Wolcott United Methodist Church

All are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings at 9:00 am and to "come as you are."

4023 VT Route 15 , Wolcott , VT 05680
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802.888.0395

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The United Methodist Church

Service and Rev. Pat's Sermon for Sunday, May 24, 2020

posted on May 24

Wolcott and Binghamville United Methodist Churches
    Seventhy of Easter 
United Methodist Heritage Sunday

                                                                 May 24, 2020                                                                                  
 
GREETING:
L:  This is the day that the Lord has made!
P:  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS:
 
PRELUDE:  Bringing in the Light of Christ
 

OPENING PRAYER:
L:  We have heard what you prayed for us, Jesus.
“That we may be one, as you and the Father are one.”
P:  You have been faithful, O God. You invite us into your very life,
Three-in-One, so we may be as united in ministry as you are.
L:  And we have not been faithful.
P:  We have not respected the wisdom
of the older and more experienced.
We have not been open to the passion and insights
of the young and those newer among us.
We have blocked ourselves and others from
relationship with you, by our sin,
our stubbornness, and our discomfort
with your gifts of stability and change.
L:  You would make us one in and through our distinctions,
as you are One God in Three distinct persons.
P:  And we continue to act as if oneness in ministry
means everyone acts the way I or people like me prefer.
Wolcott: Correct us.
Binghamville: Heal us.
All: Forgive us, O God. And restore us to the
oneness in Christ, oneness with each other,
and oneness in ministry for which Jesus prayed. Amen.
 
Silence
 
L:  Count yourself corrected. Let God’s healing power flow
through you and toward one another.
And know you are forgiven in the name of Jesus.
All: Amen.
 


OPENING HYMN:  “Glorify Thy Name”              TFWS#2016
 
Father, we love you,
We worship and adore you,
Glorify thy name in all the earth.
Glorify they name, glorify thy name,
Glorify thy name in all the earth.
 
Jesus, we love you, etc.
 
Spirit, we love you, etc.
 
OFFERING [Again, many thanks to all of you who are
continuing to make your regular contributions
to our churches as we continue to have the same expenses
whether we are open or not, with the exception of
lower electricity and fuel bills!  If you need assistance
knowing how to get your offering to the appropriate person,
please be in touch with Pastor Mike.]
 
“Spirit Of The Living God”    UMH#393; STL #297
 
Offertory Prayer:   God of Glory and Majesty,
we have seen your glory in Christ,
for it shines in our lives through the faithful
who have walked with us on this journey.
In seeing Christ’s glory in them, we have seen you.
As we bring our gifts to you, remind us that
the world will not see you and your glory
unless they see it in each of us.
Remind us as we move through each day
that all around us are your children
who are desperately searching for a
glimpse of your holy presence and love.
May they see it in us today.
In the holy name of Christ,
our Savior. Amen. (John 17:1-11)
 
 
SCRIPTURE READINGS
 
Acts 1:6-14
 
6 As a result, those who had gathered together asked Jesus,
“Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now?”
7 Jesus replied, “It isn’t for you to know the times
or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority.
8 Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit
has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
9 After Jesus said these things, as they were watching,
he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight.
10 While he was going away and as they were staring
toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood next to them.
11 They said, “Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven?
This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven,
will come in the same way that you saw him go into heaven.”
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives,
which is near Jerusalem—a sabbath day’s journey away.
13 When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room
where they were staying. Peter, John, James, and Andrew;
Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James, Alphaeus’ son;
Simon the zealot; and Judas, James’ son—
14 all were united in their devotion to prayer, along with some women,
including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
 
HYMN OF RESPONSE:
“Lord I Lift Your Name on High”    TFWS# 2088
 
Lord, I life your name on high;
Lord, I love to sing your praises.
I’m so glad you’re in my life;
I’m so glad you came to save us.
You came from heaven to earth to show us the way,
From the earth to the cross my debt to pay;
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky;
Lor, I lift your name on high.
 
GOSPEL LESSON:
 John 17:1-11
 
When Jesus finished saying these things,
he looked up to heaven and said,
“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son,
so that the Son can glorify you.
2 You gave him authority over everyone
 so that he could give eternal life to everyone you gave him.
3 This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God,
 and Jesus Christ whom you sent.
4 I have glorified you on earth by finishing
the work you gave me to do.
5 Now, Father, glorify me in your presence
with the glory I shared with you before the world was created.
6 “I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from this world.
They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
7 Now they know that everything you have
given me comes from you.
8 This is because I gave them the words that you gave me,
and they received them. They truly understood
that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.
9 “I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for
the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours.
10 Everything that is mine is yours and everything
that is yours is mine; I have been glorified in them.
11 I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world,
even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them
in your name, the name you gave me,
that they will be one just as we are one.
      
L:The word of God for the People of God
P:  THANKS BE TO GOD.
 
THE MESSAGE
 
A Message for United Methodist Heritage Sunday:
“The Power of Through”
 
Today is United Methodist Heritage Sunday, one of the special Sundays designated by our General Conference to remember and celebrate our heritage as United Methodists around the world, and also the history of our local churches, as well.  And, as Pastor Mike knows my particular love for history and the fact that I am currently the Historian for the New England Conference, he has asked me to provide the message this morning.
 
