the military,” member Stefany Simmons explained. “Each of us signed cards to include for the troops.”
  10. Be part of a community-service day. Manatee United Methodist Church is one of two Bradenton, Fla., locations for the Journey of Remembrance, an annual community-service day honoring U.S. military veterans and their families for their care and sacrifice.

    Parades are one way to honor those who sacrifice daily for our freedom. A web-only photo by Dee Dee Cobb.

    Parades are one way to honor those who sacrifice daily for our freedom. A web-only photo by Dee Dee Cobb.

  11. Learn about issues affecting veterans. At Christ United Methodist Church, Troy, N.Y., a guest speaker will focus on the history and social justice issues related to military mental illness. “At Christ Church,” said the Rev. Nina Nichols in the Bennington Banner, “we honor those who serve their country, who served with the hope of bringing justice on behalf of our nation. But as a people of faith, we must not fail to call for a better way to peace than war. This Memorial Day we pray for peace for the war-weary.”
  12. Glorify Jesus as the Prince of Peace and reach out to those whom others may forget. On Memorial Day – as he does throughout the year – John Alexander, a member of East Lake United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Ala., will be involved with Kairos Prison Ministries. A Christian, lay-led, ecumenical, volunteer, international prison ministry, Kairos brings Christ’s love and forgiveness to incarcerated individuals and their families.

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., 615-742-5470 ornewsdesk@umcom.org.

From http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/twelve-ways-to-observe-memorial-day

 

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Father’s Day has Methodist ties

father

By Joey Butler*

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2010, the year often referenced as the centennial of the first celebration of Father’s Day. Information regarding the centennial has been updated to reflect this.

To all you dads out there: While you’re relaxing in your recliner and watching sports on June 21, and your kids are on their best behavior to honor Father’s Day, don’t forget to thank a United Methodist.

That’s right. Not one, but two United Methodist churches with the same name, oddly enough can lay claim to originating the celebration of all things paternal.

In 1909 in Spokane, Wash., Sonora Smart Dodd listened to a Mother’s Day sermon at Central Methodist Episcopal Church. Dodd’s own mother had died 11 years earlier, and her father had raised their six children alone. Dodd felt moved to honor her father, and fathers everywhere, with a special day as well.

She proposed her idea to local religious leaders, and gained wide acceptance. June 19, 1910, was designated as the first Father’s Day, and sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city.

When newspapers across the country carried the story about Spokane’s observance, the popularity of Father’s Day spread. Several presidents declared it a holiday, and in 1972, Richard Nixon established it as the third Sunday in June.

Dodd’s pivotal role in the creation of a national Father’s Day celebration was recognized in 1943 with a luncheon in her honor in New York City. Central Methodist Episcopal is now known as Central United Methodist, and holds a Father’s Day service every year.

On July 5, 1908, a Father's Day sermon was preached at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, now Central United Methodist Church, Fairmont, W.Va. Photo courtesy of the Rev. D.D. Meighen.

On July 5, 1908, a Father’s Day sermon was preached at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, now Central United Methodist Church, Fairmont, W.Va.
Photo courtesy of the Rev. D.D. Meighen.

There’s more to the story

If you thought you celebrated the centennial of Father’s Day in 2010, you were actually two years too late.

You see, the year Spokane was observing its first Father’s Day, almost 2,000 miles away in Fairmont, W.Va., another Methodist church was on its third.

On July 5, 1908, a Father’s Day sermon was preached at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, thanks to the efforts of Grace Golden Clayton.

In December 1907, a terrible mine explosion in nearby Monongah claimed the lives of more than 360 men. Most of them had families, and the tragedy left 1,000 children fatherless.

Clayton was distraught by the thought of all those children growing up without a father’s guidance, and wanted to do something to honor the importance of fatherhood. She asked her pastor to set aside a special day to commemorate fathers. She chose the Sunday closest to the birthday of her late father, also a Methodist preacher.

However, unlike the Spokane service, the Fairmont event drew little attention outside the area.

Fairmont historians concede that Sonora Dodd deserves credit for bringing the holiday to national prominence, but want it known that they did beat her to the idea.

“We don’t claim popularizing the day, but we have proof we were the first to have a church service,” said the Rev. D.D. Meighen, retired pastor of the Fairmont church, which is now also known as Central United Methodist. Seriously, what are the odds of that?

Meighen said two news-making events happened on July 4, 1908, that stole the thunder from their Father’s Day service.

Sonora Smart Dodd is known as the mother of Father's Day. Photo courtesy of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Sonora Smart Dodd is known as the mother of Father’s Day. Photo courtesy of the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.

On that Saturday, Fairmont held its largest 4th of July celebration to date. A large crowd watched a “dare-devil” roll atop a ball to the top of the bank building on a spiral stairway. It made all the news. People talked about it for days.

Then, tragically, a beloved young woman in the church died of typhoid fever. Church members were shocked when they arrived at the Sunday service to hear of her death. Her funeral, which included 17 carriages lined up in front of the church, also made the headlines.

Coincidentally, the first Mother’s Day was observed on May 10, 1908, at Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, W.Va.

West Virginia Methodists clearly love their parents more than the rest of us.

So enjoy firing up that grill and napping in the hammock, dads everywhere. You’ve earned it, and the United Methodists have your back.

And when your kids give you yet another gruesomely ugly tie as a gift… well, we’re pretty sure the Lutherans are behind that.

*Butler is a media producer and editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. He’ll celebrate Father’s Day this year as he usually does: calling his dad and talking about the U.S Open golf tournament.

News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5105 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Originally published June 18, 2010 at http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/fathers-day-has-methodist-ties

Resources

Father’s Day Resources

Central United Methodist Church, Fairmont

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2015 in Father's Day, Holidays, Posts of Interest

 

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