WASHINGTON, D.C. – The General Board of Church & Society hosted 50 young clergy on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for a Church and Society leadership forum on January 28-31.
Each United Methodist conference was encouraged to send two young clergy currently serving full time appointments in local United Methodist churches. GNJ was represented by Seunghyun Lee, English Ministry Pastor to First Korean UMC in Cherry Hill and Wesley Ellis of First UMC in Toms River.
Having served Union Grove UMC and Willow Grove UMC in Pittsgrove for the last two years, Lee has developed a passionate desire to grow together with his congregations in commitments to sharing the love of Jesus in daily life. Lee received his Masters of Divinity from Drew Theological School and Bachelor of Theology from Methodist Theological University in Seoul, Korea.
“Lately, I have been challenged how to apply social justice to my ministry,” said Lee. “The news of gun violence and ecology issues always breaks my heart and as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I believe I need to keep working and continue to struggle on those issues. Through the discussions with other young clergies were a time of being refreshed during the conference. Even though we have different backgrounds and contexts on certain issues, we all agreed that Christianity is not only about ministries inside of the church, but about reaching out to the world and fighting for social justice for a human being.”
A passionate youth minister with more than ten years of youth ministry experience and a variety of pastoral roles, Ellis received his Masters of Divinity and Masters in Christian Education from Princeton Theological Seminary. Originally from Ramona, California, Ellis received his BA in Theological and Biblical Studies from Azusa Pacific University and served as Director of Youth Ministry at First Congregational Church of Ramona for four years.
“I was excited to go and learn more about the ministry of Church and Society, as it is important to me that the church engages in society and the work of justice,” said Ellis. “I’m interested in the ways that the UMC is engaging in the work of justice and social action.”
The goals of the forum connect young clergy with the ministry of Church & Society, provide a forum to share knowledge and experience, create bridges for future ministry collaboration and build relationships with other young clergy from across the United Methodist connection.
“It was exciting to connect with other young clergy who are passionate about this kind of ministry and to be inspired to creatively collaborate,” he said.
Both Ellis and Lee left with a better idea of The United Methodist Church’s social presence, a network of contacts, and a renewed hope in the church.