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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    about

    Meet the Delegates of Special Session of General Conference

    These are the delegates representing the Upper New York Conference that are headed to the Special Session of General Conference which will be held Feb. 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri:

    Rev. Bill Allen
    Rev. Dr. Michelle Bogue-Trost
    Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett
    Greg Forrester
    Rev. John Martin
    Rev. Bill Mudge
    Rev. Holly Nye
    Riley O'Flynn
    Rev. Colleen Hallagan Preuninger
    Shirley Readdean
    Blenda Smith
    Rev. Beckie Sweet
    Marthalyn Sweet
    Ian Urriola
    Carmen FS Vianese
    JJ Warren



    Rev. Bill Allen- Head of the Upper New York Delegation of the General Conference

    Email: billallen@bpumc.com

    Spiritual home: Alfred UMC
    Current church or appointment: Bemus Point UMC
    Fun fact about yourself: I once licked a Tootsie Pop 760 times until I reached the center. For real.
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Perry's Chocolate Panda Paws
    How you like your coffee: With cream, no sugar
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: Because I am a calm, bridge builder who respects and works with people of diverse opinions, I felt called to the work of listening and discerning God's will for the United Methodist Church.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: I am passionately devoted to connecting with others to make disciples of Jesus who will make more disciples of Jesus so that the world will be transformed!


    Rev. Dr. Michelle Bogue-Trost (Clergy: First Reserve)

    Email: pastormichellebt@gmail.com

    Spiritual home: In the earth-meets-divinity spirituality of the Celts
    Current church or appointment: Central: Endicott / Binghamton District
    Fun fact about yourself: I am going to spend two weeks in India in October
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Friendly's Nuts Over Caramel (currently)
    How you like your coffee: I detest coffee in all its forms--even the smell
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: I believe God calls me into a ministry of leadership in the denomination I love. Being part of the work of GC enables me to live out that call.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: Always the answer for me is: Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts.


    Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett

    Email: fassettww@empacc.net

    Spiritual home: The world
    Current church or appointment: Retired ordained UMC minister
    Fun fact about yourself: I collect historical artifacts.
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: vanilla
    How you like your coffee: in a cup
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: As a means of supporting the viability of Wesleyan Methodism
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: The teachings of Jesus and the directives of John Wesley


    Greg Forrester (Assistant Head of the Delegation)

    Email: forresterdisastor@gmail.com

    Spiritual home: Cortland, NY
    Current church or appointment: Cortland UMC
    Fun fact about yourself: I can drive cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and fly an airplane - perfect traveling companion for a Zombie Apocalypse
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Mocha chunk
    How you like your coffee: Hot
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: Lots of General Church service and exposure - leaders must lead
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: Mission and disaster service


    Rev. John Martin

    Email: Pastor@foundationumc.com

    Spiritual home: Foundation Church
    Current church or appointment: Foundation Church
    Fun fact about yourself: I competed in and completed the Lake Placid Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run).
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Coffee
    How you like your coffee: Black
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: To represent and support our connection and to take part in working through one of the more challenging times in UMC history.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: Any time I’m working with people


    Rev. Bill Mudge

    Email: pastorbillmudge@gmail.com

    Spiritual home: Baldwinsville UMC
    Current church or appointment: Baldwinsville UMC
    Fun fact about yourself: I have six grand babies age 10 months to 12 years old!
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: vanilla
    How you like your coffee: I like dark roast strong with no room.
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: I love our church and hope to help heal her.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: We do big things together! I dropped my son Sam off at Boston University last week, and I marveled at the people from all around the world that come to 134 acres of campus in the middle of Boston Mass. The people call Methodist did that together.


    Rev. Holly Nye (Clergy Second Reserve)

    Email: hn@nycap.rr.com

    Spiritual home: outdoors
    Current church or appointment: Burnt Hills UMC
    Fun fact about yourself: once met Spike Lee in a jazz club
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: peanut butter
    How you like your coffee: strong but decaf
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: I am a bridge builder.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: Helping others find their calling


    Riley O'Flynn

    Email: rileyoflynngc@gmail.com

    Spiritual home: India
    Current church or appointment: Honeoye Falls UMC
    Fun fact about yourself: I survived a typhoon when I went to the GYPCLA in the Philippines in 2014
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Chocolate Panda Paws
    How you like your coffee: I honestly don't really like coffee
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: My main reason for wanting to serve as a General Conference delegate was that I wanted to be able to help the young people's voice be heard. I feel as though young people are not heard as well as they should be and I wanted to help make strides for us.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: I really love how we are a global church and continue to work to make disciples for the transformation of the world. Being a board member for the General Board of Church and Society has really opened my eyes to all of the amazing work we, as United Methodists, do in order to give a voice to the voiceless and stand up for our beliefs.


