The Power of Connection

Alyce Weaver Dunn



What does a Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) do?  In the 2 ½ years that I have been serving as the DCM for the Western PA Conference, I have been asked that question dozens, if not hundreds of times!  I have been asked that question by both clergy and laity alike; by friends and family as well; and to be honest, I have even asked myself that question a time or two!  What does a Director of Connectional Ministries do?

If you want to know the official answer to this intriguing question, I would refer you to the 2016 edition of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, ¶608. (Or you could talk to Bob Zilhaver or John Wilson, our resident WPA BoD experts!)

If you want to know the personal and unofficial answer, I invite you to read on!

The answer really is simple.  The most important word in the title is not Director but Connectional.
The DCM is a connector.  The DCM connects people to people; and people to resources; and people to Jesus!  The DCM connects local churches to other local churches; and connects the local church to the Conference.  The DCM connects the Conference to the global UM church. The DCM provides connection within the community of faith – to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!”

In the last 8 months, the Covid-19 pandemic has introduced a new normal of isolation and social distancing, of mask wearing and gathering restrictions.  During this time, I have discovered the deep value of connection.  What a privilege it is to provide encouragement and support to God’s people through connection during difficult times! 

How meaningful it is to connect people with one another and with God!  

Now, I could certainly share with you the ways I have been a connector in these recent months.  (If you’re really interested, give me a call!) But that’s really not the point of this blog.

The point is to encourage you to be a connector too!

More so than ever, as the pandemic rages on, we need to find creative and intentional ways to connect with one another – and most importantly, to connect people with Jesus!  

In the coming Advent and Christmas season, families and friends will not be able to gather as usual for celebrations.  Many of our churches will be offering virtual worship or limited seating in place of the typical overflow crowds who gather to welcome the Christ Child.  People will be separated from loved ones out of concern for the well-being of those who may be at high risk.  Connection may be a rare commodity during this upcoming holiday season!

So, I invite you to generously share the gift of connection during these anxious and fearful times. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Pick up the phone and call family and friends – remember to tell them that you love them.  
  • Drop off a care package with an encouraging note to a neighbor or church member who is lonely.  
  • Revive the practice of sending Christmas cards via the USPS – and be sure to include a handwritten note of gratitude for the recipient.  
  • Schedule some virtual conversations with fellow church members or colleagues – not for business but for fellowship!  
  • Donate food or gifts to a local shelter or outreach ministry – volunteer to help at these sites if possible.   
  • Reach out to a missionary or evangelist – provide financial support and share a word of encouragement.  
  • Say “thank you” to first responders, health care workers, and essential workers when you see them in your community – let them know you appreciate their service.
  • Offer a word of forgiveness to someone who has hurt you (this is Jesus’s idea!)
  • Look up a long lost friend and reconnect.  Use the online white pages, college databases, or church records to look for people.
  • Practice random acts of kindness: pay for the order for the car behind you at the drive-thru!
  • Share encouraging thoughts on social media – target specific people who are facing difficult circumstances.
  • Reach out to someone who is not like you (think diversity!) and engage them in conversation.
  • Offer to provide virtual or socially distanced tutoring for young families in your church or community.
  • Send Christmas cards or gifts to residents of nursing homes and care facilities in your community.
  • Look for your own unique ways of connecting with other people in the name of Jesus!
Friends, there is power in connection!  It can encourage, support, heal and inspire others!  Connection can even save us as we are reminded in the scriptures: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NRSV).  God connected to the world through Jesus – and as we connect with Jesus, we receive the gifts of salvation and eternal life! 

Connection is at the heart of who we are as God’s people – it is our story – and it is our privilege as we serve in Christ’s name.

May God bless you and keep you - as you connect with Jesus and with each other during this Advent/ Christmas season!      


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