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Bishop Young Jin Cho (left) greets the Rev. Steve Jones, of the United Methodist Church Richmond District.
By RUSTY DENNEN
Newly elected bishops rarely serve where they grew and nurtured their ministries.
United Methodist Bishop Young Jin Cho is an exception, leading the denomination's Virginia Conference for the next four years.
Cho, 66, was a longtime senior pastor of the Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington, and most recently served as superintendent of the Arlington District.
He began his duties as bishop on Sept. 1 and will be officially welcomed during a ceremony in Richmond on Sept. 22.
Cho is the first Korean-American to oversee the 1,196 local churches and more than 335,000 United Methodists in the conference, according to a press release. He succeeds Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer, the first woman to serve the Virginia Conference.
Keith Boyette, pastor of Wilderness Community Church in Spotsylvania County, was among the delegates involved in the selection process and served on Cho's advisory group.
"I was honored to be one of the team members," Boyette said this week.
Cho was elected in July on the 29th ballot, getting 287 of the 432 ballots cast.
Born in South Korea, he came to the United States in 1979 after graduating from the Methodist Theological Seminary in Seoul, South Korea. He continued his studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington and ordained in the East Annual Conference of the Korean Methodist Church in 1977. He transferred to the Virginia Conference in 1983.
During his 22-year tenure at Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington in McLean, the church started two local Korean churches and organized and hosted teaching conferences for other Korean church congregations.
According to the press release, Cho's ministry focused on developing new faith communities, revitalizing existing churches by transforming clergy leadership and strengthening connections within the faith.
The Sept. 22 service begins at 10:30 a.m. at Reveille United Methodist Church at 4200 Cary Street Road. It kicks off with a procession, including clergy wearing robes and red stoles, participants carrying symbols of the office of bishop, and acolytes carrying candles and banners.
Music will be provided by combined choirs from Reveille Church and Trinity United Methodist Church of Richmond with a 50-member choir from Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington, classical guitar, soloist, brass ensemble and congregational singing.
Retired Bishop H. Hasbrouck Hughes Jr. of Williamsburg and retired Bishop Ray W. Chamberlain Jr. of Winchester will lead the covenant service.
United Methodist bishops are elected for life, though eight years is a standard term.
Cho is married with three children.
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431