News and Views

BWC pastors offer themselves as episcopal candidates

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After a period of discernment, the Revs. Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and J.W. Park are offering themselves to be considered as candidates for the ministry of bishop in The United Methodist Church.

Their candidacy will be considered by the BWC’s General and Jurisdictional Conference delegation in January and an endorsement of neither, one or both of the candidates will be made to the Annual Conference when it meets in June.The election of one bishop to serve in the Northeastern Jurisdiction will be held in July at the Jurisdictional Conference July 12-15 in Lancaster, Pa.

Conference rules require that the names of these candidates and statements by them be shared in the UMConnection. These statements are below. Other candidates from the BWC can become official candidates if they are endorsed by an official UMC caucus groups such as MARCH, BMCR, and others, or if they are nominated from the floor of the Annual Conference Session and endorsed by the body.

The Revs. Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and J.W. Park

By Rev. Cynthia Moore-Koikoi

After significant discernment, I believe God is calling me to offer my name for consideration for the episcopacy. This call began with an unsettling, spiritual nudge. Then some laity and clergy shared that God showed them I was called to be a bishop. Because of the sacredness of the episcopacy, I asked God to give me more than a nudge and others’ revelations. So, my husband and I entered a period of discernment.

During this discernment, God reminded me that throughout my local church appointments parishioners had affirmed my leadership and call to the broader church. God reminded me how much I love the UMC, and how much my great-grandparents, grandparents and parents loved Methodism even with the injustices they endured. I remembered how I initially felt ill-equipped for each of my appointments and how God gave me the gifts I needed. Then, I felt a sense of peace — the same peace I felt when I surrendered to my call to ordained ministry.

God also sent people who affirmed this call on a pragmatic level. They said God had been preparing me for “such a time as this.” They showed me that 17 years as a school psychologist and years of service on the BWC Conflict Transformation Task Force prepared me to be a non-anxious presence with gifts in conflict transformation. These gifts are needed at a time when, as a denomination, we must bring persons together with varying perspectives, serving in all levels of the church, to do life-changing ministry.

Throughout my ministry, God has urged me to work against systemic and individual gender, racial, economic, and sexual-orientation injustice. Such passion is necessary during a time when, as a denomination, we need to embrace our diversity rather than fear or ignore it. I am called to help move the church beyond mere proportional representation to intercultural competence and equity at the table.

By the grace of God, the churches I pastored grew in vitality. Therefore, I feel called to support and resource laity and clergy to make disciples, not members. I am called to support and hold congregations accountable for transformational ministry, not “numbers” ministry.

I serve on the Budget Committee of CFA and Arrearage Task Force. Consequently, I have come to understand the power of responsible, ministry-guided budgeting and loving, esteem-building accountability. I am called to guide the church to make decisions based on a theology of abundance and life, not scarcity and death. As Spiritual Director for the Cabinet, I am called to provide for the spiritual nourishment of conference leaders.

Finally, during the unrest in Baltimore, I was blessed to lead a phenomenal group of pastors and laity as we bridged the evangelical and social gospels. The church is called to lead the conversation and work on issues of justice in urban, suburban, and rural settings. This type of prophetic work is essential if our church is to become more relevant in our global culture.

Clearly, God’s unsettling nudge became a tender push.

By Rev. JongWoo “JW” Park

I believe that God has called me to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church to strengthen the local church, uphold the theological traditions of the UMC, order the church, and make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world. My calling to the ordained ministry is based upon Psalm 146, which reminds me of the sovereignty of God and God’s sensitivity to the weak and the marginalized.

I am a “generation cusper,” born and living between the Baby Boomer and Gen-X generations. A first-generation immigrant, I am fully bilingual. I understand the complexity of diverse cultures. My life itself is an example of bridging the West and the East. Church leaders are called to be “global bridge builders.”

As an Asian American, my contribution to the church is to offer leadership through deep listening, providing a space for others and promoting mutuality, which is the foundation of Christian conferencing.

In my ministry, I have been very active in promoting the inclusion of everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, theological or socioeconomic differences. For example, I have been a member of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, the NAACP, and a strong supporter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. I was the president of the National Association for Korean United Methodist Pastors Serving Cross-Racial Appointments and a member of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Korean American Mission Council.

I have also been a strong advocate to remove discriminatory language from paragraphs 304.3 and 2702 of the Book of Discipline. For me, the debate on homosexuality is about human rights and dignity; however, I am committed to uphold the Book of Discipline for the order of the UMC. I consider myself to be a progressive-evangelical who is open to the new possibilities in our faith journey, as well as being firmly centered in Christ for personal piety.

I am comfortable with technology and open to new innovations. I bring a calm presence wherever I go. People have told me that I am a good listener and possess a profound sense of empathy. They also comment on how effective I am in processing conflict transformation. I am also good at business administration, which I studied in undergraduate and graduate schools. I believe that my financial management skills contribute greatly to the NEJ Committee on Finance and Administration, of which I am a member.

I have served as a pastor in local churches in cross-racial and cross cultural appointments. I have grown churches — increasing the number of young families with children, creating strong youth and young adult ministries and ensuring financial stability. I have been serving as the first Asian American district superintendent and the dean of the Cabinet of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference with confidence and an exuberant spirit.

In my life and ministry I have been richly blessed. I feel called to use these blessing in service of God’s church as a bishop.