"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 June 2016

In this issue:

  Taking Stand Against Hatred and Bigotry

BY LINDA BLOOM AND SAM HODGES
UMNS/With local reporting

In the aftermath of the tragic mass killings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, church leaders say United Methodists must speak up about the contributing factors—bigotry, hatred and the availability of military-style guns.

“I hope United Methodists will see this as an opportunity to speak up and speak on behalf of what is at the core of our DNA—love God and love neighbor,” Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, told United Methodist News Service. “Wesley was pretty clear that that’s the mark of who we are.”

A gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 early on June 12 when he opened fire at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Police killed the gunman, Omar Mateen.

“Crimes of hate that terrorize any of God’s children are abhorrent and intolerable,” said the United Methodist Board of Church and Society in a statement. “This time it is against LGBTQ persons and communities.”

United Methodists in the Orlando area assisted with blood donations and began reaching out to the LGBTQ community after the tragedy. In a statement, Florida Area Bishop Kenneth Carter Jr. expressed his hope that “we can discover creative, pastoral and grace-filled ways to bear witness to all—including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons—that together we are God’s beloved children.”

Refusing to feel afraid

On the day after the shootings, Rev. Lea Matthews, director of ministry operations for the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew in Manahattan, helped organize a worship service among several congregations for that evening.

Matthews, who was among those signing a recent open letter to the denomination about being gay, admitted to “spiritual whiplash”—feeling exhilarated after being commissioned as a provisional deacon June 11 by the New York Conference and then devastated by nightclub shootings the next day.

The targeted attacks, she said, imply the LGBTQ community should be afraid. “Collectively, we are refusing to feel that way.”

The prayer service, “We Grieve and Rage: A Community in Holy Response,” gave the 100 in attendance The Church of the Village (COTV) “an opportunity to feel the whole range of emotions and reactions including confusion, vulnerability, fear, sadness, anger, and outrage,” Pastor Jeff Wells said in an email. Metropolitan District Superintendent Rev. Denise Smartt Sears and Bishop Jane Allen Middleton both spoke in the service. Earlier on Monday, Middleton released a statement urging renewed prayers for an end to such violence.

Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy, the chair of Methodists in New Directions, shared at the service that when she was coming out as a lesbian, she did not feel safe telling her church, her family, or even her friends. The place she went for acceptance was a nightclub.

“That was what the Pulse was for LGBTQ people in Orlando—a place of safety and acceptance,” Wells wrote. “That sense of safety has been taken away.” An important part of the prayers and reflection included a firm stand against Islamophobia in response to the Orlando shooting.

Bishop Middleton, who said she deplored the violence, offered the final blessing in “the name of God the creator who declared all creation is good, each is a precious child of God; Jesus who reached out to the marginalized and shows us how to love all people, and the Holy Spirit who empowers all people to be all they can be.

“We must all examine our own hearts,” the bishop said at the service. “We in the United Methodist church stand in need of forgiveness for language that excludes the LGBTQ community.”

After the service, the group joined thousands marching to a vigil at the Stonewall Inn, singing,   “We Are a Gentle, Angry People (Singing for Our Lives).”

In a follow-up email, Middleton wrote “We had a profoundly moving prayer service at COTV with many tears and prayers
. . . We then walked to the Stonewall Inn, singing all the way, and by the time we joined thousands there, it seemed that there was a transition in mood to a sense of pride and determination to claim a new future in spite of this heartbreak. Just as we had sung “gay and straight together” we were indeed that in voices of hope.”

Other prayer services were held across the NYAC including ones at New Milford UMC, Westbury UMC, New Paltz UMC, Asbury UMC in Croton-on-Hudson, and St. Paul’s UMC in Middletown, N.Y.

Limiting firepower

President Barack Obama said the attack in Orlando appears to be homegrown extremism that was carried out by a killer using legally purchased firearms.

The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, Church and Society’s top executive, said she sees a lot of good will and support for Muslims, but worries about “the hate rhetoric that allows for violence.”

In May, the United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body, approved “Our Call to End Gun Violence” legislation that advocates for universal


Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, center, joins a march to the Stonewall Inn to protest the killing of 49 in an Orlando gay club.

PHOTO COURTESY METHODISTS IN NEW DIRECTIONS

background checks on all gun purchases and a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines and weapons designed to fire multiple rounds.

That description applies to the legally obtained guns used by the Orlando shooter.

Church and Society, along with bishops and pastors, has a responsibility to engage in education and advocacy on gun control, Henry-Crowe explained, to help people “understand what the devastating implications are when there are not these kinds of controls on weapons that have no use on the streets.”

Addressing gun violence “must be a priority for our leaders at every level of government. Doing nothing is to be complicit in the continued murder of innocent people,” the board’s statement on the Orlando shootings said.

Is the church complicit?

