|"Write the vision clearly on the tablets, that one may read it on the run." — Habakkuk|
By Rev. Joanne S. Utley
In what was his first meeting with a large number of clergy in the conference, new Bishop Martin McLee told those gathered for the Northern Tri-District Retreat, “I don’t have a master plan for New York and Connecticut, but I serve a Master with a plan.”
As he is settling into his new role as a bishop and leader of the New York area, McLee has been engaged in a “listening tour” with small groups and individuals. The retreat on October 1–2 at the Stony Point Retreat Center gave him the opportunity to meet about 100 clergy members in the Catskill Hudson, New York-Connecticut, and Connecticut districts. The southern districts—Metropolitan, and Long Island East and West—met with McLee on October 3–4 at the Bishop Molloy Retreat House in Jamaica, Queens.
The retreat opened with a creative worship experience led by Pastors Todd and Jennifer Pick. The pair invited the gathering to consider that we experience bread in the same way we experience loving—with all our senses. As each ingredient in bread was mentioned, participants brought forth water, flour, leavening and salt and placed them at the altar. The liturgy noted that bread begins with water, just like our own lives in baptism, and leavening wildly transforms the dough just as the Spirit moves among us to transform in unpredictable ways. “Dough doesn’t know what’s being made of it . . . give yourself time to rise.”
After lunch, the bishop spent some time answering the question, “So what’s the new bishop like?” He noted that first and foremost, he has his “being in the Lord.” McLee has been a Methodist “all my life,” and he celebrates the diversity of the United Methodist Church. He believes that the NYAC needs to “live our diversity well to build deeper community.”
His love of music was apparent throughout the retreat as he directed the singing and the accompaniment of the hymns. He admitted a passion for opera. “I’m a mix of opera and hip-hop with a little Holy Spirit in there.”
McLee told the gathering that he has taught in public schools in both Brooklyn and the Bronx, coached basketball and gymnastics, earned a law degree, served a church in north Texas, lead a reconciling congregation in South Boston, and been an adjunct professorship at Simmons College in Boston.
“I’ve not come here as a New York-born bishop,” Bishop McLee said. “I have come for the building up of God’s Kingdom.
Some of the responses from McLee included:
• The need to talk about collaborative ministry in smaller churches; “rethink how we can be church together.”
• He is eager to work with the conference laity, and reached out to Lay Leader Renata Smith soon after been named to lead the NYAC.
• Metrics are only one way to judge effective ministry. The Judicial Council ruling on guaranteed appointments will not make a difference in “expecting excellence” from clergy. He expects that a document will be put together by a group in the conference to lay out some parameters for determining effectiveness.
• He will journey “prayerfully and carefully as bishop” with those working to change the denomination’s stance on homosexuality. “I don’t have a desire to ferret out how people
are doing their ministry . . . but I can’t be a bishop without agreeing to uphold the Book of Discipline . . . which is constantly changing.
• “Where one stands on homosexuality is not a critical question of faith. It’s important, but other questions are more important. Is there a commitment to Jesus Christ? Are lives being transformed?”
• He takes stewardship seriously, and gets excited when pastors take their mission shares seriously, too.
• Congregations and clergy must be better prepared for cross-cultural appointments in a structured, more intentional way.
Sessions on Monday night and Tuesday morning offered information about the metrics being gathered for the Vital Congregations initiative, and the wide range of demographics available through the MissionInsite (MI) program. The conference has a contract with MissionInsite, so the basic level of information can be accessed for free. Rev. Peter Wernett, a retired UMC pastor who helped develop MI, said the system was “another tool to demonstrate how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can impact community.”
In addition to census data, MI can be used to discover behavior and attitudes in neighborhoods, show how communities are changing, find members of your church who live in disaster areas, target new residents living near current members, determine new ministry opportunities. The database is updated twice a year, and churches can
The retreat ended with a service of Holy Communion in which the bishop invited the clergy to testify to God’s goodness in their ministries and lives. Stories were shared about unexpected monies to fund a youth program, collaborative ministries to better serve communities, a six-year-old who brought a cake to church to celebrate her birthday with her “new family,” and prayers answered by a song on the car radio.
“Don’t be shy in testifying,” McLee said. “Someone is at the beginning of where you’ve just come through.”
With 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 as the text for his preaching, the bishop urged us to “be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”
“It’s not our call to get in God’s way. God’s not asking me to sign off on God’s new plan,” he said. “God is up to something in this conference. Why not be the one to say, ‘Huh, let’s see.’ ”
|Churches Join Forces for Redbird|
By Rev. Jessica Anschultz
“Are we in Virginia, yet?”
This was the first of many similar questions during our August journey to Beverly, Ky., for a week of service at the Red Bird Mission Work Camp. Our dedicated team of hard workers included four youth and two adults from Central Valley UMC, and eight youth and two adults from Stevens Memorial UMC in South Salem, N.Y.
