"Write the vision clearly on the tablets, that one may read it on the run." — Habakkuk
The Vision
The Newspaper of The New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. December, 2015

In this issue:

GENERAL CONFERENCE 2016

 


Postcard From the Edge . . . of Southeast Asia

BY KEN KIEFFER
Connecticut District Superintendent

It was a grand day—perhaps the grandest of the cabinet’s entire 12-day journey to Southeast Asia and back. I was privileged to be part of a group that joined our bishop in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a brand new sanctuary.

Ironically, it was hotter than Hades on this particular Lord’s Day in the middle of November in the middle of Cambodia. But I was thrilled to be invited, nonetheless. The church building itself had begun years earlier, thanks to the bold vision of NYAC’s own Randy Nugent (then director of the General Board of Global Ministries), the hard work of teams of imported Youth Ambassadors, and the blood, sweat and tears of countless domestic laborers from the village of Okroch (pronounced Oh-croak).

I lifted not a finger during this decade-long endeavor, and yet there I was, rising from my second row seat in the VIP section, with a pair of scissors in my uncalloused hands. Everyone on the extended cabinet cut just a snippet of the ribbon, leaving the lion’s share of the scissor-work to Bishop Middleton.

Following the ceremony, those present (just about everyone in the entire village) removed their dust-covered footwear and filed in for the two-hour service. Once seated, we were treated to an inspiring time of small children singing, the pastor praying, and our bishop preaching (thanks to a translator translating).

Randy Nugent Chapel at Okroch Methodist Church in Cambodia
The Okroch chapel named in honor of Rev. Randy Nugent

But the most striking part of the service for me was a troupe of teenage girls dancing. Now, I’ve seen liturgical dancers perform ever since my wife was in a high school quintet at the church in which we both grew up in on Long Island, but the dancers at this special service did something I had never witnessed before.

The “something” they did, though, was nearly nothing. By that I mean that all of the girls’ gestures were as small as mustard seeds—the tilting of a wrist, the extending of a finger, the angling of an ankle. No grand sweeping anythings in this routine. Rather, it was tiny girls making tinier gestures that made the biggest impression on me. Sometimes, it’s the little things…

Next on our itinerary was a bit of a bus trip to the Samreth Methodist Church’s Susanna Wesley school for middle and high school aged students (69 girls, nine boys). No sooner had we weary Westerners stepped onto the premises than our hosts formed 2 columns of kids, one on our left and one on our right, and started cheering wildly for us as we passed between them.

Following this grand entrance, we met these young, aspiring scholars, toured their dormitories (they go home on weekends), and then got down to the business of a Bible study. Now, if you have never led a late-afternoon Bible study in a sweltering room full of 78 teenagers who don’t speak English, all under the watchful eye of your bishop, you’ll have to trust me when I say that it ain’t easy.

To make matters worse, the chosen topic for our time together was the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” (see Khmer Rouge, circa 1975). But thanks to the students’ patience, the presenters’ perseverance, and the Holy Spirit’s presence, grace abounded and meaningful connections were made.

Bishop Middleton cuts the opening ribbon
Bishop Jane Allen Middleton cuts the ribbon to open the Randy Nugent Chapel at Okroch Methodist Church in Cambodia.

Officially, our program ended with the obligatory group picture in front of the school. Since we all wanted this special shot of the students, the staff, and our fellow sojourners on our OWN cameras, this took considerable time, effort and smiling (say “kim cheese!”). But this grand photo was small in comparison to the selfie I saw one of the female students insist on taking with her new BFF, Betsy Ott, my co-teacher in the Bible study. Sometimes, it’s the little things…

According to our itinerary, the school was supposed to be the last stop of the day, and I for one was looking forward to taking a well-deserved nap on our long air-conditioned bus ride back to our rooms. I could only imagine how tired the bishop must have been, especially after having preached and speeched earlier.

Why, then, did I see her bypass the bus and head across the dirt road? Was there another village VIP to meet and greet, another GBGM staffer who wanted a personal episcopal intro, or another grand opening of another grand building?


Young Cambodian dancers

What could be so important? The answer soon became clear. After exchanging traditional Cambodian greetings with the young family of Christian converts (Cambodia is 90 percent Buddhist), we were told that the husband was active in the Samreth Methodist Church and the wife was active in the woman’s program sponsored by the GBGM and their three small children were, well, just active!

We were about to bid adieu when we overheard that the woman, Chhok, had a pressing health issue—something involving her heart. The Bishop was so moved by the woman’s plight that she gently placed her hands on Chhok’s head and offered a prayer for healing in a language that the woman did not speak. But by the time the bishop said “Amen,” Chhok was in tears (she not the only one).

Sometimes it’s the little things…the tilt of a dancer’s wrist, the selfie with a newfound friend, the prayer for a person in need, and a baby born in a manger.


A big welcome at the Samreth Methodist Church

To read the cabinet’s travel blog and to see more photos, go to www.nyac.com/newsdetail/2753276.



12/24–26 Conference Office Closed
The New York Conference Center in White Plains will be closed for the Christmas holiday.

1/1–2 Conference Office Closed
The New York Conference Center in White Plains will be closed for the New Year’s holiday.

1/8–9 “Got Call?” Overnight Retreat
This event at Camp Olmsted is for people age 16 to 25 who would like to consider some form of ministry as you ponder God’s purpose for your life. Join Bishop Jane Allen Middleton and members of the Board of Ordained Ministry to discuss such questions like, “What does the world need? and What is my passion?” Cost is $25. Camp Olmsted is at 114 Bay View Avenue, Cornwall-On-Hudson, N.Y. To register go to: http://www.nyac.com/eventdetail/ 2876849. For more information, contact Rev. K Karpen at K.Karpen@nyac-umc.com.

