Visioning the Common Future: Seeking God’s love together
I am grateful that we had a graceful Annual Conference and give thanks to God. We believe that the Annual Conference has always been conducted as a holy conference.
First, my thought is that the whole church and mission belongs to God. So, we believe that The United Methodist Church belongs to Christ’s church and the difference making we do is in the name of Jesus Christ. Because it is the Church of God, our practice and love are built around God's great will. It is our prayer to reaffirm together that the church is a holy community and to vitalize God’s mission in the world.
It is a prayer that we must once again be convinced that God is the reason for our church's existence and gather all our devotion to love the church. “He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do.” (Heb 3:4)
The spirit that was calmly talked about in the flow of the Annual Conference is the intuition that the church is seeking a new vision. Everyone showed an attitude of seeking and asking how to love God more and how to build a more dynamic church. As we seek answers to such questions, we must again have a strong faith that God is the Lord of the church and the sole Creator of our lives.
The reality facing Wisconsin churches is that it is a time for each community to be awakened as it seeks new possibilities. We believe that new possibilities can be realized where we regenerate and strengthen our theology, missions, and worship of the church centered on God.
We must seek God's presence more strongly and pray more deeply. We must seek new possibilities through him.
Second, it is the idea that we must honestly face the many challenges that the church is struggling today. Looking at the reality of the changing world with good and creative eyes is an honest faith that clearly faces one's own conflicts. Even if there is no answer, I think again that we must lead and love the church that struggles to understand God's will more clearly.
Without the attitude of honest seeking, we cannot enlighten the world and there is no way to help those who are struggling in difficulties. Even if the church cannot be the answer, we must have the humble thought that the church is a community that asks and seeks answers together.
We sit tight in our hearts and seek the guidance of the Lord at Annual Conference that denominations have been separated and churches have gone on different paths due to the reality of churches in disagreement centering on the issue of human sexuality. It is unavoidable to ask how to understand different theological frameworks and understandings, ideological differences, and other controversies, and understanding of God's creation amid changes.
“The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Ps 34:18)
As the psalmist said, I believe that the Lord is close to the souls who are in pain and conflict.
I have a strong conviction that we cannot give up loving each other even if we cannot understand each other. I believe that spiritual discernment is the ability of direct prayer that makes us love.
So, differences and disagreements are obstacles, but with God's love, we must love and depend on each other. We must view differences as grace, consider differences as God’s gifts, and view the connected activities of integrating each person's diversity as the image of the church. There, you can feel and experience God's call for the humanity.
We recognize neighbors as God’s gift, and we seek the discipline to acknowledge our neighbors as a string of spiritual love. Not pretending to love or pretending to understand everything, but knowing God's love even if we can't do it ourselves. Our decision to love each other will open the future of our Conference. We pursue healing and restoration in all situations for all people.
Third, we must become a United Methodist community that envisions and practices new hope together, creating a church that people still feel attracted to, love, and belong to.
We must show hope the power to coexist and interdependence, crying together when we cry and laughing together when we laugh.
We graciously did our best to continue and finish the whirlwind of secession with love.
We believe that we must send off the departed people and the church with love, and we must pursue a spiritual awakening and desire to create a community of hope for the future.
It was a painful process, but I am grateful to the many people who overcame the pain with grace.
We must accept again that to be a disciple of Jesus with faith is to love with more courage and to pursue a broader and deeper spirituality. We believe that the hope pioneered by the people of Christ will never fail, and we hope to offer life and light for the world.
I believe that a beloved community initiative will be a Conference practice and spiritual discernment that brings us closer to the reality of such hope.
Again, thank you very much to everyone who worked hard for the 2023 Annual Conference. And as a servant leader, I was very moved to the point of gratitude and admiration that all of Wisconsin United Methodists were sincere people seeking grace. Thank you so much for your witnesses and service.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).