Rev. Debbie Earthrowl offers a powerful worship experience at her DS installation
On Sunday Oct. 7 at Plattsburgh First United Methodist Church (FUMC), the Rev. Debbie Earthrowl was installed as the Adirondack District Superintendent; from the music and performances to the inspiring sermon, the installation was a vibrant celebration filled with joy.
In introducing Rev. Earthrowl, Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb described the several qualities he looks for in selecting a District Superintendent. He said confidently, “I am delighted to share with you that I believe your Superintendent has many of those qualities and has a deep desire to have all of them be a part of her life every moment of every day.”
Rev. Earthrowl explained how grateful she was for the way in which the service came together. She said, “I am so thankful and feel blessed that we are here gathered for worship because when we gather for worship, there is something powerful that happens.”
Part of that powerfulness of worship was expressed through dance—the Adirondack Liturgical Dance Troupe performed to the song, Ode to Joy. With impressive plies, releves, and sautes, the five young women in beautiful, flowing turquoise dresses illustrated the utmost joy that can be felt in worshipping God.
The upbeat tone of worship continued as expressed through the Plattsburgh FUMC’s bell choir. A diverse group in age, ethnicity, and gender performed the anthem, “Festival Celebration” with breathtaking crescendos.
The Adirondack District Choir, comprised of over two dozen women and men throughout the District, sang with strong projected voices, Join in the Dance, which included a solo by trumpeter Matt Kuhn and piano duet accompanists Dennis Frisbie and Carol Gallagher. Join the Dance was in fact written for Bishop Elaine J. W. Stanosky’s installation to the Mountain Sky Area (previously Denver).
Commitment to God
Rev. Earthrowl delivered an inspiring sermon using the 21st chapter of the Gospel of John as her reference point.
The setting of this chapter is at the Sea of Galilee near Tiberius where Simon Peter, Nathanial, and several other disciples were fishing.
Rev. Earthrowl expanded on the timeframe of this chapter and as to why the disciples were fishing.
She said, “This takes place after Jesus has walked with his disciples; after he has taught and done miracles in their midst; after he has offered them a pattern for living which included forgiveness, reaching out to the least and the lost and now that he has sent them to be in ministry…he suffered and died and was raised again and the disciples didn’t know what to do so they did what was familiar to them, fishing, but they caught no fish.”
Rev. Earthrowl continued, “After daybreak the next day, Jesus appeared and said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish have you?’ They answered him, ‘no.’ He said to them, ‘Cast your net to the right side of the boat and you will find some’ so they cast it and now they were not even able to haul it in because there were so many fish. At this point they knew it was the Lord.”
Rev. Earthrowl explained that the people at her installation service as well as all disciples of Christ often act like Simon Peter and the other disciples fishing.
She said, “Isn’t that what we do, we do what’s comfortable; we do what we know; and we invite others along. But then, Jesus shows up the way he does in all our lives, right? Jesus shows up in all our lives and says, ‘Go to the other side of the boat’ and we think, ‘what difference is that going to make?’ The difference is Jesus.”
Sharing the good news
Rev. Earthrowl explained that one area of discomfort that many have is sharing the Gospel. She said, “We have the greatest news that the world ever knew. We have the Good News, but for some odd reason, we want to keep it to ourselves and that isn’t what Jesus intended; we’re not intended to keep this good news to ourselves. And so we need to share it with others, but we’re reluctant to do that.”
Rev. Earthrowl presented the math of how transformative it would be if each person in the Adirondack District prayed for two people to receive the good news from them and that if each person’s two individuals prayed for two more individuals…and so on within each following year.
She said, “The average attendance in the Adirondack District on a Sunday morning is 3,000 people—that’s just average attendance—that’s not everybody who comes. If those 3,000 people told two people (the good news), you have 9,000 in one year. And you know what you get after four years…243,000 people and do you know that just happens to be? The number of people who live in the Adirondack District!”
Rev. Earthrowl reassured the crowd that sharing the good news does not need to be overwhelming; she said, “ All we have to do is pray and do it one person at a time.”
With God all things are probable
In Rev. Earthrowl’s closing prayer, she asked God to reveal how to share the good news in a way that points people solidly to Him and the depth of his love.
Rev. Earthrowl concluded her prayer, by proclaiming, “All things with you are not only possible, but probable.”