"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 Nov. 2016

In this issue

Bishop Bickerton and members of the extended cabinet surround Rev. Julia Yeon-Hee Yim in prayer during her installation as district superintendent. Yim, below left, preached about the need to wait for the power of God.
DS JULIA YH YIM INSTALLED
Wait, Open Up, Worship

BY JOANNE S. UTLEY
Editor, The Vision

“To God Be the Glory” was a more than fitting processional for the installation service of Rev. Julia Yeon-Hee Yim as superintendent of the Long Island East District. In his introduction, Rev. Luonne Rouse, chair of the superintendency committee, praised Yim as one whose “life glorifies the Lord.

“She has a sincere heart,” he said. “She is moving under the guidance of Almighty God.”

The Bible Korean United Methodist Church in Dix Hills, N.Y., hosted the October 16 service for Yim, who took on her new role July 1. Yim walked up the aisle hand-in-hand with Bishop Thomas Bickerton, and they both paused to bow at the altar before going to their seats.

Music was provided by the Christ Church Worship Team and the Bible UMC Choir, both from the LIE District, in addition to a choir made up of clergy from the Korean Caucus. After the caucus sang, “My Jesus I Love Thee,” Yim applauded with glee and called the group together to snap a “selfie.” Revs. Leslie Duroseau and Sheila Beckford also witnessed to the moment through a liturgical dance.

Clergy and laity from the district presented various signs of Yim’s new leadership role, such as a Bible, Book of Disciple, and gavel.

In a message marked with humor and entitled, “W.O.W. L.I.E!,” Yim began by praising her predecessors and her family, especially her mother, who was in attendance.

“I’m like a turtle on a fence post,” Yim said with a smile. “I didn’t get here on my own . . . It is a high honor to be among you.”

She said she had wondered what she would say to a sold-out crowd—a crowd “sold out on Jesus Christ.”

Yim also noted that she was sobered by the faithful witness she has been finding across the district, and raised concerns about the burdens placed on pastors and the possibility of “passion depletion.

“I’ve been there,” she said. “Peter suffered a passion failure three times, but what love Christ still had for him . . . when I look at Peter I see me.”

She suggested ways to overcome this passion depletion using the acrostic wow-wow.

W: Wait on the Lord. Too often we’re too busy working to wait. Watch and pray. Marinate, saturate in God’s presence.

O: Open up the things clogging the power line. How do we stop and get God’s full attention? With a contrite and broken spirit.

Yim commended the faith and support of her mother, Yung Hoon Yim.


The praise band from Christ UMC in Port Jefferson Station set the mood as the service began.

W: Worship. Do we linger much in God’s worship? Only when we do this will we be filled up as leaders. And yet we wonder why our churches aren’t excited.

O: Overflow. When we’re full we overflow, and people will see that. We’re filled up with what God is doing.

W: Win the lost. We need to witness to the world of God’s love, to overwhelm people with God’s love. We don’t want to be a swamp, but a river flowing in the love of God.

“It’s not about you, or me, or the UMC, it’s about Jesus,” Yim said. “I hope to see the churches of the LIE mobilized as centers of healing, forgiveness and transformation.

“So wait on the power, so we may overflow and overwhelm,” she said in conclusion.

An offering was collected to benefit evangelism events in the LIE District. Following the late afternoon service, a reception prepared by Women’s Ministries of Bible UMC was held in the fellowship hall.

Members of the Korean Caucus sing, “My Jesus I Love Thee.”


Court to Bishops: Rule on ‘Proper’ Questions of Law

BY LINDA BLOOM
United Methodist News Service

Bishops must answer all questions of law that are properly before them, The United Methodist Church’s top court said in two cases stemming from the ordination of gay clergy.

That opinion was part of two decisions from the fall meeting of the Judicial Council, which met Oct. 25–28 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lisle, Illinois.

The two cases, from the New York and Northern Illinois annual conferences, centered on a bishop’s decision of law regarding the conference board of ordained ministry, and qualifications for candidacy and ordination.

In both conferences, the board of ordained ministry had publicly affirmed it would not consider sexual orientation or gender identity when evaluating candidates for the ministry.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline has long stated that all individuals are of sacred worth but the practice of homosexuality “is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Judicial Council also affirmed a decision by Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar that most of a “non-conformity” resolution adopted by the New England Annual Conference was in violation of church law.

New York action

Last June, the New York Conference approved four openly gay candidates for the ministry. During that same annual conference session, interim Bishop Jane Allen Middleton was presented with four questions related to whether self-avowed practicing homosexuals or others in violation of the denomination’s fidelity and celibacy standard are legally eligible for the ministry.

In her decision of law, Middleton wrote that it would be “improper” for a bishop to make a decision related to the authority “reserved to other organizations, bodies and divisions in the Constitution.” The work of an independent conference board “is not a subject upon which a decision of law can be made,” she ruled.

Middleton did decide that two other questions relating to a candidate’s eligibility were “hypothetical” in the absence of specific facts and ruled them out of order.

In Decision 1330, Judicial Council affirmed Middleton’s decision that the last two of the four questions were hypothetical, but reversed her ruling that the first two questions were improper.

The questions raised in the New York case, the council declared, are about whether the board of ordained ministry’s policy and procedures are legal. Ruling on those questions does not require the bishop to interfere in the ordination process or the vote of the clergy session, the council said. During the clergy session at annual conferences, all the clergy vote on candidates recommended by the board of ordained ministry.

“The request for a decision of law is remanded to the bishop for a ruling on questions one and two and shall be reported back to the Judicial Council before December 31, 2016,” the council ruled.

Although Middleton is no longer the bishop for the New York Area, she will make those rulings at the request of the Judicial Council, according to a statement released

November 1 by current episcopal leader, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton.

Northern Illinois

In the Northern Illinois Conference, a motion was defeated that would have directed the board of ordained ministry to “maintain the minimum standard for licensed or ordained ministry” of celibacy in singleness or fidelity in heterosexual marriage. The motion also directed the board to ascertain that candidates meet that standard.

After the vote, a request for a decision of law about what the board of ordained ministry is required to do also asked whether the board can “legally recommend to the clergy session a candidate whom they believe to be in violation of the fidelity, celibacy or definition of marriage standard.”

Bishop Sally Dyck ruled both requests “moot and hypothetical.” Since the motion discussed in the clergy session was defeated, she wrote, it meant no action had occurred to warrant a decision of law.

And she said “no one knows for sure” if the board recommended candidates “who have a sexual identity, behavior, history or belief in violation of the stated disciplinary paragraphs.”

In Decision 1329, Judicial Council reversed the bishop’s action and requested a new ruling by December 31. “A motion defeated by vote of the clergy executive session does not render a subsequent request for decision of law improper for ruling by a bishop,” the decision stated.

The court’s ruling referred to an earlier decision, Decision 799, in which the Judicial Council established specific criteria for determining when a question of law is proper.

Addressing those criteria, the decision said, “Contrary to the bishop’s finding, we conclude that the question of law is germane to the discussion, raised during the deliberation of a specific issue of a matter, connected to a specific action taken by the annual conference, and, therefore, proper for a ruling by the bishop.”

Non-conformity in New England

The Judicial Council affirmed a decision by Devadhar that found the New England Conference’s “non-conformity” resolution largely violated church law.

The resolution stated that the conference “will not conform or comply with provisions of the Discipline which discriminate against LGBTQIA persons,” would not participate in or conduct judicial procedures related to that, would make benefits available to all “regardless to the sexes or genders of the partners” and would “realign its funding to reflect these commitments.” LGBTQIA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual.

In Decision 1327, Judicial Council cited the Discipline’s prohibition against “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” being candidates for ministry, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in the denomination. Church law also prohibits ministers from conducting same-sex marriages and the use of church funds to “promote the acceptance of homosexuality.”

In accordance with Paragraph 363 of the Discipline, “the bishop is also affirmed in his decision that to refer certain offenses to a judicial proceeding is within the discretion of the bishop alone and not referred to the authority of the annual conference…,” the court’s decision stated.


RESPONSE
Board of Ordained Ministry

“Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Over the past few days, members of the New York Annual Conference (NYAC) of The United Methodist Church, especially members of its Board of Ordained Ministry, (BOOM) have awaited the Judicial Council’s decision regarding an appeal submitted by a member of the NYAC. Central to this case is a well-known phrase coming from the Book of Discipline (BOD), “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church” (¶304).

This case does not break new ground for the Judicial Council, the NYAC or for our entire United Methodist connection. Once again, the Judicial Council, fulfilling its role of hearing and determining any appeal from a bishop’s decision on a question of law made in the annual conference, has been called upon to deliberate on a question pertaining to whether LGBTQI members are fully included in the life of the church or not. In this particular case, the clergy session of the 2016 New York Annual Conference, upon recommendation of the Board of Ordained Ministry, approved candidates for commissioning and ordination.

Following that action by the clergy session, the question posed to the presiding bishop, Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, was whether the Board of Ordained Ministry and the district Committees on Ordained Ministry acted within the bounds of the Book of Discipline in following its publicly affirmed policy that LGBTQI candidates will be given equal consideration and protection in the candidacy process (Adopted Feb.20, 2016, BOOM Plenary). Bishop Middleton responded that the candidacy, commissioning and ordination processes are properly the purview of the Board of Ordained Ministry and the clergy session of the annual conference and that her role is not to render a decision of law regarding those specific processes.

On October 30, 2016, the Judicial Council issued its decision in this case, rejecting in part Bishop Middleton’s reasoning, stating that the presiding Bishop does have the authority to render a decision of law. The Judicial Council sent back the question of law to the bishop for a ruling.

This decision, though not surprising, is another painful moment for our candidates, The United Methodist Church and indeed for all the people of God. This is a time of mourning for the many diverse communities that The United Methodist Church serves, for those in the LGBTQI family and for everyone whose value, humanity and gifts for ministry are continually called into question.

Furthermore, this decision reveals a misguided

understanding of the role of the Board of Ordained Ministry as an agency of the Annual Conference in The United Methodist Church. Though bound by specific responsibilities and guidelines, BOOM does not operate in a vacuum. We are amenable and accountable to the Clergy Session and to the Annual Conference. And we have heard loud and clear, time after time, from our Annual Conference of the need to recruit and ordain gifted, effective, Spirit-filled candidates for ministry, and to equip them to serve in the many diverse ministry contexts within the boundaries of the Annual Conference. To effectively respond to that mandate, the Board of Ordained Ministry of the NYAC will continue to discern and celebrate the Spirit-given gifts and graces for ministry in all candidates who come before us, giving equal consideration and protection to our LGBTQI brothers and sisters. We celebrate with joy the value, dignity, and sacred worth of all LGBTQI people, affirm the God-given gifts that they bring to the church and support their call from God to use their gifts and graces to serve Christ, and all people’s especially those at the margins of our society.

The General Conference of The United Methodist Church, in its inability to affirm and celebrate the full inclusion of our LGBTQI brothers and sisters in the life and ministry of the church, has failed us all, depriving our churches and communities of their Spirit-given gifts and graces. This practice, scripturally untenable when we apply our experience, tradition, and reason to the interpretation of Scripture, diminishes our prophetic role as a denomination in the world, and contradicts our own denomination’s social principles. This avoidance of the GC to embrace and celebrate all God’s children is short-sighted, unfaithful and will inevitably undermine the leadership of our episcopal leaders, the integrity of the Board’s ministry, the wisdom of the clergy and consequently will sabotage each conference’s ability to be fruitful and faithful in ministry.

As an Annual Conference, we have a long history of commitment to advocating for all who are oppressed, excluded, and marginalized. Our commitment to social justice for all people, particularly the vulnerable ones, is consistent with the example Christ set for us and calls us to embody. We are called to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. May we, the clergy and laity of the NYAC, continue to seek the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit as we walk the path of discipleship in Jesus Christ, fulfilling our calling and mission to make disciples of all people for the transformation of our world.

In Christ,
The Rev. Lydia E. Lebrón-Rivera
November 3, 2016

(Note: LGBTQI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersexed.)


RESPONSE
Bishop Bickerton

11/1/2016

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”

—Ephesians 2:19, NRSV

The Judicial Council recently issued a ruling on the bishop’s Decision of Law in the New York Annual Conference concerning whether or not the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry is required to ascertain whether a candidate meets the qualifications for candidacy and ordained ministry, including whether or not she or he is exhibiting “fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness” or is a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.”

The Judicial Council affirmed the ruling in part and reversed the ruling in another part, remanding the ruling back to the bishop for a specific ruling on those parts.

I respect the Judicial Council’s ruling that questions 3 & 4 are moot and hypothetical. Those questions were related to situations that had not yet taken place and, hence, were hypothetical in nature and not within the purview of the Judicial Council. I also respect their request that there be a ruling on questions 1 & 2. Those questions were concerning the responsibilities of the Board of Ordained Ministry in ascertaining “whether a candidate meets the qualifications for candidacy and ordained ministry,” and to what degree a Board of Ordained Ministry can recommend candidates to the clergy session of an Annual Conference. The Judicial Council has sent those two questions back and asked for a specific ruling to be made on each of them. Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, who was the interim bishop at the time of this request, will therefore make those rulings at the request of the Judicial Council in anticipation of their next meeting.

What this means, quite simply, is that there is more work to be done. As this work is being done, I would ask that you join me in praying for Bishop Middleton as she prepares her ruling and for the Judicial Council as they respond to it. And, even as we pray, I believe that we should continue to focus on our ministry as an Annual Conference. There are lives that need to be touched by the grace and love of Christ in our midst. I pray that we will keep our eyes focused on the work God has called us to as servant leaders.

I want to express how deeply grateful I am to the Conference BOOM for their past and present work. They have and do act with intentionality and integrity, and I look forward to working with them moving forward as we discern God’s call for

ourselves, our annual conference, and the candidates who are responding to the call that God has put on their hearts.

