NEJ Bishops gather at United Methodist Center
Nine Bishops from the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church (NEJ) joined Upper New York (UNY) Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb for a peer learning session on Oct. 8 and 9 at the United Methodist Center in Liverpool. The NEJ Residential Bishops meet four times a year, rotating meeting locations. The last time the NEJ Bishops gathered in UNY was the fall of 2016 at a hotel in Syracuse. This is the first time NEJ Bishops have visited the United Methodist Center.
The learning session was moderated by retired Bishop Ernest Lyght. During his tenure as a deacon and elder, Bishop Lyght served in the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, Southern New Jersey Conference, and the former Northern New Jersey Conference. The NEJ Conference elected Bishop Lyght to episcopacy in 1996 and assigned him to the New York Area followed by an assignment in the West Virginia Area in 2004.
Bishop Webb says, “It’s always great to have folks come and see what’s happening in Upper New York, interact with the staff, and show off the Conference Center.”
Bishops in attendance included: Bishop Webb (Upper New York Area), Thomas J. Bickerton (New York Area), Sudarshana Devadhar (Boston Area), Sandra Steiner Ball (West Virginia Area), Cynthia Moore-Koikoi (Pittsburg Area), John Schol (Greater New Jersey Area), Peggy Johnson (Philadelphia Area), Jeremiah Park (Harrisburg Area), LaTrelle Easterling (Washington Area), and Ernest Lyght (retired Bishop).
Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball describes the United Methodist Center as a place where visitors can get empowered, trained, and equipped to fulfill the mission and ministry of UNY.
“I really like the center with living water and the baptismal font. We really can’t do our mission and ministry unless we are reminded constantly of who we are. We are supposed to be fishers for all people and just like the world, there are fish that are searching for something and waiting for people to connect with them,” says Bishop Steiner Ball.
Bishop LaTrelle Easterling says she found the same space to be inviting and serene. “What a setting for just contemplative prayer and thought. I think I would end up sitting there several times a day.”
This trip was a sort of homecoming for Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, who was elected to the episcopal post in Boston from the former North Central New York Conference. Bishop Devadhar describes his experience as one of radical hospitality. “It is a joy to be here. This is much needed reality of the hour and we are very proud of Bishop Webb and all the leadership for making this a possibility.”
The purpose of this session was to learn and interact with one another and as Bishop Steiner Ball describes it, “learn how to be a leadership team instead of a team of leaders.”
“It’s really about how we can better be the body of Christ together, working on our covenant so we support one another both when we are together and when we are apart so that the connection remains empowered so that we help one another to be the best we can be with the gifts God has given us.”
The peer learning session was well-received by all the Bishops in attendance, from the space and hospitality to the session take-aways, and fellowship. The NEJ Bishops will gather again in January 2019 in Baltimore.