The Benefit of Being Connectional

For several years now I have heard friends throughout the states belittle the value of denominations in our country. “We are in a post-denominational world” they say. “Denominational structures get in the way of ministry. Why do you continue on a a dying system?”

There are many days when I agree with them, many days when I am convinced that the bureaucratic morass that we have created is worthless and needs to be cast aside. There are times when I fully agree that denominations are dinosaurs, the legacy of times past, which are unable to be quick and nimble in the face of need.

And then, just when I am ready to give up, some disaster happens in the world and UMCOR, the disaster relief organization of my denomination, springs into action and restores my faith in the power of denominationalism to bring about good.

UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, has been a point of pride for me and a shining example of what can be done when multiple congregations join forces in a systemic way to address world needs. It is through our connection that we can keep in place one of the leading NGO’s which is able to respond at a moment’s notice. This connection allows us to cover the administrative costs of having a relief agency, which then means that when emergencies come and appeals are made for assistance, 100% of the dollars given are available to address those emergencies.

This is a unique gift to the world, for most other NGO’s are forced to direct some of their donated dollars toward administrative expenses. Our ability to direct 100% of donations to those in need has led to our receiving high ratings from all the leading non-profit watch dog agencies who help us know what agencies are faithful to their mission. Other agencies aren’t as efficient, and often have high administrative expenses.

There are many things we do wrong as denominations, but sometimes we need to remember than which is done right, and UMCOR is the way that we put love into action and reach out with the love of God. It’s something we can be proud of, for it demonstrates in tangible ways our commitment to love and justice.

From the very beginning of the tragedy in Haiti, UMCOR has been on the ground, in fact, the organization’s leaders were in Haiti during the earthquake resulting in at least two deaths. It is an organization that I can proudly claim as my own, and I have no reticence in telling all who might read this that it is a good place to give your money if you are looking to help out.

Visit to learn more about this important source of hope.

7 thoughts on “The Benefit of Being Connectional

  1. Great post.

    I’m always looking for outside confirmation of things we claim in our own PR.

    Charity Navigator rates UMCOR at its highest 4 stars rating of Exceptional.

    The American Institute for Philanthropy gives UMCOR an A+ rating.

    I don’t actually know if these two organizations are credible, but for the skeptical, I’d suggest they indicate that it is not just United Methodists who think UMCOR is pretty cool.

    1. These two are considered among the best sources for checking on non-profits. Another good one that lists vetted (government checked) humanitarian aid groups is . They list UMCOR too.

  2. UMCOR is an excellent example of connectionalism at work.

    And it’s not the only one in the denomination.

    Let me “toot my own horn” a bit for GBOD. Last month, the worship website of got 454,000 hits and over 154,000 unique visitors. Those numbers are a bit above average for us– but typical for December (folks looking for– and finding!– resources for Advent and Christmas worship). And GBOD was the first to web in the denomination with worship resources in response to the crisis in Haiti– resources of all sorts– prayers, hymns, links to video, etc.

    So it’s just not the case that only UMCOR is thought to and actually does serve folks well and is able to “turn on a dime.”

    And it’s not just GBOD, either.

    United Methodist News Service, a division of United Methodist Communications, has been providing ongoing updates from the scene since the beginning, as well.

    And more such stories could be told in other areas.

    But in terms of emergency relief and long-term recovery, yes, it doesn’t get much better than UMCOR.

  3. Jay,
    Thanks for this affirmation of connectionalism. I share your skepticism at times.

    And thanks to Taylor Burton-Edwards for writing of the wider connection. The GBOD materials have been relevant and plentiful. UMNS staff have worked in shifts non-stop since the earthquake to update the whole connection, even posting at early as 2:30 am some nights as well as Saturday, Sunday and the MLK holiday today.

    Thanks for your post.


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