This Sunday, we will include in the worship service an affirmation of faith known as the World Methodist Social Affirmation. This is found in The United Methodist Hymnal (#886). Here’s the background on it:
“This affirmation was adopted by the World Methodist Council when it met in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1986. It had been drawn up by the Council’s Social and International Affairs Committee in a process that included the following: (a) all member denominations were invited to send a copy of their current statement of social principles; (b) representatives of each region of world Methodist met for a week and after intensive Bible study and examination of all the social principles statements formulated a first draft; (c) this draft was sent back to the member denominations for their response; and (d) the responses received were the basis of revisions in preparing the final draft for submission to the World Methodist Council, from which the hymnal version was drawn.”
(The Worship Resources of The United Methodist Hymnal, Hoyt L. Hickman, Volume Editor. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989. pp. 201-202)
This Affirmation reflects a long tradition of social concern in the Methodist movement dating back to John Wesley (1703-1791). Wesley was convinced that a vital Christian faith would speak to not only matters of doctrine but also how groups and individuals were treated in society.
The Social Creed originated as a statement to express Methodism’s objection to the miserable conditions millions of workers in factories, mines, mills, tenements, and company towns were facing in Great Britain at the time. After the merger of 1968 created The United Methodist Church, “The Social Creed” was expanded into “The Social Principles,” which shed light on other unjust practices.
The World Methodist Social Affirmation is a strong statement that links belief and behavior, principles, and active concern to make the world better for all people. The words remind us that to be a follower of Christ means that we will love our neighbor and “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”
Grace and peace,
Rev. Steve Larsen