Wherever I go in Wisconsin I see possibilities for our United Methodist connection to expand in ministry and to offer new opportunities to welcome new people. It is an exciting journey!
In the history of the Christian faith, and in our more recent United Methodist history, no method for reaching new believers and forming new disciples has been more effective than starting new faith communities. Every one of our current congregations in Wisconsin was developed by leaders who came from somewhere else and responded to the wide variety of needs for fellowship, worship, support, encouragement, and mission of the people, by establishing faith communities. Some of these have been in ministry and mission for over 175 years!
Sometimes I get asked, “What do you mean by the term, “New Faith Community”? I am talking about a group of Christians who worship God together, who invite others to become disciples of Jesus Christ, and who are on mission to transform the world, starting with their own lives and neighborhoods, and reaching as far into the world as possible with the resources they have to share.
New Faith Communities may not always be a Sunday morning gathering for a traditional worship and disciple making program. Instead, the focus may be on innovation and reaching out to new people in new ways. In some places, this may mean a church without a building meeting in a variety of public places, or homes, or other places accessible and welcoming for all people. And, the focus isn’t only on the worship and spiritual development of those who gather, but also leading to serving our neighbors, offering Christ’s love to people of all status and condition.
I invite you to develop an awareness of who is in our communities, and how we might connect with them to speak directly to their hearts and spirits and to build relationships. Together, we will Imagine Wisconsin Anew and increase our capacity to make a difference in the lives of individuals and in transforming our world with the love of Jesus Christ.
Hee-Soo Jung, PhD
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).