Reconciling Ministries Network, an unofficial gay rights advocacy group within the denomination, issued a statement saying that The United Methodist Church is, through its teachings on human sexuality, complicit in violence against gay people.

“This complicity is rooted not only in the clear prejudice of the proclamation that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,’ but also in the inability of the largest mainline Protestant denomination to say anything meaningful that would disrupt the lie that LGBTQ people are any less valuable than any other children of God,” the statement said.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño, of the California-Pacific Conference who was the NYAC ordination preacher, also questioned whether current United Methodist policies contribute to an atmosphere in which violence occurs.

“We cannot just stand by and allow what happened in Orlando, Florida, to go without our deep and prayerful reflection and our repentance and conversion wherever that is necessary in the life of our Church,” she said in a statement.

For Ann Craig, co-spokesperson of Affirmation, the oldest LGBTQ group in the denomination, “It’s not an accident” that LGBTQ people were targeted. From a religious perspective, she said, the violence in Orlando is “directly related” to “very selective and very judgmental” scriptural literalism, whether Islamic or Christian.

“When are the United Methodists going to start speaking out?” she asked. “The silence is deafening.”

Ough, as president of the Council of Bishops, did address the Orlando massacre in a statement.

“We are in shock,” Ough said. “We join those who grieve. We pray for the victims, their families and the LGBTQ community targeted by this hateful attack. We stand against all forms of violence, committed anywhere in the world by anyone. We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters who have condemned this heinous act. We pledge to work together to overcome evil with good, terrorism with peace, hatred with love, and inequity with justice.”

Ough was asked in a phone interview about the Reconciling Ministries Network’s claim of complicity.

“It’s a bit of an overreach to say that somehow The United Methodist Church has been complicit if you understand that to be an ‘accomplice,’ which is the technical definition,” Ough said. “But I certainly understand the pain and frustration, and I believe much of the pain and frustration is heightened when The United Methodist Church falls silent or appears to be compliant in some way with the narrative that seems to be going on in our country.”

Ough added: “There’s a narrative of violence and fear and anger and bigotry that appears to be resonating with a large number of people in our country right now. I think it does create a certain atmosphere.”

Bloom and Hodges may be contacted through the United Methodist News Service at (615)742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.


27 Ordained, Commissioned in Historic Service

BY JOANNE S. UTLEY
Editor, The Vision

The New York Annual Conference commissioned or ordained 27 individuals on June 11 at Hofstra University in what Bishop Jane Allen Middleton called an “historic ordination service.” Five others were recognized as licensed local pastors, and one was received as a full member of the conference.

Four of the candidates seeking commissioning or ordination had come out as gay in an open letter to the United Methodist Church just days before the 2016 General Conference last month. Rev. Elyse Ambrose and Rev. Lea Matthews were commissioned as provisional deacons, Rev. Bruce Lamb as a provisional elder, and Rev. Alex da Silva Souto was ordained as an elder in full connection. Kathleen Reynolds, who received a license as a local pastor, also signed the letter.

All 33 individuals were affirmed during the clergy session on June 8, where an associate clergy member raised questions about the work of the Board of Ordained Ministry and the eligibility of four of the candidates to be ordained or commissioned. A decision on a question of law was requested from Bishop Middleton.

Middleton responded on June 10 that it would be improper for her as bishop to make any substantive decisions of law on the questions.

“The proceedings and procedures of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry are not subject to review by the powers and authorities granted to bishops by our church’s constitution,” she said in a statement. She added that her written response to the request for a decision of law would be issued and published on the New York Conference web site within the 30-day period allowed by the Book of Discipline.

Middleton, who was presiding over her last annual conference before returning to retirement, was visibly emotional as she introduced guest preacher, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, episcopal leader of the California-Pacific Conference, at the ordination service.

“She is a prophet who speaks truth to power,” said Middleton. “I see her as the conscience of the Council of Bishops.”

“What a joy it is to be with the mighty New York Conference,” Carcaño said as she began. “What a deep love your bishop has for you . . . Just as she stepped up to care for you, all of us should do likewise.”

Carcaño challenged the gathering to consider the opportunities that are lost to share God’s love when discrimination of any kind gets in the way.

“The UMC does go out into the world in the name of Jesus,” she said. “But today it’s not as clear as it could be . . . or as simple minded as it ought to be.”

“It’s a major issue whether LGBTQI people should be a part of the church, but it’s not the only issue,” Carcaño said. “Some people are not all that sure racial-ethnic people belong in the church either.”

Our discrimination may be thoughtless or unintentional,
“but it is still deadly,” Carcaño said. “We don’t want things
to change, even if that would make space for others. God forbid that someone who doesn’t look like us comes and takes our place, takes our pew, or our place at the table of the Lord.”

She admitted that she sometimes doubts if the UMC can really go out and follow the path of Jesus to make new disciples for the transformation of the world.

“But has faith not taught us that Jesus is God among us? We can go to the edge to doubt, but Jesus always pulls us back to the center. We can doubt ourselves but we should never doubt Jesus.

“Let us remember the joy of our salvation. . . let us go to all who hope and hurt,” Carcaño concluded.

Following the service, Rev. William Pfohl, chair of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry, said he was humbled by the proceedings.


Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, far left, examines those to be commissioned as deacons and elders during a June 11 service at Hofstra.

PHOTO BY STEPHANIE PARSONS


Ross Topliff, right, receives a scapula from Rev. Betsy Ott in recognition of licensing as a local pastor. Also receiving licensing were Patricia Chuppe, from left, Parker Prout, Kathleen Reynolds, and Bonnie Snyder.

“We asked the Lord of the harvest for fit, faithful and fruitful laborers for His fields. God sent them, and God will bring to completion the work that God has ordained.”

On May 3, Pfohl and Rev. Dr. Charles A. Parker, chair of BOOM in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, released a joint letter inviting other conferences to no longer consider sexual orientation when evaluating candidates.

Those recognized in the service in addition to Souto, Lamb, Ambrose, Matthews, and Reynolds were:

Licensed local pastors Patricia A. Chuppe, Parker H. Prout, Bonnie Jean Snyder, and Ross Topliff.

Provisional deacons Janet Lelieth Brown Cox and Maria Pia M. Seirup.

Provisional elders Carol Ann Bloom, Dong Hyun Choi, Susan Goodman Chupungco, Wendy Camille Paige, Angela Marie Redman, Paul Smith, Jody Spiak, and Elon J. Sylvester

Ordained deacon David Joseph Clegg

Ordained elders David Benjamin Collins, Gia Lynn Hall, Lori Denise Hartman, Miyoung Kang, Roslyn Lee, Won Tack Lee, Sung Min Moy, Carole Angela Paynter, Todd Raymond Pick, Matthew C. Schaeffer, Marva Dianne Henry Lucetta Usher-Kerr, and Julia Weidemann Winward; and elder in full connection Richard N. Hayes.


Rev. Lea Matthews, from left, Rev. Elyse Ambrose, Rev. Bruce Lamb, and Rev. Alex da silva Souto celebrate after the June 11 commissioning and ordination service.


For a full lineup of events, go to: www.nyac.com/conferencecalendar.

July & August Conference Office Closing
Throughout July and August, the conference offices that
have relocated to Greenwich, Conn., will be closed on Fridays. The offices will also be closed on Monday, July 4,
for the holiday.

7/11–15 NEJ 2016 Conference
“Quilted by Connection” is the theme for the quadrennial gathering of the 10 annual conferences in the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the UMC. Two new bishops for the jurisdiction will be elected and all bishops will be assigned during this meeting at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, Lancaster, Penn. Registration for this event closed on June 1.

7/22–24 “Mission U” On the Move
“Mission u” will be meeting under one roof this year at the Stamford Hilton in Stamford, Conn. The studies will include: The Bible & Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift, Latin America: People and Faith, Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action. A one-day “Saturday Sampler” is available for those who can’t spare the three days. See the brochure and registration forms for more information.

8/1–4 Festival of Wisdom & Grace
Tony Campolo and Mickey Efird will speak at 2016 Festival of Wisdom and Grace Conference at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, N.C. The gathering, sponsored by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Association of Older Adults, has the theme “Come to the Water.” To register and for more details go to the Lake Junaluska web site.

8/27–28 HopeFest 2016
HopeFest 2016: Building Hope for Humanity, a Christian music fest to benefit Habitat for Humanity, hosted by Milford UMC, 327 North River Road, Milford, N.H. Overnight wooded camping sites are available. Performers include Mark Schultz, Jonas Woods, Epic Season, Ryan Stevenson and Rock My Soul. $50 for adults. Children under 12 are free. Tickets and details are available online.

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. Go to the registration page for additional information. If you have any questions please contact clergylifelonglearning@gbhem.org.

9/30–10/2 IGNITE: Let There Be Light
From September 30 to October 2, more than 1,000 students in grades 6–12 from around the region are expected to gather at the Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, N.J., to learn about God’s calling on their lives and go deeper in their journey of faith in what’s sure to be the most inspiring and thrilling event of the year. Find out more about the speakers, performers, lodging, schedule and much more at www.ignitenj.org. The event is sponsored by the Greater New Jersey Conference of the UMC.

10/1 Prison Ministry Symposium
The Conference Board of Church & Society will present a conference-wide symposium entitled, “I Was In Prison And You . . .” from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grace UMC, 125 104th St, N.Y., N.Y. Check the event page closer to the date for more details.

