Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Connectional System

Over the past two weeks I have remembered why I love the United Methodist Church. Yes, like any church we have our flaws and growing edges. But I have come to find that very few, if any, other denominations have a connectional system like ours. A system that weaves together churches in such a way that we really are the Church.
Almost two weeks ago today, a group of young people and adults from a UM church in the area were involved in the bombing in Uganda. They were finishing the last week of their month long mission trip and watching the last match of the World Cup at a local restaurant. We all know what happened next.
But there is a story behind the story, the story that isn't necessarily being told, of the United Methodist Church as well. UM churches in the annual conference immediately started to pray for this group of individuals, their families, their pastor and church family, those who died from their sister church in Uganda and the turmoil in the world. The bishop came and held prayer services. The pastor of the church from which the group came was aided with people to help her respond to the media, care for her congregation, and for herself.
Within 36 hours, we had friends in the area where the victims were taken, go to them with words of hope, love, and healing. These friends in Kenya and South Africa continue to visit as much as possible, some daily, as the team from central PA underwent many surgeries and were separated from their families by time zones.
Two funds were set up for aid to be given, one of which is designated for the church in Uganda who lost their pastor as part of the bombing. The other is for the medical care of the individual who was hurt the worst.
And this, my friends, is the Church.

In CPE, the same week as the bombing, everyone was talking about how the point of CPE is to teach you not to be a lone-ranger pastor. And during this conversation I realized that I was blessed to be a part of the United Methodist Church, where being a lone ranger pastor is not something that can just happen accidentally, but would be a direct result of violating one of the basic tenets of our structure. I am never alone as a pastor. We are never alone as a church. We are part of something bigger, and can tangibly experience that connection. I have been blessed with what other pastors can only hope for or work towards, naturally. May the gravity of this gift never go without notice.

2 comments:

Cindy said...

Great post! I love to feature this on UMC.org. Could you contact me at ccaldwell at umcom.org?

Anonymous said...

Great article. Yes, "connection" as it relates to unifying mission is great! However, the word "connection" often means draining more and more resources into a bloated, dying structure.