Each year, our United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History develops a theme for Heritage Sunday and provides materials to help local churches celebrate.  This year, the plan had been to focus on the anticipated divisions of our church into one or more new denominations, along with maintaining the United Methodist denomination, as well, which would probably have taken place had our General Conference been held this past week as had been anticipated.  Divisions that would have – and still might of course - happened as a result of the differing views in the current United Methodist Church over the issue of LGBTQ persons within our midst.  And the theme would have focused on what word Methodist history might have had to offer for “such a time as this.”  For this would not be the first time that Methodists have split – as most of you are probably aware.

The most dramatic, of course, was the split in the Methodist Episcopal Church between the North and the South in 1844 over the issue of slavery.  But, even before that, a small group had broken off and formed the Methodist Protestant Church - over issues related to the power of Bishops and the role of the laity in the church.  At around the same time, another group had broken away and formed the Wesleyan Church, in protest over the Methodist Episcopal Church’s refusal to take a strong stand against slavery.
And then, in the late 1890’s and early part of the nineteenth century, splits took place over the issue of “holiness,”  or  the doctrine of “entire sanctification,” which resulted in the formation of the Nazarene Church which led to the development of the Pentecostal Church.  So, our denomination is not new to divisions.

But since the 2020 General Conference has been postponed until next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Fred Day, the Executive Secretary of the General Commission on Archives and History, decided to go in a different direction this year.
Fred began his sermon by raising the question:  If you had to tell the Christian story in a single word, what would that word be?  Take a minute and ask yourselves what your answer would be and then please share that word with us:  Love, Grace, Hope, Joy, Peace, Jesus, Resurrection, Redemption?  Or Something else?  All good words.

But Fred, over the past year has been talking with us about the “Power of Through.”  He says, “The Christian story is much less about a God who saves and redeems faithful people FROM life's "dangers, toils and snares" as much as it is a story about God's saving and redeeming ways coming THROUGH them.”
 
He maintains that the Judeo-Christian story is one of “through” – as in the words of the familiar hymn, “Amazing Grace” – “Through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come.”  Or one that immediately comes to my mind, in our UM Hymnal, “Through it all – “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God;  through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon God’s word.”
 
Through the darkness of creation, God brought light.  Through the waters of the flood, God brought Noah and his family and all of the animals to save the world.  Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God brought Jesus from death to life, and through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised just before his ascension that God would send upon his disciples, God is present with us always.
 
Through John Wesley’s failed mission in Georgia, God brought Wesley to that experience in which his heart was “strangely-warmed” and a new church, eventually called “Methodist” was born.  And subsequently, God has brought us through the split of the church into the Methodist Protestant Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and the Methodist Episcopal Church in the north to the newly formed Methodist Church in 1939, which, unfortunately then segregated nearly all Black Churches into the non-geographical Central Jurisdiction and refused to grant full clergy rights to women until 1956.  But, then God brought us through that whole era to 1968 when The United Methodist Church was formed and our African American brothers and sisters were once again integrated into the existing geographical jurisdictions.  Unfortunately, shortly after that, the United Methodist Church then approved language which stated that homosexuality was “incompatible with Christian teaching,” and once more some in our midst would be excluded or segregated.  But, no doubt, as God has brought us through the other splits and mergers, God will bring us through the anticipated new divisions, as well.
 
Nor is our current crisis with the Covid-19 pandemic, the first pandemic that the church has seen, either.  Our General Commission on Archives and History publishes a journal every quarter, entitled, Methodist History, and interestingly enough, this past issue published in April, included an article written far in advance of the our current crisis about the yellow fever epidemic which hit Philadelphia in 1793 and took 5,000 lives– through which God brought the people called Methodist and the whole country. 
 
As the annual conference historian, I edit a quarterly newsletter.  My last issue, the Late Winter/Early Spring 2020 issue featured an article on the history of the Harvard-Epworth UMC in Cambridge, MA, written by Lane Lambert, who writes about how the church came through the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic during which the church had to close at that time for 3 weeks -  without the benefit of  zoom gatherings or conference calls, by the way.  Lane then goes on the describe how the church struggled through “the hardest years” of the Great Depression.
 
No doubt both of our churches have similar stories of difficult times through which God has brought us, as well, and in just a few minutes, I am going to ask you to share some of those times which some of you might remember or know about. 
 
As the Wolcott folks are well aware, the founder of our church was the Rev. George S. Brown, the first African American Methodist pastor in the state of Vermont.  George S. Brown knew very well what Fred Day calls the “power of through.”
 
Prior to coming to Wolcott in 1855, when he founded the church, Brown had been a missionary to the native Africans in Liberia, where he was eventually expelled because he refused to take sides in a controversy between the white Superintendents of the Mission there with the Liberian governor, over the question of whether taxes should be charged on goods that were being imported from America for the freed slaves who were also being re-located in Liberia as a part of the Mission.  He was also a strong “holiness” preacher, a Methodist doctrine to which many of the Methodist preachers in Africa did not subscribe.
 
