Father's Day

This is the week leading up to Father's Day on Sunday, and I've always been pleased to know that Father's Day and the United Methodist Church have a close connection. In fact, two different United Methodist churches lay claim to originating the celebration of Father's Day.

On July 5, 1908, the first Father's Day sermon was preached at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church (now Central United Methodist Church) in Fairmont, West Virginia. Six months earlier, a terrible mine explosion in nearby Monongah claimed the lives of 361 men. Most of them had families, and the tragedy left about 1,000 children fatherless. Grace Golden Clayton was distraught by the thought of all those children growing up without a father's guidance and wanted to set aside a day to commemorate fathers, which led to this special service. However, this event in Fairmont, which was continued in subsequent years, drew little attention outside the area.

Meanwhile, at Central Methodist Episcopal Church in Spokane, Washington, Sonora Smart Dodd, who listened to a Mother's Day sermon (which had gotten started in the previous few years), remembered her own mother who had died 11 years earlier, and her father who had raised their six children alone. Dodd felt moved to honor her father, and fathers everywhere, with a special day. She proposed her idea to local religious leaders and gained wide acceptance. June 19, 1910 was designated as the first Father's Day, and sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city.

Newspapers across the country carried the story about Spokane's observance, and the popularity of Father's Day spread. Several presidents declared it a holiday, and in 1972, Richard Nixon established it as the third Sunday in June.

So, two Methodist churches, both with the name Central (then or subsequently), clear across the country from each other, introduced the idea of honoring our fathers - to our nation and to the world. I'm thrilled to know that this is part of our United Methodist heritage.

I'm thrilled too that we will be celebrating Father's Day this weekend at Southport United Methodist Church. For only the second weekend, our sanctuary will be open for in person worship at all of our services, Thursday evening, June 18, at 6:30, and Sunday morning at 8:30, 10:00 and 11:15. We will continue (and continue for some time, I suspect) with all of our physical distancing precautions. And we will also continue with our online worship (and with our children's online programming too), which will be available on Sunday morning on Facebook and on our website.

We hope you will join us in whatever format makes you most comfortable as we worship God and remember and celebrate the role of our fathers in our lives.

Grace and Hope to you,

Pastor Duane