From the Bishop
Thanks be to God!
Bishop Young Jin Cho
May the grace and peace of our risen Lord be with you.
Our 2013 Annual Conference is over! When I gave the final benediction in our closing worship service on June 23, my heart was filled with deep gratitude and joy. I could not thank enough our God and all the members of the Annual Conference.
I think our Annual Conference went well. It was due to God’s abundant grace and blessings and to the thorough preparations of the York River District, the Annual Conference Planning Committee and the staff of the Conference Center.
As a rookie bishop, it was my first time to preside. When I started preparing, my prayer was that our gathering be more than a business meeting. I really wanted our holy conferencing to be an opportunity to experience God’s presence among us. I really wanted our Annual Conference to be a time to encourage one another. I really wanted us to go back to our churches after conference with uplifted spirits and hope. I know I cannot give all these blessings. I know only our Lord can bless us in this way. This is the reason I prayed and asked the churches to pray also.
I heard many positive comments from conference members who appreciated my leadership. But without God’s help and guidance, I could not have led. All glory, honor, and thanks should go to our God. God heard our prayers and responded to our needs.
The Bible Study leader and preachers were truly a blessing to us. Their messages were powerful and inspiring and what we needed. The worship leaders and praise team were also great! I thank God for using these persons for our conference.
During this time I learned how thorough and thoughtful preparation is needed for a successful and smooth Annual Conference. So many people dedicated their time, energy, and creativity to the glory of God. Because of their sacrifices and devotion behind the scenes, everything went smoothly. Before conference, we were concerned about the sound system and an echo issue, but the leaders worked very hard to solve these problems. I think everything worked extremely well, except for a couple of areas.
I delivered an “Episcopal Address” for the first time in my life. Of course, this should have been the first time, because this year is my first year as a bishop. I have heard the president’s State of the Union Address on many occasions and read the episcopal addresses of more experienced bishops a couple of times. Even so, at first, I did not have any clear idea of what to say in my address. But later I just decided to share what I and conference leadership have discerned as what should be the focus of my four years of ministry as your bishop. The Lord was truly my helper in the preparation and delivery of this address.
I think this Annual Conference is a good example of what can happen if we pray together. If we humbly open ourselves to our Lord and seek God’s wisdom and guidance, we will see and experience the difference.
To continue to implement the theme, “Lord, Teach us to Pray,” the leadership of our conference is preparing a follow-up plan. Basically, we will continue to invite the clergy and laity of the Virginia Conference to set aside one hour daily for the spiritual disciplines. We will also invite congregations to become a “Prayer Covenant Congregation.” More detailed information will be shared with you as the plan is developed.
If there was one person who did not need to pray, it would have been Jesus Christ. He said, “My father is in me, and I am in Him.” What Jesus said were the words that God had given Him. Even so, Jesus prayed regularly and fervently. How can we do our ministries without praying also? In prayer our faith will be strengthened, and our mission will be empowered to bear much fruit. The praying church will have a new future.
Our 2013 Annual Conference is now over. But we must let this be, not an end, but a new beginning. Let us keep on fanning the flame of prayer. Let us keep on strengthening the spiritual foundation of our mission and ministries with prayer.
Apart from our Lord, we can do nothing. No spiritual vitality, no vital congregations.
In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho