Bishop Will Willimon was a UMC gadfly long before he became a bishop. He’s nearing retirement, and he’s out with a book called Bishop, an edgy, funny, challenging memoir. He takes some shots and tells some stories, including on himself. But he’s serious about why he thinks it’s Wesleyan for the UMC to focus on growth. We have a Q&A with him about the book, and we have some of the more memorable passages from it. Example: “Our church is full of people who think of themselves as theological liberals but who are organizational reactionaries.”
The Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kan. is one of the largest UM churches, with 18,000 members. And now the Adam Hamilton-led church has become a presence in inner-city Kansas City, through the Resurrection Downtown. The branch campus meets in a former bar. Special contributor Nancy Hull Rigdon reports.
Ricky Harrison is just 20, but he was a top vote-getter for North Texas Conference delegate to General Conference. He’s been preparing rigorously, including tutorials in Methodism from Bishop Dan Solomon. Staff writer Mary Jacobs did this feature.
In commentaries, the Rev. Kent Millard argues that restructuring of general agencies of the UMC is a necessary step toward revitalizing the denomination. The Rev. Donald Haynes looks back to the early days of American Methodism, and finds lessons for today. And F. Douglas Powe, Jr., of Saint Paul School of Theology, argues that African-American churches too often “perpetuate an old-wineskins mentality.”
There’s plenty more in this issue, including C. Michael Hawn’s History of Hymns column, this time on gospel favorite “Up From the Grave He Arose,” and a Faith and Leadership interview with Melvin Butler, saxophonist and enthomusicologist, about music and religion in the Africa diaspora.
We also have a short piece noting that the United Methodist Reporter was a multiple winner in the Religion Communicators Council’s DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards competition. United Methodist agencies also won top honors.
As I write this, General Conference is a few days away. We’ll be there, providing coverage for print and our website.
We welcome your story tips, comments and brief, civil letters to the editor. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, as always, for keeping the faith with us.
Sam Hodges, managing editor