By Rev. Matt Ashley, South District Missional Strategist and District Superintendent
We are a connectional church. I heard that phrase over and over during my seminary years at Duke Divinity School. We are a connectional church. We are not isolated local churches who wave hello to one another once a year at Annual Conference. We are connected.
Paragraph 608 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline talks a bit about what it means to be a connectional church within an Annual Conference. Together as the Desert Southwest Conference, we are called to:
- Envision the ministries needed in Arizona and Southern Nevada if we are going to be a courageous church – loving like Jesus, acting for justice, united in hope;
- Create and nurture relationships in and between local churches, districts, the DSC, and the UMC;
- Encourage, coordinate and support ministries of nurture, outreach, and witness in districts and local churches;
- Align our Annual Conference’s resources with its mission;
- Develop and strengthen ethnic ministries;
- Provide for advocacy and monitoring functions to ensure that our conference is living out our values.
While the BOD recommends that each Annual Conference have a director of connectional ministries or other designated person to focus and guide the connectional ministries of the church, in the DSC we have a team of people working together to fulfill that function. The Connectional Ministries Team includes our Bishop, the four District Superintendent’s, our Director of New & Vital Faith, and our Director of Outreach & Justice. When our open Lay Leader position is filled, that person will join the team too. This year I am honored to serve as the Connectional Ministries Team Chair.
As I think about the work of our Connectional Ministries Team, I wonder how the resources of the DSC can best be used to equip local churches for ministry. How can the DSC equip local churches to take risks and start new faith communities?
I also wonder how we can best connect local churches to ministries at the conference and denominational level. How can the conference be helpful in empowering local churches to enhance their impact by connecting with and participating in United Methodist ministries throughout the conference and the world?
I welcome your thoughts about how the Connectional Ministries Team can best focus and guide the connectional ministries of the DSC. Please send me your ideas or let me know if you’d like to have a conversation.
Thanks for listening –