May 20 is being called a ‘once in a lifetime’ event for United Methodists, offering an opportunity to commemorate the church’s history alongside the celebration of Pentecost. Numerous event-specific resources are available for congregations, including a video created to honor the church’s legacy since April 23, 1968, when leaders of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church declared the creation of a new denomination, The United Methodist Church.
“May 20, 2018 is Pentecost Plus!,” said Rev. Fred Day, general secretary of the General Commission of Archives and History (GCAH). “Not only is the third Sunday of May, Pentecost, the culmination of the great 50 days of Eastertide, the day for celebrating the loosing of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the gift of Christian unity, it is also Heritage Sunday. This year the Heritage Sunday theme is ‘Jubilee’ in a nod to the 50th anniversary, which often is referred to as the Golden Jubilee.
“Don’t miss this once in a lifetime intersection,” Day said.
In addition to the video, numerous resources have been developed and made available specifically for the 50th anniversary of the uniting conference, including liturgical materials, the original uniting conference video, and a reference guide to the church’s history. UMC.org, the official website of The United Methodist Church, is featuring anniversary content at UMC.org/umc50. A hashtag — #UMC50 – is being used for all anniversary-themed content across social media channels.
The new video, titled We Still Believe: Celebrating 50 Years of The United Methodist Church, was created by GCAH and Discipleship Ministries, in cooperation with United Methodist Communications.
“We are celebrating 50 years since a historic joining among likeminded Christians,” Day said. “During a time of great social upheaval and division, the witness of the 1968-born United Methodist Church was one of the coming together of people from different regions, languages, cultures and customs because of their common grounding in Wesleyan spirituality and practice,” Day said.
Commemorative events have been occurring at the conference, district and local church levels since April 22, the Sunday before the April 23 anniversary. While there is a focus on May 20 as Heritage Sunday, congregations may use the resources throughout the entire year in recognition of the anniversary event.