I also want to share my commitment to being supportive of the persons directly affected by this matter. I have been blessed by the character, authenticity, and genuine nature of call within those persons who have been recently commissioned and ordained. Throughout this Annual Conference we have an abundance of called and committed people who are faithfully living out their calling from God. This includes members of the LGBTQI community who continue to feel marginalized and who experience deep hurt in the midst of the church’s ongoing struggle.  My prayer is that each of us can be supportive of the many and various ways in which God is using us to bless the church, the people of this region, and the world as a whole.

I recognize that we in the New York Annual Conference are not of one mind on this issue. However, it is my hope that we will continue to provide space so that ministry can unfold in the midst of varied contexts and theological expressions. While there is still work to be done and decisions that must be made by our Judicial Council, I would hope that we will commit ourselves as an Annual Conference to the ongoing and important work before all of us, lay and clergy alike, to the ministry of disciple-making in the New York Annual Conference.

I fully believe that there is a way through all that we are facing. And, I am committed to leading us through these days with a conviction that God is greater than any obstacle we may face and that God will provide a way for the church to be the full expression of what God intends. I pray that you will join me in those efforts.

May Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus speak to us today. Each of us are a part of the household of God, claimed, called and loved by Christ Jesus our Lord, the cornerstone of who we are and who we are called to be.

Finally, I would call everyone to serious and intentional times of prayer and centering so that God may continue to speak to us and work through us with grace and unconditional love. May others look to us as a significant example of how people of differing viewpoints can work together and, more importantly, love one another.

May it be so.
The Journey Continues, . . .
 
Thomas J. Bickerton
Resident Bishop


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

11/19 Laity Convocation
Laity from around the conference will gather to explore the theme, “We Are Called…!” with Rev. David Gilmore, NYAC director of congregational development and revitalization. The day will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Stamford Hilton in Connecticut. Cost is $25 per person; or $75 for every four people from the same congregation. A continental breakfast and lunch are included. Register by November 9.

11/19 ERT Recertification
In disaster recovery work the phrase often used is “not if, but when” and the key to an effective response is preparation. In order to maintain a current list and active teams of ERTs, this recertification class is being offered from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at Mount Kisco UMC, 300 E. Main Street, Mount Kisco, N.Y. The cost including background check is $10. Ross Porter will lead the session; contact Tom Vencuss at, tvencuss@nyac.com, to register.

11/20 UM City Society Annual Meeting
Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton will share his thoughts on urban mission at this worshipful business meeting that begins at 3:30 p.m. at St. John’s UMC of Elmont. Churches in the Long Island East, Long Island West, Metropolitan and the NY-Connecticut districts are members of the United Methodist City Society and are entitled to vote on the board of directors and any other business that comes before the society. The event will highlight the work of Anchor House and St. John’s

summer camp and after-school programs. The event is free, but reservations are requested for the reception following the business meeting. St. John’s UMC is at 2105 Stuart Avenue, Valley Stream, N.Y.

11/24–26 Conference Office Closed
The NYAC office will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

11/27 UM Student Sunday
One of six special Sunday offerings received by the church, the United Methodist Student Day offering provide scholarship funds, often for young people who are the first in their family to pursue higher education. On the last Sunday in November, our congregations will receive this special offering, which ensures a brighter future for United Methodist students. Additional information and resources are available online.

1/6–8 Quinipet Winter Weekend
This year’s Winter Weekend for 12- to 17-year-olds will dive into the parable of the Good Samaritan with all the fun of camp. The “Go and Do Likewise” weekend will offer morning chapel, evening vespers and camp games, in addition to ice skating and winter hiking—weather permitting. Dinner on Friday, breakfast Sunday and accommodations are included in the $225 per person cost. For additional details or to register, go to the Camp Quinipet web site.

1/10–12 Bishop's Convocation
This time of spiritual renewal for clergy and spouses will once again be held at the Villa Roma Resort in Callicoon, N.Y. The event will revolve around the theme of Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton’s book, “What Are We Fighting For? Coming Together Around What Matters Most.” Registration
is open on the NYAC web site; sign up before January 6 for the early bird rates. Free childcare will be available.

2/25–26 BMCR Weekend
More information will be forthcoming on the conference calendar for this Black Methodists for Church Renewal weekend event.

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 final deadline for 2016 is December 2. Deadlines for 2017 are: January 6, February 3, March 3, April 7, May 5,
June 2, July 7, August 4, September 1, October 6, November 3, and December 1. Please send any stories, photos, ideas, or questions directly to vision@nyac.com.


 Responding to Disaster—Wherever it Comes

Long-term recovery is just that . . . long.

Saturday, October 29 marked the fourth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy’s devastating arrival on the northeastern shoreline. On that weekend, communities throughout New York and Connecticut gathered to remember, offer support, and recognize both the achievements and the challenges facing the continuing recovery effort.

For too many families the anniversary represented the fourth year they have been unable to return home, or worse—the fourth year of living in damaged, moldy, unsafe conditions. Heading into their fourth winter since Sandy, there are still several thousand families who have not yet received—or have been denied—assistance from government-backed rebuild or (required) elevation programs.

Through June 2016, the NYAC Sandy Recovery Ministry provided assistance to more than 1,550 Sandy-affected families including more than 100,000 volunteer hours. Though having downsized this past July, the ministry continues to provide assistance to Sandy-survivors through its collaboration with CT Rises, the Connecticut Long-term Recovery Group, and the St. Bernard Project (formerly Friends of Rockaway) in New York. At this point, the majority of requests coming through the unmet needs tables are for temporary relocation rental assistance, mortgage assistance, and licensed contractor services.

For most, it will still be many months before they will be able to return to their homes.

Hermine and Matthew

Meanwhile, homeowners, business owners, and many others in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida are only beginning their recovery process. As of November 2, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had received almost 161,000 applications for assistance, with more than 150,000 of those the direct result of Matthew. These numbers reflect only those who have registered with FEMA. This number will only increase as time goes on. Out of the news are areas of West Virginia and Louisiana, severely affected by rain and storms earlier this year. As with Sandy, these recovery efforts will extend for years.

Despite the resources available through federal, state and local agencies, the voluntary and faith-based sectors are, and remain, a critical part of any recovery effort. A FEMA senior voluntary agency liaison has put out this plea, “As Matthew and Hermine fade from the national news please know that the disasters in each of the states are in need of volunteers and financial donations for recovery which is just beginning.”

A Call to Action

Friends, as so many came to assist us following Sandy, the call goes out for us to respond in a like manner. At a recent Metropolitan District Council on Ministries meeting, I challenged the district to develop and send a response team to one of the recovery areas next spring. I put that challenge out to each of our districts, to each of our congregations, to all of our early response teams, to former team leaders and members as well. If need be, we have experienced persons who will work with you and walk you through the process.

What a testimony it would be if we could send out a team a month throughout the spring, summer, and fall of 2017.

If you are willing to serve as a team leader for an early response team (ERT) or long-term recovery team please contact Tom Vencuss at tvencuss@nyac.com.

And remember—that for so many, long term recovery is just that . . . long!

May God inspire us, lead us, and bless us in this work.

Tom Vencuss
Coordinator of Disaster Recovery Ministries

AP PHOTO

Cholera treatment in Jeremie, Haiti.

Update on Haiti

Recent reports are that more than 1,000 people have died and 800,000 people are at risk in Haiti as a result of Hurricane Matthew. The areas most affected were on the western part of the island, many of which were already fragile agriculture and economic communities. Matthew devastated farms, crops, livestock, and homes; compromised water sources; and took lives. Cholera and exposure are both concerns. Further complicating recovery efforts is the fact that there is one major road leading into the recovery area and several bridges were compromised or destroyed. It has been described by international aid agencies as a humanitarian crisis. Yet, it has largely been out of the news. 

UMCOR has been working through its in-country coordinators, and convoys of trucks from the Methodist Church of Haiti in Port au Prince have been going into the recovery area, bringing emergency food and water, tarps, medical assistance, and other supplies. Volunteers with long ties and experience in Jeremie have been flying in with chainsaws, emergency supplies, and other equipment. The situation remains critical.

Rev. Tom Vencuss, our disaster response coordinator, who coordinated the UMCOR/VIM earthquake response program, has been working with leaders of the Methodist Church of Haiti and mission volunteers to develop a structure and plan for the deployment of volunteer teams into the recovery areas. Volunteer teams will not be deployed until January at the earliest.

Tom and Wendy Vencuss, coordinators of Mountains of Hope for Haiti, the NYAC mission in Haiti, will be in country November 15–21 to meet with church leaders, visit the recovery area, and assess the situation for volunteer engagement.

If you are interested in leading a team to Haiti please contact Tom at tvencuss@nyac.com.


Clergy Join Stand Against Dakota Pipeline

Three clergy members from the New York Conference were among hundreds of clergy from a range of faith traditions who answered a call to take a “Stand with Standing Rock.” Rev. Doug Cunningham, Rev. Karen Eiler and Rev. Charles Ryu traveled to North Dakota to briefly join the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The November 3 event featured singing, prayers, dancing, and readings from sacred texts. According to one account, a Doctrine of Discovery was burned and then the clergy, the Sioux and their Native allies occupied a bridge where militarized police block the road.

Cunningham offered the following reflection upon his return home:

“Has there ever been a treaty the white man has honored? Not one.”—Sitting Bull.

“These words, from the plaque at the burial site of Sitting Bull on the Standing Rock Reservation form a fitting context for the current threat posed by the Dakota Access Pipeline and the police and security forces protecting it. The people of Standing Rock are courageous and unarmed in defending their rights, and the rights of all of us to water and land. At General Conference we have repented of past atrocities against Native Americans. A strong statement and actions in support of Standing Rock at this perilous moment could give that act of repentance some integrity.”

The pipeline, a $3.8 billion project of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, is intended to bring crude oil from North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois. Proponents say it will increase U.S. energy independence and provide jobs.

But leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux say the pipeline is


NYAC clergy Karen Eiler, left, and Charles Ryu protest the Dakota Access Pipeline with hundreds of other clergy on November 3.

routed across land sacred to the tribe and could threaten drinking water safety.

A special local forum to discuss the issue has been planned for 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20, at Memorial UMC, 250 Bryant Avenue, White Plains, N.Y.

For more information: A United Methodist News Service story about the event can be found at this link. Also, read a statement from Bishop Bruce Ough, who serves the Dakotas Conference and is the president of the UMC Council of Bishops.


Remembering Local Massacre of Native Americans

BY ELAINE WINWARD
Co-Chair CONAM

During the June 2015 New York Annual Conference, our former bishop, Jane Allen Middleton, spoke words of hope and promise in saying “never again” to past atrocities committed against indigenous peoples. If you were at conference that year, you know what a powerful moment this Act of Repentance service was. It was that power and spirit that inspired members of the conference’s Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) to further their commitment to that promise early this summer.

Three of us met to prayerfully and thoughtfully create a fall service to be held at a significant location within our conference boundaries. We started at an area that was reportedly part of the trail of one of the largest massacres in the New York-Connecticut region, a spot in North Castle, N.Y. Information about the “Great Munsee Massacre” in February 1644 is detailed in the book, “Insubordinate Spirit,” by Missy Wolfe. The area was carefully mapped out, showing the possible route that took General John Underhill and 130 of his men from Tomac Cove, Conn., to the now serene location of the service.

In the bright morning sunshine of October 15, the place where we gathered was indeed picturesque—a quiet area in a wooded spot along a road that led to the Kensico Reservoir. One could imagine the Native Americans living in such a spot close to water, surrounded by hills and tall trees.

As the service began, the participants—including Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton—took chairs arranged in a circle around a colorful Native American blanket. The service included an historical reflection on the massacre, and hymn singing led by Carol Osgood on the auto harp.

Kevin Tarrant and Travis Richardson, known as the Silver Cloud Singers, sang in their native tongue to the beat of their drums. As they sang, a hawk flew overhead calling out—a sign that “we were being acknowledged” in Native American cultures.

Rev. Doug Osgood, a CONAM member, led the liturgy he prepared with Cynthia Kent, the Northeastern Jurisdiction’s


A group led by CONAM members gathered in North Castle, N.Y., to pray and remember those killed in a massacre of Native Americans.

director of CONAM. The Holy Spirit was present and powerful in many ways. Those who were Indian, read parts, and non-natives, other parts. We prayed and reflected.

On the blanket in the circle was a rattle handmade by a member of the Onondaga Nation and a drawing done on a tree fungus by Tracy Thomas, a Mohawk. White seashells were used to cast water upon the surrounding ground as a reminder of the sustaining and renewing spirit that abides between native and non-native peoples, both in 1644 and in our present time.

We shared deep reflections amid the beauty of the space and pledged ourselves to address the wrongs that have been committed against Native Americans in the name of our Creator.

Note: If you would like a copy of the program, please send your request to Winward at ewinward@optonline.net. Information about Native American Ministries Sunday is available on the UMC giving web site.


 NY Laywoman Named to Way Forward Commission

The United Methodist Council of Bishops announced on October 24 the membership of the Commission on a Way Forward. The list includes one laywoman, Myungrae Kim Lee, from the New York Conference. She is the executive director for the National Network of Korean United Methodist Women and a member of the Korean Methodist Church and Institute, where her husband, Rev. YongBo Lee, is the pastor.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, said the makeup of the 32-member commission is roughly comparable to U.S. and Central Conference membership, and “is representative of our theological diversity.” The team of moderators—Bishop Ken Carter, Bishop Sandra Steiner-Ball and Bishop David Yemba—will soon convene the commission to begin to organize their work and finalize their meeting schedule.

The commission’s mission is to “bring together persons deeply committed to the future(s) of The United Methodist Church, with an openness to developing new relationships with each other and exploring the potential future(s) of our denomination in light of General Conference and subsequent annual, jurisdictional and central conference actions.”

The 2016 General Conference gave a specific mandate to the Council of Bishops to lead The United Methodist Church in discerning and proposing a way forward through the present impasse related to human sexuality and the consequent questions about unity and covenant.

After hearing concerns that the proposed composition did not include enough laity, three additional laypersons were added from the original pool of more than 300 nominees.

At their fall meeting (October 30–November 2), the Council expressed their intent to call for a special session of the General Conference in either February or March of 2019. The council’s action stops short of making the actual call for a special session, which is expected to come at some point after the commission begins its work.

