UMC News

From: Rev Amanda Stein …

Good good-byes make for such sweeter “hellos” 
by Rev. Amanda Stein 
For you shall go out in joy
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle,
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
    for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
Isaiah 55: 12-13

It was a good Annual Conference. One could feel less tension, fewer worries, and lowered stress. Following decades of arguments over human sexuality that ultimately led to disaffiliation– it was a good conference to just breath deep and exhale.
It was also a good conference for good-byes. Good-bye to the discomfort of ugly discord. Good-bye to uncertainty. Good-bye to the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. Good-bye to our friend, colleague, and leader, Bishop Hee-Soo Jung.
These verses from Isaiah bring me comfort at this time of good-byes. They act as a benediction for us to remember the bittersweet nature of departure. Isaiah 55 is bright and hopeful– a shining example of comfort to a tired, downtrodden people. This morning as I awoke, readying myself to depart from the 2024  Wisconsin Annual Conference, these words brought me solace. Good good-byes make for such sweeter “hellos.” 
I am thankful for our Conference of the United Methodist Church- lay members, clergy, youth, staff, vounteers, Cabinet, Bishop, General/ Jurisdictional Conference delegation as well as the friends, family, and local churches who held us in prayer, supported us, and tolerated our time away. Our time together in Green Bay was a demonstration of healthy Christian rituals that allow us to pause, acknowledge, give thanks, and move forward in a new way.
It is my prayer, like Isaiah’s, that we shall go out from this Annual Conference with joy and be led back in peace to see each other soon. There is so much to plan for and look forward to when we meet again– Jurisdictional Conference, a welcome for a new bishop– but all in due time. May these last few hours be a time of contiuned good-byes until we are blessed with a flood of spectacular “hellos.” Thank you and bless you, Wisconsin Annual Conference 2024.


Revive! Community Development Being Established to Assist Local Churches and Conference

Many churches of the Wisconsin Conference of the UMC are facing property challenges that inhibit our ability to live out our mission, “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!” Rather than our churches and properties acting as assets– they need significant repairs, have large expenses, and are greatly under-utilized. They have started to use a disproportionate amount of time, expense, and energy. Our local churches and the Conference at large are not equipped to resolve these issues. Therefore, leadership from the Wisconsin Conference and the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation are birthing Revive! Community Development.

Simply put, Revive! Community Development will help both the Conference and local churches successfully handle the many properties we steward through the lens of the Church’s mission, the community’s needs, and financial sustainability.

Planned services include:
· Church Consulting processes to Revive! congregations · Project Management and Construction
· Brokerage for Active Church Clients
· Property and Asset Management
· Brokerage of Managed Properties

Copies of Revive!’s business plan, an executive summary of the business plan, its Articles of Incorporation, and by-laws will be available during the 2024 Annual Conference session at the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation’s booth and at the registration desk.

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung to retire

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, with Rev. Im Jung, has been serving the Wisconsin Conference for 12 years. This August he will be moving to a new conference. Bishop Jung has guided and supported us with visionary, spiritual leadership. He has visited, prayed at the altar, and met with members of every United Methodist Church in our Conference. Bishop Jung – and Rev. Im – have touched our lives and our ministries in countless ways.

2024 General Conference – a few highlights …

Sixteen new missionaries were commissioned on Thursday, May 2 during opening worship at General Conference.

Korean UMC Churches announce deeper support for Missionary Service. In the U.S., Korean American United Methodist churches integrate Wesleyan tradition with Korean spirituality and evangelism. There are 240 active congregations, more than 800 clergy, and one Korean American bishop, Hee-Soo Jung of the Wisconsin Annual Conference. Jung has served as president of Global Ministries Board of Directors since 2016. 

By a vote of 523 to 161 after about an hour and a half of debate, General Conference delegates eliminated the 52-year-old assertion in the denomination’s Social Principles that “the practice of homosexuality… is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The historic decision follows days of delegates voting on the consent calendar —without debate — to reverse multiple denominational constraints on ministry with and by LGBTQ members.  With the vote, delegates have adopted the entire slate of revised Social Principles submitted by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the denomination’s social witness agency.

The Social Principles represent the denomination’s public stance on issues of the day and are not church law. Though those in favor of the decision found it a great cause for celebration, not everyone at General Conference agreed with the vote. After the marriage language decision, about 65 Africans and a smattering of others sang hymns and prayed together, while also making clear their view that the Bible does not sanction same-sex marriage and The United Methodist Church shouldn’t either. “We do not believe we know better than the Bible,” said the Rev. Jerry Kulah, a delegate from Liberia, coordinator of the traditionalist Africa Initiative and leader at the rally. Bishop John Wesley Yohanna of Nigeria predicted that the new language on marriage “will affect the membership of the church in Africa.” North Katanga Area Bishop Mande Muyombo said that African United Methodists will continue in a traditional understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman. 

The last day of General Conference, delegates asked The United Methodist Church’s top court to respond to multiple legal questions — most of them about actions the denomination’s lawmaking assembly had just taken. The Judicial Council released five decisions and a memorandum on May 3 in response to a flurry of requests for declaratory decisions — basically rulings on questions about the meaning, application and effect of church law. Perhaps most critical to a General Conference that spent the last few days rolling back prohibitions related to LGBTQ ministry including same-sex weddings, the Judicial Council ruled that local churches could still set policies banning such services within their walls.

In Decision 1503, the church court said nothing in the Book of Discipline’s Paragraph 2533 “prevents the Board of Trustees of a local church from adopting policies prohibiting the conduct of worship services that include same-sex marriage ceremonies.”

In Decision 1500, the church court majority said it lacks jurisdiction to review the constitutionality of proposed amendments to the denomination’s constitution and changes to the Books of the Discipline that require ratification of those amendments.