Skip Navigation

January Newsletter

Featured January Newsletter

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

My favorite Dr. Seuss book is the classic work, Oh, the Places You'll Go! It's part of the later Seuss canon, but nevertheless perhaps his finest work. The work of being General Secretary of the General Commission on Archives and History feels as much like this Dr. Seuss title as any of the notable Methodist history volumes, classic journals or vintage conference minutes books lining our shelves.

It's definitely an on-the-GO job. And "Oh the places..."! What a great testament to GCAH's mission and ministry, not only preserving the past but promoting it, marking the where, when, and how history was and is being made today.

I'm on the GO in January to present the newest United Methodist Historic Site plaque (No. 524) to the Trondheim United Methodist Church, Trondheim, Norway. This city is located on a skinny sliver of land in the center of the country, and dates back to a tenth-century trading post. Trondheim was also the capital city of Norway during the Viking age (thirteenth century) and is now Norway's third largest city.

The reason for my trek is a celebration of some risky, extreme discipleship by Norwegian Methodists. In 1917, the Methodist congregation made a place for a gathering that would eventually bring recognition to the Sami people---Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia's indigenous people. (They have at other times in history been known as Laps or Laplanders). On February 6, 1917, this congregation joined other Scandinavian pioneers in a national movement to raise awareness and social action that would bring the Sami people into full recognition and participation in their respective societies.

The event was the very first time for the Sami people to join together, across national boundaries and respective Scandinavian countries, to work side by side on common problems and cooperative solutions.

I'm headed there to be part of the festivities representing all of us United Methodists in both appreciating and learning more about the Sami people and celebrating the Trondheim United Methodist Church continuing in solidarity with Norway's original people. Their building proudly flies the Sami flag!

Two of our church's Four Areas of Focus point United Methodists to the work of "developing principled Christian leaders" and discovering "new places for new people." Thanks for your leadership, Trondheim! And thanks for reminding us that there are welcoming places for indigenous peoples---ones who society so often pushes to the margins in the name of progress!

As if this isn't enough, there's more. The Trondheim UMC created a secret Jewish synagogue during World War II. When the Nazis occupied Norway (1941-43), the church pastor and lay leader made the loft floor of the church available for Jewish worship and community gatherings. Even after most Jews in the city were deported to concentration camps, the church held and protected Torah scrolls and other ritual objects that were eventually returned to the Jewish community after the war.

Sunday services on February 5, 2017, will enjoy participation from Sami and Jewish guests. I'll be participating, (brushing up on some Norwegian in the meantime) with the Rev. Ingvar Rund, Pastor and Rev. Steinar Hjerpser, District Superintendent.

Monday's national anniversary will begin with a national event beginning at the newly-placedhistoric site plaque outside the Trondheim Church, and then moving to a celebration of the Sami people atNidarosdomen (the National Cathedral). Bishop Christian Alsted, (United Methodist Northern Europe Conference) will be participating with other ecumenical leaders, and the King of Norway will lead the great day. Public seminars about the history of the Sami people and an Act of Repentance will be held later in the week with participation from The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry Crowe and members of the General Board of Church and Society.

Oh, the places you'll go!
Oh, the joys, blessing, and inspiration of our global United Methodist Church!

Rev. Fred Day, General Secretary
General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH)   
By understanding the past, GCAH helps envision the future!

Chuck (and Francis Asbury) Knows Emmy Awards!

By Steve Horswill-Johnston

A documentary short film produced by Discipleship Ministries in partnership with the General Commission on Archives & History has been nominated for 9 regional Emmy Awards. "Francis Asbury: A Flame Spirit," which outlines the first American bishop's impact on The United Methodist Church.
Filmed at two of the oldest American Methodist chapels---St. George's Chapel in Philadelphia and Barratt's Chapel in Dover Delaware---the documentary was produced in recognition of the anniversary year of Francis Asbury's death (b. August 20, 1745 - d. March 31, 1816).
The film was the brainchild of the General Secretary of GCAH, Rev. Alfred T. Day III, and written and directed by Steve Horswill-Johnston, Executive Director of Communications and Brand Strategy at Discipleship Ministries.  The film features Josh Childs who plays "Chuck" on the popular web series, "Chuck Knows Church."  Both agencies worked in partnership and utilized crew and studio facilities at United Methodist Communications.    
To learn more about Francis Asbury and view the film:

Joe Hale, GCAH Distinguished Service Award winner, dies at the age of 81.

At first glance, the Rev. Joseph Rice Hale did not appear to be larger than life.

But a look past his modest, friendly demeanor revealed a committed Methodist who used Houdini-like magic tricks to attract a crowd; counted Pope John Paul II as a friend; publicly recognized worldwide peacemakers and achieved his goal to unite the followers of John Wesley.

Hale, 81, who led the World Methodist Council from 1976-2001, died Nov. 14, 2016 at Silver Bluff Village near Canton, North Carolina, after a long battle with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

The Rev. H. Eddie Fox, who worked with him for many years, called Hale "one of the giants of the twentieth century" who could evangelize the Methodist gospel like no one else.

"Joe Hale was one of the most gracious persons you would ever meet, with a great passion for work and ministry," Fox told United Methodist News Service. "He took the World Methodist Council and moved it from a committee to a movement."    
Read the full article from Linda Bloom here:

United Methodist Almanac

Share the United Methodist Almanac from GCAH! 
Check it out and share with your networks! The Almanac features a regular calendar commemorating the lives of women and men from the Wesleyan tradition. Their journeys into faith and life experiences offer a compelling witness for reflection, prayer, and inspiration. Plus, the Almanac's content is a great resource for sermon illustrations, leading devotions and Sunday school classes. What about stumping your friends with UMC historical facts for #TBT, Facebook and Twitter? It's all here on our Facebook page.

Here's the one from January 16 on Hiram Rhoades Revels (1901): 
Revels, a Methodist preacher and politician of African- and Native-American descent, was born to free parents in Fayetteville, North Carolina on September 1, 1822. Revels was forbidden by law to attend southern schools but Indiana and Ohio institutions gave him both grade school and seminary education. Graduating in 1845 from Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, Revels was one of the few American blacks who received a college education prior to 1860. He was ordained by the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1845.
            During the Civil War, Revels recruited blacks for the Union Army and became chaplain of a black Mississippi regiment. Though a pre-war dispute had led him into the Presbyterian ministry, he returned to the A.M.E. Church after the war. In 1868, Revels joined the Methodist Episcopal Church declaring, "the grand old Church...could do more than any other Church...for the colored people of America."
            Wary of compromising his ministerial duties, Revels cautiously entered Reconstruction politics as a Natchez, Mississippi, alderman, becoming a state senator in 1869. The Mississippi legislature elevated him to the U.S. Senate in January, 1870, placing Revels, a black southerner, in the seat that the Confederate president Jefferson Davis had once occupied. Retiring from the Senate in 1871, he became president of Alcorn University in Oakland, Mississippi, a newly-established school for blacks.
            Leaving politics, he devoted himself again to ministry, pastoring several churches in north Mississippi. Before and at the General Conference of 1876, he joined a protest against racially-segregated annual conferences in the South. The Conference washed its hands of the whole debate, ruling the issue of separate conferences, congregations, and schools a local matter. By his death in 1901, few M.E. congregations remained integrated.
            Revels cautioned that legislation sanctioning segregation would depart from the earliest attitude of Methodists toward African Americans. The "Mother Church," he wrote, "came among them to do good---she showed no pride and offishness toward...their color and previous condition of servitude, but treated them kindly and affectionately, taking them by hand and conducting them into the same fold or church with themselves." Like John Wesley, Revels believed God calls the Church not to model itself after the world, but to model true community for the world.


Featured Heritage Landmark of the UMC: The Mary Johnston Hospital
The Mary Johnston Hospital in Manila, Philippines, was approved at the 2012 General Conference as one of the now 49 Heritage Landmarks of The United Methodist Church..

It is the only Methodist church hospital in the whole Philippines and has been serving for 110+ years in Tondo where the majority of its patients are poor.   The establishment of the hospital, "Dispensaria Betania" (Bethany Clinic), was the church's reply to the lack of sanitation, drinking water and proper nutrition in the Philippines in 1906.

Heritage Landmarks of The UM Church remind us of a particular event  in our United Methodist history as well as represent some overall aspect of our history  We see that Mary Johnston Hospital speaks to two elements of our past.  The first is that it is a symbol---replicated in cities and communities around the world---that the Wesleyan model of evangelism speaks to the entire person in all walks of life.  Wesley, while remembered as a preacher and leader of the Methodist renewal movement, also provided  small loans to people and  an apothecary, or drug store, for his followers.  He wrote a small booklet that was in print for decades filled with home remedies. While perhaps not the best medical advice today, it was still advice gratefully received and it was provided as a resource to those who needed it most.  Wesley taught us that real evangelism cares for the heart, the soul and the body. 

This concern was carried into action wherever the Methodists went.  They created hospitals, community welfare centers, and clinics.  And all of this was in addition to the churches, schools and religious institutions they created.  So Mary Johnston Hospital reminds of the broad-based concern for people that is part of our United Methodist culture.

This landmark also reminds us that as a church we share that good news.  Whether it is called mission, or evangelism, or ministry---the good news, touching mind, soul and body, is something to share with all.  The challenge is to make sure the message has impact.  In the case of the Mary Johnston Hospital it is credited with drastically reducing infant mortality with its advice on proper nutrition, care and sanitation.  We, as United Methodists,  look for the need and respond with ministry.

See the entire list of Heritage Landmarks here: