At a dinner banquet on Saturday evening, members of the Dongbu delegation, former Wisconsin bishops, and Wisconsin Cabinet members gave thanks for the Dongbu Annual Conference and Wisconsin Annual Conference’s sister relationship, and reflected on their hopes for the future.

North Central District Superintendent Forrest Wells gave an overview of the history of our sister relationship. In 2004, Bishop Sharon Rader and Bishop Oh-Suh Kwon signed the official agreement that initiated our sister relationship at Chuncheon United Methodist Church. Since then, groups from both Conferences have visited each other every year or every other year. “We have welcomed our Korean friends to Wisconsin many times,” Forrest said. “Each time we visit Korea, we visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone and pray together… we are together in mission and ministry.”

In 2016, a group of clergy and laity from Wisconsin visited Korea on a spiritual pilgrimage. During this trip, they visited Chuncheon UMC, which suffered massive damage from a fire earlier that year. “We consoled, we prayed, we provided financial support,” Forrest said. “In the midst of crisis, we can bring hope.” Bishop Kwon, who served as senior pastor of the church when the fire happened, thanked our Conference for our financial support and reported that the sanctuary has already been rebuilt. “With this fire, I realized my church is not my church – it is a church for the world,” he said.

Bishops Sharon Rader and Linda Lee reflected on their visits to Korea and involvement in the sister relationship while they each served as bishop. “When I was appointed Bishop in 2004, we were able to visit Korea to develop and deepen our relationship,” Bishop Lee said. “We felt the impact of your radical and amazing hospitality. I remember our morning prayers, and how deep the faith and prayer life is. It is such a blessing to see this relationship continue to deepen and grow.”

Bishop Rader added, “More important than the events that have happened are the relationships, friends, and memories that we’ve shared. In sharing, we learn about ourselves and others who are far away. Our relationships are strengthened through discipleship and witness to Christ’s love. When it comes down to it, this is what it’s all about: how we share with one another, how we have been loved by Jesus.”

Director of Connectional Ministries Sam Royappa and Executive Secretary Ki-Hyun Kong exchanged banners on behalf of their respective Conferences; and the Dongbu delegation and Wisconsin Conference Cabinets sang songs of praise. Bishop Heon Young Choi also expressed his thanks for the relationship, and shared his hopes for how it can continue to grow. “I’d like youth groups to visit each other, and to establish a ministerial exchange program.” He said pastors could spend a sabbatical year visiting, learning, teaching, and resting, with the host Conference providing meals and a place to stay.

At the end of the evening, Bishop Jung said, “I remember and continue to pray for this relationship. I have a deep appreciation to this delegation. Your presence empowers us. Let us continue to pray for each other.”