The Vision
The Newspaper of The New York Conference of The United Methodist Church December 2018

In this issue

Creating Momentum For Change
A table of laity, above, discuss what a practice of “breakthrough prayer” might mean to their congregations. Speaker Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey, below right, urged greater involvement with the community around the church.

Editor, The Vision

“Are our churches just snacking on prayer rather than feasting on prayer?” That was just one of many questions raised by Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey as she led the Laity Convocation on November 17.

She encouraged those gathered at the Tarrytown House to begin by saturating the meeting space with prayer; to stand up and pray, “to pray over every chair at your table. Pray that God will empty us so we may be filled,” she said. Kibbey, an elder in the West Ohio Conference, shared her experience as a missional church consultant at the event with some 120 laity from across the conference.

In her book, “Flood Gates: Holy Momentum for A Fearless Church,” Kibbey outlines eight “flood gates” that can move a church from a place where it is “stuck, stagnant, or stubborn.” She uses the term flood gates because it describes the rush of spiritual energy that can pour through a congregation when a new torrent of God’s inspiration, empowerment and purpose is unleashed. During her presentation she focused on three of those flood gates: the breakthrough prayer initiative, the “missiactional church,” and stratagems for storms.

Breakthrough prayer can happen when churches truly believe that prayer makes a difference.

“If we believe that it changes everything, where do we position prayer in church and our own lives,” Kibbey said. Referencing her Ohio circuit rider ancestors, she added, “Somebody prayed the church into being and we need to do that moving forward. We need to be part of a prayer genealogy.”

Breakthrough prayer asks God to break through with new possibilities for both a personal witness and that of the church. It’s about asking God to do whatever God needs to do.

“Pray to God to do a new thing, not to bless the same old, same old. Don’t just ask God to bless what you have planned,” Kibbey said. “Ask God to show us the new hopes and dreams. Let’s move the church to look up and out.”

She shared the ways that churches she has worked with encouraged the practice of intentional breakthrough prayer. One established a twice-a-day pattern for prayer at 7:24 in the morning and evening and used business-sized cards as a reminder. Another handed out silicone bracelets with the words “breakthrough prayer” to encourage its members to pray in big ways. Others committed to walking as a prayer ritual—first walking inside the church, then around it, then through the neighborhood and into the community. One church even used a van to enlarge the area in which they offered prayers.

“We need to feast on prayer for new possibilities,” Kibbey said. She suggested creating “breakthrough prayer” covenants and adding breakthrough prayer to all events and meetings.

“Breakthrough prayer happens when God has called us to something so big that it’s so impossible unless God shows up,” she said. The prayer movement can seek a breakthrough in one’s personal life, with the church collectively, or on one specific question or issue.

The term “missiactional” describes a merger of the attractional and missional church ideals and relies on a vibrant spiritual vitality of a church, caring outreach, and relational invitation.

“We need to get ready for guests,” Kibbey said. “We want the

excellence of Jesus to be visible both physically in the building and in our attitudes. Not just friendly, but genuinely interested in someone’s spirit.”

Kibbey suggested a “triad approach” to event planning to give people a reason to return.

“If we shift from thinking about single events to a series of events, we can build on relationships,” she said. “Be strategic to plan three or four events for people to come back. We’re not just running events, we’re missionaries at the events . . . know the names and get acquainted with people.”

One church prayer-walked the community and used Mission Insite demographics to see who lived in the neighborhood. They developed a series of events around the movie “The Lion King.” They invited neighbors with door hangers to view the free movie on Wednesday and then invited people to church on Sunday when choir would sing songs from the movie, and Sunday school and the sermon would be keyed into the film.

Another church also began by prayer walking the neighborhood. Then they picked up trash after a storm and began carrying trash bags on all their walks; neighborhood people began to join in the walks. Soon they created “project neighborhood” to help out neighbors with raking, painting and cleanup. The mission eventually added free breakfasts and a block party twice a year.

Kibbey concluded her presentation with a discussion about leading through both expected and unexpected storms in the life of a church. With a reference to Matthew 8:23–27 and the use of Rembrandt’s painting, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” she asked the laity to think about what kind of leaders they are in the middle of a storm. Do you sail solo, get physically sick, or become frozen with fear?

“There is value in storms,” Kibbey said. “Don’t resist the storms, ride into them.” She offered these “wayfinder” suggestions for those creating strategies for leading others through the storms.

  • Commit to a daily devotional time.
  • Develop an unoffendable heart, don’t take it all personally. Don’t get sidetracked by perceived offenses. Guard your heart.
  • Surround yourselves with those who will pray for us, correct us and not accept our complaints.
  • Be willing to step out, take the first step. The world needs more game changers.

Place of Hope Nurtures Families, Tots

Editor, The Vision

The door pushes open and the chatter of young children and their parents begins to fill the air. The kids have left their shoes outside and quickly move to the colorful rug in the back of room. Their parents, mostly moms, catch up and join them on the edges of the rug. They all settle in easily, chatting with one another, as if they were at home with friends. And in a way, this place is a second home for many of these immigrant families. It is their nest, a place where parents can shelter and nurture their little ones—a place to feel supported, a place to belong.

El Nido, “the nest” in Spanish, is providing a place of hope and community in the Washington Heights/Inwood neighborhoods for families and children (birth to age three) who live at or below the federal poverty level. This faith-based outreach of Christ Church Park Avenue in Manhattan opened its doors in the summer of 2016 with a three-pronged approach to help families through personalized support, community connections, and financial assistance.

On this day, the children will hear the story of “Abuela” read in both Spanish and English by program Director Monika Estrada-Guzman and volunteer Lara Theriault. At the end of the session, they will each take a new copy of the book home to keep, but not before having a snack of fruit and pancakes.

Estrada-Guzman has directed the program since its first days and understands some of the challenges for an immigrant family, having moved to the United States from Guatemala with her mother at age seven.

The work takes on a two-generation approach as the children are nurtured and the adults are “empowered to be the parents they want to be,” Guzman said. That empowerment comes through counseling with social workers, English as a second language (ESL) classes, instructions on healthy eating and proper infant care, conversations with other parents, and connections to the outside agencies that offer specialized services.

Theriault, a founding partner of El Nido, is a member of the leadership council at Christ Church that developed the framework for the church mission.

“We’re addressing a broad variety of needs at El Nido—food insecurity, immigration, education and literacy, and social justice,” said Theriault, who shares her passion for reading with the children. “I just knew that literacy would be the first piece.”

So the reading corner sessions quickly became a pillar of the El Nido program. The staff and volunteers read to the tots to grow their vocabulary and to model that reading is fun. They started with just eight children and now have more than two dozen families who attend the four weekly sessions.

