Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
A little more than 15 years ago, the South and the North became one. We merged our resources and talents to become the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey.
Today is not only an important reminder but a test to our unity. Two Bible verses point to our continued challenge. The first is from Leviticus, yes Leviticus, 11:13, You shall regard as detestable and an abomination the eagle. The second verse is from 1 Samuel 17:51, Then David ran up to the giant and finished the job.
Tonight the Eagles and the Giants will square off in the Monday Night Football game and old divisions between the North and the South will rise again. This is a critical game between two struggling teams to decide first place for the moment.
Tonight there may be wailing and the gnashing of teeth to quote another Bible passage, but today we have something to celebrate in our unity that is much stronger than a long standing rivalry. We are blessed by the people of Greater New Jersey working together for the glory of God.
I have now started my fourth year as your spiritual leader and I have found that the people of Greater New Jersey have been well led by bishops, clergy and laity. You have joined together in the midst of significant differences to focus on what is most urgent and important for us in our time – recruit and equip transformational leaders to make disciples and grow vital congregations to transform the world. You have been faithful and fruitful in this mission. Here are a few things I have been blessed by:
Pastors and congregational leaders are trying new things to make disciples and transform the world. Congregations are reaching across the lines that divide us to learn and work together to equip transformational leaders. Congregations are giving generously – Our mission fund is almost at $6 million and we are on track to increase our shared ministry giving for the fourth year in a row. Congregations are finding new ways to connect with the people in their community.
Sure, sports, theology, culture and traditions are unique in various parts of GNJ, but I am finding a church that puts Christ first and God’s mission above our traditions and local loyalties so that we witness to the world the power of God to transform lives.
Thank you for all you are doing to serve God and the church through your congregation.
Keep the faith!
John Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
Greater New Jersey