"And I Mean to Be One, Too": Stories of United Methodist Saints
By Taylor Burton-Edwards
And when the strife is fierce,
the warfare long,
steals on the ear again
the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again,
and arms are strong.
William W. How, 1864 (UMH 711, verse 5).
This is our sixth year of offering resources for A Season of Saints during the month of October.
Starting in 2011, we've provided suggestions for a Christian saint known worldwide and a significant person from the diversity that is our United Methodist heritage for each Sunday during October, starting with World Communion Sunday and concluding with All Saints Sunday (November 6 in 2016).
This year October has five Sundays, several of them overlapping with existing UM programmatic emphases. We've provided you with five weeks of saints, global and United Methodist, who came through "fierce strife" inspired by the "distant triumph song."
We provide the names and some background information.
But it's up to you to provide the stories in ways that will be most effective in your setting-- and to add stories of the saints you know or have known from your congregation and community.
I hope you'll do so with a spirit of creativity and even fun!
Think about creative ways to tell the stories of these saints -- maybe saints videos, or children telling the stories. Use them as part of a testimony time after the sermon each Sunday. Post information about them on Facebook or Twitter during the week. Schedule an "All Saints Parade" on All Saints Sunday, with people coming to the event dressed as a saint whose life and witness speaks deeply to them.
Whatever you do, make this a congregation-wide emphasis, involving not just worship, but also Sunday schools, youth groups, mission teams, caring ministries, small groups, and of course the choir and/or praise team.
When I first shared this idea on the UMC Worship Facebook Group in 2011, one of our members there suggested we make room for folks to tell stories of saints they know in worship. I thought that was a great idea as a response to the word-- part of a kind of testimony time-- and suggested one way to help that happen through this blog.
Here's my suggestion: don't tell just one story, tell two. Tell one from your congregation (with the person's permission) plus one from another congregation to enhance our sense of connection in the living communion of saints.
That's where you come in-- and this blog comes in.
In the comments below, share a brief story of a saint you know or have known in your local United Methodist congregation or ministry. This blog can then become a resource for others to find their story from another congregation to tell each week.
Are you up for this?
I can't wait to see the saints stories you will tell!