What does a Wesleyan or Methodist heritage mean, and what is its relevance today? This workshop is designed for leaders of United Methodist congregations who come from other denominational backgrounds, and also for those raised within United Methodism who feel the need to clarify further what that background means. Through presentations, discussion, and application activities, the day’s schedule will include consideration of John Wesley’s life story, the development of Methodism from an off-shoot of the Church of England to become one of the two largest Protestant denominations in the United States, and the theological emphases of that tradition.
Either directly or indirectly, topics that will arise within the workshop include Wesley’s Aldersgate experience, circuit riders, frontier camp meetings, divisions and unifications (division over slavery, EUB/Methodist merger, etc.), perfectionist/holiness traditions, connectional polity, communion and baptism, three forms of grace (prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying), and the Wesleyan theological quadrilateral. Participants who apply for the workshop will be asked to indicate their special interests or concerns, which will influence the specific shape of the day’s activities. Some reading will be expected prior to the workshop.
Dr. Bruce Forbes recently retired from full-time teaching, holding the Arthur L. Bunch Chair of Religious Studies, an endowed chair, as Professor of Religious Studies at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. He also served as department chairperson and taught at Morningside College since 1978, with one year breaks for sabbaticals and leaves to teach at three other Midwestern colleges (Macalester College, Hamline University, and Augsburg College).
Forbes’ formal doctoral studies were in the History of Christianity, with a specialty in American religion; his dissertation studied relations between Christianity and Dakota Indians in southern Minnesota from 1834 to 1862. However, Forbes’ teaching in a small department has developed his background as a generalist, offering a wide range of courses: Introduction to Religion, Christian Ethics, Religion in America, History of Christianity, Science and Religion, American Indian Religions, Religion and Popular Culture, and yes, Wesley and Methodism. He has taught extension courses in History of Christianity and Methodism for Garrett’s Course of Study and for Iowa United Methodist Schools for Lay Ministry, and has made academic presentations to national, jurisdictional, and local United Methodist history and archives conferences. Forbes is an ordained United Methodist elder in the Dakotas Conference.