January 2014:

Reasons to be excited

A new year has arrived! The year 2014, which is filled with hope, new possibilities and expectations, has started.  I am deeply grateful to God for this new opportunity. May the amazing grace and peace from our Lord be with all of you.

I have many reasons to be excited and to have hope for this year. Last year we invited the churches to join the covenant for spiritual disciplines. I am deeply moved and touched by the responses from the churches. I have not counted the number of churches that decided to take part in this movement, but so far, I am hearing many positive responses. I am very excited about what the Lord will do when we humbly open ourselves to God and seek for the will of God in prayer.

Now, the next task will be how to guide the people who have made commitments to this covenant. We need to help and equip them how to practice one hour of daily spiritual disciplines and grow in Christ. I would like to encourage the clergy to take this task seriously and prayerfully lead this journey as spiritual leaders. The Virginia Conference will also help the churches to move forward.

I am very excited about the 2014 Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer, which will be held on Saturday, March 29. The theme this year will be spiritual disciplines, and Dr. Tom Albin has been invited as the main speaker.  He is dean of Upper Room Ministries of The United Methodist Church and has been well known to the churches as a spiritual leader. My hope is that all the prayer covenant congregations will get together on that day and pray and learn together about spiritual disciplines. Your prayer for this convocation will be appreciated.

Another exciting thing is the Virginia Clergy Leadership program. We have already selected 20 clergy as the first cohort, and they will meet together for their first session on Feb. 11-13. This purpose of this program is the nurturing of clergy leadership grounded in deep spiritual maturity. During 18 months, participants will have six sessions of reading, reflection and spiritual practices within the context of a peer learning group. I am deeply grateful to the Clergy Effectiveness Team of the Board of Ordained Ministry for developing and implementing this program. I believe that transforming clergy leadership will be the first step in turning around our churches from maintenance to fruitfulness.

I am also excited about the progress of the systemic implementation of All Things New- Equipping Vital Congregations. The Data Automation Team has already developed a new program for charge conference information and is preparing for a new statistical data reporting system. The Prayer Team has been faithfully praying for this initiative and for a renewal of our churches. The Discipleship Circle Design Team will soon finish its work and pass the baton to the Implementation Team. I think these Discipleship Circles, which will be small groups organized with both clergy and laity, will be the key in our growing spiritually and in dealing with vital signs of the churches. Soon, the pilot group will begin and the design will be tested. We will need a lot of prayer support for this discipleship circle. I invite you to join me in supporting this new plan with your prayers.

In January, the Board of Ordained Ministry will interview and examine the clergy who have applied for ordination and full membership this year. This is a very serious and important ministry for the Kingdom of God, and the Board’s discernment will make a huge impact on our churches. The members of the Board of Ordained Ministry are fully aware of the importance of this task, and they will be working very hard to dedicate their best to the Lord and for the church. I deeply appreciate their work and ask all of you to pray for the Board members and for the candidates who applied for ordination.

I am excited and looking forward to the new year because it is full of many possibilities. I am deeply grateful to God for the signs of new things and new changes. I cannot express my thanks enough to God and to all of you for the culture of prayer that is spreading in our churches. If we open ourselves to the Lord and listen and follow the guidance and the wisdom of our Lord, we will have a different future. I am very excited because of this possibility.

May God bless all of us this new year and give us peace.

In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho



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