Tonight marks the beginning of the 2018 Summer Institute of Religious Studies which starts at 6:30 p.m. in the gym. I am really looking forward to these eight Wednesday evening sessions as we consider various religious expressions that stand outside of historic Christianity. Let me share with you the alternative faith perspectives that we will be considering:

July 11 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
July 18 – Christian Science
July 25 – Jehovah’s Witnesses
August 1 – Seventh-Day Adventists
August 8 – The Unification Church
August 15 – The International Society for Krishna Consciousness
August 22 – The Church of Scientology
August 29 – Christadelphians

American culture has, from its earliest days, spawned a wide range of denominations and new religions.  Often veering from traditional Christian roots or seeking to reform or return to some perceived originality, these sects – often described as on the religious fringe – have fascinating histories and stories often overlooked and dismissed out of hand.

What I intend to do in each session is trace the origins and development of each persuasion and study what they actually teach versus preconceived notions and stereotypes. I will also compare and contrast each theology to the teachings and doctrines of historic mainline Christianity. While other studies have placed most of these alternative religious persuasions under the headings of cults, I will seek to describe how each began, how their adherents live out their beliefs, and what conditions have allowed them to flourish. I hope this will prove to not only be an exciting adventure in untraversed territory, but also an opportunity to solidify what we believe as Christians in the United Methodist tradition.


Before I close, I want to express my appreciation to Pastor Greg Foust, and the Asbury staff, for preaching and leading in worship while I was away on vacation this past week. I feel refreshed and ready to go and look forward to seeing you this evening, or this coming Sunday, as I continue my summer sermon series Hymns My Mama Taught Me. As I mentioned last week, my daughter Kaitlyn, and her husband, Patrick, will be our musical guests this Sunday.

Many of you may remember them from their time as musical interns here at Asbury…it will be a treat to hear them sing this Sunday!

See you soon!

Pastor Kip