Madison, N.J. – More than a dozen new resources are available from the General Commission on Archives and History to celebrate Heritage Sunday 2023, which occurs on May 21. The 2023 theme, “Local Church Histories: The Cornerstone of our Faith” will be promoted through a six-episode “Un-Tied Methodism” podcast series, a downloadable explainer video, worship liturgy, pew cards, specially-branded shirts and more.
All Heritage Sunday 2023 resources are available at ResourceUMC.org/ArchivesandHistory.
“Methodists are a connectional people. Our ministries center on relationship, fellowship and mission within our communities,” says Dr. Ashley Boggan D., GCAH general secretary. “This Heritage Sunday, we at the General Commission on Archives and History honor the local churches in our connection and their histories. As you peruse the resources we’ve put together for you, I hope that one thing stands out: the story of a local church is never limited to its building.
“Our stories live on through the people who worship with us, who sing with us, who do mission with us,” she says. “Our missional impact is mostly outside of the church walls and is felt across the globe. John Wesley never had his own physical church for the world was his parish. We’ve followed in his tradition as United Methodists in knowing that the greatest impact any of us can have is to spread the love of God outside of our walls. This Heritage Sunday, I hope that our connectionalism rings true and through these stories for our work together, hand in hand, as the cornerstone of our connection and of our faith.”
Below are highlights of Heritage Sunday 2023 resources. Find a complete list at ResourceUMC.org/ArchivesandHistory/HeritageSunday.
“Un-Tied Methodism” podcast
Dr. Ashley Boggan D., GCAH’s general secretary, hosts a special podcast series featuring local church histories. The series launched May 4 with the story of the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple. A new episode will drop every two weeks after that. You can find the podcasts at this link, as well as where you listen to your podcasts (Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, etc.). Future episodes will feature FUMC Honolulu, La Trinidad UMC, Mt. Makomwe UMC in Zimbabwe and others.
Downloadable explainer video
A new video produced by United Methodist Communications explains why we celebrate Heritage Sunday and the importance of this special Sunday for all United Methodists. The video, which is available for download, can be viewed here.
The General Commission on Archives and History has partnered with Discipleship Ministries to produce liturgy for Heritage Sunday. A previously-released volume of Heritage Sunday liturgy titled “To Remember and Celebrate” can be downloaded here.
Pew cards, produced by UMCGiving, are available for download at this link.
“Local Church Histories” shirt
Support the importance of local church histories to the broader narrative of Methodism when you wear a specially-branded Heritage Sunday shirt. A portion of proceeds benefits GCAH’s Ministry of Memory. Learn more here.
Resources to tell your local church’s story
GCAH provides numerous resources to help you tell your local congregation’s story. Learn from Bishop Forrest Stith and the late Foster Ockerman Jr. about the importance of documenting local church histories in two videos from the 2022-2023 Local Church Historians School. Bishop Stith's video is available here and Ockerman's video is available here.
A PDF version of “How to write a local church history” is available here.
Local Church Historians School 2023-2024
For those who want to dive deeper into learning how to tell a local congregation’s story, a new Local Church Historians School cohort begins September 4, 2023. Participants will engage in an intensive, self-paced course taught by leading Methodist scholars, archivists, and historians. Learn more and register at this link.
Honoring Local Church Histories
GCAH is proud to honor 10 local churches who have presented their histories in engaging and impactful ways. You can view a PDF of the honored church histories here or watch a video at this link.
Exhibit at United Methodist Archives and History Center
During the summer, GCAH will host an exhibit at the United Methodist Archives and History Center on the campus at Drew University to highlight the GCAH collection’s emphasis on local church history. The center's summer hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Individual and group tours can be arranged by contacting email@example.com.
About the General Commission on Archives and History
The General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH), organized in 1968, is one of the general agencies of The United Methodist Church, with offices located in the United Methodist Archives & History Center. GCAH offers assistance to local churches and Annual Conferences through publications, workshops, research services, and other programs. The Commission maintains relationships with the five Jurisdictional Commissions on Archives and History, the Central Conferences, the World Methodist Historical Society, the World Methodist Council, and the Charles Wesley Society.