District Superintendent Address


Rev. Dr. Gina Hendrickson
District Superintendent Northern Shore
The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey




John 21:1-6

Peace & grace my brothers and sisters in Christ! What a joy & privilege it is to be with you again, & I want to thank your pastor for the invitation to preach!

I miss it! Serving as a District Superintendent keeps me out of the pulpit and I miss the chance to share a Word in the midst of God’s people as we worship our living God together.

So thanks again Pastor Kyewoon!

I served the local church, I loved doing preaching series. I found they were opportunities to engage in Scripture & relevant themes that engaged the prophetic Word over a longer time frame that was exciting for me as preacher as well as for the congregation. It led to creative components within the worship experience, as well as small group and mission opportunities that extended its’ impact beyond any individual Sunday.

Each year, I created a sermon series based on the theme of Annual Conference this would help us remember the connectional nature of our life together as United Methodists and how we were called to live out the Bishop’s challenge and vision in the local church & communities in which we live and serve.

Again, that’s another thing I miss as a superintendent who no longer serves in the local church, so I’ve decided to share my reflections on this throughout the fall season when I preach, in my monthly newsletter message and it will also be integrated within church conferences.

This morning I’d like us to spend some time on this year’s theme from our Annual Conference Session last May: “FISH.”

The key verse came from John 21:6—a resurrection appearance—where Jesus was giving some words of direction to his frustrated fishermen disciples he said: “Throw your net on the other side of the boat and you will find some.” I love the provocative image of what it means to cast your net as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The scope and power of the image, as well as the beauty and work of such a calling pulls at my heart.

And this morning, I want to lift up 3 key points I think Christ has for us to consider as we begin a new season of

“Casting Our Nets” for Christ.

The First Point is that All Are Called.
Each of us is called to cast our net into the world to reach others in the name of Christ. And how we do that, & where we do that is as varied as each of us sitting here this morning or as unique as the 65 churches that make up the Northern Shore.

Each of us lives, works and plays within a different context—there are countless ponds, lakes, rivers or oceans to fish. We all have God-given gifts, skills and opportunities to cast our net into a hurting and needy world. But we have the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to cast our nets wide, over and over again; to keep fishing for those who need the love, hope and joy that comes in and through Jesus Christ.

All of us are called to lean out over the edge of whatever boat that is holding us safe and secure (the church, home, job or school)— and WORK the calling that God has given us to FISH for men and women, young and old, rich and poor, neighbor and co-worker, family and strangers. Cast your Net!

The Second Point for us to consider today is to “Know What You Need.”
I have always had a special joy with fishing, because my grandfather was a fisherman. One of the greatest memories I have of my Poppa Jack was watching him work a line off the Ocean Grove fishing pier. But it wouldn’t just be off the pier, he also fished off a jetty, along the beach & occasionally on a “party boat” from the Belmar Marina.

Every location required different equipment, an assortment of bait & unique skills; and boy was he good at it. My grandfather would take each of us 7 grandkids along with him on occasion, and we learned many life lessons. It was a gift of presence that revealed the love of a grandfather and the power of patience. I think that was 1 of the greatest lessons he taught me, patience. My grandfather cast his net in so many ways throughout his life. He caught fish that was the meal for his family. He reeled in his grandkids through the sport and fun of surf fishing—and wound up giving us far more than a fish fry on Saturday night. He cast his net of love & wisdom, catching each of us in special ways that changed us forever.

No one knew my Grandpa shared his fish w/many people around the Grove, Folk who he knew were experiencing difficult times. He’d stop by with fresh flounder and the occasional snapper, have a chat over a cup of coffee and leave enough fish for a few meals. My Poppa Jack was a fisher for Christ in ways I know made a difference over his 100 years of life.

Friends, as we cast our net for Christ, we will have countless opportunities and contexts in which we can make a difference. What fishing equipment do we need to get the job done? Where will we cast our net or drop a line? For every place we hope to fish, every context in which we seek to serve as Disciples— different equipment, an assortment of bait & unique skills will be needed.

Who are the ones who can teach us how to fish? Who can we take out on an adventure, is sharing the gift of presence, love and patience as we teach them how to be fishers of men & women?

God calls us to cast our net—and part of our job is to acquire the skills, equipment and knowledge of how to become awesome fishers for Christ. This is why we worship each Sunday, attend Bible studies & Sunday School. This is why 10 of you did the Appalachian Service Project. This is why you have youth group, UMM and the UMW. Why you have baptism classes and VBS.

This is why we have church conference each fall yes even Church Conferences!!.to inspire vision for the ministries of our churches, to set goals, to elect leaders and approve ministries. This is why the GNJAC has launched coaching, PaCE/cohort Groups, Team Vital and Communities of Hope—

All to FISH for Christ & to cast our nets into a hurting and needy world.
My Grandfather’s last fishing trip was when he was 99, along with 3 of us grandkids on a small charted boat in the Shark River Inlet. Poppa Jack caught the largest fish of the day, still schooling us on how to fish, maintain our equipment and treasure the small gifts of life—love of family & patience for the work we are called to do.

Friends, cast your net! Drop a line! Keep up with the tools, experience and knowledge you need to be fishers for Christ. And invite someone to fish with you!

The Third and final lesson from Christ as we are casting our nets, is to ask ourselves, “Who are We Hoping to Catch?”
We have a wonderful opportunity presented to us as United Methodists—64% of all households in our district have NO religious affiliation!

That means for every 10 houses in a 2-3 block radius of this church or where you live—

  • Six households have no church to call home.
  • Six out of ten of your neighbors have no place to feel the love, grace, peace and hope of Christ.
  • Six out of ten families are figuring out how to live their lives without the support and encouragement of a faith community.
  • Six out of ten of your coworkers have no place to grow in ways that will transform their lives forever by being part of something bigger than they can imagine.

This is why we CAST OUR NETS! The mission field is right on the same street that you live and this neighborhood right here in Manahawkin.

Just yesterday at our first Super Saturday Church Conference event, we offered a workshop entitled, “Evangelism in Context”— unpacking what it means to invite others into a relationship with Christ, either for the very first time or as an ever-deepening love.

  • This happens through: WITNESS—individually and corporately,But it also happens through:
  • Creative and inspiring WORSHIP opportunities &
  • Through SERVICE and OUTREACH where we tangibly bring the love of Christ into the community.

Where is God calling you to fish? Who are you planning to catch? What will you do when you bring in the haul? We have to ask ourselves these questions! Have you looked at the demographics of your towns & neighborhoods through the conference resource of Mission Insight? Have you explored what it means to rethink mission as not only those who live across the oceans, but to those who live across the street?


As the provocative cover on this morning’s bulletin indicates and as Jesus taught so powerfully, there are more fish to catch than we can imagine! But isn’t it a joy-filled gift to just IMAGINE what we could do with all those who we “net,” as we work together growing in the love and grace of God? Cast your Net! Households right here in Manahawkin and where you live, need exactly what you have to offer—the light, love and joy of Christ! Throughout the upcoming year, may we continue to discover the power and impact of Jesus’ challenge to Cast Our Net.



We are fishers for Christ…

  • Called to make disciples
  • To use our skills AND learn new ones
  • And to throw our nets sometimes on the other side of the boat.

The fish are biting and God is hopeful for the catch! Amen and Amen!


Rev. Dr. Gina Hendrickson
District Superintendent, Northern Shore
The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey

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