Wesleyans! Study Bible!

I wish I had not known about the Wesley Study Bible until it was already published and on the shelves. I’m not patient when waiting on preordered items and Cokesbury is probably grateful that I won’t be calling them any more now that I have received my copy. Overall, I am very pleased with this version of the Bible and have no doubt it will be my new Bible for primary use. The Wesley Study Bible uses the NRSV and is published by Abingdon Press. If you are a member of any Methodist/Wesleyan heritage church or have an interest in Wesleyan thought, this is a great resource.

Shane Raynor, over at The Wesley Report did a brief review and I have similar thoughts in terms of the readability and feel of the book. There is also afacebook group which is discussing the merits and shortcomings of this new presentation of the NRSV.

Of course the notes are the important consideration for any study Bible, and this Bible sets itself apart in that regard, including significant details in the life and theology of John Wesley and other early Methodists. The sources for the notes are John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible and the Bicentennial edition of The Works of John Wesley.

An example: on page 1199, with the story of the sheep and the goats, we have an inset on Wesley’s friend William Morgan and his invitation to visit prisoners. Visiting Prisoners is one of the “Wesleyan Core Terms” which also include Physician of Souls, Lay Leadership, Tradition, Liberty, Mind of Christ, and I’d guess about 100 other topics. Thankfully, all these terms, as well as the “Life Application Topics” and the maps are indexed, but as one of the facebook users (Ron N.) points out, the index might be more helpful with page numbers. Instead, if you’re looking up a life application topic or Wesley Core Term, the index only provides you with the book that it can be found in. Granted, they also list it by the order that it appears, which helps, but it’s a fairly significant inconvenience, particularly for a group study setting. You can take a look at this indexing system yourself by downloading the free sample.

I am also surprised that there is no concordance, something I think is an important part of any Bible calling itself a study Bible. This is, however, a Bible specifically designed as a resource for better understanding of the Wesleyan perspective on Scripture, and it fulfills that task. I’m looking forward to using it, as well as giving it to some of my Wesleyan brothers and sisters.

First UMC Memphis cornerstone details

Here’s the full release:

Historical artifacts from First United Methodist
(“First Church”) were revealed on this cold
and wintry day of January 17, 2009, as the cornerstone of
the burned out sanctuary was opened for the first time in
over 119 years.

The cornerstone, located in the last partial remaining wall
of the First Church sanctuary that burned October 6, 2006,
will be taken down soon by controlled demolition to be
reused in the new sanctuary design.

Balancing high upon the scaffolding near the limestone
brick cornerstone that reads, “First M. E.
Church, November 1889,” Senior Pastor Rev. Martha B.
Wagley welcomed the crowd gathered at the church site at 2nd
and Poplar.

Bundled up in scarves, hats and gloves, the First Church
congregation, the First Church Building Committee, Carter
Hord of Hord Architects, designers of the new church campus,
Justin Grinder, of Grinder, Taber and Grinder, the General
Contractors, members of the West Tennessee Historical
Society, and friends of the church, listened and waited
excitedly as Rev. Wagley explained the significance of the

She said, “Almost 120 years ago our ancestors stood
upon this holy ground, lead by Bishop E.R. Hendrix, to
place a cooper box and its contents inside this cornerstone
and dedicate this once magnificent sanctuary after many
years of planning and sacrifice.” She then read from
1st Corinthians 10-11, “According to the grace of God
given to me, as a skilled master builder, I
laid the foundation, and someone else is building on it.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that
has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.”

With the help of Bobby Parnell, the mason performing
controlled demolition of this historic landmark, Rev. Wagley
gently removed the 8 x 12 inch cooper box housed inside the
reception cavity of the cornerstone.

To everyone’s delight and relief, the copper box was
intact after nineteen decades and had survived the fire two
years ago.

After prying open the sealed box, Rev. Wagley delicately
retrieved each historical item that their First Church
ancestors had saved on November 19th, 1889, which included:

1. A silver quarter, the first contribution towards the
cost of the sanctuary building, given by Benjamin Abernathy,
church sexton, along with his photograph
2. Photographs of Revs. James W. Knott and Samuel Watson,
former pastors and J.W. Jefferson, a church member
3. A copy of the bible from the American Bible Society
4. A copy of the Methodist Church Discipline
5. Copies of the Methodist Hymn Books
6. A piece of the U.S. flag torn down in New Orleans in
7. A bottle of water from the River Jordan
8. The last Annual Report of the American Bible Society
9. A list of those who contributed to the sanctuary
10. A copper coin
11. Copies of the Appeal and Avalanche (Memphis Newspapers)
12. A copy of the Women’s Advocate
13. A list of the names of the pastor, church members and
the Building Committee
14. A copy of the Nashville Christian Advocate

Concluding this emotional and uplifting morning, the Rev.
J. Barry Henson, McKendree District Superintendent, said a
prayer for this resilient congregation on this historic
occasion connecting the past, the present and the future
First Church, “As we gather here, we are standing on
the shoulders of the saints who came before us, those who
many years ago lead the way. We lean on the shoulders of
those here today who will rebuild the church – not only for
our children, but for those yet unborn, so that they may
worship on this holy ground again.”

First United Methodist is the first church of any
denomination in Memphis, established in 1826.

The new sanctuary will be the 4th First Church house of
worship at the corner of Second and Poplar.

First Church is seeking donations to complete construction
and to realize their dream to continue in mission in
downtown Memphis.


Methodists and Opium

Though it comes from a newspaper account from Philadelphia, I’m still not sure whether I believe this story from 1803:

A late Chinese Edict, which prohibits the importation of opium into any part of that Empire, goes on to specify, “and all other drugs or articles whatsoever, that shall have been found to possess the same or similar effects; as Ale, Beef,Pudding, Methodist Sermons, Modern Epic Poems, &c.”

Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia, PA) Tuesday, April 05, 1803; Issue [173]; col B

Red, red wine.

There doesn’t seem to be much discussion about alcohol on the blogs, even the Christian ones. I have teetotaling friends and moderate drinker friends. The church I am part of encourages AA and Alanon groups to use our facilities for meetings.

When I first moved back to the rural West Tennessee area I now live in, a fellow church member invited our family over to their home. She couldn’t figure out how to ask if we’d like beer or wine. She had made a similar statement to another member of the church and had been judged pretty harshly for suggesting such a thing.

Our pastor at the time did not drink until his children had gone to college. Not because he was ashamed of it, but because he wanted them to know it just wasn’t that important.

I like wine. I like beer, I even like a shot of whiskey now and again. That’s not very Methodist of me, in terms of what the Book of Discipline says. I suppose I should dislike it as much as I dislike the lottery that Tennessee now has.

Maybe there will come a time when I take as much pleasure in a cup of tea (I have had some really great teas before)as I do in a glass of porto. I don’t think that my moderate consumption is a stumbling block to others in the faith. But I suppose we should think about it anyway.

Today, I am going to a winery. It’s small, it’s local, and it’s owned by a relative of a friend of mine, which makes it even more fun. It’s a gorgeous fall day, the sun is shining bright, and I look forward to a day of enjoying God’s creation. Pour yourself a glass of wine, a cup of coffee or a glass of tea and enjoy it with me.