The Church's One Foundation
The Church's One Foundation Podcast
Podcast #28: Amazing Love!
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Podcast #28: Amazing Love!

Dear Friends,

Welcome to “The Church’s One Foundation!” And a special welcome to any new subscribers that may be joining us from the Global Methodist Church. Today’s podcast serves as a coda to the previous two podcasts, “The Divided United Methodist Church, Parts I & II.”

Last Friday afternoon, I had the privilege of attending the “Ordination Service of the Global Methodist Church, Great Lakes,” ninety minutes up the road from me at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. It was a joyous, Spirit-filled service, and I trust I’ve captured its essence accurately.

Let’s continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are a part of the growing Global Methodist Church!

Pressing On!

D. Paul


AMAZING LOVE!

The auditorium at the Phillippee Performing Arts Center, located on the beautiful campus of Indiana Wesleyan University (now the largest private university in Indiana), was nearly full when my wife and I found two, end-row seats in the back. Though far from the dais, they were located on a higher tier than the main floor, perfectly situated centerstage, with a panoramic view of the celebratory service soon to begin—the “Global Methodist Church, Great Lakes, Ordination Service,” the closing service of the 2024 Annual Conference Session of the Great Lakes Provisional Annual Conference.

Within moments, the Rev. Keith Chaney came to the pulpit, asked the audience to stand, and led us in the “Call To Worship and Invocation,” ending with the attendees responding, “Come, Holy Spirit! Fill us to go make disciples of Jesus Christ of all nations, teaching and baptizing in his name until your Kingdom comes.”

Without hesitation, the organ blasted out the intro to “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” as a hundred or so dignitaries, ministers, and ordinands slowly filed into the auditorium, joining the audience in singing at the top of their lungs:

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy
  health and salvation!
    All ye who hear,
Now to His temple draw near;
Sing now in glad adoration!

I’d forgotten how these Methodists love to sing and joined them full-throatedly in that glorious 4th verse:

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper
  thy work and defend thee,
Who from the heavens the streams of
  His mercy doth send thee.
    Ponder anew
What the Almighty can do,
Who with His love doth befriend thee.

Soon we were on to “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” and by the time we finished that 4th verse, with its jubilant, “And crown Him, crown Him, crown Him Lord of all,” the ordinands had taken their places down front, and the stage was full of dignitaries and a beaming Great Lakes Conference Choir.

Then, the Rev. Karin Kaye led us in a “Opening Prayer,” beseeching the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: “Grant that your church would come to maturity and unity in the faith, reaching the whole measure of the fullness of Christ for the sake of your mission in this world.” A warm “Greeting and Welcome” was next by the President Pro tempore, Scott Pattison, followed by a "Reaffirmation of Baptism and The Common Calling of All Believers,” led by the Rev. Dr. Andy Adams. This “Reaffirmation” closed with a prayer of … well, of sanctification, I would suggest.

“Holy God, we are no longer our own, but yours. Put us to what you will, place us with whom you will. Put us to doing, put us to suffering. Let us be put to work for you, set aside for you, praised for you or criticized for you. Let us be full, let us be empty. Let us have all things, let us have nothing. We freely and fully surrender all thing to your glory and service. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Immediately came a “Hymn of Commitment and Reaffirmation”—that great Charles Wesley hymn, “A Charge to Keep I Have,” reminding ordinands, ministers, bishops, and laity alike of their duty—“To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill, O may it all my pow’rs engage to do my Master’s will.” Next, the Old Testament and New Testament Lessons were read (Joel 2:28-32 & I Corinthians 1:18-2:15), followed by a “Chorus of Preparation,” the well-known, Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place, setting the stage for the Presiding Bishop, the Rev. Mark Webb’s stirring sermon, “God’s Fools,” drawing heavily from that I Corinthians text: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (I CO. 1:18, NIV).

The good bishop and I have never met, nor are we likely to this side of “Glory,” but he rang the Gospel-bell clearly, challenging ordinands and attendees alike to make Christ and the cross the center of their lives and ministry, quoting Paul again from the reading of I Cor. 2:2, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Having taken no notes, dear friends, I am relying upon the “impressions” of my memory, but in a powerful moment of humility, Bishop Webb knelt in front of the ordinands, reminding them of their utter reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill their calling. His posture in front of us was more than symbolic, stirring our hearts and vividly reminding us that “He must become greater; we must become less,” and that our “message and preaching” is not to be with “wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (I Cor. 2:4-5, NIV).

The sermon left me wanting to be a bolder “fool for Christ” and to follow Him closer. Indeed, in a humorous aside, Bishop Webb recalled a car in front of him with the bumper sticker, “Do You Follow Jesus This Closely?” tenderly admonishing the ordinands and all of us to “Follow Jesus, follow Him closely.”

Other than referring to his “previous life’’ once, when he was the UMC Bishop of The Upper New York Annual Conference,* Bishop Webb made no reference to his or the Global Methodist Church’s former affiliation with the United Methodist Church, bearing witness that they are “forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, press[ing] on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called [them] heavenwards in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV). After years of divisiveness and the attendant pain of separating from a beloved Church, it had to be sheer joy for those gathered at the Great Lakes Global Methodist Church’s Ordination Service to finally attend a Methodist conference where peace and true unity prevailed.

As Bishop Webb finished and took a seat, the exuberant choir, led by Frances Allison, stood and sang, “The Lord Is My Light, of Whom Shall I Fear.” The congregation then rose and recited the Nicene creed, quickly followed by the Ordination Ceremony itself, with Bishop Webb leading the “Exhortation and Examination of Deacons” and “…of Elders,” eventually laying hands on fifty-five ordinands, some ordained as Deacons, others as Deacons & Elders, and four ordained as Elders only. Many of these deacons and elders, of course, were “transferring” from the United Methodist Church, which to date has lost thousands of churches and congregants. The UMC’s radical revision of scripture and boundless inclusiveness have been at the exclusion of countless of its members.

Following the Rev. Samuel Padgett’s “Invitation To Call To Ministry” (which reignited this old dramatist’s/evangelist’s calling), the audience stood for the “Closing Hymn and Celebration,” joyously singing Charles Wesley’s inimitable “And Can It Be,” moving through each verse with a greater intensity, culminating in that glorious 5th verse:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own!

And with hands raised in praise and tears falling with joy, punctuated by shouts of “amen” and “hallelujah,” the hymn’s great refrain brought us to a climatic close:
”Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!”

In the podcast two weeks ago, “The Divided United Methodist Church, Part II,” I posed this question: “Pleased by their spirit of humility and obedience, might God be positioning the Global Methodist Church as a major conduit to a sweeping, world-wide revival?” After attending the closing service of the GMC’s Great Lakes Conference, the answer to that question is yes, more than I had imagined.

Amen & Amen

* While Bishop in the UMC, a parishioner had contacted him, urgently requesting he make a “public statement” about an important news event that had taken place. He did release a statement, pointing people to our great need for a Savior, as our real problems were issues of the human heart. When the parishioner contacted him again asking why he had not released a “prophetic” public statement (meaning a political statement), he told the congregant, “I have released a statement.” I imagine progressive peers in the UMC found it difficult to obtain Bishop Webb’s support on a number of radical agendas. Bishop Webb resigned his duties as a bishop in the United Methodist Church the end of 2022, and by January 4 had announced his joining the nascent Global Methodist Church. He is its Presiding Bishop.

“The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord!”

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The Church's One Foundation
The Church's One Foundation Podcast
Dramatist, D.Paul Thomas, writes and podcasts on the Church's one foundation--Jesus Christ her Lord!