Did you know about this? “A member of any local Methodist church is a member of the total Methodist connection.” (¶108 of The Book of Discipline of The Methodist Church in Singapore) What does this mean?
Fundamentally, it means: You are not alone.
Most of us know this at some level; we know that the Holy Spirit dwells with us and in us as promised by Jesus (John 14:16-17), when we become believers in Christ. Many of us experience close fellowship with brothers- and sisters-in-Christ in our local church congregations, which helped inform our decisions to become members of a local church. (Read more about ‘The meaning of membership’ on P24 of MM Jan 2015.)
But going beyond that, even our local Methodist churches do not stand alone. Having District Superintendents oversee our Local Conference meetings reminds us of fellow Methodist congregations in neighbouring areas whom we might work alongside, and of our accountability to the respective Annual Conference (AC) under which we are organised. The yearly AC Sessions in November (see P23 of this issue) are opportunities to hear about and support each other’s work in the Lord, and this includes reports from General Conference Councils and agencies which help resource churches and unify ministry efforts.
At least once each year, we have the opportunity to gather and worship God as a Methodist family at our keynote Aldersgate SG event, and be inspired for renewed discipleship, social action, and evangelism. Our 43,000-strong Methodist community in Singapore also serves our society in various ways including through our Methodist schools.
Beyond our shores, we are connected to international Methodist bodies such as the World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches, and the World Methodist Council – joining the global Methodist movement of more than 82 million people in 134 countries! (See our coverage of the 2016 World Methodist Conference on P12-13 of MM Oct 2016.)
“Why does this really matter?” one might ask. “Our churches and members are serving God uniquely in their various ways – and doing so excellently! Why is it important to identify ourselves as part of the Methodist community?”
To answer this question, let us consider the difference between one ant, a group of worker ants, and a whole colony of ants. An ant can carry up to 100 times its own body weight – powerful in its own right. A group of worker ants can collaborate in a task beyond a single ant’s ability, such as bridging a gap using only their bodies. But most significantly, ant colonies operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to survive and to thrive, often described as “superorganisms”. In other words, they appear to act as one body.
You may recall the MCS 130 calendar which was printed in the P12-13 centrespread of Methodist Message (MM) in February 2015, in CAC News the same month, and distributed as a handout in Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference churches. In it, we included ‘Methodists in Action’ suggestions, positing the question: “If all [43,000] Methodists in Singapore lived out these acts of service monthly, what might be the impact on our nation?”
Likewise, imagine the impact if all our 43,000 Methodists:
- Participated in nation-wide movements like the GoForth National Missions Conference, 21-23 June 2018;
- Actively supported ministries in each other’s churches, across ACs;
- Donated to Methodist Welfare Services (look out for The Giving Methodist project upcoming);
- Conducted mission trips and training with the Methodist Missions Society;
- Nurtured students in Methodist schools;
- Developed social enterprises through the Methodist Co-Operative Society Ltd;
- Grew in worship and discipleship through courses with the Methodist School of Music and Disciple Agency;
- Shared and learned from our rich history stored with the Archives and History Library;
- Were continually encouraged and rejuvenated for spiritual growth and ministry wherever God has placed them.
Can you imagine what a testimony we might be, as a Christian community in Singapore? What would be the potential for the Church in working together and growing in unity and ministry?
It is for this reason that the Methodist connection (some prefer “connexion”) exists. Not for man’s glory, nor for the sake of counting numbers (see P24 of this issue, ‘Don’t count on this’), but in order that we may move “Together as one in spirit and purpose”, loving God and serving others with His love.
“But I’m only one small dot in this huge Methodist connection,” you might say. “What can I do?” Firstly, stay connected with those around you: reach out in warm welcome to those in the next seat, in the next pew, in the next row. Secondly, consider how you might join your church congregation in ministry – do they need volunteers for prison ministry? Might the children’s ministry need more helping hands?
Thirdly, build friendships with members of other Methodist churches; perhaps you might be the link that connects churches with a passion for similar ministries, and help reach more persons through pooled resources. Fourthly, stay updated so you can serve in step with your Methodist family, through our various Methodist Church platforms.
You are reading one of them right now – our official monthly magazine MM, which offers Methodist news, views, and opportunities to serve, and is also available online at message.methodist.org.sg. A veritable trove of information is accessible at a click at www.methodist.org.sg, our Methodist Church website. You can also connect with us as well as your fellow Methodists on our pages at various social media platforms: Search for “Methodist.SG” on Facebook and Instagram, for “MethodistSG” on Pinterest, and for “MethodistChurchSG” on YouTube. If you prefer email updates, sign up at methodist.org.sg/connect/mcsupdates.php
Most importantly, we seek your partnership in prayer, for it is only in joining hands with God and with each other, through the Holy Spirit, that we are able to be “one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory” (‘A Service of Word and Table I’, The United Methodist Hymnal). Get prayer updates from methodist.org.sg/connect/pray-for-us.php
Come, take up your place in the Methodist Connection!
Grace Toh –
is the Editor of Methodist Message and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
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