Many thanks to God and to all of you
Grace, peace and joy from our Lord Jesus Christ.
I write this article with deep gratitude to our Lord and to all of you. When you receive this Advocate, it will be the last day of our 2014 Annual Conference. By the grace of God and all of your prayers and support, I think Annual Conference went very well. I am deeply grateful to many people, including the members of the Annual Conference Planning Team, the staff of the Virginia Conference Center and the people who worked very hard on the stage and behind the scene to make this gathering meaningful and successful. Many thanks to God and to all of you!
Last year in my episcopal Address, I shared with you four focus areas of my ministry. With great joy I would like to report the following progress:
(1) All Things New- Equipping Vital Congregations (ATN- EVC)
- The Steering Team continued to meet and work for the systemic implementation of the ATN- EQV.
- The Data Automation Team did their task, and the conference website has been updated.
- The Discipleship Circle Design Team developed the model that consists of clergy and laity and passed the baton to the Implementation Team. Two beta groups were formed and have begun their journey.
- The Prayer Team continues to meet monthly and prays for the renewal and revival of our churches.
- To transform our clergy leadership, the Virginia Clergy Leadership Program was created and 20 clergy in the first cohort group began their 18-month journey last February and finished two 3-day sessions.
- Last October 39 clergy joined the Pilgrimage for Spiritual Renewal to Korea, and another trip is scheduled this October.
(2) Strengthening Spiritual Foundation of Mission and Ministries
- More than 200 congregations responded to the invitation to spiritual discipline and signed to become a Prayer Covenant Congregation.
- About 400 people gathered and prayed together at the Second Bishops’ Convocation on Prayer.
-The Board of Discipleship designed three regional gatherings as a follow-up to the Prayer Convocation.
- I set May 25 as a conference-wide Day of Prayer for the renewal and revival of the churches.
- If Annual Conference approves, we will launch an episcopal initiative, “Imagine No Malaria,” as one way of spiritual disciplines.
(3) Developing New Faith Communities
- To develop the leadership for new faith communities, every fall we will host a New Church Leadership Institute.
- The Church Development Team has been working with Dr. Lovett Weems to identify the geographic areas where we should concentrate our efforts over the next 5 years in light of anticipated growth.
- During this conference year two new faith communities were started and three new faith communities are currently in preparation.
(4) Nurturing the Culture of Cooperation and Coordination
- A Task Force was organized and has been working to develop a long-term financial strategy for the conference.
- A meeting was held of chairs/presidents of conference boards and agencies to get to know each other better and to share a balcony view of conference mission and ministries.
- Based upon the decision in our last Annual Conference, we clarified the mission of the Virginia Conference. Equipping local churches for ministry and connecting the churches to God’s mission beyond the local church has been and remains the key of our mission.
I think our conference is on the right track, and I thank God for God’s guidance. We need to continue to fan the flame of prayer that we may more radically open ourselves to God and humbly seek and obey the will of God. As General Conference approaches, the entire United Methodist Church will face many challenges and difficult situations. Without deep prayer we will never be able to deal with these situations. If we do not humbly open ourselves to God and seek God’s guidance, I do not think we can overcome the challenges we will face.
So, although our 2014 Annual Conference is over, we should not stop praying for the renewal and revival of our churches. We need more fervent and deeper prayer for the future of our churches. Let us do not forget what John Wesley said: “God does nothing apart from prayer.”
One personal note is that I am going to take a renewal leave from July 21 to Aug.31 to reflect upon my two years’ of ministry as bishop and to prepare for the second half of my ministry. If you will keep on praying for me, I will deeply appreciate that. I also ask you to pray for the churches that will receive new pastors and for the pastors who have received new appointments. May the Lord continue to bless all of our churches.
In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho