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

In this issue

The ordination class, above, receives the applause of the gathering. 
Coming Together to Make God’s Dream a Reality


Red and white were the colors of the day as the 218th session of the New York Annual Conference drew to a joyful close with the ordination service on Saturday, June 10.

For the first time in collective memory, the service included the baptism of a child—James Aesop Choi, son of Pastor Dong Hyun Choi and Jiseon Kim. In baptizing the child, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton made the connection between one’s initiation to love and service as members of the Body of Christ and one’s call into the “set-apart” ministry of the ordained clergy.

“I hope I can get through this,” the bishop said. “It’s very special.” Young James received the blessing by water and Spirit with a big smile on his face.

The bishop then invited the audience to remember their own baptisms. He playfully dipped a pine branch into the font, and flung sprinkles of water across those surrounding the round platform at the center of the Hofstra University Arena.

“Remember you are baptized, and be thankful!” Bickerton said.

In his sermon, Bickerton encouraged the gathering to open themselves up to the work of making God’s dream a reality. He lamented that many of our churches need to be “unleashed” to do ministry.

“How many of our churches have people who had a great idea for ministry and had it squashed because of committees, or financial hurdles?” he asked. “We need to free our people to reach the people of God in mighty and fresh ways.”

He recalled that in one of his recent meetings with confirmation students, he was asked if church attendance was necessary to be a Christian.

“If there is any recognition of life in our beings, then study, worship and praise are not an option,” he said. And to the ordination class, he added, “For you, church is not an option; we’re counting on you to serve in the place where you’re appointed. This is not the end of the story, it’s just another chapter in the journey.”

He suggested that there were four things they would need to do to be successful in their ministries:

1. “Get on your knees.”

2. “Pour out your heart: Three words will make all difference in your ministry journey, ‘You are loved.’ ”

3. “Spread your wings: Even when you are tired, the Holy Spirit will take you to heights you never imagined,” the bishop said. “The Spirit of our God calls all of us to get on our tiptoes.”

4. “Don’t be afraid: We need to lighten up, loosen up and have a little fun . . . we need to be on the edge of our seats in eager anticipation” to see what God will do.

The bishop drapes a new red stole around the shoulders of Rev. Victoria Kittoe after instructing her to take authority for the work of an elder in the UMC; Bickerton drops to his knees during his sermon.

The service closed with an impromptu dance party.

Following Holy Communion and the benediction, an impromptu dance party broke out with the young Spirit Builders dancers, the ordination class, the bishop and members of the cabinet.

Kathryn Clegg Dickinson was ordained as a deacon: ordained as elders in full connection were: Michael H. Barry, Jr., Mendis P. Brown, Martha Aline Epstein, Victoria Araba Kwedwua Kittoe, Michelle Estelle Lewis, Milagros Barreto Solorzano, Michael Benjamin Sparrow, and Elisa Margarita Vicioso.

Rev. Jung Ung Moon, who was ordained in another denomination, was recognized as a full elder in the UMC; local pastor Vera Elfreda Isaacs was recognized as an associate member.

The bishop baptizes James Aesop, the infant son of Pastor Dong Hyun Choi and Jiseon Kim at the beginning of the ordination service.

For a full lineup of events, go to:

Ongoing Immigration Prayers
Join the NYAC Immigration Task Force 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: 780843#. Contact Pastor Ximena Varas for more information.

July–August Conference Office Closings
The conference office in White Plains will be closed on Fridays during the summer. They will also be closed on Tuesday, July 4, in honor of the Fourth of July holiday.

7/7–8 UMM National Gathering
Registration is open for the United Methodist Men’s 12th National Gathering, “Discipleship: The Contact Sport,” at St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis. Speakers include Bishops James Swanson Sr. and Jonathan Holston, as well as the Rev. Kevin Watson, Candler School of Theology professor, and Shan Foster, national director of MEND, the YWCA program combatting domestic violence. To register, go to the UMM web site.


7/14–16 Mission “u”
This year’s event, “Planting Seeds For The Beloved Community Of Disciples,” will be held at the Stamford, Conn., Hilton, 1 First Stamford Place. The studies include “The Bible & Human Sexuality: Claiming God’s Good Gift,” “Living as a Covenant Community,” and “Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action.” Options are available for both adults and children and teens. The “Saturday Sampler” is being offered again from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Register online by July 1. Contact Deborah C. Jenkins at or 718-813-1485, with any questions.

9/9 Safe Sanctuaries Training
This workshop from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. is for the person responsible for training volunteers and staff in your church’s Safe Sanctuaries policy. You will leave with tools to help you facilitate training at your church. Topics covered will include reviewing and editing policies, cyber safety, vulnerable adults and more. Register by September 6. Contact Cassandra Negri at with any questions or to register.

8/25–27 Celebrate Quinipet’s 70th
Help Camp Quinipet celebrate its 70th anniversary by embracing its favorite traditions and making new memories. The weekend is open to all members of the Quinipet community—past, present, and future. Come solo or with family and friends. Swimming, boating, worship, and fellowship will be included. Reunion groups such as Historic Quinipet Choir Camp and Women’s Sailing will be brought back to life in this event. Register online for the weekend.

9/28 Anchor House Banquet
Anchor House will host its annual graduation banquet for their clients who have successfully completed treatment at 6 p.m. at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. The residential drug treatment program for men and women is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Tickets are $75; to purchase call Carolyn Bracy at 718-771-0760, ext. 124.

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: July 7, August 4, September 1, October 6, November 3, and December 1. Please send any stories, photos, ideas, or questions directly to

New York Annual Conference: Wrap-Up & Highlights

The 218th session of the New York Annual Conference was an incredible week of worship, celebration and business.

Those commissioned as provisional elders were: Elizabeth Carol Abel, Mark Allen, Prince Donkor, Carlos Ruben Figueroa Colombani, Lillian Hertel, Margaret Schramm Horn, and Kent Terchunian. Local pastor’s licenses were granted to Lisa Bosworth, Mareta Hamre, Fern Blair Hart, Barbara Marks, and Kathleen Meyerson. Quest Jamila Hunter was commissioned as a GBGM church and community worker.

Kathryn Clegg Dickinson was ordained as a deacon: ordained as elders were: Michael H. Barry, Jr., Mendis P. Brown, Martha Epstein, Victoria Araba Kwedwua Kittoe, Michelle Lewis, Milagros Solorzano, Michael Sparrow, and Elisa Vicioso.

Rev. Jung Ung Moon was recognized as a full elder in the UMC; Vera Elfreda Isaacs was recognized as an associate member.

The retirees honored are: Trudy E. Codd, Oscar Destruge-Sandoval, Nathaniel Dixon, Walter Dixon, James R. Hoffman, Lucy E. Jones, Young Shik Kim, Evelyn R. McDonald, Patricia Mott-Intermaggio, Carmen Margarita Ortiz, Laurence E. Powell, Lynne D. Severance, Gunshik Shim, Scott D. Summerville, Mary Ellen Summerville, William Wendler, Ezra Hongchang Yew, and William Tung-Chuan Young.

Those remembered were
Lois Congdon, Cornelius Irwin, Robert Kanthak, Joseph Ary, Dwight Kintner, Frederick Moore, Sydney L. Parker, Susan Woodworth, David Rogers, Robert G. Barnes, James W. Clayton, David Harper, Mark J. Richards, Irving Marsland Jr., Albert H. Scholten, William A. Johnston, Richard E. Wiborg, Charles W. Lanham, Dorothy Weigert, Clinton Lunt Jr., Henry E. Johnson, George E. Harris, Joseph Versteeg, Phillip Schnell, and George Bailey

Spouses of clergy: Sandra Piccirillo, Mildred Versteeg, Jayne Carpenter, Joyce Thornburg, Robert Dorsey, Robert Codd, and Gwendolyn White

Widows and widowers of clergy: Patricia A. Stacey, Josephine Bigler, Doris Robbins, Cornelia Neale, Edith Mae Hansen, Louise Hunter, Ruth Amrein, Doris Clayton, Marion Thorn, and Faye Ary

Laity: Wendy Fowlkes

All but one resolution was approved on the consent calendar by the plenary. That resolution, “Caring for God’s Creation through Improved Investment Policies” was referred for more discussion, and when it was returned to the plenary, it passed. The referral petition can be read here.

A budget of $8,503,984 was approved. It is a 3 percent increase over the 2017 spending plan.

The conference voted to elect in 2018 a full delegation for the special General Conference in 2019, including extra reserve lay and clergy delegates. A separate election will occur in 2019 for the 2020 regular General Conference.

Rev. David Ball, Rev. Dee Carol Stevens and Glenn Sohm were elected.

Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie was honored for 14 years of service as the conference mission coordinator for the last 14 years. He returns to parish ministry on July 1 with an appointment to Farmingdale UMC.

Linda Mellor puts the finishing touches on the altarscape for Saturday’s ordination service.

The five offerings received during conference brought it $34,770.83. Some 1,000 more health kits were collected over last year’s numbers.

Bishop’s Partners in Mission: $8,536.58
Black College Fund: $6,172
Justice For Our Neighbors: $5,825.50
Anchor House: $5,867.75
Young Clergy Debt Assistance: $8,369
Health kits: 5,225
School kits: 304
Birthing kits: 10
Layette kits: 19

Gloster Current
Rachel Palmer, Christ Church Staten Island, $2,000
Emily Mantz, UMC of Waterbury, $3,000

NY Education Society Awards
$1,000: Al Tiedman, Daniel Pinto, and Kevin Thomas
$1,500: Akilah Edward, Alexander Howard, Elise Arndtsen, Jessie Floyd, and So Young Kim
$2,000: Cameron Neiblum, Jenna Johnson, Rebekah Forni, and Saidi Moseley
$3,000: Hyewon Kim, Laura Joy Tiedeman, Sara Carlin Schott

Urban Ministry
Akilah Bixler, Union Theological School
Rebekah Forni, Drew Theological School
Dorlimar Lebron Malave, Boston University School of Theology

One Matters: Three churches were recognized by Discipleship Ministries with this $1,000 award for turning zeros into positive numbers for baptisms and professions of faith. Pastor Melvin Boone received the awards for Monticello and Hurleyville UMCs, and Pastor Derrick Watson for First UMC in Newburgh.

Rev. Keith Muhleman Ministry Grants
• Westbrookville Community Chapel: $1,500 to continue its “evangelism at the post office” program
• Verbank UMC: $1,500 for children’s programming
• Diamond Hill UMC: $2,000 for Vacation Bible School

The Advance: Bishop Bickerton announced that the conference had earned an award for giving the total highest amount in the Northeastern Jurisdiction to The Advance.

Pastoral Transitions: Etiquette Tips for People in the Pews


What kind of contact with a former pastor is appropriate?  Is it okay to ask him or her to do a funeral, baptism or wedding rather than the new parson who arrived two months ago?

Departing pastors and staff-parish relations committees can use the church newsletter and the parson’s parting newsletter column to remind everyone about conference guidelines:

“The outgoing pastor and the Committee on Pastor-Parish Relations have the responsibility to inform the congregation of ethical considerations about the transition: the former pastor can no longer be their pastor; that friendships may be continued but discussion about church life is not appropriate. Events which cause the most misunderstanding are funerals and weddings. Church members need to be told that former pastors return for funerals and weddings and other functions only at the invitation of the current pastor who must be consulted first. When former pastors are invited to participate in such events, they do so in an assisting role. Not least, it is expected that parishioners will not follow the former pastor for counseling or other pastoral functions.”

Frequently Asked Questions for Pastor/Staff-Parish Relations Committees

Rev. Penny Gadzini explained these rules in a positive way in the church newsletter as she was leaving one parish:

• It is always okay to write.

• Feel free to visit in worship in my new church (in our denomination, it will almost always be too far away for me to steal sheep from my successor).

• Feel free to invite me to baptisms, funerals, and weddings, but only as a guest.

District superintendents can help clergy and laity better navigate the transition by arranging for a “bridge” program led by the conference’s parish consultant network. Originally developed by Clayton Miller and Bob McDonald, these consultations also give the congregation opportunities to thank one pastor and welcome another. The series of two or three meetings is particularly helpful after a long pastorate or when the church faces a significant change in leadership, such as moving from a full-time to a part-time appointment.

Laity (and some clergy) may not understand why the current pastor must be asked first for permission to invite a former

parson to assist in a wedding, baptism, or funeral. It is only natural, after all, to reach out to someone you have known for years rather than somebody you just met.

But Rev. Laurel Scott notes that she follows this rule scrupulously because she knows how hurtful it is to feel pushed aside. I am sure that no offense is intended when a family asks your predecessor to preside at such an event, but it still says to the new kid on the block, “You don’t really belong here. You are not my pastor.”

Many years ago, Eugene Sabin, pastor of First Christian Church in Tacoma, Wash., offered “Ten Commandments” to his members, including some I particularly like:

• Thou shalt not say to the new pastor: “But our last minister did it this way.”

• Thou shalt not send problems or gossip to the former pastor.

• Thou shalt not withhold thine exceedingly great capacity to love from the new pastor.

• Thou shalt not speak too often of the former pastor. 

• Thou shalt not forget to pray for the new pastor.

This, it seems to me, is good advice for all of us.

Tom Goodhue is a retired member of the NYAC. He is completing  a biography of the Hawaiian queen Kaahumanu and another about being a good neighbor in a multi-faith, multi-cultural world.

Guatemala Agency Seeks Director

The Organization for the Development of the Indigenous Maya (ODIM) is seeking an executive director for its grassroots level work in the villages of San Juan La Laguna and San Pablo La Laguna in Guatemala. ODIM began its work in 2005 in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Stan. In 2008, the organization converted an abandoned church into a medical clinic. Currently, the organization provides two family medical clinics and four community health and education programs. Much of the funding and volunteer support for ODIM is comes from United Methodist churches and individuals in the United States.

A minimum three-year commitment is required
for the position that deals with program oversight, personnel management, and fundraising. An
advanced proficiency in oral and written English
and Spanish is required.

For additional job requirements, click here. Submit a résumé and letter of interest to the board of directors.

The Disaster Response Ministry is looking for “Done In A Day” volunteers to assist in repairing a Sandy-affected home in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Small groups of all skill levels are needed for both demolition, and basic and skilled repair work. Contact Tom Vencuss for more information, or to schedule your group.

Accepting Communication As It Comes

Consultant on Older Adult Ministries

She had beautiful red hair, wore stylish clothes, and had a certain assurance about her. When younger, she would cause heads to turn, a stereotypical “looker.” Everything about her emitted the sense that her life was in order. In addition, she was always pleasant and had many friends. She raised a capable and productive family to whom she was very close. 

Not all at once, but piece by piece, all of that came apart. She began getting lost in her own neighborhood. Her clothes looked less stylish, and sometimes mismatched. She was not always pleasant. One thing her family noticed was her bed, which had always been perfectly made, frequently began to be left unmade. Gradually, people noticed slippage in her mental state. Her sweetness was not quite as it once was. Her ability to follow a conversation had noticeably gone AWOL. In no time at all, she had become unraveled, physically and mentally.

And so it was that on a recent visit, I found her speaking in fragments, no longer able to form complete sentences. Her mind was back in the home where she had raised her family,

even while her body was in a strange new place, a facility designed to deal with such a situation.

It struck me that her communication and conversation was totally fragmented. It came in pieces, jumping from one thought to another. It must have been difficult for her. She had to struggle to say what she wanted. She became ever more frustrated as did her family.

Someone suggested that visitors not call attention to this change, but go with the fragmented sentences and thought processes as if it was a normal thing. Those who did so discovered the possibility of delightful interactions to which they accustomed. When allowed to wander in her conversation, her anxiety level improved and before long she seemed the same person she always had been. She felt free to express herself in a way that suited her ability. She was able to do that because she was being accepted as she was. She did not have to measure up to standards.  She was free to be herself.

That’s valuable lesson for anyone in ministry to, and with, an older adult. Let the person express the self, no matter how she does it, no matter how slow, how faltering. The goal is not to converse with an ideal, but rather with a real live human being. Only then can effective ministry occur. Allow the fragments to be experienced as a part of the person sitting in front of you, rather than finishing his thoughts for him.

Remembering Injustice Against Gay Clergy

On June 21, the Church of the Village, Methodists in New Directions, and others struggling for full inclusion of LGBTQIA persons in the UMC will gather to remember the ministry and courageous stands of Rev. Dr. Ed Egan and Rev. Paul Abels.

The event is intended to restore the pastors to the collective historical memory of the New York Conference and the United Methodist Church, and to begin to heal the resultant wounds. The 6:30 p.m. event will be held at the Church of the Village, 201 W. 13th St. (at 7th Avenue) in Manhattan.

While Paul Abels’ story is known to many in the conference, the case of Ed Egan had been forgotten. Egan served Metropolitan Duane UMC (now The Church of the Village)

from 1971 to 1977. When he came out as gay in 1977, Egan was forced to accept a leave of absence and was pressured into retirement the following year.