After returning to the United States George S. Brown spent nearly ten years trying to get his preaching credentials restored because he ran into two white men who were strongly opposed to having a Black man in their church, combined with the slanderous letters sent from Africa by one of the white Superintendents there.  As a result, Brown decided that he had no choice but to sue that Superintendent for slander in order to clear his own name, and was then expelled from the Fort Ann Circuit because he, a Black man, had the audacity to sue a white minister.  He won that suit, however, in 1848, and in 1849, at the request of many of his friends, published the Journal he had kept in which he carefully documented all of these problems. 
 
All of this might have been more than enough to drive a Black man out of the predominantly white Methodist Episcopal Church, but Brown acknowledges at the end of his Journal how much he still loved the MEC and how God had been with him “through it all,” and thus, given him the strength to survive.
 
It was not until he came to Vermont in 1852, however, that Brown finally had his credentials restored at the recommendation of the St. Albans District, and eventually then made his way to Wolcott where he held a long revival and founded the congregation, and then oversaw the construction of the church building in 1855/56.
 
The Binghamville UMC does not have quite as dramatic a beginning, but nevertheless its history also reflects that same “power of through.”  Charles and Ouida Schwartz, in their history of the churches in the Troy Conference, A Spreading Flame, state in their history of the Binghamville church that, “Methodist meetings in the town of Fletcher date back at least to 1801 when the Fletcher Circuit was formed…The following year Elijah Hedding [who later was elected a Bishop and was a strong supporter of George S. Brown] was appointed to this circuit…According to Laban Clark’s [another circuit rider] records the distance that the preacher traveled was “about 400 miles.”  Elijah Hedding wrote of extreme hardships which he encountered from exposure to severe cold as well as almost impossible traveling conditions.  The religious state of the people was truly deplorable, and Hedding and other circuit riders who were to follow, were driven by a passionate zeal to convert them to Christ and thus establish higher values to motivate their lives.[p, 27]” 
 
God, however, was with them “through it all,” as well, as they obviously brought the people from the Binghamville section of town to the place in 1869 when they were ready to build a church building – which they accomplished along with the Baptists.  The Baptists eventually withdrew and the church became simply the Binghamville Methodist Church.  The church has long had very active women’s groups – Ladies Aid and Woman’s Society of Christian Service among others– which helped to bring the church through many difficult times it may have had - raising funds to help pay the salary of the minister, making needed repairs on the parsonage, paying electric bills, buying kitchen cupboards and equipment, and more.
 
I want to stop here for a few minutes now and ask that any of you out there, share any stories you may have, as well, of times in which God was with the church or church members and brought the church or individual members through difficult times.
 
[Sharing of Stories]
 
Fred concludes that, “The God of history and the Lord of through-it-all has abided with us—our churches and conferences—through hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires and past pandemics, through denominational break-ups over racism, theology, and forms of governance. We forget how our history has not been marked by times of breaking-apart but in how we come together in deepening union and reunion.” 
 
And, I would, add, that our God has always there with us, “through it all,”  I know that God will continue to be with all of us and our fellow Christian brothers and sisters as we continue to deal with what may be for most of us the most difficult time of trial that we have had to face in our church life.
 
CONCERNS AND CELEBRATIONS
Prayers of the People
THE LORD'S PRAYER
“Kyrie” TFWS#2275
 
Kyrie, Kyrie, eleison.
Kyrie, Kyrie eleison.
Christe, Christe eleison.
Christe, Christe eleison.
Kyrie, Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie, Kyrie eleison, eleison.
 
Closing Hymn:  “Through it All”  (sung twice)  UMH#507
 
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God;
through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon God’s word.
 
 
SENDING FORTH:
L:  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,
so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him,
because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves; keep alert.
Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around,
looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, f
or you know that your brothers and sisters
throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
And after you have suffered for a little while,
the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
will himself restore, Support, strengthen, and establish you.
To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
 
 
Congregational Response:                  “Bind Us Together”                           TFWS#2226
 
Bind us together, Lord,
bind us together
with cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord,
bind us together, Lord,
bind us together, in love.
There is only one God,
there is only on King;
There is only one body,
That is why we sing.
Bind us together, Lord,
bind us together
with cords that cannot be broken,
Bind us together, Lord,
bind us together, in love.
 
We are led this morning by Michael Thorpe
you may call/text Pastor Mike at 802-355-9574
 
                      "Prayer is not a substitute for action;
                        it is an action for which there is no substitute."
 
Mayerling Anderson    Josh Ducharme         Sabrena Ducharme                Craig Lawson     Nikki Ducharme     Arlo Sterner    Arthur Hooper      Nathanial McElroy     Cheri Craig     Angel and Royce Dunn          James and DeeDee Clark     Lori Jones      Janet Lanphear                       
     Families of Alice Martin, Mabel Sulham, and Larry Tinker            Charmane Raye            Becky Thorpe        Charles Tinker          Eva Lancaster
                                                                                                                      

Wolcott United Methodist Church

802.888.0395