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MethodistThinker.com is enjoying a late-summer holiday. From now until Labor Day, in lieu of new postings, we’re highlighting podcasts from our Spring 2010 season.

Bishop Gerald Kennedy

Bishop Gerald Kennedy

This podcast 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:

  • Experience
  • Results
  • Discipline
  • Perfection

To listen, use the audio player below (23 min.) — or right click (Windows users) to download an mp3 (10.6MB).

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.

Additional addresses and sermons by Bishop Gerald Kennedy are available in the UMC Audio Library.


Related information
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

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MethodistThinker.com is on hiatus from posting new material for several weeks. During this time, we are showcasing podcasts from the fall of 2009.

Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the Foundation for Evangelism, founded in 1949 by Dr. Harry Denman.

Dr. Harry Denman

Dr. Harry Denman

As young man in the 1920s, Harry Denman showed exceptional gifts in evangelism and administration — both in his service at the First Methodist Church of Birmingham, Alabama, and as a lay leader in the North Alabama Conference.

When The Methodist Church was formed in 1939 (through the merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South), Harry Denman was elected to lead the new denomination’s evangelism program.

A decade later, he launched the Foundation for Evangelism as a means of supporting the evangelism ministries of The Methodist Church. (Today, the Foundation’s work includes supporting professors of evangelism at United Methodist-related institutions, sponsoring the biennial Harry Denman Lectures at the UM Congress on Evangelism, and honoring outstanding efforts in local church evangelism through presentation of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award.)

Dr. Denman retired from the Foundation in 1965 but continued his ministry of lay preaching and personal witness. Billy Graham once said that he “never knew a man who encouraged more people in the field of evangelism than Harry Denman.”

Harry Denman’s “body” died (that is how he always described physical death) in 1976. He was 83.

This podcast features a sermon by Harry Denman that probably was recorded in the late 1960s. Listen using the audio player below (17:30) — or download an mp3 file (8.3 MB; on a PC, right click and choose “save as”).

To subscribe to the MethodistThinker Podcast, use the link near the top of the right column.


Related posts
Dr. Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’ | Harry Denman Lecture at the 2009 Congress on Evangelism
Sir Alan Walker: ‘Christianity at the Crossroads’ | Harry Denman Lecture at the 1980 Congress on Evangelism

Related information
About the Foundation for Evangelism | Foundation for Evangelism
‘I Delight to Do Thy Will, O My God’ | A sermon by Harry Denman (audio), recorded at Lake Junaluska, N.C. (early 1960s) (posted on the Foundation for Evangelism web site)
‘Living and Believing’ | A sermon by Harry Denman (audio), recorded at Lake Junaluska, N.C. (August 1965) (posted on the Foundation for Evangelism web site)
‘A Lonely Place for Prayer’ | A sermon by Harry Denman (audio), recorded at Lake Junaluska, N.C. (August 1965) (posted on the Foundation for Evangelism web site)
Prophetic evangelist: Harry Denman | Ronnie G. Collins, ImageBearer’s Weblog (May 27, 2009)

Books about Harry Denman
Libraries that have Harry Denman: A Biography by Harold Rogers (Upper Room, 1977) | Where to buy a used copy
Libraries that have Prophetic Evangelist: The Living Legacy of Harry Denman (Upper Room, 1993) | Where to buy a used copy

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The following are our ten most-viewed posts of 2009 (the date of each post date is in parentheses):

  1. Adam Hamilton: ‘We are in desperate need of excellent preaching’ (Oct. 12)
  2. In Mississippi Conference, testimony from lesbian couple stirs controversy (June 29)
  3. Ed Tomlinson: Proposed amendments would ‘decimate connectionalism’ (March 26)
  4. Proposed amendments would separate UMC into ‘national entities’ (Feb. 27)
  5. John Ed Mathison: Seven concerns about the UMC (March 4)
  6. Billy Abraham on United Methodism: ‘There is no common faith among us’ (Jan. 29)
  7. Board of Church and Society sex-ed writer: Sex outside of marriage can be ‘moral, ethical’ (Sept. 4)
  8. Maxie Dunnam, Eddie Fox release videos on proposed amendments (April 17)
  9. Bishop Robert Schnase on ‘The Five Practices’ (Jan. 14)
  10. Lyn Powell on the new United Methodist membership vows (Jan. 26)

The top video clip of the year was an address by Connie Campbell and Renee Sappington, two homosexual women who spoke about their relationship as part of a worship service at the 2009 session of the Mississippi Annual Conference (that video is part of the #2 post listed above).

The most-listened-to MethodistThinker Podcast during the past 12 months was a May podcast featuring a 1960 sermon by the late Methodist missionary, E. Stanley Jones.

Happy New Year — and thanks for reading MethodistThinker.com!

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Writing in the May/June issue of the We Confess newsletter (PDF), published by the Confessing Movement Within the United Methodist Church, editor Bill Bouknight says early results from the amendment-voting process should be sending a clear signal to denominational leaders.

Those leaders are the Council of Bishops, the Connectional Table (47 clergy and laypersons), and many of the delegates to the 2008 General Conference. That group was responsible for the 32 constitutional amendments that were approved by at least a two-thirds vote of the 2008 General Conference.

we-confess-mayjun09As of this date (June 24), the rank and file United Methodists of America, expressing themselves through their Annual Conferences, have delivered a resounding rejection to the six most dangerous amendments — Amendments I (1), IV (4), X (10), XIII (13), XXIII (23), and XXVI (26).

Currently most of the amendments are being rejected by at least a two-thirds vote. None of them has received even a simple majority (51%) approval. And we haven’t heard from most of the Central Conferences yet.

American Methodists are sending some clear messages to their leadership:

  1. Many delegates to the 2008 General Conference did not represent very well the beliefs and concerns of United Methodists back home.
  2. The leadership of our church should stop tinkering with our organization because organization is not our problem.
  3. The main problem of the UMC is spiritual and theological. We no longer have consensus about our mission and message.We’re not sure anymore that all persons in their natural condition are lost and need to be saved. We’re not sure anymore about the purpose of the cross and whether it was necessary. We have a desperate need for our bishops to lead us in recovering our fundamental beliefs as stated in our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith.

Five of the amendments Dr. Bouknight mentions (IV, X, XIII, XXIII, XXVI) call for restructuring the United Methodist Church into “regional” conferences that would have greater national autonomy.

Opponents have argued that the plan would do irreparable harm to the essence of UM connectionalism by creating a series of “national” churches.

Holston Conference voting

Holston Conference voting

Structurally segregating United Methodists in the United States from United Methodists in Asia, Africa, and Europe, opponents say, is likely to foster greater disunity in the UMC, rather than greater unity.

In North Georgia, the largest annual conference in the U.S., the restructuring amendments were voted down by an average tally of 94% to 6%.

The other amendment mentioned by Dr. Bouknight, Amendment I, would alter Article IV of the United Methodist Constitution, an article dealing with eligibility for membership in the local church.

Opponents of Amendment I have voiced concerns that passage of the amendment would make it more difficult for pastors to give spiritual oversight regarding the readiness of individuals to take the vows of membership.

Amendment I also carries the liability of having been hastily considered by the 2008 General Conference. Less than four minutes transpired between the time the language of the amendment was settled and the floor vote was took place. The amendment passed (on a second ballot, the first was invalid) by a margin of only two-tenths of one percent.

Bill Bouknight

Bill Bouknight

Dr. Bill Bouknight, an associate director of The Confessing Movement, retired from the pastorate in 2007, after more than 40 years of serving churches in South Carolina and Tennessee.

He is the author of The Authoritative Word: Preaching Truth in a Skeptical Age (Abingdon, 2001), and If Disciples Grew Like Kudzu (Bristol House, 2007).

Dr. Bouknight was educated at Duke University, the University of Edinburgh, and Yale Divinity School.

For the latest results from the amendment voting, laid out in a spreadsheet format, go here (PDF).

For full results from specific conferences, visit the ThinkerTwitter page and look for items marked #pcaumc. (NOTE: Not all annual conferences have released results; some conferences have yet to vote.)


