Not being a life-long Methodist, I often notice words and phrases that must have a special meaning for UMC people. They're words I understand and use, but I can tell from context that there's some distinct meaning that's intended.
I often hear people talk about "the methodist connection." A quick google search provided me with this information from the North Alabama conference website: http://www.northalabamaumc.org/enewsletterarchives/detail/58
To be honest, I clicked on this link, glanced over it, and said to myself, "I'm not going to read all that right now." The reason I thought of "the connection" and titled this post the same, is that we were reminded of our connectivity in the last week when we found out that our musician will be leaving us. She is married to a pastor in our conference, and he received a phone call last week from the bishop (or the cabinet, or somebody official) informing him that he was being moved to a new appointment. This is a sobering reality for a couple reasons. First, we need to get a new piano player ASAP! But also, it's a reminder that pastors serve where the bishop/cabinet decide they will serve.
I think itinerancy is overall a healthy thing. That doesn't mean it's always comfortable, nor does it mean that every move is the right one at the right time. My own desires to stay put aside, I think it's mostly good for pastors and for churches.
The pastor will be ordained at this summer's annual conference - less than two months away. I'm very proud of her, of course. Her ministry is our main focus as a family - really it's *our* ministry together. Part of being an "elder in full connection" is being accountable to the bishop and serving where you are appointed. This isn't always what we would choose for ourselves, as we know from experience. Our musician's move reminds us of the implications of ordination vows - our lives are not our own, we belong to God. Letting go of control continues to be a lifelong process for us, and it can be scary. But I know God walks with us through it all, and that is comforting. I pray we will continue to strive to be faithful to God's call on our family.
I know this might come across as "the connection = the firm," but I promise that I have a lot of good things to say about the connection - maybe my next post!