11/7–9 Revitup! For Young Clergy
The “revitup for a Lifetime of Ministry” gathering will help young clergy strengthen personal, financial and leadership skills to improve their lives and sustain their ministries. The event, sponsored by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, is planned for the B Resort & Spa in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Continuing education credits are available. More details are available on the registration site.

Vision Deadlines for 2016
The Vision is a monthly online publication of the New York Conference. Deadlines are always the first Friday of the month, with posting to the web site about 10 days later. The deadlines for 2016 are as follows: Aug. 5, Sept. 2, Oct. 7, Nov. 4, and Dec. 2. Please send any stories, photos, ideas, or questions directly to vision@nyac.com.


NYAC 2016—WRAP-UP

Sandy Recovery Continues Its Work

Rev. Tom Vencuss, coordinator of disaster recovery ministries, reported during the mission celebration on Friday night that the Sandy Recovery ministry has provided $7.2 million in direct client services to those affected by the 2012 hurricane that wreaked havoc on area coastlines.

The conference—through its pastors, churches, and volunteers—has been active in both the relief and long-term recovery phases of Superstorm Sandy since the very beginning. In addition to engaging volunteers through the Volunteers in Mission program, the disaster recovery team have worked collaboratively with a number of national and local rebuild/recovery organizations, providing both volunteers, project funds, direct assistance, and technical expertise.

That effort has come through more than 85,000 volunteer hours, helping 1,550 families in the relief and recovery phases, repairing and/or rebuilding more than 130 homes; providing disaster case management to more than 70 clients; assisting more than 40 families with temporary transitional housing; partnering with 23 other disaster recovery organizations; and offering countless hours of spiritual and emotional care to Sandy survivors.

Thanks to additional UMCOR funding, Vencuss said, the conference will be able to continue its recovery work, but on a limited and more focused basis. Through December, the ministry team will continue to be present at unmet needs tables throughout New York and Connecticut. They will continue to receive and deploy volunteers through October in Brooklyn and Queens, partnering with Friends of Rockaway; and, in Connecticut, partnering with CT Rises.

Wrapping It Up

This year’s annual conference also:

• Celebrated 22 clergy members on their retirement after a combined total of 584.5 years of service: Susumu Ando, Glyger Beach, Virginia Carle, Lawrence Charles, L. Lawrence Dunlap, Sarah Diane Ford, Thomas W. Goodhue, Blair A. Hearth, Eric Henderson, David Henry, Cornelius Irwin, Melvyn Kawakami, Vera Jermin-Annum, Retta Lykens, Luisa Martinez, Harold Morris, Kathleen Patterson, Stephen A. Phillips, Robert Sorozan, Stephen Wall-Smith, Joseph E. Washington, and Virginia Wilcox.

• Remembered 34 persons who have died in the past year at a service Thursday morning. Those who were remembered during the service were clergy: Eli Samuel Rivera, Samuel Soon Jong Park, Robert V. Guthrie, Matthew H. Gates, Clyde Anderson, Arlene Penney, Willett R. Porter Jr., Joseph Gillespie, James C. Watson, Benjamin B. K. Chiu, Richard Yerrington, Lloyd E. Dees, Robert D. Woodstock, David L. Parker, Edward A. Underwood Jr., Russell E. Sargent, Arnold C. Miller III, Richard A. Simmons, and Donald Rackliffe. Spouses of Clergy: Margaret Bloom, Carol Hope Davison, Jerry Gafio Watts, and Jane Dubuque. Widows & Widowers of Clergy: Margaret Reith, Lucidia Arus, Shirley F. Truran, Amy Beveridge, Jean Bainbridge, Helen C. Hoyt, Ella V. Griffin, Patricia Fuessle, Freda Moon, and Eleanor C. Snow. Special Remembrances: Elizabeth Thunderbird Haile

• Participated in a service of repentance and reconciliation for the sins of the church against people of African ancestry on Friday morning. The service included a covenant calling for the following actions in the United Methodist Church: the affirmation of racial and ethnic identities, respect for African-American traditions of praise and prayer, active and intentional listening to the concerns of ethnic caucuses and organizations, economic development action plans for equality and parity, shared facilities for multi-cultural ministries, prayers of repentance in intentional frequent cross-cultural worship, annual study of United Methodist doctrine and theological tasks in each district. The covenant was also affirmed as put forth in a petition committing the conference to engage in racial healing.

• Attended Thursday afternoon workshops for the first time. They dealt with the following topics: health care ministry as local church missions, asset-based community development in the local church, H.O.P.E. evangelism model, being vital: small membership congregations pressing forward, relevance of the Black Church, small groups: the method of our mission, and stewardship: creating a culture of generosity.

• Upheld a conference rule limiting the endorsement of episcopal candidates to just two persons; district superintendents Ken Kieffer of


The light seems to shine brightly on the newly ordained and commissioned on June 11.

PHOTO BY JOANNE S. UTLEY


The music team glorifes God in song for ordination service.

