Bishop David A Bard gives thanks for five decades of sharing God’s love as a United Methodist Church.
In Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday April 23, 1968, Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke of the Methodist Church and Bishop Reuben H. Mueller of the Evangelical United Brethren Church joined hands and shared these words: “Lord of the Church, we are united in Thee, in Thy Church, and now in The United Methodist Church.”
Consider that this was only a couple of weeks following the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and only a few weeks before the assassination of presidential candidate, Senator Robert F. Kennedy. It was a year of incredible civil strife within the United States, and yet that same year Apollo 8 became the first human inhabited spacecraft to orbit the moon. It was the year of Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia and the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.
Into such a world two churches came together to form The United Methodist Church, a church dedicated to sharing God’s love in Jesus Christ with the world and dedicated to making a positive difference in the world in the name of Jesus Christ through ministries that brought food, healing, education, and work for justice and peace.
In the past 50 years this church has changed dramatically, but so, too, has the world in which we minister. Even as we pose significant questions about where we are going, I hope we pause today to give thanks to God for all the lives touched through the work of The United Methodist Church. These past 50 years countless thousands of persons have heard good news, hungry have been fed, wells have been dug, disasters have been responded to, hospitals and schools have been built, children have been nurtured and instructed, the elderly have been cared for, lives have been celebrated.
The world continues to need the witness of the Church to the power of God’s love in Jesus Christ, and I hope you join me in giving thanks to God for the way The United Methodist Church, imperfect as we are, has and continues to be such a witness.
God’s Grace, Peace, Joy, Love and Hope,
Bishop David Bard