I have just returned from Bulgaria. The Connectional Table (of which I am a part by virtue of being President of the Board of Discipleship) decided to meet in one of our Central Conferences in order to learn more about the global connections of our United Methodist Church. It was a good trip, and we met lots of persons who are excited about the re-emergence of the United Methodist Church in that Eastern European country which suffered for so many years under Soviet occupation.

As a part of our meeting, we learned about the many and varied ways that we United Methodists are connected around the world. The variety of partnerships is confusing, but the list is amazing. I learned about connections in places that I did not know we have connections. Being in Bulgaria and experiencing one of those connections first-hand made our global connections seem all the more real.

Below is a list of all the countries where we have United Methodist connections. This list includes "Central Conferences" -- those United Methodist Annual Conferences which are outside of the United States in Africa, Europe (including Russia), and the Philippines. We also have other UMC and British Methodist and ecumenical relationships in a variety of other countries. Some are "Affiliated Autonomous" conferences, Annual Conferences which were formerly a part of the UMC, but which now have grown into their own, independent conferences of churches. Some areas of the world are missions of our General Board of Global Ministries, and not yet formed into conferences. Others are a part of the British Methodist Church, and still others are independent or other ecumenical partnerships. But this amazing list includes all of our United Methodist church relationships around the world. Read this list and see that are a church with many global connections.

AFRICA:

Kenya, Algeria, Angola, Botswania, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Tunisia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

ASIA:

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, North Korea, South Korea, Malaysia, Myanamar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Vietnam

ASIA/PACIFIC:

Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, and Vanautu

EUROPE:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Belarus, Russia, Czech and Slovak Republic, Denmark, United Kingdom, Estonia, Finland, Switzerland France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldava, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia

SOUTH AMERICA:

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela

CENTRAL AMERICA:

Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras/Belize, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama

CARIBBEAN:

Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Leeward Island, and Puerto Rico

MIDDLE EAST:

Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel

Quite a list, isn't it? Truly it is amazing how we are linked, connected, and blessed by these many relationships. Someone in our meeting expressed it well: "There is salvation on both ends of our connection." Or to put it more simply: we need each other, we learn from each other, and we are blessed by each other.

May God continue to keep these connections strong.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner