During the summer, I organized myself for my annual interview with District Superintendent Rev. Dawn Hand in preparation. During the interview, I shared with Rev. Hand all the happenings at Bethesda United Methodist Church. I spoke continuously about the various ministries for about thirty minutes. Rev. Hand commented, “You must have been very busy!”
Dear members of BUMC, we have made significant progress since the start of the pandemic. In the past two years, we have welcomed 30 adult, 11 youth, and 14 child new members. Our Connect ministry team has worked diligently to foster community by organizing fellowship gatherings after worship. We have also put in a lot of effort to upgrade our building code and are pleased to announce that our facility will be available for use by a school starting in January 2024. Additionally, we have launched BUMC Canopy Groups, a small group ministry that currently has three active groups with more in the process of forming.
We have established two Bible Study Groups that operate year-round, namely the Tuesday Bible Study and Wednesday’s Prayer Bites Bible Study. During the pandemic, we provided the Taize Wednesday Worship Service for two years. Furthermore, some of our leaders participated in a program called “A Diverse Church by Design” and subsequently proposed a Listening Session to facilitate safe discussions on controversial topics. This initiative has successfully promoted unity through diversity over the past year.
Our efforts to promote diversity have resulted in two positive outcomes. Firstly, BUMC is supporting the recovery of the African American Cemetery project with the Macedonian Baptist Church in River Road, Bethesda, MD. Secondly, our youth have been building relationships with Liberty Grove United Methodist Church, which has a more diverse community. Our worship service has become more diverse with increased participation from children, youth, and lay members. The trustees have been diligently working on implementing a security system and have successfully applied for government grants. As a result, security cameras have been installed throughout the building, and the system is continuously upgraded with each grant received.
Our church has established a Lawyers Guild who are using their skills to serve God’s people. BUMC has taken a positive step towards being a welcoming congregation by displaying an “All Are Welcome” banner. Additionally, we have improved the quality of our online ministry by upgrading our media equipment. This has allowed us to have better angles for our worship leaders and a simpler system, which allows more volunteers to participate in our media ministry. Our stewardship team has provided outstanding spiritual and professional leadership to ensure that all of our ministries and staff receive the necessary financial support.
What should we focus on next for the year 2024? First, it is an important year for us as a denomination because there will be a General Conference where the official split of the United Methodist Church will be declared. This gives us an opportunity to rediscover our identity as the United Methodist Church and embrace our Wesleyan roots as outlined in the Book of Discipline.
Second, we are currently reviewing our Sunday schedule with a task force. There are different opinions regarding the timing of worship, Sunday School, worship style, and format. The task force will present their recommendation to the congregation, and we will follow the majority opinion.
Third, in 2010, the United Methodist Church conducted a survey on vital congregations that remains relevant today. The study identified four key drivers of vitality: Small Groups, Lay Leadership, Worship Service, and Pastor. To support these drivers, we will continue to develop and promote BUMC Canopy Groups for Small Groups, spiritually equip our leaders for Lay Leadership, provide inspirational worship services at all times for Worship Service, and have the pastors lead as spiritual guides while being open to growth led by people.
Fourth, we ask for your prayers for the successful housing of a school beginning in January 2024, which would be of great financial benefit to BUMC.
Join us on September 10 for our Kick-off Sunday as we celebrate Reclaim, Revive, and Rejoice in Jesus’ simple call: “Follow Me.” We invite you to make that same choice and deepen your commitment to following Jesus. Remember that BUMC is here to support you on your faith journey. Let us walk alongside you and help you grow in your relationship with Jesus.
Rev. Dr. HiRho Park