One of the points that is regularly taught in our Confirmation classes to young people is that the United Methodist church is a connectional church as opposed to a congregational church. A congregational church is a local church that exists completely on its own. Its mission, its policies, its structure, and its support network all come from within. A connectional church is one that exists in relationship and community with other churches. A connectional church is one that believes that not only are we stronger together, but we can rely on one another and we need each other. Back in June, I was reminded just how important it is to be in connection.
Annual conference, the yearly gathering of all United Methodist churches, was in Muncie at the beginning of June. Leading up to that, I had been asked to help serve communion at one of the formal worship services. I, of course, said yes, and a week before the date I received an email with more details. I confess I just skimmed this email but I did read there was not any dress requirements for communion servers. Once I get to annual conference, I discovered that I had initially done more than just agree to help serve communion, I had agreed to assist the bishop as he presided over the sacrament. Since this was going to be a formal time of worship, the bishop was going to be in full vestments, and I was going to be woefully underdressed.
However, because we are in connection, I was able to reach out to a clergy colleague who I knew might have a ministerial robe with him. And, I was able to borrow his robe. I was then able to borrow a stole from another deacon who I knew helped with another one of the worship services. Within an hour of discovering I did not have what I needed, it was no longer an issue because the connection was in action.
As a church we have several options over the next several months to lean into the connection we are part of as the United Methodist Church. This month we have the opportunity to participate in the Stronger Together event. This is a gathering of all United Methodist Churches in our corner of Northern Indiana for a day of fun and worship. In September, we will be part of a combined worship service and picnic between all three United Methodist churches in Starke County. Then later in the fall, for the first time ever we will take part in a combined mission project with Lacrosse and Hanna United Methodist Churches. Hopefully sometime this month or next we will be able to share more details about this project.
I believe being a connectional church is one of the great strengths of the United Methodist Church, and I hope this fall you are able to participate in these plans. I hope that you discover that we are better together and we are stronger together.