Alpher Sylvester Installed as Connecticut DS

Alpher Sylvester Installed as Connecticut DS


Bishop Bickerton, right, and members of the cabinet lays hands on as they pray for Rev. Dr. Alpher Sylvester during his installation as Connecticut District superintendent.

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Editor, The Vision

In a spirit-filled service marked by uplifting music and exuberant preaching, Rev. Dr. Alpher Sylvester was officially installed as superintendent of the Connecticut District on September 10. The Nichols UMC in Trumbull, Conn., was filled to capacity to celebrate Sylvester, who took on his new role July 1. As the processional, “Come Thou Almighty,” was sung, Sylvester walked up the aisle hand-in-hand with Bishop Thomas Bickerton, and they both paused to bow at the altar before going to their seats.

Members of Sylvester’s former church, Grace UMC in St. Albans, Queens, lent their gifts to the celebration through liturgical dance and the Voices in Spirit choir and band.

One remarkable moment came when Gerald Placid, who arrived with duffle bag in hand, sang, “How Great Thou Art.” Placid, a military veteran who described Sylvester as a father figure, explained that he had just returned from Rockport, Texas, and would be deployed the next day with Homeland Security to aid FEMA in Florida hurricane relief.

Sylvester’s gifts were affirmed by former church members and clergy colleagues and named as an unwavering commitment to excellence, profound love and humility, and deep spiritual commitment. After the bishop led the gathering through the covenant service, he presented Sylvester with a Bible as one of the symbols of superintendency. Pairs of clergy and laity offered other symbols including a globe, bread and juice, a Book of Discipline, hymnals, water, basin and towel.

Sylvester, who is a native of Trinidad & Tobago and apologized for his West Indian accent, could be understood readily in his message to “Go Forward,” based on God’s sending of the prophet Joshua.

He stressed the importance of good leadership to move the church forward and the need to shake off dead things.
“Some are embracing the past. But God is saying ‘the past is gone, you got to get up.’ God is directing us where we go,” Sylvester said.

Just as God sent Joshua across the Jordan River, clergy and churches face barriers that may impede their journeys and need to remember that God is always there.

“Some days I thought I was going to drown, but God got me through,” Sylvester said . . . “You’ve got to go over, even if you don’t want to go.” Every step one takes is given by God, he added.

He urged the group to never give up and to work hard to succeed.

“We cannot be fearful, Sylvester said. “God started this race without you and will see you through. Stop giving up.
“You’ve got to exercise to be strong . . . exercise your faith  . . . pray until something happens,” Sylvester said.

At the close of his sermon, Sylvester invited the crowd to turn and touch their neighbor, saying, “Get up, get up and go! You can’t stay where you are!”

An offering was taken to benefit youth and young adult ministries in the district. The sacrament of Holy Communion drew the worship to a close. Following the late afternoon service, a reception prepared by North UMC in Hartford was held in the fellowship hall.