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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    Earlville UMC will leave a lasting legacy in Mission Central Hub

    September 21, 2017 / By Steve Hustedt / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Earlville United Methodist Church has spread the love of Jesus and changed lives for 202 years, but with a recent vote to close, that is changing. Like many small churches, Earlville UMC was in ministry to a community that was shrinking. The members of the Earlville UMC realized that the church was becoming unsustainable and they decided to be proactive about the legacy of their church.

    As a part of their vote to close, the congregation voted to give resources to a variety of United Methodist Churches and ministries that would continue their mission.

    Their decision was based in scripture, specifically John 12:24 “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

    It was further inspired by the Hymn of Promise, Hymn 707 in the United Methodist Hymnal:

    In the bulb there is a flower;
    In the seed, an apple tree;
    In cocoons, a hidden promise:
    Butterflies will soon be free!
    In the cold and snow of winter
    There’s a spring that waits to be,
    Unrevealed until its season,
    Something God alone can see.

    Earlville UMC gave an outdoor electronic sign to CenterPoint UMC that will help direct people from the highway to where there is the good news of Jesus. They donated $20,000 to the New Harvest, a new faith community to help in transporting members without vehicles to worship. They donated money and resources to Aldersgate Camp and many other churches in the Mohawk District. However, by far, the largest gifts were given to support the new Upper New York Conference Mission Central Hub.

    “Earlville has always been a very mission-minded church, so this was a natural fit” Mohawk District Superintendent Rev. Abel Roy said. “Conference leaders and I met with the leadership of Earlville last spring and shared the vision for the Mission Central Hub. Earlville was very excited about the potential of supporting a mission that would have such impact both locally and around the world.”

    From training the Conference’s Volunteers in Mission and Disaster Response teams to collecting and assembling flood buckets, health kits, and more, the UNY Mission Central Hub is the perfect answer to local churches who feel called to expand their outreach ministries. It is a resource for becoming the hands and feet of God in service.

    This vision is becoming a reality now, thanks in large part to the legacy of Earlville UMC. Their vote to discontinue included donating enough money to the new Upper New York Mission Central Hub to allow it to start operations.

    Bishop Mark J. Webb who personally met with them said, “This church offered decades upon decades of rich ministry. Through these gifts their ministry will continue for many years to come.”

    The gift from Earlville UMC provides enough money to cover the salary of a Director for at least two years. They also gifted a 1.2 million dollar  trust to help with operations well into the future.

    The Conference has already started the search for a Director of Missional Engagement who will form a comprehensive mission strategy for the Mission Central Hub and other UNY ministries. The position will oversee the planning, management, and evaluation of the mission and operations of the Upper New York Conference Missional Engagement ministry to include Mission Central HUB (MCH), UNY Volunteers in Mission, and UNY Disaster Response.

    Click here to learn more about the position of Director of Missional Engagement or to apply.  

    Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding was one of the Conference leaders who helped to cast the vision of the Mission Central Hub for Earlville UMC. He said, “Earlville UMC is an amazing example of what it means to leave a legacy in ministry.”

    Earlville UMC consulted with the Upper New York Conference Legacy Team in making its decision. To learn more about this ministry click here.

    “Every church has a lifecycle,” Gottschalk-Fielding continued. “But what a church chooses to do when it has truly reached the end of its life, can leave an impact for generations to come. Earlville’s legacy will continue to change lives and spread the love of Jesus long after we are all gone.”  

    While Earlville UMC’s amazing gift is a great start for the ministry of the Upper New York Conference’s Mission Central Hub, it is only the beginning of what will be needed. Simply turning on the news and seeing the devastating reports of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and more shows the desperate need for such a ministry.

    Others wishing to support the Upper New York Mission Central Hub can do so by visiting to learn more and donate online or by sending checks to the Upper New York Conference (7481 Henry Clay Blvd. Liverpool, NY 13088) with FUND # 951 – “Mission Central Hub” on the memo line.

    TAGGED / Mission Central

    My trip to the Holy Land, Article 2 of 4

    September 20, 2017 / By Theresa Eggleston

    When I went to the Holy Land, I was expecting to have a grand spiritual experience in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is one of my favorite Bible stories; Jesus stays up all night praying that the burden before him is taken away. He pleads with his friends to stay up with him, longing for company. When I read this story, I feel closer to a human Jesus.

    Naturally, I was excited to experience something special when I stepped into the Garden of Gethsemane. Although it was a beautiful place and I was happy to be there, I didn’t feel the nudge of the Spirit. Who was I to control what the Spirit had planned for me while I was in the Holy Land though?  The Spirit had very different plans for me as I found during my journey.  I was completely surprised when I found the Spirit move me on the Sea of Galilee. I was deeply moved when Mary became real in the Church of the Annunciation. I was forever changed in my heart when I felt the tangible love of the Spirit in the home of a Palestinian family. Through sharing this story this week and a couple of others in upcoming weeks, I hope to share with you the awakenings the Holy Spirit gave me in the Holy Land.

    The Sea of Galilee:

    We ran as quickly as we could towards the shore line. The light breeze off the Sea of Galilee cooled the sweat from our brows. Our feet clomped on the docks as we came closer to the wooden boat we would be traveling on. One by one, we hauled our tired bodies onto the boat and away we sailed.

    This was the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus walked on water. This is where he called out to his disciples, and where he grabbed onto Peter and asked, “Why did you doubt?” In my head, I imagined it as a peaceful place; tranquil with silent beauty. Today it was the complete opposite. As our boat left the shore, the wind began to pick up and the waves leapt alongside the bow. Our guide raised his voice louder and louder to speak over the water that crashed against the ship.

    We gathered closer together near the center of the vessel in order to hear one another better. We listened to a reading from Matthew 14:22-33. Peter cried out to Jesus and said, “Lord! Save me!” I struggled to hear over the crashing waves and howling wind. Somehow, I could almost hear Peter shout for the Lord’s help, his words becoming swallowed by blustering salt air.

    After the reading, our leader, Mike Ratliff asked: “In your time of ministry, who have you cried out to saying, ‘Save Me!’ Who have been your mentors in ministry? Whether with us or passed on, I would ask that you say their names out loud here.”

    A lump rose in my throat. A moment passed and then another. One group member shared a name. I swallowed back tears, my eyes burning with the effort. Another name was shared. Finally, I took a deep breath, one much like Peter must have taken before shouting to the Lord and I said…. “Kevin Dunn.”

    As I said his name, it disappeared into the air with a loud gush of wind. It was as if the Spirit had snatched that name as it left my lips, as swiftly as Kevin had left us here on earth. I took another deep breath. Mike spoke again: “When someone pours into you, you in turn must pour out because it was never yours to begin with.” Mike’s words hung in the air. Selfishly I wanted to keep as much of my spiritual mentor as I could. Kevin had been my spiritual navigator, my beacon of light whom I went to when my own Calling had been just a whisper. I wanted to remember every moment, every lesson, every campfire we had sat around, and every hike that we took. All the work Kevin did in the name of God’s calling and all he had poured into my soul began to well up and spill over. “It was never yours to begin with.”

    Mike sent us into a time of prayer on the boat as we sailed through the choppy sea. I migrated from the center to the edge of the boat and immediately fell to my knees. In that moment, I knew the Holy Spirit was present. The air around me was heavy with my grief, my joy, my pain, and my fear. It was me falling before my God and Savior on the rolling Sea of Galilee. I wept, I sobbed, and I gasped for air. My body became limp as I gave into the Spirit’s comfort. Words and Scripture formed from the swirling electricity in my head saying,

    “I have called you by name, and my work in you is not finished.”
    “I am not finished with your pain. I am not finished with your fear. I am not finished with you.”
    “Jesus was about 30 when he began his ministry.”
    “My child, my child, calm down.”
    “ I will teach you how to pour out.”

    Tears rolled down my face and for a moment I looked over the Sea of Galilee and felt complete peace. I looked upon the waves and I knew what Peter had feared.  He had been scared that he wasn’t good enough. How could he, a fisherman, be like his Rabbi? How could he be like Jesus and walk on water too?  He was JUST Peter?

    I am JUST Theresa, how could I be like Jesus? How could I pour out? How could I be like Kevin? How could I be good enough? I find myself in a season of life where things are unfinished, where my questions are unanswered, and where my grief has the ability to pop up unexpectedly.  In this season The Spirit transcend my expectations. In a time where I desperately wanted to ask Kevin about the Call, God provide answers.

    “I will teach you how to pour out what Kevin poured into you.”

    I have so much to learn. I am unfinished. I have been called. I will answer. I will pour out what Kevin gave me.

    As we climbed off the boat, we all whipped our eyes and hugged one another. We had grown closer to each other. We had shared our souls with one another. The Holy Spirit had transcended our expectations and we became family.


    Upper New York’s CLT updates its Purpose Statement

    September 19, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    For many years, the UNY Conferences Leadership Team’s (CLT) purpose focused on administrative tasks.

    Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb requested the CLT to work together to expand their purpose statement.

     The new focus of the Conference Leadership Team is more comprehensive and is geared toward living out the vision and mission of the UMC and the UNY Conference.

    Drew Griffin, a member of CLT, said “Bishop Webb has asked the CLT to work on providing alignment throughout the UNY Conference with a strategic ministry plan that will help districts and local churches best live out the mission an vision of the UMC and UNY Conference. While there are still administrative tasks that we assist with, we believe our primary focus needs to be on creating alignment and developing strategy.”

    Below is the purpose statement, and what different members of the CLT have to say about the specific tasks the CLT intend to accomplish.

    Purpose of the CLT

    This body will ensure that the decisions of the Annual Conference are implemented in accordance with the mission of The United Methodist Church, and the vision, primary task(s), and core values of the UNY Conference.

    To accomplish this, the CLT will:

    • Work in cooperation with the Bishop, Cabinet, and other appropriate teams to guide and maintain a culture of alignment throughout the Conference.

    The Rev. Sherri Rood, District Superintendent of the Cornerstone District and Dean of the UNY Cabinet said, “A cooperative spirit is essential in order to assure that the Bishop, Cabinet, and all ministry areas in UNY are working in alignment to fulfil the mission of the United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world as well as the UNY vision to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places.”

    • Partner with and equip District Leadership Teams (DLT) for visioning within their local contexts.  

    The Rev. Steve Taylor is a member of CLT and also a DLT for the Cornerstone District. He said, “The role of the CLT is not to do ministry, tell local churches or DLTs how to do ministry, or even hand down canned ministry ideas to implement. The role of the CLT is to equip the DLTs to equip local churches and ministry leaders to develop effective ministries in their contexts… As a member of the Cornerstone District DLT and the CLT, I’m confident that the work of the CLT to focus on ministry action plans and resourcing the DLTs will be fruitful as the DLTs discern how God is calling the local churches and districts to meet the ministry challenges in their contexts.” 

    • Engage in strategic planning to discern outputs for UNY that best accomplish the primary task of the Conference and Evaluate Conference ministries’ contributions to those outputs.

    Susan Hardy, UNY Lay Leader refers to strategic planning as a map. She said, “How do we know where we are going—and when we arrive-- if we do not have a map?

    Our Conference recognizes that Christ-inspired leaders, much like the first disciples of Jesus, can be empowered and equipped to effect transformational changes in our lives and in our churches. Our CLT is wrestling each month with mapping out the processes of how that might work in the 21st century.

    We are literally creating Ministry Action Plans (MAPs) on specific outputs (measurable goals) that will be shared with all District Leadership Teams. How, for example, do we identify and equip younger Christ-inspired leaders? Where are such persons to be found? Who needs to support their journeys? How might resources be allocated? When might such leaders serve specific ministries? Which group, whether district or conference, needs to be involved at each step? How do we measure each step of such a faith journey?

    This is challenging work, requiring both trust in one another, and vulnerability as we learn new skills and vocabulary together. “

    The final task is to

    • Ensure mutual accountability across the diverse bodies of UNY.

    CLT member Erinn Gould-Norris said, “To me, evaluating the contributions of ministries across the Conference is an opportunity for the Conference and these ministries to stay connected. It provides an opportunity for growth, increased communication and understanding, and allows us all to consider what is working, what isn't working, and what might need to be changed. Evaluation isn't just about gathering numbers to determine performance. Evaluation is about learning a more complete story so we can continue to work together in ministry as we live out our call and mission throughout the Upper New York Annual Conference and beyond.”

    Together, the CLT will be working diligently at carrying out their purpose when they meet every month, and beyond.

    Bishop Young Jin Cho to speak at the Bishop’s Retreat

    September 19, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The UNY Conference’s Bishop’s Retreat, which takes place every fall, is an opportunity for clergy to gather together for fellowship and special learning. Attendees to this year’s retreat are in for a special treat; the featured speaker at the 2017 Bishop’s Retreat is Bishop Young Jin Cho who will be speaking four different times during the October 24-October 26 retreat on the theme of “Leading through Prayer.”

    Bishop Cho, retired, is a former Bishop of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United States. His prior experience includes a 22-year stint as Senior Pastor of the Korean United Methodist Church of Greater Washington (KUMCGW) and District Superintendent of the Arlington District.  During his tenure at KUMCGW, church worship attendance grew from about 100 to over 1,000—in fact the church is one of the most vital congregations in the Virginia Conference.

    The hallmark of Bishop Cho’s ministry, in every setting, is prayer. He has said, “If there is no vital spirituality, there can be no vital congregations.”

    Bishop Cho explained how he created a Covenant for Spiritual Discipline when he was Bishop. By agreeing to become a Prayer Covenant Congregation, a congregation had to promise to have at least one weekly prayer group, offer at least one class on prayer annually, participate in Conference prayer- equipping events, and move toward at least 10 percent of their church members practicing one hour of prayer daily.  

    Bishop Cho said, “When I retired in 2016, about 40 percent of our churches had become Prayer Covenant Congregations, and more than 4,000 people joined the movement of dedicating one hour for spiritual disciplines.”

    All attendees of the 2017 Bishop’s Retreat will learn how prayer can powerfully revitalize their congregations!

    Bishop Cho’s first session, at 3 p.m. on Tuesday Oct. 24, entitled “One Thing Lacking,” will zero in on Luke 18:18-25. Bishop Cho said, “The UMC has been declining for over 40 years. We have tried initiatives and plans, but so far we have not (produced) much fruit…what is the one thing lacking?”

    Bishop Cho’s second session at 9 a.m. on Wednesday Oct. 25, entitled “Lord Teach us to Pray,” focuses on Luke 11: 1-13. Bishop Cho said, “Today we need to learn many things for our faithful and fruitful ministry, but the most important thing is asking our Lord to teach us to pray. We need to remember what E.M. Bounds says in his book, Power through Prayer: ‘The Church is looking for a better method, but God is looking for better persons…persons mighty in prayer.’”

    Bishop Cho’s third session at 7 p.m. on Wednesday Oct. 25.entitled, “Let Jesus Christ be the Lord,” emphasizes the lessons learned in Acts 16:6-10. Bishop Cho said, “Our effort to turn around our churches should be more than a reactive plan to save our denomination. It should be a movement to restore a biblical, authentic, and vital church. In this movement, letting Jesus Christ be the Lord in our mission and ministry is key. We are not the head of the Church.”

    The final session that Bishop Cho will lead the Bishop Retreat’s attendees through will be on Thursday Oct. 26 at 9:30 a.m., on the topic of hope, using Acts 27:21-26 as the lens. Bishop Cho said, “Although we are facing storms today, we still have hope, not because of our knowledge or ability. It is because of God’s love for us. Jesus Christ is still the solid rock on which we can build our new future. As Bill Gather sings, Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.’”

    Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb created the UNY Conference’s current quadrennial theme, "Together in Prayer." The 2017 Bishop’s Retreat is the perfect opportunity to make progress on your personal prayer life and learn how to do the same for the members of your congregation.

    In addition to learning from a fabulous leader of the UMC, the Bishop’s Retreat includes fun evening events, vibrant worship services, and a time to commune with friends over meals and outings. This year’s Bishop’s Retreat will be held at the Double Tree Hotel in Binghamton, NY. Click here to see the full schedule of events and/or to register.

    Shoeboxes for Red Bird Mission

    September 19, 2017 / By Dave Alexander, lay person, Endwell United Methodist Church

    The Endwell United Methodist Church mission team is again coordinating the collection and delivery of shoeboxes for Red Bird Mission, located in Beverly, Kentucky.  The Red Bird Missionary Conference is one of three missionary United Methodist conferences in the United States.  It is the most comprehensive mission effort of the United Methodist Church, providing outreach and services that minister to the whole person (spiritual, physical, social, and economic).

    Last year our team drove two-26 foot trucks to the Red Bird Mission.  Because of your generosity, one truck was filled with over 3,000 shoeboxes and the other with clothes, books, school and cleaning supplies. We have begun to collect shoeboxes with the goal of having everything ready by November 22, 2017. We plan on transporting all items the first week of December.

    This year we are asking churches that want to participate in this project to help us by dropping off all filled shoeboxes to the following two locations:  the Upper New York Conference Center at 7481 Henry Clay Blvd. in Liverpool or to the Endwell United Methodist Church located at 3301 Watson Blvd. in Endwell.  Drop off dates will be November 1st-17th.  If needed, arrangements can be made to have a pickup of items by contacting Dave Alexander at 607-743-8955 or by email to

    There are two different styles of shoe boxes: adult and children.  All items should be put in clear plastic shoebox sized storage containers with lids.  Please do not wrap the boxes.  Please include $1 for each shoebox in a separate envelope to help with shipping costs.

    Items needed for the adult shoe boxes (please mark for a man or woman) include a comb/brush, shampoo, hand lotion, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, chap stick, full size bath soap, wash cloth, disposable razors, shaving cream, nail care supplies, mittens, scarf, hat, socks, and work gloves.

    Items for the children's shoe boxes (please mark for a boy or girl) include two or three toy items, two or three school items, bar soap, children's toothbrush, children's toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, wash cloth, comb/brush, chap stick, mittens, hat, socks, and small flashlight.

    Most of these items can be purchased at a local dollar store.

    Christian bookmarks, wrist bands, and other spiritual items are also appreciated.

    There is also a great need for sheets and blankets for children beds.

    If any Church would like a power point presentation, we can send you one or make a presentation to your group.

    From franchise to local dive… unleash the power for your local church

    September 12, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Are you wondering how to spark new life, meet new people and offer them Christ? The temptation is to serve up the same exact ministry models that worked in another time and space. Like ordering from a menu at the franchise chain restaurant and expecting the meal to be palatable in the local context, many churches fail to connect with what their local community is actually hungry for.  Join the Niagara Frontier District Leadership team as they explore ways to unleash the power of the local church at their event entitled From Franchise to Local Dive.... Unleash the Power of the Local Church.

    This event, presented by the Rev. Dr Rosario Picardo, will be held at the Alexander United Methodist Church, on Saturday Oct. 21 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

    Rosario (Roz) Picardo partners with Senior Pastor Mike Slaughter is the Executive Pastor of New Church Development at Ginghamsburg UMC. He has effectively helped the Ginghamsburg leadership team to dream and deploy New Faith Communities within the Ginghamsburg community of churches. Roz is an Ordained Elder within the United Methodist Church, holding a Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry from United Theological Seminary. He leads a consulting group for church planters/pastors called Picardo Coaching LLC and is the author of Embrace: A Church Plant That Broke All the Rules (Pickwick Publications) and Get to Work: Recovering a Theology of Bivocational Ministry (Wipf & Stock Publishers).

    Click here to register.

    From the desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb: Response to Hurricane Irma

    September 12, 2017 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb

    On Sept. 12 Bishop Mark J. Webb sent the following letter about how to respond to Hurricane Irma to members of the Upper New York Conference.

    Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

    Once again, we have seen the incredible destruction a powerful hurricane can bring.  Our prayers are with the people of the Caribbean, Florida and the other places along Irma’s storm path.  Just as with Harvey, we know recovery from this latest storm will take years. Likewise, we know we are called and equipped to play a part in this work.  Your prayers, your love and your giving are vitally needed now. 

    Here’s how you can help:

    1. Invite your congregation to take up a special collection in the next few weeks.  If you’ve already done this for victims of Hurricane Harvey, I ask you to do this again for Irma’s victims.  If you’ve yet to take a collection, combine the two and ask people to be doubly generous.  The need is great.  Announce to your people which Sunday you will do this and ask them to be especially generous. You may forward these funds to the Conference Office with a single check, made out to Upper New York Conference with FUND # 482 – “2017 Hurricane Irma Disaster Relief” on the memo line.
    2. Assemble Cleaning Kits (Flood Buckets) and bring these to the Mission Central Hub at the United Methodist Center.  We have committed to filling at least one tractor trailer (around 430 buckets).  Let’s exceed our expectations and fill several!  Click here for instructions.

    As with Harvey effected areas, Volunteers in Mission (VIM) will be needed to help with the Irma recovery, but this will be down the road.   The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will let us know when teams can be sent.

    Finally, what I said in the wake of Hurricane Harvey remains just as true after Irma:  God does not abandon, but stands with us amid the wreckage and will enable the people to recover.  We are invited  to embody God’s loving presence and power in this work.  And so, I ask you to offer your prayers, your dollars, and your time.   Thank you in advance for your generous spirits.  I am grateful for your ministry and your willingness to be the hands and feet of Christ in all opportunities!

    Grace and peace,

    Bishop Mark J. Webb

    TAGGED / Episcopal Office

    UNY staff welcomes Betsy Schuessler

    September 11, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    We extend a warm welcome to Betsy Schuessler who has been hired as Administrative Assistant to the director of Camp & Retreat Ministries.  Betsy grew up as a camper at Aldersgate and served on summer staff ultimately filling the role of interim director from the fall of 2006 through the spring of 2009.  She has continued to serve in a volunteer role for CRM many times throughout the year and is a regular participant at Family Life Weekend.  

    "It has been a joy to work with Betsy over the years" said Mike Huber, director of CRM.  "I am pleased to have her as a full-time member of the team once again and know that she brings gifts and talents that will be a great asset to this ministry."

    Betsy has settled in quickly to her new position stating "I'm so glad to have the opportunity to be part of the CRM team and am excited to support the ministry that has been integral in my faith journey and the transformation of so many lives over the years!" 

    TAGGED / Camp and Retreat Ministry (CRM)

    When God takes over

    September 5, 2017 / By The Rev. Gary Kubitz, First United Methodist Church of Voorheesville

    Editor's Note: For the Summer 2017 issue of the Advocate, we asked members across the UNY Conference to share stories of when they have had to trust that God is enough. Rev. Gary Kubitz, of the First United Methodist Church of Voorheesville, responded with a story. If you have a story of when you had to trust that God is enough, submit it to

    During my first year in ministry, serving two small congregations, I found myself in the midst of an overwhelming situation. On the day of the Memorial Day parade, a young boy who was a part of my congregation was tragically killed in a freak accident during the parade. There are things that I saw that morning that will never leave my heart and mind. The ensuing week was one of the most difficult times of my ministry...and of my life. 

