As most of you are aware, General Conference has been indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, but I want to write to everyone to share some thoughts and reflections on this decision and the implications due to the current situation.
First, no decisions being made at the global, denominational, jurisdictional, or annual conference level is being made lightly. We take this very seriously, and our absolute top consideration is the health and safety of all of God’s children.
Second, while the popular term is “social isolation” I prefer “personal distancing” as a condition of each of us taking care of others. I can keep my distance without creating isolation – and please remember, as the body of Christ, even when isolated we are never alone.
Third, our institution of The United Methodist Church is strong, and these temporary delays and postponements will not cause lasting harm. If anything, this could conceivably create a “grace margin” where we can refocus on things that are truly important – like the health, well-being, surviving and thriving of all the blessed and beautiful children of God.
So, this brings me to my fourth and final point – we are a people of prayer, faith, and strength. Paul writes in Romans 5:3 & 4, “we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” so we must be a people of hope. This is an incredibly important time for us to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Our General Conference will convene again in the future, but to serve and lead a church and in a society that will be different. We cannot help but be changed by what is going on. My prayer is that we will emerge from this difficult time with a greater sensitivity and commitment to compassion, mercy, patience, wholeness, and connection. We are one people worldwide moving through a period of challenge and threat. Thanks be to God that we have each other, we have our faith, and that we are all joined together through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung