Sunday, 19 April 2015

Connection in our Wesleyan Heritage

In 2014, Missionary itineration in Kentucky Annual Conference • Wesley urged those in connection with him to earn all you can and save all you can, so that you can give all you can. Wesley modeled modest living and sacrificial giving. He also told his followers, “There is no holiness but social holiness.” Class offerings in Wesley’s day were taken for outreach. • So, what is this connectional thing that we hear about so much in the United Methodist church, and what does it mean for my church? Well, let’s look at a church and see how this connection thing works.
Serving others in the name of God's mission. Coted'Ivoire • Dear friends your Church is not just any church, it’s a United Methodist Church. Every single congregation is linked to other United Methodist churches on its district. Some are larger, some are smaller, but they are organized in a way that says, “How we can we help each other be more effective in our mission and ministry? How can we make a difference, not only in our community, but in the world?” • Multiple districts, connected to one another, form an Annual Conference. The churches of the Annual Conference work together in lots of ways: sending local churches leaders to work on conference boards and committees, identifying candidates for ministry, giving financial support to ministries and mission projects sponsored by the Conference, to name just a few. • These Annual Conferences get grouped together into Jurisdictions. There are presently five Jurisdictions: Northeast, Southeastern, South Central, North Central, and Western. In some places, the annual conferences of the jurisdictions work collaboratively on things like leadership training and sharing facilities. • These five Jurisdictions encompass all the Annual Conferences in the U.S., and all the local churches of those conferences. But that is not the complete church; there are 59 conferences located outside of the US, grouped not into jurisdictions but into 7 Central Conferences: Africa, Central & Southern Europe, Congo, Germany, Northern Europe, Philippines and West Africa. These Central Conferences account for around 2 million members of the United Methodist Church! • The local church is at the center of the connectional system. How we empower local churches to do the work of making disciples, and how we share together in mission is how we participate with God in the transformation of the world. • The Mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World. Your church cannot do that alone. We have to be connected to transform. Our Ministry is Shared Ministry • We United Methodists believe that each of us is called to participate in the ministry of Jesus Christ. We do this in connection globally with approximatively 42,000 local churches and 11.5 million members. Today, through the United Methodist connection, we share a ministry:  In 100 different countries  With over 900 supported mission personnel  With more than 112,000 Volunteer-in-Mission placements  Through more than 1,000 approved Advance projects.
Within the Jurisdictional Conferences through • 225 retirement homes and long-term care facilities • 70 hospitals and health-care facilities • 50 children’s homes • 30 ministries for persons with disabilities • 113 colleges, universities and seminaries • Day-to-day witness and outreach from over 45,000 clergy members and 1,200 deacons, and not to mention 8,000,000 lay members. Does it make a difference? This young man is happy, fed, and is learning because of the caring and commitment of local churches to connectional giving. Could your local congregation do that every day, for all of these children, on your own?
This is a small school in Busia-Kenya, where I used to work previously. And this is just one school, in one community, in one small spot on the globe. We are taking care of needs like this in thousands of locations around the globe every single day. What single church could manage that on their own? Very few. We can no longer assume that when people join the United Methodist Church, or when they come into our churches, that they will understand that this is who we are and how we do our ministry. Unless the concept is explained to them, all they will perceive is money going away from their local church. We can be proud of the places where our church goes, of the lives our church touches, and the transformation that is able to happen because we work together to make the love of God real to a hurting world. United Methodists are generous and compassionate people • Our connectional giving is at work every day healing hundreds and hundreds of smaller, “silent tsunamis” that affect people’s lives. – Poverty, injustice, racism, malaria, unclean water, Ebola. – Illiteracy, hunger, disease ,loneliness, alienation, marginalization There is amazing work being done in our names every single day, helping to bring God’s love to the world. It is a story that the world needs to hear, but even more it’s a story our own members need to hear. This is Our Story Our colleges and hospitals across the world that bear testimony to the commitment of United Methodists to education and healing. No one will tell that story if we don’t tell it. This is our story… At Work Every Day Our church has never been afraid to make a witness for justice, peace, tolerance, and for the dignity of every human being. We are giving children a chance to learn, to grow up safe from the brutalities of war and the threat of diseases which ravage their countries. We go to reach out to people who are hungry, sick or in need, regardless of their religion or the politics of their government. Our church reaches beyond simply helping the poor, but works side by side with people in many different lands to help them raise themselves from poverty.
Sunday school at Fresco UMC in Cote d'Ivoire Thanks to the generous connectional giving of United Methodists The Methodists are courageous women and men who work to make the love of Christ real to a hurting world, and who count on us for their support, as they do ministry in our name. We need to tell our story, we are able to be present with people in their time of crisis, on the other side of the world. We are able to be there because of the commitment of United Methodists to live and give connectionally.
Missionary Francine taking care of the orphans while in Kenya at Amase village
Children at Gbambam village in Cote d'Ivoire. So Just how are we able to do all these great things? Advance projects are very attractive and exciting. They allow individuals and churches to feel a personal connection to particular projects, but they are dependent on churches completing 100% of their World Service and conference benevolence fair share. The Advance’s unique ability to provide 100% of your gift to the cause you designate is dependent upon their expenses being covered through the World Service Fund giving. Without the World Service support, the structures that enable all those mission settings to happen can’t be supported. We need to be committed to traveling the first mile before we go the second mile. By combining several smaller gifts into a larger amount, we can effect change across the world. Individual churches can minister to a small area; however, as a connectional church, we can do big things, all in the name of Jesus Christ.
Orphans of HIV/AIDs receiving support from the church in Cote d'Ivoire. THANK YOU! For all you’ve done, For all you are doing, For all you will do in the days and years to come, To make the love of Christ real to a hurting world. You do make a difference! On my behalf as a Global Ministries Missionary, and all those persons whose lives are touched by ministries you support, we want to say…THANK YOU! The urgent need we have is a 4x4 car for evangelism and church planting. Continue supporting us through the advance: # 3021390 for missionary support and #3021990 for Leadership Development Project.

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