On June 26, 1968, The Pilgrim Holiness Church and The Wesleyan Methodist Church merged to become The Wesleyan Church. The theme of the merging General Conference was "One–That the World May Believe!" (I was 2½ at the time.)
In honor of the first General Conference of The Wesleyan Church and as we approach the Thirteenth General Conference of The Wesleyan Church in a few days, I want to focus on the word "one." The two denominations became one almost 50 years ago. May we stay one!
One Lord. The Wesleyan Church is a denomination that serves the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our leader, our focus. No one else is to be trusted like him. We believe The Wesleyan Church is Christ's church. Like everything else he leads, he knows what he is doing. He's asked us to join him in his kingdom causes, yet he doesn't need our help in leading or orchestrating his church. In this perspective, I like what was proclaimed in the merging ceremony of our denomination: "Lord of the Church, we are united in Thee, in Thy Church, and now in The Wesleyan Church. Amen."
One Church. We are to be a Church that is united. There are many things that bring us together. Our high view of Scripture, our Wesleyan-Arminian theology, our belief in a triune God, our emphasis on scriptural holiness, our stance on women in ministry, and more unite The Wesleyan Church. As a denominational officer for the past 12 years, I have heard a lot of opinions about what our Church should or could be. This experience has caused me to realize that unity is not uniformity. Rather, we are united on the essential expressing charity on the non-essential.
One People. We don't often look or sound the same. We are not from the same regions or countries or states. Our styles and personalities vary. Yet, because of Jesus, we are one. In fact, many Wesleyans are like family to me. Your acceptance, encouragement, support, trust, and faith have demonstrated the love of Jesus in tangible ways too many times to count in my life and ministry. Thank you. I trust I have been and will continue to be the same for you. As decisions are made and elections take place in the next few days while we gather in Buffalo, New York, I pray we will be of the same mind and purpose as the good people were in Anderson, Indiana, in June of 1968: One–That the World May Believe!
Dr. Jim Dunn is executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship for The Wesleyan Church. This summer, he will transition to Wesleyan Investment Foundation, serving as the vice-president of church relationships.