Finding Strength in Our Connectionalism

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This month’s stories have made me realize how important our denomination’s connectionalism really is.

If you don’t know what connectionalism is — I’m not being snarky, I didn’t know either until I started working in the conference office — it is a significant piece of Methodist theology that ties every part of the United Methodist Church together.

Connectionalism manifests itself in some of our most common practices, including the appointment of pastors by bishops; our church, district, annual, jurisdictional and general conference meetings; the shared funding for our mission work across the globe; the shared ordination ceremony of our elders and deacons; the list goes on and on.

But on a much smaller scale, our connectionalism reveals itself through the work of the people serving our local churches.

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The story of an eye clinic at Oaklawn UMC is one example of a pastor who has brought an idea from one church to another, carrying on the mission of providing health care services to people who cannot afford it on their own.

Another is the therapy dog ministry, which started at Quapaw Quarter UMC and was carried over to Pulaski Heights UMC thanks to passionate leaders who saw the program as a way to minister to their community through the power of paws and fur.

The sharing of ideas and ministries is a wonderful strength of our denomination, and more church leaders should be carrying these ideas over into the churches in which they are appointed.

There’s no reason that a backpack ministry that worked at your last church in the big city can’t be brought over to your new church in rural Arkansas as well.

Even though our denomination seems to be at an impasse, and plans have been made to divide us up, I believe that the ministries we have crafted and the people we have served through shared ideas can still carry on into whatever future lies before the United Methodist Church.

Our connectionalism is our strength. We should always remember that.


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