Lord, You have done it!
Grace, peace and joy from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our 2014 Annual Conference is over! By the grace of God and thorough the preparations of conference staff, members of the Annual Conference Planning Committee and the York River District, we had a great time. I give thanks and praise to our Lord for His blessings and presence among us, and I am deeply grateful to those who prepared for this conference on the stage and behind the scenes. I cannot thank enough the many people who prayed for our gathering and for me.
I think the Lord sent us very appropriate and powerful speakers. Bishop Robert Hayes gave us truly inspiring sermons and Dr. Elmer Collyer did a great job in teaching us about the renewal of our churches today. I also want to express appreciation to the Rev. Rhonda VanDyke Colby and to the Rev. Jim Noland for their messages. We are truly blessed by their ministries.
I was deeply touched by the overwhelming support for “Imagine No Malaria.” When the committee prepared for the launching of this initiative, we tried to make it a joyful celebration, not a burdensome time. I thank all the members of that committee, led by the Rev. Glenn Rowley, for their creativity and dedication to their task. Now, the happy dancing is over. The time has come to open our checkbooks!
As our approval of this initiative indicates, we want to save more than 100,000 lives from malaria. We can make a difference on the other side of the world through this initiative. We invite every church in the Virginia Conference to join this mission. Our plan is that this mission will be led by the children, youth and young adults in our churches. If your church does not have this rising generation, anyone who feels God’s call to this mission may lead this effort.
My hope and prayer is that this initiative will be far more than another fund-raising event. I proposed this initiative as a way of doing a spiritual discipline. Please begin with prayer and humbly seek God’s wisdom and guidance. The Lord always has a better idea than what we have. I want the churches to be blessed by this mission. Throughout this conference year, I want our hearts to be filled with joy and meaningfulness. I pray that all of us will truly learn and experience what our Lord said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Before our gathering, many people shared with me their thoughts on Resolution No. 1, which asked us to submit a petition to the 2016 General Conference to change the current language on homosexuality in our Discipline. Not everyone was happy about our decision to postpone our discussion on this resolution, but the overwhelming majority supported the motion to postpone. As I proposed to Common Table, we will have a conference-wide conversation on this issue during the 2014-2015 conference year. My prayer is that this conversation will help us discern God’s will on this issue and enable us to find a way of carrying out our mission together, although we have differences.
In our gathering, we reaffirmed the importance of Discipleship Circles. Dr. Colyer taught us that the renewal of our churches could begin with small groups with accountability. This is a great legacy of the Methodist movement and is still effective in today’s church. I am glad the Steering Team of All Things New- Equipping Vital Congregations introduced Discipleship Circles to the members of Annual Conference. I encourage and invite each of you to pray for this initiative and to join a Discipleship Circle when it is introduced in your district.
In preparing for Annual Conference, I prayed that our holy conferencing would be more than a business meeting. I dreamed that our gathering would be a time for renewing our faith and our commitment to the mission Jesus Christ entrusted to us. I hope we experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit who still leads our churches. I want all of us to learn, to encourage one another and to share in the fellowship of Christ.
If we had a great time during our gathering, first of all, it was because of God’s grace and blessings. It was also because of our prayerful and thoughtful preparations for this holy conferencing.
In the beginning of my Episcopal Address, I shared with you my prayer for our Annual Conference. It was “Lord, You do it! Please, You do it!” With deep gratitude to our Lord, now I pray, “Lord, You have done it! You did it!” Thanks be to God!
In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho