Bishop Jung opened Friday evening’s Laity Session by affirming the importance of laity in the body of Christ. “This is a family,” Bishop Jung said. “We come from all different cultures, united in Christ so we become one. Without you, there’s no church. Without you, there’s no hope for the world.”

He also talked about the ongoing work of the Council of Bishops’ Commission on A Way Forward. “The members are working very hard, and I think they constantly claim clearly to all of us, we as The United Methodist Church, we still have strong faith. That faith will hold us down, hold us together. This wind of challenge, trouble, and disagreement makes us strong.”

Conference Lay Leader Deanna Shimko welcomed and introduced members of the Dongbu Annual Conference delegation, who were also presented with gifts. Bishop Heon Young Choi, Shin-Jin Park, Chul-Hee Lee, and Soon-Jeong Park greeted the laity, talked about the history of Dongbu’s relationship with Wisconsin, and how it can continue to grow. Shin-Jin Park hopes to establish missional relationships between our Conferences’ United Methodist Men and Women, to have laity accompany pastors on exchange trips, to engage in a dialogue of reducing the use of nuclear weapons worldwide, and continue to work together toward the reunification of Korea. “When we focus on what’s going on in the world, we can accomplish so much,” he said. “Let’s pray together and participate together.”

General Conference Delegates Lisa King and Barbara Dick provided an update on General Conference legislature and work. King explained the purpose of the special session of General Conference to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis. The members of the Commission on A Way Forward are expected to complete their work in 2018 and make recommendations to the Council of Bishops, and then the Council of Bishops will make the report on what will be acted on at the 2019 special session. All current members of the Wisconsin delegation have committed to attend and serve this special session. A new delegation will be elected for the 2020 General Conference.

Dick presented the constitutional amendments from General Conference that will be voted on during Sunday afternoon’s plenary.  Five amendments were presented to the 2016 General Conference and were passed, by a two-thirds majority. To be ratified, votes must be taken in all annual and central conferences, and two-thirds of these conferences must approve them. Constitutional Amendments are unique in that there is no discussion or debate on them, no amendments or substitutions are allowed, and they each receive a simple “yes, I approve” or “no, I reject” vote. Click here to read more about the amendments. The final results of all the balloting will be shared following the first Council of Bishop’s meeting after voting is completed.

Marcia McFee provided music, and led attendees in anointing one another at the end of the session. Board of Laity members and certified lay speakers were also recognized.

“My hope is that you’ve received encouragement, inspiration, and useful information,” Shimko said. “That’s what we aspire to do together.”