Such a special session would be composed of delegates to the preceding General Conference—or their lawful successors—unless a conference prefers to have a new election.

Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett and Bishop Al Gwinn, co-chairs of the Praying Our Way Forward Initiative, announced a second phase of that appeal, which involves each conference making a commitment to come together in prayer during a designated week. The effort would begin January 1, 2017 and continue into 2018. The first phase involved a commitment from bishops for daily prayer focused on the selection and initial efforts of the Commission.

The members of the Way Forward Commission, in addition to the three bishop moderators, are:

Jorge Acevedo: USA, Florida, elder, male

Brian Adkins: USA, California, elder, male

Jacques Umembudi Akasa: Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, laity, male

Tom Berlin: USA, Virginia, elder, male

Matt Berryman: USA, Illinois, laity, male

Helen Cunanan: Philippines, elder, female

David Field: Europe, Switzerland, laity, male

Ciriaco Francisco: Philippines, bishop, male

Grant Hagiya: USA, California, bishop, male

Aka Dago-Akribi Hortense: Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, laity, female

Scott Johnson: USA, New York, laity, male

Jessica Lagrone: USA, Kentucky, elder, female

Thomas Lambrecht: USA, Texas, elder, male

MyungRae Kim Lee: USA, New York, laity, female

Julie Hager Love: USA, Kentucky, deacon, female

Mazvita Machinga: Africa, Zimbabwe, laity, female

Patricia Miller: USA, Indiana, laity, female

Mande Guy Muyombo: Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, elder, male

Eben Nhiwatiwa: Africa, Zimbabwe, bishop, male

Dave Nuckols: USA, Minnesota, laity, male

Casey Langley Orr: USA, Texas, deacon, female

Gregory Palmer: USA, Ohio, bishop, male

Donna Pritchard: USA, Oregon, elder, female

Tom Salsgiver: USA, Pennsylvania, elder, male

Robert Schnase: USA, Texas, bishop, male

Jasmine Rose Smothers: USA, Georgia, elder, female

Leah Taylor: USA, Texas, laity, female

Debra Wallace-Padgett: USA, Alabama, bishop, female

Rosemarie Wenner: Europe, Germany, bishop, female

Alice Williams: USA, Florida, laity, female

John Wesley Yohanna: Africa, Nigeria, bishop, male

Alfiado S. Zunguza: Africa, Mozambique, elder, male


The Gang’s All Here

Bishop Thomas Bickerton is surrounded by members of the extended cabinet at a meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., that was convened by the Council of Bishops. Clockwise around the bishop are: Rev. Matt Curry, Rev. Tim Riss, Rev. Sungchan Kim, Ross Williams, Rev. Bob Walker, Rev. Bill Shillady, Rev. Betsy Ott, Rev. Ken Kieffer, Rev. Denise Smartt Sears, Rev. David Gilmore and Rev. Julia Yh Yim.


Above: Bishop Bickerton preaches during worship celebrating the 250th anniversary of the John Street UMC congregation; the church sits in the heart of the financial district, just blocks from the new Freedom Tower.
CELEBRATING 250 YEARS OF JOHN ST. MINISTRY
Recalling The Past, Preparing For Future

“Two hundred fifty years ago, cousins Barbara Heck and Philip Embury invited all who would listen to turn away from sin and to experience the heart warming and sanctifying power of God’s grace.

We receive that invitation anew tonight and open ourselves to God’s wondrous and all-excelling love.”

With these words began the October 12 worship service celebrating the 250th anniversary of the oldest Methodist congregation in the United States, John Street United Methodist Church. The church, now tucked amid the looming structures of New York City’s Financial District and just blocks from the new Freedom Tower, had its beginnings through the insistence of Heck and the preaching of Embury to a small group in his home. The cousins were Irish Methodists who had immigrated to New York in 1760.

Rev. Jason Radmacher, who has led the John St. congregation for the last 13 years, welcomed the gathering and greeted guest preacher, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton.

“I don’t take this opportunity lightly . . . I am caught up in the history and the simplicity of this place,” said Bickerton. The bishop, who traditionally has traveled with ordination classes from the Western Pennsylvania Conference to Wesley landmarks in England, also had the opportunity to preach during a 200th anniversary celebration of Thomas Coke’s birth in Wales.

Bickerton told the gathering that although we were celebrating the Methodists who have come before, Jesus always encouraged his disciples to look forward.

“There’s a reason that windshields are larger than rear view mirrors,” he exclaimed. “Where are you looking? Who are you focusing on? . . . You need to look around and understand your context.”

He noted that John Wesley probably struggled with the same issues. Wesley was not comfortable preaching in the fields; he enjoyed the view in the rear view mirror.

“God pushed John Wesley out of his comfort zone,” Bickerton said. “There was more Methodist history to be made than what was in the rear view mirror.”

And so Methodism has enjoyed periods of fruitfulness as well as times of great tension. But anniversaries prompt questions about what lies ahead, especially as “we struggle in a rapidly changing culture,” Bickerton said as he recalled a seminar in which UM theologian Leonard Sweet questioned whether the church of Jesus Christ—and more specifically the United Methodist Church—would be a part of ministry in the 21st Century.

“Every day is a gift through the grace of God. We have the

Rev. Jason Radmacher and the bishop listen to the powerful voice of soloist Michael James Leslie.

opportunity to grace someone every day,” the bishop said. “But there’s no guarantee that we can spread that message with vibrancy, purpose and joy unless we put ourselves in the hand of God.

“We need to look ahead and not just behind,” said Bickerton. “Our focus needs to be on what God’s children need.”

The bishop added that God has always empowered the reluctant and promised to walk with them.

“There is one guarantee—that God is ready to use us to be a blessing in the world,” said Bickerton. And as Jesus might instruct: “Go therefore, look in the windshield and remember that I am with until the end of the age.”

The communion liturgy which followed recalled biblical forebearers like Abraham, Deborah and David, in addition to some of the early saints of N.Y. Methodism—Embury, Heck, Thomas Webb, Peter Williams, and Fanny Crosby.

Soloist Michael James Leslie, accompanied by Rolf Barnes on piano, offered two powerful songs of witness, “I Found the Answer” and “We Fall Down.”

The evening came to a close with a reception in the church’s Wesley Chapel Museum.

For more information about the church, please go to their web site. Or to find resources about early Methodism, go to the Commission on Archives and History’s page on the NYAC web site.


Members of the team pose with students and faculty at Union Theological Seminary in Manila.
Learning Key Goal of Japan-Philippines Trip

A team of clergy and laity from the Council of Missions committed to an October 5–17 journey to Japan and the Philippines that was billed as an interfaith, intercultural, and educational mission.

The group included Debora Barett, Rev. Lorraine DeArmitt and her husband, Skip DeArmitt, Rev. Ed Dayton, Rachel and Jack Brunt, Rev. Beverly Morris, Denise Hamilton, Jill Wilson, Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie, and his wife Bennie Hammond, Rev. Marjorie Nunes, Frankie Edwards, Rev. Wongee Joh, and Rev. Luisa Martinez. The group was hosted in both countries by General Board of Global Ministries missionaries; Rev. Hikari Chang in Japan, and Revs. Jay and Grace Choi in The Philippines. Below are some excerpts about their journey; the full blogs and more photos are available on the conference web site.

