Connections: July 2022

UMsConnected has existed less than a month, and already we can see that it is meeting needs. Almost every day someone emails to illustrate how this is so. Beyond that, statistics (as of July 2) provide further confirmation. We have had 4,250 views of our website. Our group Facebook page has exceeded 600 views some days, and 112 people are formally following it. We have had only two podcast episodes, but an average of 40 people have listened to each one. We are encouraged and grateful to God.

We begin this edition of the newsletter with the “Wesley Windows” feature and then move on to give you additional information about UMsConnected. Thanks for reading this newsletter and being on the journey with us.

“Wesley Windows”

When the foundation stone for the New Chapel was laid (today called Wesley Chapel) on April 21, 1777, John preached the dedicatory sermon. [1] In it he addressed the question, “What is Methodism?” He responded,

It is “no other than love, the love of God and of all mankind; the loving God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, as having first loved us,–as the fountain of all the good we have received, and of all we ever hope to enjoy; and the loving every soul which God has made, every man on earth as our own soul.” [2]

In the larger context, his words confirmed his belief that Methodism, far from being an aberration or something novel was, in fact, the religion of the Bible and of the Church of England. Indeed it was, as a theology of love, “the great medicine of life.” He believed this when Methodism began in the 1740’s, and he continued to believe it thirty-five years later. Time had confirmed the original vision.

John Wesley’s abiding conviction was that God had raised up the people called Methodist to declare God’s inclusive love—love for “all mankind,” love of “every soul God has made, every man on earth as our own soul.” No wonder that the early Methodist movement attracted many “nones and dones” (as we call them today), offering them Christ through hospitality and formation.

The new UMC will increasingly renew (and increase) the Wesleyan theology of inclusive love, loving everyone as we love our own souls. UMsConnected exists to do the same.

With barely one month under our belt, UMsConnected is advancing a theology of inclusive love through this website, our group Facebook page, podcast, and recommended resources. Icons at the top of the homepage describe each of these offerings in more detail.

Two questions have moved to front burner since we began…

First, how do we begin the UmsConnected journey? Whether you are reading this as an individual or as a member of a group, we suggest using the “Foundations Series” described in the “Resources” icon. It lays a good foundation for all that will emerge in UMsConnected.

Second, how do we link to UmsConnected as a small group? The “Belonging” and “Epworth Group” icons at the top of the homepage provide guidance. There are multiple reasons why you may want to do this. We have opened the way for you to do so.

Beyond these things, we envision some new features of UMsConnected in the coming months …

(1) A monthly live Zoom meeting called, “Conversations” each of which will focus on a particular topic and include a special guest. Details about this new ministry will be provided in the August “Connections” newsletter.

(2) A UMsConnected YouTube channel that will serve multiple purposes, including the uploading of studies which advance our mission of providing spiritual formation in the Wesleyan tradition.

(3) A fall Webinar offered live via Zoom and recorded for subsequent use. We will share more about this resource as plans progress.
Well, enough for now. We are under way! And already we can see that the Spirit is at work through UMsConnected. Thanks be to God!

[1] Albert C. Outler, ed., ‘The Works of John Wesley,’ (Bi-Centennial Edition), volume 3 (Abingdon Press, 1986), Sermon #112, “On Laying the Foundation of the New Chapel.”
[2] Ibid , 585.

Published by Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

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