Children Learning of Methodist Heritage When “Flat Wesleys” Visit

Date Posted: 3/26/2015

A “Flat Stanley”® version of Charles and John Wesley has been traveling the countryside and recently made a stop at Wesley UMC in Beaumont, much to the children’s delight.
On February 23, two laminated sketches of John and Charles Wesley arrived to one of their namesake churches in the Texas Annual Conference (TAC): Wesley UMC in Beaumont. Children and Family Ministries Director Christine Haynes was excited to be the first recipient within TAC to share this unique set with her congregation. “After two full weekends here we sent them on March 9 to Conway, Arkansas.  We talked to our kids about our Methodist heritage, The Way of Discipleship and had the kids look for ways to live out Compassion-Loving Others, Justice-Being the Voice of the Voiceless, Worship-Praising God and Devotion-Listening and Relating to God.”  
The Flat Wesley project, initiated by the General Board of Discipleship, will continue through September as a tool to teach the history of the Methodist movement and practice intentional discipleship. More than 700 churches requested to participate through the Discipleship Ministries’ Facebook page.

Children are making their own Flat Wesleys and taking them when they go out and do an act of service in the community, as a way to live out their faith in a new way. Melanie Gordon, director of Ministry with Children at Discipleship Ministries hopes children and families will be encouraged to learn that “the Wesleys were young people who believed that the church could do more, and they pushed the church to do more.” Adds Melanie, “It’s an amazing story and one we don’t look at enough. We want children to know it, so that they understand why we live out our lives as Christians in this way.” Later this year, Discipleship Resources will collect the experiences of those who participate in this project and release a new covenant discipleship tool for children. 
“Most of our kids were excited because they have read the book Flat Stanley and did Flat Stanley projects in school,” adds Christine. “Our confirmation class has been studying about John and Charles Wesley since the fall, so they were really excited to share what they have learned with the younger kids.” Jaxson Haynes, age 12, says, “It was cool having Flat John and Flat Charles Wesley here at Wesley Church.  I got to tell the little kids some of the things I learned about John and Charles and share seeing Acts of Compassion at school.” Bryce Baker, age 7 is excited to report that "John Wesley was really flat and really, really, really, really, really Christian." Ashlyn Baker, age 12 adds, "They were funny. John Wesley was a fellow and the founder of Methodist church. Charles Wesley wrote a lot of the hymns in our hymnal." Abbie Ayers, age 10, adds, "I had a great time with Flat John and Charles. It was fun posing them for pictures. I never knew that Charles Wesley wrote so many hymns."

Even the young ones had thoughts to share. Collin Ayers, age 4, said, "I like Flat John and Flat Charles because they are flat like they were stepped on and I learned a lot."
Christine enjoyed the experience. She adds, “I thought this would be a fun way to help the kids learn about John and Charles Wesley, and early Methodism and where our heritage comes from.  Most of the kids were familiar with Flat Stanley and his adventures, so they enjoyed having the Flat Wesley’s here for a short time to learn and of course pose them for pictures!”