    The evening leading up to the funeral service was long. I didn't sleep...I tried to find the right words to speak to the large group that would gather the next day, only to keep stumbling over my emotions. The reality was that I didn't have the right words - that there were no words.

     As I was greeting people as they entered the sanctuary for the service the next day, one of the members of my congregation stopped and asked me how I was doing.  I looked at her and said, "I don't have the words." She squeezed my hand, smiled reassuringly, and continued on into the sanctuary. As the hymn was being sung between the scripture readings, I said a silent prayer, more of a desperate plea, "God, I can't do this—it's your turn." 

    I don't remember much of what I said during the message portion of that service and what I do recall is more from people recounting bits and pieces of it to me since that time. At the conclusion of the service, as those who had gathered together were leaving, the woman who had stopped and greeted me before the service stopped once again, gave me a hug, and said, "Those were the right words." 

    In my weakest and most desperate moment of ministry, I learned what may be the most valuable lesson that I will ever learn as a pastor - God is enough. God will supply the words, the strength, and the Spirit to carry us through the most trying times. The truth is that God is not only enough, but that there is more love, grace, and mercy in God than there is sin and brokenness in the world. God is enough...Amen...God is enough.

    TAGGED / Advocate

    Carrying out my mission to help thousands in South Africa

    August 29, 2017 / By Erma Mae Perkins, Zululand Hospice Partnership, Member Rush UMC

    Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of the Advocate; all article sin this issue were centered on the theme Trusting that God is Enough.

    I have had an interest in the continent of Africa for as long as I can remember.

    My friend Judy spent several terms as a nurse in Ethiopia. Judy adopted an abandoned child before returning to the U.S. When Patience, her adopted daughter, was 12, Judy planned to take her to visit her country and invited me to go along. It was an uncomfortable visit in many ways, but upon my return home, I had an intense desire to revisit Africa.

    In 2002, I noticed an appeal for a team to teach Vacation Bible School in South Africa. The cost was $1,700— I applied and was accepted. I was a hospice nurse and hoped to connect with work with AIDS patients as the epidemic was much in the news. Our hosts in Johannesburg were protective of us and I did not encounter anyone in healthcare.

    Upon my return to work in the U.S., I discovered my colleagues also had an interest in getting involved with HIV/AIDS in Africa. I received permission from the leadership of Lifetime Care Home Health and Hospice to apply for a partner hospice through Global Partners in Care. We were assigned to the Zululand Hospice Association (ZHA) in South Africa.

    I went on two visits organized by the leadership of the organization. Then it relocated and there were no more trips to join. I knew if I was to go back, I would have to organize the visits and I lacked confidence.

    However, the Lord continued to grow my concern for this mission. In 2006, I trusted that God was enough to support my planning the visit and providing the finances. I am currently preparing for my 14th trip in support of Zululand Hospice and an orphanage, Musa weNkosi.

    The number of travelers has ranged from three to 13.In 2014, seven people from Rush UMC accompanied me to convert an abandoned chicken house into a kitchen and dining room for the orphanage.

    We shop in South Africa at craft markets and bring items back to sell to raise funds. We have raised over $250,000. ZHA has four vehicles with the Lifetime Care logo on them. This has allowed the staff to grow in size and increase the areas in which they provide care where there is great need. Many patients live in hovels without running water or electricity. ZHA fills the “boot” of the cars with Morvite, a nutritional cereal as many patients don’t have food with which to take their medication. We take hundreds of pounds of medical supplies each year.

    It is disheartening to see the living conditions, heart-rending to hear the stories of neglect and abuse, but heart-warming to see the dedication and hard work of the staff. Despite hot, humid conditions there during our winter, God is enough to strengthen the care workers every day. They sing and pray each morning before they are deployed.

    When we return home, we carry the orphans, patients, and staff in our hearts and prayers.

    Trevor Hudson writes, “In light of Jesus’ example and words, embarking along the compassionate way involves three primary tasks: becoming aware of those who suffer; being with them in their pain; and where appropriate, acting together with them for the sake of their greater wholeness.” A Mile in My Shoes

    I am grateful God empowered me to trust that He is enough to provide everything I need to carry out this mission and share the opportunity with everyone who opens their hearts and bank accounts to Zululand Hospice and Musa weNkosi.

    From the desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb: Flooding from Hurricane Harvey

    August 29, 2017 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb

    (Editor’s note: On Monday, August 28, Bishop Mark J. Webb released the following letter about the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.)

    Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

    As you are aware, Hurricane Harvey continues to cause tremendous devastation to the greater Houston area, forcing thousands to evacuate. When the waters subside, many people will return to discover their homes and businesses have been destroyed. Rebuilding will take weeks, months, even years. I know you have been keeping these people in your prayers; I ask you to continue. And I ask you to allow God to make you part of the answer to these prayers.

    I have been in conversation with Bishop Scott Jones of the Texas Conference, and have reached out to Bishop Robert Schnase of the Rio Texas Conference assuring them of our prayers and to determine specific ways we can assist in the future, but right now there are two immediate material needs you and your congregation can meet:

    1. Invite your congregation to take up a special collection one Sunday in September. Announce to your people which Sunday you will do this and ask them to be especially generous. You may forward these funds to the Conference Office with a single check, made out to Upper New York Conference with FUND # 481 – “2017 Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief” on the memo line.
    2. Assemble Cleaning Kits (Flood Buckets) and bring these to the Mission Central Hub at the United Methodist Center. Click here for instructions.

    In the future, Volunteers in Mission (VIM) will also be needed to help with the recovery. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will let us know when teams can be sent.

    When I see the images of flooded homes and distraught people, my heart breaks, but I am reminded of God’s promise in Isaiah, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you,” (Isaiah 42:3).

    God does not abandon, but stands with us in the midst of the wreckage and will enable the people to recover. We are called and privileged to be part of God’s presence and work in this. And so, I ask you to offer your prayers, your dollars, and your time.

    Grace and peace,

    Bishop Mark J. Webb

    TAGGED / Episcopal Office

    How the UMC is denouncing racism

    August 28, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    As a response to the racist events that took place in Charlottesville, August 12-13, 2017, the UMC is taking action. Here are just a few of the ways the UMC has responded to what took place in Charlottesville, VA.

    • They placed a full page ad in The New York Times and USA Today on Aug. 16. Together, these two papers reach about 2 million people.
    • They developed several articles, which cover the incident but also provide help and guidance on various fronts.
    • They created video ad spots on denouncing racism.

    Visit their comprehensive landing page at that provides up-to-date content on the response from across the church, including resources and helpful tips.

    Also as a response to the Charlottesville attacks, more than 30 United Methodist Bishops have issued statements condemning racism. Many called on United Methodists to pray and stand against hatred of any kind. Click here to read the statements.

    Overcoming the challenge of a part-time pastoral appointment

    August 22, 2017 / By Lori Bruno-Taylor. Owl's Head UMC

    Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of the Advocate.

    A pastor is called to serve God in all settings, at all times. Part-time does not change what we are called to do, it just challenges us to trust that God is enough when time, schedules, and resources do not appear to be enough. God has a way of teaching us to work as the Body of Christ with a congregational team.

    The Owls Head UMC (OHUMC) team lives into the mission,“To live the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love to our neighbors in all places” with a relish and sincerity reminiscent of Romans 12. Here are words expressed by a variety of OHUMC members about just some of the many ministries at OHUMC and how they relate verses of Romans 12.

    Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

    Playground (Tammy and Steve)

    My husband and I were saddened by the dilapidated state of our local playground so we decided to take action. We reached out to OHUMC members who helped with the fundraiser and managed the funds. With this help, our community playground was brought back to life!

    Summer Lunch Program distribution

    Summer Lunch Program is a time to provide a meal to local children. Just to see the smiles on their faces when they walk into our church and receive their PB & J is priceless.

    Romans 12:4-8:For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

    Community Garden (John W)

    “Bit by bit…row by row…see how our community gardens grow!” Raised bed garden plots next to the Meeting House enable church folk and Owls Head community members to grow veggies and flowers for personal use and to share with others.

    VBS (Cathie W)

    In 2015, we were led to reach out to all the area children. We initiated a new vacation Bible school tradition. The joy of watching God create a team using our differing gifts added to children learning through song, story, and games delighted us all.

    CCC -Costumes, Crafts and Cider; Caroling, Crafts and Cocoa; Clues, Crafts and Cookies – (Marcie R, Rick & Mary L)

    These are three of the activities that we have for the children in our area. It’s just our way of teaching them that Jesus is the Reason for EVERY season even with a pumpkin prayer.

    Romans 12:10-12: Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

     Gas/gift card, Christmas Family & Requested Prayer (Carter & Linda A)

    Christmas and other times of giving are for people who might need a little extra help. Some people are       less fortunate than us. Sometimes gas cards can help out.

    Valentines to Nursing Home

    It’s a joy to go on this day to bring a card of love. It means a lot for us to see the smiles on the resident’s faces at the Alice Center. Some of us used to work in a nursing home. Sometimes we’re their only family.

    Romans 12:15-16: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.

    Operation Christmas Child (Nancy H)

    Everyone gets involved in this a labor of love; signing up to provide approved items, holding a church-wide packing party and labeling all of the shoe boxes. We have a Sending Forth ‘ceremony and pray over each and every shoe box before collection and Christmas delivery. This year, our Lay Leader challenged us to double our number of shoe boxes from 30 to 60.The challenge was exceeded. We packed and delivered 66 shoe boxes!

    Romans 12:17-18 Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

    Little Lending Library

    Owls Head’s Little Lending Library, built by one member with funds provided by another, stands at the roadside in front of our church. It delights us to see young and old, afoot or by vehicle choosing books. There’s no expectation that books must be returned.

    Love in action is the gift of the Holy Spirit among us. With that understanding Owls Head not only trusts that God is enough, we are amazed with the abundance found in the Body of Christ.

    TAGGED / Advocate

    Love, Grow, Serve, The story of Centerpoint Christian Fellowship

    August 21, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Editor's Notw: This article was previously published in the Summer 2017 issue of the Advocate, which had the theme of Trusting that God is enough.

    The story of Centerpoint Christian Fellowship (CCF) in the Mohawk District showcases how a New Faith Community becomes a success by trusting that God is enough.

    Starting in 2008-2009, the initial meetings of CCF took place from at the old Trenton Town Hall in Barneveld, NY. They quickly realized that they needed much more space for worship, study, fellowship, and outreach. God provided means necessary to acquire  a commercial building and adjoining 50 acres. Half of the 13,000 sq. ft. building space would be converted into a sanctuary, Sunday school rooms, and office space comprising two floors, and the other half of the space would continue to be leased out to the existing tenants in the building, including a dance studio and a dog-grooming business.

    In July 2013, Pastor Wayne Clemens was appointed to Centerpoint Christian Fellowship and tremendous growth soon followed; attendance has more than tripled with over 100 worshippers at two Sunday morning services.This was made possible through an extremely active leadership team that Wayne developed using the Next Step sessions, which help members determine their spiritual gifts (learn more about Next Step in Volume 8, Issue 1 of the Advocate, pages 26-27).

    The leadership team is comprised of Lay Leader, Barb Mezzanini; Hospitality Team Leader, Rebecca Simpson; Discipleship Team Leader, Don Simpson; Social Media Minister, Jeremy Swanson; and Children’s Ministry Coordinator, Kathy Peters.