The group from Central Valley departed at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, bound for Roanoke, Va., where we would meet the team from Pound Ridge Community Church for a cookout and swim at Rev. Liz Mortlock’s (a member of the NYAC) home before settling in at Mount Pleasant UMC for the night.
What an incredible experience of radical hospitality and the United Methodist connection after a long day on the road. Many thanks to Pastor Liz, her family, and the Mount Pleasant UMC community for your warm welcome and hospitality! After a delicious breakfast on Sunday morning, the caravan headed southeast to the Red Bird Mission where we would meet the group from Stevens Memorial UMC, as well as groups from Arkansas, New Jersey, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
During our four days on the worksite, the teams from CVUMC and SMUMC worked together at the Mosley home re-roofing the back of the house and replacing the banisters on the front porch. The Mosleys had been waiting for two years for a new roof; a Red Bird Work Team replaced the roof on the front of the house in 2011.
Minutes after arriving and introducing ourselves to the Mosleys, Mrs. Mosley asked, “When can I cook my famous vegetable soup for y’all?” We settled on Friday, and those who enjoyed the soup are still talking about “the best vegetable soup I’ve ever eaten.” We had come to serve and in return we were served a delicious meal, a delightful treat after a hard day’s work.
What an incredible experience with each sharing his or her own gifts with the other in order to build up disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. The Mosley’s have a new roof over their heads (which, God willing, means it no longer rains inside their home), new railings on their porch, and good friends in New York. And we now have good friends in Kentucky.
As we were pulling out of the Red Bird parking lot on Saturday morning, I heard a tired, yet happy voice from the back of the van say, “Pastor Jessica, can we come back next year?” The words were music to my ears.
“Would you like to come back next year?” I asked.
A resounding “yes” from the youth filled the already full van to overflowing for we had grown in our relationships with one another and with God, developed roofing and porch building skills, made a difference in the lives of our new friends, the Mosleys, and extended our care and concern beyond the comforts of home to include people who are a lot like us living in the beautiful mountains of Appalachia. Our team is ready for Red Bird 2013, but spaces are filling quickly, so if you’d like to join us in mission at Red Bird be sure to register soon!
What is Redbird?
The goals of the Red Bird Mission Work Camp program are fourfold:
1. We hope the time spent working and sharing together will help your group to grow in Christian love.
2. We wish to help each individual understand what Red Bird Mission is and why it is important to the Appalachian region of Southeastern Kentucky.
3. We want to make the daily work beneficial to the Mission and the surrounding community.
4. We hope during your stay here that you will learn to appreciate the enriching beauty of the mountains and the people who live here, and will compare their struggles and problems with those of your own communities.
Support Red Bird
United Methodist Church congregations who wish to directly donate through The Advance can do so at http://www.umcmission.org/Give-to-Mission/Give-to-Mission. Red Bird Mission is #773726, Red Bird Mission School #773728, or Red Bird Clinic #773724.
You may also support The Red Bird Mission School by collecting: Campbell’s Labels for Education, General Mills BoxTops for Education, Tyson Products A+, Coke Reward Points, Office Depot 5% Back to Schools Program, and Capri Sun pouches. For details click here>>
10/20 Youth in Mission Day
“God’s Calling. Will You Answer?” is the theme of this event sponsored by the NYAC United Methodist Women. Teens are invited to gather for worship and fellowship, as well as to learn about challenging social justice issues, such as human trafficking. $10 fee covers breakfast, lunch and materials. Grace UMC, 123 W. 104th St., New York, N.Y. For more details and to register, go to: http://nyac.com/events/detail/3960.
10/20 First Laity Convocation
Dr. Kwasi Kena will be the guest speaker at a one-day Laity Convocation sponsored by the NYAC Board of Laity. Bishop Martin McLee will offer opening remarks at this first of what is hoped to be an annual event. The purpose is to provide lay leaders with current and important information about the activities of the general church. It is hoped that you and your church will be better prepared to take an active role in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. event is at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. Cost is $40 per person, including lunch. For more details, go to: http://www.nyac.com/events/detail/3969. See the related story in this issue>>
10/21 160th Anniversary Celebration
Tremont UMC in the Bronx will mark its 160th anniversary with a luncheon from 2–7 p.m., Sunday, October 21, at Eastwood Manor, 3371 Eastchester Road, Bronx, NY. Rev. Dr. Gennifer Benjamin Brooks will be the guest speaker. Donation is $65, and $35 for children under age 12. For more information please call the church office at 718 583-8700, or Bridgette Laviscount, at 917-459-6437.
10/27 UMW Annual Meeting
The United Methodist Women will welcome Dr. Elizabeth Tapia as guest speaker at their annual meeting to be held at the UMC of Greenville-Norton Hill. The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. program, “Moving Mountains With Faith,” will also include a gathering for youth and young adult women. Registration is $30; includes continental breakfast and lunch. Go to, http://nyac.com/events/detail/3572, for more details and to register by October 8.
10/27 UMM “Brothers in Prayer” Retreat
The conference’s United Methodist Men will hear from Rev. Thomas R. Albin at their 32nd Annual Men’s Retreat at the United Methodist Church of New Rochelle, 1200 North Ave., New Rochelle, N.Y. Albin is dean of The Upper Room ministries and ecumenical relations in Nashville, Tenn. Sign in for the daylong retreat, and a continental breakfast is from 8–9 a.m. Lunch will also be served. For directions and additional information, contact Joseph Lorde at 718 365-4019. To register, enclose your $55 registration fee (payable to NYAC-UMM) and send to: John Lemon, 645 West Chester Ave. Apt 17C, Bronx, NY 10455.
10/28 Welcome for Bishop McLee
United Methodists of the New York Annual Conference are invited to join in a celebration welcoming the new resident bishop of New York and Connecticut, Martin D. McLee. The event begins at 3:30 p.m. with a pre-worship concert; worship begins at 4 p.m. at Salem UMC, 2190 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. (corner of 129th Street & Seventh Avenue), New York City. Light refreshments will follow the service. Congregations are invited to bring foods to share that represent the diversity of the members of the conference. Contact Warren Whitlock at, email@example.com, to volunteer. Special arrangements have been made for extra parking in the area. See the story on Page 3, or go to, http://www.nyac.com/events/detail/4014
10/29–11/2 Pastors’ Clinics
Free medical screenings are available at New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y., for clergy and spouses. In the four days, you will receive a thorough physical examination and any follow-up tests that may be indicated. For details and to register, go to: http://www.nyac.com/events/detail/3761. Rev. George D. McClain, coordinator of the clinics, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 718-273-4941. The $50 registration fee must be mailed to McClain at: 76 Clinton Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301.
11/7 Brooklyn UMC Home Awards Dinner
Shirley Pettiford, past chair of the NYAC episcopacy committee and past president of the UMW, will be one of three honorees at the 25th Annual Awards Dinner Dance at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach. She will be honored with the William C. Kirkwood Humanitarian Award. Also being honored are Lenny Tanzer, president of Patient Care Associates, and Dr. Bruce A. Lister, past president of Bethany Methodist Home. Reception begins at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7:30 p.m. Individual tickets are $135. Order online at www.bumch.org.
11/7–11 Training for Parish Nurse Health Advocate
This non-denominational course, developed by the International Parish Nurse Resource Center, will introduce parish nursing to experienced registered nurses and health care advocates. Parish nursing provides a holistic blend of expertise and spiritual care as professional practice in the congregations and faith-based organizations. An application packet and further information can be obtained from: Claris Skerritt at 718-324-8386 or email@example.com, Sharon Hinton at 806-983-8096 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and Sonia Jermin at 718-239-2565 or email@example.com. The training is at Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff, N.Y.
11/10, 11 & 18 Salem Celebrates 110 Years
Salem UMC will mark 110 years of ministry in the heart of Harlem during three special events. An anniversary luncheon will be held from 2–5 p.m. on November 10 at the church. Donation is $65. On Sunday, Nov. 11, Rev. Dr. Zan Holmes Jr., the voice and face of the Disciple Bible Study videos, will be the keynote speaker and preacher. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, District Superintendent St. Clair Samuel will preach as part of the celebration. The church is located at 2190 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., Harlem, N.Y.; for information call the church at 212-678-2700.
11/12–14 Clergy Benefits Academy
Register by October 5 for this seminar for clergy and spouses to get the early-bird price of $119, or $209 with spouse. The academy, sponsored by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, will offer advice on planning and saving for the future, estate and tax issues, as well as health tips. For more details and to register, go to www.gbophb.org, and click on “Events.”
WHEN: October 28, 3:30 p.m. praise concert followed by worship at 4 p.m.
WHERE: Salem UMC, 2190 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (7th Ave), New York, NY 10027; 212-678-2700
WHAT: A light reception will follow the service
Dear friends of the New York Annual Conference,
We look forward to having clergy, laity, youth and young adults from across the New York/Connecticut area of our conference join us for this special time of welcome for our new episcopal leader.
The Salem United Methodist Church family will host our gathering. Parking is being arranged in other church parking lots and for on street parking. If you are driving, please see the United Methodist Men at Salem who will direct you to the remaining free parking. However, we are also including a list of pay parking lots within a few blocks of the church for you to use if needed.
Salem UMC is located in Harlem and can host the large crowd we are expecting. Clergy are asked to arrive by 3:30 p.m., robe and assemble in Cullen Hall by district.
Directions to Salem United Methodist Church, 2190 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd, New York, NY
By Metro-North Railroad
(If you are using a GPS, it may send you different detailed directions)
From the North:
From I-87, Major Deegan Expressway:
From the Saw Mill Parkway:
From the Hutchinson River Parkway, north of Westchester County:
From Long Island:
From JFK/Triboro Bridge (Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island):
From New Jersey:
Parking Garages in Harlem
Friendship Baptist Church parking lot
|Celebrating the Ministry of the Laity|
This year, Laity Sunday will be observed by many congregations on October 21. This year’s theme is “Disciples Transforming the World through Service and Witness.”
