The gift of Connexionalism

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Interdependent and Diverse — The Gift of Connexionalism

26 June 2017

The Methodist Conference reaffirmed the importance of being an "interdependent" and "diverse" Church today, as it met in Birmingham for its annual gathering.

In a report entitled 'The Gift of Connexionalism in the 21st Century', the Conference discussed the fundamental importance of 'connexionalism' to how Methodists understand their own identity.

With origins dating back to the eighteenth-century, the Methodist Church has continued to describe itself as a 'connexion' for nearly 300 years. Originally referring to the inter-connectedness of people and groups, the word has developed significant and theological meaning for Methodists being elaborated and expressed through hymns, liturgy and the constitution of the Church as well as in the faith and practice of the Methodist people.

The Revd Dr Nicola Price-Tebbutt, Secretary of the Faith and Order Committee, who presented the report, said:"For Methodists, connexionalism isn't just an abstract principle or simply a piece of historical baggage... It's a way of being Christian, fundamental to how Methodists understand the Church and what it means specifically to be a Methodist."

The report reflected on the importance of relationships of mutuality and interdependence, finding that Methodists spoke of the value of belonging to something larger than a local church and the benefits of sharing resources and experiences while celebrating diversity.

Additionally, the report emphasised the relevance of connexionalism in today's online world.

The Revd Canon Gareth J Powell, Secretary of the Conference, added: "Whilst celebrating the gift of modern technology, the Church also recognises the potential harm of the contemporary social experience which can be fragile, elusive or sometimes abusive. In a world craving genuine and meaningful relationships, connexionalism offers a hopeful alternative to a society which can often seem individualistic and consumer focused."

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