The Vision
The Newspaper of The New York Conference of The United Methodist Church March 2017

In this issue

The youth team and chaperones stop on the steps of church after Sunday worship.

Mission Mixes Building, Health, History

The Youth Ambassadors in Mission traveled to Ghana from February 17–27. The youth participated in the construction of a nurses’ residence near the Methodist Dorcas Clinic, which was built earlier by NYAC mission teams. They assisted in afterschool activities, coordinate a Vacation Bible school, and distribute Days for Girls kits, which provide reusable feminine hygiene supplies.  Many of the kits have been assembled by members from NYAC congregations, and other United Methodist congregations. The following are excerpts from their trip blog:


Do Not Be Afraid

(I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here, I am here)

Wait. Wait for the bus, for the line, for the food and cold water. Wait for someone to bring out cards. Wait to say “peanut butter” with a smirk. Wait for your pictures to upload to Instagram. Then wait again. The plane is small. It has one aisle. On one side there are two chairs together and on the other one, only one.


Film takeoff, take comfort in a small glass heart from home and dragon who breathes only fictional fire.



Relax. Enjoy the quiet, enjoy the pie. Take pictures aplenty and breath.

You are here.

It hits you in this moment.

I am here.

Start the descent and do not be afraid.

You are here.

Do not be afraid.—Ava Patino

Are We Really Getting on . . . THAT Plane??

. . . We were all scared to get on the very small plane. When we landed we got on a bus and couldn’t help but look out at beautiful Tamale. We were shocked at the poverty of the villages. By the time we got to the compound we were so tired. When the girls got to our room we decided that we all didn’t want to be alone tonight, so we all slept in one room. We spent the whole night talking about what we liked and disliked and just about life until we all went to sleep.—Imani Hall


Children’s Sunday in Ghana
We started off the day a little late . . . After breakfast we headed out to church. Church was very fun; everyone sang and danced. The service was very lively and it caused many laughs. This Sunday was Children’s Sunday, so the children did all the reading and even the sermon. After service, we went outside and started talking with locals for a short time. Some of them even asked us to take pictures with them. It was like we were famous.—Michael Hullstrung

Children Running the Church!
It was Children’s Sunday, which takes place every tenth Sunday. This is when the children practically run the church service. We watched from our seats on the side as all the children in the church happily participated in the service. Afterwards we went back to the compound for lunch. After lunch we were able to change into more comfortable clothes so that we could sort through the medical supplies that we all brought to donate. After sorting and taking count, we had a short break before dinner at 6. Everyone was happy to see we had something other than rice for dinner.—Wodley Bruny

What do I do with a baby?
 Once at the worksite, a clinic run by the Methodist Church, we loaded off bags of supplies and waited for further instruction. While we waited, the small group of women waiting slowly grew to be more and more. Women clad in bright colors, some carrying babies, others baskets, all began to trek to the clinic.

While at the clinic, we worked to clear away rocks, rotting wood, and other garbage in front of the nurses’ quarters that were being updated. We also worked to dig holes to put posts into. This was the worst because the ground was full of large rocks.

After lunch, we visited a village near the clinic. The people here lived in compounds, which are mud huts connected to each other by a wall where a whole family would live. The people we met were very welcoming to us, and small children followed us around wherever we went. One woman even handed me a baby.—Tim Bosco


Working, Helping, and Getting the Water Working
Last night a water pipe burst so no one had water, that was bad. The Smith family did devotion today and then we ate breakfast and head out to the worksite.

I had the job of helping with the cement, but we were short a shovel so I helped carry the made cement over to the builders in a head pan . . . The first time, the lady that helped us went to put the pan on my head but I was confused so she just handed it to me. The second time I brought it over on my head, it was a lot of fun.

Then all of the girls went to the school to be a part of the Days for Girls program. So we were in a class with all the girls where they learned about feminine things and were provided with things to cope with troubles. We started dancing with them it was so much fun . . .

After lunch we finished painting and sanding the building we have been working on at the clinic. When I went to take a break and get some water, I started playing with the kids, talking to them and showing them games like Miss Mary Mac. I made a handshake with a little girl. We also taught them to “dab.”

Then we got on the bus and went into town to get hats. I was cool walking through the streets. After that, we went back to camp and the water was fixed. Hallelujah. We all took showers.—Brooke McDermott 

So Many New Friends . . .
After breakfast, Amanda, Brooke, Emmanuella, and I got the “Days for Girls” suitcases from my room and put them on the bus. Then we headed off to the worksite. At the worksite, there were several jobs that needed to be done. There was cement to be mixed to fill the holes in the building, gravel to be spread, dirt to sift into sand, and painting to be done on the building . . .

After about two years working on the Days for Girls project, what I looked most forward to was seeing their faces when they received the kits. The woman from Days for Girls did a wonderful job working with the girls there, the majority of whom said they use grass when they don’t have access to sanitary pads.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do any of what I had hoped. I was told to merely observe, although the woman from Ghana said she would appreciate my help for a demonstration.

Moreover, the rest of the girls on the trip had to go back to the

Slabs of concrete were moved and broken into smaller pieces.

worksite to have lunch. Although some of the chaperones were able to stay, I was told I had to return to the worksite as well. So after all the time working on this project, all the time I had dreamed of handing over those kits and all the exhausting travel to get here to Ghana, I couldn’t even be there for the distribution, that was extremely upsetting for me.—Anna Baker 

Kids So Glad to See Us!
Every day I wake up early, but today was different. I was so tired from yesterday’s work and heat that it caused me to sleep in late.

Now its time for the 40-minute bus rise to the construction site. It’s hot as hot can be. There were little children outside playing hand games. They’re so happy and humble. I wish I was like that.