PHOTO BY STEPHANIE PARSONS

Connecticut and Adrienne Brewington of Long Island East were later endorsed. The delegation to the General and Jurisdictional conferences chose not to recommend anyone for endorsement to fill the two available bishop positions.

• Elected Roena Littlejohn of Golden Hill UMC in Bridgeport, Conn., as the new conference lay leader replacing Renata Smith.

• Approved a 2017 budget of $8,254,282, an increase of 1.4 percent over 2016.

• Approved an amended minimum salary schedule for clergy that offered a 2 percent increase.

• Learned that the HealthFlex uniform rate for active clergy will be $16,104 for each local church employing one participating clergyperson. The clergyperson will pay $1,296, or approximately 8 percent, and the church will pay $14,808, or approximately 92 percent of that total.

 Legislative Issues

The various legislative sections voted to place all but four petitions or reports on the consent calendar. In plenary, the body:

• Voted overwhelmingly to accept the report of the Board of Ordained Ministry.

• Approved a petition calling for the “promotion of a comprehensive ministry of evangelism.”

• Rejected a resolution calling on the Board of Ordained Ministry to “ascertain in their interview with candidates that such candidates meet the minimum standard” of fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness as set forth by the Book of Discipline.

• Approved the petition, “Celebrating the Journey of Equality” which backs the March 1, 2016, statement from the Board of Ordained Ministry formally and publicly welcoming LGBTQI candidates for ministry.

Some of the items on the consent calendar included:

• Three petitions that deal with criminal justice reform to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 in New York State, abolish long-term solitary confinement, and eliminate deeply rooted racial and economic injustices in sentencing.

• A resolution that the NYAC become a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and designate $1,000 as the first investment in its work.

• A petition calling for increased individual advocacy in the NYAC on immigration reform to end the separation of families, recognize the contributions of immigrants, increase the number of Syrian refugees to the U.S., close family detention centers, and monitor state laws and policies.

 

• A moratorium on the “initiation and processing of complaints and the initiation of investigations and trials based upon the sexual orientation or marital status of faithful United Methodists or involving clergy for conducting same-sex weddings.”

• A petition calling on the NYAC to “declare its passionate opposition to continued distinctions of church law that restrict the rights and privileges of LGBTQI people in the United Methodist Church.

• A petition calling on the NYAC and United Methodist Frontier Foundation to screen its investments from companies whose core business is the production of petroleum or natural gas.

Corporate session

During the corporate session, the conference:

• Learned that the former episcopal residence in New Rochelle, N.Y., had been sold and that the trustees were in the process of securing a new home for the bishop.

• Heard an update from trustee James Perkins on the $2.7 million renovation work that was begun in May at the White Plains Conference center. Significant renovations to both the interior and exterior of the building are expected to be completed in November. The project has been funded by $1.5 million from the church property fund, a grant from the conference Council on Finance and Administration, and significant donations from several churches. During the construction, the entire staff has been relocated to temporary offices in Greenwich, Conn.

• Re-elected trustees Grace Bryant, Kevin Mulqueen, and James Perkins.

• Learned that the Board of Ordained Ministry had made a $100,000 donation from the Ministerial Education Fund to the conference’s Young Clergy Debt Assistance Program.

• Learned about the discontinuation of three churches: Trinity Morrisania UMC and Iglesia Evangelical Methodista, both in the Bronx in the Metropolitan District, and Mt. Hope UMC in Mahopac Falls in the New York/Connecticut District.

By The Numbers

• Offerings received included: Imagine No Malaria, $7,959.52; Black College Fund, $5,535; Middleton School in Sierra Leone, $11,144.80 (plus $25,000 collected before conference began); and Young Clergy Debt Assistance Program, $7,213.

• Some 4,198 health kits were collected and sent off to UMCOR.


NYAC Gallery—Wednesday, June 8
PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE PARSONS
Clockwise from above: Bishop Middleton, assisted by Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, reminds the body of its baptism during Wednesday’s opening worship; Bethel Korean UMC’s mission dance group; those to be commissioned are celebrated following the clergy vote to affirm them; the rain stopped early enough to allow for an outdoor picnic dinner Wednesday that included a choice of ice cream treats; George Howard was the guest speaker at the evening laity session.


NYAC Gallery—Thursday, June 9
PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE PARSONS


District superintendents led morning prayer. Pictured above from left are, Rev. Adrienne Brewington, Rev. Tim Riss, Rev. Sungchan Kim, and Rev. Ken Kieffer.

Bishop Middleton congratulates Rev. Joseph Washington, above, and Rev.Vera Jermin-Annum, right, on their retirements in a service Thursday led by Rev. Noel Chin, below. The 22 clergy had served a total of 584.5 years.



With their parents otherwise occupied, kids got to be kids thanks to the childcare offered during annual conference; below, Rev. Betsy Ott offers a version of Psalm XXIII during the memorial service honoring 34 clergy, spouses, widows and widowers who have passed in the last year.


