Obituary for Albert William Martin Jr.

Albert William (Bill) Martin, Jr. passed away peacefully in Waverly, OH on January 9, 2019. He was born in Nashville, TN on June 6, 1930, to Albert William Martin, Sr. of Pea Ridge, AR and Sallie Hairston Martin of Conway, AR. Bill grew up in Arkansas and moved to Dallas, TX, where he graduated as valedictorian from Highland Park High School in 1948. He graduated from Southern Methodist University (1951) and Union Theological Seminary (1954). He completed an MA (1961) and Ph.D. (1971) at Vanderbilt University. While at Vanderbilt, Bill and his wife, Bea, participated in the Nashville sit-in movement and helped to organize student protests.

In the early 1950s, Bill was ordained a deacon in the Methodist Church and later became an elder. He was admitted in the North Arkansas Conference of the Methodist Church in the mid-1950s, and served as pastor or youth minister for numerous churches from 1951- 54, including the Jerico Springs Circuit of the Southwest Missouri Conference of the Methodist Church, the Scurry Circuit of the Texas Conference of the Methodist Church, First Methodist Church in New Rochelle, NY, and First Methodist Church in Jonesboro, AR. He was pastor of the Methodist Church in Green Forest, AR from 1954-56; Denton’s Chapel Methodist Church in Whites Creek, TN from 1961-64; and associate pastor at Centenary United Methodist Church in Memphis, TN from 1970-71. He was pastor of Santa Cruz United Methodist Church in Española, NM from 1978-81.

During his teaching career, Bill worked for the Board of Missions of the Methodist Church, which later became the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. He held numerous positions at Methodist or United Methodist-related schools from 1956-81, including Robinson School of San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Navajo Methodist Mission School of Farmington, NM; and McCurdy School of Española, NM. Bill taught at seminaries including the Centro Evangélico Unido in Mexico City from 1965-69, and the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, 1971- 77. He taught classes for pastors at Perkins School of Theology, SMU, and at their extension center at Hendrix College in Conway, AR. Bill was a professor at Oklahoma City University (OCU) from 1981-98, where he served one year as Acting Dean of the Wimberly School of Religion and was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement.

Bill’s publications include his book, A Diary of Devotion: A Month with John and Charles Wesley, and multiple articles in journals such as Methodist History, New Mexico Historical Review, The Chronicles of Oklahoma, Quarterly Review, Studia Liturgica, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, The Craighead County Historical Quarterly, Flashback and Tennessee Historical Quarterly. He wrote occasional guest columns for the United Methodist News Service, the Arkansas United Methodist, and the United Methodist Reporter. One of Bill’s articles published in The Chronicles of Oklahoma received the Muriel H. Wright Award for the “outstanding article” in 2000.

Bill was one of the founders and early chairpersons of Amnesty International Chapter 238 in Oklahoma City and served as President of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He and his wife, Bea, received a lifetime service award from the Coalition.

Both were arrested numerous times and jailed on one occasion following demonstrations against the death penalty in Oklahoma.

Bill actively supported the Reconciling Ministries Network and the Methodist Federation for Social Action, both unofficial United Methodist organizations. This support included participation in committees at Epworth United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City and St. John’s United Methodist Church in Lubbock, TX that petitioned the General Conference of the denomination to become more fully open in its acceptance of LGBTQ persons. As a citizen, he supported Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and numerous other organizations.

Bill and Bea moved to Waverly, OH in 2013 and became members of Broad Street United Methodist Church in Columbus and Orchard Hill United Church of Christ in Chillicothe. As a resident of Bristol Village, Bill was active in the Faith & Values group and the Religious Liberal Fellowship.