Sandy Jackson, the director of Connectional Laity Development for the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD), has written a very informative article on the history of Laity Sunday that appears on the board’s web site. It gives a clear insight into how far we have come as a people—especially as people in the pews—by God’s grace.
Historical records indicate that the earliest plans for what has come to be known as Laity Sunday had its beginnings in 1928, with the first recorded observance of Laymen’s Day in the Methodist Episcopal Church South in 1929. The following year, the Evangelical Church began celebrating the work of laity at the culmination of each annual men’s retreat. The name of the celebration and its date changed over the years, as did the configuration of what became The United Methodist Church. Excitement about the celebration of the ministry of the laity has continued to grow.
Consider this entry in the 1942 edition of The Methodist Layman: “Think what this could mean to the church! Forty thousand laymen—lawyers, physicians, teachers, bankers, businessmen, mechanics, farmers and others—speaking on The World Mission of the Church! The whole Methodist Church will be moved and stirred to action by such a message . . .There are vast possibilities for good in
Laymen’s Day. It is the prayer of the General Board that every Conference, District, Associate District, Charge and Church Lay Leader and every District Superintendent and Pastor will give wholehearted cooperation to make the day significant in the life of The Methodist Church.”
Fast forward to 1972. In the Book of Discipline of that year, Laymen’s Day was renamed Laity Sunday. Note the inclusive title. How much we have to celebrate! We have certainly come far by faith.
As we celebrate Laity Sunday this year, let us remember with gratitude that Christ calls each of us to be in ministry. Ministering for Christ is not for ordained clergy alone. Ministering for Christ is not just something we do when we are inside the walls of our church buildings. Rather, we are called to joyfully express the transforming love and power of Christ in our lives by the way we live—all the time and everywhere!
We are enabled to do this as we are sustained in our walk with Jesus Christ by practicing the spiritual disciplines, or the means of grace, the term we use in our Wesleyan tradition. These are
prayer, study of the scriptures, partaking of the sacraments, fasting, daily personal and family devotions, Christian conferencing and fellowship with other believers, witnessing to God’s goodness, giving and acts of service to others.
It is with prayerful anticipation that I look forward to seeing those of you who will attend our first Laity Convocation at the Edith Macy Conference Center on Saturday, October 20. We can still accommodate more registrations. Why not register today?
Laity of the New York Annual Conference, may grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Your Lay Leader,
Jackson’s article can be found on the GBOD web site by using this shortened link, http://bit.ly/UyiPEV.
By Roslyn Lee
I arrived in Nashville for the Young Clergy Summit with my three-month-old daughter. The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry had arranged for childcare so that I could attend the summit. This was a important step in what I personally feel is real support for young clergy. Very rarely do we find childcare readily available for young parents attending annual conference, district meetings, or other clergy events. In addition to this, the group at the summit discussed school loans, health care, support for married and single clergy as well as for clergy couples.
These are only some of the issues on the list of things that we shared as young people journeying through the discernment, recruitment, and ordination process. The most important of factors however is the support that seems to be lacking at times. It was shared that there seems to be a disconnect in our connected church. And our greatest support comes from our mentors who were identified as the most important factor that determined the quality of our travel through this process. As much as we are called to ordained ministry, the conversation also shed light on how some are called to mentoring.
I was one of the fortunate individuals who could testify to having a mentor who was informed and aware of the ordination process. The group had shared that many mentors are overworked as it is. Fulltime ministry often calls for working overtime and although many mentors mean well, mentoring falls by the wayside.
The reality as I see it, and as we shared during the Young Clergy Summit, is that we are not in fact a dying church. Young people are smart and they would not . . . we would not be investing our futures, our lives, into a church that is dying. The young people who gathered for the summit those two days were excited about where God was leading them. And we all agreed that God had led us and is continuing to lead us to the United Methodist Church, to serve in any and every capacity that we could. We just need to be entrusted with the time, space, and encouragement to do so.
Lee, who serves the Dix Hills UMC, is a licensed local pastor pursuing ordination as an elder.
|Setting Goals For Recruitment, Retention|
A group of under 30 clergy and clergy candidates talked about their frustrations as well as their triumphs—including some phenomenal mentors and supportive local churches that helped them along the way—during the Young Clergy Summit held by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry August 20–21 in Nashville.
The Rev. Kim Cape, GBHEM’s general secretary, said she believed the group had made an excellent start in determining the path for the $7 million Young Clergy Initiative created by the 2012 General Conference to encourage young adults in the U.S. who wish to respond to God’s call to ordained ministry in the UMC.
About one-third of the group was age 30 or under and about half were under age 40. Those at the meeting included two bishops, a seminary president and admissions officers, annual conference staff, and general agency staff as well as the young clergy and young clergy candidates.
Statistics on the number of young adults currently enrolled in the candidacy process show that 1,226 or 18 percent are under age 30, and another 17 percent or 1,177 are age 30 to 39.
