Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"And I Mean to Be One, Too": Stories of United Methodist Saints

Orthodox All Saints Icon. Public Domain.

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear again the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

William W. How, 1864 (UMH 711, verse 5).

This is our sixth year of offering resources for A Season of Saints during the month of October.

Starting in 2011, we've provided suggestions for a Christian saint known worldwide and a significant person from the diversity that is our United Methodist heritage for each Sunday during October, starting with World Communion Sunday and concluding with All Saints Sunday (November 6 in 2016).

This year October has five Sundays, several of them overlapping with existing UM programmatic emphases. We've provided you with five weeks of saints, global and United Methodist, who came through "fierce strife" inspired by the "distant triumph song."

We provide the names and some background information.

But it's up to you to provide the stories in ways that will be most effective in your setting-- and to add stories of the saints you know or have known from your congregation and community.

I hope you'll do so with a spirit of creativity and even fun!

Think about creative ways to tell the stories of these saints -- maybe saints videos, or children telling the stories. Use them as part of a testimony time after the sermon each Sunday. Post information about them on Facebook or Twitter during the week. Schedule an "All Saints Parade" on All Saints Sunday, with people coming to the event dressed as a saint whose life and witness speaks deeply to them.

Whatever you do, make this a congregation-wide emphasis, involving not just worship, but also Sunday schools, youth groups, mission teams, caring ministries, small groups, and of course the choir and/or praise team.

When I first shared this idea on the UMC Worship Facebook Group in 2011, one of our members there suggested we make room for folks to tell stories of saints they know in worship. I thought that was a great idea as a response to the word-- part of a kind of testimony time-- and suggested one way to help that happen through this blog.

Here's my suggestion: don't tell just one story, tell two. Tell one from your congregation (with the person's permission) plus one from another congregation to enhance our sense of connection in the living communion of saints. 

That's where you come in-- and this blog comes in.

In the comments below, share a brief story of a saint you know or have known in your local United Methodist congregation or ministry. This blog can then become a resource for others to find their story from another congregation to tell each week. 

Are you up for this?

I can't wait to see the saints stories you will tell!

Peace in Christ,

Taylor Burton-Edwards
Director of Worship Resources
Discipleship Ministries


  1. What a wonderful idea! We will utilize this in our worship services throughout October! Looking forward to hearing and sharing our saint stories!

  2. What a fantastic idea! I love it! I think that by and large, we have abandoned our heritage. We need to remember the stories of the saints of old, both those who were in our church, and the saints of the larger church, the church universal and triumphant.

  3. season of the saints sounds like a fantastic idea.
    will work on stories of the folks I know that persevered. A way to show "fruits" - a great Wesley/Methodist concept.

  4. We have enjoyed highlighting a Methodist saint each week. We are celebrating the life of our own saint here at Trinity this Sunday as we dedicate our Homecoming celebration to the memory of a life well lived by Betsy Overstreet.

  5. We have been observing "A Season of Saints" throughout October, which will culminate in our traditional "All Saints Sunday" worship on Nov. 6. We took the idea a little deeper by identifying a 'theme' for each Sunday:
    Oct. 2 "Rebels With a Cause"- St. Francis and Mary Bethune
    Oct. 9 "Mystics" Catherine of Siena, Joan of Arc
    Oct. 16 "Missionaries" Luke, Lizzie Hoffman
    Oct. 23 "Martyrs" Stephen, Thomas Baker, Tom Fox, Oscar Romero
    Oct. 30 "Visionaries" Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, Phoebe Palmer
    Nov. 6 "Communion of Saints."
    By focusing thematically we've been able to call attention to the different lifestyles and attributes of some well-known saints, and to help the congregation take note of similar attributes in people in their own lives.
    J.Duncan;Countryside Community UMC, PA

    1. Curious to know what leads you to think of Mary Behune as a rebel, as opposed to a pioneer?