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Effective January 2021 I'll be blogging at: JOHNFANESTIL.COM
Recent posts

An Invitation to Solidarity

 5 -minute reflection on Luke 5:15-16

LET THE BRANCHING CONTINUE: Several Ways Forward for US Methodists

As I've said before ,  I am not alarmed by the prospect that the United Methodist Church will split.  Parting ways with pew partners is a very Protestant -- and, although we might not  like to admit it, a  very Methodist -- thing to do.  The early Methodist movement was not monolithic, and of course Methodism in America was born by splitting from the Church of England.  As far as loyal Anglicans were concerned,  John Wesley lamented schism so loudly and roundly because he he was constantly promoting it. In their view,  the good  Reverend protested too much. Or as Ryan Nicholas Danker has  has put it , Wesley's self-identification with the high church " was reciprocated by a continuing flood of obloquy from actual high churchmen." Methodism in America, meanwhile, has seen an abundance of splits .  Only the hubris of the mainline leads United Methodists to judge all these splits unfavorably. Who's to say that African Methodist Episcopalians, or Wesleyans, or


Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London On April 21, 1777, John Wesley preached a sermon on a very special occasion , the laying of the foundation of the New Chapel near the City-Road in London. The New Chapel would become the de facto headquarters of Methodism, which by this time had become a global movement. Wesley lived his last twelve years in the house next door, which was completed in 1779, and died there in 1791. In the sermon he delivered onsite in 1777, Wesley rehearsed Methodism's success -- the reach of the revival, he remarked immodestly, was matched only by "the purity of the religion which has extended itself so swiftly and deeply" -- but he also addressed concerns that had arisen from it. The spread of Methodism, and the enthusiasm of its adherents, had led many to conclude that the movement represented an intrinsic threat to the unity of the established Church. Wesley's defense, while ingenious and heartfelt, laid bare Methodism's true fou

THE HUBRIS OF INCLUSION: Thoughts on the Future of the United Methodist Church

The United Methodist Church was born in a specific time and place, in the mid-twentieth century in the United States of America. Protestant denominations were ascendant, and with them a brand of "ecumenism" that would only decades later be recognized by those who championed it as culturally bound to the white "mainline." Mergers were all the buzz, including the one that created the UMC in 1968, and Methodists embraced their new denomination as partial fulfillment of a dream of "Christian unity." As the historian Robert Handy noted in his wonderful little 1971 book,  A Christian America: Protestant Hopes and Historical Realities , leaders of the new denomination thought of it as "a kind of unofficial national church." Because they sat at the midpoint of mainline American Protestantism in so many respects -- ecclesial, theological, liturgical -- it was easy for them to assume that as all churches became one, pretty much everyone else would eventua


Methodism was born as a movement of renewal from within the Church of England. Its founders, the brothers John and Charles Wesley, understood their mission to be that of "raising up a holy people" and "spreading scriptural holiness over the land." Holiness was the “marrow” of the Bible, John Wesley argued, and he described his teaching about holiness as “the grand depositum which God has lodged with the people called Methodists.” For the Wesley brothers, the basic task confronting ordinary Christians was that of "working out their own salvation," toward the end that they might  become more and more holy through the practices of Christian discipleship.  The Wesleys believed that eventually, the truly faithful might be "perfected in love," and they believed  the most likely place to find instances of such true holiness was at the end of life. For this reason the early generations of the Methodists made a practice not just of visiting the dyin


A sermon preached on November 21, 2018, in La Jolla, California, at the 38th Annual Thanksgiving Eve Service celebrated by Congregation Beth Israel and the First United Methodist Church of San Diego.   I WANT TO BEGIN BY SAYING “THANK YOU.”   Thank you to the good people of Congregation Beth Israel for your hospitality.   Thank you to Rabbi Berk, for the many years of friendship and partnership, and congratulations on your upcoming retirement.   Thank you to Phil Amerson, our interim Lead Pastor at First United Methodist, for the generous invitation to speak this evening.   I think Phil knew how much this would mean to me, to preach on this occasion.   My brother and I used to ride our stingray bicycles across this land when there was nothing but dirt mesas as far as the eye could see.   I count it a great privilege and honor to share this time with you tonight.   Will you pray with me? "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation  of my  heart , be acceptable in thy si