The participants were challenged to think about what could be done in a radical way to recruit and keep the leaders the church needs in 10 years. The small groups came back with these goal statements:
Education: Implement a clear process of collaboration, accountability, and fruitfulness between seminary and church to reduce the overall amount of student indebtedness of young clergy within the first five years of ministry to create the best spiritual leaders to disciple a whole new generation of United Methodists.
Nurture: Identify people who are called to mentoring and provide money and/or support given to effective mentors—possibly bi-vocational or retired clergy in group mentoring where one candidate gets two or three mentors, with only a few mentors per annual conference dedicated to the candidates for ministry and connections made between the mentors in each conference.
Discernment: Empower passionate local leaders (congregational, district, annual conference) to connect young people with discernment opportunities and also to engage with them by building relationships as they navigate the candidacy process; and fund matching grants for the above entities to establish such leadership. Gather these leaders annually to share best practices.
Recruitment: Have an “Answer the Call” Sunday once a year in every church, theological school, and campus ministry.
Support: Develop support systems designed by young clergy in each annual conference that measurably increases their ministry, satisfaction, and effectiveness over a three-year period.
|Following The Lead Of Children|
Excerpted from a sermon by Rev. Bill Townsend, director of spiritual life at the Children’s Home.
Do we see children as a blessing or as a burden? Now let’s be clear. Under the best of circumstances children are going to disturb the calm center of your universe.
Kids are going to make a mess. They are going to argue and fight. They are going to embarrass you in front of your friends. Children will sometimes ignore you and defy you. They will turn their noses up at the meal you spent all day cooking—the same meal they loved the day before. And, children will cost you a lot of money. If your goal is to reach a state of continuous peace and calm, perhaps raising or working with children is not for you!
But Jesus knew, and you know, that children will also refresh and enliven
your space. In fact, Jesus says the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Returning to his friend’s home after conducting meetings in a town in England, D. L. Moody was asked by the host, “How many were converted tonight in the meeting?”
Moody replied, “Two and a half.”
“What do you mean,” asked his friend.
“Were there two adults and one child?”
“No,” said the evangelist, “It was two children and one adult.”
Children naturally have many of the qualities that God desires in us adults—qualities you and I have to work hard on. Children embody unconditional love and acceptance. They personify total dependence and trust. Often they want nothing more than to just be in your presence. They give you their very heart and soul and ask nothing in return.
What could be more refreshing and enlivening than feeling the arms of a little child wrapped tightly around your neck as they whisper those precious words, “I love you?” Perhaps God wants nothing more from all of us.
Yes, children are indeed a blessing from the Lord, if you take the time to be with them, to listen to them, to enjoy them, and to learn from them.
For more information on the Children’s Home, call 800-772-6904, or visit the web site at www.chowc.org.
At the Children's Home we believe every child deserves a safe place. To borrow our video, or to schedule a presentation about the Children's Home, please contact Rebecca Mebert, ext 131. For more information on the Children's Home, call us at 607-772-6904 (or toll free 800-772-6904) ext. 131 or visit our Web site at www.chowc.org. Please send donations directly, or use our New York Conference Advance number 60-0588.
|Ghana: Surely the Lord is in This Place|
Three different Volunteers in Mission teams traveled to Ghana with Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie in September and October to work on a variety of projects: health clinics, personal hygiene lessons, installing computers, construction projects, and the digging of a well. Below is an excerpt of a reflection written by John Blossom, a member of the first team.
You are in a restless sleep, when you begin to hear a rooster crowing outside your window. You get up, put your feet over the edge of a thinly dressed bed with tattered linens and shuffle over to a bathroom with cold running water, a shower that barely showers, no mirror, a rarely washed towel and suspect plumbing. You wash up as best you can, take your malaria medicine, put on your military strength insect repellent and your work boots, and put your hand sanitizer in your pocket. You’re ready for another day in Africa.
And you’re grateful.
I have always admired members of my Golden Hill UMC congregation who have traveled abroad to provide mission work in other countries, so when Pastor Walter Barton asked for volunteers to join him on this mission . . . my hand seemed to raise itself of its own accord.
The time had come for me to follow our Lord’s call to serve people on another continent. It’s not that we don’t have important mission work to do in greater Bridgeport . . . and it’s not that I have a lot of time on my hands; I struggle to make a living and to care for my family and others as much as anyone else. But mission work abroad is not about leaving important responsibilities behind; it’s about bringing your gifts to a new place and discovering things about yourself and the gifts of people in those places that you would have never known without responding to a call to radical obedience to Christ’s way. Like Jacob’s experience while he slept alone with a rock as a pillow in a place where he experienced God’s call to his destiny (Genesis 28:10–22), missions abroad open our eyes to finding God’s fundamental truths in places where everyone is truly reliant on God’s mercy—and then discovering and sharing the universality of God’s mercy in the process.
