UMH New Jersey Takes Methodist Pilgrimage

Larry Carlson, President/CEO at the United Methodist Homes of New Jersey, decided the best way to help employees understand their faith-based heritage was to conduct a tour of historic Methodist locations in Philadelphia and Baltimore. More than 30 staff boarded a bus for two days of education and fellowship. For photos of the trip, click here …

Carlson indicated this is part of a multi-step process to institute culture change in the organization as part of their strategic plan. A man of deep faith and commitment to spiritual values in ministry, he is committed to their new mission, vision and values statements that highlight their work as Christian ministry.

Participants read a book about Methodism prior to the trip, then traveled to Philadelphia where they toured St. George’s and Mother Bethel churches, both of which predate the American Revolution. Later, as the group traveled to Baltimore, participants used a study guide prepared by Corporate Director of Mission and Pastoral Care, John Callanan, and others. The booklet called pilgrims to reflect on a series of topics such as UMH’s new Mission, Vision and Values statements, their own relationship with God, diversity and racism, and on significant relationships that shaped their lives.

In Baltimore, the group had a fantastic dinner at Supano’s, which features a Sinatra and old Hollywood decor. During the meal, Carlson was surprised with a birthday cake and well-wishes from his staff.

The next morning began with a tour of Old Otterbein Church, the mother church of the United Brethren in Christ and the oldest church building in continuous use in the city of Baltimore, dating from 1771. The UB Church would later merge with the Evangelical Alliance, then merge with the Methodists in 1968 to form the United Methodist Church. UB Founder Philip Otterbein was a close colleague with Francis Asbury, the first Methodist Bishop in America.

Then it was on to Lovely Lane UMC which was formed in 1774. It was at the Lovely Lane Meeting House on December 25, 1784 that Asbury was appointed as America’s first Methodist Bishop under the guidance of Thomas Coke who had been reluctantly directed by John Wesley to form a new denomination.

On the return trip from Baltimore to Philadelphia, UMA CEO Steve Vinson gave a brief history of Methodism’s historic involvement with human services.

The last stop on the tour was Simpson House back in Philadelphia where UMA Board Chair, Kim Williams, is CEO. Simpson originated as the Ladies’ United Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the City of Philadelphia for the benefit of Aged and Infirm Members who founded the Methodist Episcopal Home for the Aged. It is the oldest existing Methodist retirement community in the nation, tracing its roots back to 1865 and end of the civil war. Church women of Philly had provided tireless care to the sick and wounded from the battlefields and decided to refocus their work at war’s end. Simpson was named for Bishop Matthew Simpson, a close confidant of President Abraham Lincoln, and his statue stands at the entrance to the campus.

The UMH tour concluded with a moving devotional and John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer.

For more information about the tour, contact Larry Carlson or John Callanan at 732.922.9800.