Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strange.
This year has been difficult in so many ways. We have been tested, afflicted, frustrated, separated, masked, sprayed, disconnected and disinfected until we want to pull our hair out, shouting, “Enough!” In so many ways, it has almost been too much.
But through it all, I must admit, I am overwhelmed and deeply impressed by your faithfulness. The generosity, giving, sacrifice, and commitment of our laity and clergy across the Wisconsin Conference has never been greater. Your support of critical ministries has been unflagging and dedicated. We have seen a very small drop in our connectional giving, allowing us to continue to support key ministries. We have been able to keep our financial commitments to Harbor House Shelter, United Methodist Children’s Services, and Northcott Neighborhood House. We have been able to provide crucial resourcing to our Camps at Pine Lake and Lucerne and to support our campus ministries. We have met our denominational commitments to the very best of our abilities, and this is at the Conference level.
Congregations have provided amazing ministries in their communities, continuing to worship in creative and virtual ways. Support of feeding, shelter, and crisis intervention ministries has continued unabated. Though we have not been able to engage in hands-on mission experiences this year as a Conference, many local church groups have participated in providing essential services across the state.
I need to commend you all on your abundant generosity and your sacrificial giving of time and talent in addition to financial resources. I especially want to thank the clergy and laity who have participated in peaceful demonstrations and protests across the state. I want everyone to be aware of the pastoral and spiritual aid given by our leaders to protesters, law enforcement, business owners, and residents, in Kenosha and other cities, towns, and communities around the state. The pandemic has caused us to be more cautious and considerate of others, preventing us from gathering in our sanctuaries, but it in no way has slowed the faithfulness of Wisconsin United Methodists. My beautiful people, I am so proud of you!
It is a testimony to our deep faith that we continue to give and serve in difficult times. I pray for the day when the virus will pass, the quest for equitable justice might be achieved, and we can gather together to raise our voices in worship and praise. I hope this day comes soon, but I know that in the meantime our churches will continue to witness to the goodness, the love, and the abundant generosity of our God. Thanks be to God, and thanks be to all of you.
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).