NYAC Gallery—Friday, June 10
PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE PARSONS




Conference members and guests, above, lead a litany to receive signs of repentance during a service of reconciliation with people of African ancestry Friday morning.

John Xavier Acosta, left, offered his witness in words directed to his daughter.

Clergy spouses, below, offer a singing grace before the Friday evening meal.



Lay Leader Renata Smith presents Bishop Middleton with a book of drawings from children of the conference; below, the bishop laughs as husband Jack stands to applaud her during a celebration of her ministry before returning to retirement.

Retired Bishop F. Herbert Skeete gave the benediction.


NYAC Gallery—Saturday, June 11
PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE PARSONS

The ordination class of 14 is celebrated by their ministry colleagues at Hofstra University.

Clockwise from above: The Spirit Builders dance troupe energized with “Clap/Shout,” Bishop Minerva Carcano said she couldn’t refuse Bishop Middleton’s invitation to preach; newly ordained deacon, Rev. David Clegg, offers the benediction; clergy couple, Roslyn and Won Tack Lee were ordained as elders together; and Bishop Middleton commissions Paul Smith as a provisional elder.

“Let us remember the joy of our salvation . . . let us go to all who hope and hurt.”

—Bishop Minerva Carcaño


NYAC Wrap-Up
PHOTO BY STEPHANIE PARSONS


Visualizing the Perfect Visit to Quinipet

BY JANE WAKEMAN
Camps Governing Board

Veteran participants at Quinipet Family Camp like to say that thinking of the beauty of the camp and the gracious community there helps them get through the rest of the year! Conjuring up the sunny days, the water, the laughter, and the chapel worship can be done easily. Here is a guided tour of the campgrounds to inspire you or to jog your memory. Let’s go!

When you enter Camp Quinipet (affectionately known as CQ) from the Shore Road, you have already passed a mile or so of beautiful Sunset Beach, which is just perfect for evening or morning strolls. And you’ll pass the sailing barn, with small boats in various states of readiness. At the CQ sign, you begin your official journey.

You will pass the softball fields and the Cliff Cabins, the dining hall and the five Quinipet rocks (the inspiration for the name Quinipet). On your right, you will find the beautiful George and Sue Klein Welcome Center. This is the place to sit in the rocking chairs on the porch, greet friends and watch the sailboats go by. Look up and see the dinner bell and watch an adult help a small child give the bell a ring for dinner. Across the way is Wesley Hall, home of many a talent show, ping pong tournament, informal gathering and home to the art center and camp store.

Now cross the street again and find your way to the simple, but spectacular Aldersgate Chapel. Although it consists of only rough benches, a small podium and a boulder with a cross, the opportunities for worship are boundless! One look and you’ll understand why many a wedding has taken place here. You can try not to be distracted by the graceful boats sailing by, but you can be forgiven if you mind wanders for just a moment.


The most photographed place at Camp Quinipet on Shelter Island? Undoubtedly the gazebo on the shoreline.

As you journey back to the road again, you will find various places for recreation and imagine the voices of happy children and youth in a game of basketball or tetherball. Wander closer to the water again and you will find Inspiration Point, the spot for many a campfire. From there you can see the iconic Quinipet Gazebo, jutting out over the water. On a hot day, there is a perfect breeze and there are always excellent photo opportunities.

Now our tour brings us to the main residences. Each one has a special flavor from the Victorian era homes of Jesse Lee and Asbury, to the spacious Willard cabins with large “family” rooms. Willard Lodge is perfect for retreat groups with its kitchen and fireplace. Cozy Bobolin brings us to the end of the road, although, from its intersection with Rocky Point Avenue, we can walk right up the hill to the entrance and start all over again! This time, make sure you find your way to the waterfront! Watch the sailing campers go out, cool off in the water or hang out on the beach. After all, you are on an island!

Additional information is available on the Camp Quinipet
web site
.

Wakeman is a deaconess in the New York Conference.

 


Concrete Acts of Love Can Help Caregivers

Jim StinsonBY JIM STINSON
Consultant, Older Adult Ministries

“I know I did the right thing, but I cannot stop feeling guilty for doing so.” 

Some decisions are not only difficult to make, they are also heartbreaking to make. His wife has advanced dementia and is difficult for anyone to manage, let alone a 90-plus-year-old spouse. She would not allow aides or companions into her home —that was the first option. She would not consider moving to an assisted living facility. She was closed to every available option. So she stayed where she was longer than was safe and her husband’s safety and health became a major concern. Finally, she was placed in a memory care facility, where, slowly but surely, she is adjusting. Her husband, with a lot of support from family, friends, and his church family, made the difficult decision.

“I know I made the right decision, but I cannot stop feeling guilty.”

His plight is all too typical. Too many caregivers share the experience. And they often get overlooked, in terms of the care they need and deserve at such times. The church can do much toward helping the caregiver, who often feels inadequate and as if they have failed their loved one, to adjust. It is not enough to see them on Sunday morning and greet them with a friendly smile and a “How are you doing?” The congregation and pastor can offer a healing environment by providing concrete acts of love.

Some suggestions include:

• A plan to bring and share some meals in the home

• A regular visiting schedule

• A drive through the countryside

• A visit with the spouse as a demonstration that she/he has not been forgotten

• Sitting with the caregiver, if wanted, during worship

• Including her/him in church activities that both used to attend

• Reach out on special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries)

• Offer rides, if driving is an issue

• Speak of the “missing” spouse and show willingness to share and listen to memories

By no means is this an exhaustive list. Be creative in expanding the list. When to slow down the support? Let the Spirit lead you. Somehow it will become clear. We cannot force an adjustment, but we can make it softer by accompanying a person on the journey.


A Reflection on General Conference 2016
Thinking Beyond the “Issue Boxes”

BY JACOB S. DHARMARAJ
President, National Federation of Asian American United Methodists

I love General Conference! It is indeed a joyous place to be. One can witness firsthand the worldwide United Methodist Church doing business.

General Conference is the United Methodist’s quadrennial kumbaya. It is the denomination’s legislative amphitheater, its missional marketplace, its doctrinal battleground, its connectional system’s fiscal auditorium, and its fisted-hand budgetary arena.

General Conference is the public dome where the miraculous and the monstrous are equally part of daily deliberations. It is a place where the boundaries between reality and dreams are blurred; lofty vision and imagined future are carved out through the prism of memory, nostalgia, and high ambition for the denomination’s worldwide church.

I enjoy being at the margin and sidelines of the General Conference from where one can see the fringe events that take place which are equally important for the life of the denomination. After all, what is visible and broadcast is important for the record, but what is ignored and marginalized are more important for the conscience of the church. The periphery of the General Conference has a status of its own that often draws a rally, a drama, a scene of media sensation, punctuated by the reportorial “the-whole-world-is-watching-us,” than revelatory.

General Conference 2016There is also an aura that surrounds the General Conference, viewed as a latter day United Methodist Byzantium where a galaxy of sensitive, sophisticated human beings from all across United Methodism altruistically join forces to achieve spiritually elevating, ecclesially nourishing, missionally wholesome, and globally transformative programs. Consequently, the General Conference tends to become gouty and pompous.

Now that GC16 has poured its last cup of tea, strapped its tarp and traveling gear to the trailer, and dispatched its last emissary to form a study commission on human sexuality, I miss the high drama, its suspense and its myrmidon for another four years, (may be two years!)

Global north meeting global south

What fascinated me more than anything else at GC16 was the large presence and active participation of the multiethnic delegates from the worldwide church. To many Christians in the global north, Christians in the global south belong only to the domain of missions and not in the region of partnership or mutuality. Only recently it is best understood as an independent church and not as an appendage of Western missionary expansion, and they have an identity and selfhood of their own. Yes, indeed, the age of diversity is upon us.

We, as a denomination, are increasingly a community of communities and should treat that as strength. Despite their full participation in the conference’s deliberations, more often than not, the comments and observations of the delegates from overseas were punctuated by questions about parliamentary procedures and an unfamiliar legislative process. I wonder if there was any count on how many times the delegates had mentioned that they were confused, lost and totally out of tune with the procedure, the process and the progression of the debate and voting policy of the General Conference.

While the proponents of Rule 44 tried to pitch their tents during the storm of parliamentary procedures and when the extensive debate over the Council of Bishops recommendation to cradle the petitions on human sexuality for another two years was dragged on, more and more delegates expressed their confusion and dismay over the process deeply rooted and firmly grounded in Robert’s Rules of Order, a North American parliamentary process. The cavernous cultural gap and the resonant parliamentary procedure that disjointed the overseas delegates with the U.S. delegates became more evident while hot-button issues were discussed. While the metaphor of doing business under the palaver tree, an African consensus-building process, was floated around, this remained only as a beautiful metaphor.

Tell us in plain words

While I followed the skilled leadership style of the presiders from the podium and the nuanced arguments of the delegates from the floor, for some strange reason, one sentence from classic literature kept ringing in my ears. It was from James Joyce’s Ulysses in which Molly asks Bloom


NYAC’s Rev. Jacob Dharmaraj, far left, joins in a May 13 immigration rally outside the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore.

UMNS PHOTO

about metempsychosis, a word in a book she had been reading. The response Bloom gave Molly was, “It’s Greek: from the Greek . . . That means the transmigration of souls.”

“O rocks! she said. Tell us in plain words.” So goes Molly’s plea to her lover to explain metempsychosis.