Our 17-person mission team was led by Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie . . . our mission was very special for him, because it brought us to Awomberew, a village of about 1,000 people just a few miles from where Joseph had lived as a Methodist minister’s son in Agona Swedru. He has shepherded many mission teams to Awomberew, and we were blessed with the fruits of their labors as the foundation for our own work. Yet much needed to be done.
The village lacked a well, which meant that they had to walk for miles to the nearest well or rely on a fairly small holding tank of precious fresh water available at the school. Imagine having a cut on your foot—most of the children in the village walk shoeless—and not being able to wash it regularly, or any number of uses of fresh water that we take for granted. Another key goal for our mission was teaching children about hygiene, using the many pounds of personal care products that our congregations had donated to the mission. It’s a simple thing, but something that can bring health and happiness to children who need all of the breaks that they can manage.
We also focused on creating a new playground for organized sports, by building a retaining wall and leveling ground within the wall. This proved to be a bigger challenge than we had anticipated, as preparation work was not complete when we arrived.
My focus on the mission was networking some donated computers and showing the teachers how to use them. All of this was extraordinarily rewarding work . . . There wasn’t a day that went by in the school that we weren’t surrounded by children grateful for us being there, holding our hands as if we were long-lost relatives, and eager to learn from us and to help us to learn about them.
Our team stayed at a hotel in Winneba, about a 10-minute drive from the mission site. It was a convenient spot, and although the accommodations are not typical by Western standards, they were good by local standards, with a very friendly staff, ample space for eating and good food.
From this base of operations we began to learn about Ghana’s culture, its people and its environment. Our first day was spent walking through the waterfront area of Winneba and going to Agona Swedru to purchase kente cloth, the colorful and symbolic fabrics that we were to have sewn into traditional garments for Sunday worship.
The walk through Winneba was a revelation for many people—chickens, goats, primitive fishing boats, small kiosks with local produce and dried fish, and everywhere filled with intense smells, sounds and sights—and poverty, at least by our standards. Yet what we also saw in Winneba, and in most other places in western Ghana, were people of great faith. Most businesses had biblical references in their names and on signs that filled the tops of their modest kiosks. Many of the fishing boats had chapter and verse references to scripture painted on their sides. And when people worship, they worship with extraordinary power.
Our visit to the Ebenezer Methodist Cathedral in Winneba on Sunday, many of us festooned in kente cloth garments, was an amazing experience. The service was three hours old and still going strong by the time we had to leave . . . Their offertory was a joyous combination of singing, swaying and marching by everyone that lasted for an hour. If you want to know what the phrase “God loves a cheerful giver” really means, then come to Ghana, where people who have little to give in fact give a fortune in their love of God.
During our trip some of us had to find materials to support our work . . . Two days of travel into Accra from Winneba—a five-hour roundtrip, even traveling late at night—yielded a treasured supply of school books, and I managed to find mobile phone SIM cards to test connecting the school’s network to the Internet via mobile data communications. Simple things to get by our standards, extraordinarily hard to get in a nation that has infrastructure and services that are growing rapidly but are still very limited in most places. Ghana is a place with enormous and inspiring potential in spite of the many challenges that it faces.
As I sit at my desk writing these words, I am looking at a very small vial of clay earth from Awomberew that I scooped up before boarding the van to leave. It is earth that was sanctified by a village elder in a ceremony upon our arrival in the village to welcome us as new members of their community. Our bond and our commitment to these people is truly sacred, just as our bond is sacred to all of humanity when we enter into the body of Christ through faith in his holy name.
Our gifts of love and service have bound us forever to Awomberew, just as their gifts of love and of acceptance have bound us to them forever. I have left behind many brothers and sisters in Ghana, but I will never forget them, and I will continue to serve them in my ongoing mission work. I took on this mission wanting to see what God would do with me. Now I know what God has done for me and for all of us—he has loved us unconditionally and has called us to rejoice in this gift and to offer praise and thanksgiving always for what we have received.
We are all from the clay, as Genesis 2 reminds us, and from the clay earth of Awomberew new creations in Christ have been born. As they say in the Fante dialect of Ghana, meda ase—thank you. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of mission.
To read more of the blog posts from the Ghana trips, go to, http://ghanavim2012.blogspot.com/.
|Copyright 101: Changing Text For Inclusive Language|
by Dean McIntyre
Q: May we change male-dominant language in copyrighted hymns to make the hymns more inclusive?
A:If you are singing or speaking public domain texts and want to make written changes, such as the traditional version of The Lord’s Prayer, then you can legally change the language to anything you prefer. If you want to make written changes for singing public domain words within a copyrighted musical setting, such as the familiar Malotte setting of “The Lord’s Prayer,” then you may change the words as you wish.
If, however, you want to make written changes for singing or speaking copyrighted words, the law does not permit you to make any changes to the text, even if you have purchased a music license (CCLI, LicenSing, OneLicense.net). You must
reproduce the copyrighted text without alteration, or seek permission from the copyright holder to make changes.