Guzman-Estrada began to notice that the parents would come early and linger after the sessions were over. She found that most were living in one-bedroom apartments that had little room for infants to crawl or walk. So they developed a crawling club, Las Orugitas, named after the insect in a favorite book at El Nido, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Sometimes, the older brothers and sisters come, too. They head to a room on the second floor to hear stories and do crafts. That’s where the English as a second language classes meet and where much of the donated clothing and other items are stored and sorted. The mission continues to grow in both participation and in the programming it offers.

According to longtime Christ Church pastor, Rev. Stephen Bauman, El Nido became a possibility about seven years ago when the church began to ponder how they might “anchor ourselves missionally in the city in a more concrete way.” The goal was to create something that was sustainable and was not just another handout.

Several members of the congregation went to work to investigate what was most needed and came back with the statistics that children from birth to age 3 are the most under-served population in the city. The church began talking about ways that they might make a long-term commitment to improve the lives of young children and their families.

At about the same time, Rev. Denise Smartt Sears, approached the church about helping to figure out a future for the historic Broadway Temple UMC in Washington Heights, which was struggling with attendance and finances. Sears is the superintendent of the Metropolitan District in which both churches are located. Broadway Temple, on the corner of Broadway and 173rd Street, is eight miles north of Christ Church at Park Avenue and 60th Street.

The two congregations began to discuss the possibilities and eventually voted to merge under the name of Christ Church, with the added identifiers of Park Avenue and Washington Heights.

As the time grew closer to deliver a new program, the former Broadway Temple congregation was encouraged to give the ministry a name—El Nido. After a modest renovation involving both a little sweat and financial equity from Christ Church, the nest was ready for its first family. It would cater to the most under-served population in the most under-served neighborhood in New York City.

Conversations are ongoing about what to do with the Broadway property which would cost far too much money to renovate, according to Bauman. The remaining congregation there meets in a smaller chapel rather than in the large sanctuary. Pastor Mickey Correa has been serving as the pastor for three years, leading worship in both English and Spanish.

“The most fruitful decision may be to sell part and keep part for our own,” said Bauman. The church has engaged professional help to analyze prospects for the property. Bauman envisions a new space for El Nido and an emergent congregation, and a multiple use portion with affordable housing in the mix.

He said that the church “didn’t know we were doing something that was groundbreaking.” He credits a “crackerjack team of lay people” who were deeply invested in the plan with making it all happen.

“It’s gratifying for me that it’s not simply my work, but we had excellent lay involvement,” Bauman said. Christ Church has an “incredible track record of mission and ministry, but El Nido securely anchors us in New York City in a fresh way. It permeates everything we do now.”

The church has filed for a 501(c)(3) status for the program which will allow for fundraising and marketing separate from the church. There’s also an aspiration to establish satellite locations of the program.

“The dream of breaking the back of poverty in a zip code keeps the vision very big,” Bauman said. “Helping mothers was very grassroots . . . it gets us in on the ground floor,” he added. “But we want to include men and fathers. We have a real opportunity to expand into other useful ways to more fully serve community.”

District Superintendent Sears is pleased to see Christ Church expanding its footprint into the Broadway Temple neighborhood by offering an old space for new people.

ABOVE: The families enjoy a snack of fruit and pancakes; BELOW: Puzzles are a big draw

“These formative years are being met with nutrition classes, space for play and literacy to ensure that all babies have a great start,” Sears said.

El Nido has also drawn the attention of people in the community—from doctors and social workers to politicians and local businesses—who are stepping up to partner with the program. New York Assemblywoman Carmen de la Rosa was a recent guest reader to kick off Hispanic Heritage month.

Along one wall of the room is a series of shelves holding books, clothing, handknitted baby blankets, shoes, and diapers among other things. Estrada-Guzman calls it the “Baby Boutique.” These items are donated from churches, partner organizations and businesses. There are first aid kits, highchairs from Ikea, portable play yards, shoes from Little Essentials, handmade quilts for “tummy time” and items to baby-proof the home.

“We can supply everything they need for the first three years,” Estrada-Guzman said of the mostly Hispanic clients. After age three, the children will graduate to Head Start or preschool programs.

El Nido has also partnered with the local restaurant Pick and Eat to provide healthy food options. Freshly, a West Coast-based company, donates 36 chef-cooked meals a week to help those who are food insecure, which has been a major problem in the neighborhood.

Dagne Ramirez has been coming with her 21/2-year-old son since he was just one. She first came to the emergency food pantry when her husband was out of work and El Nido was just beginning. She was glad that her son could play with other children there and she could take ESL classes.

“We’re almost a family here,” she said. “The mommies are all friends now.”

“We love it here . . . they never want to leave,” adds Ana Rodriguez, who has been coming with her 2-year-old since she was one-month-old. “She’s not in preschool yet, but El Nido gives her the formation of being in school. It helps her to learn.”

And Rodriguez has been learning, too, in the classes that El Nido offers for parents and families. She’s taken baby CPR and first aid classes, and enjoys coming for yoga, too.

Estrada-Guzman says that one of the program’s goals is to break the pattern of isolation that can exist for immigrants. El Nido strives to model what it means to be a good neighbor, and how important building community can be.

These families are “rewriting the narrative” of what it means to be an immigrant . . . “it is an act of resistance to come to El Nido,” Estrada-Guzman said. “Many are afraid of losing their cultural identity . . . but everyone migrates.” The families honor their personal narratives by putting a pin on their hometowns on a large map. Even the volunteers join in this ritual.

Before El Nido applied for that 501(c)(3) status, the families were asked to name the new entity. The favorite response spoke to the impact the program has had on the community, “El Nido de Esperanza”—The Nest of Hope.

For more information about the outreach mission, go to the website of El Nido or Christ Church.

A mother and son follow along as a story is read. The families leave the weekly reading corner with a brand new book.

Program Director Monika Estrada-Guzman offers some instruction to the parents and children following the reading corner.

For a full lineup of events, go to:

12/24–25 Conference Office Closed
The NYAC office in White Plains, N.Y., will be closed in observance of Christmas.

1/5 Orientation to Ministry Event
Inquiring, exploring and certified candidates are encouraged to attend this gathering sponsored by the Board of Ordained Ministry from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the White Plains conference center. Registration is required for this free event; lunch will be served. Contact Gail Douglas-Boykin at 914-227-9847 with any questions.

1/14–16 Bishop’s Convocation
This annual gathering for clergy and spouses will be moving this year to Honor’s Haven Resort and Spa, 1195 Arrowhead Rd., Ellenville, N.Y. The guest speaker is Tod Bolsinger, author of “Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory.” Register online by January 4.

1/26 “Messy Church” Workshop
Come explore this way of “being church for all-ages to join in experiencing fun and faith formative activities.” The event is at the Learning Center in White Plains, N.Y. Check for new details here.

2/23–26 2019 Special Session
Delegates to the specially-called 2019 General Conference will gather in The Dome, part of the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis. Guests and observers to the conference may now register online.

3/9 2020 Budget Hearings
The conference Council on Finance and Administration will gather from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Learning Center to hear requests for funding for the 2020 calendar year. 

3/9 Hulapaloozas to Come
Churches across the conference are joining in the denomination’s “Abundant Health” initiative by sponsoring health and fitness expos for their communities. Wendy Vencuss, the NYAC’s Abundant Health coordinator, has worked with churches to plan the following “Hulapalooza” gatherings:

  • March 9: Tremont UMC, 1951 Washington Ave., Bronx
  • March 30: 1 to 5 p.m. at Huntington-Cold Spring Harbor UMC, 180 West Neck Rd., Huntington, N.Y.

Check the NYAC calendar page for more details, or contact Wendy Vencuss to plan your own event.

4/26–28 “Converge” Youth Retreat
All youth in the Long Island East and West, and the Metropolitan districts are invited to this weekend at Camp Quinipet on Shelter Island. The event starts Friday at 7 p.m. and concludes at noon Sunday. Register through your local church by March 31; details can be found here.

7/10–14 Youth 2019 Registration
“Love Well,” the national gathering for United Methodist youth and their leaders in Kansas City next July 10–14, promises four days of discipleship, worship, Bible study, big-name musical artists, service opportunities and life-changing fun. Early bird registration is available through Jan. 31, 2019, and includes a discounted rate, plus a free spot for every 10 paid registrants. YOUTH 2019 is for youth grades 6-12 and their leaders. For more information, go to or @youth2019 on all social media platforms.

Vision Deadlines for 2019
The Vision is a monthly online publication of the New York Conference. Deadlines are always the first Friday of the month, with posting to the web site about 10 days later. The deadlines for 2019 are January 4, February 1, March 1, April 5, May 3, June 7, July 5, August 2, September 6, October 4, November 1, and December 6. Please send any stories, photos, ideas, or questions directly to

Global Ministries/Disaster Response Opportunities

Update: Hurricane Michael Response

The Alabama-West Florida Conference (A-WF) has opened its response effort to badged/credentialed emergency response teams (ERTs) from outside its conference. Please contact Tom Vencuss in the NYAC Missions office for more information.

According to the conference disaster response coordinator: “Groceries, fuel, water, and power are now widely available in the impacted areas, but not everywhere. In addition, several churches and conference facilities received significant damage. Therefore, all ERT teams must plan on being self-sufficient. This self-sufficiency requirement extends to sleeping arrangements. We are not able to even offer a place to ‘throw down a few air mattresses.’ Shower facilities are not guaranteed at this time. Hotels in the area are extremely difficult to find.”

Young Adult Team Forming

Ross Porter (Mt Kisco) and Tom Vencuss will lead an older teen/young adult disaster recovery team to the Carolinas or Florida, depending upon local needs and direction of disaster response leadership in those conference.

  • Dates: February 16–23
  • Cost: $400.
  • Age requirements: 16 and older
  • Several team meetings, including skill sessions, will be required.

Contact Tom Vencuss at the NYAC Mission office for more information. .

NYAC Teams in Disaster Response

The following teams are scheduled in the upcoming months; all teams are now filled.

  • Beaufort, N.C.: December disaster Recovery team with leader Terry Temple (Hyde Park, UMC)
  • Puerto Rico: January young adult team with leader Rev. Bill Pfohl (Jesse Lee Memorial UMC)
  • Puerto Rico: January Connecticut District team with leaders: Jill Wilson (Bristol UMC) and Steve Kolitz (New Milford UMC)

Haiti Orientation Mission Journey:
January 10–16

In 2019, Mountains of Hope for Haiti (MHH) will recognize its 17th year of mission in Haiti and its 15th year serving in the mountain village of Furcy and three surrounding communities. MHH is offering a week-long orientation journey specifically designed for first-time individuals or churches who would like to know more about Haiti and

possibly establish a mission connection. This week will include several days in Furcy, including worship; meetings with church leaders, a visit to the National Museum, attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Rebuild Globally sandal factory, and much more. Cost, including airfare, is $1,200.

For more information please contact Wendy Vencuss or Tom Vencuss at the NYAC Mission office.

Youth Ambassadors Mission Journey: Ecuador

Youth Ambassadors is an outreach of the New York Conference for persons age 15 to 19. Sara Flores, General Board of Global Missions missionary, will be our host for the July 20–27 trip. The cost of $1,800 is shared by the youth, his or her family, the local church and the district.

We are limited to 15 youth participants. We will accept persons on a “first-application and deposit” basis. A priority will be given to first-time YAMs. Deadlines for names and deposit is March 1.

More information and updates will be available on the NYAC website, or by contacting Tom Vencuss or Alexa Ojeda at the NYAC Missions office.

Team Leaders Needed

One key to an effective disaster response effort is quality and experienced leadership. There is a great deal of organization and responsibility that goes into leading and coordinating both a disaster response and mission team. We will continue to try to provide opportunities for leadership training. We will also be willing to assist qualified and experienced team leaders with finances if needed. The NYAC has had a long and strong history of responding to both emergency and long-term needs both domestically and internationally. It is our hope and intent to continue that support. For more information contact Tom Vencuss at the NYAC Missions office.

Early Response Team Training

To schedule or sponsor an early response team (ERT) training event at your local church or within your district, please contact Art Mellor.

Disaster Response “Assets Coordinator” Wanted

The missions office is looking for someone to serve in the capacity as “assets coordinator” for its disaster response ministry. The role of the coordinator will be to serve as a link between the missions office and our disaster response HUBs, a link to those churches currently housing and managing disaster response trailers, coordinating disaster response collections (cleanup buckets, health kits, school kits). This is a volunteer position.

Time to Commit to U.M. ARMY 2019

U.M. ARMY Regional Director Northeast North

This past summer, two churches in the New York Conference hosted youth and young adults for week-long mission projects through U.M. ARMY. Hicksville UMC on Long Island and Asbury UMC in Forestville, Conn., were hosts for two of the week-long summer sessions. U.M ARMY (United Methodist Action Reach out in Mission by Youth) is a Christ-centered, leadership building, connectional ministry available to all UMC youth and young adults, and adults. And we are celebrating our 40th year nationally and 15 years in the Northeast.

Our participants in Hicksville completed 16 project sites, including some projects at the host church. In conjunction with the New York Annual Conference, clergy and lay delegates to joined in a pre-conference day of mission on June 6. In addition, our ministry was invited to take part in the Prayer Ground at Hofstra University by setting up four prayer stations.

Our mission continued in July with more than 85 youth and

adults working in Forestville. Thank you to Asbury UMC for being such a generous host and allowing us to stay and use your church as our base. Work was completed in the surrounding communities of Southington and Bristol, as well as right in Forestville. At week’s end, our teams had completed 40 worksites.

The dates and locations have been announced for the 2019 season and we are beginning to plan the work projects. Two of our conference churches will be hosting teams next year. Please contact Gina Grubbs, Regional Director, U.M. ARMY Northeast North at for more information. For more information on our mission and ministry, go to the U.M. ARMY website.

  • May 26–June 1 in Centerport, N.Y., with Centerport UMC as host, young adult 18+ (one year out of high school
  • July 14–20 in Forestville, Conn., with Asbury UMC as host, mixed age (7–12 grades)
  • July 14–20 in Dover, N.H., with St. John’s UMC as host, mixed age (7–12 grades)

State of the Church Report Finds “Thriving Ministries”

A new report from The United Methodist Church on the state of the church says that 50 years after the creation of the denomination through the merger of The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church, the church’s ministries around the world are thriving.

“This 2018 State of the Church report is a story of our mission. As this report will show, we are seeing growth and innovation across our worldwide connection,” states the report. Worldwide, there was a 12 percent increase in membership from 2006 to 2016—nearly 1.4 million members—and the number of congregations grew from 47,390 to 54,623.

In the decade since the Four Areas of Focus were affirmed at the 2008 General Conference, this common vision for the whole church has engaged local churches, annual conferences and general agencies in countless ministries related to these focus areas with renewed purpose. From hula-hooping for health to the #SeeAllthePeople initiative to providing aid to refugees to empowering students to become leaders, the State of the Church Report recounts story after story of United Methodists doing the work of faithful discipleship.

The report also details efforts to help the denomination be more representative of being a worldwide church through work on the General Book of Discipline, a draft revision of the Social Principles to be more globally relevant and “Wonder, Love and Praise,” a statement on United Methodist

ecclesiology—all of which are to be considered by the 2020 General Conference.

The report shares information about the work of the Commission on A Way Forward in preparation for a called session of General Conference in 2019, the Council of Bishops’ recommendation of the One Church Plan and the subsequent actions of the Judicial Council.

More findings include:

  • The largest membership growth was recorded in the Congo, where membership surged by 147 percent over 10 years, followed by the Africa Central Conference with a 67 percent increase.
  • In 2017, United Methodists gave about $133.2 million to support connectional ministries around the world, about $1.8 million more than in the previous year.
  • A record high number of U.S. annual conferences paid 100% of their apportionments—29 out of 56. Nine Central Conference episcopal areas paid at least 100% apportionments.

The State of the Church report, a collaborative effort of the Connectional Table, the Council of Bishops, United Methodist Communications and the General Council on Finance and Administration, is available in its entirety online at the link above.

Choirs Needed For 2020 General Conference

United Methodist choirs and worship ensemble groups from around the world may now audition online for an invitation to perform at the 2020 General Conference, which meets in Minneapolis from May 5–15, 2020.

To apply for an invitation, groups are asked to submit a letter of application that includes the following: 1) name of group; 2) name of primary contact person along with email address and phone number; 3) brief history/bio of the group including number of members, general age range, group’s location, and any unique characteristics; and 4) a link to a private YouTube video of the group performing.

The application should be emailed to worship and music director, Raymond Trapp, by February 28, 2019.

“One of the many strengths of the United Methodist Church is the diversity of our denomination. General Conference affords us an opportunity to experience God in many ways in a central location,” said Trapp. “When choirs, dancers and artists come together, we witness the many ways through which the power and beauty of God is manifested and shared through the arts. We are grateful for all those who have agreed to make this journey to General Conference from all parts of the world in order to be a blessing.”

Performance opportunities for invited choirs and ensembles include worship services and/or a lunchtime showcase venue. Groups are responsible for their own expenses.

Hymnal Committee Seeks New Material

The liturgical resources subgroup of the Hymnal Revision Committee seeks the submission of new materials for possible inclusion in the next United Methodist Hymnal. The collection of liturgical and music resources will be presented to the 2024 General Conference for approval. While all worship-related resources are welcome at any time, the committee particularly invites the submission of resources for the following between now and June 30, 2019:

  • Baptism
  • Confirmation
  • Renewal of Baptism
  • Days and seasons of the church year

When possible, material should be submitted electronically. Instructions for submission may be found here.

The hymnal office will acknowledge receipt of all submissions but will not return any hard copy of materials submitted. If materials are chosen for inclusion in the new United Methodist Hymnal, the hymnal office will contact the submitter regarding permissions and contracts at the appropriate time.

In future years, there will be specific requests for submissions related to: care of the sick and dying, death, and occasional services (2019); Word and Table and the Psalter (2020); and weddings, domestic liturgy, and daily prayer (2021).

Deacons Write Advent Devotional

A group of deacons in the New York Conference had a
strong desire to offer something meaningful for the clergy and laity of the NYAC to use during Advent to prepare them
for the special session of the General Conference in February. Eight deacons came together to write a collection
of Advent reflections on the theme “On Our Way Forward.”

Contributors were Rev. Doris K. Dalton, Rev. Jordan Scruggs, Rev. Marcia White-Smith, Rev. Sabrina Johnson Chandler, Rev. Kathryn Dickinson, Rev. Arletha Miles-Boyce, Tracy Moore, and Rev. Janet Cox. The devotionals are available to download from the NYAC website.

Opinions Still Vary on the Way Forward


UMNS | Many United Methodists are hoping a clear direction on how the church relates to homosexuality will emerge at the special called session of the General Conference in February.

Important stakeholders are claiming their positions, including some who make preserving unity in the church a priority.

“The hope is that … we’ve created enough urgency in the system to get us unstuck,” said the Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, chief connectional ministries officer at the Connectional Table. “Now getting unstuck might also be really hard and really painful. … But being stuck is a choice, you know?”

Delegates to the Feb. 23–26 gathering in St. Louis will consider plans to deal with the status of LGBTQ United Methodists, who want equal treatment when it comes to ordination and marriage.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline states that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching and that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot be clergy. The Discipline also bans ceremonies that celebrate same-sex unions in United Methodist churches.

Despite these rules, same-gender weddings have been performed in United Methodist churches and by United Methodist clergy. Clergy have publicly declared they are gay, sometimes losing their credentials.

“It seems like it’s no longer possible for us to live together in one body,” said the Rev. Tom Lambrecht, vice president and general manager of Good News, an unofficial group of United Methodists who support upholding the ban on same-sex marriage and gay clergy.

“Between those who are adamantly promoting the affirmation of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ ordination and those of us who believe that is contrary to Scripture, it doesn’t seem like there’s a middle ground or a compromise point that will satisfy people.”

The most prominent plans submitted for consideration at the special conference are the Connectional Conference Plan, the One Church Plan, the Simple Plan, the Traditional Plan and the Modified Traditional Plan.

The Council of Bishops said in recommending the One Church Plan that it provides conferences, churches and pastors the flexibility to pursue their mission while retaining the connectional nature of the church. The plan leaves decisions of whether to allow same-gender weddings up to local churches and gay ordination up to annual conferences.

“The question is, ‘Can we continue to be a one church denomination which allows us to have ministry in Liberia and the Philippines and in Europe and in the United States?’ ” said Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr., president of the Council of Bishops.

“We are not a small denomination with one ethnicity, with one political perspective, with one theological perspective. We’re a global church on four continents. And what is compelling to me about the One Church Plan is that it does create a home for the people who are now in The United Methodist Church.”

Most African United Methodists favor the Traditional Plan, said the Rev. Forbes Matonga, pastor-in-charge at Nyadire Mission Centre in Zimbabwe and a delegate to the February special session.

The plan maintains the current disciplinary language on homosexuality and strengthens enforcement. Matonga is also a leader in the Wesleyan Covenant Association, an unofficial group that advocates the traditionalist perspective.

“This plan is consistent with what is culturally acceptable in most African countries,” Matonga said. “So any plan that proposes to authorize the practice of homosexuality either explicitly or discretely is unacceptable to us.” According to Amnesty International, homosexuality is illegal in 36 African countries and legal in 19.

Endorsers of the Traditional Plan include the Estonia Conference and the North Central Jurisdiction Hispanic Caucus. The South Georgia Conference passed a resolution affirming the present Disciplinary language on homosexuality. At a gathering of the Africa Initiative, an unofficial advocacy group, speakers offered support for the Traditional Plan. The Texas Conference delegates voted to endorse the Traditional Plan. Of those present and voting at a delegate meeting, 15 voted for the plan, eight opposed and two abstained.

And while the African bishops have not endorsed a plan, saying that is up to General Conference delegates, they did unanimously reaffirm their view that marriage is between one man and one woman and vow to “maintain the unity” of the church.

The North Central Jurisdiction Hispanic Caucus said in its endorsement of the Traditional Plan that it would maintain biblical standards to be welcoming while keeping the current bans on homosexuality, as well as other forms of extramarital sex.

The Modified Traditional Plan beefs up enforcement against bishops who violate the Book of Discipline and includes $200,000 grants for annual conferences who wish to leave the denomination over the issue of homosexuality. It is supported by the Renewal and Reform Coalition, which includes Good News, the Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church, UMAction, Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality and the Wesleyan Covenant Association.

“Some of us felt that (the Traditional Plan) needed to be more complete than it was, especially the whole accountability issue,” said the Rev. Maxie Dunnam, minister-at-large at Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis. “We felt that … needed to be clarified more.”

Some modified plan advocates are also supportive of the original Traditional Plan. And others want the Traditional Plan modified in different ways than the changes added by the Modified Traditional Plan.

It is unfortunate that going back to the drawing board to hammer out a new plan garnering broader support isn’t likely, according to the Rev. Chris Ritter, pastor of a multi-site ministry in Illinois that includes Geneseo First United Methodist Church and Cambridge United Methodist Church.

Ritter, also a leader in the Wesleyan Covenant Association, thinks some common ground might be possible between the One Church and Traditional plans.

“The fact that legislation deadlines have passed and camps have formed around the existing plans has unfortunately limited the continued creativity of our church,” Ritter said on his blog, People Need Jesus.

Others perceive the divide as too great for effective compromise.

“It’s time to stop fighting,” said the Rev. Rob Renfroe, president and publisher of Good News. “We have good people on both sides. We see things very differently. We’re never going to convince each other that we’re right and they’re wrong. … “Let’s say, ‘You go your way. Let us go our way. We’ll see who God blesses, maybe both of us.’ But we don’t need to do this to each other any longer.”

Among those supporting the One Church Plan are the Council of Bishops, the Alaska Conference, the Western Jurisdiction, the Baltimore-Washington Conference, the Northern Illinois Conference, United Methodists and Methodists and Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic/Latino Americans.

Uniting Methodists, an unofficial group formed in 2017 to promote unity in the church, also has endorsed the plan and is working for its passage. And the Rev. Mark Holland, a Great Plains clergy delegate to General Conference, formed Mainstream UMC to work for passage of the One Church Plan.

The Rev. Tom Berlin, lead pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon, Virginia, was a member of the Commission on a Way Forward and submitted the One Church Plan legislation to the General Conference. He likes the One Church Plan because it would let Africans and other traditionalist United Methodists do what they feel is right within their culture and context.

“I support the One Church Plan because I believe we live in a broad and diverse denomination that needs room to exercise a variety of options,” Berlin said. “Being United Methodist has never meant that I have to agree with every single person in the congregation on every single thing.”

United Methodists have the right to reflect theologically through use of Scripture, tradition, reason and experience, the Alaska Conference said in a statement.

“Because of this, we are likely to come up with different answers to the same question because of differences in our contexts and experience. The One Church Plan acknowledges those differences and allows for freedom in our conclusions.”

The Simple Plan, which calls for removal of the language in the Book of Discipline that excludes LGBTQ people from full participation in the church, is proposed by the unofficial United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus.

“The United Methodist Church can choose to remove the restrictive language from our Book of Discipline without forcing the hand of those who are still wrestling with the idea of the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in the church,” the caucus said in a statement. “(It) does not require any United Methodist clergy to perform a same-gender wedding. Individual congregations would be allowed to continue in their own discernment.”

The Connectional Conference Plan lacks endorsements and the United Methodist Judicial Council did not rule on its constitutionality when it considered the three plans in the Way Forward report. The council said it has no authority to scrutinize that plan because it would require several constitutional amendments.

Some United Methodist organizations are stressing the importance of keeping the denomination whole. The Northern Illinois Conference quotes Methodist founder John Wesley’s sermon “On Schism” to make this point.

“It is the nature of love to unite us together; and the greater the love, the stricter the union,” Wesley said. “Nothing can divide those whom love has united. It is only when our love grows cold, that we can think of separating from our brethren.”

The unofficial group Reconciling Ministries Network, which seeks equality of LGBTQ Christians, is not endorsing any of the plans.

“It is with this humility that Reconciling Ministries Network will work continuously within Church structures to fully invite, welcome, and celebrate LGBTQ+ people in the life and leadership of our beloved Church,” the RMN said in a statement. “We remain committed to the work of adopting legislation that ends oppression as well as the ongoing journey toward doing no harm, doing all the good we can, and loving God.”

Although the issue of homosexuality in the church is important, other challenges are arguably more pressing, said Urs Schweizer, assistant to Bishop Patrick Streiff in central and southern Europe. Among those issues are sharing faith in post-modern and highly secularized societies, migration, breakdown of families, consumer society and poverty.

“The most important aim (at the special session) is to find a way that does not create winners and losers, does not allow some to stay in the United Methodist Church while encouraging others to leave,” Schweizer said. “Many United Methodists in central and southern Europe would rather focus on staying together as one church, as diverse as we may be on some ethical issues.”

Patterson is a United Methodist News Service reporter in Nashville, Tennessee.


Main plans submitted to GC2019

The most prominent plans submitted for consideration at the special conference are:

The One Church Plan would shift to churches and conferences decisions regarding ministry with or by LGBTQ persons rather than maintaining a single standard that operates throughout the worldwide church. It would also remove some of the language in the Book of Discipline that limit LGBTQ people’s involvement as United Methodists.

The Connectional Conference Plan would create three connectional conferences based on perspective on LGBTQ issues. The three connectional conferences would function throughout the worldwide church and the five existing U.S. jurisdictions would be abolished.

The Traditional Plan would affirm the current language about homosexuality in the Book of Discipline and seek to strengthen enforcement for violations.

The Modified Traditional Plan would add to the Traditional Plan a committee with authority to hold bishops accountable to the sexuality standards in the Book of Discipline. It would offer a $200,000 grant to annual conferences that want to leave the denomination because of disagreement over LGBTQ issues.

The Simple Plan would remove all language from the Book of Discipline that excludes LGBTQ people from full participation in the church.

Bishop Urges Renewed Prayers for GC2019

In his recent visits to the six districts, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton has been conducting a dialogue about the specially called session of General Conference, and urging a new round of daily prayer for the work of those who will gather in St. Louis. Inspired by the conference dates of February 23–26, 2019, the bishop has asked that members of the conference pause to pray for four minutes from 2:23 to 2:26 each afternoon.

This renewed effort joins with the third phase of the Council of Bishops’ initiative called “Praying Our Way Forward.” That initiative’s focus is two-fold: Praying that God will help us to fulfill the mission of the church, and praying to be one in Christ.

Bishop Bickerton has also asked for continued prayers for the NYAC delegation:


Laity: Frederick Brewington, Gail Douglas-Boykin, Jorge Lockward, and Dorothee Benz

Clergy: Timothy J. Riss, Noel N. Chin, Kristina D. Hansen, and Alexandre da Silva Souto


Laity: Tiffany French Goffe, Ann Craig, Roena A. Littlejohn, and Karen Prudente

Clergy: Vicki I. Flippin, Sheila M. Beckford, Martha E. Vink, and Sungchan Kim

The 864 delegates from around the globe will receive the report of the Commission on A Way Forward, and work on determining what direction the church should take in its longstanding debate over homosexuality.

Additional information about the initiative and prayer resources, including a video invitation from Bishop Bickerton, may be found on the NYAC website.

Christmas for “Them That Mourn”


This is my favorite season of the year! Night air is chilly. Cool breezes and crisp mornings. Sounds and smells of a fireplace. Family gatherings and football games of the season … they all remind me of the advent of Christmas and the imminent arrival of a brand New Year!

On the ecclesial front, the church sanctuary and parking lot are warmed by traditional decorations with ribbons, poinsettias, smell of evergreen, and strains of magnificent music. Children are back in Sunday school and adults are in generous spirits. Bell ringers are back in the shopping malls and office parties have already been scheduled. This is indeed “the season to be jolly.”

But there is more, so much more.

As idyllic as the joyous Christmas and blissful holiday celebrations may be, they represent absolutely the toughest time of the year for others. The sad memories, the absence of family gathering, the sudden death of dear ones, declining health, destruction of homes and loss of property through natural calamities, forced migration, mass shootings, and anxiety about an uncertain future, and the nagging longing for all the things that many of us hold dear are almost unbearable.

The Exiled in Grief

I became more alert to the grief and sorrow around me after running into a member of a church I had served who shared through tears about the sudden death her grown son. Her words throbbed with deep, anguishing, unbelievable accounts of pain. Since she needed more than quick-fix spiritual advice, after a few words of comfort I showed her a picture of a sculpture, “Melancolie,” that I have stored in my cell phone.

This sculpture was created by Romanian born artist Albert György, who understands the emptiness we often feel at the loss of someone or something very precious to us. The sculpture is in a park on the promenade, Quai du Mont Blanc, along the shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, and has been viewed in Facebook more than 12 million times.

Stories like these are hardly the whole of life. Many of the families I know are in a pretty good place in life. Yet everyone has a story to share and some stories are marked by pain, defeat and distress. Sometimes, as adults, we suffer. Other times, we helplessly watch others whom we love suffer.

When I came home from church that Sunday, I thought about the victims of recent mass shootings, those who lost their homes to fire, tornadoes and hurricanes, and the thousands of migrants who have no home or country. I wonder if they and millions of others like them will have a Merry Christmas this year or even anything hopeful to look forward to in the New Year.

Is Christmas also for those who grieve and those without a home or country? Such a question would perplex those who have experienced the events that night in humble Bethlehem and the apostles who followed Christ throughout his earthly ministry. Christmas is especially for those who weep and grieve.

The baby Jesus was born into a world of grief, suffering, and loss. The meaning of his incarnation was recognized by the elderly Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, who prophesied that God had acted to save his people, to give his people the

The “Melancolie” statue in a park along Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven (Luke 1:77–78).

After the 9/11 terror attack, our nation was united in simple, moving grief and many went out of their way to be caring and loving. I wonder if we, the Body of Christ, will ever be united in grief when scores of innocent people are violently massacred, brutally abused and mercilessly displaced.

Our communities are not separate but intermingled. The pain and loss of their cracked lives affects us all. The impact of brokenness extends beyond the individual to family, friends, and indeed to a wider community.

