The premiere podcast of our spring 2010 season features the leader who served for two decades as the bishop of the Los Angeles Area of The (United) Methodist Church: Bishop Gerald Kennedy.
Born in Michigan and raised in California, Gerald Hamilton Kennedy was schooled at the College of the Pacific, the Pacific School of Religion, and Hartford Theological Seminary.
In the 1930s and 40s, he served as a pastor and college instructor, leading churches in Connecticut, California and Nebraska, and teaching at the Pacific School of Religion and Nebraska Wesleyan University.
At the age of 40, in 1948, Gerald Kennedy was elected to the episcopacy and was assigned to the Portland, Oregon Area. Four years later, he was assigned to the Los Angeles Area (Southern California, Arizona, Hawaii) and continued in that post from 1952-1972.
In 1960, just before beginning a term as president of the Council of Bishops of The Methodist Church, Bishop Kennedy wrote The Marks of a Methodist (Methodist Evangelistic Materials), echoing themes from John Wesley’s classic work, The Character of a Methodist.
In the book, Bishop Kennedy noted that modern Methodists “have so minimized our history, our traditions, our doctrine, and our discipline, that to many of our church members, Methodism is only a convenience and a name.”
At a May 1960 laymen’s luncheon in Los Angeles, Bishop Kennedy delivered an address based on The Marks of a Methodist and focused on four defining marks of Methodist belief and practice:
To listen, use the audio player below (23 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 (10.6MB).
Additional addresses and sermons by Bishop Kennedy are available in the UMC Audio Library.
For previous MethodistThinker Podcasts, and/or to subscribe via iTunes or other Podcast software, use the “Subscribe to Podcasts” link at the top of the right column.
Bishop Gerald Kennedy’s books include:
|•||His Word Through Preaching (1947)||•||I Believe (1958)|
|•||Have This Mind (1948)||•||Readers Notebook, 2 (1959)|
|•||The Lion and the Lamb (1950)||•||The Parables (1960)|
|•||With Singleness of Heart (1951)||•||The Marks of a Methodist (1960)|
|•||Go Inquire of the Lord (1952)||•||While I’m On My Feet (1963)|
|•||A Reader’s Notebook (1953)||•||For Preachers and Other Sinners (1964)|
|•||Who Speaks for God? (1954)||•||Fresh Every Morning (1966)|
|•||God’s Good News (1955)||•||Seven Worlds of the Minister (1968)|
|•||The Christian and His America (1956)||•||For Laymen and Other Martyrs (1969)|
|•||The Methodist Way of Life (1958)||•||My Third Reader’s Notebook (1974)|
Bishop Kennedy’s hymn, God of Love and God of Power, written in 1939, is hymn #578 in the United Methodist Hymnal.
An interesting historical footnote: Gerald Kennedy is the only United Methodist bishop to serve as both an active bishop and the pastor of a local church at the same time. In 1968, he appointed himself to the First United Methodist Church of Pasadena, California. The controversial appointment gave rise to a case that went to the UM Judicial Council.
Bishop Kennedy served as the pastor of First UMC-Pasadena until 1973. He died Feb. 17, 1980, at the age of 72.
|•||Trumpets in the morning (a profile of Bishop Gerald Kennedy) | TIME magazine (April 11, 1960)|
|•||New president of Methodist Council of Bishops has a tough job | George W. Cornell, The Associated Press (April 23, 1960) — via Google News Archive|
|•||Text of the Episcopal Address at the 1964 General Conference (PDF) | Delivered by Bishop Gerald Kennedy (April 26, 1964)|
|•||At General Conference, Methodist take up thorny issue of racial integration | United Press International (April 27, 1964) — via Google News Archive|
|•||Methodists: The challenge of fortune | TIME magazine (May 8, 1964) — A painting of Bishop Kennedy was featured on the cover of this issue of TIME|
|•||Bishop takes pulpit (‘In an action without precedent In Methodism, Bishop Gerald Kennedy has decided to become a parish pastor’) | The Associated Press (Oct. 12, 1968) — via Google News Archive|
|•||Bishop Gerald Kennedy dead at 72 | Los Angeles Times/Washington Post News Service (Feb. 18, 1980) — via Google News Archive|