"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. September, 2014

In this issue:

CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF
BISHOP MARTIN D. McLEE
Remembered for Joyfulness, Prophetic Voice
Cantico Nuevo Ecumenical Choir

BY JOANNE S. UTLEY
With Maidstone Mulenga

From the opening notes of “Ave Maria” to the ending refrain of “Draw the Circle Wide,” the funeral service for Bishop Martin D. McLee at The Riverside Church reflected the life and ministry passions of this beloved leader. The mix of music, dance, and word at the September 15 service might even have qualified for McLee’s definition of “engaging worship”—something he encouraged in all the congregations under his leadership.

Bishop Martin D. McLee

McLee, the resident bishop of the New York Area, was remembered time and again for his complete commitment to the Gospel and his advocacy for the marginalized. He died unexpectedly on September 6, just four days before his 59th birthday. McLee had taken a six-month leave of absence beginning July 1, to receive treatment for an undisclosed illness. The news of his death was met with profound disbelief and an outpouring of adoration not only from the New York Conference, but also from many across the globe.

Thousands of mourners—including dozens of active and retired bishops and more than 400 robed clergypersons—poured into Riverside Church to pay homage to a man whose great love of Christ was a beacon for many. As the strains of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” filled the church, the casket bearing the body of McLee was carried down the center aisle, with a group of children, young adults and mothers with babies close behind. His family, the bishops, the New York cabinet and lay leaders, and other ecumenical religious leaders then followed.

Bishop Marcus Matthews, president of the Northeastern Jurisdiction’s College of Bishops, addressed the feelings of shock and love when he opened the service by acknowledging that he too had a “broken heart” and that our corporate pain came in “bidding too early a farewell” to our beloved colleague, and to the man that the family lovingly called, “Martin Duke.”

Matthews noted that while it was difficult to rejoice, the gathering could take comfort in the love and grace of God that McLee had shared with each one. Matthews had consecrated McLee as a bishop just two years ago in July 2012. Matthews offered greetings in place of interim Bishop Neil Irons, who was reported to be too ill to attend.

The congregation rose to sing, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” after which Renata Smith, conference lay leader and Episcopacy Committee member, led the responsive reading of Psalm 23.

Retired Bishop Alfred Johnson, who is also lead pastor at the Church of the Village, offered a pastoral prayer noting that out of all the calls in McLee’s lifemusic, law and educationhe had answered the “sweet, tortuous call to ordained ministry.

“He lived boldly, bravely and bountifully” into the ministry, Johnson said. “And throughout his physical journey, his grace never wasted away . . . his storm has passed over, hallelujah.”

Soloist Kathleen Theisen, minister of music at Darien UMC, then offered a powerful rendition of The Lord’s Prayer, accompanied on piano by Mark Miller.

Bishop Warner Brown, president of the Council of Bishops, was the first in a series of “witnesses in thanksgiving for the life” of McLee. Brown described McLee as a bishop of the church with a passion for embracing the marginalized, joyfully calling for a day acceptable to God and calling the best out of God’s people.

“He had the courage to seek justice, mercy and love because he walked humbly with a God who would never leave him alone,” said Brown, who is also bishop of the San Francisco Area.

Brown told members of the McLee family that the bishops and the entire United Methodist Church were holding them in prayer. “But even though we are sad that we will be deprived of the joy of his companionship, we rejoice that we have witnessed the life of one of God’s very special people.”

He noted that while some people may have found the way McLee preached and rapped and sang to be unconventional, “McLee used all the gifts he had to turn a light on in the eyes of those for whom the light of hope had gone out.”

Bonnie Marden, chair of NEJ Episcopacy Committee, shared that McLee once asked her the proper way to cook lobster after learning that she was from Maine.

“I told him head first and all in,” she said. “Isn’t that how he lived his life? Head first and all in?” she asked, as the gathering broke out in laughter.

Rev. Adrienne Brewington credited McLee with bringing a fresh, new spirit to the NYAC cabinet. She cited his commitment to young clergy and his work to open the church fully to the LGBT community.

“He would often say, ‘It’s going to be difficult, but that’s no reason not to do it’,” she said. “He gave the cabinet permission to be fearless, too.” McLee had called for an end to church trials of clergy related to same-sex marriage issues.

Speaking on behalf of the McLee family, cousin Beverly Mason asked those gathered to take a look around them to the right, left, behind and in front.

“Words cannot express how grateful we are to be . . . supported by this beautiful rainbow of diversity of ages, races ethnicities . . .” she said. Bishop McLee, who grew up in Brooklyn, leaves behind two sisters, two brothers, and several nieces and nephews.

Mason also shared a family quote that is based on Hebrews 11:1. “Faith is not believing that God can; it is knowing that He will.”

The bishop’s love of all things musical was represented in the offerings of two choirs: “God So Loved the World” by the Cantico Nuevo Ecumenical Choir directed by Jorge Lockward, and “It Is Well,” sung in Korean and English by the choir from First UMC in Flushing, Queens. And then the two choirs joined together to sing “Total Praise” as the hymn of preparation. A string quartet from First UMC provided the prelude and processional music.

The threads woven together by many of the speakers were what Rev. Gerald “Jay” Williams referred to as “McLee-isms”phrases that the bishop would shout or rap out in meetings or worship. “When I say halle, you say lujah!” and “If you don’t know Jesus, you better ask somebody,” were two of McLee’s favorites.

Williams, who answered a call to ministry under McLee’s guidance in Boston and now leads his former congregation at Union UMC, started, “McBishop, it wasn’t supposed to be this way . . .” He went on to thank McLee for the courage, love and joy he brought to his prophetic ministry and to their mentoring relationship.

“McBishop, I imagine you’re walking around in the Aruba section of heaven looking for the Holy Ghost party,” Williams said with a big smile referring to another McLeeism: “Ain’t no party like a Holy Ghost party because a Holy Ghost party don’t stop!”

Rev. Dr. Zan Holmes, pastor emeritus of St. Luke “Community” UMC in Dallas who inspired McLee to enter ordained ministry, fired up the service as he testified about how McLee had blossomed wherever he was planted. He recalled with great joy the day that his protégée had called to tell him that he was “now speaking to Bishop McLee.” He related that McLee was at home in his own skin and was “never a stranger wherever he went.”

And even in their exchanges in last days of his life, he was not afraid, Holmes said.

“Oh, yeah!” was the response McLee texted to Holmes after he assured him about God’s presence in those trying times.

Expressions of condolence can be sent to:
The Family of Bishop Martin D. McLee
c/o The New York Annual Conference,
20 Soundview Ave., White Plains, NY 10606.

Memorial donations can be made to Bishop McLee’s “Young Clergy Debt Assistance Program.” Please make checks payable to “NYAC,” and send to the attention of Ross Williams at the New York Conference, 20 Soundview Ave., White Plains, N.Y. 10606.

Above: The Cantico Nuevo Ecumenical Choir and soloist perform “God So Loved the World.”

