June 2015:

Thy will be done

 Friends,

May the grace and peace from our Lord be with you.

Soon we will gather at the Berglund Center (formerly known as the Roanoke Civic Center) in Roanoke, Virginia, for our 2015 Annual Conference. I am very excited and looking forward to meeting clergy and laity from all the churches in the Virginia Annual Conference.

This year we will have a very tight schedule filled with many tasks. We will elect 22 delegates (11 clergy and 11 laity) to General Conference (GC) and the same number of delegates to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJC). For the first time, we will use electronic keypad devices for balloting. It will save lots of our time, and I hope this process goes well.

I pray that the Virginia Annual Conference will send the best delegates to the 2016 GC and SEJC. Both conferences are very important for the present and the future of our denomination. I think a fair representation reflecting our diversity will be very important, but my prayer is that those who are elected are persons who are radically open to God and humbly seek and obey the guidance of our Lord who is the head of our church. 

As the 2016 GC approaches, we are struggling and dealing with many challenges for our future. I think the best way to respond to these challenges is to humbly open ourselves to God and to listen and follow the guidance of our Good Shepherd rather than pursuing one’s own agenda. It is to go back to the basics of our faith. The time has come for us to truly let Jesus Christ be the Lord in our gathering and in our decision-making process.

This year more than 20 resolutions and petitions to the 2016 GC were submitted. I think this is the greatest number of resolutions and petitions in recent years. I know all of them are important and deserve our consideration, but we have very limited time. I am not sure we can consider all these petitions to GC and the resolutions. My prayer is “Thy will be done” in our discussion on these items.

My other prayer is for us not to forget the theme of our 2015 Annual Conference in the midst of holy conferencing, From Members to Disciples. For many years we focused more on increasing the members of our churches than on making disciples of Jesus Christ. The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. But I wonder if we fully understand the meaning of following Jesus Christ as His disciples. Living as Jesus’ disciples is more than becoming a better person. It is more than doing some good works. It challenges us to change our values and priorities. In this journey our goal in life is to be born anew, and we are called to live a transformed life. The core of our discipleship is about the Lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ. Is His Lordship truly honored and respected in our daily lives and in our churches? Do we ask the Lord to be on our side or ask ourselves to be on our Lord’s side? Are we willing to surrender ourselves to the Lord?

Another question related to our disciple-making mission is for the churches. We emphasize that our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. However, do we have road maps to making disciples of Jesus Christ? To make disciples of Jesus Christ what kind of plan or curriculum do we have? I still remember what I heard at a seminar: Most United Methodists are products of an unintentional disciple-making process.

I pray and hope that during our gathering we will visit our mission again and rededicate ourselves to the mission that our risen Christ entrusted to us. This is the reason we, The United Methodist Church, exist. This is the priority we need to set. This is the vision we need to rediscover in our gathering. So, I appeal to all of you to pray “Thy will be done” in our upcoming Annual Conference. If the Lord’s will is done in our balloting, discussion, worship and teaching session, then our gathering will be a great success. Let us prepare ourselves for our upcoming Annual Conference with prayer, a fervent prayer: “Thy will be done in our Annual Conference as it is in heaven.”

In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho

 

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