    Each of these team members described how they became members of CCF and much of it has to do with Wayne and his loving, non-judging, non-pressuring acceptance.

    Barb has been a member of CCF for a year and a half. She became a member because of a large community event CCF hosts in the summer, called Music Fest. She said,“I planned to go and check out Music Fest and I stayed the whole day, became a member of the church, and never looked back! You can feel the spirit moving here and Wayne is just so welcoming. He’s definitely a servant of God.”

    Kathy has also been a member of CCF for a year and a half. She had worked at a Christian bookstore that Wayne frequented often. Wayne said, “I prayed daily for Kathy to fill the void we had in children’s ministry. Then, she called me one day telling me that she needed to be a part of CCF’s children ministry.” Wayne had never mentioned the void to Kathy; she heard God’s call. Kathy said, “And now we see the fruit. When I started, there were about 6-8 kids; now, we have about 25.”

    Don and Rebecca are husband and wife. Don first came to CCF two-and-a-half years ago for a men’s bible study that included several men from many different churches and backgrounds. Then, he started going on nature trail walks with Wayne. He said,“Never once did Wayne ask me to go to church.” Soon after, Don encouraged his wife and children to attend the church.

    Rebecca has a natural gift of hospitality and she has the beaming, positive attitude that one would expect of a hospitality leader. She said, “I love making sure our guests enjoy their experience here and are excited to come back.” First-time guests receive a stainless steel coffee travel mug, with goodies inside, including a Dunkin Donut gift card.

    Wayne said, “We go out of our way to provide radical hospitality for our guests.” He explains that he refers to them as guests and does not use the “v” word (visitors) because visitors are thought of as people who stop by for a short period of time, whereas guests are those that are very important to you; they are those that you take out the fine china for.

    Jeremy has been a member of CCF for two years. He said, “I need to feel accepted because, here I am a guy with all these tattoos. The first-time, I came in a nice button-down shirt and I was immediately accepted. The next weekend, I came in a t-shirt and ripped -up shorts and was just as accepted. I can fully be myself here.”

    The ambience inside Centerpoint Christian Fellowship is just as welcoming as  the members. Like God’s open arms, walls were literally taken down inside CCF to create a wide-open space, with the sanctuary and a fellowship area combined together. One side has rows of chairs that can seat 120 people and the pulpit; next to that is an area that has a counter for coffee and treats, with tables and chairs to join others in fellowship.

    The grounds reflect God’s beautiful creation, with a 1.25 mile nature trail, meandering through a wooded area—the perfect place for prayer and reflection. There is a space for fellowship outdoors as well with a pavilion that was constructed in 2014.

    Wayne plays the acoustic guitar for the church’s praise band and his powerful, amazing voice displays the Spirit of God, in contemporary songs like God is on the Move.

    God most definitely is on the move at Centerpoint Christian Fellowship.This is why in In March of 2015 CenterPoint was officially incorporated, and at the Upper New York Annual Conference in June of 2016, CenterPoint became officially chartered.The church successfully fulfils its mission to

    Love... God & others

    Grow… together in community

    Serve… our neighbors & the world.

    TAGGED / Advocate

    What to expect at the 2017-2018 District Days

    August 18, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb will be visiting each of the Districts in the Upper New York Conference during his 2017-2018 District Days tour. The theme of the tour will be “A Way Forward.”

    This year’s District Days is set up in such a way that will facilitate active discussion.

    In each District, conversations will be had in small groups based on questions originating with the United Methodists Commission on a Way Forward, which is a group of laity and clergy from across our global church that was gathered together by the Council of Bishops to work on the issues related to human sexuality which arose from the 2016 General Conference. 

    The goal of these conversations is not to reach a consensus on the answers to the questions, but rather to record an array of thoughts and ideas to send to the Commission.  In the words of the Conference’s Human Sexuality Task Force who have designed the day, “we will discuss the United Methodist Church, and what changes we might need to make, to make it more like God wants us to be.”

    The schedule for the 2017-2018 District Days is as follows, all of which will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m.:

    • Mountain View – 9/7 @ Avoca UMC
    • Cornerstone -9/17 @ Christ First, Jamestown
    • Finger Lakes - 9/26 @ Auburn UMC
    • Niagara Frontier – 10/3 @ Harris Hill UMC
    • Albany – 10/5 @ Shenendehowa UMC
    • Adirondack – 10/19 @ Queensbury UMC
    • Oneonta – 10/30 @ Unadilla UMC
    • Northern Flow – 11/16 @ Canton UMC
    • Crossroads – 2/1/18 @ The United Methodist Center
    • Mohawk – 2/13/18 @ Sherrill: Christ Church
    • Binghamton – 3/1/18 @ Endwell UMC
    • Genesee Valley – 3/19/18 @Farmington UMC

    Rowing toward shore after my husband’s death

    August 15, 2017 / By By Jan Rothfuss

    My husband’s death was not completely unexpected but I was holding on to the thought that we would be together a while longer. After all, he had survived his initial bought with cancer in 2013 and 2014 was a great year, including the birth of our first grandchild and a road trip together out to Colorado.

    But in June of 2015, he was called home. While I had experienced the death of grandparents and parents, what I felt during these days was quite different. I did not understand the depth of emotions that would come over me at unexpected moments. We were both fishers and it seemed that the image to describe my turmoil was described best as ten foot waves repeatedly crashing over me.

    I do not remember very much about the first six months. I do remember thinking that I now understood the purpose behind committing Bible verses to memory – writing them on one’s heart. During these times of true heartache, those words moved in through the cracks and provided comfort. I still had trouble putting my scattered thoughts into words; so much of my time with God was silent. This provided many opportunities for God to speak and for me to listen.

    Early in 2016, I continued to struggle with my innate need to do something. I was beginning to feel a slight degree of control over my emotions. I came across a suggestion that I could hold on to:  Pray to God….But Row toward Shore. It suggested to me what I already knew deep down. That God is faithful and patient and that God wanted me to begin my journey afresh as I moved toward my new normal. But it also appealed to my internal drive to do something instead of just stand by and wait for something to happen.

    I moved through the months toward the one year anniversary trying to rebuild while continuing to listen. I joined our UMC church’s GriefShare group which placed me into a caring community of persons who were traveling a similar path. I continued to spend time with my son and his family, enjoying the love that is uniquely shared between a grandmother and grandson.

    As June arrived, I began to feel that I was getting closer to shore. It was around this time that I came to a realization that would impact the rest of the journey. I realized that my boat was not empty. Now I know that God was there with me all along. Trusting God is enough.

    TAGGED / Advocate

    Laity District Days locations announced

    August 14, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Bishop Mark J. Webb has announced the following dates for the District Days with the Bishop coming in the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018. Locations for the event have now been confirmed for each District as follows:

    • Mountain View – 9/7 @ Avoca UMC
    • Cornerstone -9/17 @ Christ First, Jamestown
    • Finger Lakes - 9/26 @ Seneca Falls UMC
    • Niagara Frontier – 10/3 @ Harris Hill UMC
    • Albany – 10/5 @ Shenendehowa UMC
    • Adirondack – 10/19 @ Queensbury UMC
    • Oneonta – 10/30 @ Unadilla UMC
    • Northern Flow – 11/16 @ Canton UMC
    • Crossroads – 2/1/18 @ The United Methodist Center
    •  Mohawk – 2/13/18 @ Sherrill: Christ Church
    • Binghamton – 3/1/18 @ Endwell UMC
    • Genesee Valley – 3/19/18 @Farmington UMC

    Each event will take place from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Stay tuned for more details on what to expect at the District Days.

    Vital Congregations opportunities this fall

    August 14, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    There is still time to register for the fall opportunities from Vital Congregations. In reaching toward our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, all of us will need to continue to grow in our capacity as leaders. Our current understandings will limit our ability to live into our vision of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and being God’s love with our neighbors in all places. The following opportunities are available starting this fall:

    Leadership Academy

    Built around the 16 Competencies of Leadership, the academy is a series of four gatherings, with a capstone trip. This year our faculty includes, Dr. Rebecca Letterman from Northeast Seminary, Rev. Jasmine Smothers pastor at Atlanta First UMC, Dr. Kevin Watson from Candler School of Theology, and Dr. Douglas Powe Jr. from The Lewis Center for Church Leadership. There will also be time of hearing from practitioners in the field, as well as case studies from peers. Please note a change from original information, the first session, September 12-14 will be at Casowasco Camp and Retreat Center, the remaining sessions will be held in Syracuse at the United Methodist Center. Hotel accommodations are included in the registration. Registration deadline is September 2, 2017.

    Click here to register.

    Illuminate Preaching Academy

    Every preacher, regardless of current ability, can grow in the art and craft of preaching. Illuminate Preaching Academy is designed around the Characteristics of the Bright Spot Preacher. Through guest faculty, peer feedback, and mentoring, participants will develop their preaching style more fully, as well as explore additional styles. Laity from participating congregations have reported an increase in the quality and application of their sermons. Illuminate will help a good preacher move toward being a great preacher. This year’s faculty includes, Rev. Jacob Armstrong from Providence Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee and Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady from Asbury First UMC in Rochester, NY. There will also be teaching times from peers, and preaching labs where learning will happen from feedback loops. Please note a change in location, all sessions will take place at the United Methodist Center in Liverpool. Hotel accommodations are included in the registration. Registration deadline is September 13, 2017.

    Click here to register. 

    Tending the Fire

    Human systems are complicated and churches are no exception. At their best, they draw out excellence in their people. At their worst, they become stuck --undermining and sabotaging even the most well-designed plans for change. Tending the Fire helps clergy “think systems” in their congregations and their personal lives, so they can lead change that lasts.

    They can:

    • Understand anxiety’s effects on churches and individuals
    • Be a healthy, non-anxious leader
    • Manage complicated emotional relationships
    • Avoid overwork and “underwork”
    • Recognize and handle sabotage
    • Discover the “next right steps” for their churches and themselves

    Registration Deadline is September 15, 2017.

    Click here to register. 

    From Spiritual Life in Vital Congregations:

    In the ever-increasing noise, busyness and distraction of our world, do you sense a desire to spend more time with God but aren’t sure that you know how? Have you been wondering…

    “Where is God in all of this?”
    “How do I know what God wants me to do?”
    “How can I learn to hear God’s 'still small voice' in my life?"

    The Upper New York Conference is offering two programs, Growing with God and Tending the Soul, for both laity and clergy that can help.  These programs are designed to strengthen individuals and congregations through spiritual formation and to enhance the spiritual growth of congregations.

    Growing with God

    Growing with God is a program designed to help Christians who are seeking to deepen their relationship with God and who are in search of his presence and activity in their everyday lives. It is a series of 8 mini-retreats, just one day each from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., where you will learn prayer practices and spiritual disciplines, which are activities that you can practice daily to help you quiet your soul and focus your attention on God. You can incorporate one or more of these disciplines in your life at different times to help you notice how the Spirit is calling and guiding you. Growing with God sessions are once a month beginning on Saturday September 9.  Sign up today for the one in your local area – Syracuse, Saratoga, or Rochester.  The deadline is September 1.  CEU-1 

    Click here to register and learn more information.

    Tending the Soul

    Tending the Soul is designed for individuals who have begun to incorporate spiritual disciplines in their daily lives and are seeking to deepen their spiritual lives; individuals who are seeking to learn to companion others (in both one-on-one relationships and congregational settings) and help others pay attention to the God moments and movements in their lives.  As we walk alongside one another in discerning God’s deep desire for us and for others, we are better able to hear God’s invitation for our lives and our ministries. This program is a series of six retreats, four days each, over two years. The retreats offer learning and formational experiences in classroom settings, small groups and personal reflection.  The first retreat is scheduled for October 23-26.  The deadline is September 8th.  CEU-12

    Click here to register and to learn more information.

