Perhaps as at no other time in its 135 years of existence, the Free Methodist Church stands at a crossroad. Stability, tradition, order, reliability and comfortable forms mark one path.
In contrast, a spirit of innovation, cultural change, lowered interest in history, growth orientation and creative energy beckon for radical change. No longer will shibboleths or stories of past days satisfy the cravings of younger Christians. Nor will they satisfy the curious of the contemporary culture that question the meaning of our existence and the purpose of our mission.
In brief, the Free Methodist Church again seeks to define its soul, articulate its mission, respond to its origin and seek a fresh understanding of God's purpose for this day. At Hebron, David enjoyed the luxury of the men of Issachar who "understood the times and knew what Israel should do." We, too, look for those who understand the issues, clearly comprehend the alternatives and offer sound insight and advice.
If leadership is defined as understanding the issues and consequences better than those around them, the author of this work, Dr. David L. McKenna, comes with pristine leadership credentials. His skills of analysis coupled with his understanding of the church commend him to this task.
Ordained in the Michigan Conference (now Southern Michigan Conference) in 1952, McKenna felt the call of God to complete doctoral studies. With his academic background, serving on the faculties of Ohio State University and the University of Michigan, and burgeoning leadership skills, he became president of Spring Arbor College in 1961, where he served for seven years. Following that, he served Seattle Pacific University as president for 14 years.
In 1982 McKenna's theological ability and leadership skills resulted in his selection as the fourth president of Asbury Theological Seminary. On his watch and under his leadership occurred the most outstanding growth in the institution's history. His further contributions include scores of articles and books produced by a variety of publishers.
Seldom do unusual wisdom, superior intellect and a passionate love for the church reside in one person. All three flourish in David McKenna. His devotion to the task of "getting his hands around the amoeba of the Free Methodist Church" has provided a challenge worthy of his finest effort.
Undaunted by unexpected physical difficulties and encouraged by his jubilant and faith-filled wife, Janet, McKenna has rendered a service to his church that will inform both its loyalists and critics for decades to come.
A Future with a History: The Wesleyan Witness of the Free Methodist Church will inspire your heart, inform your mind and bring you to a clearer understanding of the exciting challenges at hand.
John E. Van Valin, Publisher