Helenor Davisson: First Ordained American Methodist Woman

A portrait of Helenor Davisson made from the only known photograph of her, which is badly faded.

In August of 1866 the Civil War had just ended and America was slowly becoming a United States again as confederate states began rejoining the union. Perhaps more astonishingly, in that same year President Andrew Johnson vetoed the bill that eventually become the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing citizenship and equal protection under the law for black Americans. He did so in spite of such broad congressional support that his veto was overcome by a 2/3 super-majority. In the highest leadership position in the country, prejudice was preventing even basic rights for black Americans. Nine years later the Supreme Court would rule against women’s right to vote. Progress was coming on several fronts, but this was still an age of considerable challenges to equality. [Read more…]

Follow Saint John: A Children’s Sermon on the History of John Wesley

This is an unusual post for me. But recently I was asked to write a children’s sermon on the history of John Wesley. It was fun to consider how to tell this history in a way that would be meaningful to a little one. I hope you enjoy and find it useful! If you’d like a resource to tell Wesley’s story to kiddos, you might check out this illustrated children’s book on his life.

Have you ever heard somebody called a “saint?” What do you think that word means? … That’s right. A saint is someone that lives a holy life and loves God very much. We like to learn about saints because they are good examples of how to live a Godly life. Do you know any saints from here at our church? Who? …Yes. We want to live like “Annie” because “Annie” shows us how to love God well.

Well I want to tell you about another saint. His name is John. And John helped start the United Methodist Church. When John went to college he met with a group of friends that wanted to love God the best that they could. They knew that they could never love God at their very best if they tried to do it on their own. So John and his friends started a little small group (or whatever they are called in your local congregation) and started helping one another love God. They would pray together and sing songs and read their Bible. They would ask each other about where they had not followed God’s law and they would pray for those sins. And they worked for a long time to learn how to love God best. Sometimes people around them would make fun of them and call them names. It wasn’t easy for them to follow God with their whole lives, but they did it anyway. In fact, one of the names that people called them to make fun of them was “Methodist.” But John said, “That’ not such a bad name. I kind of like it. We should call ourselves ‘Methodists!'”

Now John and his friends lived all the way across the ocean in England. They got a chance to get on a boat and come to America to start a little group of Methodists here in America to help people love God. After a while people got really mad at John again. They said that all his rules were too hard. So they made John leave America. It hurt John’s feelings very much to be told to leave, but he did what they told him to do and got back on a boat to England.

But on the way back to England, John’s boat got into a terrible storm. During the storm John was really scared. He met some other Christians that weren’t scared at all. John was so impressed that they loved God so much that they weren’t even scared of the storm. They trusted God even in a terrible storm.

So when John got back to England, he started praying and reading his bible even more! He knew that some people had learned to love God so much that they could trust God no matter what. But John didn’t stop learning how to love God more. One night when he had been praying a very long time, John said that God made his heart “warm.” Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt really good on the inside because you knew that God loved you? Well John felt that way, too. And he learned it from his friends on the boat. And when John learned that he could learn to love God more, he really wanted to learn how.

That’s what makes John a saint. When John had a chance to learn to love God more, he went for it! That is a great example to all of us. When you have a chance to sing praise or pray or meet with other Christians or help someone, you need to always do it. Because those are the times when we learn to love God best. Let’s pray together!

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Odell Beckham Can Teach Us How to Pray

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Robert Sabo/New York Daily News

Odell Beckham shocked everyone with his one-handed catch heard around the world.

Most of the conversation about that catch made it sound like it was either a stroke of magnificent luck or the feat of a superhuman god of professional football.

I think it was a great expression of freedom. [Read more…]

UIndy Student Lenten Devotional 2015

I’m glad to offer a free devotional created by the students and for the students of McCleary Chapel Ministries at the University of Indianapolis. I hope that you too will enjoy taking the Lenten journey with them. I’m so proud of these students, their love for Jesus Christ, and their heart to share that love with others.

Here is the PDF download: UIndy Lenten Devotional 2015

A little about the creators of it: Aaron Taylor is our Chapel Steward of Devotion this year. He is the primary editor. Aaron is a Religion major from Franklin, IN, preparing for ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The rest of the authors are Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Baptists, and lots of other kinds of Christians. They are studying a variety of fields at UIndy including Social Work, Art, Physical Therapy, Nursing, Education, Philosophy, Religion, and many others.

You can print and distribute as many copies as you would like. We ask that you not redistribute electronically (just point them to this site!) or use the text that belongs to these authors without attribution. Otherwise, we’d be thrilled if you share it far and wide.

Last Year’s Devotional can be found here: UIndy Lenten Devotional 2014

UPDATE: 6,000 Person Megachurch Now Includes Women Elders/Pastors

IMG_3463One year ago this week I wrote that Grace Church of Noblesville, IN, (a northern Indianapolis suburb) had publicly changed their position in their weekend services to support women at all levels of leadership. The previous article was viewed nearly 20,000 times and sparked articles about the sermon in national media. Readers were encouraged that a church of this size and significance would make such a bold move in spite of what it might cost them. [Read more…]