Mar 20 2018

Pastor Mike at Aztec Methodist Church

Last April 23 the United Methodist Church celebrated its 50th anniversary as a denomination. Some have objected, that our congregation is more than 50 years old. To understand this apparent contradiction, we must look at our history.

Methodism began as a movement within the Church of England. The English Church in the 1700’s was full of people who knew little about their faith. They had been born as members of the church, and most people tried to fulfil their requirement to take communion once a year (usually at Christmas or Easter), but otherwise stayed away, and wanted the church to leave them alone unless they needed a baptism, wedding, or funeral.

John Wesley was the son of an Anglican priest and a formidable mother who educated her nineteen children at home (there were no public schools). She began by teaching her children to “cry quietly” before they were a year old. On their 5th birthday she taught her children the alphabet, and thought one of her daughters a slow learner because it took her two days to learn. Susana Wesley was a strict disciplinarian, and instilled in her children a need for an orderly home. John Wesley followed an older brother Samuel into becoming a priest. And while in what we would call graduate school, John was approached by his younger brother, Charles, to help him and some friends become stronger spiritually. They formed what they called a “Holy Club” whose members practiced the rituals of the church somewhat fanatically. They began being called derisively “Bible Moths” and “Methodists” because they were so methodical about holding to spiritual practices.

After graduating John Wesley was assigned as a preacher in the newly established Georgia Colony. This ended in utter failure: his congregation thought he was too rigid in obeying the letter of the ecclesiastical law. He fled back to England barely escaping arrest on perhaps trumped up charges relating to the daughter of a magistrate. However on shipboard he met a group of religious believers known as Moravians. Their quiet faith during a storm, when he was terrified impressed him, and little by little he learned of their stress on a personal relationship with God. This led to a spiritual awakening in which he realized that faith not works led to salvation. He began preaching to whoever would gather on street corners or empty fields (such preaching was very much against the rules of the Anglican Church, and was considered “poaching” of the parish in which he was preaching). His preaching was based on the idea that everyone could develop that personal relationship. He did however remain methodical, and his followers were organized into classes and bands, which met regularly in homes and larger “societies” that would gather regularly to worship and hear Wesley preach. His themes were a blending of the strong spiritual practices from his holy club days with the personal faith that led to reaching out into the world. Wesley organized societies in a number of cities and towns, and would ride between them. 

Gradually he began recruiting some of his class leaders to join him in preaching. Some were ordained, but most were lay people who seemed to have gifts for reaching people. Now the movement spread widely in England, and his preachers were itinerate in various parts of the country, but would meet annually with Wesley to compare notes and report on numbers of people who had renewed their faith, and how people had responded to the preaching. Wesley’s followers proudly adopted the once derisive name “Methodists”. Throughout this time Wesley remained faithful to the Church of England, and encouraged his followers to attend worship and receive communion in the parish to which they belonged. Their Methodist involvement was over and above their regular worship. 

Next month I will go on to the Church in the US, and how we ended up as “United Methodist”.

Aztec United Methodist Church

Sunday Schedule

8:45am   Sunday School
10:00am Worship Service

Community Assistance

Community assistance is available between 8:30am and 1:00pm from Monday through Thursday.

Upcoming Sermons

May 13
The role of disciples
Acts 1:12-26
John 1:6-19

May 20
The Work of God’s Spirit
Acts 2:1-21
John 15:26-16:15

May 27
Three or One
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17

June 3
God’s Love for Us
Psalm 139:1-18
Mark 2:23-3:6

June 10
Rejecting God
1 Samuel 8:4-20
Mark 3:20-35

June 17
The Secret Kingdom
1 Samuel 15:34-16:1
Mark 4:26-34

June 24
A response of Gratitude
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Luke 19:1-10

Child Care Available

Child care is available between 8:45am and 11:00am so that you are more easily able to attend the service and Sunday school.

Methodist News

Daily Devotion

daily words of wisdom and faith
  • Today’s Reflection RARELY ARE YOUTH CHALLENGED to take up their cross and follow Jesus down the narrow road called faith — but even when they are, they can’t imagine what that really means unless someone famous makes a movie out of it. Without story to engage the imagination, there’s no sense of a narratable structure […]

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