    Rev. Colleen Hallagan Preuninger 

    Email: colleenpreuninger@gmail.com

    Spiritual home: Casowasco
    Current church or appointment: Extension Ministry: Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute
    Fun fact about yourself: I am fluent in German!
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Coconut Cream
    How you like your coffee: whole milk, one Sweet'N Low
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: I feel called to serve as General Conference delegate because I believe God is calling the body of Christ on toward perfection. I believe this means that God is calling those with the power to open our doors to all people, particularly those who have been most harmed and marginalized by the institution of the Church. In this season of the life of the United Methodist Church that means I feel called to be an ally and advocate for the full inclusion of queer and trans* folks in the life of our denomination at the highest level I am able to serve. Serving as a General Conference delegate for the special called session in 2019 allows me to serve in a way that I can fulfill my calling as an ally and advocate in a context that has the power to produce meaningful alterations to our polity.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: The aspect of our connection and ministry I feel most fulfilling is the ministry with students on the campuses of colleges and universities. I believe this is a vital and essential ministry of the church and feel fortunate to serve in a higher education context.


    Shirley Readdean (Laity Second Reserve)

    Email: whirrly@earthlink.net

    Spiritual home: First UMC Schenectady
    Current church or appointment: First UMC Schenectady
    Fun fact about yourself: I love to laugh.
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: black rasberry
    How you like your coffee: black
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: I discerned through prayer.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: Mission


    Blenda Smith

    Email: bsmith@binghamton.edu

    Spiritual home: Fairview UMC, Binghamton
    Current church or appointment: Fairview UMC, Binghamton
    Fun fact about yourself: I am talented in color coordination
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: coffee
    How you like your coffee: with french vanilla no fat creamer
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: I believe in justice for all —> especially the least, the last & the lost. As a GC Delegate, I hope to help our church to be that way.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: UMCOR, Mission & Outreach!


    Rev. Beckie Sweet

    Email: revbeckiesweet@gmail.com

    Spiritual home: with Christian friends in worship or service
    Current church or appointment: Kenmore UMC
    Fun fact about yourself: I have a French Angora rabbit named, Jacques.
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Maple Walnut
    How you like your coffee: hot or cold with Cinnamon Bun creamer
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: I feel called to be actively engaged in processes which help United Methodists to live into our high calling to follow and serve Christ. Some of our rules and practices need to be based on love, rather than fear. I would like to help shift our focus in order to offer Christ's love more fully.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: Worship and justice-seeking


    Marthalyn Sweet

    Email: mmmk.sweet@gmail.com

    Spiritual home: Sky Lake
    Current church or appointment: Gouverneur and Asbury First in Rochester
    Fun fact about yourself: I would consider myself a connoisseur of Ben and Jerry's.
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Brambleberry Crisp by Jeni's
    How you like your coffee: iced (with extra ice) and a respectable amount of cream
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: The church has been my home. I feel called to be active in the processes that shape our mission of showing the world Christ's love through grace and justice.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: I love to gather. In worship, in mission, in fellowship around a campfire, or a pizza. Great things come out of people gathered with a shared vision.


    Ian Urriola

    Email: iurriola1992@gmail.com

    Spiritual home: It’s complicated
    Current church or appointment: It’s complicated (membership lies with Asbury First in Rochester)
    Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been to 17 countries.
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Abbott’s Chocolate Almond frozen custard
    How you like your coffee: Black. Strong.
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: When I think about my call to ministry, ordering the life of the church stands out, and since General Conference is the top legislative body of the UMC and the only body that can order the church from a denominational standpoint, serving as a delegate felt like a natural—albeit difficult and humbling—call to follow. As a young person of color, I also felt called to serve so that these voices might be better represented at the general church level of our polity.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: The Connection itself and our commitment to it. It’s a bold proclamation that no single local church or Annual Conference or pastor or layperson is perfect or can change the world on their own. But together, the whole has the potential to be greater than the sum of its parts.


    Carmen FS Vianese

    Email: carmenfsvianese2@twc.com

    Spiritual home: Camp Asbury - Perry NY
    Current church or appointment: Nunda UMC
    Fun fact about yourself: When I was 10 yrs old - I wrote a petition, acquired 500 signatures and went to the village board with it all so that girls in my small rural WNY town would be given the opportunity to play little league baseball. And I am pleased to say - 42 years later - girls make up 50% of the little league teams in Nunda.
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Mint Chocloate Chip
    How you like your coffee: 1/2 decaf - 1/2 regular with just cream
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: With my General Board & International Board experience - I felt called to be intentionally present and accountable to the whole body of believers across the connection of the UMC.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: The global aspect - knowing that no matter where I go in the world - if I find a cross and a flame - I have mostly also found welcoming sisters & brothers of faith


    JJ Warren (Laity First Reserve)

    Email: warrenjj97@gmail.com

    Spiritual home: Penn Yan UMC
    Current church or appointment: Penn Yan UMC
    Fun fact about yourself: I have four sisters and two brothers.
    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Mint chocolate-chip
    How you like your coffee: Lots of cream and sugar!
    Why you felt called to serve as a General Conference delegate: As a young person who has grown up in our beloved UMC, the Church is my home. I feel called to ordained ministry in our Church and to preach the good news that God loves us unconditionally. As a gay man, I know first hand that our Church has harmed many people like me—has told us that we are unlovable. I was called to this general conference to remind all of us that God is greater than one type of person, that God has created each of us and calls us all to care for the world. I want my home, the UMC, to be safe and not abusive.
    What aspect of our connection and ministry do you find most fulfilling: I’ve travelled around the world to many countries in Europe and to India. I am amazed at the warm welcome that I always receive when I see our UMC cross and flame and gladly enter the church.


    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 86 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."