In my opinion, GC16 was a weirdly pressurized and verbally jeopardized space due to high-stake petitions that were on the table, such as, Rule 44 and human sexuality. Most importantly, they were crisscrossed with potential divisions and schisms within the denomination. Dropping one’s guard during those tense moments would find oneself holding forth like a lost and somnolent passenger in an airport terminal in a foreign land.

The vital question that most of us ask after a major event is, “What would history say of this event?” That goes for GC16 as well. There are narratives we tell our families, the accounts we share with our friends, and most importantly, the versions we describe to our parishioners and ourselves in order to keep on living, serving and ministering. Through the act of narration, we empower others to see what we see. Galileo became famous not just because he saw how the stars move but because he insisted fellow humans see for themselves how the biosphere works. We need to share what we see and shape our society accordingly for the best.

The narratives GC16 presents is this: Number matters. Persuasion reigns supreme. Status quo prevails. Table difficult issues. If you can’t win, try to cover the opponent with a slow-creeping fog, and mute the voices to ashes with whatever you have in your verbal arsenal.

Rage correlation only with issue boxes

General Conference 2016, I submit, suffered from a rage deficit. It refused to take seriously the persecuted sisters and brothers in Christ in other parts of the world, including the Palestinian Christians. Not just brotherhood but siblinghood matters in mission.

It failed to unleash its righteous anger and holy discontent about the refugees and immigrant crises around the world and by relegating the immigration rally as a freak show? A collective shriek would certainly have gained the attention of those in power around the world.

GC is not all about petitions and politics, but time and memory and love that stand at the heart of GC’s work. A positive, transformative vision statement is not meant just to inspire, it should create the cognitive space for assumptions to be challenged and new ideas to surface. It would help Christ’s holy church if everyone to get out of their “issue” boxes.

We, in the church, need to be aware that we are standing on the shoulders of all those who came before us; ever vigilant to examine our role and close the gap between the problems we know and the solutions we propose. So long as the siren call of denial is met with the drone of policy-making and petition submitting, the worldwide body of Christ is both being misled and misread.

By the time the study committee on human sexuality prepares its final report in two years, the worldwide church will have gathered in different parts of the world to revisit the 500th anniversary of Protestant Reformation, and studied its impact on human history. The findings and recommendations of the study commission will certainly have an impact on our denomination. I sincerely hope and pray that it will enable our beloved denomination to continue to produce spiritual leaders of texture and thoughtful forerunners of caring quality to steer the church through stormy seas. Will our church be comprised of a people divided by our politics, our religious views, and our backgrounds, or will we be a people of diversity and common commitment, with some common boundaries?

I hope and believe we can be the latter.


OBITUARIES
Rev. Charles F. Brown
Reverend Charles F. Brown of Kingfield, Maine, died on May 18, at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Maine.

Brown graduated from Medford High School in Massachusetts in 1940 and worked for two years at Liberty Mutual Insurance before studying chemical engineering for a year at Northeastern University in Boston. In September 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was called to active duty the following April. He served as a staff sergeant radio operator, flying in a C-47 with the 306th Squadron, 442nd Troop Carrier Group, Eighth Air Force.

On D-Day his plane dropped para-packs with machine guns and ammunition over Omaha Beach. He was then involved with other parachute and glider operations, receiving the air medal with two oak leaf clusters.

At the end of the war, he left his “ship” at Munich, Germany, and came home on the Queen Mary. After bring discharged in November 1945, he married Elsie Florence Mutch on December 1. They were married by Rev. J. Charles Reid, who founded the United Methodist Economic Ministry in Salem, Maine. It was in Reid’s living room that Brown committed his life to Christ.

In 1946, he served as a student pastor in Lowell and Somerville, Mass., in the former Evangelical United Brethren Church. He graduated from Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., in 1949 and three years later from Evangelical Seminary in Naperville, Ill. (now part of Garrett Evangelical Seminary). 

While in seminary he served in Danforth, Ill. After ordination he served in both the New England and New York Conferences, pastoring churches in Quincy, Mass.; Richmond Hill, N.Y., and Newington, Conn. Charles retired to Maine in 1984.

He is survived by a daughter Joyce (Joy) and her husband, John Richardson, of Annapolis, Md; grandchildren Heidi, Amy and David; three great-grandchildren; and a sister, Olive Daily. He was predeceased by his wife of 62 years, Elsie, in 2009, and daughter Susan in 1996.

A graveside committal service will be held at a later date at the Brown family plot in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Orland, Me.


The Vision, Newspaper of the NYAC, of the UMC

Resident Interim Bishop: Jane Allen Middleton

Editor: Joanne Utley

Vision e-mail: vision@nyac.com

Web site: www.nyac.com/vision

New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

20 Soundview Avenue
White Plains, NY 10606

Phone (888) 696-6922

Fax (914) 615-2244