1/9 Chrysalis Accompaniment Training
Learn how to accompany an immigrant through the government process in this training program offered through a new partnership between Justice for Our Neighbors and the New Sanctuary Coalition, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the Chinese UMC, 69 Madison Street, New York, N.Y. The program hopes to move the volunteer from a mission of mercy to a ministry of justice. To sign up, contact Chinese UMC at 212-267-6464. Churches may also request accompaniment training be held at their church by contacting the New Sanctuary Coalition, 646-450-2770.

1/9 Safe Sanctuaries Workshop
This workshop, scheduled at First UMC, 21 Fern Drive, Torrington, Conn., will be led by Cassandra Negri. The 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. workshop is designed for congregations who don’t have a written Safe Sanctuaries Policy. The workshop prepares a core team of 4 or 5 people to work with the congregation to write a policy, as well as providing information on how to train trustees, teachers, parents and pastors on the implementation of that policy. Registration details at http://www.nyac.com/eventdetail/2413373.

 

More events available on the NYAC calendar>>

1/12–14 Bishop’s Convocation
Bishop Jane Allen Middleton invites NYAC clergy and spouses to join her in a time of spiritual renewal at Villa Roma Resort in Callicoon, N.Y. Deb Clifford, the founder of Inspired Church, will lead three sessions for clergy on “The Pastor as Coach.” Clifford works with leaders, teams, and church organizations to become strong, vibrant and inspired. Dr. Mackie Norris will lead three sessions for spouses and one joint session with clergy and spouses on health and wholeness. Register at www.nyac.com/eventdetail/1818625on or before January 4 to receive the “early-bird” rates. Sign up for the Wednesday night talent show by contacting Enrique Lebron at lefam2k2@yahoo.com, or 631-805-1966.

1/18–19 Conference Office Closed
The New York Conference Center in White Plains will be closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

2/18, 25 & 3/3 Mercy and Justice Webinar
From food pantries to global missions, faith communities are known for their acts of mercy and charity that benefit their broader communities and the world. But what does it mean for people of faith to address the root causes of injustice? Katey Zeh will offer a three-part webinar, “When Mercy and Justice Meet: Advocacy for Clergy and Congregations,” hosted by the Drew Theological School. Each session will provide the practical steps needed to develop and execute an action plan, including building partnerships, setting goals, engaging volunteers, and working with policymakers. Cost is $20 per session, and .5 CEU credits are available for $17.50. To register, go to drew.edu/advocacy.

2/20 Lay Servant Training Begins
The Long Island East District will hold training sessions for local church and certified lay servants at the Westbury and Hamptons Bays churches on February 20, 27, and March 5, 12 and 19. Contact the LIE District office at 631-366-2396, or liedistrict@nyac-umc.com.

8/29–31 Global UM Clergywomen Gathering 2016
Under the theme: “ONE: Birthing a Worldwide Church,” United Methodist clergywomen will gather at the World Methodist Conference at the Hilton-Americas Hotel and Conference Center in Houston. This gathering will serve as the culmination of regional gatherings of United Methodist clergywomen that have taken place throughout the connection. Meeting in conjunction with the World Methodist Conference will strengthen the Methodist identity and understanding of the United Methodist clergywomen, as well as provide them with additional leadership-building education and networking. Use this shortened link, http://bit.ly/1YYvhkh, to go to the registration page. If you have any questions please contact clergylifelonglearning@gbhem.org.

Got an Event to Share?

We welcome the opportunity to help publicize events that have a wide appeal to people across the conference in The Vision. To make it easier to publish your event, please send the information as a simple Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx suffix). Do not send it as a completed flyer, poster or as a PDF. Your event information will most likely appear on the “Save the Date” page. Email the event details directly to vision@nyac.com, and be sure to include contact information. The deadline for all the remaining 2015 issues is the first Friday of each month, with posting to the web site approximately 10 days later.


NYAC, UNYC Bishops Respond to Acts of Terror

Grace and peace to you in this Advent season in the name of Emmanuel!

A central focus in many worship services during the Advent season is the Advent wreath. The outer ring of the wreath holds four simple candles that represent so much: hope, peace, joy, and love.

The world in which we live is crying out for what we claim in our liturgy of Advent. The candle in the center of the wreath represents the promise and reality of a Savior in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the One who will turn despair into hope, violence into peace, grief into joy, and injustice into love.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we—the United Methodist bishops serving the great states of New York and Connecticut—call upon all of our congregations to claim and proclaim the fullness of our faith. Let us not live with an attitude of fear, but rather of assurance. Let us not contribute to ways of division and prejudice, but seek to live in harmony with one another. While we must pray, let us not just pray for an end to violence and disregard for human life, but boldly allow God to use our lives in action and word to seek solutions that offer peace and recognize the intrinsic value of every person. Let us show the world how God’s amazing love transforms.

Bishop Jane Allen Middleton Bishop Mark J. Webb
Bishop Middleton Bishop Webb

We must stand against acts of terror and those who choose these acts. We understand the need for our government to provide and ensure safety to its citizens, and we pray for God’s wisdom upon our political leaders as they develop ways to more effectively and compassionately provide screening to those seeking to enter the United States. Closing our doors and demonizing whole categories of people becomes justification for the acts of violence by those who would harm us. We adamantly oppose any screening process that discriminates solely on one’s religious faith.