    Pre-retirement Seminar scheduled for Sept. 25

    August 14, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    There will be a Pre-Retirement Seminar held in September to highlight and explain the benefits available through The United Methodist Church to retiring clergy.  This seminar is intended to assist persons in their later years of ministry understand the current pension plan, health insurance options, Social Security, and moving assistance available. ONLINE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED, as we will provide clergy-specific retirement projections, and also need to plan for lunch.

    Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 
    Upper New York United Methodist Center, 7481 Henry Clay Blvd., Liverpool, NY 13088

    The deadline to register is Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.  Click here to register and for more information.

    TAGGED / Benefits and Administrative Services

    God’s strength throughout my life

    August 14, 2017 / By Rev. Rhonda Kouterick, Horseheads UMC

    When have I had to trust that God is enough? When haven't I? And when haven't you? Here are some times throughout my life when I have trusted that God is enough:

    • It was when I went off to seminary with a sleeping bag and $75 in my pocket with no guaranteed place to stay and thinking I could buy what books I needed for the semester; The housing person yelled at me then found me a room, but only if the others there agreed; And in my mailbox was notification of a book award that paid for the year's books before I even discovered how outrageously expensive they were.
    • It was in Texas doing a year long stint of Clinical Pastoral Education at the Austin State Hospital completely broke, not able to even make my car payment and at the chapel service I was in charge of, the patient choir sang "It Took Me So Long, So Long but I Learned to Trust the Lord."
    • It was during the last month of seminary classes when the world stopped when I found out that my husband, Lon, had testicular cancer and needed surgery immediately. We only had health insurance because he was working on the Drew cam- pus as a custodian in the Science Building. His supervisor, an Asian refugee Christian, came to pray over him.
    • It was when I was on my way to be introduced to the people at my first appointment and feeling totally inadequate and the DS handed me a list of what the people were looking for and I realized they were looking for me. "I can do those things" I said; and the DS laughed.
    • It was during the second year of my second appointment at Thanksgiving, when with a 10th grader, a 1st grader, and a 3-year-old, we found out that my husband would need brain surgery. It was over Christmas; everybody from everywhere sent prayers and words of support. My sister from Florida was able to come and be with the children so I could go to Strong in Rochester and not worry.
    • It was the next year, a few months after my husband’s second brain tumor surgery, juggling full-time pastor with everything else and in prayer, God let me know "I'm with you, it will be okay." And so it has been, every year, every time.

    When I was at my wits end with one of the kids, with the church, with health issues, every year, every time, and even early morning this past Christmas Eve when my husband, surrounded by family passed away after a long courageous battle with cancer, God is enough. God's strength is enough to get me through the deep water and to the other side.

    TAGGED / Advocate

    Upper New York Conference offers a grant through The Trust Agreement of the late Ercil Cady

    August 14, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    The Cady Grant is available to UNY individual United Methodists, local UM churches, or District and Conference ministry teams.  Priority shall be given to educational proposals that benefit African Americans or Native Americans. This year's applications are due August 21, 2017 with notification by September 1, 2017.

    The proposal must demonstrate:

    1.      The education/ministry/program/event is faith based.

    2.      A direct benefit for an African American or Native American person or persons in need.

    3.      A need for education/ministry/program/ or event.

    4.      An itemized expense report (if appropriate).

    Applications must be typewritten/word processed with no more than three pages (cover sheet, one page proposal, and financial report if appropriate). Faxes and email proposals are permitted.

    Click here for an MS Word version of the application. Click here for a .PDF version of teh application.

    Proposals are to be submitted to the Cady Grant Review Team, Upper New York Conference, Director of Connectional Ministries at 7481 Henry Clay Blvd., Liverpool, NY 13088. Fax: (315-898-2198). Email:

    Conference website status

    August 14, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    As we are sure you have noticed, we’ve had some significant issues with the Conference website over the last week or so.

    The good news is that we have a restored version of the Conference website that we can work with.

    The bad news is that several months updates, changes, and additions to the website were lost in the process.  

    What this means is we are having to manually go in and recreate the work that was lost. Our hope is that we will have the majority of the information restored this week.

    We appreciate your patience as we work to get our site fully restored. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Director of Communications, Steve Hustedt, at

    TAGGED / Benefits and Administrative Services / Camp and Retreat Ministry (CRM) / Communications / Connectional Ministries / Episcopal Office / Finance / New Faith Communities / Vital Congregations

    From the desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb: Response to Charlottesville

    August 14, 2017 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb

    Bishop Mark Webb has shared the following Response to Charlottesville:

    Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

    Having just returned this morning from some time away with limited access to news, my heart breaks upon reading the reports of what occurred in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday, August 12th. This is evil fully manifested. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we must stand strongly against this kind of hate and racism. I urge you to pray and continue to seek ways to be the hands and feet of Christ. Through your actions and your words boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

    This is a spiritual matter, plain and simple. May we remember that Christ calls us to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin. Christ calls us to accept the freedom and power God gives to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. And Christ calls us to confess him as Savior, put our whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as Lord, in union with the church which he has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races.

    Let us confidently offer the light of Christ, as it alone will pierce the darkness within our world.

    Grace and peace,

    Bishop Mark J. Webb

    TAGGED / Episcopal Office

    Register now for Sept. 15-16 Annual UMM Gathering

    August 9, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    This year's UMM's Annual Gathering at Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center takes place on Sept. 15-16. With the theme Revival, the Rev. Mark Lubbock is the keynote speaker and exciting music will be performed by Mark Jones and Eric Schele.

    Rev. Lubbock is the CEO of the non-profit men's ministry "Gulf South Men" headquartered in Baton Rouge, LA, serving Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Gulf South Men supports churches and men's groups in making disciples of Jesus through coaching, events training, studies, and small group formation.

    To register for Revival, visit, and click on events. For more information, contact Mark Jones at 315-749-3700 or

    2017 UNY Conference Journal Directory now available for purchase

    August 9, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The 2017 Upper New York Conference Journal Directory is now available. This directory contains up-to-date contact information of all UNY churches, clergy, members to Annual Conference, and surviving spouses for the 2017 Upper New York Annual Conference Session. There are two ways to receive the Journal Directory:

    Click here to purchase a hard copy from online publisher OR click here for free downloadable PDF version on Issuu.

    If you order directly from, you can have it delivered to the address of your choice (Note: You will need a major credit card to place an order). A hard copy of the Journal Directory costs $5.54 plus tax and shipping.

    Vol. 2 of the Journal will be available later this fall. Vol. 1 of the Journal (published last spring), the Journal Directory, and Vol. 2 of the Journal will make up the entirety of the 2017 Journal. These can be found on the Journals webpage found here

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Southern Sudan Health Project: Saving lives with health education

    August 2, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Editor’s Note: This is a story of the Southern Sudan Health Project, a project that resulted from collaboration between United Methodist Churches in Central New York and the Lost Boys (Read about one of them here). The Lost Boys are a group of refugees from Southern Sudan, many who were granted help to resettle in the United States between 2000 and 2001. When this project started in 2005, Southern Sudan was part of Sudan. In 2011, the Southern region was granted independence and became known as South Sudan. For purposes of consistency, the area where this project started will be referred to as South Sudan.

    In 2005, one of the Lost Boys who resettled in Syracuse, NY, Dut Deng, approached the Rev. Bradford Hunt at Andrews Memorial United Methodist Church and said “Do you think we can create a health clinic in Southern Sudan?” Rev. Hunt loved the idea and broached it to other United Methodist Churches in Central New York (CNY). Before long, a committee was created to get this idea off the ground with members from several United Methodist Churches in CNY, including: Andrews Memorial UMC, Geneva First UMC, Erwin UMC, Sandy Creek UMC, St. Paul’s UMC, James Street UMC, Fayetteville UMC, and eventually Journey of Faith UMC, and Faith Journey UMC (these two churches had not been formed yet).

    Soon, added help came from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, who informed the group that the idea was great, but that healthcare clinics would be too expensive to run; however, they said a community-based health care system could work and suggested they try that.

    This idea came to fruition in ways no one could imagine is possible in what is now known as the Southern Sudan Health Project. This project has helped improve the lives of thousands of Southern Sudanese and has even helped save lives. All this became true by trusting God is enough.

    In 2008, a group of three CNY United Methodists (Jan Whitter from Sandy Creek United Methodist Church, Nancy Williams of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, and Mark Fullerton of James Street UMC) and two Lost Boys went to South Sudan.

    Majer Kuon was in South Sudan at the time and helped make connections.

    Nancy likened the conditions to TV commercials you may have seen produced by World Vision or a similar organization that seek aid to help feed children in Africa. She said, “Most of the children would have flies on their faces and nothing to wipe away their runny noses and eyes. A lot of children had distended abdomens from malnutrition. There were no latrines or anything like that. We saw villagers bathing and gathering drinking water in the Nile River at the same time cattle crossed and they just didn’t understand how this worked against their health.”

    Witnessing the conditions first-hand, the CNY United Methodists were passionate about helping to resolve the problems they saw and they went about it very systematically.

    Jan said, “We had questionnaires made out to do a survey; we met with a lot of people including the governor and county health officials, clinics, and more. We did a lot of touring. We wanted to find out the needs and resources. We learned that there were very little resources and a lot of needs.”

    The group learned that 85 percent of the health ailments people suffered from could be cared for without a doctor. Most of these conditions were also preventable. The causes of most of the problems were related to improper hygiene and/or lack of education on how to care for the problems, which mainly included: malaria, diarrhea, and respiratory problems.

    Nancy said that the approach that the CNY United Methodists had with the help of the Lost Boys was to, “train village people to provide these (needed) services…not to just go in and do the work ourselves. It was to educate and empower from the village level. We felt our role was to provide the resources and then allow the local people to take over. That jived completely with what the government was looking for at that time.”

    Learning a lot from the first trip to South Sudan, Jan and Nancy and two Lost Boys returned again in 2009 and a third team went in 2010. During these trips, it was determined by the government, local healthcare officials, and an NGO (Interfaith Medical Assistance (IMA)) that Malek would be the perfect place to implement the Southern Sudan Healthcare Project.

    Malek is a village, not like a village in the United States. It is a very spread-out area with four main territories. It borders the nearby city of Bor, which has a hospital in the event a serious emergency occurs. It was determined by elders in each community that eight healthcare workers would be hired, one woman and one man for each of the four territories.

    These eight workers have done amazing things. They are funded by Upper New York Churches, each earning $100 a month, which goes a long way in South Sudan. In addition to the $800 spent to pay the healthcare workers, an additional $700 each month is used to support a liaison to the workers (Majer at one point and now that Majer is in the United States, a young man by the name of Nhial Kuol (who is referred to as Abraham) is now the liaison) and to also buy supplies.

    The Bor County health supervisor, Paul Riak, serves as a supervisor for the workers as well.

    Nancy said, “Those eight workers go beyond anything I could ever imagine to be people who serve one another. They serve over 1,000 people each month. They keep records that help us track data, which will help us get grants.

    The workers are serious about their jobs; they have decreased the amount of preventable health problems; they have educated women’s groups, mothers, children, entire villages.”

    Nancy shares a story of just how meaningful the group of healthcare workers is to the community, “One story was about a woman that was unable to conceive because she was sick; our healthcare workers helped her. She left during the conflict and came back a few years later with a child. She ended up being able to conceive! She named her child

    Nyang, which meant healthcare worker in the Dinka language (spoken by the Southern Sudanese) because she was so grateful.”

    Rev. Hunt shares another story of how committed these healthcare workers are. He said, “One of the best stories I know about these workers is that when the war broke out (again) in Sudan in 2013, we lost contact with all of our home healthcare providers. Malek was ground zero of the war zone and what we later learned is that the home healthcare workers had to evacuate and they went to refugee camps. We didn’t hear from them for three or four months. When we finally heard from them four months later, they were wondering where their pay was because they continued working in the refugee camps! Because it is a community-based healthcare program, it goes to where the people go; it’s not based on a particular location. It’s based on the people working together so when they went to the refugee camps, they just kept on working.”

    Nancy also shares how amazing Majer and Abraham have been as liaisons; she said,“Both of those guys have been incredible, on-the-ground, upfront help for this project and their hearts are in this project as well.”

    While the CNY United Methodists were in Malek, they also worshipped God with the villagers in the larger city of Bor.

    Nancy described this powerful experience, “There is a metal building in Bor that people worship in; that was their church. You could see holes in the roof where the sunlight was coming through. Mayol (a Lost Boy) said, ‘Those are bullet holes from the conflict when we were little boys.’

    It was so powerful to see all of us with the same belief system, all of us knowing what our roles are here. Jesus’s commandments of putting God first and loving one another are so evident among these people. I’ve never seen quite the extension; you are responsible for everybody. That’s a piece of Christianity that was very touching to me. All we kept feeling and thinking was peace.”

    The Southern Sudan Health Project is successful because the people follow Jesus’s commandments and trust that God is enough. He is enough despite the wars and conflict against them. He is enough despite their lack of resources.

    According to Nancy, “This is a group of people who trust in God completely; they have so little materially, but so much spiritually.”

    TAGGED / Advocate

    How God provided for Lost Boy Majer Kuon

    August 2, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Today’s headlines about South Sudan provide a glimpse of the struggles that the Southern Sudanese people face today. Civil war casualties. Famine. Attacks on aid workers.

    South Sudan (which was a part of Sudan until 2011) has a long history of struggle.

    Colonized by the British in the 1940s, Sudan became independent in 1956. However, conflict immediately grew between the Northern part of Sudan (and the Sudanese government) and the Southern part of Sudan (considered the rebels).The Northern part of Sudan was Muslim. The Southern part of Sudan was not and did not want to follow Islamic rules. This civil war lasted until 1972, which ended with the Addis Ababa Agreement, granting those in Southern Sudan much more autonomy.

    A second civil war erupted in 1983 due to this law, for example, children could not be schooled if they were not Muslim).

    The Northern Sudanese army was much more powerful than the Southern rebels; they started taking control over the South and inducting many of the rebels to become part of their army. Southern Sudanese civilians were killed daily by Northern planes dropping bombs

    In 1987, over 16,000 young boys, between the ages of 7 and 14, fled Southern Sudan by foot to escape death or induction into the Northern Sudan army. Those that survived became known as the Lost Boys.

    Majer Kuon, from the Bor area of Southern Sudan, was one of the Lost Boys. These boys walked over 1,000 miles in and out of war zones until they reached Ethiopia 35 days later. Many died of dehydration, exhaustion, and other causes.

    Speaking of the dire conditions of the journey, Majer said, “There were times with no water. We would try to eat wild fruit from trees along the road, but you are not thinking of eating…you are thinking not to die; so you just go the direction that you do not hear gunshots. We saw many die and we buried them, and kept going. A lot of boys also drowned in the river crossing because they couldn’t swim.”

    The Lost Boys settled in a refugee camp in Pinyidu, Ethiopia, but they were forced to leave in 1991 because the newly elected Ethiopian government was an ally to North Sudan.They threatened using force to kick the Southern Sudanese children out of Ethiopia so the Lost Boys fled once again.

    This time, thousands more died—many from starvation. Fleeing gun shots, many jumped in the river and drowned or were attacked by alligators.

    Those who survived moved to South Sudan and stayed along the border, continually walking south to Kenya, a journey that lasted from May of 1991 to August of 1992. Along their journey, the Red Cross dropped food from planes and had a truck that came to supply water for the boys.

    Once in Kenya, they settled in the Kakuma Camp. The camp, monitored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was a blessing that began drastically improving the lives of the Lost Boys. Majer said,“Kakuma became our home for a long time. That’s where we went to school. Here, many organizations affiliated with the UN came to help and supply food for us.”

    The Church was very central to the lives of the Lost Boys in Kenya. Majer said, “Sundays could not come soon enough. It is in Kenya where my wisdom about God’s power kicked in. Before coming to  Kenya, when I reflected on the journey we took from South Sudan to Ethiopia and then Ethiopia to Kenya, I thought my survival was fate, but in Kenya, I came to realize that there is something bigger that protected so many of us from death. Faith became strong amongst my whole community in Kenya. We trusted in God.”

    Because the war waged on in Sudan the UNHCR determined that family unification for the Lost Boys was not a viable option. They contacted the United States Government about relocating some of the boys to the U.S. and the U.S. agreed. The UNHCR recommended around 4,500 of them for resettlement in the United States starting in 2000.

    Majer explains the selection process, “The INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) brought a lawyer and interviewed us. Bit by bit, some of us qualified. There was a board where they would post the names of people who were going. I saw my name there in December of 2000, learning that I would be going to the United States in 2001.”

    After several flights, Majer arrived in Syracuse, NY. A group of Methodist churches helped make his arrangements and stay comfortable. He said “I was filled with excitement! After all I went through; here I was in an apartment where I could have light 24/7. And I was crazy about education; I earned a Bachelor’s Degree at Binghamton University.”

    Majer said, “The Christians here care about people that they don’t even know; they do it without anyone even asking. They do it because of their faith; because they trust that God is enough.”

    Editor’s Note: Major returned to Sudan in 2007, during a time when there was peace, to help his father who had fallen sick. While Majer was back in South Sudan, he connected with Upper New York United Methodists to help form the Southern Sudan Health Project, Majer Kuon’s father passed away in 2016. Civil war between tribes in South Sudan also began in 2013; thousands have been killed. Majer is now back in Syracuse for medical treatment for arthritis.

    TAGGED / Advocate

    Faith is not enough

    July 26, 2017 / By Sherie Heins, Trinity Federated Church

    Growing up in rural New York State, I was part of what I always thought of as a typical family in a typical home environment. We ate dinner around the table each night; we said our bedtime prayers; we attended church and Sunday school and joined the church when we were of age, growing into a faith-based life. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how many families do not have that bedrock.

    It served me well, as two of my brothers died at young ages before I had turned 14. I looked to Mom – as she held the family together – and I knew it was her faith that was holding her together.  So faith always seemed to “be enough” as I grew into adulthood, gained independence, and started my own family.

    The years went by and my family grew into three grandchildren as well as my two children, and they, too, grew into that much-loved and handed-down faith. And still that faith seemed to be enough…getting us through the tough times families face – mental illness, death of my husband at a young age, financial problems.

    And then, in February of this year, my 11-year old granddaughter, Maddie, died totally unexpectedly, leaving a gaping, raw hole in my faith. Suddenly, faith didn’t seem enough. It wasn’t explaining anything; it wasn’t easing the loss; it wasn’t fixing a thing. In fact, I questioned my faith, and my God, and the good that could possibly come from this devastating loss. There is no magical formula in “having faith” that makes everything better or takes that grief away.

    Early on in our grieving, I said to my son, Tad (amazingly good single-father of just this one child now gone), “I want to love God again. I don’t like being mad at him.”  My son looked at me, smiled through his heartache, and said, “Mom weren’t you ever mad at your Mom and Dad? When they did something you didn’t see any reason for and couldn’t understand, it made you mad at them, but you didn’t stop loving them. It’s just like that with God. You’re mad now, but you still love him.”

    At that moment, humbled by my son, I felt the full impact of what I’d been doing. I’d been leaning on my faith as a quick-fix…a Band-Aid, if you will, to ease the pain I was feeling. What I wasn’t doing was trusting that God is enough. Certainly, my faith felt stretched at that point in time, and wasn’t providing the usual amount of comfort a familiarity. My faith was stretched beyond my ab to recognize it as faith, but in that one sentence my son reminded me that my faith is still there, its bright light still shining, just waiting for me to come back to it. Just waiting for me to realize t when its light doesn’t seem to shine so brightly for me, that is exactly when I need to trust that God is enough. And in doing so, my faith will snap back into shape – perhaps a different shape, but likely stronger and brighter.

    TAGGED / Advocate

    My visit to the Holy Land Trip Article 1 of 3

    July 26, 2017 / By Theresa Eggleston

    My husband and I were driving in the car one day and we decided to name our bucket list items. “You know one place I really want to go, but I don’t think it would ever happen?” “Where?” My husband replied. I paused mentally preparing myself to not gain any hope, “I really want to go to the Holy Land.” I paused again hearing my parents in my head, “It’s dangerous over there.” I recalled being 13, watching the news hearing about the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict; bombs went off, protests ran through the streets, and people died.  I continue to speak to my husband, “I want to go just to…just to experience it. I know there may never be peace in the Middle East while I’m alive and it may never be ‘really safe’ but I want to go, just to experience it and walk where Jesus walked.” My husband looked at me and shrugged, understanding where I was coming from, “Yeah that would be pretty cool.” “It would cost a lot, and we may never be able to afford a trip like that for one person,” I said.  I sighed, looked out the window of the car and thought, “Who am I kidding, I don’t think I’ll visit the Holy Land, I’ve never even left the country. Even if I could afford it, it wouldn’t be till I’m retired.” I let out an audible sigh, my husband rubbed my knee.

    Little did I know that a God was making plans for me to travel to the Holy Land. A few weeks after our car conversation, I received a message from the United Methodist Young People’s Ministry base out of Nashville, Tennessee. They were offering me a fully paid trip to visit The Holy Land. All I had to do was provide my own Air Fare. “Was this real?” I thought.

    Within days I confirmed my spot on the trip, renewed my passport, asked churches for financial support and booked a flight to the Holy Land. I was elated, scared, and ready to trust God’s plan.

    The goal of the trip was to bring young leaders together from around the globe to connect and gain a better understanding of the Israeli, Palestinian conflict.

    All of us were ages 20-35; we gathered from around the world: United States, Philippines, Germany, South Africa, Ireland, Serbia, and Norway. Tour guides across the Holy Land raised their eyebrows to see our age and hear that we were from all over the globe. ‘You mean you’re a group of young Christians from around the world?’ “Yes,” we all would politely smile and nod.

    We followed the life of Jesus from his birthplace in Bethlehem, to his ministry in Tiberius, and finally set forth to Jerusalem. We walked on the ground Jesus walked and sailed upon the Sea of Galilee where his disciples fished.  We heard the stories of ancient ruins and trials of the souls who dwell in the land today. We sat inside the walls of a refugee camp and listened to heart break of the Palestinian people. We sat around a circle in Jerusalem and listened to the story of a Rabbi sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. We became friends with one another; we became family with one another.

    This trip changed my life. It changed the way I see The Holy Land, the way I read the Bible, the way I view conflict, and the way I listen to the story of refugees. It has changed the way I hear God’s story and it will forever change the way I tell God’s story. 

    Faith Journey UMC learns about hardship in Vietnam

    July 26, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Editor’s Note: The names of the two Vietnamese women who spoke at Faith Journey United Methodist Church have been changed and their photos have been blurred to protect their identity.