Slowly the YAMs are starting to work off their sleepiness. I used sand paper to clean the walls of the building. That was relaxing. I painted the doors, shoveled rocks into barrels and crushed bigger rocks for fun. I felt like I accomplished so much this morning. Now it’s time for lunch. We had beef, sauce, and our favorite . . . Rice! It was really good but it’s sad to eat or waste food in front of the poor families. After lunch, it was time for the YAMs to visit a school and work with the kids. As we pulled up in the bus, the kids excitedly ran to the windows to wave to us. That made my day. I’ve never seen children so happy to participate in an afterschool program with foreigners.—Kiarra Davenport 

The Roads and Markets of Ghana
The highlight of my evening was the ride to Winneba. The congestion amongst the streets mixed with the fast paced selling of goods and the commotion on the side streets came together as a portrait of the struggle. The faces and bodies dripping of sweat showed signs of a strenuous day. The makeshift stands and bonfires provided the darkness a simple form of calm. Just being in the midst of the daily lives of so many individuals fostered a greater sense of appreciation for everything that is back home.—Jonathan Logan

Discovering a Sense of Identity
Today . . . we took off into a day we hoped would be filled with good times and memories to last a lifetime. Our first destination, Elmina Castle. Before arriving I didn’t know what to expect but had high hopes that my life would forever be changed for the best. In school, we learn about the slave trade, triangular trade route, Atlantic Pacific trade route and many other trade routes in which commodities and natural resources are exchanged.

We learn all of these things but yet one question never asked is are we retaining the information given to us? Does it make us question our identity? Do we strive to discover who we are? Truthfully many, including myself would tell you, no. We move from day to day without a sense of identity. Many slaves held in this castle were stripped of their identities and became no one and yet we find it hard to want to know who we are . . .

Though their bones are a part of this earth, their story will never be forgotten because it has and will continue to shape mine. Through this experience, I’ve taken to heart the notion of knowing your roots because without a steady foundation, the structure we built . . . cannot withstand the pressure of time.—By Emmanuella Sayi 

A Big Reality Check
After breakfast we went on our way to Elmina Castle. Something I was very excited and grateful to be a part of. Once at the castle, it was a very emotional experience to be able to actually stand in the place where many of our ancestors possibly passed through. It was kind of a reality check for me. As a people we came so far and we take so much for granted especially how we treat each other with many derogatory terms that we have taken from those days and made it part of our common language.

After such an enlightening and emotional morning, we headed over to Elmina Beach Resort Hotel where we relaxed and unwound by the beach with a beautiful lunch spread. We just spent the afternoon enjoying each other’s company. Then to end our day outside we went to a high school and played basketball and volleyball, and danced with the kids. Then we got to ask them questions and they got to ask us questions, but we really connected when we got up on stage to dance together. Then we end the night around the table with a very intense conversation about the many things we saw at Elmina and the high school. To officially end the night we had sad/glad time, which put a smile on everyone’s face.—Justine Saunders

A Home Away from Home
Well then. I guess this is goodbye. Goodbye to this red notebook, and the writing in it . . . Mostly goodbye to Ghana. That’s what this blog is about, right? Because it’s our last day here and then we’ll be gone, and who knows when we’re coming back. So here we go. We went to church this morning, and I wore one of my new dresses I bought at the market. It’s yellow and blue, and has a ruffle at the top.

. . . And goodness that church. The people were singing and dancing, and the songs ran from one to another, an orchestra of joy and praise—at being alive and being together and being under God, I suppose. Even without being able to understand most of what was said it was infectious. And then we went home . . .

Home. It’s funny I’ve used that to describe this place at least twice in this blog, and its been entirely coincidental. But really that’s what this trip, and these people have created for me. A home. A place where things may be a little crazy and slightly dysfunctional, but a place where I truly belong. So goodbye Ghana, but you couldn’t pay me a zillion cedis to say goodbye to my home, and for that I am forever grateful.—Ava Patino

Clockwise from above: School girls, some with head wraps and some without, learn about feminine hygiene; construction work involved lots of rocks, sand and dirt; the youth visit a nearby family compound.

“Be Still & Know” Good Advice for Lent

I recently read an article in the New York Times by Amy Krouse Rosenthal entitled, “You May Want to Marry My Husband.”In that article, the well-known author of children’s books reveals that she is in the final stages of ovarian cancer. With each paragraph, Rosenthal paints a beautiful picture of the loving relationship she shares with her husband and the direction she is taking with the remaining days of her life. 

The diagnosis of her cancer came quickly and unexpectedly. Plans had to change. Dreams had to be re-thought. Amy writes, “This is when we entered what I came to think of as Plan ‘Be,’ existing only in the present.”

It really got me to thinking. You see, I am a person of big dreams. I love to vision out pathways and possibilities for the future. I not only long for a better world, I like to think that I play a part, albeit small, in helping to create one. I frequently repeat myself with phrases like, “God isn’t through with us yet,” and “We all should be discerning God’s preferred future.”

But what about “Plan Be?”In the midst of the helter-skelter, frenetic, uncertain world in which we live, shouldn’t we all develop a “Plan Be?”

Learning how to just “be” has not been an easy exercise for a guy like me. I want to go and see and experience the vast array of God’s creation. Yet, I have discovered along the way that there is a real need for each of us to go and see and experience the vastness of God’s creation . . . within ourselves. There, deep within, lies a multitude of God’s holy mysteries, not to mention quite a number of insecurities, longings, and questions. One can travel the world searching for meaning, but one of the most important stops along the way is deep within our selves.

In my work, I am frequently called upon to be “on,” fully present and engaged.  For a “type A” personality like myself, that’s never too hard.  But this work brings out the introvert in you.  There is a need to pause, reflect, pray, and just “be.” 

That’s really the essence of this Lenten season that we have recently begun.  Lent, the 40 days not including Sundays leading up to Easter, is designed to be a time when we take stock of our inner lives and assess where we are and where we aren’t in our relationship with God.  It is a time for new disciplines, fresh confessions, and honest reflections.  It’s a time to just “be” and let God speak to you with a voice that is always present but not always heard.

Although not always quite as dramatic as Amy Rosenthal, everyone has moments where life comes and brings us unexpected news. As a result, plans are changed and dreams are re-directed.  It’s then, in the midst of the unexpected, that we can develop “Plan Be” and sense with renewed joy the presence of God walking with us each step of the way. 

God’s dreams are not always far off.  They are often found in the present moment when God calls us, right here and right now, to realize that we are God’s children—called, gifted,

blessed to be a blessing—right here and right now.

Singer Jason Mraz wrote these words in his song “Living in the Moment:”

So I just let go of what I know I don’t know
And I know I only do this by
Living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going, I’m already home
Living in the moment

Sounds like a good “Plan Be” to me.