Sunday, October 9

Can we identify other people’s sanctuary? How does that place offer sanctuary? How is that different from my sanctuary?

. . . I am feeling overwhelmed by so much “feasting” literally via Japanese food and spiritually (fed) . . . The hospitality from our host Hikari . . . has been extravagant and I’m not sure that as those being immersed here for such a brief time possibly can understand/appreciate the scale of Hikari’s generosity.

. . . What offers sanctuary to others is my coming into the places understanding that I am a foreigner and interloper, not expecting hospitality on my terms is offering sanctuary. On my part, listening to people’s experiences as separate from my own and accepting their expressions with respect is offering sanctuary.—By Rev. Wongee Joh, NOW Cooperative Parish  

Wednesday, October 12

. . . When we arrived in Hiroshima on the 5th day of our trip for Sunday service, I was filled with holy anticipation. And there it was at the front of the church “the empty cross of Jesus Christ.” I wanted to run over and cling to that “Old Rugged Cross.” Then as we entered the sanctuary there were two other crosses on the altar—a newer cross, and another cross that was made from the surviving A-bomb wooden structure found in the rubble of the former chapel. Hallelujah! The cross of Jesus Christ lifted high for all to see! All was well! There were three crosses visible—my soul began to sing:

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross

Where my trophies at last I lay down,

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

And exchange it someday for a crown.

Rev. Dr. Marjorie Nunes, Hicksville UMC

Friday October 14

We gathered early and took our bus, driven by Fredo, to Union Theological Seminary in Desmarinas . . . The meal

was wonderful—a savory rice porridge, salad, eggs and a ginger/tamarind tea. And the fellowship! I made a friend, Daniel Silvakumar from Sri Lanka . . . He and I spoke about the war there, the conflict with the Tamil . . . Daniel and I agreed to become Facebook friends, and I look forward to us learning more about each other.

Then we traveled to Manila, . . . we met Bishop Juan, of the Manila Area whose episcopacy responsibilities include 12 annual conferences. He is a hard worker, visiting all seminarians within his area twice a year, visiting and providing for new pastors, feeding the hungry outside the UMC building, fund raising for the renovations for his headquarters in Manila.

Today was one more day meeting people of the UMC who are doing ministry under difficult conditions in creative, productive, Godly ways. A good day!—Rev. Lorraine DeArmitt, Long Island East District mission coordinator

Saturday Oct. 15

After church, we were totally entertained at a Concert for Peace. It was a Philippines-Korea Cultural Exchange Festival . . . We were treated to orchestra music, solos,
drum number, and a 300-voice choir. Our very own host, Rev. Grace Choi, a talented soprano was part of the 300 member choir. God has blessed her with a beautiful voice!

. . . Sometimes I forget that Jay Choi is a pastor and seminary professor! He has done such a wonderful job exposing us to all kinds of cultural opportunities . . . After a buffet supper, there was a show of Filipino dance and music. Even I tried the traditional Filipino dance (in bare feet) over moving bamboo sticks.

Each and every day of this journey has been filled with a new exposure. I can barely take in, remember, process, learn, share and incorporate all I have seen before we are on to the next thing. I have been blessed with a very rich experience. —Jill Wilson, Prospect UMC, Bristol, Conn.

Monday, Oct. 17

Worship at Parola UMC: Parola is close to what literally
used to be a dumpsite referred to as “Smoky Mountains” where many people scavenged. Parola UMC is based in
this port town and many work as laborers at the port.
Last year, the streets across from and behind Parola UMC caught fire and according to some neighbors, the rumor
was that it was set by those connected to industrialists
who want the land to build on as extensions of businesses related to the port . . .

Right before the offertory, I looked down at a boy who came to sit next to me . . . I looked down and in his hands, he was playing with his 5 pesos. He was prepared for giving. I was humbled by his preparedness.  I had prepared in the U.S. before coming, to give at these worship services. I realized that all my preparations had been in vain now in the presence of this boy and God. I prayed God would accept
my offerings with the heart like this boy.—By Rev. Wongee Joh, NOW Cooperative Parish

Above: Hikari Chang, white shirt in front, offers a guided tour of a Kyoto temple; wooden cross formed from debris found after atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima.


Quinipet Camping: Any and All Seasons

BY JANE WAKEMAN

Now that the summer camping season has drawn to a close, one might expect to find Camp Quinipet in a state of quiet emptiness. That, however, would be far from the truth, as members of the Camping and Retreat Ministries observed in mid-September when they visited. The camp was teeming with children, youth and adults as three different organizations filled the grounds, dining hall and cabins. These groups were energetically carrying out their programs of education, healing and bonding.

According to Director Brooke Bradley, these sights and sounds are not at all unusual during the fall, winter, and spring. The Camping and Retreat Center does not settle into hibernation, but remains in full swing, providing staff and accommodations for many groups that have been coming there for years, even decades. The Quinipet staff continues to provide educational expertise, leadership, meals and Christian welcome to all.

Prime examples of the groups that come year after year include the United Methodist Hispanic Council that meets in September. They have been coming annually for about 40 years.

The Pederson-Krag organization gathers in September to provide space and support for families whose lives have been impacted by mental illness. Camp Adventure is a weeklong camp for children with cancer and their siblings. Their staff is made up of cancer survivors who volunteer out of gratitude. They bring nurses and doctors, and golf carts that are decorated to reflect the week’s theme—this year being sharks. There were 228 campers this year.

There is a “Campsgiving” event around Thanksgiving held at Quinipet. Camp Northstar is a camp for developmentally disabled adults. They come in and “take over the camp” with their activities. Quinipet staff provides the waterfront coverage in addition to meals.

The Unitarian Universalist churches of Long Island also think of Quinpet as their camp. They have their own T-shirts with the gazebo logo and their own traditions that they cherish. They brought 147 campers this year.

There is even a “Stitchers” group who come to camp with their sewing machines twice a year to create quilts together.

In addition to these large groups that have come for several years, there are many, many local school groups who come and take advantage of the Quinipet staff members Kate Akerman, Justin Savarese and Adrian Drake, utilizing their expertise in the challenge course, environmental studies and many other available activities. There are sixth through eighth

Fishing is a favorite activity during the Hispanic Council’s annual early September weekend at Camp Quinipet.

graders from Shelter Island, and beyond, who come for part of the day.

These are just some of the many ways that the Quinipet Camp and Retreat Center serves diligently within our annual conference and to those of many interests and faiths. Our camps continue to embody the love and welcome of Christ to all of our neighbors.

For information on all things UM Camping, please visit www.nyaccamps.org.

Wakeman is a deaconess and a member of the Camping and Retreat Ministries Governing Board.

Quinipet Photo Contest

​Camp Quinipet is looking for great photos that feature this special place in some way—taken at Quinipet, depicts “Quini-people” together, and/or encompasses the true spirit of Quinipet. The contest is open to photographers of all ages and images from any year.

