The Vision
The Newspaper of The New York Conference of The United Methodist Church June 2020

In this issue


Members of First UMC in Torrington line the street in front of the church in a protest against racism and the loss of black lives. Additional protest photos below.


Bishops Pledge: ‘This Time Will Be Different’

BY JIM PATTERSON
UM News

This time will be different, vowed United Methodist bishops participating in an online launch of a new anti-racism campaign on a day set apart for commemorating the end of slavery.

“I will not lead or participate in another effort full of ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing,’” said Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi of the Western Pennsylvania Conference during the announcement of the campaign on Juneteenth (June 19), a significant day in the history of slavery. The announcement was broadcast on UMC.org/EndRacism and Facebook.

“The lives of my people, of all people of color who have been systematically disrespected, disregarded and extinguished by the sin of racism are too important to settle for anything … less than uncompromising action in dismantling racism,” she said.

The new program, “Dismantling Racism: Pressing on to Freedom,” is a multi-agency effort that includes participation from the Commission on Religion and Race, the Council of Bishops, United Methodist Women, Discipleship Ministries, the Board of Church and Society and United Methodist Communications. Other agencies and many annual conferences are contributing.

“We come to you intentionally on this day, June 19, a day known to many as Juneteenth,” said Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of the Ohio West Conference.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and that those who had been enslaved were now free. It was 2½ years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Today, on this Juneteenth, 2020, we wanted to initiate another focal point for conversation,” Palmer said. “A conversation about the hope for the movement that is afoot in our midst. It is a conversation about the resolve necessary to make sure that this time it is different. And it is a conversation that says, with resolve, ‘Enough is enough.’ But it is a conversation that will not settle for mere words, for empty pious platitudes. For we believe that without works, faith is dead.”

New York Conference Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, said the dismantling racism campaign would be “an intentional spiritually guided journey from this Juneteenth to a gathering in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in late August-early September 2021.”

The top legislative assembly of The United Methodist Church, General Conference, is scheduled to meet Aug. 31–Sept. 10, 2021, in Minneapolis. George Floyd died May 25 in that city

after a police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes.

“We’re inviting you into a journey … that’s designed to stimulate you with frequent events—worship services, town halls, book studies, resources and honest conversations—that we believe can create a movement for lasting change,” Bickerton said.

The new movement should incorporate “deep and unwavering love for neighbor,” said Louisiana Conference Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president of the Council of Bishops.

“It’s the convergence of economic hardship, the lack of adequate health care, broken systems, antiquated structures, police brutality, the absence of accountability, the continuance of white privilege and power, all combining into a mass outpouring with one clear message: “Enough is enough.’”

Bishop Bruce R. Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, said real difference can occur when white people support Black Lives Matter and are willing to listen also to the voices of black, Asian, Native Americans and Latinx.

“It must be different this time and we together must make sure that the headline remains constant as we press on to freedom,” Ough said. “As people of faith we have to take the lead, carry the banner and keep pressing on to freedom.”

Message from Bishop Bickerton
In his latest letter to the conference, the bishop wrote:

“When human beings feel unheard, frustration rises. When someone feels unheard, they feel downplayed and unimportant. When someone feels unheard, they believe that no one is listening and hurt turns into anger.

It begs the simple question:  Are we listening to what is being said? In order to actually hear what is being said, we must filter out the noises that drown out the real message being spoken. We have to filter out the noise created by those who are looting and promoting violent actions around us. We have to filter out the desires of some to retaliate with like actions in an effort to somehow level the playing field. We have to filter out political motivations that attempt to take a situation like we are facing and use it to create political advantage or promote a political position. The filters have to be in place to remove the noise so that we can truly listen to those who feel unheard.”

To read this full statement and others from the bishop, or to view his video messages, click here to go to the NYAC website. To learn more about the UMC response to systemic racism, click here.

New Racial Justice Grants Available

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for racial justice, Church and Society will award special Just and Resilient Communities grants.

The public health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have affected communities around the world.

These impacts, coupled with discriminatory, violent practices and policies targeting marginalized and vulnerable communities, have compounded injustice and inequity on a range of issues - access to healthcare, food security, human dignity and rights, and free and fair elections, to name just a few.

Given the scope and urgency of the crises, Church and Society will award special grants to support United Methodists in

building more just and resilient communities. While the goal of each proposal should address structural inequities, the design of the projects should reflect the contextual needs and assets of the community.

Examples of proposals include:

  • Convening community stakeholders for conversations and action-planning,
  • Developing platforms for voices of those directly impacted by inequities, or
  • Building teams to advocate with decision makers.

We will award grants up to $10,000.00.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis through Friday, June 26. Download the application here.

Standing in Solidarity with Oppressed:
the Murder of George Floyd

June 11, 2020

We, the Korean Council of the New York Annual Conference, condemn the systemic evil manifested in many forms and shapes of racism—racial discrimination, racial inequity, racial profiling, racial stereotyping, white supremacy—still perpetrated in the murder of Mr. George Floyd.

We name racism as a sin that trespasses beyond individual ethics and faith, even fortified into structural, systemic oppression in society.

We repent of our complicit silence for the anti-Black attitudes and actions in society and mourn for the numerous Black lives taken away by the instruments of racism still today. We reproach our passive stance on systematic inequity and oppression toward people of color.

We acknowledge the civil rights that Korean American communities enjoy in this nation were impossible without the blood and tears of our Black sisters and brothers who have tirelessly combat against racism.

Therefore, we stand with the Black community and those who fight against racism as allies and partners. We pledge ourselves to pray and act among all the Korean American communities until racial equality and justice roll down like waters.

Action items:

  • We commit to educate ourselves within our faith communities on how to resist and dismantle systemic racism by learning the racial history in the United States and the biblical justice on racism.
  • We commit to continue our advocacy and promotion of the “Human Relations Sunday” annually and utilize the “Human Relations Sunday Special Offering” to undo racism.
  • We commit ourselves to be in intentional solidarity with our Black, Latinx, Native American and all other Asian-Pacific Islander sisters and brothers, and actively work alongside with the agencies, caucuses, and conferences in the United Methodist Church whose stated goal is to dismantle systemic racism and overcome white supremacy.
  • We commit to exercise our rights to vote against any policymakers and groups who conspire racism.
  • We continue to stand with the oppressed and the least among us to advance the Kingdom/Kin-dom of God on earth.

“Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24

The Korean Council of the New York Annual Conference in the United Methodist Church:

Soon Kook Ahn, Sejin Cha, Kun Sam Cho, Young Joon Cho, Dong Hyun Choi, Hyunduk Choi, Oon Don Choi, Young Choi, Inkoo Chung, Jacob Eun, Lydia Han, Albert Hahn, Juhye Hahn, Seung Jin Hong, Chang Jeong, Saekwan Jin, Kwangwon Jung, David W. Kang, Miyeong Kang, Chongho Kim, Chong Kim, Churl S. Kim, Donghyun Kim, Eumin Kim, Gye Ho Kim, Jae Hyun Kim, Jane Kim, Jin H Kim, Jinwoo Kim, Jongsung Kim, Kwang-il Kim, Steve Young Dong Kim, Steven Kim, Suhee Kim, Sungchan Kim, Young Shik Kim, Yountae Kim, Jongbum Lee, Joonwoo Lee, Leo Lee, Roslyn Lee, Samuel Lee, Sun Joo Lee, Sungmu Lee, Sung Ok Lee, Won Tack Lee, YongBo Lee, Yongyeun Lee, Jung Ung Moon, Constance Pak, Austin Park, Hea Young Park, Hwi Joon Park, Hyoungkyu Park, Luke Park, Song Ha Park, WooYoung Park, Charles Ryu, Kyongmook Ryu, Seungho Shin, Yanghee Christine Stopka, Claire Wu, Joseph Yang, Min Seok Yang, Julia YeonHee Yim, Ben Yoo, HyoungDock Yoo, and Charlie Yun

Laywomen Answer The Call to Serve As Deaconesses

BY JOANNE S. UTLEY
Editor, The Vision

Discerning a call from God may often lead to a path of ordained ministry. But for some, that call is fulfilled by working as a layperson in ministries of love, justice and service. In the United Methodist Church, laypersons making that lifelong commitment are commissioned as deaconesses and home missioners.

 Three laywomen—Gail Douglas-Boykin, Monica Bartley, and Christi Campos—have answered that call to become a deaconess and will serve within the New York Conference. Although their official commissioning was put on hold when the 2020 General Conference was postponed, they were recognized and welcomed into the Order of Deaconess, Home Missioners, and Home Missionaries in mid-May. The three join 19 other deaconesses and home missioners in the conference.

According to the Book of Discipline, “deaconesses and home missioners function through diverse forms of service directed toward the world to make Jesus Christ known in the fullness of his ministry and mission, which mandate that his followers alleviate suffering; eradicate causes of injustice and all that robs life of dignity and worth, facilitate the development of full human potential, and share in building global community through the church universal.”

Deaconesses and home missioners—laywomen and laymen, respectively—complete core studies in the Old and New Testaments, theology of mission, and UMC history, polity and doctrine. Each finds their own fulltime employment and asks the church to affirm their ministry through appointment by the bishop.

For Gail Douglas-Boykin, the justice component really spoke to her heart.

“As a police officer, I always felt I was on the unpopular side,” she said. “I would say to my counterparts, you don’t have to lock up everyone . . . more justice can be served with young people to show them a different path.”

Now retired after 21 years with the NYPD, Douglas-Boykin serves as the conference’s coordinator for ministerial services with the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM). She shepherds candidates and their paperwork through the ordination process. She has streamlined the process that previously had seen paperwork go missing, requirements duplicated, and classes not taken.

“Redoing things that had already been done involved lots of time and money for the candidates,” she said. “I saw it as a justice issue. It wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair.” Her work has created a process that is now followed across the conference.

Jim StinsonDouglas-Boykin heard about the deaconess program some 12 years ago, but only recently applied. She began classes in December 2017, traveling to the St. Paul School of Theology in Oklahoma City and the Brooks Howell Home in North Carolina for some of the courses. Her last class finished just after the 2019 Special General Conference where she had served as a delegate.

“It’s very ironic that my last class was UMC doctrine and polity,” she said. “I had just lived it as a delegate.”

The intensive residential classes allowed the classmates to develop some strong bonds over meals and group study.

“I loved the in-person camaraderie. We became a community,” Douglas-Boykin said. “Bonding over food. We’re Methodists. That’s what we do.”

Douglas-Boykin, a member of Vanderveer Park UMC in Brooklyn, noted that deaconesses and home missioners are a lay order that many people don’t know about or misunderstand.


Deaconesses Gail Douglas-Boykin, left, and Christi Campos take a break from classes.

“The commissioning validates and authenticates your call,” she said, “but I’d keep doing what I’m doing even if I was not approved. In my heart I’d still be a deaconess.”

Monica Bartley is following her heart, too, in her work for the Center for Independence of the Disabled NY as a community outreach specialist. In that role she advocates for the rights of people with disabilities on the local and state levels.

“I’ve been doing this kind of work maybe my whole life,” said Bartley who has been disabled since her childhood in Jamaica. “I encountered many barriers. To remove barriers you have to meet with policy makers so they learn how barriers affect you.”

A member of Bethany UMC in Brooklyn, Bartley said she will always work for the rights of the disabled.

“We are always left out . . . excluded,” she said. Even churches are not fully welcoming to the disabled. “So many churches are not accessible . . . I get to a church and there is no way for me to get in.”

The recent Black Lives Matter protests have encouraged Bartley about the possibility of lasting change.

“Black people are being accepted . . . the next step is getting people who are disabled included,” Bartley said. “We need to make room at the table.”

If the Covid-19 pandemic had not hit, Christi Campos would have already moved to New York City from Kansas City, Mo., to continue her work as the executive for development and donor relations for United Methodist Women. Instead, she’s hoping to make the move August 1.

Campos works on planned giving programs and does other fundraising, writing and public speaking about the mission of the UMW. She writes often for Response, the official magazine of the UMW. She said those tasks line up well with her spiritual gift of encouragement.

She’s been traveling to the UMW national office in New York monthly for the last two years and travels three weeks out of the month to cover 27 annual conferences in the South Central and Southeastern jurisdictions.

Campos first heard a call to become a deaconess 17 years ago and said she has felt blessed to have her occupation and faith align.

“Becoming a deaconess is the ultimate way to do that,” she said. “I want to share my joy for the mission work we do and make sure other people catch the bug.”

Campos will make the move with her daughter who will start college in the fall.

“All of this is huge lifestyle change,” said Campos, who plans to attend St. Paul and St. Andrew UMC in Manhattan. “I’m very excited about where God is sending me.”

To learn more about the work of deaconesses and home missioners, go to the UMW website.

‘Write the vision clearly on the tablets. . .’

From the Editor
Dear siblings in Christ,

. . . that one may read it on the run. These words come from Habakkuk 2:2 as God answers the prophet who has complained that God neither hears nor acts to address human corruption and injustice. Those words have been carried across the top of The Vision since long before I arrived on the scene. The next verse in Habakkuk says: For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.

It’s been an incredibly strange journey over the last several months filled with high and lows, joys and lament. Life as we had known it is gone and we are moving into something new and uncharted, moving forward in the care and grace of God. I refuse to call it the “new normal” because there’s a lot of that “normal” that we should leave behind to bring about the beloved kin-dom of God.

A lot of that “normal” is being protested in our streets and parks, and preached against in our Sunday morning worship. It’s been hard to deal with the pandemic of Covid-19; it’s going to be even more difficult to do the critically essential work to break down the walls of racism in our hearts and communities.