The Journey Continues, . . .
Thomas J. Bickerton
Resident Bishop

Recent Appointments

It is the intention of Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton to make the following appointments effective July 1, 2017:

Stefanie Bennett to John Street (MET)
Thomas Gye Ho Kim to Darien (NYCT)
Roslyn Lee to Commack (LIE)
Won Tack Lee to Long Island Korean, Commack (LIE)
Hermon Darden to St. Stephen’s English, Bronx, (MET)
Robert Milsom to St. James, Kingston (CH)
Jung Ung Moon to Bayside as senior pastor and The Shepherd, Bayside (LIW)
William Wendler to Bayside as associate pastor (LIW)
Joseph Ewoodzie to Farmingdale (LIE)
Chermain Lashley to Grace, St. Albans (LIW)
Jason P. Radmacher to Asbury-Crestwood (MET)
David M. Jolly to Trinity (Bronx: City Island), MET)

For a full lineup of events, go to:

3/20 Conference Call Prayer
Join the Task Force on Immigration for a time of prayer for
our country and immigrant brothers and sisters on Monday nights from 7:30-8 p.m. until further notice. Call-in number: 641-715-3580; group code: 780-843#. Contact Pastor Ximena Varas for more information.

3/8–29 Wednesday Lenten Series
Praising God with our bodies. Noon to 1 p.m. in the Conference Center each Wednesday from March 8 to 29. Contact Lyndi Gomi for details.

3/23 Pre-Retirement Seminar
Check the conference calendar for additional details about this event scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact is Sally Truglia.

4/1 Archives Workshop
Learn how to organize and protect your church records
in this workshop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Beth Patkus and Leslie Reyman will introduce participants to basic archival concepts through hands-on activities and provide tips for protecting records. A $15 donation will cover costs for lunch, meeting handouts and a tote bag. Register on the NYAC
web site.

4/1 Advocacy Day Training
Prepare for the lobbying day against torture and solitary confinement on May 2 by attending this training session
from 1–3 p.m. at the conference center in White Plains.
The conference Board of Church & Society is sponsoring
the training; contact Sheila Peiffer at 518-334-6076
with any questions.

4/7–8 Day of Dance Conference
The third annual Day of Dance conference will focus
on the “young-at-heart”—age 40 plus—but welcomes
all ages.  There will be workshops to suit all levels of experience. Participants will learn dances to minister at annual conference 2017. Please note that an adult must accompany all minors. The program at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, N.Y., runs 6–9 p.m. Friday, and from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturday. Cost per person is about $40 for overnight stay and food. A commuter option
will also be available. Deadline to register is March 31. Contact Rev. Sheila Beckford for details.

4/22 Disaster Response Forum
Greg Forrester, president and CEO of National VOAD,
will be the featured speaker at this one-day forum,
“When Disaster Strikes—the Church Responds.” The
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. forum will be held at the White Plains Conference Center. Presentation topics will include the role of the church in a disaster, understanding the big picture,
and toward a district-based disaster response ministry. Breakout sessions planned are ERT recertification class, nuts and bolts of leading a response team, caring for the community and developing care ministries. Light breakfast foods, beverages, and snacks will be provided. Please
bring a bag lunch to allow for a working-lunch.

Register on the NYAC website and indicate a preference
for one of the breakout sessions. Contact Tom Vencuss
for more information or with questions.

4/24–28 Clergy/Spouses Health Clinic
Active clergy and/or their spouses are eligible for this health clinic and seminar at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital (formerly New York Methodist Hospital). Overnight accommodations and virtually all expenses beyond a $50 registration fee are covered by the hospital. Give yourself this gift to check out your health. Find the details on the NYAC website, or contact coordinator, Rev. Elizabeth Braddon by email, or at 203-481-2789.

4/25–26 Anti-Racism Training
The NYAC Commission on Religion and Race is sponsoring a session of “Effective Christian Leadership in a Multicultural World” training. This training is mandatory for all clergy, and members of district committees on ministry and the Board of Ordained Ministry. The sessions, which run from 8:30 a.m. on the first day until 4 p.m. on the second day, will be held Quinipet Camp & Retreat Center, 99 Shore Rd., Shelter Island Heights, N.Y. Register on the conference web site at least one week beforehand. Contact Rev. Sheila Beckford with any questions.

4/26 Petition, Reports Deadline
The deadline for submitting all commission/committee reports, petitions or resolutions for consideration at the 2017 annual conference is Wednesday, April 26. Contact Conference Secretary Margaret Howe by email or call 914-615-2231 office or 845 943-8962 home.

4/29 Understanding Elder Abuse
NYAC Older Adult Committee will sponsor the event, “Elder Abuse: Recognizing, Responding and Prevention,” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Memorial UMC, 250 Bryant Ave., White Plains, N.Y. Contact Rev. Jim Stinson with questions.

4/29 Disaster Spiritual Care
This UMCOR basic care training for disaster emotional and spiritual care will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the conference learning center. Register on the conference web site. Please contact Pastor Wendy Vencuss with questions.

5/2 Lobbying Day in Albany
Join the Conference Board of Church & Society in Albany for a rally and visits to legislators in support of the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act. Since this legislation is considered a model for the entire country, people from outside New York are welcome to help with this effort. Bus transportation is available from both White Plains and New Paltz. Register soon as space is limited on the bus.

5/4–7 Walk to Emmaus
The men’s Walk to Emmaus will be held at Montfort spiritual Center in Bay Shore, N.Y., on Long Island. The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with a 72-hour course in Christianity beginning on Thursday night and ending on Sunday. Additional details and registration info are upcoming. The women’s walk is slated for October 19–22 at the same location.

5/20 Missional Community Engagement Forum
Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr., author of “Transforming Community,” will facilitate this 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. training event at the Dorral Arrowwood Conference Center, 975 Anderson Hill Rd., Rye Brook, N.Y. This is a follow-up to the Laity Convocation, but even those who did not attend that November event may register. David Gilmore, director of congregational development and revitalization, is the contact. The fee per person is $55; register online.

6/7–10 2017 Annual Conference
Stay tuned for more details about this event for laity and clergy at Hofstra University on Long Island. The call to conference will be mailed soon to all clergy and lay members.

In the February Vision, it was erroneously reported that the old NY-CT District parsonage in Stamford, Conn., was outside the district boundaries. The new parsonage is more centrally located in Mahopac, N.Y.

Vision Deadlines for 2017
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. Deadlines for 2017 are: April 7, May 5, June 2, July 7, August 4, September 1, October 6, November 3, and December 1. Please send any stories, photos, ideas, or questions directly to

The New York Conference is gearing up to join in the denomination’s global initiative, “Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children.” The health initiative that was kicked off at the 2016 General Conference by the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) builds on the success of Imagine No Malaria.

