Welcoming the Stranger
Welcoming the Stranger
United Methodism has a long history of welcoming strangers into our churches and communities. John Wesley set the welcoming tone for his preachers and societies through field preaching and what we call today social gospel works. British Methodist preachers help to start a Strangers’ Friend Society late in Wesley’s lifetime to reach out to help those who needed it the most. The aim of the Society was to help anyone who had need regardless of religious belief or ethnicity. The Society’s ecumenical nature allowed Methodists to work with other religious bodies to meet these social and economic needs while providing spiritual guidance. Wesley fully endorsed the work of the Strangers’ Friend Society and promoted it when possible.
Both the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical Association/Church welcomed strangers into their fellowships which included non-German speaking groups once the German language was no longer the primary communication vehicle for church life. A case in point would be the Evangelical Church’s intentional work with Italian immigrants in the 20th century. The other gift these two churches gave to United Methodism were orphanages. Churches in Germany established denominational-based orphanages long before they made their debut in the United States. It was only natural that German speaking churches would start orphanages here in America.
Welcoming the stranger is part of United Methodism’s DNA. But the telling of the story has long been neglected. Let us recapture this story based on Biblical injunctions this Heritage Sunday and actualize it every day in our ministry to the community!
Here are resources for churches, educators, students, lay persons and annual conferences to celebrate our heritage of welcoming the stranger. Note that the power point and its PDF equivalent are large files. It will take a few moments to download the files depending on your internet connection. When using the power point be sure to download the Presenter Notes since the document gives each slide context and links to records in our archives from both in our public digital repository, finding aids to physical records and printed resources. Please feel free to adapt the power point to your specific needs.
Heritage Sunday 2015 Worship Resources (Word Document)
Heritage Sunday 2015 Worship Resources (PDF Document)
Welcoming the Stranger Microsoft PowerPoint (Revised)
Welcoming the Stranger PDF version of the Microsoft PowerPoint (Revised)
Welcoming the Stranger PDF Presenter Notes (Revised)