A Visit to the World Trade Center

Methodist Heritage Tour_Sunday-29After our visit to John Street Methodist Church, we had a free afternoon. Some folks went to take in a show or visit the Metropolitan Art Museum. A group of us went to the World Trade Center Memorial. It was, as you might imagine, very moving. (By the way, notice in the photos that the weather is BEAUTIFUL! Temps in the mid-60s but sunny. And to think we almost didn’t come!)

The memorial consists of two reflecting ponds, one on the site of the north tower, one on the site of the south tower. The ponds are the exact size the buildings once were. Water is flowing downward throughout the memorial, into what appears to be a bottomless pit, a reminder of the way the towers crashed down after the planes struck. But water is also a sign of life and the sound of it is very calming. Along the edges of each pond are carved the names of the nearly 3,000 victims. Quite gripping was the sight of a name followed by “and her unborn child.” Inside the museum is the girder that once stood beside the rubble that took on the shape of a cross.

Right beside the reflecting ponds, rises the 1,776-foot tall Freedom Tower (get the significance of the Methodist Heritage Tour_Sunday-10height?), which is still being constructed. It’s a beautiful building. Ironically, we all spotted what looks to be crosses on this building as well.

It was a very moving visit and there were certainly many, many people — probably many of them tourists — also visiting.

Tomorrow, we leave New York City and head south to Drew University for a tour of the Methodist Museum located there, and a glimpse of evangelist, George Whitfield’s, thumb! More on that tomorrow.

Visit to John Street United Methodist Church

Methodist Heritage Tour_Sunday-40Today we visited John Street United Methodist Church in the heart of Wall Street. The church was founded in 1766 by a German immigrant to Ireland, who then immigrated to America, Phillip Embury. He was a Methodist local preacher in Ireland who took up preaching once again in America at the urging of his cousin, Barbara Heck, because she found her family playing cards one day, and probably gambling, too. Sweeping the cards into the fire, she implored Phillip to preach to them “or we shall all go to Hell.” Along with Captain Thomas Webb, they built Wesley Chapel on John Street in lower Manhattan in 1768 and the church has been there ever since, though this building was constructed in 1843.

We were welcomed by Rev. Jason Radmacher, who said he wasn’t too stressed to Methodist Heritage Tour_Sunday-58occupy a pulpit once served by Francis Asbury! Jason gave us an excellent lesson on the history of John Street church in the church’s museum. We even saw a chair leg used in the “Great John Street Methodist Church Street Fight” in the mid-1800s. We also learned how, despite the church’s being 250 years old next year, Jason has NEVER heard anyone at the church say, “We never do it that way.” Amazing.

Methodist Heritage Tour_Sunday-7After the lesson, we then went up (literally) to the sanctuary (in no way is this building handicap accessible!) to the sanctuary for worship and Holy Communion. The church was pretty full with people of all different types. The neighborhood around the church is once again becoming more residential. We heard a wonderful sermon by Jason and two beautiful solos by John Easterlin, who has actually sung opera with our own Richard Paul Fink! My take away from Jason’s sermon was: “Arrogance is the antithesis of faithful discipleship. Arrogance convinces us that we do not NEED grace and that those who oppose us do not DESERVE grace.”

After worship, we then went back to the museum/fellowship hall for a Methodist Heritage Tour_Sunday-3shared meal with the congregation. Perhaps in our honor, they served fried chicken – or is that just a staple Methodist food?

It was a WONDERFUL visit. We learned. We worshiped. We fellowshipped. We met new friends. We left the church around 1:30 for a free afternoon on our own.

At Our Hotel in Midtown Manhattan

Manahattan-1
View from our hotel window

We have safely arrived at our hotel, the Midtown Hilton, just a few blocks off of Times Square. Our flight was very uneventful given all the weather-related drama surrounding whether we would even get to make the trip, and United giving us wrong information about where to check in. We also had a little trouble getting all our pilgrims to the right spot at Newark Airport to meet the bus — confusing directions were given by airport personnel! But we finally made it and got to our hotel right on time around 6:30 p.m.

The New York Hilton Midtown is the largest hotel in New York City. The 47-floor building, located on the northwest edge of Rockefeller Center at Sixth Avenue and 53rd Street, has hosted every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy as well as the Beatles during their 1964 visit to the Ed Sullivan Theater. The world’s first handheld cell phone call was made by hotel guest Martin Cooper in front of the hotel in 1973.

Tomorrow, we visit and worship at John Street Methodist Church in the heart of the Wall Street Financial District. It was founded in the 1760’s by Irish immigrant, Philip Embury — who led an early Methodist class meeting in New York — and the British Captain Thomas Webb (‘ole one-eye’ they called him) who was converted to Methodism in England following his service in the French and Indian War of the 1740s. John Street was the first Methodist church in the soon-to-be new nation — though when we get to St. Georges Methodist Church in Philadelphia, they will probably claim the same honor. Ironically, Captain Webb — who is probably the most famous Methodist you never heard of — had something to do with starting that church as well.

Well, we’re off to dinner. More tomorrow.

We’re Going!

145424W5_NL_sm

Dear Fellow Pilgrims,

Keep packing! It appears we are going!

As you probably know, the latest National Hurricane Center prediction shows Hurricane Joaquin going out to sea. As of this morning, the New York area is no longer even in the cone of uncertainty. That’s the good news.

Of more concern is the nor-easter storm, completely unrelated to the hurricane, that is battering the Carolinas and points north today. New York City is getting rain and strong winds today and this evening, which are forecast to lighten up tomorrow.

Elaine has talked with our bus company rep, and while he cannot guarantee it, he feels pretty confident that there will be no order to close the roads due to flooding. Elaine has also talked with our hotel in NYC and put a hold on rooms for us for Monday night, in case we cannot leave due to road closure. However, we either have to pay for those rooms by this evening or release them. We are probably going to release them if the weather forecasts remain as they are now. (Paying for rooms in Manhattan is a pretty expensive proposition!)

Our plan is to check with our bus and hotel contacts one more time later today as we continue to monitor the weather forecasts. I’ll send another e-mail tonight to let you know the latest. But as of this moment, WE ARE GOING!

I would remind you to pack rain gear. It will be raining on us. Betty Ann Taylor also suggests we bring Ziploc bags for our phones, wallets and papers that we might bring with us. Ziplocs do a great job of keeping electronics and papers dry in the rain.

And remember to share our blog web-site with loved ones so they can follow along:

www.MethodistHeritageTour.com

Check for one more e-mail from me later this evening. But I expect that message will be the same as this one. So, see you no later than 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, and remember to park along the soccer fields.

Bob

Anniversary of Francis Asbury’s Leaving England for America

Francis Asbury leaves for America
Francis Asbury leaves for America

On this date, September 12, in 1771, twenty-six year old Methodist missionary, Francis Asbury, leaves England for America. He is sent by John Wesley to help the Methodist brethren in America.

Asbury writes in his journal as he sails to America: “Whither am I going? To the New World. What to do? To gain honor? No, if I know my own heart. To get money? No, I am going to live to God, and to bring others to do so.”

Asbury would arrive in America in November. He became not only Methodism’s, but also America’s, most famous circuit rider.

He never again returned to England. Never again saw his parents or family.