Conference speakers challenge members to embrace Wesleyan practices



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Conference speakers challenge members to embrace Wesleyan practices

May 24, 2008  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011 
tparham@flumc.org  Orlando {0858}

NOTE: Headshots of Northern Illinois Conference Bishop Hee-Soo Jung and the Rev. Dr. Randy Maddox are available at http://www.flumc.info/photo_gallery2.shtml.

An e-Review Feature
By Steven Skelley**

Northern Illinois Annual Conference Bishop Hee-Soo Jung

Northern Illinois Annual Conference Bishop Hee-Soo Jung and the Rev. Dr. Randy Maddox, professor of theology and Wesleyan studies at Duke Divinity School, will be special guest speakers at the 2008 Florida Annual Conference Event in Lakeland May 29-31.

Their messages, along with classes on the practices of The Methodist Way May 28, prior to the start of the business session, are designed to give conference members greater insight into what it means to live as and make disciples of Jesus Christ “for the transformation of the world.”

Jung will preach during the evening communion service May 29 and lead morning Bible study May 30 and 31. Maddox will lead an almost two-hour session in the afternoon May 29 titled “Living The United Methodist Way.”

In a recent e-Review commentary about the annual conference event theme — “Living the United Methodist Way” — Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker wrote that he invited Maddox “to lead us in holy conversation about the theological vision and spiritual meaning of the Methodist Way of salvation and discipleship. … Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of the Chicago Area will be our conference preacher and teacher.”

Rev. Dr. Randy Maddox

Jung, he also noted, was “converted to Christ and the Christian way of life in a Methodist class meeting in South Korea.”

The underlying principle of the conference theme is The Methodist Way, five practices that embody the Wesleyan model of disciple-making. The practices include passionate worship, radical hospitality, intentional discipling, salty service and extravagant generosity.

“It is not enough to teach a theological vision of the Christian life if there is no community practicing it,” Whitaker wrote in his commentary. “Many of our congregations have glimpses of this theological vision, and they embody aspects of the Methodist Way in their life and mission. However, a more holistic and self-conscious appropriation of the Methodist Way of salvation and discipleship would profoundly transform a congregation over time and also give the congregation a more distinctive identity as a Wesleyan and United Methodist congregation.”

Clear rules, spreading the good news

Jung is known across the denomination for his work on refugee, immigration, cross-cultural and interfaith relations issues. He has been a board member of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and served on the Immigrant Task Force of the General Council on Finance and Administration.

Prior to serving as the first non-Anglo bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church, Jung chaired the religion and philosophy department at and was dean of the University Chapel at Kangnam University and Seminary in Kyungki-Do, Korea.

During the communion service, Jung will preach a sermon titled, “What a Beautiful Journey: The United Methodist Way.”

“Christianity is about being followers of Christ, following the one who accepts no rules other than that of loving God with all one’s heart, mind and spirit and loving every other person as one loves oneself,” he said. “How simple! How complicated! But that is the Good News we are commanded to spread. If we do not do that, all of our other efforts will eventually add up to nothing.”

In his Bible study message May 30, titled “Feeding of the Five Thousand: Christian Leadership Formation,” Jung will focus on how all Christians are called to claim God’s love and celebrate the many ways in which to share that love with others.
 
In “In Miraculous Expectation,” his May 31 message, the bishop will discuss how Christians can begin to understand their individual transformation in faith and how to live their lives from the perspective of both personal and social holiness.

A religion known by its fruits

In addition to being an ordained elder in the Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church, Maddox is a leading scholar of the theology of John and Charles Wesley and of theological developments in the later Methodist/Wesleyan tradition. He is author of “Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology,” a contributor to “Wesley and the Quadrilateral” and editor of “Aldersgate Reconsidered” and “Rethinking Wesley’s Theology for Contemporary Methodism.” Maddox is also secretary of the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies and associate general editor of “Wesley Works Editorial Project.”

Maddox calls his message to members of the conference “A Holy Conversation About The Methodist Way.”

“I will be affirming the importance of the practices of discipleship and ministry that have been central to Methodist vitality since its earliest days,” Maddox said. “But my special concern will be to show how these practices were grounded in and shaped by the hard-won wisdom of John and Charles Wesley about the nature of God, particularly how God chooses to be present and active in our lives and in our world.”

Maddox said that, like John Wesley, he is convinced that as Christians live these practices they will find their churches embodying “a religion of love and joy and peace, having its seat in the heart, in the inmost soul, but ever showing itself by its fruits.”

Conference from the comfort of home

The “Living the United Methodist Way” 2008 Florida Annual Conference Event will be webcast live, beginning with opening worship May 29 at 2 p.m. Individuals would like to view the events via the webcast may go to http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=1339 on the Florida Conference Web site and click on the webcast link.

The entire conference session will be webcast, enabling those not able to attend the annual gathering at the Lakeland Center to see the activities and hear the important news taking place.

More information about the conference session, including a schedule of activities and reports being presented, is also available on the Web site.

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*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Skelley is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
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