Bishop Warner BrownBishop McLee Funeral - Clergy Process

 

 

 

 

 

Bishop Warner Brown, above, praised McLee as a “minister of encouragement.” Hundreds of clergy, right, process into the sanctuary at Riverside Church.

 

 

 

Bishop Peter Weaver, below left, asked all those whose lives had been changed by McLee to raise their hands. Beverly Mason, below rifht, spoke on behalf of the McLee family.

Bishop Peter WeaverBeverly Mason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if to punctuate Holmes’ story, Rev. Dr. Leslie Duroseau offered a heart-rending dance to “God Is Able,” sung by Cassandra Kellam and Julian Wamble, and accompanied by the composer Mark Miller.

Ross Williams, chief financial officer for the NYAC, then read the Gospel lesson from John 3:16–21.

Retired Bishop Peter D. Weaver delivered the eulogy for McLee, who had served on his cabinet as a district superintendent in the New England Conference. Weaver said that he was not there as a bishop, but as one who could testify that his life had been changed by the ministry of Martin “Duke” McLee.

“I never expected to be here for this purpose, but here we are,” he said as he went on to thank the family for sharing their “baby brother” with the church.

“Life will never be the same because of Martin McLee,” Weaver said.

Rev. Dr. Duroseau
Rev. Dr. Leslie Duroseau, center, offers a celebration of dance as “God Is Able” is sung by Cassandra Kellam and Julian Wamble, accompanied by composer Mark Miller.

Bishops Park and Johnson embraceMcLee Funeral

Bishops Jeremiah Park, above, and Alfred Johnson embrace after the service. Clergy members, right, served as pall bearers.

He noted that a few weeks before, McLee had changed the cover photo on his Facebook page to a picture of a church singing, dancing and praising God.

“I wonder if he was anticipating this day . . . if he wanted us to see what was at the center of his ministry,” Weaver asked. In the middle of that picture, he explained, is the cross.

“The cross at the center . . . isn’t that the picture of Martin?”

He saw the cross of Jesus at the heart of human life, Weaver said, pointing out that rather than polarize or pulverize, McLee called for inclusion and love of everyone—“the whosoevers” mentioned in John 3:16.

McLee family
The family of Bishop McLee, below, expressed their deep gratitude for the outpouring of support and prayers from the conference.

Rev. Jay WilliamsRev. Adrienne Brewington

 

Rev. Jay Williams, left, memorialized the man he lovingly called “McBishop.” Rev. Adrienne Brewington, above, credited McLee with bringing a new fearlessness to the NYAC Cabinet.

 

“His ministry was at the confluence of streams ‘just as I am’ and ‘justice for all’,” Weaver said. He wanted to dismantle the walls to build the beloved community.

As Weaver came to the end of his remarks, he declared “the doors of the church are open,” saying it was something that McLee always did at the end of his preaching. McLee never ended worship without a call to come to Christ. Weaver invited any of those gathered to come forward or to pray with a partner to “to commit ourselves to the ‘whosoevers’.”

iPads
Bishop McLee loved his IPad, so it seems appropriate that there were lots of gadgets recording the service.

McLee funeral - diversity
A group of babies, children and young adults, above, following the casket speak to the bishop’s mandate of inclusivity. The choir, below, from First UMC in Flushing sang “It Is Well.”

During the commendation, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar of the New England Conference and Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball of West Virginia, used McLee’s own words to call upon God to receive their colleague and honor him for all the work he had done for the church and for the lives he had touched.

The service drew to a close with a song that McLee often used at conferences and in worship. Mark Miller’s anthem, “Draw the Circle Wide,” had become like a theme song for McLee’s work to open wide the doors of the church. After the combined choir began, the song could be heard coming from every pew of the church:

“Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still.
Let this be our song, no one stands alone.
Standing side by side, draw the circle, draw the circle wide.”

Flushing UMC Choir

Rev. Dr. Zan Holmes, Bishop Johnson, Bishop Dehvadar

 

 

 

Rev. Dr. Zan Holmes is greeted after his spirit-filled testimony about Bishop McLee “blossoming wherever he was planted.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

All funeral photos by Stephanie Parsons and Won Tack Lee


An Open Letter to Bishop McLee

DS Rev. Ken KiefferOne of the traditions that I have inherited as your Superintendent of the Connecticut District is that all the clergy under my care, both active and retired, and their respective spouses receive a birthday card from me each year. (So you don’t worry that I’m frittering away my valuable office time by spending huge hunks of hours each month penning pleasantries to dozens of folks, please know that Dorothy, my administrative assistant, does most of the heavy lifting for this pastoral project.)

It occurred to me this morning that since September 10th is your birthday, I ought to take a few moments and write something to you today. Due to the special circumstances surrounding your special day this year, I figured that it might be okay to make this an open letter, sent to everyone on our district clergy list and all our friends on Facebook (I know how you love FB!).

First of all, let me tell you how upset I am that I am not able to deliver your birthday greeting in person this year—after all, you are in heaven now and I am in Connecticut, and while I believe that Connecticut is pretty close to heaven on earth, even my state’s Chamber of Commerce would confess that there is a discernible gap between us today. Part of my upset

Connecticut District Superintendent Ken Kieffer posted this letter on Facebook on September 10, the day that would have been Bishop McLee’s 59th birthday.

comes from the fact that I had no idea that you wouldn’t be coming back to work, and as a result, I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to you. I wish you had let me, and others, know how you were doing. Maybe we could’ve helped. The prayers and cards and support of folks in this amazing conference helped me immeasurably when I was sick a couple years ago.

Anyway, had I been given that opportunity, I probably would’ve shared with you that one of the things I really liked about you was that you always made a big deal out of “catching people doing good.” Since much of our work on the Cabinet is troubleshooting and problem solving, it is easy to get in the (bad) habit of dwelling on the negatives. However, you repeatedly reminded me of the importance of looking for the crocus in the desert. Turns out, Bishop, that there are a bunch of crocuses (crocii?) to behold! But you already knew that, didn’t you? Inspired by this refreshing attitude adjustment, I have tried to model this on my district. And I think it’s made a difference. So thank you.

There are other things that you’ve helped me to understand in the almost two years that we sat next to each other at the Cabinet table, but for now, I’ll keep them to myself. As my grief and sorrow subsides, perhaps these things will come to the forefront of my mind. In the meantime, Martin, please keep us in your prayers. We could sure use them—especially today.

Thanks, brother.
Happy Birthday!


CONDOLENCES

Below are excerpts from letters received by the conference:

From Bishop Jeremiah J. Park
Susquehanna Conference

We are saddened by the sudden, untimely death of Bishop Martin McLee. His death is a great loss to all those who love him and to those for whom he had served with passion, compassion, grace and humility. From the moment that I first received word of the death of Bishop McLee, I have been thinking about you and praying for you, as well as for the family. Please know that my deepest sympathy goes to you and that you are surrounded by the prayers of the people of the Harrisburg Area and throughout the connection. In the midst of what I know must be overwhelming grief, I pray that each of you will sense God’s abiding presence during these days.

While his tenure as a Bishop was short, the impact and witness of Bishop McLee will be long lasting. He desired above all to witness to God’s all embracing grace; and for that, we celebrate and give thanks to our God.

From the blog of Bishop Peggy A. Johnson
Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conferences

Bishop McLee was a communicator. Early on I figured out that he was great with text messages. He always answered. I would text “I am praying for you,” and he would respond, “It is getting better” or “God is with me.” He was always filled with hope and positive energy that encouraged us all.

Even during his illness and rehabilitation he looked upward and trusted in a God who provided for every need. He would frequently address the body as “beloved” knowing that everyone is a precious child of God, no matter who they are; and in God’s love he embraced all.

From Bishop Marcus Matthews
Resident Bishop—Washington Area
President—NEJ College of Bishops

We mourn because we know that Bishop McLee cared for the church and was God’s champion for millions of marginalized people in the NEJ and throughout the world. Through his work with those who remained on the margins of society and the church, Bishop McLee embodied our call to serve all of God’s people.

Yet we know that a life in Christ does not end when the earthly journey is over. Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, we are reminded of Jesus’ promise: “I am the resurrection and I am life; those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25) So we are asking God to shower you with love that would sustain you and offer comfort as your remember our dear Bishop and colleague.

Middleton Will Become New Interim

Bishop Jane MiddletonRetired Bishop Jane Allen Middleton will be assigned as interim bishop for the New York Annual Conference, from Jan. 1, 2015, through Aug. 31, 2016. Bishop Warner Brown, president of the Council of Bishops, announced that the Executive Committee of the council approved the assignment recommended by the Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops.

Retired Bishop Neil Irons will continue to serve as interim until Dec. 31. Irons has been serving as interim bishop since July when Bishop Martin McLee went on leave because of illness. McLee passed away Sept. 6; his funeral was September 15 at the Riverside Church.

Middleton was the superintendent of the Connecticut/New York District when she was elected to the episcopacy in 2004. She served the Susquehanna (Central Pennsylvania) Conference before retiring in 2012. In the NYAC, Middleton led churches in Simsbury, Naugatuck, and New Canaan, Conn.

Middleton, who lives in Connecticut, led the recognition, commissioning and ordination service at the 2014 Annual Conference at Hofstra University.


9/20 Basic Lay Servant Course
This course in the Connecticut District will be held at the Plainville UMC on three Saturdays, September 20, 27, and October 4. Fellowship will be at 9 a.m.; classes begin promptly at 9:30 a.m., ending by 3:30 p.m. Cost is $15, and participants should read the first two chapters of the “Lay Servant Ministries Basic Course Participants Book” before the first meeting. For more information, or to register go to: www.nyac.com/eventdetail/125299.

9/27 Onondaga Presentation for UMW
Elaine Winward, a member of Jesse Lee Memorial UMC, will be discussing the women and children of the Onondaga Nation in a presentation for the UMW of the New York/Connecticut District. Danbury UMC will host the event from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. An offering will be taken for the Onondaga School; hats, scarves, and gloves are also being made for the children. For more info, contact Winward at ewinward@optonline.net, or 914 669-5264.

9/29–30 Tri-District Retreat/CH, CT & NYCT
Join interim Bishop Neil Irons and your fellow clergy for this two-day gathering at Stony Point Retreat Center, 17 Crickettown Rd., Stony Point, NY 10980. The cost is $85 for commuters, $125 for double room. 10 a.m. Monday to lunch on Tuesday. To register by September 26 and for more information, go to www.nyac.com/eventdetail/414065.

9/28 Installation Ceremony for DS Rev. Sungchan Kim
Installation service for Rev. Sungchan Kim as district superintendent will be held at Grace UMC, 200-08 Murdock Avenue, St. Albans, NY at 3pm.

9/30 Deadline to Complete HealthQuotient
Clergy and spouses enrolled in the HealthFlex active plans must take the HealthQuotient (HQ) online health risk assessment, by September 30 to avoid paying a higher individual or family deductible on your 2015 medical plan. The questionnaire has been updated for 2014 and promises to be easier to use. If you took the Blueprint for Wellness screening this year, it will automatically be loaded into your HQ. Go to: http://www.gbophb.org/, to take the online assessment.

9/30 Youth Ambassadors Deadline
The deadline to apply to be in the 2015 class of Youth Ambassadors for Mission is September 30. High school students in the conference who are age 15 to 17 are eligible to apply to be part of the team that will visit the Methodist Church of Antigua Circuit from February 13–22. Assignments in country will include construction work, afterschool activities with children, and visits to historic, religious and political sites. For more info and an application, go to: http://tools.nyac.com/vim/detail/14. For questions, call the office of Conference Mission Coordinator, Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie, at 914-615-2233.

 

 

More events available on the NYAC calendar>>

10/2 Tri-District Retreat/MET, LIE & LIW
Join interim Bishop Neil Irons and your fellow clergy for this one-day gathering from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Crest Hollow Country Club, 8325 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, NY 11797. Cost is $100, lunch and dinner included. To register by September 30 and for more information, go to www.nyac.com/eventdetail/414066.

10/2–4 Camp for Older Adults
Calling all . . . young at heart, wise in soul, and graced with years for this experience at Camp Quinipet on Shelter Island, N.Y. Come for a time of worship, sacred play, learning, and fellowship. Cost is $180 including meals, housing, and transportation. For more information, go to: www.nyac.com/eventdetail/115535.

10/11 Register for 3rd Laity Convocation
Rev. Dr. Derrick-Lewis Noble, the NYAC’s new director of church development and revitalization, will be the featured speaker at “You Gotta Have Heart.” The schedule from 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. will include lunch, plenary and breakout sessions, resources, and worship led by Raymond Trapp. Full breakfast is offered from 7:30–8:50 a.m., at the Edith Macy Conference Center, 550 Chappaqua Rd., Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510. Cost is $45 per person; open to the first 200 persons who register. Register at, www.nyac.com/eventdetail/129228. More info: Renata Smith at renata.smith@nyac-umc.com, or 914-391-3998.

10/18 “Getting our House in Order. . .” Seminar
This four-hour seminar will help answer questions about getting your affairs in order while you are healthy and can make decisions that are important to you. This program is designed to meet the needs of all adults. 8:30–9 a.m., sign in and continental breakfast; 9 a.m.–1p.m., seminar and lunch. Carriage House, Jesse Lee Memorial UMC, 207 Main Street, Ridgefield, Conn. 06877. Space is limited; please register by October 16 by contacting Carole Stathis at 203-733-7794, or email cmstathis@comcast.net. Seminar is free; free-will offering for lunch.

