Welcome to a Community Based on Sharing
The way Luke tells it there was a day that the mission of the seventy returned with joy. In days of pandemic, rampant racism, and rapid change—where is joy to be found?
Turn the page back to chapter ten. In the first nine verses itinerants are sent with instructions not to carry a purse or bag or extra clothing. They were sent empty-handed to towns and places Jesus intended them to go. When the itinerants were received by householders—those who were settled—the itinerants were to eat what was set before them and stay. Make relationships that are both receiving and giving. Then the itinerant can cure and teach that where the sharing of gifts arises, the Kingdom of God has come near. Relationships that live out an intentional interdependence caused the seventy to not just give and burn out giving—but return with joy.
Where the sharing of gifts arises, the Kingdom of God is made known. Our United Methodist polity is based on this sharing. The two great covenants of United Methodist life are the apportionment and appointment. The design of Wesley was that the gifts of the itinerants were shared and deployed where the needs called for this sharing—that is the essence of our appointment process. This sharing has allowed us to make appointments in places that other denominations have abandoned, and megachurches would not invest in. The apportionment similarly means we share for the benefit and needs of the whole. This work of healing and sustaining puts us in daily relationship with each other. United Methodists have sustained mission and disaster relief with innovation and vigor because we know when the sharing of gifts arises, the Kingdom of God has come near.
This requires storytelling—or we share gifts but no longer see transformation. Storytelling helps us see the faces the way the seventy could see eye to eye. Perhaps you haver grown tired of this system. Sometimes our talk becomes church language absent transformation stories. Go to umcmission.org or umc.org or wisconsinumc.org and take time to sit with the stories that they might change you. Where the sharing of gifts arises, the Kingdom of God is made known.
The seeds of previous mission efforts are sustaining us in days our clergy supply is challenged. The days are long past that our ministry could be sustained only by clergy that are Wisconsin-born. 40% of our clergy are not Wisconsin-born. We gratefully acknowledge that the mission work of previous generations to South Korea, Africa, and Central America now bless us with an international supply of highly educated faithful and gifted people in our pulpits.
I write to affirm you and encourage. The out-pouring of support for our Afghan neighbors at Fort McCoy is beautiful. Your ongoing support of our health and welfare ministries and conference apportionments sustains vitality so that the next generation can enjoy the fruit of ministry we enjoyed. Do your best to finish the year by paying your apportioned share at 100%. Stories of your faithfulness come to me daily and I want you to know my joy and appreciation for your ministry. You inspire me. I will keep praying for you. Please keep praying for me.
In the hope that is ours in Christ,
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).