Email submissions by November 30, to Kate Akerman at kakerman@nyac.com; include “Quinipet Photo Contest” as the subject line. The email body must include the photographer’s name, age, and relationship to Quinipet. Please also include as much information about the photo as possible such as location, date, and description.

Submissions must be original work and submitted by, or on behalf of, the photographer. There is a limit of three submissions per photographer. Submission gives Quinipet Camp & Retreat Center permission to share the photos in social media and promotional material.

The winner will be chosen by our team of year-round staff members, and will be announced on our Facebook page and web site on December 9. The winner will receive a camp store goodie pack with t-shirt, water bottle, tote bag, and much more.



Begin the Giving on November 29

Ready or not, the holidays are nearly upon us. To help keep the emphasis on giving instead of getting this time of year, mark your calendar for UMC #GivingTuesday, November 29.

Last year, nearly 6,000 donors from 27 countries donated $2.8 million through The Advance to support mission and ministries around the world.

What missionary or project will you support this year? Through The Advance, you can choose from more than 300 United Methodist missionaries (some directly connected to the New York Conference) and more than 800 United Methodist-related projects worldwide. From feeding the hungry to improving the quality of life of women and children around the world, you are sure to find a project that feeds your passion.

As always, 100 percent of your gift to The Advance goes directly to the project of your choice.

To learn about the work of some of the missionaries supported by the NYAC, read their stories on the conference web site.

Working for Abundant Health

Have you ever been without access to clean water to drink? Or have you ever been ill and not had access to health care? Maybe you have carried a baby for nine long months and then had to watch that baby die from a preventable disease because there were no medicines? Do you know this is the reality of many who happen to be born in the parts of the world we consider resource-poor, or who happen to live in places we call rural, or who were born into families on a lower social stratum?

There are many things in life that we can choose, but the place where we are born is not one of them. No one should suffer ill health or die prematurely because they were born in the “wrong place.” The General Board of Global Ministries’ work in global health is to ensure that every child in every place has the opportunity for the abundant life and abundant health promised by God. We recognize that in all countries—whether of low, middle, or high income—there are wide disparities in the health status of different social groups due to social factors that create barriers to opportunity. The Global Health unit aims to create abundant health in economically vulnerable communities by protecting children from preventable causes of death and disease.

Building on the successes of Imagine No Malaria (INM), Global Health will expand into a holistic new signature health campaign entitled: “Abundant Health for All: Our Promise to Children.” Our promise is to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions by 2020.

Every child is filled with promise and potential. Yet every minute, 12 more children die from preventable causes. Our promise as a church is to:

• Promote safe births for mothers

• Address nutritional challenges and promote breastfeeding

• Advance prevention of and treatment for childhood diseases

• Promote children’s health and wholeness, increasing access to treatment

To discover what the NYAC is doing to promote the abundant health initiative, check this link on the conference web site.


Helping the Questioners Find Their Answers

BY JIM STINSON
Older Adult Ministries Consultant

Jim StinsonThere is nothing like a fall day—looking out the sliders and watching the leaves blow off the trees—to get the thoughts flowing. It seems as if the newness of spring and the warmth of summer came and went without a warning.

Thoughts of all the passages of life.

Thoughts of the people I have loved who have died.

Thoughts of churches served and friends of yesteryear.

Thoughts of sick loved ones and dear friends.

Thoughts of 13 years working with and ministering to older adults.

And then a specific memory of the woman at United Methodist Homes who asked me questions often raised by older people and people of every age who are facing mortality.

“What really happens when I die?

“Suppose my faith is not really faith when I most need it?”

They were, and they are, deeply spiritual questions. But in the end, the questions must be answered by the one asking because they call for a heartfelt, Spirit-motivated, response.

“On what do I ultimately rely?”

That is the question, and the individual must find the answer within himself or herself. Regardless of one’s age, facing the autumn of life, as the winds of change begin to strip away familiar anchors, the question must be faced. The answer lies within the individual.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes, a poet and United Methodist pastor, seems to reach the same conclusion in his poem, “Sometimes the Wind.” (Weavings, Vol. 32, No. 1). His poem

is both personal and pastoral. It speaks to and from his heart, even as it speaks to other hearts seeking answers.

“Sometimes the wind that strips everything
is the strong breathing of a yes.

The river of life wears away your little island
and bears you somewhere fertile.

Receive the gift only departing can bestow,
the holy not in what is anointed
but in what is next,
the beginning beyond the silence beyond the end.

In thickest darkness is a door felt, not seen.
It gives.

Beside you in confidence
God is uncompleting the journey for you.

Lay your hand on the dark door. A voice
says, “Come, join my becoming.”

Those in ministry with and to older adults do not need creedal answers to life’s most difficult questions. We lead others to faith by bearing witness in word, but also, perhaps more effectively, in deed, to a God whose announcement is: Emmanuel. God is with us. Rely on the eternal presence. By your empathetic and attentive presence be God’s messenger through accompanying the questioner on the journey.


OBITUARY

Rev. David B. Rogers

Rev. David B. Rogers, 71, died at home in North Egremont, Mass., on November 1, 2016, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was the pastor of the Copake and Craryville United Methodist churches in Columbia County, N.Y.

Rogers was born in Springfield, Mass., on February 10, 1945, the son of Derwood B. and Anna E. (DeShane) Rogers. After graduating from Springfield Technical High School in 1963, he joined the Navy. He served in Vietnam as a radar technician aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.

After discharge from the Navy, Rogers returned to Springfield where he met his wife, Darleen; the couple was married in January 1968. Before entering the ministry, he worked a variety of manufacturing jobs. Rogers he received a bachelor’s degree in 1985 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The family then moved to Mendon, Mass., where Rogers served the First Baptist Church while attending Andover Newton Theological School. After graduating from Andover Newton in 1987, he was ordained in the American Baptist Churches USA the following year. The family then moved to the Berkshires area where Rogers served Baptist and Congregational churches.

Rogers was called to ministry in the United Methodist Church and served the Great Barrington, Alford, and Housatonic congregations (the latter two merged in 2007) in the New England Conference from 2001 to 2010. He retired before the 2011 session of the New England Conference. When the Copake and Craryville churches had a sudden need for pastoral service, Rogers came out of retirement and served from February 1, 2015 until his death.

In addition to his wife, Rogers is survived by son David and his wife, Amanda; daughter Darlene and her husband, Doug; and two grandchildren, Camden and Charlotte. One brother and two sisters also survive.

A funeral was held November 8 at the Craryville UMC. Rev. Kenneth Phesay, former lay leader of Copake UMC and current pastor of the UMCs of Alford/Housatonic and Ashley Falls, led the services. Burial followed in Hillside Cemetery, Egremont.

Memorial donations may be made in Rev. Rogers’ name to pancreatic cancer research in care of the Birches & Roy Funeral Home, 33 South St., Great Barrington MA 01230. Condolences may also be offered through the funeral home at www.birchesroyfuneralservices.com.


Responding in a Post-Election World

This week I have had a series of conversations with pastors in our annual conference regarding the events surrounding the recent presidential elections. During the course of those visits, a similar statement emerged from each one—“What do you say when you don’t know what to say?”

The events leading up to, surrounding, and following the elections will be studied and analyzed for years to come. Those events go deeper than two candidates. This was a vote that revealed a deep and significant divide in our country. The rhetoric beyond the debates expressed dissatisfaction, discord, disagreement, and distrust of candidates, politicians, government, and even one another. It has left me, at times, rather pensive and reflective. Perhaps I too have been one of the ones saying, “What do you say when you don’t know what to say?”

In thinking about that question, let me offer a few suggestions:

1)    When you don’t know what to say, listen. Perhaps this is a season when we should all re-group and make sure that we listen, deeply and meaningfully, to one another. On the morning of the election, some pollsters and media personalities were sure that one candidate would win in a landslide. By evening, those same people were confessing that somewhere, somehow, they missed something. One well-known journalist even suggested that “perhaps we were only listening to ourselves and not those around us.” It begs the question, “How well are you listening?” “Do you really know the thoughts and feelings of those around you?” In order for any of us to respond to events taking place around us, whether they are good events or bad, we have to be able to understand the context. We have to know the reality. We have to listen.

2)    When you don’t know what to say, pray. I take great solace in the reality that when life doesn’t make any sense, God still does. I find great peace in a faith which I embrace that says when I can’t figure it all out, God can. I rest at night believing that I am held in the hands of a loving God who will not let me, or us, go. I pour out my soul in silent, intercessory, confessional, thankful and gut wrenching prayers knowing in my heart of hearts that God listens and God cares. In the midst of what I cannot comprehend or make sense of, God says to me, “It’s okay. Just let me know how you feel.” It’s very good therapy to bare your soul to your creator. It’s the best way I know to get that heavy block of burden off of your shoulders.

3)    When you don’t know what to say, be careful what you do say. When things happen that get the best of us, our tendency (or at least mine) is to act before we think. How many times have you said something that you later regretted or sent an e-mail that you wished at some point you hadn’t sent? One of the greatest realities of this season of our lives is that we have run the risk of losing our civility. We somehow feel as if we have been given permission to say and do anything we feel like saying or doing with no regard to the harm those words or actions may cause another. I believe that protesting is fine but it becomes wrong when violence and looting and hatred is involved. Stating your mind is fine but it becomes wrong when you assume the role of judge and jury over another who may disagree with you. These are days to exercise great care in the way in which we respond to those around us.

4)    When you don’t know what to say, do what we do best. There has been a lot of unbelievable and, at times, very discouraging things that have taken place during this election season. Things have been said that are very offensive and inappropriate. Accusations have been leveled that have no regard for the truth. Emotional responses have created a gap in relationships that will struggle to be repaired. These reactions are a sad but real commentary on the way in which the human race so easily digresses into behaviors that damage and hurt others. But what we do best is offer an open table to all who wish to come. What we do best is open our hearts to others regardless of their background or baggage. What we do best is offer the world an alternative—
a life of grace and hope, acceptance and possibility. In the

midst of damaging rhetoric, inappropriate words, and demeaning behaviors, now is the time for us to do what we do best—offer them Christ.

5)    When you don’t know what to say, love. I truly believe that we in the church have been handed an unbelievable opportunity to clearly, courageously, and convincingly proclaim that there is a better way than what we have resorted to in this election season. It is the way of love. Over the course of my ministry I truly believe that, with God’s help, I have won more people into the heart of God by loving them than I have by shaming or judging them. Love is the answer that breeds compassion, sympathy, and grace. It informs things like non-violent resistance, advocacy and justice. We owe it to our world to offer an alternative to this mess that we find ourselves in. We owe it to ourselves and everyone around us to raise the moral consciousness, elevate the ethical standard, and proclaim a compassionate alternative in response to what we have recently encountered.

To be honest, I can’t begin to understand how some people are feeling today.In an article I recently read by the Dean of Yale Divinity School, Greg Sterling wrote these words, “At this moment, I am particularly concerned about a number of groups: women, African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ persons, immigrant, refugees, and Muslins to mention the groups foremost on my own mind. . . As a straight white male I will not pretend to see through your eyes, but I can—and do—stand in solidarity with you. We must all stand together to protect the most vulnerable.”I couldn’t agree more. We stand together because we believe that God created us as God’s children. We stand together because we have chosen to love one another like God loves us.

In the hours this week when I didn’t know what to say, our son Ian was the one that spoke the loudest. Our third child is a brilliant and insightful young man of deep and profound conviction. In a Facebook post following the election, my son wrote these words:

This post isn’t gonna side with anyone, but I just want to say that real change begins at the bottom. It begins with you. So stop crying, stop with the woe is me “what can I ever do.”

You can do everything to make someone feel safe, to help someone succeed, to be inclusive. You don’t need a president to hold your hand to be a good person.

Go out and get what you want to get, go out and be the change you want to see.

That’s it. When you don’t know what to say, be a good person, help someone feel safe, love everyone without reserve, and go out there in this big, confusing, chaotic world of ours to be the change you want to see.

Thanks Ian.

The Journey Continues, . . .

Thomas J. Bickerton
Resident Bishop


Bishops Apologize for Promoting World Series

In a November 1 letter, Bishops Tracy Malone and Sally Dyck thanked people who donated to the World Series Challenge for Haiti relief and apologized for any unintended hurt caused by their promotion of the World Series between Chicago and Cleveland.

“While we were careful not to use the Cleveland Indians mascot logo, we now realize that just promoting the World Series has caused great hurt and harm to our native sisters and brothers and to others,” they wrote.

“Thank you for your support of the mission challenge for Haiti, and for walking with us in imperfection as we minister together to all of God’s children.”

Dyck of the Northern Illinois Conference and Malone of the

East Ohio Conference set up the cross-conference challenge to capitalize on the World Series enthusiasm by encouraging donations to Haiti and Hurricane Matthew relief through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

Recevez les Nouvelles de l’UMC en Français!

The French Desk of United Methodist Communications has announced “La Porte,” a new monthly e-newsletter for Francophone United Methodists and others interested in getting news about the church in French. “La Porte,” which means “the gateway,” will provide useful information and resources about the faith journey of the church. To subscribe, click this link.


Apply to Plan Young People’s Convocation

A planning team is being assembled for the 2018 Global Young People’s Convocation (GYPC), which brings together the voices and ideas of United Methodist young people from around the world every four years. Online applications to join the planning team are being accepted until November 30, 2016.

The GYPC is scheduled for July 18–22, 2018, at the Indaba Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, according to Michael Ratliff, Associate General Secretary at Discipleship Ministries and head of the Young People’s Ministries (YPM) division.

Formerly Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly, the event name was changed to the Global Young

People’s Convocation after the 2016 General Conference approved a change in the way delegations and individuals can propose legislation related to issues of concern to young people.

Mighty Rasing, program development director for the Central Conferences, said YPM is working to ensure that all regions of the church will be represented to the event, where about 400 delegates are expected to participate.

“We are in the process of assembling the Planning Team, which will come from different Jurisdictions and Central Conferences, to help us design an event that reflects the global experiences of young people,” Rasing said.


The Vision, Newspaper of the NYAC, of the UMC

Bishop: Thomas J. Bickerton

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:
(914) 997-1570
Toll Free (888) 696-6922