Abundant Health makes five promises to children: to ensure safe births, promote breastfeeding and nutrition, prevent childhood killer diseases, encourage treatment-seeking behaviors and provide treatment and lifesaving commodities.

The goal of reaching 1 million children with lifesaving interventions by 2020 is focused on communities, primarily in Africa, with high child mortality rates from preventable causes. In particular, the campaign will support efforts of faith-based partners in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone, as well as Haiti. In addition to volunteer time, GBGM is committing $10 million in medications, supplies, and commodities and $30 million to partners working in rural and underserved communities.

But U.S. church members will also play an important role.

“In the U.S., we’re calling on as many churches as possible to help us participate in global health work by addressing congregational health issues and reaching beyond the congregation to the community,” said Dr. Olusimbo Ige, executive director of GBGM’s Global Health program. The goal is to engage at least 10,000 U.S. churches in promoting physical activity, healthy diet and nutrition, education for tobacco- and drug-free living, and mental health education.

Danielle Levine, a member of the conference Council of Missions and the outreach pastor at Mary Taylor Memorial UMC in Milford, Conn., is serving as facilitator for the conference’s “Imagine Abundant Health” campaign. A series of expos are being planned across the districts with Metropolitan kicking things off on Saturday, May 6. They will offer a variety of activities for body, mind, and spirit including

how to create healthy snacks, fitness exercise, singing, children’s activities, yoga, and community gardening. The expo, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at New Rochelle UMC, is being coordinated by Rev. Wendy Vencuss. Also working on the initiative are Paula Clark, Jack Brunt, and Rev. Ed Dayton.

Jim StinsonA second mission taken on by the council is the “Days for Girls” program, which helps girls who would otherwise go without to have access to quality sustainable feminine hygiene and awareness. Gail Boykin is heading up that effort with the support of Jan Baker, Joan Isaacs, Enid Watson, and Bennie Ewoodzie.

“Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children” is affiliated with the United Nations program, “Every Woman Every Child: The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health.” The campaign’s name and theme, Abundant Health, is taken from the Gospel of John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” said Thomas Kemper, general secretary of GBGM.

The United Methodist Church’s accomplishments in its Imagine No Malaria campaign led to this new partnership with the United Nations. “Being a faith-based organization engaged in the public conversation about global health has given us a seat at many international health tables, such as the global strategy,” Kemper said.

For additional information about the Abundant Health initiative, check out the January–February 2017 issue of Interpreter magazine, and this video.

Too Tired to Try These 40 Days?

During this season of Lent will we try or are we too tired?

• Will we try to live right and holy, or are we  too tired?

• Will we try to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourself, or are we too tired?

• Will we try to move beyond personal wants and minister to community needs, or are we too tired?

• Will we try to look past the past. . . giving thanks for the right now no matter how “rocky” right now might be, or are we too tired?

• Will we try to respond to God’s grace by offering grace to others, or are we too tired?

• Will we try to nurture, equip, empower, and send out disciples according to the Good News of Jesus and not (fill in our name), or are we too tired?

• Will we try loving with heart and hands. . . and moving past lip service, or are we too tired?

• Will we try re-membering who we should be pleasing, understanding we might ruffle some feathers, or are we too tired?

• Will we try praying for those who persecuted us. . . always trying to love some heaven into them, or are we too tired?

• Will we try embodying the Christianity we profess even when it is not always popular, or are we too tired?

• Will we try going on to perfection, understanding we’ll probably never be perfect, or are we too tired?

And, even though we have not been all we should have been . . . and even though we sometimes get turned around and fall down. . .and even though we sin and fall short . . . will we at least try leaning on the promise that God’s grace truly is sufficient, or are we too tired?

During this season of Lent, I would submit that some of us miss the mark in evangelizing, because we are too tired to try, or maybe trying too hard to be tired. My prayer for Lent is that we who are too tired to try learn to lean on the One who revives us. . . even when we fail (I mean fall)!

Stepping away from my window now . . .

A diverse panel tackled ways to thwart racism, classism and sexism during a Saturday panel at the Black Methodists for Church Renewal weekend.
Black Methodist Gathering: Building Beloved Community


On the weekend of February 25–26, Black Methodists for Church Renewal hosted a conference-wide gathering at Crawford Memorial UMC in The Bronx under the theme, “How to Build the Beloved Community—Moving Beyond Racism, Classism, and Sexism.”

The caucus weekend, the first in more than five years, featured a diverse Saturday morning panel that focused their discussion on the meeting theme. Speakers included Rev. Sheila Beckford of Westbury UMC; attorney Christian Covington; activist/organizer Reginald Mitchell; Imam Abukarriem Shabazz, who serves in Harlem; Kareem Johnson, a young adult from St Marks/Mt. Calvary UMC; and Rev. Elyse Ambrose, associate pastor at Church of the Village.

Rev. Michelle Lewis of New Rochelle UMC, who, along with the panelists, challenged attendees to imagine ways of identifying and eradicating the scourges of racism, sexism, and classism, moderated the panel. Panelists also offered varied and practical strategies for addressing these evils both within our denomination and the wider world. 

On Sunday afternoon, the group welcomed Bishop Tracy S. Malone of the East Ohio Conference as their guest preacher. Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton presided over the sacrament of Holy Communion during the service.

Bishop Malone’s rousing sermon encouraged members of BMCR to continue the hard work of attending to both the souls and the lived realities of person’s in need of God’s liberating grace.

“Every time we cry out to God asking ‘how long will evil prevail?’ God poses that same question right back to us,” Bishop Malone said.

Bishops Tracy S. Malone and Thomas J. Bickerton enjoy the meal following the Sunday afternoon service.

Her sermon inspired conviction and hope, a necessary combination for the work of building beloved community
at a time when the church, the nation, and the world need
it most.

The New York gathering came less than two weeks
before the 50th general meeting of the BMCR was held
in Cincinnati, Ohio. BMCR is one of the United Methodist denomination’s five U.S.-based ethnic caucuses; it represents more than 2,400 Black congregations and approximately 500,000 African American members
across the United States.

Elder Abuse Can Come in Subtle Ways

Jim StinsonAs the NYAC Older
Adult Committee gears up for an April program on recognizing and responding to elder abuse, it has been struck by the ways
(often unconscious)
that congregations allow such abuse to continue in their midst.

Among them: There is the manipulation that family and
other loved ones and friends often participate in when
they have access to their loved one’s money. There is
asking for donations, when there is a question of a
person’s ability to understand her finances.

I was grateful when a financial secretary at a church I was serving came to see me about an aging parishioner whose weekly donations had begun getting larger every week. Normally very discreet, the financial person said she didn’t want to deposit the checks until we checked with the parishioner’s daughter, who had grown up in the congregation and now lived miles away.  When the daughter flew in to see what was happening, it was apparent that her mother had advancing dementia and was not capable of handling her own finances.

Thank God for the financial secretary. Someone else might have said, “She must have enough or she couldn’t be writing the check,” and simply deposited them in the church account.

There is the often-subtle exclusion of very capable older adults from committees and planning, because “we need to respect their age.” It is abusive when it sidelines them from activities or limits and devalues them needlessly.

Other forms of abuse are subtle, unintentional, and perhaps not technically abusive, but ever so harmful. Communications sent electronically, without printed communications for those who don’t have computers comes to mind. As do bulletins with fonts that are not easily read, bulletin boards that are too high or inaccessible, or meetings in rooms without easy access. Lack of accessibility is not always simply remedied with the installation of a ramp or elevator.

In so far as possible, every aspect of church calls for accessibility. Sound, location and times of meetings—everything needs to be accessible. To the extent that “everything” is not being done to the best of the congregation’s ability serves as a message. There is no full welcome here, whether it is intended or unintended.

More details about the April 29 program, “Recognizing and Responding to Elder Abuse,” are available on the conference calendar.

A team photo commemorates the journey to West Virginia.
Coming to Aid of Flood-Ravaged West VA.

Group leader

On February 18, a group of three adults and three teenagers arrived in Rainelle, W.Va., to volunteer in the aftermath of severe flooding that hit the state in June 2016. We went to Greenbrier County, one of 14 counties affected by this flooding. Rainelle alone has more than 150 homes that were under from three to eight feet of water.

Work focused on shoring up the foundation of a trailer and adding trim to make it more attractive. Rainelle United Methodist Church, under the guidance of Pastor Jonathan Dierdorf, has made their church open and inviting to volunteers. The church is also in the process of recovering from the flood. The top floor has been renovated specifically for housing of volunteers with showers, bathrooms and sleeping quarters (enough to house 25). We also had use of their beautiful kitchen and extra large fellowship hall. 

Our work was assigned to us by an Appalachia Service Project (ASP) center, which has opened a year round facility in Rainelle to help with the rebuilding process. The center is staffed by a dedicated group of young adults giving us site assignments, tools, supplies and guidance . . . both structurally and spiritually.

The site our group was assigned to is a trailer that is the future home for a family of three, including a 5-year-old boy. The family’s home was destroyed in the flood and they were forced to move to a trailer in poor conditions. Many groups have helped the family with their trailer; our job for the week was underpinning and installing vinyl skirting to provide added foundation protection and a nice finished appearance. 

On Day 1, we cleaned out debris from under the trailer in order to lay down gravel to prevent moisture buildup. In

The team works to shore up the area under and around the trailer.

addition, we spent lots of time with our homeowner and her son. Our hardworking homeowner was eager to help out with all of the work. She was very grateful and faithful.

On Day 2, we finalized the layout of the gravel beneath the trailer. In addition, we covered electric wires lying in a previously dug ditch that were immersed by rain. This was a multi-step process requiring a creative draining of the ditch, followed by a layer of gravel and topped off by another layer of local dirt (mud).

The Beelick Knob community has been extremely welcoming. The neighbors around our homeowner have stopped by numerous times to say hello. Today we had an invitation to a neighbor’s farm, where we met his horses, cows, dog and kittens.

CBCS Working to Stem Mass Incarceration

Jim StinsonWith a focus on combatting the national epidemic of mass incarceration, United Methodists and activists from across the United States gathered in Nashville in early February to develop strategies. The Collaborative Strategic Design Team on Mass Incarceration/Social Justice/Mission and Community Development was called together by the Strengthening the Black Churches for the Twenty First Century program. Fifteen representatives from the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), the New York and North Texas conferences, the Exodus Foundation, UM churches in Nashville, and the Davidson County Sherriff’s Office began a dialogue that will continue over the next year.

Asking questions like, “When does incarceration begin?” and, “What is the essential point of intervention?” the group explored grassroots efforts at the UM conference level, as well as the national policy work spearheaded by the GBCS. The United Methodist Church is currently advocating for the Sentencing Reform and Correction Act. Church organizers, including some in New York, are working at the state level to end long-term solitary confinement by building awareness and pressing for new state laws since the vast majority of the incarcerated are in state prisons. There are also advocacy teams focused on ending the death penalty and preventing juvenile incarceration.

As alarming as many of the incarceration statistics that were presented are, they also provide the impetus for creative solutions. Realizing early childhood education may be vital to the criminal justice reform fight, the North Texas Conference began the One + One program, partnering local congregations with students in a neighborhood school to offer mentoring, tutoring, and support.

The Exodus Foundation is a nationwide program that provides long-term mentoring for those leaving prison, offering vital support to navigate the process of finding

employment, housing, and other essentials of life, all with the legal and social stigma that comes with spending time in prison.

Some of the collaboration discussed included designating young adult Global Mission Fellows (commonly known as GS2s) to work with youth in local churches, and creating a database of local prison ministries so that churches partner together to maximize efforts.

In perhaps the most prophetic moment of the meeting, Rev. Dr. Madeline McClenney-Sadler, president and founder of the Exodus Foundation, suggested that the Methodist-based ecumenical group might provide the impetus for replacing our failed system of punishment with a more just and fundamentally Christian one of restorative justice.

The group is planning a national symposium for Nashville in 2018. The hope is that in the meantime, a greater sharing of resources and ideas nationwide will help to change the current reality of mass incarceration. Some of the existing goals for this work include:

• Building and strengthening church based initiatives for job training and placement as well as literacy programs for those reentering life outside the prison;

• Aiding juveniles, both before they enter the criminal justice system and upon reentry;

• Building partnerships between poor urban and poor rural communities that statistically face many of the same socio-economic challenges;

• Expanding lobbying campaigns by local congregations.

According to the FBI, crime rates are near historic lows. In a 2015 report, “Crime in the United States,”the bureau noted that although the level of violent crimes had risen by 3.9 percent in the previous year, the numbers still represented a decrease of 16.5 percent since 2006.

