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What does it mean to be connectional and unified?

June 25, 2018
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS
NITA CRUMP


“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  John 17:20-23 (NIV)

In 1996, as I was leaving a career in nursing home management to answer God’s call to ministry, I spent three years working as the administrative assistant in the Valdosta District office. One of my responsibilities was to type letters going out of the office. I quickly noticed that my most common typographical error occurred when typing the word united. I would often type untied instead of united. I had to watch closely to be sure that letters didn’t include this mistake. No letters needed to go out from the Untied Methodist Church instead of The United Methodist Church. 
 
That memory comes back to me as I take on the responsibility of serving as Director of Connectional Ministries. Connectional Ministries is the body charged with supporting, encouraging, and maintaining the connection across the Annual Conference and around the world. This is an amazing and, at the same time, daunting responsibility. I look forward to living into the expectations that come with the role. I do so knowing that I’m running to catch up with some amazing people who have carried that responsibility for years and done so well. I am grateful to them for welcoming me as I join them in the work they’ve been doing. I am also grateful to Dr. Matt Woodbery for the work he has accomplished during the last year as the interim director. 
 
As we move into the new appointment year, I invite you to join me in contemplating what it means to be connectional. While the words connected and connectional are not common in scripture, another word that is similar in meaning is. That word is unity. How does scripture call us to be unified?  What does that look like across South Georgia?  How can being unified and connectional help us accomplish the work of the kingdom in the communities in which we find ourselves? 
 
Jesus spoke of unity in John 17:20-23. As he prayed for all believers, including you and me, he prayed that we would be one as he and the Father are one. The goal of unity between believers had a purpose in Jesus’ prayer: so the world would know that the Father sent him and that same Father loves us just as he loves his Son. 
 
Join me in praying over and contemplating what it means to be connectional and unified. Then share your thoughts with me. I’d love to hear from you. Invite me to worship with you and maybe even preach one Sunday. Let’s get together and celebrate our connection. I believe that if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and let the words of his prayer sink deeply into our souls, we’ll find that being connected and united in our faith makes us stronger and better able to accomplish the goal of our Annual Conference – that of making disciples for the transformation of the world.
 
Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at nitac@sgaumc.com.

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