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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Connection and connectionalism have multiple, complex, interlacing, and changing meanings. The terms designate Methodism's origins; relationships that existed among the preachers and peoples and between them and Mr Wesley; ordained ministerial status and conference membership; conference structures that governed whatever the actions or measures or processes that held the movement together, i.e., that connected; the evolving movement as institution or polity; a theology, or, specifically, an ecclesiology, often more implicit than explicit; an organisational classification; the consequent presumption that Methodism and Methodists would adhere or connect; and therefore a denominational self-understanding. This article explores these complex meanings, looking at connectionalism as (i) commitment; (ii) competing connectional principles, specifically those of work, authority, and power; (iii) adhesive or connective mechanisms – what actually connected period to period; (iv) denominational classification; and (v) Christian conferencing as practice and ecclesiology.

Keywords: Methodism, Methodists, commitment, correctional principles, connective mechanisms, denominational classification, Christian conferencing

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