By Shirley Cook

Often we have heard the word “connectional” used in the United Methodist Church. It’s simply a term to describe how we function together as a denomination. Many expressions of this occur daily as we move in ministry.

One of these expressions was demonstrated just recently when the Michigan Area of churches raised over $1,540,000 for the Imagine No Malaria initiative . Singularly, there is no way a single church or a few churches could raise that much money but together we are able to contribute significantly.

The connectional United Methodist Church consists of over 40,000 local churches throughout the world. The Oxford church is just part of a worldwide effort to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the millions of persons who seek a better way of life.

Some years ago it became apparent that one of the needs was a higher educational level in Africa for their young people. The result was a drive in the connectional churches
to build a university. There was a drive and in a few years, through the efforts, there arose Africa University which now educates hundreds of students who are making a big difference in the development of those countries. Alone, no one church or several churches could have done that but together we can do a great deal.

A very close application of connectionalism happened when an Oxford church member suffered a heart attack in Traverse City a few years ago. He was hospitalized there and as he and his family needed pastoral care, we contacted a UMC pastor at a church in that city. For two weeks their pastor called on the man until he was able to travel back home. There was no doubt the connectional church worked at one of its best features at that time.

The UM church is built on the premise that together we can do great things and that collectively we can do impossible things.