I hear from time-to-time about EUB wounds over the Plan of Union. Skimming through the materials for General Conference (which you can find here), I found this portion of a much longer petition that articulates at least one former-EUB member’s grievances about Methodist hegemony in the United Methodist Church. Given the recent experience of Ash Wednesday, the final point is quite timely.
A widespread, but largely overlooked obstacle to being an inclusive church is the omission of United from our church name and the name of our people. The Methodist Church ceased as an organization on April 23, 1968, as did The Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB). On that date, The United Methodist Church was born, a new church created by the marriage of the two former bodies. This was the intention of the Plan of Union. When the word United is omitted, it suggests that the marriage was a pretense and that the union was, as some disappointed former EUB’s have termed it, a hostile corporate takeover.
Since 1980, the General Conference has declared that omitting United from our church name is “unacceptable usage.” Yet the practice continues in conversation and in print. Former EUB’s are not being oversensitive about a few syllables. When Methodist is used in place of our proper name, it becomes, to them, a painful reminder of more than a dozen serious betrayals of the spirit of union and inclusiveness:
1. Glorifying Wesley and Asbury, while ignoring or belittling the inheritances from Otterbein, Boehm, and Albright.
2. Abandoning beloved EUB institutions, including Westmar College, Otterbein Press, Kamp Koinonia, and the Church and Home magazine.
3. Cutting off EUB clergy widows from their only pension income, the dividends from Otterbein Press.
4. Repeated attempts to close United Theological Seminary.
5. Identifying Heritage Sunday with Aldersgate Sunday in 1976 and 2004.
6. Removing the EUB Hymnal from circulation and canceling its status as an official United Methodist hymnal in 1972 .
7. Including only two EUB hymns in the 1988 United Methodist Hymnal.
8. Replacing “debts” or “sins” in the Lord’s Prayer with “trespasses.”
9. Excluding the EUB service of infant dedication from The Book of Worship.
10. Restoring the Lovely Lane Chapel while leaving the EUB birthplace, the Peter Kemp Farmhouse, just a few miles away, to the fickle mercies of a secular economy bent on commercial expansion.
11. Suppressing the fact that the twin flames in the cross-and-flame emblem represent the Methodist and EUB traditions and that, when depicted correctly, the two flames are equal in size.
12. Closing a disproportionate number of former EUB churches (28 percent of those closed between 1975 and 1985).
13. Representing an ash-less Ash Wednesday, the EUB practice and the universal Protestant practice before 1970, as “un-United Methodist.”