For several of the last weeks an historical fact has been the focus of this memo. For those who do not have precise memories, the Pastor's Memo has addressed the Battle of Waterloo, the first anti-slavery society meeting, the brothers who launched the first hot air balloon, and the liberation of Dachau. Anniversaries of events and personages fall with some regularity on the calendar. Every day marks some kind of event from the past and only a very perceptive historian will notice or even care. This week that historian, if the word applies, is me. Just having returned from our Indiana UMC Annual Conference last week, I was reminded the very first Methodist Conference convened in London on the 25th of June, 1744. Mr. Wesley, his brother Charles, and four others met and quickly determined to invite others of Mr. Wesley's itinerant preachers to join them. The record of their meeting provides us with this bit of information: "In June 1744, I desired my brother and a few other clergymen to meet me in London, to consider how we should proceed to save our own souls and those who heard us.” This first convening, of what would become an Annual Conference, considered its principle purpose for gathering the saving of their souls. What a laudable endeavor. What's more, they wanted to set before The Society three specific notions. What should Methodist preachers teach, how should they teach it, and how to regulate "doctrine, discipline, and practice." I must say, some of this we did, after a fashion, at Indianapolis. But I do not think Mr. Wesley and his society of Methodists would recognize our Conference without some very detailed commentary. Look, I know nothing stays the same over a 275 year span of time. We Methodists have done our share of changing. Needless to say, we may be in for some more rather huge changes in our near future. My prayer will continue to be what was present at that first gathering, namely, a concern for saving our souls and ordering our doctrine, discipline, and practice in such a way as to reflect the love of God for all people. That would be an apt reason for gathering preachers and laity once a year.
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