    On July 16, Faith Journey United Methodist Church in Clay, NY welcomed two special guest speakers. Grace, a 35-year old Vietnamese woman and Faith, a 17-year old Vietnamese girl have been pouring forth supreme love and dedication toward improving the lives of the poor in Vietnam’s mountainside and protecting girls from the sex trade.

    Grace and Faith represented a non-profit organization called One Hope for Vietnam, which Grace founded in 2010. They shared their stories, a collection was taken for their organization, and beautiful Vietnamese hand-made purses and cards were available for the congregation to purchase as an additional means to help support One Hope for Vietnam.

    Grace’s Story

    At the age of seven, Grace and her family (including her mother and eight siblings) moved to the North State Street area in the city of Syracuse as Vietnamese refugees. Her childhood was stricken with poverty and hardship. Eventually, her mother earned enough of an income to move her family to Liverpool, NY, in a safer neighborhood. Grace exceled at her studies and ended up graduating from Syracuse University and then went on to work for Syracuse University. She had achieved what she worked so hard for, the American Dream! She owned her own home and drove a fancy car. But, she was not happy; she felt empty. That is until she was introduced to Jesus when she was 26.

    Grace said, “A sister at Syracuse University introduced me to the Gospel and I embraced Jesus with all my heart. I experienced a real transformation. Since meeting Jesus, there is this peace within me that surpasses all understanding. I cultivated a heart of service, especially for my Vietnamese girls.”

    After a year and a half of developing a relationship with Jesus, Grace felt prompted to go home to Vietnam and serve the poorest of the poor. She sold all of her possessions and bought a one-way ticket to Vietnam. She said, “I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew Jesus would be by my side.”

    Since then, One Hope for Vietnam was born. This non-profit organization represents many amazing ministries that Grace has created for those living in P.Y., the poorest province of Vietnam.

    Grace started Hope Kindergarten to help poor children in Vietnam.

    She also invested in a cassava plantation to help with community development.

    Grace works with orphans and widows, helping to feed them physically and spiritually.

    Every Christmas, Grace delivers food and gift baskets to families in need. Love is expressed in a very practical way.

    One of Grace’s most amazing ministries is the café she created called HOPE House, which provides employment for high-risk girls who may otherwise become victim to sex trafficking. By working at the café, these girls become empowered and develop a high self-esteem by learning the Good News.

    Faith’s Story

    Grace met Faith when she was 12 years old; Faith is now 17 and is a devoted disciple of Jesus. She is filled with joy and generosity and loves sharing the Gospel.

    In front of the crowd at Faith Journey, Faith said, “I have only known English for six months so if I make mistakes, please forgive me.” In perfect English, Faith went on to tell the story of growing up in a very poor family in Vietnam without a mother and an alcoholic father. She met Grace in 2010; she said. “My life as a child was miserable; I had no love and didn’t feel cared for. In 2010, I met Grace and she shared the Gospel with me. She told me that God loves me and cares about me.”

    With tears in her eyes, Faith said, “I believe in God one hundred percent. I started reading the bible daily and writing down all the verses that I liked. I couldn’t believe how much God changed my life so I couldn’t keep it to myself. I shared it will all my friends and different neighborhoods and to people I met randomly on the bus.”

    Faith went on to say that she endures a lot of rejection in her country because of her beliefs, from teachers, the community, and even her family. With intense emotion and streaming tears, Faith said, “The day I declared that I believe in God is the day that my father rejected me. He said that I had to choose between him and my God. He said, ‘If you go with me, I will support you. I don’t have a lot of money, but I will do whatever I can. But if you go with him, you need to get out of this house.’ I cried heavily in front of him and said, ‘Dad, I love you so much, but I choose my God.’”

    Faith came to the United States earlier this year on a student visa to finish high school at the Banner School in Virginia. Instead of going on to college in the United States like she originally planned, Faith has decided to return to Vietnam to continue helping Grace with Hope House. In conclusion, she said, “What do I have to fear if I have my God?”

    Grace and Faith’s stories portray the miracles that can take place and the lives that can change with deep faith and trust in God. To learn more about One Hope for Vietnam ministries, visit

    Haiti’s Promised Land: Building new lives

    July 19, 2017 / By Melinda Miles, Coordinator, Haiti Takes Root

    In March 2010, Canaan was a mix of floodplain and foothills, a desert scorching in the midday sun. It was a far cry from the forests of hardwood trees that stood there a hundred years ago, although a breathtaking view of the Bay of Port-au-Prince and seeing the hazy capital itself across the sparkling water gave the place a sense of hope.

    The first residents arrived just two short months after a 7.0 earthquake had shattered their lives, and before long, the foothills were dotted with makeshift shelters. As people were evicted from the displacement camps, they sought refuge in the desert, and many were drawn to the dream of having their own land. Nearly every day for six years, families continued to arrive.

    The people named it Canaan because it would be their promised land. Without aid agencies or government support, 250,000 people constructed homes, businesses, roads, churches, public spaces, schools, and markets. After living through the terror of the earth shaking their world to ruins, these people had faith enough to go out into the barren desert, draw property lines in the sand, and use their own hands to build a new life.

    Today Canaan is Haiti’s third largest urban area, and it has approximately the same population as Buffalo, NY. However, that is where the similarities between the two cities end: Canaan exists in less than 40 percent of the space Buffalo takes up, and although areas of Canaan are mixed income, the vast majority of its residents are extremely poor and live in substandard housing, without latrines or clean water.

    The first time I saw Haiti, I was stunned by the poverty. The idea that nearly half of the world’s people live in extreme poverty with less than $2.50 per day is very abstract when you haven’t seen it, and in Haiti, it’s even more severe: 80 percent of families live in extreme poverty and more than 50 percent live on less than $1.00 per day. Those families are lucky to eat a meal once every other day.

    My first visit was a short mission trip with my high school, and what I saw challenged my beliefs, including what it means to be a Christian. The poverty I witnessed in Haiti made me question the existence of God in that way we do when something just seems too terrible to be true. How could God let so much suffering and misery exist?

    At the same time, I was clear about what Jesus taught: treat others the way you want to be treated. Not only that, but serve those who do not have what you have. He called on his followers to work for the poor and the vulnerable, to clothe the naked, and feed the hungry.

    So for me the question is this: in a world with inequality this vast, where the majority of the world’s families live in poverty, how do we live our faith, and what does it mean to trust that God is enough?

    As Reverend Patricia Walz of Baldwinsville First United Methodist Church said, “Sometimes, God’s people need to step forward as Jesus would do.” We

    can trust that God is enough because his teachings are very clear in that every single one of us is called to serve. We can trust that when we live our faith and take the steps to make the world better, we are being true Christians – we prove the existence of God through our actions.

    In Haiti, you don’t find many people sitting around; everyone is always working to survive. You don’t hear talk of hopelessness because people can’t afford to lose hope. They trust in God because they trust in themselves; their faith fuels their courage to get through each day.

    While Canaan is an example of what faith can build, the story isn’t over yet. Working in partnership with a network of neighborhood committees and community groups, my team at J/P Haitian Relief Organization is planting trees to create green spaces and protect this new city from the harmful impacts of climate change, especially flooding and landslides. Although Canaan is a new life for thousands of families, this quality of this life is still poor – very few trees mean no shade for children to play in, for youth to study, for women to do the laundry.

    This is where you come in. We are seeking partners for our new Adopt a Park program. The Baldwinsville First community is the very first to Adopt a Park in Canaan, and hopefully their example will help us spread green across the desert. To learn more visit:

    TAGGED / Advocate

    How the Commission on a Way Forward provides hope for the future of The UMC

    July 19, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The Commission on a Way Forward was formed by the Council of Bishops after a decision was made at General Conference 2016 to develop a committee to address the issue of division around the topic of sexuality in The United Methodist Church.

    On June 2, at the 2017 Annual Conference session, Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb showed a video featuring a number of the diverse members on the Commission who expressed how hopeful they are that the way forward will be a positive one for the Church. They have met each other a number of times and have delighted in how wonderful it is that though many disagree, they have been able to have effective discussion.

    Bishop Webb asked Scott Johnson, who was chosen to be on the Commission, to reflect on his experience.

    “Many of you already know that for years the Church has been mired in an unhealthy and unproductive debate about full inclusion of LGBTQI sisters and brothers in the life of the denomination,” he said. “The expectation is that the Commission will offer recommendations that will move us beyond our current state into a new, just, and healthy way of being church in the world. The task before us is clear. It is difficult, and it is urgent. Trust that the members of the Commission understand this, and we are working to honor our charge.”

    Scott was honest in how hesitant he was in accepting the position, but how he has been impressed with how well the Commission works together.

    “Frankly, I was worried when I accepted the invitation to serve,” he said “I wondered if we would find a room full of competing agendas and thick with politics. That has not been the case. I have found sisters and brothers who are deeply committed to Christ and seek to do His will no matter how passionately we may disagree. Their integrity as they have approached this incredibly challenging task has given me hope.”

    Scott urged for everyone to be actively praying for a resolution to our conflict and to not turn away from the difficult conversation.

    “We must continue to be engaged,” he said.

    Scott said the Church will not move forward if we let go of hope. He ended his talk by reminding the Conference that “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. He has not shown that He is done with us yet. With Christ as our guide, we can find our way forward.”

    Scott received a standing ovation, and Bishop Webb asked members of the Conference to come to Scott and lay hands on him as Bishop prayed for Scott and the number of times “he has said ‘Yes’ for doing work in the name of God.”

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    From the Desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb: Trusting that God is enough

    July 18, 2017 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb

    This issue of the Advocate reflects the Upper New York quadrennial theme, “Together in Prayer:Trusting that God is Enough.” In June, during Opening Worship at the eight session of the Upper New York Annual Conference, I spoke about the deep meaning and importance of this theme for the future of the United Methodist Church. Here is some of what I shared…

    “I want to be honest this morning – this message was one of the hardest I have ever prepared. What do you bring to a Church that is anxious, divided, and holding its breath about the future?

    How do we share authentically in the midst of deep disagreements that are present not just around human sexuality but in even more foundational matters of doctrine, theology and ecclesiology?

    How do we live together as a group of people who are called to love one another, but sometimes fail to treat one another with respect, too often see one another in categories and at times struggle to like one another?

    How do we focus on being together in prayer when we are not certain what it means to be together or if being together is even what we want or desire?

    How do we seek God together without continuing to harm one another and the world we seek to offer Christ to?

    How do we allow our disagreements to be spirit-filled rather than mean-spirited?

    How do we find space to celebrate our diversity, follow our convictions and honor our covenant with God and one another?

    How do we move forward?”

    “Let us be careful - Prayer cannot be a spiritual exercise that keeps us from acting and prayer cannot become something we use to support our own desires. John Bunyon said, ‘You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.’

    We are called to humble ourselves, to stop depending upon our own strength and depend solely upon the power of God’s spirit and the direction of God’s voice.

    We are called to seek God’s face – to stop looking for help and purpose in every area of ourselves and life first. The Church is not called to seek the ways and opinions of the world, or the halls of academia or politics or the journals of science, first – we are called to seek the face of God!”

    God is enough for the future we face! God is enough for the future of the United Methodist Church! God is enough for the future of The Upper New York Conference! God is enough for the future of your local congregation! As we seek to live out our why, God is always enough. God gives to us the gifts, energy, and resources that are enough to accomplish the task God has given us. We have to trust that God is enough!

    That’s the truth throughout the Biblical narrative.

