Ashland Seminary Professor Publishes New Book

Ashland Seminary Professor Publishes New Book

3/14/13 ASHLAND, Ohio – Dr. William P. Payne, the Harlan & Wilma Hollewell professor of evangelism and world missions at Ashland Theological Seminary, has published a new book titled “American Methodism: Past and Future Growth.”

According to Payne, the 378-page book carefully examines the historical data related to early American Methodism and the early American Republic in order to understand the interplay between the two.

In this book, Dr. Payne demonstrates the stark regionalism of early America and shows how Methodism capitalized on prevailing contextual factors to grow the church within each region. In fact, according to Payne, Methodism went from virtual insignificance in 1768 to the largest denomination in America by 1812 because it had a missionary character, an effective organization and was socially strong.

Payne also reviews several significant theories related to revitalization movements, revivalism and social movement dynamics. As he tells the story of early American Methodism, his use of primary sources gives the reader a close-up glimpse into that world, a glimpse that will help modern Americans better understand our national ethos. In addition, the book will inspire those who thirst for a culturally relevant church that sparks with the spirit of God's burning presence.

According to Timothy W. Whitaker, bishop of the United Methodist Church, Payne’s historical research breaks new ground, and his empirical analysis contributes to a better understanding of church growth.  

“We United Methodists shall not only learn about our extraordinary heritage, but we shall receive from this study lessons that are vitally relevant for the mission of our Church today,” Whitaker said. “Payne concludes with a prophetic note; how could he not, when we compare our past missionary zeal with our present predicament? But this prophetic note is well earned by the thorough research and informed analysis of the author.”

Payne notes the book will be of interest to historians, church growth theorists and leaders in the United Methodist Church today.

Dr. Payne retired from the Navy Reserve on Oct. 1, 2012, after completing a 29.5 year career that included extensive time on active duty. At the time of his retirement, he was the Command Chaplain for Military Sealift Command, Pacific in San Diego. Previously, he served as the Community Manager for 226 Reserve Chaplains. He returned from a 15 month mobilization in 2010 after serving as the Deputy Force Chaplain in Iraq. Other recent assignments include Deputy Force Chaplain II Marine Expeditionary Force, Regimental Chaplain 24th Marines, Deputy Force Chaplain Marine Forces Command, and Deputy Fleet Chaplain Navy Europe.

Previously, he commanded II MEFREl 108, a unit that trained and sourced religious personnel to the Fleet Marine Force. Dr. Payne is a Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer and has a Ph.D. level sub-specialty code in Religion and Culture. In particular, he has researched the problem of military suicides. He has presented his finding to the military leadership and has published them in Navy Times. In addition to his normal responsibilities at the seminary, he developed and oversees a chaplaincy concentration for 30 students at Ashland Theological Seminary.

Ashland Theological Seminary is a graduate division of Ashland University. With campuses in Ashland, Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus, Ashland Theological Seminary integrates theological education with Christ-centered transformation as it equips men and women for ministry in the church and the world. ###