The committee was convened with a belief that this is an ideal moment to prayerfully rethink how we approach systems of justice. For more information on action steps to take to help reform the criminal justice system, contact Sheila Peiffer with the New York Conference Board of Church & Society at

Lobby in Albany to HALT Solitary Confinement

As part of the New York Conference’s ongoing fulfillment of the resolutions about criminal justice passed at the 2016 Annual Conference, the Board of Church and Society (CBCS) will participate in the lobby day for the Humane Alternatives to Long Term Solitary Confinement bill (HALT) on Tuesday, May 2.

This bill in the New York State Legislature is considered a model for the country and has the support of the National Religious Coalition Against Torture (NRCAT) and other groups.

A bus will make two pickups:  Memorial UMC, 250 Bryant Avenue, White Plains, and at Exit 18 “park and ride” on the

New York State Thruway in New Paltz.  The fee is $30, but the Board of Church and Society will subsidize those who need assistance to participate. Register soon as space is limited.

CBCS is also providing a special training day for advocacy and lobbying from 1-3 p.m.,  Saturday, April 1, at the Conference Center in White Plains, provided by staff of the Campaign Against Isolated Confinement (CAIC) and CBCS.  Plan to join us for best practices on lobbying techniques as well as full updates on solitary confinement issues! 

Please call Sheila Peiffer, coordinator of CBCS at 203-269-5317 with any questions about these events.

Mountaintop “I Do” Redo
Rev. Dr. Karen Monk, left, presides over the Valentine’s Day renewal of vows for a couple at the Hunter Mountain Ski Resort in Hunter, N.Y. Several couples took advantage of the annual event on the outlook deck at the summit of the mountain. Afterwards, the couples celebrated at a small reception in the Summit Lodge. Monk serves the Kaaterskill and East Jewett United Methodist churches.

Camps Nurture Faith & Faithful Leaders

Camping & Retreat Ministries

Registrations for summer camps at Kingswood and Quinipet are in full swing. Camp ambassadors are making the rounds of churches and youth groups to spread the word about all the programming coming up this season. Camping brochures are available in your churches.

Jim StinsonWoodsmoke Camp at Kingswood is registering campers for July 16–22. Kingswood adult camps include on-going family camping, a 24-hour sabbath (August 9–10), welding 2.0 (August 24–27) and Deep Green Journey: Encountering God in the Wild (October 27–29). At Quinipet, water-themed camps abound as well as camping weeks of all kinds.

In addition to being great places for fun and friends, camps are great places to learn and develop leadership skills,

especially the skills involved in Christian leadership. According to Discipleship Ministries’ seven foundations of camp and retreat ministry, a leader has skills that engage and involve others so that both the leader and the followers experience personal growth. Leaders walk with those being led in an on-going, collaborative movement that develops trust and builds integrity.

Christian spiritual leadership is what sets church camping apart from other secular, outdoor experiences. Christian leadership is borne out in modeling Christ-like behaviors that permeate every interaction. All activities are set within the context of Christian discipleship, including welcoming campers who are not from a Christian background. The counselor-leader models discipleship so that it can be “caught” as well as “taught.”

Both camps provide opportunities for leadership to be developed as campers worship in the Quinipet seaside chapel, hike along the prayer trail by Hathaway Pond at Kingswood, and visit the stone ministry. So many campers and counselors have gone on to ministry with others as clergy, social workers, and youth directors. Those lasting legacies of love and service were nurtured and encouraged at our camps.

Response to Ecclesiology Statement,
“Wonder, Love, and Praise”

President, NFAAUM

Half a century ago, Flannery O’Connor outlined the struggle to “make belief believable” as a battle for the attention of the indifferent reader. She insisted that the religious aspect in her work of fiction is “a dimension added,” not one taken away. Then she went on to explain how she did it: “To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.”

In an almost similar vein, The United Methodist Church is updating its worn-out doctrinal cursives and outmoded linguistic scripts to compile a new and relevant theological understanding of the church and its missional imperatives. The recently proposed document by the UM Committee on Faith and Order, “Wonder, Love and Praise: Sharing a Vision of the Church,” is to serve as a theological mirror as well as a window that swings open to the worldwide body of Christ in our time. More importantly, it is to enable the United Methodist constituents to see outside themselves, and know what it is to be a worldwide connectional church. After conferring with several Asian-American United Methodist laity and clergy, I submit the following comments for further consideration and action:

Settled church versus a pilgrim church

The well-researched and elegantly written proposal, unfortunately, is heavily dependent upon World Council of Churches’ documents with an overemphasis on Eucharist, grace, and community, with ancillary references to baptism, evangelism, mission and ministry.

The “paschal mystery” behind the Eucharist (crucifixion, death and resurrection and parousia), mission, and ministry with the people of other faiths, and Christianity on the move in a global society are not spelled out although they are a vital part of the church’s belief and foundation. While the document meanders through pages and pages of past Euro-centric Methodist history, a contemporary interpretation of that history for our changed landscape would have made the proposal more effective and appealing. If we derive our church and mission theology from mere human history, we will be standing on shaky ground. Theology defines and varies according to its context; ecclesiology defends and points the way to transformative action.

This document is based on the theological understanding of church, mission, and ministry of a “settled Christianity” of the global north. It does not appear to have a broader understanding of the church in the global south with its diasporic and pilgrim nature. The worldwide church, particularly those in the global south and east, is a church on the move due to its minority status, extreme poverty and intense persecution. It witnesses, grows, and multiplies even in the midst of limited material resources.

This proposal elevates the variety of spiritual gifts that the Apostle Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 12, but fails to comprehend the diversity within the body of Christ that the Book of Revelation beautifully portrays as the ultimate triumph of the church.

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”—Rev. 7:9–10

Church in the world

We certainly wish that this document that emphasizes proclamation as the responsibility of the community had explained more about the content of the declaration and its targeted recipients. Sometimes, we find it hard to distinguish between the references made to the community that makes up the church—the body of Christ—and the larger community that makes up the society.  Community is defined in this proposal in broad terms as the grace of God enveloping all. Yet, no distinction has been made between the body of Christ and the larger kingdom of God, in which the body of Christ is firmly situated. A biblical and theological definition of the role of the body of Christ in the larger society would certainly enrich the document. Many of the theological words used have multiple meanings and vary in context. Consequently, the role of the church in the larger society is simply assumed, as the document appears to have in mind only the United Methodist constituents in the global north.