I have endured my share of grief in life and I know first-hand what grief is. It is circular. It is an island. It is a long-term project. Piercing grief is not something that can be endured or medicated away or even muscled through. Those who grieve may even have times of joy and happiness. Everything may seem “normal.” But, like György’s sculpture, emptiness is how we feel all the time.

Grief is an essential aspect of life. Alarmed under the lengthening shadows of loneliness, the grievers feel that the Son is eclipsed. They live like automatons. They feel abandoned. They feel alone. Occasionally, recovery occurs, but is always partial. Life continues like Christmas and New Year.

Then it dawned on me that Christmas is all about caring, courage, compassion, hope, second chances and self-giving. It is also about our attitudes and values, our behavior and beliefs, and our ethical priorities and social mores. It is all about action, reaching out to provide practical benefits for marginalized sections of our larger society and bringing healing and wholeness to the hurting in our own fold. Christmas lays these responsibilities upon faith communities to bring the marginalized home and to the center.

Hearing Again the Christmas Message

Proclamation and service, kerygma and diakonia of the church cohabit in Christmas. The Kingdom of God becomes embodied. The world put right. The broken pieces reassembled. Indeed, the Kingdom of God happens when the entire Body of Christ participates in it.

Church, in authentic biblical sense, is the only organization that does not exist for itself. Hence, we need to constantly remind ourselves in redefining and recalibrating the meaning of Christmas just like Dr. Seuss wrote in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas:” “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more?” 

Exactly a century ago, in 1918, a special Christmas service known as “Service of Nine Lessons and Carols,” was written to be read and sung in the chapel of King’s College at Cambridge, England. In the “Bidding Prayer,” prepared to call the congregation together for that service, the deep meaning of Christmas is succinctly declared in its remarkable text:

Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmastide our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Therefore, let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious redemption brought us by this Holy Child.

But first, let us pray for the needs of the whole world; for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in this city.

And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us remember, in his name, the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and them that mourn, the lonely and the unloved, the aged and the little children; all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.

Indeed, Christmas is especially for “them that mourn” and suffer grief—for the message of Christmas is nothing less than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And all those who have gone before us are sitting in the heavenly balcony and looking down, cheering the church to go on in its mission to work for comfort, peace and goodwill among all of God’s people.

Merry Christmas!

(Dharmaraj, a retired NYAC clergy member, is the current president of Inter-ethnic Strategy Development Group.)

Getting Healthy: Mind, Body And Spirit

Rev. Ebenezer Aduku tries out the hula hoop.

John Wesley UMC health and wellness coordinator

On Saturday, November 10, John Wesley United Methodist Church in Brooklyn got moving and dancing at its Abundant Health “Hulapalooza.”

With the help of Wendy Vencuss, NYAC Abundant Health coordinator and Rev. Tom Vencuss, the event provided a fun-filled time for all ages. Smiles and laughter were infectious throughout the day. We had several health advocates and authors give presentations regarding nutrition and healthy eating habits. A senior couple even showed off their dancing talents, much to everyone’s amazement. They were living proof of how healthy living and movement could lead to longevity and a better quality of life. The Vencusses also engaged the group in many fun songs, and musical and movement activities.

During this event, many health resource tables were set up. The church also offered free healthy snacks and refreshments, while Robbie Dulaney and Gene James prepared healthy dinners for purchase. We know that this is just the first of future collaborations, where we can spread the message, ministry, and joy of abundant health.

Abundant Health is a Global Ministries initiative that is challenging UMC congregations to make health of body, mind, and spirit a priority for all ages. May our loving God continue to bless the efforts of those actively working together for a better tomorrow for all of God’s children.

For further information about the Abundant Health program, please contact NYAC coordinator Wendy Vencuss, or go the denominational website.

LEFT: A couple shows off their dance moves; RIGHT: a group of kids learn to play hand bells.

Bishops’ Website Spotlights One Church Plan

A group of United Methodist bishops who support the One Church Plan has put together a website to answer questions about the proposal, one of multiple possibilities before delegates to the special General Conference in St. Louis.

A majority of the Council of Bishops in May recommended the One Church Plan as a way forward through the denomination’s longtime debate over homosexuality. The plan would leave questions of LGBTQ ordination up to conferences and same-gender weddings up to local churches and individual clergy.

“If we have affirmed the One Church Plan but do not interpret or define it, it will be defined by those who do not support it—on the right and the left,” said Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr., one of the contributors to the new site

“This is fundamental to our teaching office and our promise to seek unity.”

Carter, who leads the Florida Conference, is the president of the Council of Bishops. However, the new website is not the work of the full council but a subset of episcopal leaders. Among the contributors featured on the site are Bishops Cynthia Fierro Harvey, Sue Haupert-Johnson, LaTrelle Easterling and Robert Schnase.

The site includes a “Frequently Asked Questions” page, a summary of the plan, blogs, videos and podcasts featuring interviews with various bishops about their support. While most of the content, such as the blogs and videos, can be found on other sites, the bishops wanted to put the information in a central location.

In the design and hosting of a website, bishops said, cost-saving measures were employed and in-kind donations of time and service were accepted. No funds from any annual conference, episcopal office or the Council of Bishops were used.

NJ Court Affirms Conference Property Rights

GNJUMC | The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the December 2017 ruling of the Appellate Decision of the New Jersey Superior Court that local church property is subject to governance by United Methodists of Greater New Jersey Annual Conference and the trust clauses of The Book of Discipline.

The case settles a series of actions stemming back to 2015 when some members of the Board of Trustees of the Alpine Community United Methodist Church disputed the property rights of the GNJ Annual Conference. The Alpine Community

United Methodist Church is one of the earliest churches of the Methodist movement and has been operating as a Methodist Church since 1843. The congregation sought to remove itself from the denomination while seeking to maintain property rights of the buildings.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled to affirm that the Alpine Community Church is a member of and subject to the governance of The GNJ Annual Conference and The Book of Discipline, and consequently the church’s real and personal property was held in trust for the benefit of GNJ.


Shirley “Marlene” Bickerton

Shirley “Marlene” Bickerton, died on December 5, 2018, at Rivera Palms Rehabilitation Center, Palmetto, Fla. She was 83.

Mrs. Bickerton was born August 17, 1935, in Glen Dale, W.Va., daughter of Charles and Anna Geisler Cassis. Bickerton was a retired clerk for State Food Store and Greggs Market, Moundsville, W.Va., where she will always be remembered for “Marlene’s famous ham salad.” She was a member of Calvary United Methodist Church in Moundsville and the Family Church of God United Methodist Church in Palmetto

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by an infant daughter: Kathy Jo Bickerton. Survivors include her husband of 63 years, James “Jim” Bickerton; a son: Bishop Thomas J. (Sally) Bickerton of White Plains, N.Y.; a daughter: Jamie Ann (Brian) Rozelle of Frederick, Md.; four grandchildren: Elizabeth Bickerton (Chris) Carrubba of Charlotte, N.C.; T.J. (Claire) Bickerton of New York City, N.Y.; Ian Robert Edwards of Meadville, Pa., and Bruce Nicholas Edwards of Cranberry Township, Pa., and one great-grandson: Holden James Carrubba.