In 1978, the bishop and district superintendent tried to do the same to Abels, the pastor at Washington Square UMC from 1974 to 1984. Abels was able to rally the conference Board of Ordained Ministry and compel the bishop to reappoint him. However, under the pressure of severe homophobia, he retired in 1984.

A petition dealing with these cases was approved at the recent annual conference session. Contact information for the event can be found here.

Judicial Council Asked to Reconsider Ruling

The Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops filed a motion asking the United Methodist Judicial Council to reconsider its ruling in the case of a gay bishop.

The motion, dated June 12, contends that the ruling unlawfully changes the definition of “self-avowed practicing homosexual.”

Part of the court’s ruling in Decision 1341 was that a same-sex marriage license, together with the clergy person’s status in a same-sex relationship, was a public declaration that the person is a self-avowed practicing homosexual.

“The Western Jurisdiction’s College of Bishops believes it has an obligation to the wider LGBTQ community in the church and beyond to point out what we think are fundamental errors in church law contained in the decision,” said Richard A. Marsh, chancellor of the Rocky Mountain Conference.

Marsh and Llewelyn G. Pritchard were the Western Jurisdiction counsel during a Judicial Council oral hearing on April 25. The hearing focused on a request from the

denomination’s South Central Jurisdiction for a declaratory decision about the election of a gay bishop.

Although she was not specifically named in that request, Bishop Karen Oliveto, who is married to another woman, was consecrated as a bishop by the Western Jurisdiction on July 16, 2016. Oliveto now oversees the Mountain Sky area.

The Judicial Council decision found that an openly homosexual and partnered bishop may be charged with disobedience to church law. “Self-avowal does not nullify the consecration and cause removal from episcopal office but is a sufficient declaration to subject the bishop’s ministerial office to review,” the decision said. The council said it had no jurisdiction over the nomination, election and assignment of a bishop.

Marsh argues that United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline defines “self-avowed practicing homosexual” as a person who openly acknowledges to “a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry or clergy session” that the person is a practicing homosexual.

Bixler to Serve as Quinipet Chaplain


The Camping and Retreat Ministries is rejoicing in the hiring of Akilah Bixler as the summer’s chaplain at Quinipet. Four years ago, Bixler, her husband and son and daughter, moved to the New York area from San Francisco in order to enjoy life in the city. She recently completed her first year at Union Theological Seminary.

When asked about her call to ministry, she told the story of an after-dinner walk with her husband on the Upper West Side. As they passed the seminary, her husband suggested that she go. Her first reaction was shock and surprise.  However, as she thought about it, the Spirit moved and suddenly “it all made sense.” She has been a member of St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Manhattan and is on the path to ordination in the New York Conference. 

Bixler has some experience with Quinipet having attended a church retreat there. In seeking out a quiet place to study during the retreat, she sat at a table just outside of the dining hall. She became engaged in a conversation with Rev. Bob

Leibold and learned about the opening for a summer chaplain. When she spoke to Executive Director Brooke Bradley, it soon became clear to Bradley that Bixler would be well equipped to serve the camp as chaplain. Since her husband of 22 years has work that is “portable” and her children are of camping age, (12 and 8), it was the perfect match. Coincidence or God-incidence? Who can say? She is looking forward to bringing the Good News to the next generation of campers and helping increase the health and vitality of the church. She hopes that conversations with campers will foster a deeper understanding of their faith.

Bixler also has a passion for the outdoors; she loves hiking, biking, and boating. The connection between camping and faith became apparent to her when her daughter went to summer camp for the first time at Aldersgate Camp in upstate New York. When she picked her daughter up and witnessed the closing chapel service, she was able to understand the special beauty of worship at camp.

She and her family are no strangers to Kingswood, either. They had to leave their camping and outdoor equipment behind when they moved east, and were thrilled to learn that all they would need could already be found at Kingswood.

We welcome Bixler as our camp chaplain, and her family as well. It is a wonderful addition to our program. If you are at Quinipet this summer, please introduce yourself.  As always, for all information about our camps, visit


Reverend Dr. Phillip O. Schnell

The Reverend Dr. Phillip O. Schnell of West Simsbury, Conn., died May 23, 2017, at age 83. He was born December 28, 1933, in Peekskill, N.Y., the son of the Marion E. (Osborn) Schnell.

Dr. Schnell received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Drew University and Theological School in Madison, N.J., and spent 42 years in ministry. After one year in the former Wyoming Conference, Rev. Schnell led the following churches in the New York Conference: Goldens Bridge, Purdys and North Salem; First UMC in Beacon, N.Y.; Setauket, N.Y.; Prospect UMC in Bristol, Conn.; Grace and Newington in Newburgh, N.Y.

After retiring from the New York Conference in 1998, he went on to serve churches in Warwick, R.I., and Fall River, Mass., on an interim basis, and then Grace UMC in Westerly, R.I., for five years, fully retiring in 2013.

While in Bristol, he worked to improve the lives of the homeless, unemployed and working poor by pushing for shelters, affordable housing, feeding programs, and employment opportunities.

Schnell and his wife, Anne, enjoyed leading ecumenical trips to places of religious significance in the world, like the Holy Land with Educational Opportunities. He enjoyed music, and sang in his church choirs and with choral groups.

He is survived by his wife, Anne (Johnson) Schnell of West Simsbury; four children: Linda A. Torrey of Stratford, Vt.; Phillip A. Schnell of Southington, Conn.; Robert L. Schnell (Martha Repetto) of Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Amy (Len) Bobinski of West Simsbury; six grandchildren: George Hill, Jodee Adams, Kim Kosiorek, Paul Barrette, Leonard Bobinski, and Skyler Bobinski; and five great grandchildren: Ashlee Santoro, Meagan Barrette, Brandon Barrette, Joshua Barrette, and Jakob Kosiorek.

A memorial service was held May 28 at the Simsbury UMC in Connecticut. A reception followed the service.



Rev. George Ralph Bailey

The Reverend George Ralph Bailey died May 22, 2017, at Wesley Health Care Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., at age 99. Bailey was born November 20, 1917, in Rutland, Vt.

Bailey graduated from Rutland High School in 1937. He graduated from Syracuse University, in 1941, and earned a master’s of divinity degree at Yale Divinity School in 1945.

On April 21, 1943, George married Mavis McCarthy, who would journey with him in his ministry. He was ordained a deacon in the Troy Annual Conference in 1943 and as an elder two years later. Bailey served churches in the Troy Conference before transferring to the New York Conference in 1962. He served Memorial UMC in White Plains, and Mamaroneck UMC. In 1983, he retired, but continued as a visitation minister at Burnt Hills UMC and First UMC in Schenectady, N.Y., both now in the Upper New York Conference. In 2013, Bailey celebrated 75 years in the ministry.

Bailey was an active member of the Lion’s Club and became a charter member of the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Rotary Club. He was also chaplain for the Mamaroneck Volunteer Fire Department.

In 2001, Bailey moved to Woodlawn Commons Independent Living in Saratoga Springs, where he led weekly services until his eyesight failed. He fed his love for gardening by caring for the Wicke Memorial Garden and community gardens for several years.

Bailey was preceded in death by his wife, and sisters, Murial Blauvelt and Marjorie Strout.

He is survived by two daughters, Christine (David Mitchell) Yesse of Troy, N.Y., and Brenda J. Lewis of Kingsport, Tenn.; granddaughters, Sharon E. Palmisano of San Fransisco, and Liesel (Daniel) A. Welsch of Niskayuna, N.Y.; great-granddaughter, Keira M. Welsch.

A funeral service was held June 4 at First UMC in Schenectady, N.Y. The Rev. Sara Baron will preside. A reception followed the service. Memorial donations in Bailey’s name may be made to Sunshine Fund at Woodlawn Commons, 156 Lawrence St., Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 12866, or to the church of your choice. Expressions of sympathy can be left at

Advocacy: Our Missional Modus Operandi


Many people in our times are conditioned to believe that the world will end in a big conflagration, hence we should be ready and prepared for the impending apocalypse.

In contrast, the Bible affirms that Christians are not otherworldly but we are other-temporalized. This world, as God’s creation, is not a backdrop to our redemption, but a place where God’s absolute sovereignty is displayed. This world is loved by God so much that God sent God’s own Son to redeem and reconcile it. This redeemed world is God’s intended vision, but not yet fully realized.

Therefore, we live hopefully in this world by participating and treating it as though there is no difference between what we do today and what we will be doing at the end of times. In plain theological language, we participate in the eschatological not apocalyptic consummation as we go about living as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Charity and Advocacy

Our perplexities with advocacy as mission arise primarily because we are offered an either /or choice: charity or advocacy. These two are perceived as mutually exclusive. Since many of our United Methodist constituents are preoccupied with this dichotomy with their favored mission principles and practices, it is imperative to scrap this unfair duality between advocacy and charity, and replace it with missional reality, scriptural faithfulness, and life-enhancing practicality. That can be achieved by creating and practicing a theology of advocacy.

Practicing advocacy as a missional principle takes into consideration the agency of the victims of injustices themselves as they engage in resisting and addressing the systems that deny abundant life.

While charity engages participants in a ministry of care, and facilitates space and means for providing for their needs, advocacy addresses the root causes of the problem of victimization, and stands in solidarity with the victims in their struggle towards wholeness.

Charity and advocacy may complement each other in their common goal and caring engagement of the weak and voiceless, but one should keep in mind that charity serves as an anodyne to alleviate the pain. Advocacy’s goal is to eradicate the root causes that continue to create the pain.

Advocacy is far-reaching and all encompassing. It gives hope to the victims for the long haul. While it is time consuming and a slow process, it will not cease until the cause of its engagement is fully addressed.

We live in a world that is all too familiar with a template for the

treatment of “the other.” It is a grievous offense to refuse, comply with, or show resistance in the face of oppressive and capricious institutions and decrees. All too often, it is a capital offense in some parts of the world.

Charity plays a maimed role in such a context. Ministering with those victims and taking measures to address the root causes of the problems alone would give victims hope, as an endeavor leading to the transformation of their future.

Hope is a thing with feathers

Poet Emily Dickinson defines hope with concise dexterity: “Hope is the thing with feathers.” Many well-meaning Christians don’t hesitate to identify with victims of abuse by journeying with them and sharing meals and means. Yet the root causes of the problems go unaddressed. Survivors of oppression get stuck in limbo because of the lack of people to advocate for them. To be honest, victims don’t need our tears but rather our outrage and action against injustice, loss of dignity, and oppressive human or institutional cruelty.

When people are homeless or hungry or forcefully displaced, they lack more than shelter from the elements. Being a migrant is not a metaphor. What they are lacking is a stable life, a secure place, and a recognizable identity among others that no amount of charity can provide. 

Public witness to the Gospel through advocacy and active partnership with allies who share our values is the way to effectively engage in mission today. Vatican II, a historic Roman Catholic mission conference, urged Christians everywhere to collaborate with secular partners to improve the lot of humanity by building bridges even with those who question our beliefs. It said, “The church sincerely professes that all people, believers and unbelievers alike, ought to work for the rightful betterment of this world in which all alike live.”

The United Methodist Church, through its mission boards and agencies are undoubtedly involved in such a ministry. But many of our constituents are bowling alone. They belong to few community-oriented organizations and are increasingly atomized, anomic, and apathetic subjects of the community rather than active participants within it. Our voice in public leverage and how to shape humans into transformative agents should never be limited to just a few tiers of our denomination. It should be picked up from annual conference to local church level.

In the final analysis, advocacy is not only our ecclesial modus operandi, but a timeless missional practice as well.

Academic Colloquy to Discuss Church Future

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools (AUMTS) has announced plans to co-host an academic theological colloquy, “Missio Dei and the United States: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness.” The colloquy, planned in support of the Commission on a Way Forward, will take place November 12–15, 2017, at the Boston School of Theology, Boston University.

The goal of the colloquy is to engage United Methodist scholars and bishops in constructive dialogue that will open new pathways in our understanding and faithful practice of the Missio Dei. During the colloquy, participants will explore the future of the church from a missional perspective, and examine how to reengage our Wesleyan heritage to participate in the Missio Dei. As we discern God’s leading, we must also heed God’s call to “Go!”

The colloquy will bring together scholars from the United

Methodist seminaries, as well as other seminaries across the U.S. Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, general secretary, GBHEM, and Dr. Jan Love, president of AUMTS and dean of Candler School of Theology, Emory University, issued a call for papers to more than 30 United Methodist scholars and 15 United Methodist bishops. All invited participants must write and submit a paper in advance. In accordance with the Book of Discipline, the colloquy is an open meeting dependent on seating capacity.

Following the colloquy, a study guide and book will be published, sharing the work and discussions that are presented at the event. The publications will be provided to the Commission on a Way Forward, Boards of Ordained Ministry and others to encourage informed and substantive theological conversation about the practice of the Missio Dei and the future of the denomination.

For more information about the colloquy, visit

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