Our mission at First UMC Baraboo is “Helping People ‘Say Yes’ To God.” When we ‘say yes’ to God, there are ripple effects we cannot foresee.
When this person first said “yes” to God as a youth in post-war Korea, no one could have predicted what God would do through him. God is truly amazing! Hee-Soo was the first to become a Christian among his Buddhist family members. He would go on to seminary in Korea and California, then come to UW-Madison to pursue a Ph.D. There, he established a new Korean congregation at University UMC and served at Calvary UMC. Later, Hee-Soo became a district superintendent in the Nicolet (now Northeast) District of the Wisconsin Annual Conference. In 2004, he was elected Bishop in the North Central Jurisdiction and served eight years in the Northern Illinois Annual Conference before coming to Wisconsin in 2012. After the Jurisdictional Conference in Peoria later this month, we’ll learn whether Hee-Soo Jung has been reassigned to Wisconsin or will be appointed Bishop of a different conference.
This year at Annual Conference two things happened that show some of the fruit of Hee-Soo’s ministry. This picture was taken the night we celebrated the success of the Imagine No Malaria Campaign at Annual Conference in June. With the gentle, persistent nudging and loving leadership of Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, our annual conference reached the goal of raising $1 million towards the $75 million goal for the United Methodist church’s Imagine No Malaria campaign! First UMC Baraboo was part of this success! Before the Imagine No Malaria campaign began, a child died of malaria every 30 seconds. Several years into the campaign, that rate had been cut in half. At Annual Conference in June, we were told it’s been cut in half again! That one child dies every two minutes from a treatable, preventable disease is still too many. But with God’s help we’ll continue to make accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine.
At the clergy session of Annual Conference, the pastors learned how he negotiated a “just resolution” of a complaint against Rev. Janet Ellinger, for performing two same-sex weddings. In this way our bishop modeled a way of holding clergy accountable, but also demonstrated how United Methodists can move forward on the issue of human sexuality, and make progress towards a vision of God’s inclusive love being made real! Is everyone happy with the outcome of the Bishop’s resolution of this complaint? No. Yet Hee-Soo Jung continues to be a voice for unity, reconciliation and inclusivity within the UMC. All this can be traced back to his saying ‘yes’ to God those many years ago.
Leaders at First UMC Baraboo are continuing to ‘say yes’ to God by taking seriously our strategic planning process ,which began with the Readiness 360 survey in February. In the words of Ephesians 3:20, in Christ there is a power “at work within us …. able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine….”Ephesians 3:20 With help from the Holy One who can “accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” what will our church accomplish for others in the years to come?