In the midst of security, we also recognize the need for radical hospitality to find a way. Those who are fleeing the very acts of terror we are attempting to protect ourselves from, must be given refuge. Syrian women, men, and children are fleeing war and the rise of ISIS, and we must find a way to offer the promise of Advent.

We call upon United Methodists in New York and Connecticut to welcome those seeking refuge, to advocate for systems that will deal with this international crisis, and to offer hope, peace, joy, and love to all, in the name and person of Jesus the Christ.

May God give us courage for these days. As we trust the promises of God, may we share those promises with the world around us.

Through the grace of God,

Bishop Jane Allen Middleton,
New York Conference
Bishop Mark J. Webb,
Upper New York Conference

Noble Unable to Continue with NYAC

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

Last month I shared the news of Rev. Dr. Derrick-Lewis Noble’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and chronic pain. These symptoms have continued and, after much prayer and consultation with his doctors, Derrick has concluded that he will not be able to continue as our director of congregational development and revitalization. He has applied for medical leave under paragraph 357.2 in The Book of Discipline.

It is with a heavy heart that I share this news. Derrick’s many gifts have been a blessing to the New York Annual

Conference in the time he has served here. His preaching has inspired us and his leadership has encouraged us. In his letter to me requesting medical leave, Derrick wrote:

I will sincerely miss my colleagues in the New York Annual Conference. While I am leaving behind some unfinished work concerning church revitalization, I believe we got off to a fantastic start. I have no doubt that this conference is in God’s hands, and that we’ll get “there,” wherever “there” may be!

Please join me in continuing to pray for Derrick’s healing and for God’s guidance for the next steps in his journey. Again, if you wish to contact Derrick, please send a message to his personal e-mail address, dr.derricknoble@yahoo.com.

We are very grateful for the contribution Derrick has made and are committed to continuing the work of new church starts and church revitalization. We will begin efforts to find a person to fill this position so that the work he began can continue.

In Christ’s love,

Bishop Jane Allen Middleton


Taking Strength From Monuments of Faith

BY REV. MATT CURRY
Director of Connectional Ministries

What a privilege it was to take part in the extended cabinet’s mission journey to Cambodia and South Korea. We were able to spend a week learning about missions and ministry in Cambodia and our last day was marked by visits to three remarkable temples—culminating at Angkor Wat. These heritage sites are notable for many reasons: religious significance, artisanship, architectural achievement, popularity, historical importance, and more. Angkor Wat is the largest religious site in the world and is visited by millions of pilgrims and tourists from around the world.

As this was our last day in Cambodia, I can’t help but look back at the entire week and draw some comparisons. We began our Cambodia mission journey with the privilege of dedicating the parsonage and chapel in Okroch. What Angkor Wat represents in magnificent scale and artisanal details, the Nugent Chapel more than makes up for in the intentions of the faith community; both the simple chapel and the ancient temple are monuments to faith . . . sacred places steeped in prayer. While Okroch Methodist Church will never draw

Above: Bishop Middleton and her entourage toured the Angkor Wat Temple on their last day in Cambodia.

crowds by the millions, it will form the lives of the children who play in its yard and the families and individuals who pray and worship there.

As I meditate on my experience in these sacred places, I can’t help but hum the song we offered in worship that Sunday in Okroch:

“Lord, prepare me to be a Sanctuary;
Pure and holy; tried and true.
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.”

The witness of Cambodian Methodists is one that expresses God’s faithfulness in multiplying the faithful efforts of God’s people. Where the world would see limitation and roadblocks, the people called Methodist have partnered with God and one another to make disciples and make a difference. Through these experiences, my own faith has been buoyed and my prayers have been deepened.


Help Wanted: New Conference Lay Leader

Conference Lay Leader, Renata Smith will be completing her term in June 2016. She will have served eight years, the maximum time allowed by the Book of Discipline.

Nominations for the new conference lay leader will be made as follows as per the Discipline and our conference rules.

Nominations for conference lay leader shall be made from the conference floor by any member of the annual conference. Only lay persons may be nominated.

All lay and clergy members shall be entitled to vote for the conference lay leader within the bar of the conference only.

A majority of the ballots cast (i.e. 50 percent plus one) shall be required to elect. A tie vote between the top two persons shall be disregarded and another ballot cast.

Balloting may be written or electronic as determined by the conference secretary.

The conference lay leader shall be elected by the conference at the first session of each quadrennium following General Conference and shall serve no more than two quadrennial terms (BD 2012 ¶607.9). (Conference Rules 69–73, page 332, 2014 Journal &Yearbook)

Responsibilities

The conference lay leader:

• Chairs the Conference Board of Laity which is made up of district lay leaders, district directors of lay servant ministries, chairs and representatives from United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, youth and adult ministries, ethnic councils and lay members at large. Ex-Officio members include the bishop, a cabinet/staff representative and the director of Connectional Ministries.

• Works with the Board of Laity to equip, support and enable the organized lay groups and other laity in their spiritual formation and in the carrying out of their roles in ministry in the local church, district, annual conference and the communities in which they live and work.

• Ensures that there is a conference director of Lay Servant Ministry.

• Serves on several conference committees including the connectional ministries vision table, nominations, episcopacy and conference sessions. There can be other responsibilities not listed in the Book of Discipline. For example, the current lay leader served on the strategic planning task force and chairs the committee that selects the recipient of the Shirley Parris award.


Conference Lay Leader Renata Smith plays the encourager during the Imagine No Malaria presentation at annual conference in June 2015.

