The United Methodist Church is a Protestant movement that traces its roots back to John Wesley, an Anglican priest in the church of England in the 1700’s. John and his brother, Charles, (a gifted musician), set out to revitalize the church of England in the spirit of Jesus’s ministry among the least and the lost, by reaching out to poor laborers, mine workers and people in the margins who needed the gospel of Jesus most. Wesley brothers formed societies of “Methodists” who followed a daily routine of religious observance and social work. Methodism first spread to Ireland and then to America where it officially became its own denomination in 1784. Today the United Methodist Church is one of the largest denominations in the world.
Background on Our Conference
In 1969, the Wisconsin Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church was formed from the East Wisconsin (Methodist), West Wisconsin (Methodist), and Wisconsin (Evangelical United Brethren) Conferences. In one form or another, all of these bodies had actively served the ministry needs of Wisconsin residents from the recognition of the Wisconsin Territory in 1836, and before.
According to the United Methodist Church ¶601 of The Book of Discipline 2008, “The purpose of the Annual Conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God.” United Methodist Congregations seek to call persons to new life in Christ, nurture persons to be disciples of Jesus Christ, and address the needs in our local and global communities through mission and ministry, and by advocating for justice.
The Wisconsin Annual Conference fulfills this mission through the ministry of more than 81,000 United Methodists in 473 local congregations, served by the Bishop, the Conference Center in Sun Prairie, eight districts and four regions served by four district superintendents, and 55 circuits, served by dedicated and devoted clergy and laity leaders (learn more of our history). You may also view a map of the districts of the Wisconsin Annual Conference.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung is Wisconsin’s United Methodist bishop, and has served in this role since September of 2012.
Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area). He was instrumental in inspiring the Harvest 2020 movement in Northern Illinois, which resulted in nearly 30 new faith communities and 2,000 new worshipers since 2009.
Previously, Bishop Jung served as an elder in the Wisconsin Conference, where he was a pastor and a district superintendent. Bishop Jung taught and chaired the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Kangnam University and Seminary in Kyungki-Do, South Korea. He has served as pastor of congregations in California, Texas and South Korea.
Bishop Jung has served on the Board of Directors for the General Board of Discipleship, the UM National Hispanic Plan, General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, and the General Commission on United Methodist Men. Bishop Jung currently is a member of the Board of Directors for the General Board of Global Ministry, President of United Methodist Commission on Relief (UMCOR), JustPeace, and UM Korean National Plan.
Bishop Jung spoke about his appointment, “I have spent different parts of my life and career in Wisconsin, and am truly blessed to have the opportunity to return to this wonderful state and serve the Wisconsin Conference. I am looking forward to meeting and working with Wisconsin United Methodists in the coming years.”
Bishop Jung knows Wisconsin well, as he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also holds an M.A. from the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA, an M.A. from the Dongguk University Graduate School in Seoul, South Korea, and a B.Th. from the Methodist Theological Seminary, in Seoul, South Korea.
Bishop Jung’s wife, Im-Hyon, is an elder of the Wisconsin Conference and currently serves as a regional coordinator of The Academy for Spiritual Formation at The Upper Room/The General Board of Discipleship. The Jung’s are the parents of two adult sons, Jae-Hugh and Jae-Joon.
United Methodist Church History
The United Methodist Church as we know it today was formed in 1968 when The Methodist Church (inspired by the work of John and Charles Wesley in the 1730s) merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church (grown from the ministry of Jacob Albright, Philip Otterbein and others).
John Wesley and the early Methodists placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as “practical divinity” has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.
Across the United States, there are 63 United Methodist Church Annual Conferences, supervised by 50 bishops. There are another 59 Annual Conferences in Africa, Europe and the Philippines, supervised by 18 bishops. The United Methodist Church today is an 11-million-strong global Church with a rich theological heritage.
The Cross and Flame, a symbol used by most United Methodist churches, is a registered trademark and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church.
United Methodists believe that the love of God—expressed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ—lives today in the power of the Holy Spirit. The unearned, free gift of God’s love, or grace, continually calls us to loving service in and for the world as the Church. We are the body of Christ, offering unconditional love and service to all in need.
The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Each United Methodist community of faith lives out that mission in a unique way, and we all are linked in a connectional system of shared values and shared ministry.
United Methodists understand there is an obligation to bear a faithful Christian witness to Jesus Christ, the living reality at the center of the Church’s life and witness. To fulfill this obligation, United Methodists reflect critically on biblical and theological inheritance, and strive to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.
We live in a covenant of grace under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and participate in the first fruits of God’s coming reign and pray in hope for its full realization on earth as in heaven.
John Wesley’s emphasis on “practical divinity” continues today as United Methodist followers believe that the living core of the Christian faith is revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason.
United Methodists welcome in new members who will join us as we open hearts, open doors and open minds through active engagement across our country and around the world.