Psalm 104:33 – “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praise to my God while I have being.”

My brothers and sisters, thank you!  Let us celebrate and sing, rejoice and be glad. Together, we have done a wonderful thing!  Because of our commitment and generosity, lives have been saved, people have been given hope, and the loving grace and power of Jesus Christ have been shared around the world. God is doing amazing things through us, and we should be joyful. I want every pastor in our Conference to share the good news with the whole congregation: Wisconsin Conference paid its General Church apportionments in full, 100%, for 2017. In fact, we paid our commitment to Africa University at 105%!

Many in our Church live under a myth about apportionments. They feel these are administrative costs, or pay insurance, or overhead. And while a very small portion does go to these costs (less than 6%), the vast majority fund life-saving, faith-raising, hope-giving mission and ministry locally, denominationally, and globally.

In Wisconsin, we have camps and campus ministries and mission teams funded through our apportionments. We support health and welfare ministries, young clergy education and development, clergy and laity training, new congregational development, and a host of mercy and justice ministries. Our Boards of Ordained and Lay Ministries are funded. Local, jurisdictional, national and international missions, ministry, projects, and programs are supported.

Globally, we help The United Methodist Church be early on the spot in times of natural disasters and human suffering. This year, Wisconsin was present in Mexico, Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Haiti, Zimbabwe, and a host of other locations around the world through our connectional and second mile giving. We support Sager Brown in Louisiana and Midwest Distribution in Illinois, numerous local and national projects through Volunteers in Mission, and internationally through International Volunteers in Mission, and many ongoing projects through our denomination.

We are in partnership with many of our General Boards and Agencies, and the ministries they carry out. We celebrate United Methodist Committee on Relief, The General Boards of Global Ministries, Church and Society, Pensions and Health Benefits and others. We are connected to our General Council on Finance and Administration, United Methodist Communications, Discipleship Ministries, the Commissions on Archives and History, Religion and Race, and the Status and Role of Women. We have been richly blessed, and superbly resourced by many of these agencies.

We are in ministry, together. I openly acknowledge that for many of our churches it is a struggle to pay apportionments in full. It has been a sacrificial struggle for the Conference to make apportionment payments to the General Church a priority, as well. But we know that there is no greater, or more faithful way for us to be in ministry together than to celebrate our connectional identity and recommit to our Wesleyan roots by funding first the works of justice, mercy and truth. We may argue over theology, and we may have vastly different understandings of the meaning of scripture – we may even debate the structure and future of the denomination, but what doesn’t change is our commitment to be a witness for Christ in the world. That is what paying apportionments is: our witness of the love and grace and power of Christ in the world. When we all do our part, God blesses us and the Holy Spirit works through us to do amazing things.

And so, once more, I thank you. I encourage you to celebrate that we paid 100% together as a Conference of The United Methodist Church. I also encourage all of our churches to set 100% payment of local church apportionments as a goal for 2018 and beyond. It is our shared ministry, and it is the way we are all faithful to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”  And one last word, please be sure to highlight, promote, celebrate, and participate in UMCOR Sunday, March 11, 2018. More information is available: http://www.umcgiving.org/ministry-articles/one-great-hour-of-sharing.

Grace and Peace,

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung