Heritage Sunday shall be observed on Aldersgate Day (May 24), or the Sunday preceding that date. The day provides an opportunity for reflection on heritage, celebration of where the Church has been, how it understands itself as it shapes us today, and the meaning of Christian conferencing. Heritage Sunday calls the Church to remember the past by committing itself to the continuing call of God.
Heritage Sunday is set aside specifically for remembering our legacy as United Methodists. As such, it is an ideal time for local churches and Annual Conference Commissions on Archives and History to develop programs and projects reflecting the importance of history in our shared ministry.
The General Commission on Archives and History develops specific themes for each Heritage Sunday, and many of its resources can help local churches or an Annual Conference commission prepare its own observance. An Order of Worship and A Service of Word and Music are prepared around the theme each year. The General Commission also publishes a booklet of more general worship resources as well as a packet of planning suggestions for churches wishing to celebrate their heritage. Local churches and conference commissions are certainly free to develop their own themes and/or to celebrate Heritage Sunday at other more convenient times of the year.
Heritage Sunday is featured each year in the February-March issue of Interpreter (the denomination's program journal). However, it is the conference commission that has the major responsibility for promoting this special day in local churches.
Besides encouraging local church observance, the commission may also wish to develop programs at the district or conference-wide level. This may be a special worship service, an evening event of music or drama, or a dinner honoring special people in the church community. Sunday school classes, youth and adult fellowship groups, church librarians, choirs - many groups in a church, district, or conference can participate in and appreciate such programs. The commission may want to develop a portable exhibit about the Heritage Sunday theme that can be taken to churches throughout the conference
Heritage Sunday can serve as a vehicle for launching any number of history-related projects in the Annual Conference: oral history interviews with retired church workers in the conference; a new conference history; the preservation of an Historic Site or Heritage Landmark; or a children's poster contest. The underlying message of all Heritage Sunday observances is that history is an essential part of the church's ministry, and that all members of the church family can celebrate our shared heritage.
Remember that United Methodist heritage is also community heritage. Involve local historical societies, libraries, and genealogical societies in your projects. Consider celebrating the religious heritage of your region by cooperating with churches of other faiths in a special ecumenical program.
If your Annual Conference approves, the conference commission may call for a special offering on this Sunday for improving or building an historical center, maintaining historic sites, writing a conference history, or another worthy project.
This year's theme and currently available resources may be found by clicking here!