February 2014:

Continuing opportunities for prayer

May the peace and blessings of our Lord be with you. I pray this new year will be a real blessing to you, your family and your church. As I said last month, I am very excited about the new possibilities that we will experience this year. May our Lord continue to lead the Virginia Conference.

Many of you may have heard the news that my administrative assistant, Estelle Pruden, will retire as of March 1 this year. She has served this office for 31 years, and I am the fifth Bishop she has worked with. I cannot thank her enough for her faithful and effective ministry for many years, and all the clergy and laity in the Virginia Conference will join me in expressing our deep appreciation for her dedication to Christ’s ministry. I pray the Lord will bless this new chapter of her life and her family. We will miss her.

As the Scripture says, there is a time to end and a time to start. The ad-hoc search committee and I discerned that Terri Biggins, administrative assistant to the director of Justice and Missional Excellence in our conference center building, would be the person to succeed Pruden in this ministry. She agreed to serve, and I am relieved by her commitment. I invite you support and pray for my new administrative assistant.

Last year it was a great joy to have the first Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer with Dr. Dwight Judy. This year we will have the second convocation on March 29 at Trinity UMC in Richmond. I am very excited to have Dr. Tom Albin as our keynote speaker. Dr. Albin is currently serving as dean of Upper Room Ministry and well known in the area of spiritual formation. The theme for this convocation will be spiritual disciplines.

Since we invited the churches to the Covenant for Spiritual Disciplines last fall, the question that came into my mind has been what will be next. Many people responded to this invitation. Now, our new task is how to help and nurture these faithful responders to grow in Christ. How can we guide them to experience the joy and meaningfulness of spiritual disciplines? How can we help them to live in the presence of God? So, the conference is planning to provide a brief guidance and resources for this purpose.

The Convocation on Prayer will also be an opportunity to learn more about spiritual disciplines. Besides the presentation of Dr. Albin, we will offer workshops on various kinds of spiritual disciplines. This will be a great opportunity to learn more about spiritual disciplines and share our experiences one another. I invite all congregations to join this convocation, especially those churches that responded to become prayer covenant congregations.

Thinking of the situation of our beloved United Methodist Church, I believe that it is truly the time to pray. Today we are facing many challenges, and it is becoming more and more difficult to maintain the unity of our church. These signs awaken us that it is the time to pray. Without prayer, without the help and guidance from the Lord, we cannot handle today’s situation. In such a time as this, if we do not pray, we do not do our best. This is truly the time to get together and pray for guidance from our Lord. This is the time for us to pray for a renewal and revival of our churches.

In the Bible, when the Israelites faced a crisis, they got together and prayed to the Lord. They repented and renewed their covenant with God. In prayer they overcame many challenges and crises.

This is not just an old story. We need to learn lessons from the people of Israel. The God who helped the Israelites in their crisis is our God also. Our Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever.

In our gathering we will open ourselves to God and humbly seek the wisdom, guidance and strength which come from the Lord. We will share and encourage one another to grow in the Spirit. We will spread the culture of prayer to the churches. I want you to remember Saturday, March 29, and to join this convocation. But first of all, please pray for our convocation. Without prayer, we cannot carry out our mission. Prayer should always go first. I am excited about this convocation and am looking forward to seeing you on March 29.

With many thanks,
Young Jin Cho

 

 

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