Radical change is the future of the Midwest and the church in the Midwest, according to Bishop John Hopkins of the East Ohio Area, as he delivered the Episcopal Address on the state of the jurisdiction July 17 during the North Central Jurisdictional Conference at Grand Rapids, Mich.

He said the church cannot stay the same and we (NCJ) must lead the change.

  • We must take more risk in reaching out to people.
  • We must venture.
  • We can learn to be relevant to the temporal world.
  • We can learn that the church must leave the building and lead in shaping the future by community building and social reform.

"A Future of Hope is a major shift to become the change itself," he said. "Care and identity is part of our core mission."

He outlined the changes that have taken place since the establishment of The United Methodist Church 40 years ago.

He asked, "Have we been spending 40 years in the promise land or in the wilderness?" He said the children of Israel were ready to go, then the people began to complain about the leadership and the food. Numbers 13 says the spies came back from Canaan with an unfavorable report.

He continued, "Currently we are in crisis in the Midwest, a crisis that affects small towns and cities. That crisis is globalization. If we don't change, we will fall behind and continue to lose members and our influence in society."

He said the good news is that globalization can shape the future. The bad news is that the Midwest is behind in this transition.

"The future is already here, are we still living in the past?" he said.

He then outlined what we need to know as the church and how we need to respond in light of globalization as the church.

"Leaders define reality, and create a shared vision for the future. Behind the figures are people struggling," he said. "I don't believe in economic determinism. My conversation is about the crisis so that we can move into the future."

Here are the points that he said we need to realize:

  • Global communication has changed the world.
  • Globalization is changing life, and we are in economic crisis.
  • Half of everything made in American used to be made in the Midwest. Now after a century, the industrial Midwest is crumbling.
  • Globalization is doing to farming what it did to industry.
  • The church is a sign of hope for those who are struggling.
  • The Midwest needs as many immigrants as it can get.
  • The church needs to enter the public education debate.
  • Only four percent of research capital is spent in the Midwest.

To hear Bishop Hopkins address, go to www.ncj2008.org and click on News then, Episcopal Address.