Related posts
Leaders in North Georgia, Holston urge defeat of re-structuring amendments
North Georgia overwhelmingly disapproves restructuring amendments
Ed Tomlinson: Proposed amendments would ‘decimate connectionalism’
Maxie Dunnam, Eddie Fox release videos on proposed amendments
African UM leader on amendments: ‘We should have been consulted’
Proposed amendments would separate UMC into ‘national entities’
John Ed Mathison: Seven concerns about the UMC
A ‘procedural’ argument against Amendment I
Bill Bouknight: The bad news from General Conference ‘08
Bill Bouknight: The good news from General Conference ‘08
Bishop Lindsey Davis speaks to the Confessing Movement

Related articles and information
We Confess newsletter (PDF) | Confessing Movement (May/June 2009)
Full text of all 32 amendments, showing how each would alter the current language of the United Methodist Book of Discipline—material stricken through would be deleted; material in bold/blue would be added (PDF)
Voter guide from Concerned Methodists (PDF)
Worldwide decision: United Methodists to vote on amending constitution | Bill Fentum, UM Reporter (April 10, 2009)
Which way to a Worldwide Church? (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 31, 2009)
Amending away our global church? | Riley Case, Good News (March/April 2009)
Constitutional Amendments | John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries blog (May 21, 2009)
A rationale to oppose proposed constitutional changes | Tim McClendon, Columbia District Superintendent, South Carolina Conference
The worldwide Methodist movement | Eddie Fox, Interpreter Magazine (Web-only article—March 31, 2009)
Conferences to consider church structure | Linda Green, United Methodist News Service (March 10, 2009)
Constitutional Amendments 2009 | William J. Abraham, Outler Professor of Wesley Studies, Perkins School of Theology (Southern Methodist University)
Transcript of the brief General Conference debate on Amendment I (PDF—see pages 2705-2707)
Amendment I (without the baggage) (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 18, 2009)
Inclusiveness and membership decline (on the possible implications of Amendment I) | Riley Case (March 23, 2009)
Coming soon to your Annual Conference (article supporting Amendment I) (PDF) | The Kindred Connection (Winter 2009) (This is a publication of an arm of the Reconciling Ministries Network — “We envision a United Methodist Church which…accords all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, full participation in the life of the church.”)

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South Georgia Bishop James King has a message for men in the Feb. 20 Wesleyan Christian Advocate, the newspaper of the North and South Georgia Conferences.

Professional economists suggest that the stock market has a way of correcting itself when things go to one extreme or the other. It appears that “correction” is a part of a divine design.

Bishop King (UMNS photo)

Bishop James King
(UMNS photo)

The need for correction is not new to Christians. The Bible exposes us to this reality from the very beginning.

When… discipline and restraint are abandoned, bad things begin to happen. If we spend what we do not have, it will eventually show. If we try to take shortcuts to success… it will come back to haunt us.

If we try to be the church without teaching and practicing the values of our faith, it will show in the lives of men and women who have lost their way….

Grace is how God provides us with new opportunities to correct ourselves and grow closer to God.

Men of God, there are too many men who have moved away from our Biblical and Wesleyan teachings. We have come to the inevitable: a season of correction….

Do not fight what is happening, for it is a good thing. We are returning to God.

Let us continue to grow in the grace God provides — as we travel on the road to holiness.

“Return to me,” declares the LORD Almighty, “and I will return to you.”
Zechariah 1:3

“They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them.”
2 Chronicles 15:15

Last August, Bishop James King was elected president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, a national post.

He blogs at BishopKing.com.


Related posts
A profile of Bishop James King
Bishop Mike Watson: Spiritual disciplines for 2009
Rock Eagle 2008: ‘Living life as a son of God’
Bishop Mike Watson: ‘The Methodist Christian Way’
Maxie Dunnam: A pastor’s personal holiness

Related article
A surefire investment: How to pray in the midst of financial catastrophe | Philip Yancey, Christianity Today

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Reporter Rodney Manley at The (Macon) Telegraph, Georgia’s third-largest circulation newspaper, has written a nice profile of Bishop James King. Bishop King was appointed earlier this year to be the episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference.