However, if you are singing a copyrighted text from the hymnal, such as “He touched me” and you want to change it to “She touched me,” while the law prohibits you from changing the text in your hymnals or reproducing the revised text in your bulletin or projection screen, it does not prohibit you from giving the verbal direction to your congregation to “Please sing ‘She touched me’ ” and then allowing them to sing whatever they prefer. The law does not control the verbal use of the text, only the written and reproduced use of it.
In your hymnals or choir music, while you may not actually make changes within the printed hymn and text itself, it is legal for you to notate such changes in the margins or at the bottom of the page if you wish. As with all copyright matters, you may always request permission of the holder to make the changes. If they refuse, you’re no worse off than before you asked.
|Waiting May Not Be Easy, But is Reality of Our Lives|
By Rev. Jim Stinson
. BY Jim Stinson
Consultant on Older Adult Ministries
Every Thursday, a volunteer offers manicures to our residents at Wesley Heights. When this program began everyone, it seemed, wanted to be first and would find very creative reasons to be so. The desire to be first, to not have to wait, led to arguments among our residents. Most of the people arguing had nowhere else to go and would likely sit in the lounge, where the manicures are done, most of the morning having coffee and cookies anyway. In fact, the earliest ones to have manicures on any given day stay in the lounge the rest of the morning doing exactly that. But a significant number of them just did not want to wait for their turn. This led to frustration on my part.
The manicurist was coming for free to serve these people. They had no reason to feel rushed. Yet they were pushing
and shoving, seemingly uncaring about their neighbors. One morning, I decided the behavior had to end and instituted a randomly selected number system. In doing so, I asked the ones arguing and shoving what was going on. Didn’t they know how fortunate they were to have someone give up so much time for them? That question opened a can of worms and caused a rethinking of what was going on.
“It seems as if all I do anymore is wait.”
“I wait for someone to take me to the doctor!”
“I wait for someone to take me shopping!”
“I wait for my kids to call or visit!”
“I just get tired of waiting!”
I hear these words quite often at the United Methodist Homes, where the average age of our residents is approaching 90. People in this age group do, in fact, spend a lot of their time waiting. There is no denying that fact. Because there is no denying it, it is often difficult knowing how to respond, without sounding condescending or dismissive.
It is all too easy to say things like: “Be glad you have a reason to wait. Some people don’t have anyone or anything to wait for.”
Too easy to say: “Waiting isn’t all that bad. Just change your attitude.” All true statements and ultimately good advice, which if not heeded leads to more anger and frustration. However, it is the last piece of advice people usually want to hear. It sounds too much like they are to blame for feeling the way they do. It feels like the victim is being blamed for the victimization.
Aging does bring conditions and situations that feel like victimizing. To be helpful, those of us working with older adults who feel this way do well to remember the reality. If our lives involved waiting as much as this population does, we would likely not feel any differently.
Having asked the question and listening to the responses reminded me of an important reality. I don’t like waiting either. It allowed me to say exactly that and it allowed me to empathize with those residents. It allowed me to say, “I hate waiting too, however there is often nothing I can do about it. I find it better to relax and use the waiting time to read, to write, to think, to pray. No one is always going to be first, but I know how you feel.”
The empathy didn’t take away the waiting. It did open the way to more acceptance of the reality. And it did open some dialogue about this important aspect of so many older people’s lives.
|A Welcome For Babies|
There’s more than one way to make disciples for Jesus Christ,
Isaac Daniel Ott
Parents: Rev. Gene and Erin Ott; Gene serves Stevens Memorial UMC and the First Church of Round Hill and Greenwich.
Parents: Pastors David Collins and Romi Abelova; David serves Callicoon UMC and the United Church of Roscoe, and Romi serves Harkins UMC.
For a limited time, New York Methodist Hospital is offering free lung cancer screenings. A screening at NYM begins with a thorough evaluation by a program physician, followed by a low-dose, computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest, which provides detailed images of the patient’s lungs.
Recent studies have shown that screening with low-dose spiral CT scans, compared to chest X-ray, reduces lung cancer deaths among older heavy smokers by 20 percent.
To qualify for a free lung cancer screening, you must be a current or former smoker (having quit within the past 15 years) between the ages of 55 to 74, with a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years, and have no prior history of lung cancer. For more information or to make an appointment, please call 718-780-5864.
“Dealing with Anger in the Church” will be the topic of the October 26 Classes without Quizzes at Drew Theological School in Madison, N.J. Rev. Dr. Charles McNeil, retired UM pastor, psychotherapist, licensed marriage and family therapist, and adjunct professor at Drew, will lead the workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon in Room 109 of the new Ehinger Center.
The cost of the workshop is $15. Refreshments will be provided. For more info and online registration, visit:
Rev. Dr. Lee Daniel Snyder
Reverend. Dr. Lee Daniel Snyder, professor emeritus of history at New College of Florida, died at the age 79 on September 9, in Sarasota, Fla., after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
After graduating as the valedictorian from Williams College in 1955, Dr. Snyder earned a PhD in history from Harvard University and won a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Germany. In addition, he earned a master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary. Although he was an ordained minister of the New York Annual Conference, he chose an academic career.
