Bishop Hee-Soo Jung preached the sermon during Opening Worship at the Wisconsin Annual Conference. He took time to acknowledge the “challenges facing our denomination globally and the distress facing our own Annual Conference,” and that is why we changed the Annual Conference theme to Wilderness. He explained, “We are in a time of disagreement, hurt, anger, anxiety, and division. This is not where we would like to be, but where we find ourselves none the less.”

He told a story from his own life where his convictions led him to act in a way that he now regrets. He was raised Buddhist, but first heard the call of Jesus from conversations with a Methodist lay preacher. His strong beliefs led him to shun anything that was not specifically Christian. “My convictions lead me to self-righteous behavior that I came to regret later when I came to learn more about the richness of Jesus’ teachings… When my father died, I disrespected my father and my family. I refused to participate in the traditional burial ritual. Every family member participated, but I was not there. My convictions were more important to me than my family and my community.” Eventually, through talking with Jesus, Bishop was reminded that, “Jesus gave his life for my father’s, as well as for me.”

Bishop Jung said that following Jesus is not the same as following our hearts or our convictions. Following our heart can lead us in wonderful directions, but it can also lead us to a destructive relationship that ends badly. The General Conference caused so much pain because “delegates were willing to harm their community in order to stick to their convictions.” However, Bishop Jung still believes that, “God is not finished with the Wisconsin Conference. God is not finished with the United Methodist Church.”

Read Bishop Jung's full sermon

During the worship ceremony, an offering was taken for the Dongbu Conference, our sister Annual Conference in the Korean Methodist Church. Many areas were damaged by fires earlier this year. This offering was taken to help support the recovery process. $2,216.37 was collected.