The full article is no longer online, but here is an excerpt:

King is the South Georgia Conference’s first black bishop…. [But] he doesn’t give the “first black” thing “any attention at all.” He has, as they say, been there, done that. He was the first black pastor at one Tennessee church and later the first black bishop in Kentucky. “I don’t look through that lens,” he said. “I look through a Christlike lens.”. . .

King described his parents as “very devout Christians who nurtured me in every way.” His mother was a public school teacher who played piano and organ and was president of the Methodist women’s group in the church. “I remember her singing lullabies to me and teaching me to bend my knees in prayer. But not only that, I saw them do that.”. . .

Bishop King, right, with Macon pastor Marcus Tripp

Bishop King with Macon pastor Marcus Tripp

King was baptized as a baby, but at age 14, he went before the church during a revival and was saved.

He also declared for the first time publicly that he had been called to the ministry, which he said raised an eyebrow of his school principal. “A typical boy, I was into everything. He said I was just saying that,” King said.

King attended Clark College where he “fell in love with psychology,” due in part to a childhood curiosity. “I understood the rationale of loving people and caring for people, but I didn’t understand how to modify behavior. I grew up with people who would go to revival and church, but noticed their behavior did not change.”

He now believes that faith is “like a virus to an adult,” especially those who were not raised in Christian homes. “It comes into the body as something unknown, and the body reacts to it as if it were an enemy. It’s very difficult to embrace something that you’ve never known, even though you crave it. It’s not only introducing faith, it’s nurturing that faith in adults. You have to really walk it and help people experience something they’re never known before.”. . .

[As for children and youth, Bishop King thinks] the church. . . needs to do a better job of teaching children and young people to “articulate their faith.”

“They’re going to make decisions about careers, about marriage, about their children. We’ve got to make sure our children are not just coming to Sunday school and hiding Easter eggs, which is wonderful, and playing the games, which is also wonderful. They’ve got to be taught the value of the faith. If we do not do that, we leave them without the armor that they need to live the full Christian life.”

In August, King was elected president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, a national post. He told the commission it should focus on nurturing boys. “We’ve got to stop expecting fruit from men if we’ve not nurtured the root in boys,” he said.

Before being elected to the episcopacy in 2000, James King served three years as a district superintendent and briefly as the senior pastor of the 5000-member Brentwood UMC in Brentwood, Tenn. Other biographical information is here.

Bishop King recently launched a blog at BishopKing.com.

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The 46th annual Men’s Spiritual Retreat, sponsored by the North Georgia Conference United Methodist Men, wrapped up Sunday at the Rock Eagle center near Eatonton, Georgia.

Steve Wood

Steve Wood

Following the theme, “Living Life as a Son of God,” the retreat included workshops on such topics as:

  • A Husband’s Responsibility,
  • Personal Holiness,
  • Prayer and Fasting, and
  • How to Give Your Testimony (and Not Look Like an Idiot).

Keynote speaker Steve Wood, senior pastor of Mt. Pisgah UMC in Johns Creek, Ga., concluded the weekend with the last of several messages based on Romans 8.

Saying it was now “the moment of deployment,” he challenged men to allow God to continue to shape them into the image of Jesus Christ.

God has a call on your life and has gifted you with spiritual gifts for the purpose of bearing spiritual fruit….

Look what Paul says next [in Romans 8]: “What shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”….

A man by the name of Clarence Jordan wrote the Cotton Patch epistles, and I love the way he frames this:

If God is a rootin’ for us, then who can win over us? He’s even put his own Son in the game for us, so surely He will equip us to win the game!

God does not call you to a mission field — and your primary mission field is where? Home! — He has not called you to a mission field that He is not equipping you for, to succeed and to make disciples and [to] be “more than conquerors through Him who has loved us.”

And so we have reached the moment of deployment. This is not the end of the journey on [this] weekend. This is the launching point for God’s new season of call in your life.

You can listen to a two-minute excerpt of Steve Wood’s Sunday morning message below.

DVDs and CDs of the Rock Eagle Men’s Retreat can be purchased here.

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