Laity from United Methodist churches across the region had a chance to meet their bishop at a special service at Shavertown United Methodist Church Saturday.

It was Jeremiah Jungchan Park’s seventh journey across seven regions of the denomination’s Susquehanna Conference in the last 12 months and he called the people in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton District “the best.”
“Of course, I look for the best in everyone,” he smiled.

Rev. Marian Hartman, who was appointed last fall to oversee the more than 120 churches in the WB/S district, assisted in conducting the 2-hour service that was part worship, part pep talk to the body of believers.

District lay leader Tom Taylor reached back into the past and said it only takes one person to make a difference, as he pointed to Anning Owen who planted Methodism in the Kingston area after the Wyoming Massacre.

And then it spread to present-day Lackawanna, Luzerne, Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties.
The church grew and grew and grew, and then something happened.

Taylor said the needs of a lost world are still there, and God’s message today is just as relevant today as it was back then.
Maybe more so.

It was a message not lost on Bishop Park, who although native-born Korean, actually emigrated to the United States in 1976.

He noted about a dozen confirmands from the host church and said he bristled at the thought that they were just the future of the church.

“You are the present and future of this church as God calls,” he said.

To the older ones at the service, he also noted that God was not finished with the church either, and “you each have a role in making disciples for the transformation of the world.”

The bishop said he presently lives in Mechanicsburg some 50 miles from what curiously is considered the birthplace of Korean Methodism.

Park said that a young man by the name of Henry Appenzeller, who was raised in the local Methodist church answered God’s call on Easter Sunday morning in 1885 to become the first missionary sent by the Methodists to Korea.

He noted that 128 years later there are more than 5,000 United Methodist Churches in Korea with 1.5 million followers.

“Here I am a product of the Korean Methodist Church now serving as a United Methodist Bishop near the place where it all started,” he said, noting the width, the length the height and depth of “God’s amazing grace.”
He challenged those present to seize the real and significant opportunities “still out there” for life-changing and community-transforming mission and ministry.