Service of Commissioning and Ordination at the 2018 UNY Annual Conference
The theme of this year’s Annual Conference, Boldly Living our Call, was exceptionally demonstrated in the June 2 Service of Commissioning and Ordination.
There was one person commissioned for the work of deacon:
- Jessica Faye Glaser
There were six people commissioned for the work of elder:
- Cheryl Ann Brown
- Raymond C. Gilman IV
- Linda Kay Haight
- Melissa Marie Killenberger McCarthy
- Hector D. Rivera
- Lisa Dawn Taylor
There was one person received as an Associate Member:
- James Edward Barnes II
There were three people ordained to the order of elder:
- Stephanie Jo Brown
- Kevin Duane Slough
- Paul D. Winkelman
Bishop Dennis Proctor of the Northeastern Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church served as the ordination speaker. As we was welcoming the crowd and expressing gratitude for the opportunity to speak, he made humorous jokes about the fact that the service is meant to recognize the ordinands and commissioners, not to “hear some guy you don’t even know talk.”
Bishop Proctor promised not to take all the time that Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb granted him to deliver a message. He said, “I pray that I still hold true to the adage that says, ‘a sermon need not be eternal for it to be immortal.’”
Bishop Proctor’s powerful sermon will be remembered. He started off by asking the question “What do you have to give?”
His sermon was centered on Acts Chapter 3—the telling of James and John making their way into a temple when they saw a man unable to walk begging for alms. James and John, holding the man’s hand, said, ‘Silver and Gold, we have none, but such as we have, we give to thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…rise up and walk.” The man rose, walked, leaped and praised God.
Bishop Proctor claimed that despite our differences in biblical interpretation or backgrounds, this text illustrates what we all should be able to give.
The first possession we can give is affirmation. Bishop Proctor explained that Peter and John paid attention to the man, holding his hand, affirming they hear his call.
Bishop Proctor shared a personal story of when he offered affirmation to a group of men living with AIDS. These men were living in a home together on Brentwood Baptist Church’s campus in Houston, Texas. Many of the men had open lesions on their hands and bodies. When Bishop Proctor came to their home to meet them, they offered him chocolate chip cookies they had baked earlier that day.
Bishop Proctor said, “I could have said ‘no.’ I was staying at a Doubletree where they give you nice, warm chocolate chip cookies. But I accepted them and asked for more to bring back to the hotel.” The men then offered Bishop Proctor more cookies they made that had nuts. And Bishop Proctor graciously accepted them. He emphasized how proud these men were that someone who represents the King of Kings were happy to accept their cookies—that he did not turn them down even though the cookies were made with their hands with open lesions. These men, who many in society would pay no attention to, were affirmed to be worthy by Bishop Proctor.
The second gift we have to offer is that of information. Peter and John did not take the credit for the power to perform a miracle; they said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…” Bishop Proctor said, “You must be willing to tell the world who Jesus really is.”
The third way we can give to others is through inspiration. Bishop Proctor reiterated how the man in the temple not only walked, but he leaped, praising God. He said, “This man had new energy…he was not only healed physiologically, but also psychologically…it’s not you, me, us, but the power that works through us.”
After Bishop Proctor’s sermon, the Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, Executive Assistant to Bishop Webb and the Upper New York Director of Connectional Ministries, stood to explain the offering for the service, which was designated for New Faith Communities.
Mentioning how he could feel the wind of the spirit blowing through the entire session of Annual Conference, he told the story of the success of Upper New York’s New Faith Communities. He said, “When we first formed as a Conference, I met with (the Rev.) Dave Masland (now Director of UNY’s New Faith Communities) and I said, ‘We need to set a bold goal…over the next four to five years, we’re going to plant 25 churches,’ and Dave, my friend, said to me, ‘No Bill, we’re going to plant 100.’ Dave was wrong, we planted over 100.”
Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding explained how of the over 100 churches planted, over 80 are still meeting regularly. He then said, “But, we’re not done yet. The spirit is still blowing through us.”
Bishop Webb closed the service in prayer, thanking God for meeting us right where we are with love just as we are. He said, “Holy God…help us to continue to say ‘Yes’ to that love you have for our own lives that as you continue to transform us that we may then offer that love to others that they may share the Truth of grace through Jesus Christ; that we will walk, leap, and praise your name that others may walk, leap, and praise your name.”