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Bishop pens hymn text for ecumenical group

Jan. 28, 2002 News media contact: Linda Bloom· (212) 870-3803· New York {022}

NOTE: A head-and-shoulders photograph of Bishop William Boyd Grove is available at http://umns.umc.org/photos/headshots.html online.

By United Methodist News Service

A United Methodist bishop long committed to the ecumenical movement had the chance to make his own unique contribution when nine denominations gathered in Memphis, Tenn., to celebrate a new relationship together.

Bishop William Boyd Grove, now retired and living in Charleston, W. Va., was asked to write a hymn text for the Jan. 20 inaugural celebration of Churches Uniting in Christ. The result is "Christ, the Church You Gave is Broken."

It wasn’t the first such effort by Grove, whose love of poetry and hymns led him to write a hymn text for his daughter’s wedding in 1980. That hymn, "God, Whose Love is Reigning O’er Us," is No. 100 in the official United Methodist Hymnal.

Nor was it the first connection with Churches Uniting in Christ for Grove, who served as the ecumenical officer of the United Methodist Council of Bishops from 1996 to 2000. As both pastor and bishop, he had a long involvement with the Consultation on Church Union, the predecessor body of Churches Uniting in Christ, and served on its executive committee from 1988 to 2000.

Grove said he was honored when the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, chief executive of Churches Uniting in Christ, asked him to write a hymn for the inauguration weekend.

"When I write any hymn, I always pick a hymn tune," he explained, adding that he looks for music that is strong but not overly identified with a particular hymn text. For this hymn, he chose the tune of Cwm Rhondda, which is used for the hymn texts "God of Grace and God of Glory" and "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehova."

Once he has the meter of the tune in his head, he meditates and reflects and "then, it just comes," usually in one sitting.

Grove knew he wanted the hymn text to reflect on Christian unity and the brokenness of the church. The first verse asks Christ to mend the broken church "through us, we pray," and the second talks about the new united body "for God’s witness in our time." The text concludes: "Christ, the church you gave is broken/ Mend it now through us, we pray;/ That the message it has spoken,/ May be heard and lived always./ Make us one now, make us one now,/ For the glory of your name,/ For the glory your name."

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Pitman, N.J., also wrote a hymn text, "You’ve Called Us Together," for the Memphis celebration of Churches Uniting in Christ.

Although his hymn is protected under copyright law, Grove is inviting local congregations of the nine member denominations to include it in worship. Besides the United Methodist Church, the members include the African Methodist Episcopal Church; African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; International Council of Community Churches; Episcopal Church; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); and United Church of Christ [ordains practicing homosexuals who will be able to pastor UM churches].

Grove added that he would appreciate a copy of the church bulletin or some other notification when the hymn is used. He already has received a bulletin from a United Church of Christ congregation in Virginia, which used the hymns on the inaugural weekend.

Both hymns, along with contact information for Grove, can be found at http://www.eden.edu/cuic/cuicinauguration/CUIC%20inauguration%20hymn.htm  online.

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