140 people gathered at Lake Street United Methodist Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for the first Bishops’ Hmong Leadership Summit on March 8 and 9. Many more attended various sessions through live-streaming on Facebook. Attendees came from Hmong United Methodist Churches and ministries in Wisconsin, Minnesota, California and North Carolina. The majority were from our own Wisconsin Annual Conference. This was the first such gathering attempting to support and strengthen our Hmong United Methodists across our denomination.

The summit was the creation of Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, Bishop Bruce Ough, District Superintendents, and Directors of Congregational Development who serve the contiguous districts along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. Members of the California-Nevada and Western North Carolina Conferences, which also have large Hmong populations, participated in the planning and attended the Summit. It was sponsored by a grant from the General Board of Global Ministries’ Asian American Language Ministries. The purpose of the Summit was to honor Hmong culture and identity; affirm United Methodist theology, mission, and polity in our Hmong churches; raise up new Hmong leaders; network within the existing Hmong churches and ministries; strategize for new Hmong ministries; and build protocols and communication for connectional iteration.

Both days featured worship, education, fellowship, and a feast of Hmong food. Despite the threat of snow, our Hmong United Methodists were faithful in attendance. A band and choir from ChristWay United Methodist Church of Milwaukee provided music. Rev. Craig Brown, Director of Congregational Development of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, led a teaching session on United Methodists beliefs, effective organizational structure, and the cultural of call. Rev. Dan Johnson, District Superintendent of the Twin Cities, led an exercise on mission and vision. Bishop Jung preached on God’s plan of salvation for the Hmong people in the diaspora, especially the Hmong in the United States who had experience as boat people (Exodus 2:1-9). Bishop Ough led the closing worship challenging Hmong United Methodists to be God’s sent people into the mission field and ministry (Luke 10:1-11). Bishop Jung and Bishop Ough co-led a session of questions, answers, and comments to strengthen and unite the Hmong United Methodist Churches together. Rev. Mao planned the inspiring worship services that framed our time together, with the help of other Hmong clergies and laity.

Rev. Dr. Kate Croskery Jones, District Superintendent of the hosting North West District (Wisconsin Annual Conference), was the leader who convened the planning team of the event and also led the morning devotion on Saturday. The planning team also included Rev. Tsuker Yang, District Superintendent of the North Central District (Wisconsin Annual Conference) and Chair of the Hmong Caucus; Rev. Cheng Yang; Chong Koua Xiong; Rev. Debra Brady and Rev. Craig Brown of the California Nevada Annual Conference; Rev. Dan Johnson and Shine Vang of the Minnesota Annual Conference; Rev. Jonah Vang from the Western North Carolina Annual Conference; and Rev. Mao Her, Rev. Jerry Morris, and Lee Yang of the Wisconsin Annual Conference.

Recorded worship and educational sessions can be viewed at the Hmong UMC Facebook page.