Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice – Philippians 4:4
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Beverly and I rejoice I have been reassigned as the bishop of Greater New Jersey. We have experienced your genuine grace and love and a deep and enthusiastic faith. GNJ is a place where we have encountered important and meaningful ministry and people who want to serve well and make a difference in people’s lives and transform the world. We are overjoyed to return and proclaim: Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.
The Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee who assigns bishops shared with us that I was reassigned to Greater New Jersey because of the ministry and progress we have been making together. They cited our mission – develop transformational leaders who make disciples and grow vital congregations to transform the world. They said, we have made important progress that is not only something that is strengthening GNJ but has potential for the rest of the Church. They specifically mentioned:
- Our starting new faith communities and particularly reaching new and younger generations and immigrant communities.
- The witness and mission of A Future With Hope and discovering what God has next for us through this important ministry.
- Our new resourcing to grow vital congregations through coaching, PaCE groups, Team Vital, the laity academy and Communities of Hope.
- Our IGNITE ministry that is reaching young people and offering Christ for their lives.
- Our maintenance to mission work that is using shared services and giving superintendents a greater opportunity to develop transformational leaders, grow vital congregations, start new faith communities and encounter and work with edge leaders who are doing important mission in their communities.
To this I would like to add:
- Our prayer life and spiritual growth that is witnessed in our leaders and congregations that is under-girding our ministry and our unity during challenging times.
- The strong financial progress we continue to make and our ability to maintain our shared ministries at levels that keep more ministry money for community mission through our congregations.
- Our innovative communications ministry and our ability to connect through communication and social media with new generations of believers.
- Our Stewardship Foundation turnaround that has grown from $5 million to $33 million.
Our Mosaic Ministry that seeks to grow smaller congregations and help young people experience a call to ministry and grow skills for ministry. We now have 14 Mosaic congregations.
- Our new Mission and Resource Center and our growing partnership with Drew and other groups to deepen our resources and grow our mission.
In addition to strengthening these ministries, I invite us to invest in:
- Developing a 10 year plan for our leaders and congregations to be culturally competent and work to ending racism, privilege and discrimination.
- Developing a Bright Spots ministry that helps us find, understand and learn from our best congregations, ministries and leaders.
- Developing our ability to connect with the people in our community and the people who describe themselves as not being a part of any faith group.
- Increasing our ability to raise money for ministry within our congregations and from grants and generous donors.
When I first came to GNJ, I had one-to-one conversations with more than 50 leaders across the conference. As I begin this next four years, I will again have conversations with more than 50 leaders across the conference and meet with small groups of leaders to better understand what our congregations are facing, what leaders need, how we can grow the church and how we can work together to serve Jesus Christ and the Church.
Beverly and I thank each of you for receiving us, working with us and making us feel welcomed and loved. We ask for your continued prayers over these next four years and look forward to our serving God and the Church together.
Keep the faith!
John Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
Greater New Jersey