The 'united' in United Methodist
By Jessica Connor
There I was, hairnet on, notebook in hand, all prepared to cover the Great Day of Service hunger packaging event in the Greenville District.
Except I couldn't really move. I stood there, mesmerized, looking around at the sea of faces. I watched kids younger than my young son being runners, transporting plastic bags of rice, soy and dehydrated vegetables from the stuffing table to the weighing table, their heads high with pride and determination. I saw whole families working together, carefully measuring food or helping one another vacuum-seal a bag. I saw young next to old, black next to white, boy next to girl.
I saw church leaders being plain workers, and everywhere I looked, I saw children leading them all.
It was surreal. And yet, it was happening.
That day, April 21, 1,200 people from across the Greenville District and beyond came together in a 12-hour stretch to pack 285,000 nutritious meal bags. (See article, page 1.) Those bags feed a family of six, so you can easily say they helped feed nearly 2 million people. And they raised so much money they re even going to hold a second packaging event at the end of the summer!
This was the power of the church at work for the good of the world. And I was watching it all unfold before my very eyes.
It got me thinking about the word connectional, which gets tossed around so frequently it comes to mean everything from partnership to communication. But in talking with Dr. Michael Wolfe, senior pastor of Advent United Methodist Church in Simpsonville, which hosted the district s GDOS, I ve decided I really like what he had to say about the term.
Too often, connectionalism means meeting together in committees and meetings, but true connectionalism is getting together for the mission of the church, Wolfe told me as we chatted about the packaging event. To be united, you ve got to be united around something. There s got to be a point. And the point is to make disciples for Jesus Christ. It s not camaraderie because you want to be comrades.
So in essence, connectionalism puts the united in United Methodist.
As the Advocate goes to press this month, I m preparing to travel nearly 500 miles from Columbia to Tampa, Fla., to attend the UMC s quadrennial legislative gathering, General Conference. There, about 1,000 delegates from across the globe “ from Africa to the Philippines to the U.S. “ will work together for one purpose: to determine United Methodist Church law for the next four years.
At the core of it all, whether we re talking about the denomination s structure or whether there is a set-aside bishop or whether clergy is guaranteed an appointment, what we decide and what we as a church is all centered on one purpose: making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
It s connectionalism at its finest. Just like the GDOS. Just like the other stories that fill the pages of this month s edition.
Jesus s Great Commission is our mission. Let s go make some disciples. Now.