This document talks a lot about the first and third person of the Trinity but seldom about the second upon whose paschal mystery Christianity hinges and is differentiated from other living faiths. The importance of the Eucharist is preeminent throughout, but an equal emphasis on the doctrine of baptism or even a mention as a requirement for the United Methodist church’s membership would have been extremely helpful. A mere reference to them as sacraments would throw many of our constituents off balance in this post-denomination era.

Christianity and other living faiths

Any mention of the role of laity and their everyday encounters with the broader society is visibly absent. The vital aspect of mission and ministry with the adherents of other living faiths is completely left out. As we are well aware, the church intersects with the beliefs and practices of other faiths as it works for peace, justice, and the integrity of God’s creation.

A clear and concise mission theology motivates and assists the Christian community in reconciling all forms of alienation, while being faithful to its apostolic traditions. The UMC’s mission calls for its constituents to “make disciples for the transformation of the world.” For those of us from the global south, this document appears to frequently conflate grace and redemption, and offers a single blurry lens rather than sharpened distinct views. There seems to be a tacit acknowledgment that all religions are salvific.

Consequently, there is no reference in the document as to how to witness to Christ in our multi-faith world.  If the church proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord to the world around us, it would include both those within and without the fold. Our denomination wants to gain one million people within this quadrennium. If so, which pond should the church fish from? We need to think about where the disciples come from, especially from outside the fold, not how sheep are stolen from inside the fold. If the church has to actively get involved in outreach mission, just as the document affirms, the church’s missional mandate needs to be spelled out in a coherent way in the changed landscape.

Missional shifts

Major shifts have taken place in the church’s mission from the past to the present including ones from eccleocentric to theocentric, from theocentric to Non-Governmental Organizations-centric, from NGO-centric to anthropocentric, and from anthropocentric to geocentric mission.

Today, mission has migrated from denominational to community-oriented, and individual-initiated. Making a difference is the goal. Hence, the definition of the church’s mission among our constituents has become broader, larger, and comprehensive. We need to make an intentional shift in our understanding of church and mission from Wesley’s time, which was primarily mono-chromatic and mono-cultural, to the worldwide, polyphonic, pluralistic present context, in which Christianity has hybridized and well-situated as a non-Western religious community.

In addition, massive exogamy and the defections of our baptized and confirmed prevent us from being too optimistic about how many of our children will identify as Christians in coming years. Already hundreds of thousands of our children have left the church in the global north. In that context how do we define the nature and role of the church and its mission? How can we keep the light on for them? That light cannot be left on unless the uniqueness and universality of Jesus is clearly defined in the context of our pluralized, post-Christian, post-modern world.

A definition of the church that we call ecclesiology is not a mere doctrinaire tract or propaganda or a broadside. It is a spiritual stroll through sinners’ confusion about faith, tradition and reason, with an invitation to follow Jesus.  Sin has to be defined both in individual and structural context. For the wages of sin include the loss of community, trust, equality, and social justice.

A giant “reset” is looming for the church mission because we live in a space between the way things were and the way things might be. Solutions are fleeting as new challenges pop up. We need to strike a balance between what is stagnant and what is new; what is local and what is worldwide. We must see more deeply and spiritually, and grasp intuitively and in a Christ-like manner. We don’t want to get locked into just North America’s mission. We need to clarify why the church exists and does what it does worldwide, which missional values are fundamental, what specific message to convey in today’s pluralistic world, and how its message and ministries of mercy differ from other humanitarian and social agencies. Our biblical ecclesiology must place mission at the center of the church’s essence, identity, and activities.

What is needed today, I submit, is a hybrid ecclesiology. To construct a truly worldwide ecclesiology, we must realize that both Western and non-Western Christianity must come to the table. We must accept the responsibility of planting seeds of diversity and equity, of empathy and unity while we share our fragility. This work is an attempt to understand a behemoth by describing it from multiple angles.

Document Feedback Welcomed

“Wonder, Love and Praise” (WLP) is a document produced by the Committee on Faith and Order (CFO) designed to engage United Methodists in a study of our ecclesiology, that is how we as United Methodists understand what it means to be the Church. The goal is to send a refined version of the document to the 2020 General Conference to be adopted alongside such official theological statements of the church as By Water and the Spirit  and This Holy Mystery.

United Methodists from all over the word have been invited to engage with WLP in study, conversation and reflection and to provide feedback to the CFO that will help shape its final form. The full document in four languages along with study guides, videos, and feedback surveys are available on the UMC web site.

Korean Welcome for Bickerton
Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton speaks with those gathered for an afternoon worship service and celebration in his honor at First Flushing UMC in Queens, N.Y. The conference’s Korean Council sponsored the February 19 event. Rev. Constance Pak, a vice chair of the council and a member of the episcopacy committee, stands at far right.


Rev. Dorothy Weigert

The Reverend Dorothy Weigert died on February 25, 2017, after a long illness. Dorothy was born August 29, 1947. She lived with her family in Fountain Inn, SC, and had been on a medical leave of absence from the New York Conference since April 2012.

Weigert served the New York Conference for more than 30 years. Churches she pastored were: East Berlin UMC in CT; Rhinebeck and Hillside UMCs in NY; Grace UMC in Lindenhurst, NY; Stevens Memorial UMC in South Salem, NY and East Avenue UMC in Norwalk, CT; and Red Hook and Rowe UMCs in Red Hook, NY. Prior to joining the New York Conference, Dorothy worked for UM Global Ministries from 1979 to 1983.

Dorothy loved children and entertaining them. She was a semi-professional clown, and enjoyed “clowning around” with the children at her local church even while on medical leave.

Dorothy requested there be no formal memorial or service.

Rev. Richard Emerson Wiborg

The Reverend Richard Emerson Wiborg of Newton, Mass., died at home on February 20, 2017.

Wiborg graduated from Jamaica High School in Queens, and held degrees from Ohio Wesleyan University, and Union Theological Seminary in New York. He served the New York Conference from 1962 to 1979, beginning his ordained ministry as youth minister at Five Points Mission on the Lower East Side. He was appointed to the Summerfield-Hope UMC in New Haven, Conn., in 1965, and served there for 14 years.

In 1979, Wiborg joined the former Southern New England Conference, where he was director of the Council on Ministries until 1990. He then served St. John’s UMC in Watertown, Mass., for eight years. He retired in 2004.

