Connectionalism Begins at Home


“My Three Sons” with Fred McMurray was a staple around our house growing up. With there being three boys in the family made it even more appropriate, even if we were 8years apart. Before I was 2 my oldest brother, Carlee, was off in college. We’ve all been close over the years, each reflecting our parents in different traits. Ralph is named after my Dad. Carlee was named after a great-uncle for whom my Dad worked. Me -Oh, well, since I came along very late in my parents’ lives, they let my two older brothers choose my name. I guess they thought it might give them some ownership, and give me some measure of protection.

They named me “William Timothy McClendon.” The “William” part was my Mother’s Dad’s name, William. The “Timothy” part was the name of the bear in the Dick & Jane books. So there you go. So much for the Greek meaning of “Timothy,” which means, “Honoring God.” Well, my two brothers did okay, and have been very special to me and are on my mind tonight. I just got a voicemail from my oldest brother’s former wife. She is very close to our family and we count her as a sister. Carlee has been in a Nursing Facility for several years with diabetes, heart surgery, neuropathy taking their toll. My niece, Julie, his daughter, called to say that Carlee’s blood sugar jumped up into the 500’s and that it appears he has suffered some sort of neurological event, possibly a stroke.

We’re getting to be a fragile bunch. Ralph has his diabetes to worry about, too; and he has also had heart surgery, plus neuropathy, and is currently wearing a boot too try and save his foot. Diabetes is so insidious. Mine has been under control thanks to diet, exercise, and Metformin. Our Mother and Dad both were diabetic, and Daddy lost both of his legs when he was in his early 80’s. Health is such a fragile thing. Both brothers and their families have been so good to call and ask about Narcie’s condition. Carlee called me just 3 days ago.

We were talking about his 70th birthday coming up August 15, and how I would be in Africa and wondered when I would get to see him. Well the answer is made up now. Tomorrow night we start Cabinet Retreat until Thursday and on Friday I fly to Mozambique, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and Senegal over the next 2 weeks, plus. I’m heading over with the Worldwide UMC Study Committee to check how much we connect with African UM’s in terms of how those areas have adapted the Book of Discipline. Maybe what we’ll end up with is a thinner common BOD and very few adaptations. That’s my hope as I support our connectional polity to the nth degree. So what about seeing Carlee? I’m headed there in the morning and see what’s up and go from there. If nothing, through everything in life and ministry – family comes first. Faith that doesn’t have priority at home is weak, if you ask me.

Pray for Carlee and Ralph; me, too, and please keep remembering Narcie. Family is a connection, a reflection of God’s Trinitarian self-revelation, the same reason for the UMC to be connectional, and for me to head off with the cabinet and then to Africa, or stay by Carlee’s bedside. Connecting the dots of our lives is difficult, but without any dots, life is pretty lonesome and not very fulfilling. Connectionalism begins at home, or not at all.

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