On the Necessity of Potluck or Covered-Dish Suppers

This perhaps deserves publication on April 1, but for the same of general knowledge and preparation for the World Methodist Conference, here it goes on the feast of St Irenaeus of Lyons…

Sources: Scripture: Acts 2:42, 20:7, Jude 1:12. Wesleyan sources: John Wesley, “A Treatise upon the Godliness and Necessity of Potluck Suppers: Justified and Sanctified with Reference to Holy Scripture and Cullinary [sic] Experience” (1792; in Jackson, ed., Works, 15:393-405); Charles Wesley, Hymns of Pot Luck (1789). Doctrinal sources: Second Methodist Assembly of Reformed Transcendentalists (SMART), “Divinely Revealed Doctrine concerning Covered-Dish Suppers,” articles 325-654 (in particular). Ecumenical sources: World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission, General Condemnation and Anathematization of Methodist Practices Involving Social Intercourse and Promiscuously Intermingled Entrées (Geneva: WCC, 1983). Secondary sources: Carlotta F. Pietister, The Meaning and Significance of the Pot-Luck or Covered-Dish Supper in Global Methodism: Compleat with Recipes (1978).

Although the quasi-sacramental celebration of potluck or “covered-dish” suppers has been roundly condemned by the ecumenical community (see the WCC statement referenced above, Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on June 28, 2016 in Ted Campbell


Thoughts for UMC General Conference Folks

General Conference is underway. I’m home in Dallas, following the issues, but here are a few thoughts for General Conference folks. This isn’t going to solve all the issues, but I’d ask you to consider the following.

First. A timely word from United Methodist and former US President George W. Bush:

The strongest person isn’t usually the loudest one.

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Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Ted Campbell


Do Extroverts Dominate General Conferences? And Does It Matter?

The United Methodist General Conference of 2016 gets underway in Portland, Oregon, on May 10. I recently read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, and it enabled me at least to name one of my great fears about such gatherings, the fear that they’re simply dominated by those whom Cain describes as following “the extrovert paradigm” that came to dominate US culture and politics from the early twentieth century. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 7, 2016 in Ted Campbell


C. S. Lewis and “mere” Christianity

Despite my failures to comprehend C. S. Lewis’s argument for the existence of God, I have always appreciated his account of common Christian beliefs and practices: that’s what he meant by “mere Christianity.” Lewis wrote Mere Christianity at the zenith of twentieth-century optimism about Christian unity. He arrived at his conclusions about common Christian beliefs and practices partly by intuition, partly by his immense knowledge of medieval European culture, and partly by running his stuff about common beliefs by Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist clergymen. Originally a series of radio talks that aired during the Second World War, the book was published in 1952, four years after the organizational meeting of the World Council of Churches. Lewis was not directly in touch with leaders of the movement for Christian unity, the ecumenical movement, but he seems to have imbibed the ecumenical spirit of the age and he thought he could write something up, run it by four clergymen, and then present readers with the essence of common Christianity. In my estimation he did a good job of that.

We do not live in such an age. Optimism for Christian unity has long since faded. The ecumenical movement now appears as a Christian expression of a particular era in western culture that valued modern visions of global unity, stripped of their moorings in traditional cultures, in art and architecture and music and political organization. That vision is now deeply suspect and likely to be seen as a relic of a bygone era even as ugly buildings in the “International Style” grow increasingly decrepit. Some of its most obvious expressions, like the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, have altogether disappeared. Others persist, like the United Nations and the World Bank, but today these groups project more the aura of staid institutional structures than that of vibrant and popular movements for human progress. Theologians and historians today speak readily of multiple and divergent “christianities,” presupposing or stating as a dogmatic principle that there are not and have never been common Christian practices and beliefs except perhaps at the most superficial level. So discerning “mere” Christianity isn’t as easy today as C. S. Lewis imagined it to be in the 1940s.

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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Ted Campbell


Coffee and Belief in God (It Helps. Me.)

C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity (1952) begins with an argument for the existence of God, and I feel bad about the fact that I never have really comprehended it. I received a copy of the book in the fall of my senior year in high school and I trudged dutifully through the chapters that presented Lewis’s argument for the existence of God. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 12, 2015 in Ted Campbell


Affirming the Discipline “in Its Entirety,” or Our Promises at Ordination?

The decision of the Eastern Pennsylvania Board of Ordained Ministry today to “deem the clergy credentials of Rev. Frank Schaeffer to be surrendered” was based on a previous challenge the Board gave Rev. Schaeffer to indicate to them within 30 days that he could “affirm the UM Book of Discipline in its entirety…” (cf. I think we know what they meant, but why put it like this? Is this an unprecedented request? I can’t recall other instances where clergy (much less church members) have been asked or required to “affirm the UM Book of Discipline in its entirety.”

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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Ted Campbell


Faith Confronts Tragedy: Recalling 22 November 1963

Meditation at Renew Service, Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, 20 November 2013

Psalm 127:1

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This Friday marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Although I will be flying away to Baltimore to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, the City of Dallas will be holding a commemorative event in Dealey Plaza. They will unveil a new plaque that I personally voted to approve as a member of the Landmark Commission, a plaque that gives the conclusion of the speech that Kennedy had written and had planned to give that afternoon at the Trade Center in Dallas.

The conclusion of his speech reads as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Ted Campbell


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