Heritage Sunday - May 22, 2011

Date Posted: 3/31/2011

The theme for Heritage Sunday, 2011, as set by the General Commission, is “Engaging in Ministry with the Poor: Our Heritage.” This theme will undergird the denominational emphasis on Four Areas of Foci affirmed by the General Conference arising out of work done by the General Secretaries of all the agencies, the Council of Bishops, and the Connectional Table.

The theme for next year (2012) is “Stamping our killer diseases of poverty by improving health Globally: Our Heritage.” Each of these areas of focus is a legitimate heir of the movement that included Wesley, Otterbein and Albright. Heritage Sunday will be a time that congregations can remember the vital ministries that have marked our church and its predecessor churches and find inspiration and insight for engaging in these ministries today for the sake of the future. Churches may celebrate the heritage of United Methodism whenever they wish and many use anniversary dates. What is important is that the “ministry of memory” lifts up the stories of faithful forebears in order to inform and inspire faithful ministry today. At times, however, some actions of the past call for repentance and must be redeemed by living lives more true to the gospel today. The African American Methodist Heritage Center encourages churches to observe Heritage Sunday by highlighting African American Methodist history. Information about the work of the Center can be found at www.aamhc-umc.org.

"Engaging in Ministry with the Poor" is very much part of our heritage. Currently a bibliography is provided through this web site and by the end of February, additional resources will be provided to help you have the historical materials to preprare for this observance.

Introduction by GCAH General Secretary, Robert J. Williams

In 2004, the General Conference, upon recommendation of the General Commission on Archives and History, changed the date of Heritage Sunday from that nearest April 23 to May 24 or the Sunday preceding; hence, Heritage Sunday in 2011 is May 22. April 23 reminded the church of the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church on April 23, 1968. But May 24 reminded the church of John Wesley’s “heart warming experience” at a religious society meeting on Aldersgate Street in 1738. This seemed to capture a rich legacy of renewal, revival, conversion, and the beginnings of a movement that included the Otterbein, Albright, and Boehm legacy as well. Organizational merger seemed less important to the General Commission than the power of faith in the lives of persons leading to the transformation of individuals and of the world.

Planning Your Celebration

The planning for Heritage Sunday will certainly include the pastor but it may also include the church historian, the Commission on Worship, the Commission on Education, and the lay leader. This year’s theme of “Engaging in Ministry with the Poor” involves all the dimensions of time: past, present, and future. In addition to what John Wesley and other important figures have done, what has your church or your conference done to serve with the poor? Has your church helped the homeless, the hungry, and the stranger?

Resources currently available:

Power Point Presentation

Additional Resources to be made available in April