Rev. Elizabeth Abel Appointed to Serve as Long Island West District Superintendent

Rev. Elizabeth Abel Appointed to Serve as Long Island West District Superintendent


By: NYAC Communications 

Reverend Elizabeth Abel missed the first few calls from Bishop Bickerton. It was a typically full morning at Cornerstone Community Church, and Rev. Abel was hard at work juggling several things in relation to the business of the Norwalk, Connecticut-based church that she’s pastored for three years. 

“We’re restoring the parsonage, working on a plan to restructure the governance of the church, setting up church leadership training, and essentially doing all the things that pertain to the business of church,” Rev. Abel explains. “I was literally pushing through about 10-12 things at the time. I’m not even sure I heard the phone ring.”  
When the two connected, the reason for the call changed the trajectory of Rev. Abel’s ministry within the New York Annual Conference (NYAC). And, as the cliché goes, “the rest is history.” Meet the new district superintendent of the Long Island West District, Rev. Elizabeth Abel. 

On July 1, Rev. Abel will assume the appointment held by Rev. Sungchan Kim, who will be retiring after eight years of service to the Long Island West District. “We’re grateful for his time at the table. Rev. Kim’s deep prayer life and spirit will be greatly missed,” says Bishop Bickerton. “We’re praying for his retirement transition with a deep sense of appreciation for his contribution to our Annual Conference.”

 Rev. Abel is aware that she must fill a pair of large shoes—and also that her move from Cornerstone will trouble many in the congregation. It will, however, be a mutually challenging departure. “During Sunday service on February 6, I informed the congregation at Cornerstone. It so hard, and I will miss so many people that I’ve come to love and respect. I literally started crying before we started and the tears keep flowing until after service finished,” Rev. Abel confides. 
But as challenging as the decision to walk into a new season of ministry can be, Rev. Abel is excited about the possibility for true change and impactful leadership that the role can and likely will have, not only on the local churches under her purview, but on the New York Annual Conference (NYAC) as a whole. It's no surprise that Rev. Abel—who sits on NYAC Anti-Racism Task Force and leads its steering committee—is passionate about the impact that new voices, bold reform, multi-generational leadership and other shifts taking place at the Cabinet table will have on the future of our Annual Conference. 
A History of Visionary Leadership and Productive Activism 

This sense of passion, vibrant ministry, and vision for the future are among the reasons that Rev. Abel’s name rose to the top of the list of prospects. ““Rev. Abel is an exceptional leader.

I am constantly inspired by the many ways in which she has leaned into her calling while serving in the NYAC,” says Bishop Bickerton. “She has a creative, entrepreneurial and collaborative style that energizes others and inspires them to bring their very best to God. I’m looking forward to seeing how her welcoming spirit can help take the Cabinet to new places and produces even more fruitful outcomes.” 
State senator Bob Duff, majority leader of the Connecticut State Senate, sees in Rev. Abel a leader with a notable focus on bettering the lives of others. “As an elected official, we look to others to help us improve our communities, and she’s a great partner in that,” he says. “Liz is a presence who always says ‘what can I do?’ and ‘what can we do as a church community—not to just improve the four walls of the church—but how can Cornerstone make a difference in the community at large?’”  
For her work at Cornerstone, Senator Bob Duff, nominated Rev. Abel for a Shero award, given by the state general assembly to honor inspirational women who are uplifting their communities.  

Throughout her career, Rev. Abel has thrived as an advocate for youth, capitalizing on her strong passion for community development. Since arriving in Norwalk she has integrated her ministry throughout all walks of the  city—serving as a co-convener for the Norwalk Immigration Coalition, assisting the City of Norwalk in feeding those that are food insecure, working with Norwalk ACTS for Race Equity and creating new ministries and programming to support youth and leadership development at Cornerstone. 

Thanks to her visionary approach, in 2021 Cornerstone launched a new and separate 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization, called “At The Corner,” which will focus on providing services to youth and immigrants in the greater Norwalk area. Rev. Abel is also the founder and developer of the  Timothy Project and Deborah’s Academy, rites of passage and mentoring programs for young men and women.  
Rev. Abel assures all that the ministries, community partnerships and other initiatives launched during her season of shepherding the flock at Cornerstone will not languish as a result of this new transition. The current leadership at Cornerstone is committed to continuing the ministry that Rev. Abel began. 
“We are ready to rally around the incoming pastor, understanding that the ministry must remain alive and vibrant because of its people and the community that we serve,” she stresses, “The community was my parish, not just the church. That’s vital to all of us.”
But indeed, Rev. Abel says it is time to live up to a new calling. “I aim to be impactful in this new role,” she says. “It’s important that we all be bold in partnership with God to craft the vision of what the church will be. I’ve always believed this was my call, from the time I was ordained. There have to be people in place to help build the next generation of our church and model how we are to respond and show up. Well, here I come…”