Monday, October 26, 2009

Blood is thicker than water...

For me, the day was best summed up by one of our members who approached me after service saying how upset she was that she only had one Kleenex for the day. It was truly a tear jerker for many of the 400 to 500 worshipers on yesterday at Historic St. George's United Methodist Church as Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church returned home for worship. Although there have been gatherings of the 2 congregations over the past 200 plus years, this is the first time that both churches have worshiped together at the 11am hour. This is an important point to remember, for the walk out of Richard Allen and Absalom Jones was not an event between 2 denominations, but it was a tearing apart of one congregation. And I must say, it felt good be back.

The service was highlighted by serving Holy Communion with a chalice presented to St. George's in 1785 by Methodist founder, John Wesley. Adding to the significance was Wesley Chapel in London, England (John Wesley's church) singing the same hymns as our service at their morning worship as a sign of solidarity. Keeping in the spirit of pan-Methodism, we were joined in worship by the spouse of Bishop Jeffery N. Leath, Dr. Susan Leath, Episcopal Supervisor of the 19th Episcopal District (South Africa); a caravan of worshipers from Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, MD, (which stands side-by-side with Mother Bethel in it's important historical role in the founding of the AMEC); Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, the National Cathedral of African Methodism, in Washington, DC; and Hemmingway African Methodist Episcopal Church in Maryland; along with a host of other UMCs and AMEs from the local and regional area.

The day was capped off for me when I received a hand made cross from Rev. Fred Day (pastor of St. George's) that was crafted from nails used to build the balcony in which Richard Allen was pulled up from his knees in prayer. Nails, which once symbolized segregation and division, had now been turned into a symbol of God's redemptive power. The nails remind us that in spite of all that divides us, we are united by the blood. It is the blood of Jesus, shed for our sins, which unites us and brings us to a place where we recognize that blood is thicker than water!

In an effort to share the many different faces and voices from the day, here are links to news stories done by CBS, ABC, the Philadelphia Inquirer, KYW News, and photos taken by a reporter with the UMC News. Enjoy!


jackie j said...

Thanks, that had to be a humbling experience, to walk where Richard Allen walked. please keep updating and sharing the history with us. May God bless you.

Liz W. said...

Wow! I attended this service and was so moved by the entire experience. The presentation of the cross made from the nails of the balcony brought tears to my eyes. I only wished my children could have witnessed a part of their history.

Tavares said...

I am currently taking a class entitled, "Christian History Made Easy," by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones. When Mark's sister, Sharon, sent me this weblink, we were studying AME beginnings - how appropriate it was to see this moment in history come alive for me. I thank God for his mercy, revelation and timing. I praise God that He continues to use human factors to produce spiritual results. -Sharlotte Tavares, Fremont, California

Pastor Eric said...

Dr. Tyler --

I'd like to do a piece at my United Methodist church to honor Richard Allen's birthday. Do you know of a short video that might be suitable to play during worship that tells of Allen's life?

Many thanks!

Mark Kelly Tyler, Ph.D. said...


A great video to use is on youtube. Here's the link:


Mark Kelly Tyler, Ph.D. said...

I neglected to say that it is an old fundraising video from a project, but the first half is all about Allen and is about 5 min. in length.

Pastor Eric said...

It's really good stuff. Thank you for sending it along. Have you finished fundraising for the project?

We'll use pieces from the video on Feb 14 at the St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Mesa, AZ.

Keep up the good work on the blog!