He is survived by his wife and partner in ministry for 53 years, Margaret; his sons, Christopher (Jill Kopeikin) Wiborg of Mountain View, Calif., and David (Amy) Wiborg of Newton, Mass.; and four grandchildren, Lukas, Ella, Jasper and Greta.

A celebration of his life was held February 24 at St. John’s UMC in Watertown. Memorial donations may be made to the

American Parkinson Disease Association, Massachusetts Chapter or the Preachers’ Aid Society of New England.

Ruth Amrein

Ruth Amrein, 102, of Vernon, Conn., died February 16, 2017. She was the widow of the Reverend Arthur Amrein.

She was born in Columbia Station, Ohio, on February 21, 1914, the daughter of Benjamin and Achsah Crawford. Amrein graduated from both Allegheny College and The Meadville Conservatory of Music in 1935.

Rev. Amrein served the New York and New York East conferences for 37 years from 1937 until his retirement in 1974. He served Central Islip, Oyster Bay, and  First in Richmond Hill, all in New York; and in Plainville, Wethersfield, Simsbury, and Milford, all in Connecticut. In his retirement he served as a supply pastor in Andes and Pleasant Valley, both in New York.  Rev. Amrein died in 1976.

The couple also served as Methodist missionaries in India from 1941 to 1947.

Amrein was an accomplished pianist and organist and served Methodist churches in various capacities. She was also a member of Literacy Volunteers of America and enjoyed seeing her students learn to read.

In addition to her husband, Amrein was preceded in death by a daughter, Virginia (Amrein) Swartz; a brother, Rev. Arthur Crawford; and a sister, Dr. Margaretta (Crawford) Patterson.

She is survived by her children, Nancy (Peter) Storms of Rocky Hill, Conn.; Martha (William) Hayes of Stafford Springs, Conn.; Dr. Philip (Karen Donelan) Amrein of Belmont, Mass.; her son-in-law Dennis (Carole) Swartz of Orleans, Mass.; and 11 grandchildren: Mark Storms, Douglas Storms, Karen Lehr, Catherine Sheetz, Christine Trask, Thomas Swartz, Sarah Hayes, Everett Hayes, Stephen Amrein, Leslie Amrein and Katherine Amrein. She also leaves four step-grandchildren: Kim Chong, Shane Hayes, Elson Blunt and Jennifer Richter; and 19 great-grandchildren.

A private funeral service was held February 22 at the Wethersfield UMC in Wethersfield, Conn. A memorial service is planned for April. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to a charity of your choice in Ruth’s name.

GBGM Preps for 200th Anniversary

Plans are underway to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the founding of what is today the worldwide mission agency of The United Methodist Church. The observation will include local and global events and help the General Board of Global Ministries prepare for the future of mission.

In February, Global Ministries hosted the first meeting of a bicentennial steering committee, representing all regions of the globe, putting in place steps for a world gathering in 2019 to celebrate 200 years of the church in mission and to prepare for the future of mission. Bicentennial activities that will extend across a two-year period, possibly culminating at the church’s legislating general conference in 2020.

The first missionary of the Missionary Society was John Stewart, an African-American and a freed slave, who ministered among the Wyandotte indigenous people in Ohio. Since Stewart, thousands of Methodist women and men from around the world and from a wide variety of backgrounds have followed in his footsteps by answering God’s call to cross boundaries for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The first agency missionaries to go outside the United States went to Liberia in West Africa in the 1830s.

The bicentennial steering committee is being chaired by Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the New York Conference, home of the original Missionary Society. Bickerton is also a Global Ministries director and heads the panel of directors that oversees the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), a board unit.

Other committee members include Dr. Dana Robert of Boston University School of Theology, the Rev. Dr. Amos Nascimento of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the Rev. Fred Day of the General Commission on Archives and History, the Rev. Dr. Kabamba Kiboko of Forest Chapel United Methodist Church in Forest Park, Ohio, the Rev. Dr. Arun Jones of Candler School of Theology at Emory University, the Rev. Dr. Luther Oconer of United Theological Seminary, along with Thomas Kemper, Glenn Kellum, and Dr. David Scott, Global Ministries staff.

Mission to Haiti Seeks Team Members

A team from Newtown UMC in Connecticut is headed to
Haiti from April 21 to 29 to deliver 200 water filters in the
area around Furcy. The team, which has five confirmed members, is seeking additional volunteers, especially
youth. The trip is the culmination of an Eagle Scout project

by Jack Agnew, a member of NUMC.

Anyone interested should contact team leader, Judy Hammel, at as soon as possible for additional details.

Way Forward Group Looking to Get Feedback


The group charged with fostering church unity is already talking about how it can collect feedback and garner support for the hefty task ahead. However, the Commission on a Way Forward is still in its early stages.

The commission, which held its second meeting February 27–March 2 in Atlanta, must develop proposals aimed at keeping the multinational denomination together despite deep differences around homosexuality.

“I think there is a broad desire to maintain a connection,” commission member, Rev. Thomas Lambrecht said in an interview after the meeting. “There is also a broad understanding that the connection is going to be different because of the theological differences that exist in our church.”

Matt Berryman agreed with Lambrecht’s assessment. “Many people have articulated the not-surprising and deeply reasonable idea that in three or four years, our church is going to look different.”

The two men are frequently on opposing sides in church debates. Lambrecht helps lead Good News and the Wesleyan Covenant Association—both groups that support

the denomination’s current restrictions related to homosexuality. Berryman is the executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates for full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals in the life of the church.

Still, commission members cautioned that they don’t know what different form the connection will take. The group includes 32 United Methodists from nine countries.

For any proposals to become reality, the commission needs the assent of General Conference delegates and others in the wider multinational church.

Specifically, the commission is planning to listen and engage with annual conference members, seminary students, ethnic caucuses and unofficial United Methodist advocacy groups. The group plans to reach out to various leaders in the church such as bishops and agency boards.

Just as was true with its first meeting, the commission’s second gathering was open only to a select few. No reporters were present, although United Methodist News Service had asked to attend. The next commission meeting will be April 6–8 in Washington, D.C.

The Vision, Newspaper of the NYAC, of the UMC

Bishop: Thomas J. Bickerton

Editor: Joanne Utley

Vision e-mail:

Web site:

New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

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White Plains, NY 10606

Toll Free: 888-696-6922
Phone: 914-997-1570