In all of our instruction as clergy, we’re taught to be a non-anxious presence in every time and space. But I’ve discovered that it’s really difficult to do that when anxiety is oozing out of every pore in your body. It’s difficult not to know what to do next when what you know best is now impossible. And your pandemic brain hasn’t been much help. And don’t get me started about Zoom exhaustion.

The tears have come when and where they will over these past few months. Personally, I have welcomed them as a means of relieving stress and reconnecting to my compassion. The psalmist tells us:

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?—Psalm 56:8

I’ve yet to find a clergy colleague who is not working three or four times harder than they ever have. It’s been pastoral care on steroids and self-care often goes out the window because looking out for others is what you do.

But please, do not hesitate for one moment to get help—so many of our clergy and the front line workers will especially need professional care to sort through the anguish, anxiety, stress and exhaustion of these days. These resources are available to us. There is no weakness in seeking help; there is strength in knowing that you can’t keep it all inside.

Yet, I have marveled at your stamina, ingenuity, and joy in these days.

I’ve been praying for the clergy and churches dealing with transition on top of everything else. Some congregations have lost beloved members to Covid-19 and have not been able to fully grieve. And although all ordained clergy make a covenant to be itinerate, leaving our churches in such a state of flux will be doubly difficult. Not having the opportunity for in-person goodbyes will make it difficult for clergy to cut ties with the congregations they are leaving to embrace a new one.

But then I think of all the family members who did not get to say goodbye to their loved ones lying in a hospital bed or nursing home. Grief, in all forms, is around us at every level and gratefully, thankfully, God is right there in the middle with us.

Come August 1, I will begin a new chapter in my ministry. The ½-time appointment I have held for the last 10 years as the NYAC communications coordinator will come to an end and I’ll

begin a fulltime appointment to Southampton, N.Y., and the Hamptons UMC. It will be a bit of a homecoming as I served the Bridgehampton UMC in my first appointment and helped form the Hamptons UMC when Bridgehampton and Southampton UMC merged in 2013. Rev. Dr. Leslie Duroseau has loved and nurtured the church and community well for the last 10 years.

So as I leave The Vision in the capable hands of Lisa Isom, I welcome the opportunity to return to familiar territory and some familiar faces. And one of the conference’s two most beautiful natural resources—Camp Quinipet—is just a ferry ride away.

Who could imagine?

In my adult life, I have worked for 9 different organizations in 3 different states; I’ve lived in 8 cities in 13 different apartments and houses. That’s an awful lot of coming and going since I graduated from college. But like ministry in the UMC, a career in newspapers usually means a lot of moving around; leaving lots of places for new ones.

I am truly honored that you have entrusted me with your stories all these years. Some were filled with excitement and joy, others with pain and anger. That is what life hands us—a mixed bag of emotions. That’s why the Psalms are such an important part of our faith journey—every possible human emotion can be found within those verses. I tried to hold those emotions gently to understand the truth in which you live your lives. I have always believed that it is in those difficult times that we grow most, that God is found to be solid and true and our faith is strengthened. And when someone who is feeling the same way reads your stories, they are a balm providing hope that we are indeed not struggling alone.

I have been privileged to share your stories and to learn so much from you: the courage of our front line workers and the new ministries being born in this pandemic, the transformation of lives in rebuilding after a hurricane, the need to fight for immigration reform and to protest for racial justice alongside “Black Lives Matter,” the excitement of ordination day, the construction of new churches and a camp welcome center, the pain and faithfulness of my LGBTQIA siblings, the intersectionality of social justice issues. I hope I treated your stories well. Thank you for taking my phone calls and answering my emails.

Someone recently referred to my work with the conference as a “job.” But it has never been that, it was always a calling. Little did I know when I said to Ann Pearson in the summer of 2008 (while going into my final year of seminary), “If you need any editing help, please give me a call.” Well, someone did know, God knew. God had been preparing that plan for me during more than 25 years in the daily newspaper business.

I have been blessed to have a foot in both places all these years; my parish ministry has instructed my communications ministry, and vice-versa. One has very much been a part of the other. Parish ministry really is all about communications in its thousands of nuanced ways.

There are so many people to thank who have been my faithful and talented partners in this communications work over the years. Some volunteered willingly and others were pressed into service, especially during annual conference. In the early days there was Tom Coddington and Mark Gafney, and then Rev. Jim Stinson, Darlene Kelley, Melissa Hinnen, Jenn Harmer, Peggy Laemmel, Won Tack Lee, Barbara Eastman, Carol Merante, Gennifer Brooks, designer Dale Bryant, and the best photographer ever, Stephanie Parsons.

So my friends, the next time we gather in-person for annual conference, look for me. I’ll be the one sitting up in the Hofstra stands looking calm, rested, and relaxed. And, hey, let’s do lunch!

In God’s care and service,
Rev. Joanne S. Utley


Rev. Morais Quissico, front center, stands with members from St. Mark’s UMC who handed out 300 free face masks to residents of their Brooklyn community.

Left, Lee Pritchard is providing “Hymn-a-Longs on Facebook Live at New Paltz UMC. Right, one of the images taken by Steve Kim for the music videos he is producing with his wife, Rose.

Staying Connected: Ideas,
Tactics to Emulate

BY JOANNE S. UTLEY
Editor, The Vision

Protecting the Homeless
Rev. Derrick Watson has long been an advocate for the homeless, having run shelters in Harlem and when he served as pastor at First UMC in Newburgh, N.Y. 

Watson currently serves as director of the Jack Ryan Residence in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that serves about 200 men, many of whom suffer from mental illness. When the Covid-19 crisis hit, homeless shelters had no way to implement social distancing protocols. Watson grew more and more concerned as he watched more and more people getting sick.

“It was a big challenge, really a dark time,” he said. “We’d get news about someone getting sick, so the clients were staying away. The staff was getting sick, too.

“Our facility was very condensed, not conducive to stopping the spread of Covid,” Watson said. “The men are eating, sleeping and showering in close quarters.”

With stay-at-home orders in effect, the city looked deserted; the streets were devoid of residents and tourists.

Jim StinsonIn early April, New York City decided to move many of the homeless into hotel rooms that were sitting empty. So Watson prepared to move his clients into single or double rooms at the Kixby Hotel on 35th Street. The move took all day, and Watson was there to see that it all went well. The homeless will likely stay in the hotel for the six months, according to Watson.

“I’m the kind of guy to go outside the four walls and help people get their lives back on track,” Watson said. “It’s been emotionally draining, but as a leader I wanted to protect the homeless and my staff.”

Watson said he protected himself with a lot of prayer, always keeping his personal protection equipment (PPE) on and learning about how the virus spreads. Regular temperature checks became routine for the staff and the homeless.

“I knew my calling, knew my role in life. If God gave a calling, I knew I would survive . . . I had a confidence to do this,” Watson said. “If I die in the process, that’s how I die.”

After the homeless were moved into the hotel, Watson did take some time off to recharge and spend time with his family.

Wednesday Hymn-a-Longs
New Paltz UMC (CH)
Every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., Lee Pritchard sits down at the piano in the church sanctuary and begins to play a series of gospel hymns. It’s a form of music that he came to love through his mother, who was also a church musician. His “Hymn-a-Longs” began as a way to offer something that was familiar and comforting to the congregation amid the anxieties of the pandemic.

The Facebook Live concerts last for about 30 minutes, and supplement the other virtual worship services that the church has been doing each week. Margaret Howe, Pritchard’s wife and the conference secretary, drops a reminder on Facebook each week about the midday broadcast, and the audience has been growing. It’s become a lunchtime ritual for some.

Pritchard, who’s been the New Paltz UMC music director for about 10 years and has taught music and theater at SUNY New Paltz, pulls his selections from a number of resources including the UM Hymnal. He doesn’t provide the lyrics, so folks are left to sing along from memory or to just listen. Recent weeks have included hymns like “I Believe,” “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” and “How Great Thou Art.”

Music That Heals
UMC of Huntington-Cold Spring Harbor (LIE)
In recent weeks, when Rev. Steve Youngdong Kim and his wife, Hoyeon “Rose” Kim sit down to collaborate, she picks up a violin and he picks up a laptop. The pair has been posting music videos of hymns as a way to work through their own need for healing and to offer “the balm of Gilead” to others.

Soon after the start of the stay-at-home orders, Rose’s father died, and then the couple experienced a miscarriage.

“Creating the videos has become a sign of us moving to the other side . . . crossing to the other side of the grieving,” Steve explained. “ We wanted to share them as a means of healing, a means of grace. We feel really blessed that God’s grace had been poured out upon us.”

Their collaboration has held multiple meanings for the Kims. Steve said that the healing the music might offer also fits into a place with the losses from Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“This is how I can stand in solidarity [by offering the music],” he said. “This is one of the ways we can support [the BLM movement] . . . using the gifts God has given us.”

The songs are recorded as Rose plays the violin and then keyboard software is used to convert the recording to add the accompanying sounds of a flute, trumpet, organ or piano.

Each video provides the song lyrics in both English and Korean, and begins with an image that the pair creates especially for each song. Rose was brought up in the Korean church, so some of her choices are very familiar in that tradition. Some recent selections have included “Singing I Go,” “Jesus, I Come,” “Spirit of the Living God,” and “God’s Great Grace It is Has Brought Us.” The post from June 4, “We Shall Overcome,” is a bit of distanced collaboration with the daughter of clergy colleagues, Won Tack and Roslyn Lee, singing the song.

Steve admits that having the time to edit the videos can be a challenge some days, but he views it as an act of “holy compassion to do it every single day.”

The videos can be found on Steve’s Facebook page.

A Time to Grieve
Mary Taylor Memorial (CT)
One of the most difficult situations in this time of social distancing has been the inability to come together to grieve the loss of loved ones in the ways we are accustomed. In an effort to ease the mourning and offer some comfort, Mary Taylor Memorial UMC created a “memorial rock walk” on the front steps leading into the church.

A sign in front of the Milford, Conn., church reads: “If you have lost anyone during this time when we cannot gather to mourn, we invite you to place a rock here in their memory. Leave it as God made it or paint it or Sharpie it. Write your loved one’s name.”

The idea for the memorial walk came up in a conversation between Mary Taylor Senior Pastor Kristina Hansen and new Associate Pastor Karen Eiler. The rock walk on the front steps is available to anyone to leave a personalized rock as a visible public witness to their loss and a statement of their personal grief.

Eiler reached out to four local artists who each created one of the anchor rocks for the project. The sentiments written on the anchors are Mourning Together, May God Comfort You, Healing Together and Rock Memorial Walk. People have been stopping by to leave a stone or just pausing for a moment to read the names and reflect.

In an interview with the CT Post, Eiler said, “This is a response to what is happening right now. We were imagining that someday, when we are on the other side of this pandemic, that people will come by and take those stones. Maybe, take them home or to the cemetery or wherever.”

Neighborhood Generosity
Centerport UMC (LIE)
A traffic backup on her normal route to work one day, led Barbara Roiland to start a food donation drive in her own front yard. Roiland, who has driven the same route to her Huntington Station job for 25 years, initially thought that construction was to blame for the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

“That long line of cars was for people to get food,” she explained. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It just rocked me!”

At the next church council meeting via Zoom, Roiland brought up the food lines she had witnessed. A suggestion was made that each person could write a letter asking their neighbors to contribute food to bins at each home.

Roiland said that she didn’t really know many of her neighbors but put out a banner and some bins on her well-traveled street anyway. About six other church members followed suit at their homes.

“The next thing I know, the bin was full, people were filling the bin up,” she said. “I started to put up more signs to connect with the people in the community that I didn’t know. Their generosity blew me away.”

She kept the bins out for a month at the home she shares with her husband, Gary. A changing lineup of hand-lettered signs offered encouragement and humor as well as a bit of challenge to passersby. In the end, the Roilands collected some 45 boxes of food that went to the nearby Helping Hands Rescue Mission.

Centerport UMC, which is led by Rev. Roy Grubbs, has since partnered with the Harborfields Alliance for Community Outreach (HACO) to provide space for the collection and distribution of food to those most in need.

Ventilator Production Line
Stratford UMC (CT)
Raymond Huey is one of many who have been working 12-hour days, seven days a week at Bio-Med Devices Inc. in Guilford, Conn. The company makes respiratory equipment—devices like the ventilators that have been so much in need for Covid-19 patients.

Huey, who with his wife, Bonnie, is a long-time member of the Stratford UMC, has worked for Bio-Med for 10 years and is the director of engineering.

The workforce at Bio-Med has jumped from 70 employees to 100 since the pandemic, with additional jobs still available. In a usual year the company would make 300 ventilators, Huey said. This year, he is expecting that number to land between 2,000 to 3,000 units. Some of the devices are in use in Connecticut hospitals; others have been shipped as far away as England and Brazil.

Huey said that for a small family-owned company like Bio-Med, it’s been difficult to compete with larger companies to get the parts to build the ventilators. But some Fortune 500 companies have volunteered to help with supply chain management.

“We’re managing and we’re doing it,” Huey said. “I feel privileged to be a part of the solution, to do something good for the world.” Two of Huey’s three sisters were diagnosed with Covid-19, but are recovering.

He said his faith is helping him persevere to find solutions that as first seem elusive.

“I was struggling with one part . . . I was trying to get this one small part to work with a larger system. I was working on it for two weeks,” he said. “If I didn’t have faith, if I didn’t have God to pray to I would have been scared. But I was able to work it out.”

A memorial rock walk has been created on the front steps of Mary Taylor Memorial UMC as a way of mourning loved ones.

An array of encouraging and amusing signs created by Barbara Roiland helped stir up neighborhood donations of food for a Huntington Station rescue mission.

Grants Available to Continue Virtual Ministries

During this time of social distancing, many churches have stepped up to provide virtual ministry for their congregations. To maintain those connections moving forward, the New York Conference is offering grants/reimbursements for technology the church has purchased or hopes to purchase. 

The grants fall into three main categories:

  • $250 for churches who need basic technology and most likely do not have wireless (WiFi) networking in the sanctuary. Examples: Projector and speakers.
  • $500 for churches who are live streaming or recording often and want to upgrade their existing equipment. Examples: Camera and tripod.
  • Up to $800 for congregations who need multiple pieces of equipment or are looking for high-end equipment. For churches that want equipment in excess of the $500 grant, the conference will pay for half the cost of what is spent, up to $800.
For more information and to apply, click here.

7/10 & 7/24 Virtual Gathering for Youth
Any youth of the conference can join Jenna Johnson, NYAC youth ministry coordinator, for a time of Bible study and fellowship time every other Friday night from 6 to 7 p.m. Email Johnson for the Zoom login information.

9/30 Blueprint for Wellness, HQ Deadlines
The deadlines for completing the Blueprint for Wellness screening and the online Health Quotient survey have been extended to September 30, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Participants in the HealthFlex insurance program must

register by phone or online to take the Blueprint for Wellness at a Quest Diagnostics lab. (Quest is requiring that face masks be worn to the appointment and they will check your temperature when you arrive.) Register by calling 855-623-9355 and indicating one’s employer group as HealthFlex or the United Methodist Church. To register online, go to www.wespath.org; click on “Health &Wellness Benefits” and log into the HealthFlex WebMD site, then select: “Quest Blueprint for Wellness.” Choose your desired location, day and time. Any questions should be directed to Sally Truglia by email, or by calling 914-615-2220.

8/29–9/7 2021 GC Dates
The dates for the postponed 2020 quadrennial gathering of United Methodists from around the world have been set; the event will still take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center. For additional information, click here.

11/10–12 Jurisdictional Conferences Rescheduled
The Council of Bishops has announced new dates for the five jurisdictional conferences—simultaneous meetings normally held in July where new U.S. bishops are elected.

Vision Deadlines for 2020
The Vision is a monthly online publication; deadlines are the first Friday of the month, with posting to the website about 10 days later. The remaining deadlines for 2020 are July 3, August 7, September 4, October 2, November 6, and December 4. Please send any stories, photos, ideas, or questions directly to Lisa Isom at vision@nyac.com.

Latest
New Appointments
UMCS Extended Scholarship Deadlines

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton announces the following appointments and assignments effective August 1, 2020:

Bonnie Snyder to Walden UMC and Bullville UMC (CH)
Beth Atkins Vieira  to Ardsley UMC (MET)
The United Methodist City Society has extended the deadline for two of its scholarship programs until June 30, according to Rev. Bill Shillady, executive director. Further information and applications for the Rev. Dr. William James scholarship and the Urban Ministry scholarship may be found online on the NYAC’s scholarship page.

Moss Named Director of Congregational
Development & Revitalization

The Rev. Dr. Marvin Moss will become the director of Congregational Development and Revitalization for the New York Conference, effective August 1.

He succeeds Rev. David Gilmore, who is returning to the Missouri Conference to become the superintendent of the Heartland District. Moss will assume this new position while remaining senior pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in Harlem.

A native of Goldsboro, N.C., Moss is a graduate of Hampton University and the Naval Chaplains Reserve Officers School. He holds a master of divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center, and a doctor of ministry degree from Drew University.

Jim StinsonMoss lives out his faith with this mission statement: “Kingdom building, growing, sustaining and revitalizing, ensuring congregations and leaders move forward in the work and will of God.

“I am extremely grateful to Bishop Bickerton for the opportunity to serve as the next director of congregational development and revitalization,” Moss said. “I look forward to being a part of his cabinet, a dynamic team of visionary leaders committed to kingdom building.

“As I follow Reverend Gilmore, I am committed to the same level of excellence and intentionality that he has demonstrated during his time here. I join the bishop in lamenting the departure of a cohort in Christendom, co-laborer in kingdom building, and most of all a true friend and colleague.”

In reflecting on his departure, Gilmore said, “I am heartbroken in leaving a people and place I absolutely love, and feel like there was some unfinished business still to be accomplished. But on the other hand, I celebrate the wisdom-filled choice of Dr. Moss to this position . . . Dr. Moss has a well-documented record of excellence as a servant-leader in the local church and on district and conference committees.

“Additionally, the high bar of excellence Dr. Moss sets for himself and the mastery by which he equips and empowers those around him allows others to see more, do more, and be more. Dr. Moss, along with our bishop and cabinet, are the servants God has chosen for such a time as this to carry the New York Conference into our communities—engaging our communities and loving our communities. Thanks be to God!”

Bishop Bickerton expressed the bittersweet nature of Gilmore’s departure.

“David has become an integral part of my cabinet as well as a trusted colleague and friend,” Bickerton said. “While there is a deep sense of loss within me, I am so pleased that Marvin has agreed to join my cabinet, carry on the excellent work that David has set in motion, and create more significant opportunities for the people of New York and

Connecticut to experience vitality and revitalization in our witness of making and nurturing disciples.  I believe there are great days to come . . .”

Moss received the UMC’s Denman Evangelism Award in 2003 and 2011, the NAACP Emancipation Award, the 2011 Gammon Theological Seminary distinguished alumnus award, and was inducted into the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers in 2009. He also serves as a mentor/coach and consultant for pastors and congregations.

Moss is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, 100 Black Men of New York, and Leadership Atlanta class of 2011.

Food Ministries Filling the Gaps Left by Covid

BY TOM VENCUSS
Coordinator Of Mission Ministry

Even as COVID-19 restrictions relax and businesses begin to re-open, food insecurity remains a concern for many—and it will for the foreseeable future. While federal programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are primary providers of food assistance for millions, local food pantries remain a critical part of community-based assistance, often reaching the most vulnerable and marginalized.

Since April, the New York Conference Missions office has been working with church-based food ministry coordinators, district committees, and the bishop and cabinet to identify existing food ministries, vulnerable and underserved areas, and potential sources of support. In addition, the district meetings have served as a platform for the sharing of ideas, information, and resources.

What our churches are doing—in some cases have been doing for many years—is nothing short of remarkable. And yet the need grows. A recent report out of New York City stated that some 75 percent of food pantries have closed down since the pandemic began. This puts an additional burden on programs that remain open.

We are grateful for the support we have received in support of our work. In the most recent appeal, local churches and individuals donated more than $10,000. The conference has received two UMCOR grants for Covid-19 related ministries and outreach. In addition, the United Methodist City Society, United Methodist Frontier Foundation, and the Conference Missions office joined forces to provide grants to:

Metropolitan District: Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, First Spanish, Church of the Village and Epworth

Connecticut/New York: Norwalk

Long Island West: Bushwick ParishLong Island East: Coram, Hicksville, Freeport, and NOSH (North Shore Emergency Food Relief)

 

Connecticut: First and Summerfield, and Golden Hill

Catskill Hudson: Clinton Avenue, Olivebridge, and North Blehheim

We will continue to reach out to partners throughout the Conference to assist as best we can.

In the end we remember that it is always about people. Teresa Concepcion, executive director of Hope for Our Neighbors in Need, a mission of the Church of the Village offers these short vignettes:

  • A gentleman by the name of Pedro comes from Coney Island on a bike with a cart attached to pick up pantry for himself and his elderly parents. The company he worked for closed permanently because of the pandemic and he was told this was the best place to get food and be treated well. I am overwhelmed for him.
  • George is back. She is a blind, deaf transgender woman who stopped coming at the beginning of the pandemic, but has now returned with a neighbor to help navigate the process with her. 
  • Nicole and her three children under the age of 10 have been coming to the soup kitchen for the last four years. She walks from East 116th Street because the soup kitchen is the only place she feels safe to come get food. Now she calls me to see what the menu is, and if she wants to come, we pre-pack the food so she doesn’t have to wait on line outside with the children.
On a personal note, I would like to offer my thanks on behalf of the office of Missions and Disaster Response for the incredible work and support Rev. Joanne Utley has provided over the years. (This has included monthly reminders to me regarding deadlines.) Her sensitivity and commitment to service through The Vision—a real “mission” in itself—has been a blessing to so many. She will be missed. Thank you, Joanne.

Advocacy, Restorative Mission of Church After Covid-19

BY JACOB DHARMARAJ
President, Retired Clergy and Spouses Association

For the past three months my wife and I have been worshiping online on Sunday mornings. Every time I look at the pastor in Mount Kisco UMC facing the cyber-congregation, with the candlelit altar as a backdrop, a favorite scene from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series comes to my mind. In that story, Lucy and Edmund come across a painting of a majestic ship called the Dawn Treader. Magically, the painting comes to life and draws them into Narnia, and they begin to smell and hear and feel the sea, and find themselves suddenly transported to that ship and that sea. Like Lucy and her friend, for a few moments I feel I’m transported to the church building where I can see and smell and hear the congregation. Oh, how I miss the church on Sunday mornings!

COVID-19 has upended the laissez-faire in unprecedented ways. It has overturned everyday life with death, fear and anxiety. More than 100,000 have died in the United States. Millions have lost their jobs, some permanently. Stock and commodity markets gyrate unpredictably.

After re-evaluating the economic activities and health concerns of their citizens, leaders of many nations are in the thrall of unabashedly nationalist principles curbing multinational trade links and survival means for migrants and immigrants. The current pandemic environment is an unpleasant, alarming, and distasteful place where we do not want to be, but it is neither dystopian nor apocalyptic.

Darwinian Impact on the Church
COVID-19 has spawned a three-axis disrupter to the church: its worship style, its real estate, and its worldwide partnership in mission. The scars of this crisis will linger for a long time, which, undoubtedly, will color views on using public places and congregating in large numbers.

Will a massive church building be good stewardship of dwindling resources? Churches have steadily experienced precipitous decline in demand for services held at their buildings, such as funerals and weddings, as more and more of them are being held in one-stop settings such as funeral homes or hotels or open-air settings.

Social distancing has already disrupted fundraising efforts of churches, Volunteers in Mission trips, and other events that are normally scheduled during spring and summer. Revenue generating programs such as daycare, summer camps and various group activities have also been adversely affected. Consequently, churches have less cash revenue along with a reduction in the number of volunteers to run thrift shops, soup kitchens and mid-week activities.

Churches have always been the spine of our local communities and anchor of voluntary services. Without them many can’t find the social and spiritual support that is ultimately a piece of their future.  As we think long and hard about the future of the church, are people going to want to crowd into sanctuaries when we are ready to open? Sunday worship is not a light switch where all of a sudden it’s game on. There’s going to be zero pressure forcing people to come back to worship services. Historic unemployment figures, loss of revenue streams (including equity and fixed income), and the rapid descent of the pandemic make people more cautious. During the past economic downturns and global panic, people were concerned about monetary security. During this COVID-19 crisis, people are concerned about both money and health. Despite all the available safety measures and sincere promises, I’m afraid, people are not going to rush through the door at their first opportunity.

The world is going to be different when we come out of quarantine. Our habits and how we use our facilities and space will absolutely be different. The UMC as a denomination was bracing for a brutal quadrennium of division, separation, and partition even before GC-20 was cancelled. Now, things are about to get really Darwinian.

Seniors make up a significant percentage of our Sunday worship attendance. It will take a long time before they return with their generous giving. Many parishioners may demand “virtual” services, in addition to on-site services. There will be an intense competition for membership, both within and without denomination. Start-up congregations and non-denominational fellowships will have easy access to the hearts and emotions of the mainline church members. Consequently, worshipers will easily migrate from one worship setting to another. Any group comprised of a dynamic worship team can easily garner a larger group of worshipers online. Stodgy hymns and mono-tone pulpit huggers will have a tough time holding the congregation together. Cross-cultural and cross-racial ministers will face an uphill battle.

Pastors who know how to manage modern technology, with “people personalities” and excellent communication skills, will succeed.

Recovery Within and Without
More and more lay servants will be sent to licensing schools for local pastors and to course of study programs. Already struggling seminaries will have yet fewer student enrollment. Study materials will be digitized and translated into multiple languages, which will be done primarily by non-denominational or independent groups.

Social service groups, such as human rights, social justice, poverty, and environmental organizations, will be heavily hit financially, since they often run on shoe string budgets with

little or no buffer or cushion, and no room for error. Even if they have a sizeable endowment, they will be hit hard as their cash flow would be sub-par as major stock indices have lost a considerable value. Even if the economy recovers, as recent history has proven, the recovery will only be partial for the church.

The church of Jesus Christ has gone this way before and triumphed. We will too. The current challenging times call us to take a two-gear approach in reopening the church and its ministries. The first gear is to focus on congregational safety, building viability and missional integrity in the near term. The second gear is in equipping the worship leaders, formatting the worship style and weekly programs to be truly relevant and meaningful as a changing agent of the worshipping community.

Sanitizing the real estate and disinfecting the worship place is not enough. We need an invasive surgery. We need a well-defined theology, Christology, and missiology that will help us emerge from our tribal cocoon, clean out our dark closets, and truly see the image of God in ones who are not in our own image. We must commit ourselves to clear away coded cobwebs so that we might pare down to our essence.

This is a health care crisis for sure, but the right lens to look at this is as a disaster and how those in power acted during crisis. This pandemic has exposed how people who live in certain zip codes and communities of color have paid a heavy price with their lives. Why would black and brown people get infected and die disproportionately? Surviving life’s hardest blows and overcoming racial divides are not something to be celebrated. We should be mad as hell that they exist in the first place. To expect resilience without working for justice and fairness is simply to indifferently accept the status quo.

The church of Jesus Christ has always been in the business of hope and redemption. It cannot be left in the hands of humanists and corporate do-gooders. And that pathway to more hope is not charitable work rooted in “forget-the-past-let’s-start-from-here” mantra, but working for unadulterated equity and standing for unmitigated equality. They are inextricably linked in Christian mission.

Advocacy and restorative mission make us envision a restored community and compels us truly to be the church whose mission is to be the moral conscience of the world and fight against the incalculable callousness of power and privilege that would willingly and routinely thrust the less privileged to fall over the cliff. Such a missional commitment will make the church be the church—both for the short and long haul.

Covid-19 Updates

As the incidence of the coronavirus continues to decline across our region, many churches are, or will be, offering in-person worship for limited numbers in the next few weeks. Other churches may choose to put off returning to their sanctuaries until at least Labor Day.

To aid in the re-opening of our buildings across the NYAC, Bishop Bickerton has released a booklet of guidelines with a step-by-step path to certification by the conference. The booklet is available to download on the NYAC website where updates, videos, and other information continue to be posted.

When the guidelines were released, the bishop wrote: “Let us not cause one another undue heartache and stress by not complying. Instead, let us move forward with resolve, determined that God will guide our steps on this uncharted path.”

Longing for Fresh Air? Head to Kingswood

Above from left, Max Millien works to secure one of the platform tents; Justin Savarese, left, and Ben Riddle take care of a fallen tree; and Reggie Johnson and Riddle move a bunk into place in a tent.

BY JOANNE S. UTLEY
Editor, The Vision

For individuals and families looking for wide-open spaces after months of isolation at home, Kingswood Campsite offers more than 760 acres on which to hike, kayak, swim and relax. The camp in Hancock, N.Y., will open its doors on June 26—its original target date before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“Our reservations are up,” said Brooke Bradley, the NYAC’s Camping & Retreat Ministries director. “People are craving to get outdoors for some fresh air. This will truly be a respite for people this summer.”

The campsite is mostly booked for the first couple of weeks, but has plenty of openings after that, according to Kingswood Director Cheryl Winship. Three levels of camping are available; there are 15 sites with equipped cabin tents and five RV sites, or people can pitch their own tent.

Normally, Kingswood relies on large groups of volunteers at weekend events to get the facility up and running for the summer season, but social distancing greatly reduced those numbers this year. Three members of the Camp Quinipet staff—Justin Savarese, Reggie Johnson, and Ben Riddle—joined a handful of volunteers to clear fallen trees, mow grass, set up the tents, and move the bunks into place.

Winship said that concerns about coronavirus have also prompted a few changes in policy. The camp is now only requiring deposits one week ahead of reservations, rather than

when they are made. Campers will be responsible for wiping down their own mattresses. And while the playground will be closed, the trails have been groomed and a lifeguard will be on duty at the lake.

Masks will need to be worn in all the indoor social areas like the barn and bathhouses. Programming will be limited to 10 participants at a time. Campers can learn how to make their own facemasks with a sewing demonstration by Rev. Maria-Pia Seirup.

Across the conference at Camp Quinipet on Shelter Island, the difficult decision was made to not open their day and overnight camping programs for the summer.

“It was heart-breaking, but there was no other decision to make,” said Bradley. “It’s a very uncertain time.”

But Bradley remains hopeful that when the region hits Phase 4 (as designated by the state), the camp may be able do a limited opening for returning camp families, NYAC families, or small retreats. The camp is also available for retreats by clergy and their families.

At Camp Olmsted in Cornwall-on Hudson, the summer will also be a quiet one. The camp, which is operated by the Five Points Mission (a subsidiary of the United Methodist City Society), suspended their summer program in May. But they plan to resume the retreat program in August with new cleaning and social distancing protocols, according to April Callender of the City Society.

Church Historian Classes Offered

Are you, or someone you know, interested in caring for or improving your church’s program of history?

The General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH) will be offering a local church historian school this fall for church historians—or anyone interested in the story of their church.

The 12-week-long course will cover a wide range of skills necessary to become a “complete” church historian. There are weekly readings and assignments, sent by email, that participants will move at their own pace—even if it takes them longer than 12 weeks.

During the free course, participants will have an assigned moderator for any questions that might arise as well as access to a closed Facebook group with other course participants. Once completed, the participant will receive a certificate from GCAH.

Participating congregations will benefit from a new consciousness of their heritage and legacy and be motivated to study their unique stories and proclaim it to those around them.

The school will begin September 14, 2020. For more information and to register, for the free program, click here.

Mission u Studies Available for Home Use

Although Covid-19 prompted the cancellation of the 2020 Mission u gathering July, the spiritual growth studies for adults, youth and children are still available. The United Methodist Women’s national office has been providing resources that will allow parents, youth leaders and pastors to work though each of the studies with their congregations.

Adult study
The book, “Finding Peace in an Anxious World,” is an even more relevant resource given the global protest movement to end systemic racism. The book, written by staff at the Urban Village Church in Chicago, uses Proverbs and the “Serenity Prayer” to help Christians deal with anxiety, worry, and fear, and move towards God’s peace. It explores ways to discover peace through scriptural and spiritual disciplines.

The four chapters, each written by a different Urban Village Church leader, focus on different aspects of the prayer—serenity, acceptance, courage, and wisdom—and each concludes with a spiritual practice to help develop the featured characteristic in your life.

Youth study
In “Managing Anxiety,” authors Trudy Rankin and Faye Wilson educate youth on one very normal emotion with considerable power—anxiety—and offer tools and practices that give them the self-confidence to manage decisions, control their emotions, and mature into healthy young adults, using our Christian faith as a guide.

This study also encourages youth, their leaders and mentors, and their families to access other church and community resources, such as counseling and peer support.

Children’s study
“Managing Our Emotions” helps children learn about their emotions and accept God’s gift of both positive and negative ones—sadness, joy, excitement, fear and frustration to name just a few. The study uses scripture memorization, Bible study and prayer, as well as exercises to help children manage feelings in a positive and healthy way.

Each year some 20,000 United Methodists are educated

through the mission studies offered through the UMW. The materials are available in English, Spanish and Korean. More information about obtaining the resources for use in your church can be found on the UMW website.

Viera Tapped to Lead Garrett-Evangelical

The Reverend Dr. Javier A. Viera has been named the next president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, effective January 1, 2021. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Viera will be the first person of color and first Latino to hold the office of president in the seminary’s 167-year history.

“Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is one of the storied institutions in theological education with a long history of theological innovation, as well as a noted commitment to working for social justice and repair, and I am honored to have been invited to join the Garrett community,” Viera said in a press release.

Viera moves to Garrett from Drew University, where he served as vice provost, dean of the theological school, and professor

of pastoral theology, Viera led the transformation of the theological school’s curriculum, launched new degree programs and initiatives, and was instrumental in efforts that have increased enrollment and fundraising. His broad scholarly interests have centered on inter-religious dialogue, adult learning and development, and the role of religion in contemporary Latin America. At Drew, he taught courses in religious education, cross-cultural encounters and competency, homiletics, and pastoral leadership. 

Prior to Drew, Viera served in congregational ministry for two decades, leading rural, suburban, and urban congregations—most recently at Christ Church in New York City, where he served as executive minister. He is an ordained elder in the New York Conference.

OBITUARIES

Rev. Margaret Ince
The Reverend Margaret Ince, 83, died April 28, 2020. She was born on March 19, 1937.

Ince was consecrated a diaconal minister in 1998, and ordained a deacon in 2002. She spent years on the Long Island West District Committee on Ordained Ministry.

After retiring in 2007, she worked with Rev. Cecil Stone at Hansen Place United Methodist Church.

Elise L. Fitzsimmons
Elise L. Fitzsimmons, 65, of Becket, Mass., died June 1, 2020. She was born on November 14, 1954, in Atlanta, the daughter of Janet and Wendell Lavender.

She was the beloved wife of the Rev. Dr. M. Craig Fitzsimmons for over forty years. They were married when Craig was the associate pastor at Jesse Lee UMC in Ridgefield, Conn. Craig served in the New York Annual Conference from 1975 until his retirement in 2018, pastoring churches in Kensington, New Caanan, Waterbury, and Clinton, Conn.; and Pleasant Valley and Pleasantville in New York.He also spent several years working in extension ministry in Missouri.

Elise loved cooking and baking and passed on those skills. She was also a quilter who appeared at many craft shows and had her own Etsy site. In her 50s, she earned a black belt in tae kwon do. An avid bird watcher, she traveled to Arizona to watch California condors released back into the wild. She loved to garden and many friends enjoyed her gifts of vegetables and flowers.

In her professional life she was a reinsurance underwriter for a number of companies in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Missouri and New Hampshire. She was the first woman to earn a BS in mathematics at Hofstra University, and then earned an MBA at Pace University. Her professional certifications included an A.Re. and C.P.C.U. She traveled extensively both for business and pleasure, and especially enjoyed visiting national parks, monuments and historical sites. 

Her love for God and her neighbor was often shown through her contributions to church, food programs and numerous charities. She was a life-long member of The United Methodist Church.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by three daughters, Rebekah (Robert Houston), Martha (Sam Partrick) and Abigail (Toby Hummel), three grandchildren, Lily, Logan and James; as well as her mother, eight siblings/step-siblings and numerous nieces and nephews. 

A memorial service will be held at a later date at the First UMC of Pittsfield, Mass. Burial will be private. 

Memory donations may be made to United Methodist Loans and Scholarships, 1001 19th Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37212, or to a charity of your choosing.

Margaret R. Savage
Margaret R. Savage, 91, died March 19, 2020, at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough, Maine.

Born in Rockville Center, N.Y., on September 27, 1928, she was the daughter of John and Edith Powell Davis.

In July 1948, she married Rev. Jack Earl Savage at St. Mark’s UMC in Rockville Center, N.Y. The couple had four children, Rick, Ralph, Roger, and Robin.

Rev. Savage served 37 years with the New York Conference, pastoring churches in Olivebridge, Samsonville, and The Vly in New York; as well as St. John’s UMC in Newburgh, N.Y.; Lakeville UMC in Connecticut; and Drew UMC in Carmel, N.Y. His last church was Babylon UMC on Long Island, where he served for 21 years before retiring in 1987.

After her husband died suddenly in 1988, Savage moved to Saco, Maine.

A private service will be held at the convenience of the family.

Rev. Carol A. Downs
The Reverend Carol A. (Fowler) Downs, 68, of Southington, Conn., died May 15, 2020, at MidState Medical Center in Meriden. She was the pastor of Grace UMC in Southington, Conn.

Rev. Downs was born on October 6, 1951, in New Haven, Conn., to John and Helen (Thissell) Fowler. She graduated from The Morgan School in Clinton, Conn., and earned a bachelor’s degree in human services from Southern New Hampshire University, and a master’s degree in library science from Southern University. She worked as a special education teacher for more than 20 years.

In 2004, Downs followed her longtime call into pastoral ministry. She received her license to preach in 2005, and in 2011 became an associate member of the New York Conference. Most recently, Downs was enrolled in Drew Theological School as part of her journey to become an ordained elder. She served the following Connecticut churches in addition to Grace UMC: Derby UMC, and East Pearl Street and St. Andrew’s in New Haven.

Downs loved sharing her passion for music with her students and parishioners.

She is survived by her husband of 47 years, Thomas L. Downs; two children, Matthew Downs of New Haven, Conn., and Ryan Downs of New Hampshire; three nieces and their families: Kristen M. Rodrigues, Jennifer A. Watrous and Cheryl L. Watrous. Downs was predeceased by her sister, Judith Watrous, and her nephew, Timothy Watrous.

A celebration of Downs’ life will be held at Grace UMC at a future date. Donations in her memory may be made to Grace UMC, 121 Pleasant St., Southington, CT 07489. To leave online condolences for the family, visit the Plantsville Funeral Home website.

Rev. Chung Soon Chang
The Reverend Chung Soon Chang, 92, of Flushing, N.Y., died April 13, 2020.

Born on May 5, 1928, in Seoul, Korea, Rev. Chang  grew up in a time of war and suffering. He gave his life to God when he witnessed his father giving his life for his faith. Chang managed to immigrate to America with his wife and four children.

He served in the Korean Methodist Church for more than 30 years, first in the Northern Illinois and West Michigan conferences before becoming a full member of the New York Conference in 1988. In New York, Chang served Korean UMC in Maspeth and Central Queens Korean UMC in Woodside. He retired from the New York Conference in 1999. In retirement, he served as president of the retired pastors’ organization. 

Chung Soon is survived by his four children: Donghae, Dongsun, Dongho, and Dongil Chang. He was predeceased by his wife, Chung Chang, in 2008. 


The Vision, Newspaper of the NYAC, of the UMC

Bishop: Thomas J. Bickerton
Communications Director: Lisa Isom
Editor: Joanne Utley

Vision e-mail: vision@nyac.com
Web site: www.nyac.com/vision
Instagram: NYACvision1

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