One of the many joys of serving as your bishop is the opportunity to participate in local church anniversary observances. These events are always marked by reunion, remembering, and rehearsing the congregation’s mission. Generally, when I am privileged to preach at anniversary worship celebrations, I begin by saying that an anniversary is the perfect platform from which to launch the next season of the congregation’s ministry, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This year we have such an opportunity for the entire United Methodist Church. April 23, 1968 was the birthday of the United Methodist Church. This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of our denomination. We celebrate this milestone in the midst of seeking a way forward – a renewed focus on unity, contextualized ministry and mission within our global United Methodist Church.
I invite you to click on this link to the sermon delivered by Dr. Albert Outler on April 23, 1968 at the formation of The United Methodist Church. While some of the language reflects the times, the aspirations, questions, and challenges raised in the sermon are startlingly relevant for us today as we seek to be the Church that God calls us to be. It is clearly a platform statement upon which we can build toward a future with hope.
I wish you thoughtful and prayerful reading and study of this historic sermon.
In Christ’s abundant love,
Bishop Bruce R. Ough
The United Methodist Church