Referring to Romans 12:1-2, Bishop began his address by asking, “Do we really want to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, and setting aside our own desires and designs? We talk a lot about transformation, but do we really want to be radically and fundamentally changed? But that is what will happen if we seriously discern the will of God.”

Bishop then read from Ephesians 4:1-6, and said, “This is a powerful witness: to be in Christ means to be united in Christ. In our baptism, as in our Holy Communion sharing, we become ONE in Christ, ONE with each other, and ONE in ministry to all the world. All of today’s talk about schism and division and splitting the church ignores this one abiding and overarching truth: we are ONE. Even when we disagree, we are ONE. It is time to set aside our own opinion of what the Church should be, and together, prayerfully, discern what is the will of God for our Church. We cannot achieve this alone, but only together.”

Bishop explained that we are preparing to launch the Launch Out! fundraising and faith-raising campaign. He said, we will “do ministry that is central to God’s will to reach new people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, to revitalize and reenergize our existing communities of faith, and to live fully as those who ‘do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.’” (Micah 6:8)  According to Bishop Jung, this campaign is challenging to do in the best of times, and some feel it is even more difficult in times of uncertainty. “But this is what makes it so critical that we don’t wait. What we do today and in the days to come will impact our ministry for our children, grandchildren, and future generations,” he said.

“Our Church has long been divided about the acceptance and full inclusion of gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer, and questioning individuals,” Bishop said. “When we begin from the position that we are all created in the image of God, and that Christ died so that all the dividing walls of hostility have been destroyed…we are able to converse in a much more loving, compassionate, caring, gentle and just manner. We may never come to agreement, and we may never fully embrace a compromise, but by our faith in Jesus Christ, we can continue together in love despite our differences. The things that unite us…are always greater than the things that divide us,” he said.

Bishop talked about the recent plans put forth by our Council of Bishops and our Commission on the Way Forward. None of the plans call for a split around schism. The plan recommended by the majority of the Council of Bishops is the One Church Plan, which would remove all the restrictive and divisive language from the Book of Discipline, and allow a broad and inclusive approach to ministry in every Conference around the globe. “Our elected delegation to the Special Session of the General Conference have committed to meeting with every board, agency, caucus, council, and committee to hear from them,” he said.

Bishop explained that we are launching new ministries throughout the state that serve multicultural and multi-lingual congregations. The global nature of our Conference continues to grow with Hispanic, African, Burmese, Congolese, Hmong and Korean ministries. We have launched the Missional Churches Consultation Initiative (MCCI) to “turn-around” and strengthen existing healthy churches, he said. A Multicultural Ministries Center, called “Just Be Hope,” is being developed in Milwaukee on the site of the Kenwood United Methodist Church. Bishop said, “It will become a flagship new ministry that will provide an Urban Strategy Center, a home for Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), a community developer’s program, a stronger campus ministry presence, and may house multiple worshipping communities.”

Our world needs all the light and hope it can get, Bishop said. “It has made my heart sing this year to see peace and reconciliation come to the Korean Peninsula. I want to challenge us all to be crusaders for peace, tireless in our efforts for unity, harmony, peace and reconciliation; we need to act, starting with prayer.” Bishop challenged everyone to get involved in their community. He said, “When we act, when we make an impact, we participate in the amazing work of God to transform the world.”

This year we celebrate the 50-year anniversary when we became The United Methodist Church by uniting the Methodist Church and Evangelical United Brethren Church in April 1968, Bishop said. “As I serve as President of the Global Ministries with Thomas Kemper, General Secretary, who is our Bible Study Leader, we celebrate 200 years as a Methodist-related mission agency. It is our honor again to have global church leaders, Bishop Edward Khegay from Eurasia Area and Bishop Modesto Mamani from Bolivia Methodist Church.

Bishop concluded by telling the Conference to “Launch Out!, to let God use us for the transformation of the world.” Read full address here.