With this newsletter, we launch the inaugural communication of UMsConnected. Each month “Connections” will gather us at the intersection of Christian formation and the Wesleyan tradition, helping us to “watch over one another in love” as John Wesley put it. We will begin each month’s newsletter with a piece called “Wesley Windows” through which we will look upon our tradition to receive insights that can enrich our life in Christ and for Christ. After that, the newsletter will include additional guidance for our journey.
“Connections” is posted monthly and archived here on the website. From time to time we will post other things that keep us going forward.
Here we go!
When the Wesleys began Methodism in the early 1740’s, they envisioned it to be a fellowship “united together in the several parts of the kingdom, engaging, in like manner, to be helpful to each other in all good, Christian ways.”  For fifty years we can see how the early Methodist movement was faithful to that vision.
Similarly, UMsConnected exists to unite those of us scattered here and there in ways that are helpful and that do good. UMsConnected is not a substitute for the larger Church, just as early Methodism was not. Rather, we exist for those who (for various reasons) have no current affiliation with a United Methodist congregation…and…for those who do have a “church home” but desire an additional means for growing in personal and social holiness.
Then and now, we are describing an “ecclesiola en ecclesia”—a little church in the big Church. That description fueled the early Methodist mission, and it fuels ours today. The Wesleys were faithful to God in creating a movement that enriched the lives of people and simultaneously renewed the Church. We hope that the UMsConnected movement will do the same.
 A letter from John Wesley to Mr. T.H. dated December 12 1760, Ted A. Campbell, ed.,,’The Works of John Wesley’ (Abingdon Press, 2015), Volume 27, “Letters III: 1756-765,” 225. [This multi-volume publication is often referred to as the Bi-Centennial Edition of Wesley’s Works because the first volume came out in 1984, the 200th anniversary of the official beginning of Methodism as a denomination in America.]
So….here we are, in the opening days of this movement—taking our first steps on the journey it affords for us. You can find out more by clicking on the icons at the top of this home page. They will tell you what each component of the ministry is designed for.
In this inaugural edition of the Connections” newsletter, we point to the ministry component we call “Belonging.”
UMsConnected is an open-access ministry. You can utilize all its aspects in whatever ways are beneficial to you. We are happy to offer everything to you.
But at the same time, the idea of connectedness is central to our founding vision. In a national poll conducted by the Kaiser Foundation, 20% described themselves as “disconnected.” Within a religious context, 30% of the population now describes themselves in the “nones and dones” category.
Even more specifically, many United Methodists feel disconnected due to a church closure, to their congregation’s disaffiliating from the UMC, or because they live in a location that is not near to a UMC. For other reasons too, they feel adrift.
UMsConnected offers a means for experiencing life together. We do not have members, but we hope you will join the journey. You can do this through both group and individual affiliation. The “Belonging” icon here on the website home page guides you in doing this. We call this option “Epworth Groups,” and there is an informational icon here on the home page to tell you more.
In the future, we will add live and on-demand resources to further enrich your spiritual formation. We will also link with other ministries that you can use. As Christians in the Wesleyan tradition, we understand that knowledge and vital piety are conjoined. So in the UMsConnected movement we will combine information and formation through a growing list of resources.
For now, continue to visit this website. Also, follow the “UMsConnected” group Facebook page for daily encouragement. And listen to the weekly “UMsConnected” podcast either on the group Facebook page or the Podbean platform.
Well, that’s more than enough to share in this first issue of “Connections.” If you have any thoughts or questions about UMsConnected, email Dr. Steve Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org