The Laity Leadership Convocation with Bishop Hee-Soo Jung on February 13th-14th at Wesley UMC in Wausau featured Imagine No Malaria and Imagine Wisconsin Anew presentations, a bible study, worship, fellowship and great food. At the event on Friday, Bishop Jung delivered inspiring words about the good accomplishments coming from the United Methodist Church, including a 1% increase in connectional giving from 2013 to 2014, raising $65 million so far for Imagine No Malaria, the help provided around the world by UMCOR for the past 75 years, and the generosity given so that all clergy in the Central Conference now receive a pension. “We need to celebrate what we do. We are not a dying Church,” he said. “I also need you to know how much I appreciate you. Thank you for your service,” Bishop Jung exclaimed. He went on to talk about the current redistricting process happening in the Conference, and said that the five District Superintendents will meet personally with every church once every year. We will support all of the local churches; we will serve you,” Bishop Jung said. Click here to see photos.

Bible Study with Bishop Jung

On Saturday, Bishop Jung led a bible study focusing on Mark 6:30-44 and the theme Imagining Wisconsin Anew. Bishop Jung explained, “Imagining Wisconsin Anew is an effort to bear fruit by serving new people, diverse people, young people, all people. We are called to invest in new communities around the Conference, reach out beyond ourselves and buildings, and provide leadership and direction in a wide variety of settings, and with a wide diversity of people.” He told the group to “get on the balcony” and step away for a time to gather data and draw meaning amidst the noise. He said that Imagining Wisconsin Anew leadership requires “smart risk-taking, experimentation, tolerance for failure, organizational learning, and community mobilization.” Bishop Jung called on the laity to join the movement and celebrate the direction and vision of Imagining Wisconsin Anew.

Imagine No Malaria Update with Nicole Wilken

Next Nicole Wilken, Imagine No Malaria Field Coordinator, talked about Wisconsin’s involvement in the world-wide Imagine No Malaria campaign. “We were made to be in mission,” she said, “Jesus didn’t call his disciples together to just sit there – he called them, just as he calls us, to believe in a dynamic God and be changed. God gives us opportunities to dig in and to live in that mission and to make change in the world around us.” Wilken said, if you don’t know what the United Methodist Church is doing in the global fight against malaria, you are missing out on arguably one of our best-kept secrets. She continued, “I think it’s important that before we Imagine No Malaria, we spend a couple minutes to Imagine Malaria first. In most African communities it would be hard to find an adult who hasn’t had malaria at some point in their life and almost everyone has had a family member or a friend who has died from this disease. Adults are too sick to go to work, and children are too sick to go to school. All because of a mosquito bite, and a disease that’s both preventable and treatable. But the story doesn’t have to end there.” According to Wilken, “this is one of those projects where we are actively rejecting the idea that just because something is--doesn’t mean it’s the way it always has to be. Imagine No Malaria is the promise of what church can be, and what our church – together – can do. And one thing is clear: this project can bless the giver as much as it blesses the recipient.” If you haven’t started getting involved, there is still time to get the message of hope and healing back to your congregations, and find one way to get involved before Annual Conference in June, Wilken concluded. For resources, visit www.ImagineNoMalariaWI.org or contact Nicole Wilken at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 888-240-7328.

New Faith Development Update with Enrique Gonzalez

Enrique Gonzalez, Director of Congregational Development explained Wisconsin’s new faith development efforts, which are for “young people, unchurched people, diverse people.” He said there are seven seasons of planting a church, including discerning, visioning, gathering, discipling, worshipping, maturing and multiplying. The process is intended to happen in three to seven years. According to Gonzalez, the funding from the Conference Strategy Board only supports the seasons of gathering, discipling and worshipping. Some of the new church start initiatives in Wisconsin include Reedsburg-Dells Hispanic, Fort Atkinson Hispanic, The Servant Community, La Nueva Jerusalem Hispanic in Neenah, New Berlin Agape Hmong, Urban Poeima, Madison Korean, and more. Gonzalez invited the laity to be part of the movement by joining their District Strategy Team, being part of the opportunities for training in church development, and joining the Builder’s Call. Click here to see the notes from his presentation.

Annual Conference Invitation from Deanna Shimko

Deanna Shimko invited laity to attend the Laity Session and AC101: Navigating Annual Conference on Friday, June 12th; and to the Learning Day Workshops on Monday, June 15th at the Marriott Madison West in Middleton, WI. Registration for the Learning Day sessions are free, and will provide clergy and laity with resources to take back to their local congregations. Registration for the June 12th Laity sessions are not required. Click here to see the flyer.