FM History & Polity – Assignment 2

Post a reflection on your reading of B.T. and Ellen Roberts and the First Free Methodists by Howard Snyder and Abridged by Daniel V. Runyon.  Don't for to come back by Friday to post comments on at least three of your fellow classmates posts.

9 Responses to “FM History & Polity – Assignment 2”

  1. Jim Lenaway says:

    B. T. and Ellen Roberts… what a journey! There was, of course, fascinating history which was enlightening, but the part I found most interesting was the love story of these two believers. (And I can’t believe I just said that because I’m usually not that kind of guy.) How much time did they spend together before they were married? A few hours, maybe. And then to remain dedicated to each other through thick and thin was admirable. Even though they experienced children dying, unfairly ousted from the Conference, much of the time apart, and financial struggles, they stayed true to each other and supportive of the ministry God put before them.

    Their personal spiritual passages were inspiring. Especially Ellen’s continual desire to grow closer to the Lord and entire sanctification. If she wasn’t feeling filled spiritually then she did something about it. She sets a great example to follow.

    So, why am I a Free Methodist? Do I agree with their doctrine? Was there a need for another denomination? If I am going to be a leader then these are questions I need answers to. Most importantly to me was learning why the Free Methodist denomination was formed.

    It became apparent to me that B.T. and others would have preferred to remain Methodists. They loved their denomination and most of their fellow ministers. If I were there during the 1850’s would I have had the bravery to hold true to my beliefs and the Bible’s teaching like they did?

    What I learned was twofold: 1) Hanging tough with your convictions can have painful consequences but it’s worth it, and 2) three critical issues (among other more minor ones to me) made it impossible for B.T. to just sit quietly – slavery, secret societies and economic discrimination. Oddly enough, 100 years after Roberts’ battles, during my youth, I was immersed in the same issues as a child in Southern Maryland. Even in the church. I saw firsthand horrible discrimination (white kids went to the Catholic private school and black kids went to the public school), my black buddies weren’t allowed to play Little League baseball and so on.) Consequently, I cheered B.T.’s stand.

    His strong desire to make the gospel available to all, especially the poor, echoed the example of John Wesley and Jesus Himself. It was interesting reading that after he was ousted from the Methodist Conference, he chose not to lash out. Both of these were full of grace. I said to myself, “I need to be more like that.”

    Creating a fast growing denomination was arduous work. Developing schools that still operate in a fashion yet today helped to shape the educational structure of nineteenth century America. Simply amazing what one couple guided by God can accomplish!

    • Jodi Hollamby says:

      I was also inspired by Ellen’s desire for entire sanctification. When she wasn’t satisfied, she did something about it. 🙂

    • Matthew Argot says:

      Agreed! Was actually thinking during this book that their story would make for a good novel or movie.

  2. Matthew Argot says:

    Life is short, and at the same time, it’s amazing how much someone can accomplish in the time we are given. The whole story of B.T. and Ellen Roberts was quite the roller coaster. Especially considering the context of the mid 1800s, the number of places traveled and served and the number of churches and ministries they were a part of is sobering. I can only imagine the number of lives that were touched directly in the years of their service.
    Some of the particulars that really stood out as I reflect on this book are listed below.
    Confidence. Or if not confidence it was certainly a “peace which passes understanding” that presided over much of the life changes for both B.T. and Ellen. Their romance – beginning with B.T. having the guts to repeatedly seek Ellen out for talks and walks as the beginning of their relationship, to the numerous letters back and forth as the only means to build not just a relationship, but the confidence to commit to, and follow through with their marriage.
    Surely there is plenty between the lines and goes unsaid, but in the midst of the tragedy of multiple deaths (including two of their very own children) their service in ministry and faith and confidence in God and doing His work is not slowed. I find myself challenged by this level of commitment and wondering if I lived through such tragedy and sorrow, if I could be so steadfast.
    Finally, the willingness to stand up to opposition and even authorities in the name of Gods truth was inspiring. To stand before leadership in multiple trials – lasting days must have been quite the test of resolve. Even with the older style of phrasing speech quoted in the book, it conveys an unwavering confidence.
    It did surprise me that the foundation of the Free Methodist denomination began more with the movement of lay leadership than with the ministers. The years of formation seemed to come from an initial fire (and some righteous anger) but was well tempered by proper planning and organizing that seemed to built a movement to stand the test of time.
    I was impressed again with many of the insights within the book, but had fun being pulled into the story of it all. The life of B.T. and Ellen as well as the origin of our Free Methodist denomination isn’t just a history lesson but an entertaining and dramatic story.

    • Jodi Hollamby says:

      I agree and found myself encouraged by how well they stood up to opposition and even authorities in the name of God’s truth! Reminds me of Daniel!

  3. Jim Lenaway says:

    Confidence. Romance. Service. Fire. Certainly make for an entertaining and dramatic story.

  4. Jodi Hollamby says:

    I couldn’t share my thoughts on this book without first sharing a bit of my own history. Growing up, I only attended church when my cousins would come and pick my brother and I up. My reflections of church throughout my teen years and into my young adulthood were shaped by this view and their man made rules.
    When I was 19, I signed up to go into the military. During boot camp, the only time you were ever away from the screaming Drill Sergeants was when you went to church. So, I went to church!! I gave my life to Jesus during boot camp, but I had no idea that he wanted a relationship with me. I knew that He was helping me through boot camp, but I soon forgot about Him as life got easier. Fast forward some years later after one failed marriage and then facing a second failed marriage, I knew I needed help!
    Long story, short – I was lead to Jesus by some friends. God had lead me to a church that felt so freeing. At the time and for many years, I had no idea this was a Free Methodist Church, I just knew that it was way different than anything that I had ever experienced before. It was so “free”ing. 🙂 We are taught about a relationship with Jesus, living a life modeled after His and through small groups, growth in our walk with Him and with each other.
    My heart was exploding reading this book! It was exciting to read about not only the relationship between B.T. and Ellen, but both of their faith stories.
    I was inspired by B.T.’s persevering spirit and how Ellen shared much of her feelings. I was also inspired by the fact that they lost 2 children and how they kept going and kept believing, never blaming God.
    I love that B.T. stood by his convictions on slavery. I was surprised by the fact that other churches were selling seats and participating in slavery! That just seems appalling to me!!
    I know that B.T. and Ellen’s story will be one that I share with others in the future. There is so much to glean from the way they lived, loved and persevered.

  5. Jodi Hollamby says:

    I agree and found myself encouraged by how well they stood up to opposition and even authorities in the name of God’s truth! Reminds me of Daniel!

    • Jim Lenaway says:

      Jodi, I too had a similar experience at OA. I did not know at first that it was Free Methodist because the focus was on changing lives for Christ. Love the “free”iing.
      I too will be sharing this story with others.

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