For the past several months, I’ve been deeply involved in the formation of the context for how and why we are in ministry as United Methodists in Wisconsin. Wherever I go, I seek to discover what God is doing in and through our congregations and Circuits to fulfill the biblical mandate to reach out to people with God’s love in Jesus’ name. Since returning home to Wisconsin, I have been seeking to imagine Wisconsin anew!
What does that mean? It means seeking to see what God is placing before us as possibilities. It means learning what has changed and continues to change in the communities that make up Wisconsin. What new populations or people are living in our communities and how are we going to reach out to them in God’s love? How are we preparing ourselves to offer leadership in the United Methodist congregations in Wisconsin to reach out beyond ourselves and our buildings?
How are we as United Methodists going to prepare the soil of our lives and our faith communities so we are equipped to produce the Fruit of the Spirit?
The Cabinet, other Conference Leadership, and I have started to find answers to these questions. For one thing, we have created District Strategy Teams. Persons recruited by the District Superintendents to work together with them toward learning what has changed in the communities in their Districts in Wisconsin, and developing plans and a strategy for addressing new people and places, as well as exploring together how to invite people into relationships with each other and Jesus Christ through existing congregations. We’ve started the training and equipping of these teams, and will continue throughout the year to meet and to learn together.
The work of the Cabinet and District Strategy Teams has also invited the Conference Board of Congregational Development to imagine itself anew. This Board has decided to go to the Annual Conference asking for a change in their name and direction from Board of Congregational Development to Conference Strategy Team.
Everywhere I go, I have found that we as United Methodists in Wisconsin want and need to pay careful attention to our surroundings and the people of our communities. I have met old friends and new who tell me they want to bear good fruit as followers of Jesus Christ. Together, I believe we will find the tools and opportunities that will allow God to transform our lives and the congregations of Wisconsin.
I give thanks to God for all of you and all you do!
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).