Bill is preceded in death by his two sisters, Mattie Sue Emerson and Betty Jane Anderson. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Annie Beatrice (Bea) Martin née Williamson of Philadelphia, MS, and their three children, Sara Lee (Sally) Delgado (husband, José Delgado) of Athens, OH; Andrew William Martin (wife Christina Ashby-Martin) of Lubbock, TX; and Anthony Lloyd Martin of Ashland, OR. Bill is also survived by his two grandchildren, Alejandro Delgado (wife Lauren Delgado) of Cincinnati, OH; and Alma Ann (Annie) Martin, of Pittsburgh, PA.

A memorial service to celebrate Bill’s life will be held Saturday, January 19 at 1:30 pm in the assisted living activity room of Traditions at Bristol Village in Waverly, OH, with Rev. Terry D. Williams officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Amnesty International, Bread for the World, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Reconciling Ministries Network (UMC), the Pike County Outreach Council in Waverly, or a local food bank. Bill’s remains will be buried in the cemetery of Pea Ridge, AR where his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and many other relatives are buried.

United Methodists urged to join in Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is urging all United Methodists to join in the global Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which starts on January 18 and runs until January 25.

Organized by the World Council of Churches, this year’s Week of Prayer is under the theme “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue …” and is inspired by Deuteronomy 16:18-20.

During the week, congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services.

Traditionally, the week of prayer is celebrated between January 18-25, between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul. In the southern hemisphere, where January may be vacation time, churches often find other days to celebrate it, for example around Pentecost, which is also a symbolic date for unity.

The resources for the week have been prepared by members of different churches in Indonesia. Read more about the resources here.

Download 2019 materials in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese here.


Seventy-eight legislative petitions headed for St. Louis

DALLAS, Texas — The General Conference Committee on Reference has determined that 78 petitions submitted for consideration by the 2019 General Conference are in harmony with the purpose of the special session to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.

All those petitions must receive a vote in legislative committee, according to a 2016 provision in the Book of Discipline, and all those approved by legislative committee must receive a plenary vote. The Commission on the General Conference previously has decided there will be a single legislative committee.

The Committee on Reference’s report, which lists the petitions determined to be in harmony and which were not, is available online and will be published in the Daily Christian Advocate.

Last May, the Judicial Council ruled in Decision 1360 that petitions could be filed by any organization, clergy or lay member of The United Methodist Church if the business proposed to be transacted is in harmony with the purpose stated in the call for the special session, which is “limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon recommendations of the Council of Bishops.”

The Commission on the General Conference tasked the Committee on Reference with the responsibility for deciding whether petitions meet that standard. The reference committee met January 11-12 in Irving, Texas to review all of the legislation in advance of the special session.

“To my understanding, it’s the first time the committee has met outside of General Conference,” said the Rev. Chuck Savage, committee chairperson. Savage said they thought about how the committee’s work might create a template or a precedent should a similar situation happen in the future.

In total, 133 legislative petitions were submitted, 48 of which came from the Commission on a Way Forward (COWF). Of the 85 pieces of legislation brought forward by other petitioners, 34 were preliminarily determined to be invalid by the Secretary of the General Conference and the petitions secretary due to formatting or other issues. The Committee on Reference subsequently reviewed those determinations and declared those petitions were indeed invalid.

The committee ruled that all petitions included with the COWF report are in harmony. There was a unanimous vote to review the remaining 51 petitions to determine whether they should be included.

The committee established criteria to guide their determinations about whether a petition is “in harmony” or not.

To be considered in harmony, at least one of the following criteria must be met: the petition was submitted by the COWF; the content of the petition directly addresses inclusion or exclusion of LGBTQ persons; or the content of the petition seeks to correct or perfect COWF plans for the continuing existence of The United Methodist Church.

The process the committee utilized was to divide petitions into two groups:  those that address disciplinary paragraphs included in the petitions submitted by the COWF and those that address other paragraphs or create new paragraphs.

Committee members independently reviewed petitions that addressed paragraphs that were already opened and brought forth for discussion any they believed did not meet the criteria. Petitions in the second category were considered individually to see if they met criteria that would deem them eligible for inclusion. One additional petition was found to be invalid during this review.

Of the 50 remaining valid petitions submitted by petitioners other than the COWF, 30 were determined to be in harmony and 20 were not.

The Committee on Reference is an administrative committee of the General Conference whose members are elected delegates (one clergy and one layperson from each central conference and jurisdiction). Of the committee’s 24 members, 19 were present.

Rev. Savage expressed appreciation for the way the committee worked together. “Among a group of people with many differing opinions, everyone was able to set aside their personal viewpoints and objectively evaluate each petition.”


Media contact:
Diane Degnan
615.742.5406 (o) 615.483.1765 (c)

Kennedy’s 1968 telegram to The United Methodist Church rings true today

To the People of The United Methodist Church,

In 1968, the merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist Churches formed The United Methodist Church in a Uniting Conference. Robert F. Kennedy sent this congratulatory telegram to Bishop Reuben Mueller, to be shared with the assembly in Dallas. The telegram was discovered recently by General Commission on Archives and History staff under the guidance of General Secretary Alfred Day.

The telegram is dated April 22, 1968. Robert Kennedy would be assassinated six weeks later.  Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated earlier that month.

The brief telegram is historic and inspiring, a reminder of who we are and who we aspire to be. Kennedy speaks of the importance of ecumenism in a fragmented world, the need for cooperation, and our historic practice of social witness and community service. He also recalls the wisdom of Dag Hammarskjöld, who had served as the secretary-general of the United Nations— “the road to holiness leads to the world of action”—and extends best wishes as this new church “goes to where the action is”!

In this moment, this telegram reminds us of where we have been and at the same time comes as an urgent and prophetic gift.

The Peace of the Lord,

Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.
President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

Media Contact:
Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Launches New Brand Campaign: “Nurturing Leaders. Changing Lives.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn., January 4, 2019 – A new branding campaign of The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of The United Methodist Church (UMC) expresses the agency’s commitment to sharpen its focus on the ways that it resources, coaches, trains and consults with lay and clergy leaders throughout their lifetimes, as they discover, claim and flourish in their callings.

“Nurturing Leaders. Changing Lives” articulates the agency’s mission to expand and re-envision the ways that the UMC identifies, trains and provides continuing enrichment for its leaders.

“Well prepared and supported leaders strengthen the church’s effectiveness in growing disciples and spreading the gospel to the world,” said Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, GBHEM’s general secretary. “To assist the church in meeting its central mission, we are providing exceptional tools and opportunities to help gifted leaders make a difference.”

Drawing on extensive research with United Methodists from across the church, GBHEM is proactively developing new resources and services and reshaping existing ones to enhance lay and clergy leaders’ ministries in their contexts and cultures.

GBHEM is reframing itself as a “leadership center” that will disseminate best practices, training, coaching, consultation and thought-provoking publications from leadership experts. It is also working toward offering demographic data, trend analysis, an online “virtual toolbox” of leadership resources and forums for examining and discussing leadership issues and challenges.

Among the new resources and events that GBHEM will introduce this year:

  • The United Methodist Leaders’ Summit, September 23-25, Orlando, Florida. Key denominational leaders will gather to discuss leadership concerns facing the church and strategize goals for growing and sustaining leaders for the church and world.
  • The Awakened Life. An eight-week curriculum to help collegiate ministers address issues of emotional, mental and spiritual well-being among students.
  • Effective Ministry 360. EM360 helps pastors and staff/pastor-parish relations committees identify areas of ministry effectiveness and guides congregations in establishing a formation plan to ensure that ministry and mission goals are met.
  • “Truth-Telling in a Post-Truth World.” This book by D. Stephen Long, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics at Perkins School of Theology, explores questions such as, how can we recognize the truth when everyone follows their own perception of it? When we accept and expect lies, is civil society possible? If everyone has their own moral compass, is there any compass at all? It identifies ways for private citizens and people of faith to practice truth-telling, for the common good.

Learn more about the agency’s new direction in this video.

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.