Wait! What’s a Deacon?

This was originally published in the April 2016 issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate. The focus of this issue was the 20th Anniversary of the Order of Deacon. 

A group of church leaders had gathered for a meeting. The district superintendent mentioned the possibility of hiring a deacon to help the congregation reach beyond the church walls. A woman sitting across the table looked back at the DS with a quizzical expression. “Wait,” she said, “What’s a deacon?”

It’s not the first time that question has been asked. For twenty years, the United Methodist Church has been struggling to articulate the answer, “What’s a deacon?”

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Follow Friday: Welsey Bros Concluded

Follow Friday

I have been sharing the story of Wesley Bros over the past two weeks. You may want to start with the first post if you haven’t already.

When he first started Charlie had no direction. He was inventing characters that were based on actual people and forming their personalities based on his own reading of history and what he thought might be funny. As a result, John Wesley is a little bit hipster, “because,” as Charlie says, “those guys are so persnickety and particular.” Charles Wesley, on the other hand, is a little bit more sloppy and fun because he is the creative poet.

"By George Part 4: Let Those Ears Raise Up"

“My first few strips tried to tell major Methodist storylines in one strip,” he recalls. The comic strips covered things that Charlie thought most Methodists would know or needed to know. This included the First, Second, and Third Rise of Methodism, the Aldersgate Experience, and the fire in the Wesley home.

And if you read Wesley Bros you will notice that Charlie runs a few series of extended plotlines. He knew when he started drawing that he wanted to do an extended series on Sophy Hopkey because well, there is all that ridiculousness. “It’s actually a lot easier for me,” Charlie says, “to do a long series like that because one idea flows out of the next.”

That may be why the George Whitefield series lasted for two months. “I thought the Whitefield series was important to tell because it conveys the beginning of field preaching and an evangelical revival, as well as an important split in early Methodism,” says Charlie. He goes on to say:

It’s filled with tons of theology, America’s first celebrity (George), and sermons and hymns were used to tear each other down.  That series really allowed me to go to creative places to visually tell stories in ways I had never thought of doing when I first started out.

Wesley was heavily influenced by so many historical figures, Charlie has made a point of casting some of those characters in the comic, putting them into dialogue and debate with Wesley. He does the same with those whom Wesley has influenced.

"95 Problems (but a wench ain't one)"


Charlie, by combining theology and humor, has made something that is commonly viewed as boring, approachable. And in the process, he is teaching and sharing the main tenants of our United Methodist tradition, as well as the theological truths of being a follower of Christ. The Wesley brothers have always served as models of what it looks like to thrive towards perfection. Anyone who has taught confirmation can tell you that it is often difficult to bring these two models of faithfulness, strugglers of faith, and missionaries to life. Charlie has found one of the most creative ways to do that.

So, if you’re still reading, you can stop now. Go check out Wesley Bros and laugh a little, ponder a little, and share with a friend.

Follow Friday: More Wesley Bros

Follow Friday

I started sharing about Charlie and his blog/website Wesley Bros last week. You may want to start there first. 

I was curious about Charlie’s process. When you read the comics, you will notice that he is able to include a lot of historical and theological details, while keeping the characters in a modern-day setting. I asked him where he gets his inspiration every week:

I usually jot down ideas when they come to me.  I do a lot more research into church history and John and Charles Wesley now that I do this comic.  I read Wesley’s sermons, I read histories of Methodism, Wesley’s journals, Charles’ hymns and the stories behind them.  If I can find irony or humor in what I read, I scribble out ideas and get started.

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Follow Friday: Wesley Bros.


When I was I kid I would always sit down to “read the newspaper,” like I was a little man. But what I was really doing was going straight to the comics section. I couldn’t wait to see what Charlie Brown or Garfield was up to. Who doesn’t like the comics?

And who doesn’t like John Wesley?

Okay, well, maybe not as much as we like comics. But my buddy Charlie Baber has found a way to make the Wesley Brothers something we can’t wait to catch up on. Charlie does a weekly comic strip called Wesley Bros. He takes the historical figures of John and Charles Wesley, the famed founding brothers of the Methodist movement, and puts them in modern situations.

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