Connexion: Celebrating United Methodist-related Educational Institutions and the Communities They Serve

Published On: July 5, 2024

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) is excited to announce the launch of “Connexion,” a new initiative that highlights the impact and stories of United Methodist-related institutions across the United States, fostering a deeper sense of community, support, and transformation across the denomination.

What is Connexion?

United Methodist-related schools, colleges, and universities are more than world-class institutions of learning. They also play a vital role in their communities and in society. Connexion celebrates the way in which United Methodist-related institutions impact the lives of others, build collaborative relationships and transform the world. Connexion underscores the unique and powerful ways United Methodist-related institutions contribute to justice, equity, environmental stewardship, and community development.

Forging Strong Communities, Creating Lasting Change

Connexion is about love in action. It embodies John Wesley’s belief in the power of unity and connection to build strong communities. Through Connexion, GBHEM and United Methodist-related educational institutions work together to create significant, lasting change. The Connexion initiative highlights the life-changing role United Methodist education embodies in society and demonstrates GBHEM’s work to support and advocate for UM-related higher education, illustrating that together, we can achieve more than we could apart.

Schools Making a Difference

We believe every United Methodist-related educational institution makes a difference for the church and the world. But we had to start somewhere, which is why we’ve collected a series of stories — one from each of the five jurisdictions of the UMC in the United States — that serve as representative samples of the impact these institutions make. Below are brief highlights of the schools featured in the Connexion initiative, each accompanied by a video that delves deeper into their inspiring work. Click the links to learn more about each Connexion.

 

Connexion North Central: Embracing Diversity Through Food

Morningside University, based in Sioux City, Iowa, has embraced its growing Congolese community by introducing amaranth greens cultivation. This community-supported agribusiness provides a nutritious staple that makes Sioux City feel more like home for many Congolese immigrants. Since January 2022, Morningside’s amaranth agribusiness has shipped over 100 pounds of leafy greens to local families and grocery stores, demonstrating a simple yet profound act of love and support.

Watch the video and learn more about Morningside’s agribusiness initiative.

 

Connexion Northeastern: A New Narrative — The Center for Restorative Justice

At West Virginia Wesleyan College, The Center for Restorative Justice is crafting a new narrative in a justice system that often prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation. By focusing on empathy, humanity, and compassion, the Center supports vulnerable populations, helping them reintegrate into society and reduce recidivism. Their efforts are a testament to the college’s Methodist roots and commitment to social justice.

Watch the video and learn more about The Center for Restorative Justice.

 

Connexion South Central: Taking a Leap of Faith

Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri, has taken a bold step in revitalizing its downtown area with a transformative $6.5 million investment. This project has turned a decaying area into a vibrant community hub, complete with retail units and housing for students. This leap of faith not only benefits the university but also the entire Howard County, showcasing the economic and spiritual revival of the region.

Watch the video and learn more about Central Methodist’s downtown revitalization.

 

Connexion Southeastern: Together for Change Initiative

Meharry Medical College, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is leading the Together for Change Genomics Initiative. This program aims to close the healthcare gap for Black Americans by addressing historical inequities in genetic research. Less than 2% of known genetic information comes from people of African ancestry, and Meharry’s initiative seeks to change that by increasing representation and accuracy in disease prediction for Black communities.

Watch the video and learn more about the Together for Change Initiative.

 

Connexion Western: Broadening Our Understanding of Ourselves & the Planet

At the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, the Epiphyte Research Project is making significant strides in understanding ecosystem health. Led by biologist Carrie Woods, this research focuses on plants like mosses and ferns that are crucial to rainforest ecosystems. The project aims to protect these vital ecosystems and contribute to global environmental stewardship, reflecting the university’s commitment to the United Methodist principle of Creation Care.

Watch the video and learn more about the Epiphyte Research Project.

How to Get Involved

The Connexion initiative invites everyone to engage with these inspiring stories and support the mission of GBHEM in various ways:

  1. Watch the videos and share the stories: Dive deeper into the experiences and achievements of these United Methodist-related institutions by watching the videos and reading their full stories on the Connexion section of the GBHEM website. Then share them with other United Methodists! 
  2. Explore scholarship opportunities: For students seeking financial support for their education, GBHEM offers a variety of scholarships. Learn more about how you can apply and take advantage of these opportunities to pursue your academic and spiritual goals.
  3. Support scholarship giving: Donations to GBHEM help provide vital scholarships to students at United Methodist-related schools, colleges, and universities. Your financial support can make a significant difference in the lives of these students, enabling them to achieve their dreams and contribute positively to their communities and the church. 

Thank You for Celebrating Connexion with Us

Connexion is a powerful initiative that underscores the vital role of United Methodist-related educational institutions in shaping principled Christian leaders for the church and the world. By sharing these stories and supporting GBHEM’s mission, we can collectively ensure that these institutions continue to thrive and inspire future generations.

Join us in celebrating Connexion and supporting the mission of GBHEM. Together, we can make a lasting impact on education and ministry within The United Methodist Church and out in the world.

For more information, visit the Connexion initiative page on the GBHEM website.

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