• Meets with the bishop to discuss matters relating to the annual conference and ministry needs particularly relating to the laity.

• Presents a written report to the annual conference, which is then offered live at the June gathering.

• Participates in the service of ordination during the annual conference session.

• Is a member of the Annual Association of Conference Lay Leaders.

Qualifications

Suggested spiritual gifts: Encouragement, discernment, administration, teaching, prayer, and leadership.

Recommended experience/skills: A certified lay servant with leadership experience at the district and/or conference levels; ability to communicate effectively; good listening and organizational skills; ability to lead meetings and to get along well with others.

Time requirements

Being conference lay leader requires a lot of time. There are many meetings, conference calls, travel, both within and outside of the conference. The lay leader is often called on to speak and lead training sessions for laity across the conference and beyond.

The rewards

Priceless! One has the unique opportunity to learn and grow while leading, and to interact with a wide cross section of lay persons and clergy across the NYAC and beyond. Most of all, one gets to humbly serve.

For more information, read paragraph 607 in the 2012 Book of Discipline. In addition to the discernment process, please feel free to contact Renata Smith at renata.smith@nyac-umc.com.


Alternative Giving to Fight Malaria

Our conference’s fight against malaria continues. As of the end of October, the NYAC has collected a total of $842,880.70 toward our goal of $1.2 million. Can the NYAC reach $900,000 by the end of this month?

You can add to that total by sending an Imagine No Malaria card for the holidays. Let someone know what a difference they made in your life by donating to Imagine No Malaria and making a difference in someone else’s life.

The inside of the card reads, “Because your life has touched others, a gift has been made in your honor to provide hope for families in Africa through the Imagine No Malaria Initiative.” You can choose from gifts ranging from $10 to $500. To order, go to www.nyac.com/inm. For any questions, contact Lynda Gomi at lgomi@nyac.com.

And if you made a pledge at annual conference, please send in your payment as soon as possible.


GENERAL CONFERENCE 2016
NYAC Will Offer Prayer Vigil on January 30

January 1 will lead off 131 days of continual prayer for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, which meets May 10–20, 2016, in Portland, Oregon.

The quadrennial legislative event begins 131 days after the New Year. By coincidence, there are 131 annual (regional) conferences in the United Methodist Church.

The Council of Bishops has invited each of the annual conferences to host a 24-hour prayer effort on a specific date, with the intent of creating a groundswell of prayer in the days leading up to the General Conference. It is up to each conference to choose an available date and then design its own format for the prayer effort. The New York Annual

Conference date is January 30; details will be available in early January.

As the spiritual leaders of the UMC, the Council of Bishops conceived the plan for a prayer vigil as a meaningful way to focus spiritually on the experience, as well as to surround the delegates and church leaders with prayer for a General Conference that inspires us in our mission to make disciples of Jesus

Christ for the transformation of the world. “United Methodists from all over the world will come together in the spirit of Christian conferencing in Portland,” said Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference and chairperson of the Council Life Together team, which helped initiate the idea. “We want those attending to know that their United Methodist family is praying for them and with them—that God will lead them in the decisions that they will make for the future of our church and that the event will be a positive Christian witness in how we conference together.”

The prayer effort will commence with the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, which volunteered for the start date of January 1.

Redesigned App Makes Keeping Up Easier

General Conference, in the palm of your hand—a redesigned 2016 General Conference app is now available. A helpful way to stay connected and learn more about all aspects of the conference, the app will feature news, photo and social media feeds, video and audio archives, live streaming of worship and plenary, the Daily Christian Advocate and Advance Daily Christian Advocate, and petition tracking.

For delegates and others at the conference on May 10–20, there are also some features to make the experience easier: legislative committee

assignments, conference schedule with the option to build a personalized calendar, a delegate discussion board, a daily devotional, and an interactive map of the convention center and Portland, Oregon.

“United Methodist Communications seeks to provide useful tools that connect the church and make it quick and easy to get information, whether it’s from your computer or your smartphone,” said Dan Krause, chief executive of the denomination’s communications agency.

The app is free to download and is available for Android and Apple devices. You can search for “United Methodist General Conference” in your app store or visit www.umc.org/who-we-are/general-conference-2016-mobile-app for a link.

“While we know not everyone has a smartphone or readily available Internet access, this app is one of many channels United Methodist Communications is developing for members to access information leading up to and during General Conference,” said Krause.


Making Deadlines for Year-end Payments

Ross Williams, chief financial officer for the conference, has put out this reminder for pastors, finance chairs, and treasurer about year-end payments:

Apportionments

Payments must be received at the lockbox or conference center by Tuesday, January 12 to be credited to the calendar year 2015.

Mail to: New York Annual Conference, P.O. Box 9458, Uniondale, NY 11555-9458

Integrity in Pensions

Your balance, if any, is reflected on your monthly church statement. The Integrity in Pensions program was a 30-year plan to fund the past service pension liability of the conference. While this program officially ended in 2012, some churches have not fully paid their share of this liability.We encourage churches to fulfill this obligation by paying any amounts still outstanding.

Mail to: New York Annual Conference, Attn Fran Collins, 20 Soundview Ave., White Plains, NY 10606

Parish Development Loans

Payments must be received at the conference center by Monday, December 28 to be reflected on your final 2015 statement. Payments received after this date will be reflected on future statements.

Mail to: New York Annual Conference, Attn Fran Collins, 20 Soundview Ave., White Plains, NY 10606

CRSP, HealthFlex and Workers Compensation Insurance

Payments must be received at the conference center by Monday, December 28, to be reflected on your final 2015 statement. Payments received after this date will be reflected on future statements.

Mail to: New York Annual Conference, Attn: Heman Persaud, 20 Soundview Ave., White Plains, NY 10606.


WHITE-COLLAR MINISTRY:
A Riches-to-Rags-to-Redemption Story

The Conference Board of Church and Society will be highlighting different prison ministry activities and opportunities in the next few months. Below is an unusual ministry that arose from personal transformation after a prison experience. The CBCS invites anyone with knowledge of a prison ministry to share to contact us at churchandsociety@nyac-umc.com.

BY REV. JEFF GRANT, JD, M.DIV
Director
Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project

On Easter Sunday 2006, I reported to Allenwood Low Security Corrections Institution in White Deer, Penn. A guard came out and I showed him my court orders; he did not seem happy about my reporting on Easter Sunday. As we went through the metal door he spun me around, held my hands behind my back and slapped handcuffs on them. I had been anticipating this moment for more than a year and not once did I consider that I would have to be handcuffed. At that moment I had my first inkling of how little I knew about surviving in prison.

Next, I was brought to a section called R&D—receiving and discharge—that felt very much like its title, a place for FedEx packages. I was processed and then told to strip naked. While I was standing naked in this cold room, on a cold cement floor, a man entered whom I would later learn was the head lieutenant. He basically ran the day-to-day operations of the prison.

Looking me up and down, he then asked me if I was the lawyer. I told him no, but that I used to be one. This answer seemed to please him. Then he told me that there were 1500 men on his compound, and I was to be the only lawyer, although there were some jailhouse lawyers working out of the library. He advised I’d have no problems on his compound if I stayed out of other people’s legal affairs and I took no money or favors from another inmate. And then he said that I was a short-stayer and he suggested I just do my time and go home without a problem. He asked me what I thought of that? I was standing there naked. I told him that making a few dollars from other inmates was the last thing on my mind.

I was given an orange jumpsuit to wear, re-cuffed and marched across the compound to the segregated housing unit (SHU). When I got to the SHU, it looked like something out of the worst prison movie I had ever seen; dark and dimly lit, with rows of metal doors with tiny holes in them. I wondered if this was what the entire prison was like, if it

was a holding area, and how long I would be there. Inside the cell was a narrow bunk bed—barely wide enough for a grown man’s shoulders—a combination toilet and sink, a desk and a chair. And there I met my first “cellie,”—a black man, about 50 years old, with dreadlocks down to his waist. When I came in, he didn’t acknowledge my presence at all. He just pointed to the upper bunk. I understood; that was mine.

His first words came about 10 minutes later when he told me to move fast. The sound of a cart moving down the hall meant we had no time to lose. The slot on the metal cell door opened, and very quickly, four covered trays of food slid in through the slot. I understood what he meant by moving fast. If we didn’t catch the trays they would have dropped to the floor and the food would have spilled all over. He caught each tray and quickly handed them to me. I put them on the desk. We sat on the floor, dividing the dinner between us. I had already decided that I was going to lose the 40 pounds I had put on in the months leading up to my incarceration. Looking at the trays, I saw there was a little meat of some sort, and lots of bread, potatoes and rice. Starches were apparently the mainstay of the diet. I asked him if he wanted my potatoes and rice. We became friends in no time. His name was Raoul.

Almost everybody who was designated Allenwood was first brought to the SHU, Raoul explained. There was no way to know how long I’d be in the SHU, but Raoul suspected that I wouldn’t have to wait long: first timer, middle age, and most importantly, white. I later learned that some inmates are kept in the SHU “waiting for a bed” 30 days or longer. I only had to wait 16 hours before I was released onto the compound.

* * * * * * *
After serving almost 14 months in a federal prison for a white-collar crime, I made the decision to dedicate my life to


Rev. Jeff Grant and Lynn Springer

those who were suffering the shame, guilt, remorse, and ostracism that accompanies white-collar and nonviolent crime. I led addiction recovery and prisoner reentry groups.

I was accepted to Union Theological Seminary in New York City and earned a master’s degree in divinity with a focus in Christian social ethics. Then I had the privilege of serving on the board of directors of several prisoner reentry nonprofits. I was then called to serve as associate minister and director of prison ministries at an inner city church in Bridgeport, Conn. My wife, Lynn Springer, and I founded the Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project, the first ministries in the United States created to provide confidential religious/spiritual support and counseling to individuals and families with white-collar and other nonviolent incarceration issues—before, during and upon reentry from prison.

We offer spiritual solutions for material problems, and shepherd people and families all the way through the incarceration and reentry process to a new and transformed life of productivity and helping others.

If you, a friend, or a member of your church is experiencing a white-collar or nonviolent incarceration issue, or if you would like to discuss a speaking opportunity, please contact us.

The darkest days of a person’s life can be a time of renewal and hope.

To reach Rev. Jeff Grant and Lynn Springer: P.O. Box 1232, Weston, CT 06883; 203-769-1096. Email: jgrant@prisonist.org, lspringer@prisonist.org; web site: prisonist.org.


NYAC Camp Families Come in All Sizes

What is family camping? Family, for NYAC campers means everybody.

A family might consist of a single individual, a couple, grandparents and their grandchildren, a group of friends or any other configuration imaginable. It means a special group that gathers in a community that will never be repeated in exactly the same way.

Both of our conference camps — Quinipet on Shelter Island and Kingswood in Hancock, N.Y. — offer opportunities for family camping. And while the provisions at the two facilities are quite different, the relationships
that are formed can last a lifetime.

Family camping at Quinipet is held for one week at the beginning of each summer. This is a time when families can spend time with each other in chapel worship and when adults can spend time in a study group while the children and teens are engaged in age-level studies of their own.

Family groups have time to experience camp activities, the beauty of Shelter Island, the iconic gazebo or just relax on one of the porches on the Victorian-era houses that seem to have been built just to pass a summer afternoon.

Evenings are spent playing or watching softball, practicing for the talent show or paying a visit to the nearby Perlman Music Center where the open rehearsals are inspiring and amazing. By mid-week, children and youth are making plans to connect on social media.

Family camping at Kingswood goes on all summer. Whether you are a seasoned rustic camper or a new camper who likes all the amenities of an equipped site, the choice is yours. Families, (which again, is everybody), have the run of all 766 acres at Kingswood.

The prayer trail is amazing; every station has something special to see and a place to sit and pray. Campers may start their day at morning watch and watch the pond as the day starts to come


Family camp at Quinipet draws from across several generations.


The stone ministry at Kingswood, a timeless and ever evolving structure.

to life. And the stone ministry is a must visit for all campers. It’s no exaggeration to say that the rustically beautiful structure is awesome as each stone is laid in memory of a loved one.

Activities abound for all ages. The barn has an enormous loft for basketball, reading, and games in case of inclement weather. You can shop at the camp store, stock up on blankets and ice, and meet your camp neighbors. Families can enjoy a dip in the pond with a certified lifeguard on duty. Canoes, kayaks and rowboats are provided with life jackets.

Ginny Stevenson, longtime camper and program director, contributed the following remembrance:

“Camping was our vacation each year, both when there were only two of us and later as our family grew to six . . . Our pastor, Doug Osgood, told us . . . about Kingswood. When we arrived at Kingswood and settled in our site, we instantly fell in love with the camp. Large private sites, all the equipment we needed provided, caring managers in the farmhouse, and something even more: a feeling of peace we still experience as we approach. And now, 33 years later, the children are grown and the two of us are nearing our 80th birthdays. We cannot imagine a summer without our Kingswood time.”

For more information about all the opportunities at the NYAC camps, please go to www.nyaccamps.org.


Willy Provides A Lesson on Giving Back

By Rev. Jim Stinson
Consultant for Older Adult Ministries

Jim Stinson

Willy, who was born to Haitian parents in the Dominican Republic, has lived in that country all his life. The two nations make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. But because of a long-standing bigotry toward those of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, Willy is relegated to living in a shantytown—a slum of major proportions—on a muddy mountainside, with little or no services.

He lives on a shoestring, as the saying goes, getting a small stipend from Health Horizons International, a non-governmental agency that was co-founded by a family physician, and friend of ours, several years ago. Its mission is to improve the quality of medical care in the country, which is no small endeavor. It does so while delivering basic medical care to villages such as Willy’s.

Willy, despite all the obstacles, works every day for HHI who trained him as a

Jim Stinson

community health worker. He is intelligent, but college isn’t likely, nor is a “good” job, due to very discriminatory attitudes in Dominican society. He continues to live and work in his home community. When my wife Barbara and I had the opportunity to see one of the communities HHI serves, it was Willy who was our guide for the day.

Humbled does not begin to describe our feelings when I asked Willy why he does what he does He said very simply, “I have to give back.” No frilly answer! Simply, what to him was a fact of life, “I have to give back.” That was it!

That response put life in a clearer perspective. With or without the material things and easy living, meaning is found in the realization that we are part of the human family and have something to contribute. Not to do so negates our need to contribute, and our humanity.

After our tour, Barbara and I were sharing our feelings about the day. Both of us said we wished everyone could meet Willy and learn something. We sure did.

As I am forever trying to gain insight into older adults, I had an “Aha” moment. So

many older adults have learned the wrong lesson and unconsciously found reasons to no longer give back, seeing their needs and limitations as excuses for doing so. Willy would lead them to do otherwise. He may not have the physical limitations so many older adults have, but limitations are his reality. Even so he still finds a way to be constructively involved in the needs of others.

Willy gets what the church, when it is at its best, understands, which any spiritual movement understands, what Jesus taught. To find the fullness of life that Jesus offers, we, at any age, have to give back.

Churches, in their ministry with older adults do well to consider ways to involve them in actively giving back. Most shut-ins can still write notes, make phone calls, and actively pray for the congregation and pastor. Almost everyone can be encouraged to deliberately love others and find ways to demonstrate it. There are no limits to “giving back.” Don’t shortchange older adults, expect that they too can, and need to, “give back.”

Save the Date

Will Randolph, director of Aging and Older Adult Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, will lead a workshop, “Recognizing and Using the Gifts of Our Older Adults,” for the New York Conference on May 14, 2016, at the Mamaroneck UMC, Mamaroneck, N.Y.


$2.8M Donated on UMC Giving Tuesday

United Methodists around the world demonstrated inspiring generosity through their contributions on December 1—UMC #GivingTuesday. Nearly 6,000 donors from 27 countries donated $2.8 million through The Advance to support mission and ministries around the world.

The denomination’s General Board of Global Ministries matched the first $1 million, building additional incentive for giving. More than 770 projects and missionaries received 8,757 gifts through The Advance, the designated giving channel of The United Methodist Church.

Noting the increase in gifts from the $2.5 million donated during 2014’s UMC #GivingTuesday, Thomas Kemper, general secretary of Global Ministries, said, “Methodist giving is resilient. As we face a pandemic of mass shootings, a global refugee crisis, and an outbreak of desperate acts of violence, Methodists’ commitment to the mission of the church is a powerful testament to the faith and trust in the denomination’s ability to transform the world.” He continued, “Every gift made through The Advance on Giving Tuesday and

throughout the year has the power and possibility to make a difference in the lives of women, men, and children globally.”

A new approach to UMC #GivingTuesday this year involved building relationships with local churches through teams that worked locally to promote Advance projects and missionaries.

This is the third year that The Advance participated in UMC #GivingTuesday, part of a larger international movement that provides an alternative to Black Friday, Local Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday—the shopping traditions following Thanksgiving.

The United Methodist Church has become a model for other organizations wanting to participate in the larger #GivingTuesday campaign. Global Ministries was among the partners invited to the White House in 2014 by the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Partnership to promote and support #GivingTuesday.

A full report of projects that were supported and the gifts that Global Ministries matched will be available at www.umcmission.org in mid-December.


Lilly Grants to Encourage Youth to Explore Theology

INDIANAPOLIS—Many high school students yearn for opportunities to ask difficult and probing questions about their faith and the moral dimensions of contemporary challenges.

Now some private colleges and universities are creating summer institutes and other programs to encourage young people to explore these questions by studying theology and examining how their faith calls them to lives of service.

To support the effort, Lilly Endowment Inc. is giving $44.5 million in grants to help 82 private four-year colleges and universities around the nation to develop high school youth theology institutes. The grants are part of the Endowment’s commitment to identify and cultivate a cadre of theologically minded youth who will become leaders in church and society.

Reflecting diverse and rich expressions of theological traditions, the colleges and universities are located in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Some of the Methodist-related schools on the list include Bethune-Cookman College, Emory University, Hendrix College, Huntingdon College, North Carolina Wesleyan College, Pfeiffer University, Shenandoah University, Southern Wesleyan University, and Southwestern College.

Most programs will take place during the summer and offer short-term residential experiences to groups of students as small as 24 and as large as 300.


JOB OPENING

President and Executive Director

The United Methodist Frontier Foundation (UMFF) seeks a new president and executive director to implement the vision and mission of the UMFF in New York State, western Connecticut, and neighboring areas. The foundation has 2.5 full-time employees and part-time field consultants throughout the region. Its assets are in excess of $38 million; the foundation hopes to grow its assets in the near future to $50 million.

As chief executive officer (CEO) of the foundation, the president supervises all foundation staff, volunteers, and implements all programs and services provided by the foundation. In addition, the president plans, implements, and supervises programs in the areas of stewardship education (capital campaigns, stewardship workshops, financial planning for clergy and laity), fund management, and planned giving for congregations and individuals. A candidate for this position must be willing to travel extensively throughout New York State and western Connecticut.

Apply online at http://thenovakconsultinggroup.com/president-and-executive-director-united-methodist-frontier-foundation. Applicants must first complete a brief online form and then are prompted to provide one document (Word or PDF) that has a cover letter, resume with salary history, and a list of 3-5 professional references. The first review of applications will be December 15. For any questions, contact Catherine Tuck Parrish, executive search practice leader, at 240-832-1778, or ctuckparrish@thenovakconsultinggroup.com.

NYAC Students Get Financial Help

The Office of Loans and Scholarships will be awarding more then 2,200 UMC students a total of $4.5 million in financial assistance for 2015, thanks in part to your support for United Methodist Student Day, World Communion Sunday, and Native American Sunday. Additional funding for these awards comes from gifts, annuities and endowments that the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry has invested and administered for decades.

Students who are receiving assistance within the New York Conference include:

Deborah Normandia Andrew Ray
Lucie Tshama Matthew Volpe
Steve Kim Joshua Moore
Michael Zukowski Lashawna Logan
Victoria Han Lena Kuffuor-Afriyie
Hansol Choi Shannon Moore
Bruce Lamb Susannah Simpfenderfer
Elizabeth Kim Alex Yom
Elyse Minson Seung Kwon Yang
Victoria Burke Aaron Harewood
Daniel Chun Jacqueline Carter
Juhee Kang Nicholas Arata
Brianna Prentice Claire Wu

New Support For Theological Education

With membership of The United Methodist Church outside the United States at 5.5 million-plus and growing, there is an increasing need for theologically educated clergy. Now there is an established fund to support that need long-term.

Inaugural donations have been given to a new Endowment Fund for Theological Education in Central Conferences. This fund establishes sustainable, long-term support for theological education, similar to the Central Conference Pension Initiative for retired clergy. The new endowment fund is dedicated to education for clergy in the seven Central Conferences outside of the U.S. In partnership with the Commission on Central Conference Theological Education Fund, the endowment will add support to the $5 million disbursement given at the 2012 General Conference for the 2013-2016 quadrennium, a disbursement that fund advocates hope will be renewed in 2016.

“The endowment will ensure funding that is consistent with the great educational need we have in the Central Conferences. It will continue for generations of future clergy. We hope to raise $25 million from supporters across the world. It has been encouraging that the very first gifts have been pledged from Europe and the Philippines, then from the U.S. I am sure the first will soon arrive from Africa,” said Bishop Patrick Streiff of the Central and Southern Europe Episcopal Area, who chairs the endowment fund.

The Council of Bishops established the endowment fund in November 2014. In the past year, a feasibility study has been completed with encouraging results, and the fund’s board has been established to bring the planning stages of the effort into fruition. The board’s makeup focuses on the diversity of the Central Conferences, with members from Africa, Asia, Europe and the U.S.

The board is searching for major donors to join the effort to support the international church’s growth. For further information about contributing to the fund, contact its volunteer executive director, Minnis Ridenour at ridem@vt.edu


Join the Hofstra Worship Team

The annual conference worship team invites you to join in the planning and preparation of worship for the NYAC holy conferencing at Hofstra in June 2016.

They are looking for laity and clergy with a variety of worship gifts, including, but not limited to, music, dance, drama, visuals, set design, and liturgy crafting.

The team meets monthly in White Plains and occasionally by conference call, as well as active participation in annual conference. The next meeting will be January 6, during the day, exact time to be determined. Please contact co-chairs, Heather Sinclair at heather.sinclair@nyac-umc.com, or Alex Souto at alex.souto@nyac-umc.com for more information.


OBITUARIES

Helen C. Hoyt

Helen C. Hoyt, the widow of Rev. Paul Hoyt, died November 19, at age 95.

She was born in Sanford, Fla., and graduated from Southern College in Lakeland, Fla., as a math major. She met her husband while at Southern, and they married in 1943.

Rev. Hoyt first served in the New England, Troy, and Iowa conferences from 1943 before moving to the New York Conference in 1963. Together the couple served the many Methodist churches to which he was appointed, including Ashokan, Kerhonkson, Georgetown, East Norwich, Phoenicia and Lanesville in the New York Conference. In 1984, they retired to Sarasota, Fla. Rev. Hoyt died in 2001.

Mrs. Hoyt loved meeting people, and worked as a substitute teacher whenever possible. She was also active with the United Methodist Women. In 1980, she was elected a lay delegate to General Conference. While living in Florida, Hoyt assisted at the thrift shop at the Church of the Redeemer.

She is survived by two children, William Hoyt of Raymond, Maine, and Patricia Waitley of Anadarko, Okla.; three grandchildren, Joanna and Zachary of Lacona, N.Y., and Carolyn Lumpkin of Fort Cobb, Okla.; and two great grandchildren. In addition, she is survived by a brother, William Chapman of Port Charlotte, Fla., and a sister, Virginia Anza, of Sanford, Fla.

Funeral services will be held January 6, 2016, at the Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota, Fla., Her ashes will be scattered in the St. Francis Garden at Redeemer.


Jerry Gafio Watts

Jerry Gafio Watts, a professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center, died November 17, at age 62. Watts, who was a leading scholar of African-American literature, culture and political thought, was the husband of Rev. Dr. Traci C. West, an elder in the New York Conference and professor of ethics and African American Studies at Drew University Theological School.

Jerry Gafio WattsJerry Gafio Watts

Watts was born May 17, 1953, and raised in Washington, D.C. He graduated from DeMatha Catholic High School, then earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and a doctorate from Yale University.

Watts served as assistant professor of government and Afro-American studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.; associate and full professor of American Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, and professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. He was the author of two books: “Heroism and the Black Intellectual: Reflections on Ralph Ellison, Politics, and Afro-American Intellectual Life;” and “Amiri Baraka: The Politics and Art of a Black Intellectual.” Watts’s impressive publication record also includes extensive articles, essays and reviews in academic journals such as Contemporary Sociology, New Politics, Social Research, and Dissent, as well as in mass-media publications.

He was known for his commitment to mentoring students, a generous spirit to workers across class and race/ethnicity, critiques of white supremacy in U.S. racial politics and academia, scandalous humor and storytelling, and love for his family.

In addition to his spouse, Watts is survived by a sister, Brenda Watts; brother, Robert Watts; nephews, James Watts III, Gregory Watts, Michael Watts, Shawn Sloan, Kyle Sloan; niece, Ravae Perkins; and aunt, Evelyn Foster.

A memorial service was held December 5 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 W. 64th St., New York, N.Y.

For more information or to send a note of condolence, visit https://www.bradleyfuneralhomes.com/tribute/jerry-watts-november-16-2015.html. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Watts may be made to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, 40 Rector St., 5th floor, New York, NY 10006.


Bishop Resigns After Admitting Wrongdoing

UMNS—United Methodist Bishop James E. Dorff admitted to violating his marriage and ordination vows and has voluntarily resigned as episcopal leader of the Rio Texas Conference, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Dorff resigned after a complaint was filed, Bishop Michael McKee, president of the South Central Jurisdictional College of Bishops, said in announcing the resignation on Dec. 4.

Dorff expressed his regret in a letter to the college of bishops.

“It is so difficult to admit and share, but I must inform you that I did not uphold the sacred vows I made to God at my

wedding, at my consecration as bishop, and at my ordination as elder. I crossed what were the clear expectations of relational boundaries.

“For this transgression, I am profoundly sorry. I offer my sincerest apologies to all concerned. My actions have caused pain to many, including my family, the person involved, each of you, members of the annual conference, and the greater church. I am so, so sorry,” Dorff wrote.

McKee said that an interim bishop will be appointed to serve beginning in January. Until the interim bishop is appointed, he will provide episcopal oversight. During the South Central

Jurisdictional Conference in July 2016, a new Rio Texas bishop will be appointed to a term beginning on September 1. The conference serves South Texas with nearly 400 churches.

“This is a difficult situation for everyone involved, but we are confident that the ongoing ministries of the conference will continue under the capable leadership of the experienced, faithful conference staff and laity,” said McKee, who will work with the leaders of the Rio Texas Conference to ensure a smooth transition.

Dorff is resigning eight months before his planned retirement.


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Resident Interim Bishop: Jane Allen Middleton

Editor: Joanne Utley

Vision e-mail: vision@nyac.com

Web site: www.nyac.com/vision

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