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BOOK REVIEW: Tracking history of U.S. Methodism David Mosser, Mar 7, 2011
By David Mosser Special Contributor
The Methodist Experience in America, Volume 1 Russell E. Richey, Kenneth E. Rowe, Jean Miller Schmidt Abingdon Press, 2010 699 pages, paperback
For earnest students of American Methodism, this history and its second volume hit the mother lode. The authors intend the set for seminary classrooms, but all readers who value the Wesleyan movement will appreciate the books for the colorful people, places, events, periods and issues presented.
Abingdon has published Volume 1 a decade after Volume 2’s release in 2000, but there is a reason for this seemingly odd order. The earlier volume is a source book, or an anthology of historical Methodist documents and letters; this new release evaluates and interprets those writings. The authors intend that readers use the two books in tandem as an aid to research and understanding.
Volume 1 focuses on seminal periods in U.S. Wesleyan history, charting the development of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren traditions through to the establishment of the United Methodist Church in 1968. This format makes for a lively exploration of topics ranging from mission, immigrant initiatives and the spread of scriptural holiness to division over slavery, war and denominational structuring.
The three authors have extensive backgrounds as professors of church history and provide a treasure trove of stories about American Methodist culture. Together, the two volumes would comprise a solid addition to any layperson or pastor’s library and offer enough substance to fashion a year-long study on Methodist practices in the United States.
Finally, for ambitious Sunday school teachers, the set provides everything necessary to keep a class well-occupied through a year or two of church history lessons.
The Rev. Mosser is senior minister at First UMC in Arlington, Texas