Spiritual Leaders of the United Methodist Church
A Claim, a Commission, a Promise
Dr. William Bobby McClain is Professor of Preaching and Worship Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. preached this sermon at the Spiritual Leaders Conference 2011. He earned his B.A. degree, summa cum laude, at Clark College, Atlanta. His Master’s and doctoral degrees were earned at Boston University School of Theology. He conceived of and chaired the committee which produced the hymnbook, Songs of Zion: Zion Still Sings! For Every Generation. He wrote Come Sunday: A Liturgical Companion to Songs of Zion, and he is at work completing African American Preaching and the Bible: The Preaching of Zion, the third book in his trilogy.
A Claim, a Commission, a Promise by Dr. William Bobby McClain
Dr. McClain has served churches in Alabama and Boston. In 1978, he established and served as the executive director of the Multi-Ethnic Center for Ministry at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. In 1981, he began as professor of preaching and worship at Wesley Theological Seminary where, in 1999, he was named to the Mary Elizabeth McGehee Joyce Chair in Preaching and Worship, the first fully-endowed chair in the seminary’s history.
Guidance to Corporate Discernment
This is a compilation of what was offered during the Spiritual Leaders Conference 2011 in Miami, Florida. These materials are extracted from the presentations during the conference.
Discernment in the Wesleyan Spirit
Dr. Paul Chilcote, professor of Historical Theology & Wesleyan Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio gave a lecture about discernment in Wesleyan tradition at the Spiritual Leaders Conference 2011. He helps us to reflect on how Wesleyans have been encouraged to ‘watch over one another in love’ through our heritage and hymns. He urges us to “discern the dance of love” and “bear fruit for Christ.”
Discernment in the Wesleyan Spirit by Dr. Paul W. Chilcote
Paul W. Chilcote is Professor of Historical Theology & Wesleyan Studies and Director of United Methodist Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio. He has been involved in theological education on three Continents, serving as a missionary, with his wife, Janet, in Kenya, and as a charter faculty member of Africa University in Zimbabwe. He has taught as well at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio and Duke Divinity School, and helped to launch the Dunnam Campus of Asbury Theological Seminary in Florida. He is the author of sixteen books, the most recent of which include Making Disciples in a World Parish, Early Methodist Spirituality, The Study of Evangelism, and Recapturing the Wesleys’ Vision. He serves as a unit editor in The Works of John Wesley project, is President of The Charles Wesley Society and the Academy for Evangelism, and enjoys a special relationship with Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon as a Benedictine Oblate. Dr. Chilcote is a frequent speaker and workshop leader in applied Wesleyan studies, particularly in the areas of spirituality, worship, discipleship, and evangelism.
An Epistle from the Spiritual Leaders Conference 2011
By Marilyn Evans, Ouk-Yean Kim Jueng, Fred Wideman
Leaders gathered at the Spiritual Leaders Conference 2011 for spiritual formation reflected on theological, spiritual and practical perspectives of corporate discernment. They offered this Epistle for guidance and reflection as the church prepares for General Conference 2012.
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ; to our brothers and sisters of The United Methodist Church. We greet you on behalf of the participants of the Spiritual Leaders Conference 2011. We have spent four days in prayer, worship, silence, and listening to discern God’s leading for God’s church and the United Methodist Church, specifically, as we prepare for the 2012 General Conference.
As we prepare ourselves for gathering around the table, we acknowledge there are wounds and brokenness regarding issues where we have not had agreement. We acknowledge the need for a trust level that enables holy and healthy conversation and respect for those with whom we disagree. In light of potential theological disagreements and spiritual impasse that make all around the table feel powerless, we join all bishops, delegations, and the whole church in this time of prayerful discernment of God’s future for our denomination.
Let us enter into a spirituality of waiting, a time when we ask Jesus to show us another way. Rather than seeing our disagreement as an inevitable division, we view the impasse as an opportunity for God to work with us.
We pray for courage to embrace the fear and anxiety we feel. We pray for faithfulness to stay around the table of discernment. For the next several months leading to General Conference, we humbly offer three queries for our prayer and discernment:
- How might I (we) surrender myself (ourselves) to the work of the Holy Spirit?
- How might we embrace the sacrament of failures in our work?
- How might we be the church that God is birthing in us?
We thank God for you and for your willingness to engage in holy listening. We pray for blessings on you as you yield to Love, dwell with the Holy Spirit, and see God’s presence in each other. Amen.