Flat Wesleys Inspire Generous Discipleship
Photo left: Children of Mountain View UMC in Kingsport, TN, bring groceries and Flat Wesleys to a local food pantry. The girl in the front row, far left, holds up the Flat Charles and Flat John Wesley.
As we celebrate Heritage Sunday on May 24, we rejoice that young United Methodists throughout the connection are generously sharing their gifts. The “Flat Wesleys” is a new initiative of Melanie Gordon, Director of Children’s Ministries at Discipleship Ministries.
Children throughout The United Methodist Church are learning about the history of the Methodist movement with the help of drawings of John and Charles Wesley, the “Flat Wesleys.” The idea for the Flat Wesleys is based on the youth literature character, Flat Stanley©.
The “Flat Wesleys” are similar laminated drawings of Charles Wesley and John Wesley that are being sent to United Methodist churches to encourage active discipleship among children. Churches receive a letter with a set of the Flat Wesleys; then they spend ten days including the Flat Wesleys in children’s lives and ministries. The children and teachers write a letter about their experiences to mail to the next church. This special project is taking place in each annual conference through September 1. Lay leaders and church staff are working together to teach more about the Wesleys and discipleship to help celebrate the founders of the Methodist movement and share in their legacy of generosity.
Children’s imaginations are soaring as they enjoy these tangible reminders of the dedicated brothers who worked to help others live out their faith. Some children have discovered Flat Charles and Flat John singing hymns with their church; others have discovered that the Flat Wesleys prefer sweet tea! Confirmation classes are sharing stories about Circuit Riders with younger children. Students are including the Flat Wesleys in acts of worship and devotion in their churches and homes. They are singing Charles Wesley’s hymns, such as “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” presenting puppet shows about the Holy Club, or saying prayers together before meals and bedtime. Children are creating prayer journals like John Wesley’s journal. They are talking about standing up against bullying as a way to be a voice for the voiceless. Youth are bringing the Flat Wesleys with them as they participate in acts of compassion and justice in the wider world. The Flat Wesleys accompany them when they shovel snow, bake cookies for neighbors, or participate in a community walk to raise money to assist others. Students in one church joined with adults to build a wheelchair ramp for an eight-year-old in the community. Children’s messages about Imagine No Malaria highlight ways that kids can help others avoid sickness in Africa.
The Flat John Wesley and Flat Charles Wesley Facebook Group allows participants in the process to highlight the wonderful ways that children and congregations are being inspired in this ministry. These children are saying, “Thanks for all the blessings you brought us!”
We are grateful that their joyful discipleship is sharing blessings with families, schools, neighborhoods, and the world.