Hope Born Out of History: The Cradle of Methodism

In 1784, Methodists gathered in Baltimore at the Christmas Conference to create what would grow into one of the most diverse expressions of faith in modern Christendom. Its early circuit riders created a movement of scriptural and social holiness that transformed a continent. How do our spiritual roots shape us today? What should we embrace and what should be relegated to history? How does the phrase “what’s past is prologue” apply to the Church today?

Pre-Session Assignments

Small Group Session Agenda

Opening Prayer

God of our ancestors, God with us now: we pause to acknowledge Your abiding presence.
From generation to generation, You are God and You have included us in Your story of redemption, unconditional love, justice, reconciliation and peace. Thank You.
You have given us the gift of Your divine breath. May we use it for Your glory.
By the power of Your Holy Spirit, embolden us in this time of study, prayer, and reflection to be doers of Your Word and not hearers only. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In the Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Who Are We Affirmation 

In the gift of this moment, we affirm that we are divinely loved and lovable.
We are the children of God
Together, we will learn from the actions and words of one another. 
Christ’s lessons on love are centered in how we treat others and in how we treat ourselves. 
We will exercise courage in this study as we share stories of struggle and strength
We will stay at the table and receive those stories with grace.
We will not be afraid to launch into the deep.
We will commit to the vulnerability necessary to allow God to break us open.
We will set and respect boundaries and honor confidentiality together. 
When uncertainty arises, we will remember the Spirit of “peace that passes our own understanding” and can intercede for us. 
We will remember that even when we don’t feel “United,”
The uniting love of Christ can reveal a pathway to greater 
wisdom and mutual respect.
No matter what, there is a place for each one of us in this study together.  
Let us hold each other up in prayer, hold each other accountable in love, and 
trust that our God is making all things new.
Thank you for the gift of being present to one another in this holy time.


Video Content

Video with Rev. Dr. Emora Brannan, Pamela Coleman, Daniel Fisher, Rev. Dr. C. Anthony Hunt, and John Strawbridge.
The Rev. Dr. Emora Brannon is a retired Elder who serves as the Baltimore-Washington Conference historian. Pamela Coleman is a member of Sharp Street Memorial UMC in Baltimore Daniel Fisher is a member of Old Otterbein UMC in Baltimore, and. The Rev. Dr. C. Anthony Hunt is pastor of Epworth Chapel UMC in Baltimore. John Strawbridge is a member of Lovely Lane UMC in Baltimore. and a direct descendant of Robert Strawbridge.



Head & Heart Discussion
  1. You’ve heard John Strawbridge in his opening say that when people visit Lovely Lane, he says, "welcome home.” How is the Baltimore-Washington Conference home to you?
  2. As we seek to live “earnestly” as Methodists today, what similarities might we hold with our early forbearers, like those at Lovely Lane, Old Otterbein, and Sharp Street churches, and what is distinct about our twenty-first century earnestness and practices?
  3. As you heard the story of our origins as the BWC, it included places to celebrate and places to lament. Where are those places for you today?
Closing Prayer


Prayer and Pathway to Journaling

Often, when we become reflexively resistant to what we’ve experienced through study, it is pointing towards an area worthy of more reflection and prayer. In this part of study, we invite you to examine your areas of resistance or struggle. Allow God to reveal how transformation can occur in those areas. 

Use these open-ended questions to facilitate your journey from head to heart: 

  • What surprised you or caught your attention? 
  • How does the discussion we had apply to your life, your church, our denomination? 
  • Where is the Spirit revealing to you areas for growth and transformation? 
  • How does what we talked about transform your relationship with God and others?
  • Write a prayer to ask for God’s support and enlightenment, which applies what you learned, and then go forth and live it.
Additional Resources 
  • Timeline: United Methodist Church Timeline,” a side-by-side chronology of United Methodist and American history
  • Book: Those Incredible Methodists: A History of the Baltimore Conference of the United Methodist Church, editor, Gordon Pratt Baker; the Baltimore-Washington Conference’s 1972 definitive history by the Commission on Archives and History.
  • Interactive Experience: Visit Lovely Lane UMC and museum, Old Otterbein, and/or Sharp Street Memorial UMCs, all in Baltimore. Lovely Lane UMC is at 2200 St Paul St, Baltimore, MD 21218; Old Otterbein is at 112 W Conway St, Baltimore, MD 21201; and Sharp Street Memorial UMC is at 1206 Etting St, Baltimore, MD Please call the phone numbers in the above links before visiting.