The recent Scottish Independence Referendum turned out to be, politically, the only show in town for a couple of weeks, even south of the Border. The result however was nowhere near as close as had been predicted. In the end the canny people of Scotland voted by a clear margin of 10% to remain within the union. It would seem the majority had decided that they and we were indeed, Better Together.
One of the unexpected consequences of the process is the widening call for devolved powers for the English Regions along with a renewed attempt to answer the West Lothian question, which goes something like this, ‘Why are MPs from North of the Border allowed to vote on English issues when MPs from South of the Border do not vote on Scottish affairs?’ One possible result of all of this would seem to be in keeping with a wider and more popular trend; the trend towards the fragmentation of society as a whole into smaller groupings based on geographical or tribal identities. Hands up if you want to stand as an MP for the North East Parliament. If you were successful that would make you an NEMP!
This is a trend that the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, sought to counter when the Methodist Church came into being. He called the Methodist Church a ‘Connexion’. Connexionalism emphasises the ‘better together’ nature of church life. Individual churches are part of circuits, circuits belong to districts and all come under the umbrella of the Connexion. We are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’ in structure as well as in faith. This is a really important principle, it reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s teaching that we are all part of the body of Christ, vitally connected to one another.
When the spirit in the air is one of independence and devolved powers it’s tempting for some churches to think we’d be better off on our own, we’d have no assessment to pay, no circuit meetings to attend and to be lulled into a false sense of their own importance. Connexionalism is far from perfect, largely because it’s run by human beings, but it has a scriptural foundation, is a great discipline and one of the jewels of the Methodist Church.
Grace and Peace