Lord, Renew Me First
May the grace and peace of our risen Lord be with you.
This month we will gather again at Hampton Convention Center for the 232nd Session of the Virginia Annual Conference. This is will be a time to worship, to celebrate what God has done in our churches, to share fellowship in Christ and to prepare for the coming year. This will also be a time to learn about the renewal of the church and to do the business of our conference.
As I prayed last year, I truly want our gathering to be more than a business meeting. I pray that all of us will experience the presence of our risen Lord and be renewed by the Spirit. The theme of our gathering this year is “Lord, Renew us with your Spirit.” This is truly our prayer, hope and expectation for the future of our churches.
According to Dr. Robert McAfee Brown, the spirit of Protestantism is constant renewal at the hands of God. The Reformation was not completed in the 16th century. The renewal of the church is being continued by the Spirit of God. The Methodist Church is a great example of the church renewal movement. This movement has truly transformed the lives of people and the church and the world.
The renewal of the church is not a human creation. It is God’s grace and gift for the church, which is initiated by the Holy Spirit. In church history God used men and women who opened their hearts to God and prayed for a renewal of the church. As E.M. Bounds says in his book, Power through Prayer, the church is looking for better methods, but God is looking for better persons whom God can use, persons mighty in prayer.
The renewal of the church is more than implementing another program. It is the movement to restore a biblical, authentic and vital church, as in the Bible. This will begin with the renewal of an individual or a group of people. These transformed people will change the church and the world. So, there is a prayer we need to pray as we prepare for our Annual Conference: “Lord, renew me first with your Spirit.”
Today we are in urgent need of the renewal and revival of the church. The church is facing many internal and external challenges. We have been trying to turn around our declining churches for many years, but so far we do not see much fruit. All of us agree that the church needs to be renewed. The need for a renewal is there, but not many people kneel down before God and pray for a renewal of the church. Now is the time for us to get together and pray for this. Now is the time to gather together with holy expectations.
This year we invited Dr. Elmer Colyer to our Annual Conference for three sessions of teaching on church renewal. Our preachers will be Bishop Robert Hays for Saturday morning worship. Our preacher for the service for the Ordering of Ministry will be the Rev. Rhonda VanDyke Colby. The Rev. James R. Noland will speak on behalf of the retiring class. I will preach the closing service for the Fixing of the Appointments. I invite you to join me in praying for all of these speakers
As our gathering approaches, I am very excited about what God will do among us. I truly believe that the words of Jesus are true: if two or three of us gather in Jesus’ name, the risen Lord will be with us. So, I am very excited about what God will do among us. I am looking forward to the work of the Spirit who will renew us and empower us for God’s mission and ministries. I invite you to keep on praying for this Annual Conference. I also want you to remember me in your prayers for our Annual Conference sessions.
If we prepare for our gathering with prayer, great things will happen through the Holy Spirit who renews and leads our churches today. I look forward to seeing all of you in Hampton,
In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho