“Arise and shine like the sun. The glory of the Lord is shining on you!” (Isaiah 60:1)
Late last year, I crossed Southeast Asia from Bangkok to Yang gun to Chiang Mai. Each and every moment of the trip was unique and reinforced my belief that we have far too few opportunities to witness cultural richness and beauty, as well as the pain of poverty and ill developed social structures. Yet wherever I went, the Church was strong and powerful. God’s movement throughout those lands was tremendously beautiful.
On the way home, I saw and felt God’s amazing vision for the United Methodist Church in the United States, YES, I felt, more passionately, God’s strong desire and dream for all churches in America and Wisconsin. It is this image of God’s dream that struck me so deeply.
In 2015, we will prepare an ambitious vision for Imagining Wisconsin Anew, including reshaping five new Districts--a formation dedicated to raising the quality of our mission and ministry, an expanded level of support for local churches, a radical design for new faith community development, and larger covenant building for Circuit ministry. This vision will enrich our diversity, enhance our spiritual growth, and help grow our ministries. And, it will extend our aspiration for loving God and serving our neighbors.
We will continue our passion for a turnaround movement. I hope every local church will set the goal for 10-20% growth for membership and ministry capacities. We will dream and plan together for Christ’s Church. When we work together to Imagine Wisconsin Anew, I know the movement will transform our ability to serve God’s people in the Wisconsin Conference area and the world.
As hopefully you know, we have launched an Imagine No Malaria initiative to raise $1 million for this life-saving effort. With an ongoing commitment from everyone in Wisconsin, we will publicly celebrate this effort at our 2015 Annual Conference Session. This campaign will enhance our passionate heart of mission today, and help realize the whole United Methodist Church’s dream to eliminate malaria in Africa. We invite potential larger donors to open their hearts and show their generosity for this cause. We also invite all to participate in our Conference Malaria Day Walk on April 25, 2015, to demonstrate our mutual support and commitment. I give thanks to those clergy, laity, and churches who have already made financial commitments to this cause.
I believe, with the help of pastors and laity visioning and praying together, we will enhance opportunities across the Conference and make our Imagining Wisconsin Anew movement a reality. Since we represent the Savior to a lost and discouraged world, I encourage all churches to do their best in worship and reaching out. God expands our dream and commitment for the new day, and our common vision will grow with passionate spirituality and Wesleyan holiness practices.
As we embark on a new year, dear friends, let us not forget God’s amazing love and grace. My wife, Im, and my sons, Jae-Hugh and Jae-Joon, join me in wishing you all peace, joy and blessings in 2015.
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).