The Rev. We Hyun Chang began his work as Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) in an acting capacity on Jan. 11, 2023, while still serving as Commonwealth East District Superintendent, but he was officially welcomed into his role as DCM on Sept. 7.
Members of the Extended Cabinet and Conference staff gathered at the Conference Center in Methuen, MA, for a short installation worship service led by Bishop Peggy A. Johnson inspired by Psalm 19:7-10.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is pure,
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
“The text from Psalm 19 is good direction for a leader of the church,” Bishop Johnson said. “Stick with the Word of God and the teachings of the Word and your soul will be revived, you will have wisdom, your heart will rejoice, your vision will be clear. This never gets old, and leaders who lean on God first and foremost for direction will have an enduring ministry … that is more valuable than gold or sweeter than honey.”
The bishop presented Rev. Chang with three apian symbols of his role as “keeper of the vision for the Conference.”
A honeycomb cookie jar: “The comb is a combination of many sections: for storing honey, for raising new bees, for making wax. … This it is for us as we all work other with our various ministries. A DCM has the job of coordinating all our ministries into one cohesive vision that glorifies God and does Christ’s work in the world.”
Pollinator seeds: No flowers, no honey. Like bees out gathering nectar, the bishop said, “part of your job as DCM is to keep the church focused outward into the world to do the mission. Keep us spreading the Word of God around near and far … always producing the fruit of righteous living.”
A smoker: Used to calm the bees down when the honey is being harvested. “So as head beekeeper (DCM),” Bishop Johnson said, “you are called to keep people calm, working together, solving conflicts, and promoting peace.”
Those in attendance also each received a small jar honey.
Asked to offer some remarks, Rev. Chang recalled the 2022 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference that failed to elect a second new bishop and resulted in one conference having to accept “no active bishop assigned.”
Rev. Chang said that while that was a painful moment for this Conference, it turned out to be a blessing.
“God must have had a different thing in mind; Bishop Johnson was assigned to us. And we have done the things that would have taken a quadrennium to do in six months,” he said. (Bishop Johnson’s tenure began in January 2023). “It wasn’t all joyful or smooth sailing, but we’ve done it.”
Thanking Bishop Johnson, Rev. Chang said, “To me it was a moment of great thanksgiving and inspiration when you and Mary were recognized as a couple in public at the New England Annual Conference.”
While no one knows what the 2024 General Conference will bring, Rev. Chang said that most of us in New England “know what our future is going to be like.”
“One of the important concepts that was named at the  Annual Conference, and it’s part of the Vision Forward Report, is that we all have some sort of consensus on a shared future – not necessarily a shared vision yet – we’re working on it. But a majority of us think that whatever that is, we will share the future together,” he said.
“We are willing to commit to God’s future ahead of figuring everything out,” Rev. Chang said. “I think that’s something to celebrate.”
Taking a phrase from the British Methodist Church, Rev. Chang, said he believes “this is a season for all of us to find fresh expressions.”
“In Confucian thought, Rev. Chang said, “… all new things come when you really go to the root of who you are and how you are, and for us as Methodists, that’s connection.”
The work before us may be challenging, he said, but how we feel about it makes all the difference.
“It’s one thing to do messy, difficult work. It’s another thing to do messy difficult work and feel terrible. It’s another thing to do messy, difficult work, but feel good about it,” he said.
“I think that’s what connection does for us. If we do connection well – prayerfully, humbly, and collaboratively – we will still do the same work (that sometimes makes you sigh, tired, say, ‘what the heck am I doing here?’) But if we connection well, if we do communication well, if we do collaboration well with humility and respect, then we’ll feel something good about it, because we’re part of the force that will create something new.
“I think that’s what we’re here to do and something I hope that I’ll be part of,” Rev. Chang said.