By Rena Smith
South Carolina’s annual conference secretary recently gathered with United Methodists around the world for a meeting of the Connectional Table in Oslo, Norway.
As part of the Connectional Table, the Rev. Kenneth L. Nelson, who is also the conference’s director of clergy services, met with other Methodist leaders in Oslo to discuss initiatives related to the denominations worldwide nature.
The Connectional Table is charged with implementing programs that come from the Council of Bishops and the General Conference.
The opportunity to join individuals from across the world gave Nelson “great pleasure,” he said. Despite differences in cultural backgrounds, Nelson said he was able to get to “know them as a person and see what shapes them.”
Throughout the eight-day board meeting, Connectional Table members took part in the celebration of Norway’s Constitution Day and participated in tours of Norway and services at the Scandic Holmenkollen Park.
Advisory boards within the Connectional Table spent much of their time discussing ways to create a new section of the global Book of Discipline so that it is relevant to all United Methodists.
“We are looking for a way to create commonalities of experience but also create freedom for people to exists within their own framework,” Nelson said.
Nelson said the hope is that, in mending the Book of Discipline, the Gospel and full message would be relevant to the lives of United Methodists worldwide, no matter their different locations.
“We hold a common theology that is bound in Weslyn tradition. We believe there is a common message and yet, we know that in other parts of the world, reality looks different,” Nelson said.
Now back in South Carolina, Nelson said the trip impacted him greatly.
“For me, I was able to get a much bigger picture of the vastness of God,” Nelson said. “It is no longer ‘them and us.’ It becomes people with real names and real stories.”