Interdependent and Diverse - The Gift of Connexionalism

  • Photographs from the Methodist Conference are available here.

The Methodist Conference reaffirmed the importance ofbeing an "interdependent" and "diverse" Church today, as it met inBirmingham for its annual gathering.

In a report entitled 'The Gift of Connexionalism in the21st Century', the Conference discussed the fundamentalimportance of 'connexionalism' to how Methodists understand theirown identity.

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

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

The report reflected on the importance of relationships ofmutuality and interdependence, finding that Methodists spoke of thevalue of belonging to something larger than a local church and thebenefits of sharing resources and experiences while celebratingdiversity.

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

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