A funeral service was held December 9 at the Family of God UMC in Palmetto. A second service was held December 15 at Calvary UMC in Moundsville, with Bishop Bickerton officiating, assisted by Rev. Annette Carper and Dr. Randy Flanagan. Interment was in the Halcyon Hills Memorial Park, Sherrard, W.Va.

Memorial contributions may be made to Calvary UMC, 1601First St., Moundsville, WV 26041, or the Family of God UMC, 5601 16th Ave. E, Palmetto, FL 34221.

Messages of condolences may be sent to Bishop Bickerton at 20 Soundview Ave, White Plains, NY 10606.

Rev. Ernest Burton Davison

The Reverend Ernest Burton (Burt) Davison, 87, of Langhorne, Pa., died November 28, 2018, at St Mary Medical Center, Langhorne, Pa.

Born in Windsor, Canada, son of Ernest and Christine (Ross) Davison, Rev. Davison lived in the New York City, Long Island, and Catskill Hudson areas for many years before moving to Langhorne nine years ago.

He served in the U.S. Marines as a drill instructor. He graduated from Syracuse University and from Union Theological Seminary in New York with a master of divinity degree. Davison received his license to preach in 1955 in the New York East Conference and became an elder in 1959. He ministered to churches in New York for more than 40 years, serving Union UMC in South Ozone Park; South Third Street UMC in Brooklyn; Elmhurst UMC; The Village Church in Bayville; Kings Highway UMC in Brooklyn; Freeport UMC; Broadway Temple UMC in Manhattan; and St. James UMC in Kingston.

Davison was known for his deep involvement in the communities he served. During his longest appointment at Freeport UMC, the mayor named a day for Davison to honor his commitment to the community.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Carol Gillespie Davison, and a son, Daniel Davison. Davison is survived by a son, Michael (Xiu “Sunnie” Chen) Davison of Brooklyn; a daughter, Ellen (Chris Wright) Davison of Rail Road Flat, Calif; seven grandchildren, Jacob, Geoffrey, Miles, Felice, Angie, Kaya, and Trillium; a great-grandchild, Casey; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held December 8 at the Freeport UMC at 46 Pine Street, Freeport, N.Y.

To honor Davison’s lifelong commitment to civil rights and social justice, memorial contributions may be made to the American Civil Liberties Union online, or by mail to the ACLU, c/o Gift Processing Department, 125 Broad St., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004, or to a similar charity of your choice.

Anne Givens Snyder

Anne Givens Snyder, 91, died November 24, 2018. She was the widow of Rev. Dr. Lee D. Snyder.

Mrs. Snyder was born July 8, 1927, in Lafayette, La., the youngest of 10 children. She graduated from the University of

Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) with the outstanding graduate award in 1948.

Snyder then earned a master’s degree in religious education from Scarritt College for Christian Workers in Nashville (now the Scarritt Bennett Center). After World War II, Anne embarked on a career as a missionary in Japan, where she taught English. Upon returning to the United States, she worked at the Methodist Board of Missions in New York City. 

While working at the Methodist Board, she met Lee Snyder, who was junior pastor at Metropolitan-Duane Methodist Church in Greenwich Village. They married in 1961, had two children, and moved to Sarasota in 1969 for a job at New College of Florida.

After being a stay-home mom for many years, Snyder took a position at Pines of Sarasota, where she directed the volunteer program for many years. Anne was an incredible gourmet cook, avid gardener, and active member of North UMC (now Crossroads) in Sarasota.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 51 years, Rev. Dr. Lee. D. Snyder. Rev. Snyder was ordained an elder in the New York Conference in 1961. He spent most of his career in extension ministries as a history professor. He retired in 1997 and died in 2012.

Snyder is survived by a daughter, Claire (Mikki) Snyder-Hall (formerly Becky); and a son, Tim (Lisa) Snyder.

A memorial service was held on December 1 at St. John’s UMC, 6611 Proctor Rd, Sarasota, Fla.

Donations in Snyder’s memory may be made to the Lee and Anne Snyder Memorial Endowment Fund at the New College Foundation to continue the Snyders’ legacy of supporting undergraduate study abroad and junior faculty scholarship. Donations can be made online or via check to the New College Foundation, 5800 Bayshore Road, Sarasota, FL 34243.

Rev. Randolph L. Jones

The Reverend Randolph L. Jones died on November 16, 2018, in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. He was 94.

The youngest of five children, Rev. Jones was born on October 5, 1924, in Norfolk, Va., to Harry Tudor and Catherine Wylie Roddey Jones. He attended Virginia Military Institute and then served in the U.S. Army in World War II. After his service, he graduated from Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Va., and then the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.

After being ordained in the Virginia Conference, Jones served as a missionary in Japan at Kwansei Gakuin University for 10 years, holding the positions of teacher and chaplain. When he returned to the United States, he worked as a teaching hospital chaplain at Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J., and at Bergen Pines County Hospital in Paramus, N.J. In 1982, he transferred to the New York Conference and served as chaplain and director of pastoral care at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City until his retirement in 1991.

While living in the New York City area, Jones and his wife, Emily Jean Gilbert, were active members of Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan.

He spent his retirement years in the Lehigh Valley as a gardener, creator of a bluebird trail, and reader. During these years, Jones relinquished his ordination in The United Methodist Church because of its refusal to ordain LGBTQ persons.

He is survived by his wife, Emily Jean; and by four children from a prior marriage, Randolph L. Jones Jr. of Rochester, N.Y., Caroline (Marv) Jones Vose of Colorado Springs, Colo., Lenore Jean Jones of Hoboken, N.J., and Catherine Jones McClarin of Phoenix, Ariz. He is also survived by three grandchildren, Genevieve Vose Wallace, Chuck (Erica) Lauer Vose and Samuel Hungerford; and by a great-grandson, Owen John Wallace.

Jones was predeceased by his sisters, Perry Lee Jones Cumming and Catherine Jones Frith; his brothers, Harry Tudor Jones, Jr. and Joseph Roddey Jones; and an infant son, Donald.

A memorial service was held December 1 at St. John’s United Church of Christ, 36 S 6th St., Allentown, Pa. Memorial gifts may be made to the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley or Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012.

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