Snyder served on the New College faculty from 1969 until retiring in 2003. His academic appointments included Ithaca College and Ohio Wesleyan University. He also worked with students in England, France and Italy, as part of study-abroad programs. Dr. Snyder received multiple summer fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities that allowed him to study at the University of California at Berkeley and Brown University, among others. He was a long-time member of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations and served as its president from 2004-2007.
Dr. Snyder consolidated his lifelong learning into a book, Macro History: A Theoretical Approach to Comparative World History, which stands as a testament to his scholarly passion. In addition, he published a number of articles in academic journals and completed a book-length manuscript of Dante. He taught courses on the Old and New Testaments, early Christianity, the Italian Renaissance, the German Reformation, Dante, and Islamic Civilization. After retirement, he continued to lecture about Islam.
Snyder was affiliated with the North UMC (now Crossroads), where he taught adult Sunday School and theology for more than 30 years. He regularly helped with worship and for many years delivered an annual Prince
Rev. Paul B. Mengle
Reverend Paul B. Mengle, 89, died on September 23 at his residence in Catskill, N.Y. Born in Shamokin, Penn., Mengle lived on the family farm until 1945 when he entered the poultry industry. He worked for H.H.F. Poultry Farms in Sullivan County, N.Y., before going into the ministry in 1979.
As a member of the New York Annual Conference he served the following charges in New York: Tannersville, Haines Falls, Hunter and Platte Clove, Germantown and Elizaville, and Malden, Palenville and Quarryville. He retired in 1994 and served the High Hill church on a part-time basis.
Mengle was predeceased by his wife of 49 years, Betty. Survivors include wife, Margaret Whitmore, whom he married in 1996; his children: Linda of Haverhill; Paul Jr. (Tricia) Mengle of Dallas; Dr. Cynthia (Dennis) Davis of Churchville; Tracie (James) Moots of Maryland; Steve (Vallerie) Whitemore of Galatin; and Barry Whitmore of New Mexico; seven grandchildren: Andrew Crowther, Hannah and Dulcinea Moots, Sarah and Richard Davis, Melissa (Roy) Bronson, and Jeremy Heiser; and three great-grandchildren.
The Service of Death and Resurrection was celebrated at the Simpson Memorial UMC, Palenville, N.Y., on September 28. Interment followed in the Blue Mountain Cemetery.
Rev. Dr. Lee Daniel Snyder(cont)
of Peace sermon, which grew out of his strong commitment to pacifism.
Professor Snyder is survived by his wife of 51 years, Anne Givens Snyder; a brother, Paul (Jenny) Snyder of Cary, NC; daughter, Rebecca Claire (Mikki) Snyder-Hall of Rehoboth Beach, Del.; and son, Timothy Clermont Jeffery (Lisa) Snyder of Sarasota, FL. Condolences may be sent to: Anne Snyder, 941 46th St., Sarasota, FL 34234.
A funeral service was held September 15 at Crossroads UMC in Sarasota.
Charlene (Lenox) Denton, wife of Reverend Frank S. Denton, died at home in Gales Ferry, Conn., on September 12, at age 70.
She was the daughter of Robert and Mabel Lenox, both music teachers, and grew up in Stratford, Conn. She received a degree in elementary education from the State University of New York-Fredonia majoring in music and the pipe organ. During her junior year in college, she studied under Flor Peeters at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Antwerp, Belgium, and later earned a master’s degree from the University of Bridgeport.
The Dentons married in 1970, and for most of the next 35 years, Mrs. Denton was organist and choir director in the UM churches where her husband was appointed, namely Stratford, Bridgeport, and Monroe in Connecticut, and Pound Ridge, N.Y. Rev. Denton retired in 2006.
Mrs. Denton, a long-time member of the American Guild of Organists, also taught elementary school music in Ossining, N.Y., and Greenwich, Conn., as well as instrumental music in Stratford.
Charlene enjoyed outdoor activities: gardening, hiking, camping, and walking with friends. And in many settings she found ways to help others, as a regular volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, and helping Heifer International’s gifts program, which had been part of her gift shopping for many years. She participated in at least 30 CROP Hunger Walks, and after moving to Southeast CT, was a monthly volunteer at the Community Meal Center in New London.
Survivors include husband, Frank; daughter, Janet (Brian) Chism of Salem, Va; and son, Richard (Bonnie) Denton of Gales Ferry, and grandson son, Henry Denton. In addition, she is survived by a sister, Susanne (David) MacNamee, of Clearwater Beach, Fla.
A memorial service was held September 15 at the UMC of Gales Ferry. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Heifer International, 1 World Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72202, or to a charity of your choice.
Bishop:Martin D. McLee
Director of Connectional Ministries: Ann A. Pearson
Editor: Joanne Utley
Vision e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: www.nyac.com
New York Conference of The United Methodist Church
20 Soundview Avenue
Phone (914) 997-1570 or
Fax (914) 615-2244