This was the theme for this year’s Greater New Jersey Conferences of the United Methodist Church. Although, the weather in Wildwood, New Jersey, where it was held, was dark and dreary May 29/30; God’s light shined brightly inside the convention center. More than 1,500 people gathered together to praise and worship God and be open to what the Holy Spirit was saying about furthering the Kingdom in 2015.
Opening worship was a lively Native American celebration honoring their heritage. By the way, I found out when I got home, Ron and Bobbie Warmbier’s grandson gave the opening prayer during worship time. The speakers were all dynamic! Bishop Sally Dick from northern Illinois used the illustration of the mysterious reflected lights that shine off the large waters. We, like them, are to shine and reflect the Holy Spirit within us. Our mission is to shine so others can see Jesus in us as the light of our life.
Pastor Olujimi W. Brown from the Impact church in Atlanta, Georgia, leads a congregation of more than 1500 worshipers each week. He is committed” to doing church differently.” He stated “ The world and our community does not need a carbon copy church.” What they do need is ministries that are willing to reach people in new and creative ways. Easter really happened, he stated, and we need to rise with the power Jesus gave us and be the reflecting light in the unique way. Our Lord will lead our congregation. Your power of the Holy Spirit allows you to shine in dark places you never thought you could!
Bishop Moses Young Hun Kim, a very important leader and friend to Greater N.J., led us in the Service of Remembrance. Although, it was a sad time remembering our loved ones we lost this year, we must remember they went to glory! He left us with the peace and faith to know that we will see them again.
Major legislation passed by the body includes; a resolution to explore and expand our mission partnerships to Thailand and Nepal; a resolution to come against poverty and the creation of a Strategic Disciple Making Fund to start new congregations and faith communities. The 2015 budget also passed.
Future with Hope has repaired forty-two homes. Another one hundred are scheduled to be completed in 2015. A special offering was taken for the Mission fund which now stands at four million; raised for a “Future with Hope, Imagine No Malaria, and mission work in local churches.”
Our own Blair Goold has been appointed to a much larger church, starting in July. One of the highlights included the “Act of Repentance” for Native Americans in our conference. There was also a “smudging cleansing ceremony on the deck.” Many of us took part in it. Prayer bundles were given out by our brother and sister American Indians.
Mark Miller and the Festival Choir led us in spectatical musical worship. One of the highlights of the conference was a picnic( although Bishop Schol and John Cardillo, treasurer, might not agree as they volunteered to sit in a dunk tank.) They must of gotten pretty wet as the project made $3,800.00, for the mission fund. I need to mention that our Sarah Choi was a working volunteer. You know the saying ”busy as a bee?” Well, she in a contest, would have won over many busy bees working together!
Our Bishop stated we have not yet been able to find a Christ-like path forward on some current controversial issues. He pledged to lead us in a gift of unity that is deeper than our differences. He challenged us to honor the Jesus in all of us and seek grace, so the world can say,” in the midst of our differences, see how the United Methodists love each other.”
A true statement was made” the truth is not easy to preach.”
I would like to end with a few lines from a beautiful worship song;“Will you answer when I call? Will you let me lead the way? Will you kiss a leper clean? Will you admit to what I mean When I say “You in me and I in you?” “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the Glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 61:1 For such a time as this one we have to reflect the Light and Glory of the Lord! So shine——-You are the Light of the World!
Submitted by: Dotti Sylvestri