From the Bishop


January 2013:

A new opportunity

   Bishop Young Jin Cho

A new year has dawned. This is another gift from God and a new opportunity to live for the gloryof God. May the Lord continue to bless all churches in the Virginia Conference and their mission and ministries. I am very grateful and excited about this opportunity and possibility given to us this New Year.

More than four months have passed since I began to serve as your bishop. During these four months many new things and serious discussions have happened, and we are trying to move toward a better and more fruitful future. Based upon these conversations and prayer, this year I will continue to focus on the following areas:

1) All things New-Equipping Vital Congregations: The conference has already organized the Bishop’s Steering Team for Vital Congregations and has been organizing and working to implement this initiative. As you know, from Jan. 1, all churches in the conference will be invited to record statistical data weekly. I will continue to work with the Steering Team and other teams to help this initiative to become a movement to restore a biblical and authentic church. I will also work with the Board of Ordained Ministry to help the clergy to be more equipped to do an effective ministry in today’s changing world. 

2) Strengthening spiritual foundation of our mission and ministries: Originally, the prayer covenant was set to last 100 days from the start date of my appointment as bishop. But I strongly encourage and continue to invite clergy and laity to dedicate one hour daily for their spiritual disciplines. We need to keep on praying for a renewal and a revival of our conference. The theme for the 2013 Annual Conference will be “Teach us to Pray,” and having a convocation on prayer has been discussed. The Cabinet plans to work more prayerfully in making appointments, focusing on our mission.

3) Developing new faith communities: This is a part of the “All Things New” Invitation to Plant. Thinking of the changes and growth taking place in Virginia, we have to develop new faith communities to reach out to the people. I will continue to encourage the work of the Church Development Team and our efforts to train the pastors for this mission.

4) Working together in ministries: We are one of the largest conferences and have many boards and agencies. All of these parts of the body of Christ are important, and their ministries are pecial, but we need to work together for our mission. We need a balcony view and ought to restore the beauty of our connection. I will work with Common Table and other boards and agencies to help create a culture of cooperation and coordination.

We United Methodists are called to a new future. We feel the need to change. But change is not always pleasant. Change can bring pain, risk and anxiety. Change brings pain because it will break the present. Change is risky because we do not know whether the change will bring a better future or not. No matter how carefully we plan, change is always a challenge and requires our courage. Change means getting out of our comfort zones.

But we, God’s children, are not alone in this journey of change. The Lord who calls us into a new future will lead and guide this change process. Because He lives, we can face change and dream a new dream. The Lord will give us hope, strength and guidance. If we humbly open ourselves to God, and seek and rely on God’s wisdom, we will be able to overcome fear and reluctance for change and bring a better future to our churches.

I read an interesting article in a book one of my seminary classmates edited (The Letter of Christ II). It is called Twelve Ways to Kill a Good Idea, and lists the following responses to change:

1.  “It will cost too much!”

2.  “We tried that before!” 

3.  “It is not our responsibility!”

4.  “We do not have the time!”

5.  “It’s too much of change!"

6.  “Someone will object!”

7.  “We have never done that before!”

8.  “Why change? It’s still working OK!”

9.  “We did all right without it!”

10.“Let’s give it some more thought!”

11.“Has anyone ever tried it?”

12.“It just won’t work here!”

My prayer is that 2013 will be filled with many meaningful changes and signs of new life.

Bishop Young Jin Cho

(Reprinted with permission from the January 2013 Virginia United Methodist Advocate.)


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