10/25 Re-Think Evangelism—Get Their Names
Rev. Bob Farr, the director of the Center for Congregational Excellence at the Missouri Annual Conference, will lead this exploration of ways to share your faith without anxiety at Woodbury UMC, 577 Woodbury Road, Woodbury, N.Y. Topics include how to change the habits of leaders and entire congregations, so that the invitation to discipleship is natural, constant, systemic, genuine, and easy. The daylong event is sponsored by the Parish Resource Center of Long Island, with a discounted rate for individuals or teams from United Methodist churches on Long Island. To register and more info, go to: www.nyac.com/eventdetail/190568.

10/25 Deacons Day Apart
Deacons of the conference will gather from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Learning Center, 20 Soundview Avenue, White Plains, N.Y. Contact Sonia Jermin at bronxjermin@verizon.net for additional information.

10/25 “Building Spiritually Fulfilled Men” Retreat
All pastors and men over age 15 are invited to the 34th Annual UMM Retreat from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Paul UMC, 173-01 108th Street, Jamaica, NY 11433. Featured speaker is Long Island West District Superintendent Rev. Sungchan Kim. Donation: $30, breakfast and lunch included. For more info, go to: http://www.nyac.com/eventdetail/417114.

10/25 UMW Conference Annual Meeting
Meeting and celebration from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Bible UMC, Dix Hills, N.Y.

10/27–31 Get Thee to the Clergy Clinic
Active clergy and their spouses have the unique opportunity to participate in a health clinic from October 27–31at New York Methodist Hospital. In four days, you will receive a thorough physical examination and any follow-up tests that may be indicated. Overnight accommodations and virtually all expenses beyond a $50 registration fee are covered by the Hospital. For details and the registration form, go to, www.nyac.com/eventdetail/198564. Or contact clinic coordinator, Rev. Elizabeth Braddon at elizabeth.braddon@gmail.com.


"New Kids" on the Block Tour

Dr. Claude Gooding and Derrick-Lewis Noble recently embarked on a tour of the six NYAC districts to discover more about our churches and the geography of the conference. Below, they respond to a few questions from The Vision so that we can discover a little more about them.

Claude GoodingName: Dr. Claude Gooding
Home: Hempstead, N.Y.
Hometown: Georgetown, Guyana
Profession: Planning and management

What I’m most excited about in my new role: As the director of connectional ministries, I am most excited about the prospects of being involved in revitalization initiatives around the conference as we roll out Vital ministries and bring new tools and ideas to our conference.

The conference’s greatest challenge: Members of our conference need to fully embrace and appreciate why we are and must remain a connectional church, this system has effectively worked for hundreds of years. Our polity is our strength and our greatest challenge. We understood this long before the European Union. We must promote the issues that strengthen us, not divide or separate us.

The #1 characteristic/attribute that I bring to my ministry: I would say my entrepreneurial spirit. I like to take risk and to try new things, but at the same time, I strongly subscribe to the parlance, “if it's not broke, don’t fix it.”

Most important thing I learned in the first month on the job: There is a latent spirit of disconnectedness within our conference and we need to work on this urgently.

What I need most from our clergy and churches: We are here to serve our members, nothing we do is for our own benefit. As such, clergy and laity alike need to take advantage of the resources and tools we offer to strengthen local ministries and by extension our churches.

Favorite Bible verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”—Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Most-practiced spiritual discipline: I learnt that prayer with supplication and thanksgiving is a great spiritual discipline and I am in constant conversation with God . . . show me thy way Lord.

Hobbies: I play tennis with my kids once or twice weekly, and golf occasionally when I can spare a day—which is rare.

Last book read: “The Church Leader’s MBA” by Smith and Wright (2011): What business school instructors wish church leaders knew about management.

Other comments: As we move into this new and exciting period, I look forward to the many partnerships with Bishop Irons, our team at the Conference Center, our district superintendents, and most importantly our clergy and laity. God Bless!

Derrick Noble
Derrick-Lewis Noble, above right, visits with Chan Gillham and District Superintendent Betsy Ott in the New York-Connecticut office. At left, Dr. Claude Gooding, right, meets with Rev. Jongbum Lee, pastor of Marn-Baeksung UMC on Staten Island.

Name: Derrick-Lewis Noble
Home: Westchester County, N.Y.
Hometown: Little Rock, Ark.
Profession: Director of Congregational Development & Revitalization

What I’m most excited about in my new role: I’m most excited about the combination of my two greatest ministry passions—new church starts and the revitalization of struggling churches—into one position. That is a ministerial dream come true.

The conference’s greatest challenge: Helping all of us to clearly see that growth without change is impossible, and I believe that applies to everything we do in every area of ministry throughout the conference.

The #1 characteristic/attribute that I bring to my ministry: I bring a spirit of excellence to whatever I do. If it’s worth doing for God, then it’s worth doing well. I also bring a willingness to learn, an infectious enthusiasm, a sense of humor, and an undying belief that God can do anything but fail.

Most important thing I learned in the first month on the job: I learned that the NYAC has great potential to make a lasting impact upon our world in a myriad of ways. I look forward to being a part of it.

What I need most from our clergy and churches: Prayers that God will give me/us wisdom and clarity of focus, a realization that we are all on the same team, and a willingness to share ideas with each other as we dream big dreams for the NYAC.

Favorite Bible verse: Psalm 91:1—“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Most-practiced spiritual discipline: Since the age of 16, I have practiced one uninterrupted hour of sitting in silence every day. Not talking, not singing, not reading . . . just sitting quietly; eyes closed and listening to myself breathe. My soul feels dusty without my quiet time.

Hobbies: Jazz (especially live performances), NBA basketball (season tickets to the Brooklyn Nets already purchased), golf, and martial arts movies.

Last book read: The Externally Focused Quest: Becoming the Best Church for the Community by Eric Swanson

Other comments: I look forward to our helping to make the NYAC a model of successful ministry throughout our connection. We have miles to go before we sleep.


UMM Compete For Top Honors

United Methodist annual conferences, districts and local churches will participate in a competition that honors significant ministries to men and youth.

The General Commission on United Methodist Men will honor the top 30 local churches that engage in ministries designed to transform the lives of men and youth. The Nashville-based agency will also honor 10 districts and 10 annual conferences that provide life-changing ministries to men and youth in their areas.

Only churches with chartered units of United Methodist Men may participate, but districts and annual conference may participate if at least one-fourth of their churches are chartered.

The top three local churches and the most competent conference and district will receive plaques during the March 2015 meeting of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men. The top 30 churches, 10 districts and 10 annual conferences will be featured in a quarterly magazine published by the commission.

To enter, make sure your unit is chartered, then simply send a description of the ministries supported by the church, district or conference to rpeck@gcumm.org. There is no form to fill out. Photos of the ministries may also be included in magazine articles.

Changing Habits to Make Disciples

Re-Think EvangelismRev. Bob Farr will offer a full-day seminar based on his book, “Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships” on Saturday, Oct. 25. The seminar will cover how to change the habits of leaders and entire congregations, so that the invitation to discipleship is natural, constant, systemic, genuine, and easy. Discover how your church can change, and equip people to share their faith in a way that is effective, biblical and transformational.

Farr is the director of the Center for Congregational Excellence at the Missouri Annual Conference and has been a speaker at the NYAC’s bishop’s convocation.

The 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. event is at the Woodbury United Methodist Church, 577 Woodbury Rd, Woodbury, N.Y. Check-in and breakfast will begin at 9 a.m. The day includes breakfast & lunch. Cost is $45 per person; or $20 per person for United Methodists. To register, go to, www.prcli.org/workshop-info-registration/.


Praying for Our Churches, Laity Convocation

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.”

—Proverbs 3:5–7a The Message

 For many of us, the month of September is a month of beginnings. A new school year starts, many are settling in to new jobs while others are trying to figure out life without a job. Some people are beginning to experience what retirement is really like. Some congregations are getting used to having a new pastor. Church, district and conference calendars are filling up as ministries and events take shape.

The words from Proverbs above remind us to seek God in everything we do, since God is the one who keeps us on track. We should never assume that we know it all. We do not!

I hear this as a call to prayer and seeking God’s will through reading and meditating on scripture. Some take this call seriously, engaging in corporate prayer over their ministries and the call to make disciples in their communities and beyond. They gather in churches, in the community, in homes and small groups, and they utilize the use of technology to connect through prayer.

Renata Smith - Laity on the Move

It is with this in mind that I invite lay persons from across the conference to join in five minutes of prayer via conference call beginning at 6:55 a.m., Monday, September 15. We will end this Monday–Friday season on October 17. Warren Whitlock is the contact person for our conference call devotionals, and can be reached at wgw1009@yahoo.com.

NYAC Laity Convocation

While we will be praying for God’s direction for our churches, clergy, laity
and communities, we will also be praying for a sustained spirit of revival among the laity and for a productive Laity Convocation on October 11 at Edith Macy Conference Center. Our featured presenter will be Rev. Dr Derrick-Lewis Noble, the new director of Congregational Development and Revitalization. Raymond Trapp will lead worship. Our new director of Connectional Ministries, Dr. Claude Gooding will also be participating.

There will be plenary as well as interactive and breakout sessions at this intergenerational event. Laity will return to your congregations revitalized and empowered to be engaged in ministry for the building up of your congregation and the making of disciples for Jesus Christ.

The event starts at 9 a.m., although a full-course breakfast will be available beginning at 7:30. Lunch and additional snacks are also included in the $45 registration. Sign up online at
http://www.nyac.com/eventdetail/129228.

 

Contact me anytime, all the time at: renata10553@yahoo.com, or call 914-664-2622.


SANDY RECOVERY
Fall Rebuilding Day Blitz in Rockaways

Done in a DayTen homes in the Rockaways damaged by Hurricane Sandy two years again will receive much needed work from some 300 volunteers during a strategic building day on October 25. The United Methodist Committee of Relief (UMCOR), Done in a Day, and Rebuilding Together NYC (RT NYC) are partnering to repair the homes, revitalize a local community center, and install solar-powered security lights on 50 homes throughout the neighborhood. The event, which will mark the anniversary of the storm, is being made possible by generous donations from sponsors, and community partners.

Volunteers are essential to the work to be done. Seasoned professionals, weekend warriors, or those with minimal skills are all needed. Special trades needed include carpentry, plumbing, electrical, organizing, painting, masonry or landscaping. Volunteering with RT NYC for a day means sharing skills and expertise to help a family in need, making new friends, and even learning a few tricks of the trade. To participate in the Fall Rebuilding Day on Saturday, October 25, members of the United Methodist Church can simply go to http://bit.ly/W4Fctt, or call 718-488-8840 to register!

We are also currently seeking construction-skilled individuals interested in leading volunteers to help make a difference for a household in Rockaway this fall. If you’re interested in becoming a house captain, please contact Emily Bachman, volunteer coordinator, at Emily.bachman@
rebuildingtogethernyc.org
, or call 718-488-8840.

Gina Grubbs
Assistant Coordinator,
NYAC Sandy Recovery Ministry
gina.grubbs@nyac-umc.com

FLOOD RECOVERY
ERTs Needed For LI Work

 In mid-August, Long Island received record rainfalls that swamped streets, parkways, homes and local businesses. Damage assessments are underway by disaster response groups and local municipalities to determine how best to help those affected. Given the extent of the flooding and urgent need, volunteers are being sought to assist with recovery efforts.

The UMC is seeking trained ERT leaders along with complete ERT teams to help in Islip, Brookhaven and Babylon towns. Please respond with your willingness to;

• Lead a team of 6 to 8 volunteers put together by the recovery office.

• Recruit your own ERT team of 6 to 8 and bring them to Long Island for deployment.

The LI Sandy Recovery office in Massapequa will coordinate and register teams, and provide leaders with the necessary tools and equipment. Housing is available in West Hempstead, Hicksville, Lindenhurst and Central Islip—first come, first served. ERT training can be made available if required. Please include in your response your desire to receive training.

Those willing to volunteer, or need further information, contact Peggy Racine, site coordinator, at the LI Sandy Recovery office at 516-795-1322, or email, peggy.racine@nyac-umc.com. Provide your available dates and requests for housing.


Seawall Repairs

Quinipet Seawall Repairs

Work to fix the seawall at Camp Quinipet was about midway through the project at the beginning of this month, according to Greg Nissen, camp director. About ½ mile of the seawall was comprised during Hurricane Sandy nearly two years ago and had to be replaced.


Pastorís Clinic: Donít Hesitate,
Just Go!

commentary

BY JOANNE S. UTLEY
Editor, The Vision

The clergy and spouses clinic at New York Methodist Hospital is truly a gift to you and your ministry—an opportunity not to be missed.

Don’t tell me you don’t have the time. I didn’t have the time!

Back in early February, clinic coordinator Elizabeth Braddon asked me to come to the March event, but I demurred because the dates conflicted with the scheduled trial for Rev. Thomas Ogletree. And when the trial was postponed, she hit me up again with, “You can come now!” So I acquiesced and said yes. But then the Ogletree-related press conference popped up on the first scheduled day of the clinic, and I waivered—because it is my job to attend such things.

NYM Pastor Clinic
Rev. Bob Kersten, left, consults with his New York Methodist Hospital doctor on test results at the March 2014 clergy clinic.

“Get there when you can on Monday,” was Liz’s response to me. “We’ll catch you up.” Hmm . . . the barriers were falling away.

So you don’t have the time, huh? Then wrap your brain around this: in four days, I had at least 12 tests, screenings and consults, and the greatest distance I had to travel was to walk across 6th Street in Brooklyn. How many hours, days, or months would it take you to get that kind of medical workup at home? And the mileage?

Every person in the clinic receives a standard battery of tests—some of which are gender specific. Beyond that list, you or your home primary doctor can decide on specific tests geared directly to your situation. At the NYM clinic, you’ll meet with a doctor for a preliminary exam, and that physician will order the other testing. At the end of the week, participants meet with the doctor again to discuss any of the results that are ready. (Any remaining results are mailed to you or your primary physician, depending upon whom you designate.)

In my results, much of what I already knew about my health was affirmed (high cholesterol); some of what I suspected was confirmed (sleep apnea); and some other conditions were new discoveries (watermelon stomach). When one condition was revealed, I was able to do the follow-up testing the very next day. That doesn’t happen in very many other places.

And what did this cost me? A $50 registration fee! In our clergy health plan, that’s equivalent to the co-pay to see a specialist. And even our overnight accommodations at a nearby Comfort Inn were covered.

In between all the exams and tests, I had time to relax, read, chat and eat with my colleagues. We met with the hospital chaplain, toured the pediatric emergency room, had a theology-filled discussion with the chief of cardiothoracic surgery, and ate dinner with the vice president for communications and external affairs. I went home with countless sermon possibilities scribbled in my notebook and a great appreciation for the critical needs that our Methodist hospital fills in Brooklyn and environs.

Oh, and did I mention having an advocate constantly at your side? My group of eight clergy was fortunate to have two advocates, Rev. George McClain and Rev. Elizabeth Braddon, the outgoing and incoming clinic coordinators, respectively. These two got their own health checkups, but made sure that we had all our appointments scheduled, got to our meetings on time, and literally run down our errant paperwork.

So you don’t have the time, pastor? Make yourself a priority!

The clinic runs from October 27-31, 2014 and April 13-17, 2015. For more information and a registration form, go to http://www.nyac.com/eventdetail/198564


JOB OPENING: Connectional Ministries Administrative Assistant

The New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has an open position for a full-time administrative assistant in the Office of Connectional Ministries.

The administrative assistant supports multiple supervisors and is involved with a variety of administrative and clerical duties. The AA focuses on recording and disseminating information, scheduling meetings and events, maintaining files, lists and records, database management, facilitating communication and performing other duties required to effectively manage the office.

Applicants must be proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, have knowledge of and the ability to use social media and additional PC applications. Applicants must have excellent organizational, communication and interpersonal skills as well as be proficient in English grammar and composition. The position requires the ability to discern when confidentiality and discretion are required. An accommodating and friendly demeanor is essential, as well as sensitivity to the needs of others. Applicants must have a high school diploma; an associate’s degree is preferred. Relevant college coursework in business, bookkeeping, technology and/or office administration is desirable.

This is position is located in the White Plains, N.Y., an offers a competitive salary and generous benefits. Candidate must be willing to work occasional early mornings, evenings and weekend days.

To apply, please send a cover letter, salary requirements and resume to jobs@nyac-umc.com.

To learn more about the New York Annual Conference please visit us at: www.nyac.com.


Helping Child Define Identity Key to Self Image

BY REV. WILLIAM TOWNSEND
Director of Spiritual Life

Imagine living into adulthood without having a real sense of who you are and where you belong. Within us all lays the deep yearning to know, “Who am I?” and, “Whose am I?” The need for an identity and the need for belonging, along with the need for security, are the three basic needs of every human being. Every person must be able to have a meaningful answer to the “who am I” question before he or she can take on the larger issues of life.

A group of young people at the Children’s Home was asked to complete the following statement: “My name is (blank) and I am (blank).” One person replied, “My name is Jack and I am funny.” Another responded, “My name is Chloe and I am smart.” Some additional “I am” statements include words like beautiful, lonely, loving, angry, caring, lost, happy, sad, confused, and positive. One young woman answered, “My name is Patrice and I am a person with a story.” She doesn’t know her birth parents. She has been in and out of several foster homes.

On more than one occasion she has been remanded to a non-secure detention center. It seems people are always determining her path with little regard for who she is and what she wants. How in the world can we expect that Patrice is going to buckle down and

Children's Home

do well in school and in treatment when she feels like a pawn in the very system that is there to help? Until Patrice can get a sense of who she really is and where she is going, she is likely to be stuck in the present cycle of bad choices.

Identity may be defined as those characteristics that make an individual distinctive and unique from other persons or groups. Identity answers the “Who am I?” or “What sets me apart?” questions. Identity relates to self-image, or a person’s mental picture of him or herself.

Aspects of identity include gender, race, religion, ethnicity, economic standing, social status, and particular talents or occupation. Many people gain their sense of identity from their interactions with significant others, such as parents and siblings as well as church and community groups (I am a Smith, I am a Jones, I am the youngest boy, I am a Methodist, I am a Rotarian). There are additional questions a person can ask in order to flesh out one’s sense of identity. What do I value? What do I believe? What kind of person do I want to be? When it comes to personal identity, there are some things that I can

change, such as my behaviors, my style of dress, or my group affiliations. But there are other things that I cannot change, such as my race, my gender, and other physical traits. A healthy sense of identity means that I learn to accept the things I cannot change and work to change the things I am not happy about.

The more chances the person has to reflect on these questions and reflect on the answers, the better they will be at answering the overall question, “Who am I?” One’s sense of identity, or the lack thereof, dictates to a significant degree how a person will interact with other people and with the world in general. Those who lack a positive sense of identity will be fearful, avoid taking risks, and give up easily. They will find their identity in unhealthy ways, such as gang involvement, use of drugs or alcohol, acting out. They may need and seek the approval of others by acting macho or becoming overly clingy, or may push others away by isolating themselves, using people, and bullying. Good or bad, every action, negative or positive, is an attempt to satisfy the unmet need for identity.

For more information on the Children’s Home, call 607-772-6904 (or toll free 800-772-6904), ext. 131, or visit www.chowc.org. Please feel free to send donations directly, or use the New York Conference advance number 60-0588.


Uncovering the Unspoken, the Unseen

By Rev. Jim Stinson
Consultant for Older Adult Ministries

Jim Stinson

She arrived “kicking and screaming.” Displaying anger toward her attentive, adult children, she was not easy to approach. Neither they, nor the staff, were sure what to do.

It is not that we do not have a well-trained staff at Wicke Health Center; we have an excellent, caring staff. It’s that she had locked in a decision to never enter a long-term care facility. Nothing, in her mind, would allow her to reconsider.

However, both physical and real memory issues, mixed with confusion, made it unsafe and irresponsible to consider letting her go home to her apartment. Someone had to find a key to unlocking that decision. Somehow she had to feel that she “wanted” to do so.

Yet everyone, it seemed, was unsuccessful in helping her see the need for that inevitable change.

So when she was discharged from the hospital, the doctor sent her to Wicke for “rehabilitation.” She was suspicious of the doctor’s reason, but came anyway. Before she arrived, or shortly after, she asked her family if she would be going home soon. When told that she needed to stay long-term, the “kicking and screaming” increased.

The attitude continued unabated for about a week. It began to change when she told me she wished she were dead and that she was going to be angry until she was. As she told me this, I noticed something unexpected. There was a slight twinkle in her eye and the appearance of a smile. What was going on?

I suspected that if I asked directly, she would get defensive and accuse me of seeing things. So instead, I smiled a broad smile and said, “You know if you want me to take that comment seriously, I can’t do that when I see a smile or a twinkle.”

She smiled back, as if to say, “You caught me.” Before she said anything else, I said, “If you want to talk about why you are doing this, I’ll be glad to stay for

Jim Stinson

that conversation. I suspect you’re feeling alone and frightened.”

Thankfully she said, “I would like to talk.” And so we did! Someone got it. Someone named the real issue. That was a most fruitful conversation. She is still not fully accepting of her situation, but she is less angry, becoming more involved in activities, and, I believe, on her way to becoming “a happy camper.”

Why? Because someone did not respond angrily or in panic, but calmly responded to the unspoken need, saw the unseen. Her anger was more about losing control of the situation, than it ever was about staying in long-term care. It was about the fear and loneliness associated with such a traumatic move. That’s a good thing to remember in working with or caring for an older adult, whose life is changing beyond her control. Listen for the unspoken. Dare to see the unseen. Then call attention to what you see and hear. It might be exactly the right approach.


UMCOR Responds to Ebola Outbreak

The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries is continuing to respond to the needs in West Africa as health officials try to contain the Ebola outbreak that has infected more than 3,700 people.

According to the World Health Organization in a September 4 report, the total number of probable, confirmed and suspected cases is 3,707, with 1,848 deaths, in five countries, mainly Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

To date, UMCOR has sent $383,000 in grants to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Funds are supporting tents and construction of isolation units, personal protective equipment, training for health staff, public messaging about Ebola, and safe handling of deceased bodies.

Grants also are providing much-needed healthcare supplies. Whenever possible, funds are being sent to United Methodist health boards to purchase supplies locally. UMCOR executive, Francesco Paganini, says this is the most efficient way to get the United Methodist health boards exactly what is needed as soon as possible.

When medical supplies are not readily available, UMCOR is working with trusted suppliers to provide an inventory list to the health boards. Because it can take months to ship by sea, UMCOR is shipping by air, though Paganini says

UMCOR
Dr. Robert Garry (left) shows Shannon Trilli of UMCOR the new isolation ward
being constructed at the government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Lone, one of
the only facilities in the country equipped to track Ebola and train other health
workers to help stop the disease. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

the space is increasingly limited and expensive as the Ebola outbreak continues. “We want to make every shipment count and are very intentional about sending high-quality, needed supplies in the correct quantities,” he said.

Churches that want to respond to the Ebola crisis in West Africa are encouraged to:

• Pray for the people who live under the fear of this disease, the families of those who have died, and the health professionals who are caring for people who have Ebola.

• Give to UMCOR International Disaster Response, Advance #982450. Go to: www.umcor.org/Search-for-Projects/Projects/982450.

• Raise awareness about Ebola and about the importance, generally, of good healthcare systems and hygiene practices.


OBITUARIES

Evelyn S. Day

Evelyn S. Day, wife of retired Pastor Herbert Day, died at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, on August 24. She was 84.

Born in Canaan, Conn., Day grew up in Millerton and graduated in 1947 from Webutuck Central School District. She went on to attend nursing school, and spent 40 years caring for others as a registered nurse at Sharon Hospital, Sharon, Conn., Wassaic Developmental Center, Wassaic, N.Y., Crouse Irving Hospital, Syracuse, N.Y., and Clifton Springs Hospital, Clifton Springs, N.Y.

While in nursing school she met Herbert G. Day, Jr.; they were married in1953 at the United Methodist Church, Millerton, N.Y. As a local pastor, Rev. Day served the Millerton Church from 1990 until his retirement in 2001. Mrs. Day especially loved singing and sharing music, especially with her children, grandchildren and the children at church.

In addition to her husband, Day is survived by children, Mary Thompson of Sharon, Conn., Sally Hart of Catskill, N.Y., Nan Herow of Millerton, N.Y., and Gilbert Day of Millerton; 11 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren.

A celebration of her life was held August 29 at the First United Presbyterian Church in Pine Plains, N.Y. Donations in Day’s memory may be made to the Pine Plains Food Pantry, PO Box 515, Pine Plains, NY 12567; or the First United Presbyterian Youth Music Ministry, PO Box 313, Pine Plains, NY 12567.


Estelle Miller Jackson

Estelle Miller Jackson died August 28 at age 103 at the Blue Spruce Home for the Retired in Bradford, Vt. 

Jackson was born in Plainview, N.Y., and graduated from Huntington High School in 1928. In 1934, she married Rev. Edgar Newman Jackson in Centerport, N.Y.

Rev. Jackson served churches in Centerport and Mamaroneck, N.Y.; and Thomaston, New Haven, Winsted, Bridgeport, and Newfield, Conn. While assisting her husband in those parishes, Mrs. Jackson also was a secretary for the Long Island Lighting Co., and the Board of Missions of The Methodist Church. 

In 1937, the couple became founding members of the Chelsea Farm Society, a cooperative of seven Methodist ministers’ families located in Corinth, Vt. They built a cottage and spent every summer there before retiring to the area in 1965. Rev. Jackson died in 1994. 

A master at cooking and baking, gardening and entertaining, Jackson was also an avid swimmer attending a water aerobics program three times a week. She also accompanied her husband on lecture tours to Australia, Europe and Canada, and traveled to Europe and throughout the United States with her daughter, Lois.

The couple had three children: Edgar Duval (1935–1936), James Ward (1938–1972) and Lois Estelle Jackson of Corinth, who survives. Also surviving are granddaughters Andrea Mayerson of Milwaukee Wis., and Julie Guenther of Corinth, Vt. and Denver, Co.; four great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., September 27, at the East Corinth Congregational Church, 645 Village Road, East Corinth, Vt. 05040.


Dorothea Mitchell Queen

Dorothea Mitchell Queen, a longtime music educator, died August 10 in Groton, N.Y. The native of Jackson, Miss., was 100 years old.

Queen received bachelor’s degrees in music and music education from Chicago Musical College, and began teaching music, Latin and French in Illinois. In 1940, she moved to New York City to attend Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music, where she earned a master’s degree. It was there that she met Merritt B. Queen; they were married in 1941.

Following her graduation from Union Seminary, she taught music in public schools on Long Island. She taught at Cantiague Elementary School in

Jericho, N.Y., for 18 years where she directed numerous musicals, including well-known works by Stravinsky and Gilbert and Sullivan. During this time, she also founded the Long Island chapter of the Orff-Schulwerk Association, promoting the use of percussion instruments in children’s music education. 

After retiring from public education, Queen established a private studio in her home in Northport, N.Y., where she employed the Suzuki method in teaching. At age 81, she closed her studio and moved with her husband to Ithaca.

As the wife of a Methodist pastor, she worked alongside her husband in seven churches in the New York metropolitan area. She conducted numerous children’s choirs and established a hand bell choir. She also served as vice-president of the Women’s Society of Christian Service in the NY East Conference. After moving to Ithaca, the couple became active members of Forest Home Chapel UMC. Rev. Queen retired in 1980 following 41 years of ministerial service; he died in 2011.

Queen is survived by three children, Christopher, Bethany and Jeffrey; four grandchildren and one great grandchild.

A memorial service of music and celebration will be on her November 1 birthday, All Saint’s Day, at 2 p.m., Forest Home Chapel, 224 Forest Home Drive, Ithaca, NY 14850.


Ellis R. Hill, Jr.

Ellis R. Hill, Jr., died May 10, at the age of 80. He was the widower of Rev. Lucile Hill who died January 25, 2013.

Ellis was born on April 17, 1934 in Chester, PA to Ellis R. Hill, Sr. and Amanda (Campbell) Hill; the oldest of six siblings. He accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into his life at a very early age and was a member of St. Daniels Methodist Church in Chester, PA. Ellis attended Frederick Douglas JHS and graduated from Chester High School. As an adolescent, he was inspired by his grandmother as she taught him the art of cooking. A life-long learner, he continued his education in the culinary arts. For over 25 years he was the head chef at the Beekman Downtown Hospital, a teaching hospital in lower Manhattan. Later, he became food production manager at New York Hospital for over 15 years.

Ellis met and fell in love with his soul mate, Lucile Chambers Hill. They were married for 49 years and he is described as “a caring, devoted, and loving husband, father, grandfather, godfather, son, brother, cousin, uncle, and friend.”

When the Hills moved to New York, Ellis shared a vision of cultivating the community by serving as the president of the St. Albans 204th Street Block Association for several years. He laid the first brick of the Lucile Hill Theatre of Dance Movement which was a service to the community for over forty years.

As a young adult, Ellis had a melodious singing voice. He became one of the lead soloists at Allen AME Church where he held membership for over 20 years. Ellis and Lucile relocated to Atlanta, GA where he accepted the call to the ministry and was ordained a minister at the School of Genesis Ministry. During the latter years of his ministry he became a member of Epworth UMC where he established the male chorus, directed the senior choir, and led the culinary ministry.

Reverend Ellis completed his assignment on earth, departing this life on May 10, 2014. He leaves behind to cherish precious memories, his loving and devoted family.

Information about a funeral service and interment are not available.


Mary Elizabeth Stevenson Smyres

Mary Elizabeth Stevenson Smyres died on August 9. A joint memorial service was held on August 16 for Smyres and her late husband, Rev. Robert Smyres

who died on May 14, 2014, at Penney Farms, Fla.

Mary Beth Smyres attended Northern Illinois College before going to Northwestern University, where, in 1944, she met Bob Smyres. They were married in January 1946. In 1949, they left for India to serve as missionaries with their three-year-old daughter, Karen.

While in India, Smyres involved herself in women’s causes as well as volunteering at the school that her children attended. She often had to make arrangements for the many visitors to the mission post, a job she handled with much grace.

When the family returned to the United States in 1966, Smyres went to work as a teacher in the Hancock, N.Y., where her husband was the pastor. She taught kindergarten while obtaining her master’s in education at SUNY Oneonta. In successive moves to Warwick and then Kingston, N.Y., Smyres taught second grade and served as a high school substitute, respectively. She retired from teaching in 1982.

In 1995, the couple moved to Penney Retirement Community in Florida.

Mary Beth Smyres is survived by four children, Karen (John) Wolner, Paul Smyres, Peggy Ramsey, and Philip (Gayle Kuhr) Smyres; seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, five sisters-in-law: Margaret Stockwell, Mary (Harold) Leonard, Ruth (Leonard) Zecchini, Ethel Smyres, and Linda Stevenson, and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations can be made to Community Hospice Foundation at donatenow.communityhospice.com, the PET Project Florida, PO Box 919, 4364 Lewis Avenue, Penney Farms, FL 32079; or the Alzheimer’s Association.


Ivan Francis Gossoo

Rev. Ivan Francis Gossoo, retired elder in the NYAC, died on July 22, at age 94.

Gossoo received a local preacher’s license in 1940; nine years later he was ordained as an elder in full connection in the former New York Annual Conference.

His first appointment was in 1945 to the White Sulphur Springs and Harris, N.Y., churches. He then served Trinity in Kingston, South Rondout, Katonah, and First UMC in Peekskill, N.Y., and Wethersfield, Conn. His final appointment was to Southampton UMC, where he served from 1973-1985. Gossoo helped set the standard as an itinerant UM pastor as revealed in a comment from Rev. Jack King, “Ivan was my predecessor at Southampton, and I grew fond of him.”

After a stroke in July, Gossoo moved to the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.

Gossoo and Dorothea Mathena were married in 1944; she preceded him in death in 1994. Survivors include a son, Burton Gossoo of Hampton Bays, N.Y., and a daughter, Lynnea Jones of Wolcott, Conn.

A memorial service is planned for September 20, at the Berlin UMC, Berlin, N.Y. The family requests that any memorial contributions be made to the Berlin United Methodist Church, 17 S. Main Street, Berlin, NY 12022.


Jean Waters

Jean Waters, widow of the late Rev. Barber L. Waters, died July 17.

She was known as a woman of great faith and a devoted youth worker in the churches that her husband served, namely Simpson Church in Amityville, Manhattan’s St. Paul and St. Andrew; Asbury Crestwood in Yonkers; and Memorial in White Plains.

The Waters moved into the Connecticut West District parsonage for six years, 1984–1990 then he retired. Rev. Walters died in 2005.

She is survived by two sons, Brian Waters and Craig Waters.

The date and location of a service and interment were not available.


Hollon to Retire From UM Communications

Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications, has announced plans to retire in the next 9-10 months. Rev. Hollon will reach the mandatory retirement age for elective and appointive staff of United Methodist general agencies.

Although the mandatory retirement age for clergy is not until age 72, there is a provision for mandatory retirement at 70, which applies to general secretaries of the denomination’s agencies (paragraph 715.3, Book of Discipline). 

“Leading The United Methodist Church into the digital age has been a meaningful and rewarding experience,” said Rev. Hollon. “For me, communications is ministry. It provides a variety of methods for us to deliver messages of healing and hope and invite people into relationship with a faith community. I’m very proud of the many ways in which the work we do at United Methodist Communications is making a difference in people’s lives.”

“I’m also grateful for a fine staff of committed professionals who will continue this vital work,” said Hollon.

Bishop Sally Dyck, president of the General Commission on Communication, expressed appreciation to Rev. Hollon for his passionate commitment and substantial contributions since he assumed the position in 2000. 

The General Commission on Communication will form a search committee to lead the search process for a successor, led by Bishop Dyck and the Rev. Greg Cox, chair of the personnel committee.


The Vision, Newspaper of the NYAC, of the UMC

Bishop: Neil L. Irons, Interim

Director of Connectional Ministries: Claude I. Gooding

Editor: Joanne Utley

Vision e-mail: thevision@nyac.com

Web site: www.nyac.com

New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

20 Soundview Avenue
White Plains, NY 10606

Phone (888) 696-6922

Fax (914) 615-2244