Today we want to share with you some thoughts about one of the unique characteristics of Methodism. In many ways this characteristic defines Methodism. This characteristic and understanding of the church is called “Connectionalism.” There are three principal ways that Methodists understand Connectionalism: philosophically, theologically, and organizationally.
Methodism understands that humans are truly connected and related to each other. “No man is an island,” and when one person acts it has an effect, even if not perceived, on others. We are bound together as a unity and therefore we, as connected people, are responsible for our church, our community, and our nation. We are not simply independent individuals responsible only for our own actions.
Methodism understands that God is present or “immanent” in the world and in each of us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Although we are certainly not God, we believe that God dwells within us and that, therefore, each person is of infinite value. We further believe that our connectionalism is realized in the world as the “Body of Christ.” Because of our connectionalism, the church, is the true representation of this Body of Christ in today’s world.
As a consequence of this philosophical and theological understanding of connectionalism Methodists have developed strong organizational structures within the local and global churches. Each Methodist Church is bound by our “Discipline,” which comprises our principles and bylaws. Further each Methodist Church is a member of an Annual Conference and is connected to a residing Bishop. In addition, we are connected to the world community of some 12.5 million Methodists through our General Conference.
In our next Blog we’ll explore some additional implications of connectionalism for our Morristown UMC.