    • God was enough when Noah built loaded and lived in the ark for 40 days and 40 nights.
    • God was enough when Abram became Abraham and Sari became Sarah.
    • God was enough when Moses was called to lead God’s people out of Egypt.
    • God was enough when the Israelites wandered the wilderness for 40 years.
    • God was enough when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
    • God was enough when David slew Goliath.
    • God was enough when Nehemiah rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem.
    • God was enough when Esther became queen.
    • God was enough when life crumbled around Job.
    • God was enough when Daniel found himself in the lion’s den.
    • God was enough when Jonah tried to run away.
    • God was enough when Mary found out she was going to be the mother of God.
    • God was enough when over five thousand needed lunch.
    • God was enough when the blind man wanted to see.
    • God was enough when Jesus was mocked, tried, and crucified.

    God was enough when the stone was rolled away and sin and death were forever defeated.

    God is enough! God is always enough!

    As we strive to be the Church that God has called us to be, we have to stop living with a theology of scarcity and start living the truth that God is enough. Whatever God is calling us to, wherever God is leading us, God has already given us everything we need to accomplish God’s purpose and plan. God is enough for your life – God is enough for the ministries of your church – God is enough for the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. God is enough for the future of The United Methodist Church!”

    Editor's note: To read Bishop Webb's full AC2017 Opening Worship sermon, click here.

    Feeling Gods Peace

    July 18, 2017 / By Frederica Webb, Wellesley Island UMC and Alexandria Bay UMC

    Over four years ago, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. When he didn't come out of the colonoscopy area, I just had that feeling, you know, the one in the pit of your stomach. The nurse came and got me and when I went into the room where my husband and doctor were, I felt a deep sense of peace. I just knew whatever it was, it would be okay. We just held hands and listened and did what we were told, and continued life.

    He was sent for a MRI immediately that day, and less than a week later had the colon surgery to remove two large tumors. There were some difficulties afterwards, but the lymph nodes taken were absolutely free of cancerous cells. Our doctor told us he was absolutely amazed that the large tumors hadn’t caused problems and that there were no cells in the lymph nodes. None! We told him that God had taken care of it.

    Neither my husband nor I felt at all worried about this diagnosis or the surgery. It was just something we knew would be okay. God gave us such a sense of peace through the whole episode. Even in the aftermath, when four years later, they found some anomalies in a routine blood test, it turned out on the PET scan to be arthritis around his spine. There was still a sense of "it will be okay, a knowing that God's got a handle on this. Truly God is enough - I know; we know.

    Ramping it up in Cortland

    July 17, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Imagine not having access to your own home. Seventy-four year old Charlie Yager faced this situation in June of 2016. He struggled with lung problems for several years and was hospitalized for two weeks with severe breathing problems. Charlie came home on hospice, in a wheelchair, yet no way to enter his home. Within 24 hours, Cortland First United Methodist Church’s Ramp it Up ministry came to Charlie’s house and built him a ramp.

    When Charlie came home that day last June, he was given two weeks to live. Now, over a year later, Charlie still struggles with breathing and is wheel-chair bound for the remainder of his life, but feels well most days. Janet Zimerman, his daughter, said, “The Ramp it up 5K is a God-send and the fact that the ramp ministry was able to build a ramp in an emergency situation amazes me. I’m pretty sure were it not for the ramp, my father wouldn’t be alive today. He is a mover and needs to be out and about. He’s a very social person.”

    The Ramp it Up 5K that Janet mentioned is the primary fundraiser for Cortland First UMC’s ramp ministry. This year marked the fourth year of the race; it was held on July 15. The race registration cost was $20 and included a t-shirt and sweat towel as well as a pancake breakfast after the race for each participant, which was made possible by 48 local business sponsors and food donations for the breakfast. There were also generous prizes given for the overall winner of each gender as well as the top 3 runners in the age groups 18 and under, 19-30, and 31+, including tablets for the overall winners.

    This year, there were almost 70 runners. The day began with a one-mile kids run, which was on an out-and back course.

    Runners came from as far as Albany and Rochester. Melissa Weiner, the fastest female, who ran the race in 20:12, came from Ithaca, NY. She said, “I always like to run races that have a good cause. I saw a flyer for this in Ithaca and decided to sign up.”

    Twenty-seven year old Emilie Searle is disabled and participated in the race in her wheelchair for the third year in a row. In the near future, she will directly benefit from the race as Ramp it Up builds a ramp for her home. Emilie said, “Ramps are so expensive. This event is an amazing ministry and obviously important to someone like me. I’m so grateful that I will be able to have a ramp installed at my house.”

    Funds gained from the Ramp it Up 5K pay for all of the building materials for ramps and the ramps are installed by volunteers. Each year, five to nine ramps are mounted throughout New York State. Ramps are even built for individuals who need them temporarily after surgery, and then they are moved for someone who needs one permanently.

    Rev. Charles Smith II, the pastor of Cortland First UMC, said, “What is most wonderful about this event is that we get to connect with the community in two ways…one is by having the actual event and seeing all the people have a lot of fun and the other is in the mission work of building the ramps, which is made possible by the proceeds of the race.”

    Race organizers Tammy Hoover and her daughter Erica Eaton are proud of how well their hard work pays off. Tammy said, “We are blessed with an awesome ministry” and Erica, who timed the kids coming in from their 1-mile race, said, “There are so many smiles, which makes the event so fun.”

    Because of the Ramp it up 5K, many individuals in need are able to access their very own homes with ease. And like Charlie, they are able to get out and enjoy the company of others. This is just one way that Cortland First UMC is living our common vision to be God’s love for all people in all places.

    Exciting changes for CCYM

    July 17, 2017 / By Julio Guity

    Every year the Conference Council on (CCYM) gathers for five days at one of the six Conference camp and retreat centers to talk business and (hopefully) have some fun in the process. It is a great meeting of the minds, and this is where the planning for the next year of events begins.

    Since the inception of the Upper New York Annual Conference, the CCYM has been doing things the same way. The Up!Word and Fall Gathering formulas have remained mostly unchanged for eight years, but this year, things are changing. On the first day of the meeting, the youth and adults on the council sat down and discussed thoroughly the mission statement that had been set in place, amending it until it truly represented the goals of the CCYM.

    Groups of CCYM youth were created to think critically on the successes and failures of past Fall Gathering and Up!Word events. After a great deal of discussion amongst our groups, we came together to discuss our ideas for renewing these events. After bouncing back and forth many grand plans for the future, the leadership team met and created an outline for the new events now called Inward and Outward as opposed to Fall Gathering and Up!Word, respectively. From that point on the different committees on CCYM got right to work planning for these ambitious events.

    As far as changes go, here's what you have to look forward to. We as a CCYM have decided that our events have become too flashy. In all our frantic planning to get people to come to our events, we lost sight of God. At our two Inward events in the fall, we are putting aside the theatrics in favor of a truly profound, God-filled experience. With a focus on small-group time and prayer, we aim to make an event from which you can leave saying you've experienced God. Late night worship times are an option as well, but it won't be the same type of worship that we usually have. It will be a quiet time in which you can truly reflect upon your life and relationship with God. And to the relief of all the youth and adults, breakfast and worship will start later on the next day. This type of spiritual experience is what we hope will set us apart from other similar events for youth. While they might have the flashing lights and expensive entertainers, we have God.

    Now on the topic of Outward, as the name suggests, this event will focus more on an outward expression of God’s love. Youth groups will have an opportunity to get a taste for mission work by going on short excursions away from the hotel in which this event is hosted. During this event, youth groups will have more opportunities to do things together, and work towards creating a God-like community around them.

    This year for CCYM is looking to be the best one yet , and  we hope you are all as excited as we are for these new events! The CCYM will continue to work diligently to provide the best possible experience for all who attend our events, and we hope that you may be inspired to change the world after Inward and Outward!

    Upper New York United Methodist Historical Society first meeting

    July 12, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The Upper New York United Methodist Historical Society will gather for its first meeting on Saturday, June 17, 2017 at the Esperance-Sloansville United Methodist Church (Tiffany Community Room) in the village of Esperance (in the Oneonta District) in Schoharie County, New York.  It is expected that Society meetings will rotate among different areas of Upper New York Conference.

    The Society meeting will start at 10:30 a.m. to set goals, etc. for the Society (such as projects, meetings, and publicity).  A spaghetti lunch at noon will be offered for a free will donation from attendees to offset costs.  A program on Methodism in Schoharie County will be presented while you are eating.  (The first Methodists came to the area in the late 1700's and the first Methodist societies were established around that time.) 

    Available after lunch will be an optional free tour at around 1:00 p.m. of the historic, practically unaltered 1793 Christ Episcopal Church in Duanesburg erected by Judge James Duane. [Duane was the first Mayor of New York City after the federal constitution was ratified, when NYC was the Capitol of the U.S.  Duane donated money for the erection of Wesley Chapel (John Street Church) in NYC and sold Philip Embury the land he settled on in Camden Valley, Washington County.]                       At 2:00 p.m. will be a free tour of the 1807 Friends Meeting House in nearby Quaker Street (and home to agents on the Underground Railroad). Also open free in Esperance that day will be the 1836 Esperance Methodist Church, Esperance Museum buildings and the 1824 Old Stone Presbyterian Church where Lorenzo Dow preached while it was under construction.

    The meeting is open to all and free of charge (except for a donation to cover lunch).  Attendees do not need to be members of the Society to come.  

    The Esperance-Sloansville UMC is at 175 Main Street in Esperance.  Esperance is on US Route 20.  Coming from the west take I-88 to Schoharie/Central Bridge exit 23 and then Route 7 east to Route 30 North to US 20 West.  Coming from the east take the NYS Thruway to exit 25A (I-88 West) and take I-88 to Exit 24 (Duanesburg) to US 20 West to Esperance.

    The Upper New York United Methodist Historical Society was organized by the Upper New York Commission on Archives and History to promote and preserve Methodist (and EUB) history within the bounds of Upper New York Conference.  Its mission is to Preserve the PAST; Inform the FUTURE.  A Society membership brochure is available at:

    If questions, the Society President Ken Jones can be contacted at or at 518-875-6854. 

    First program meeting of the Upper New York United Methodist Historical Society

    July 12, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The purpose of the Upper New York United Methodist Historical Society is to work with UNYCAH in preserving Methodist materials related to the Upper New York conference and antecedents and to promote knowledge of Methodist history and skills for preserving and disseminating it. 

    The Society and guests met in its first program meeting June 17, 2017 in the community building of Esperance-Sloansville United Methodist Church. Tables full of resources on Schoharie County Methodism were available for browsing prior to the meeting.  

    It was endorsed in the meeting that the Society wants to encourage and help local church historians and that the Society seeks to meet twice a year, sometimes combined with another group or event.  The next Society meeting is planned to be joint with the Saturday, September 30, 2017 meeting of the Upper New York Commission on Archives and History at the conference archives at 7481 Henry Clay Boulevard in Liverpool, New York.  Details will come out later.

    It was also noted that historical research requests are currently on hold until the combining conference archives are placed and sorted.  There are about 260 boxes from the North Central Conference archives which need to be moved from storage into the conference archives space.  Members of the UNYCAH team planned to start this at a July 8 UNYCAH work day at the archives.  Western New York Conference archives still need to be moved to Liverpool.     

    The business meeting was followed by a slide program on Schoharie County Methodist Churches (including some early Methodist figures such as James Dempster, and both German and New England settlers), a spaghetti lunch, and a tour to some local historic churches in Duanesburg and Quaker Street and optional stops in Esperance.

    This is one slide from the presentation on Methodism in Schoharie County by Ken Jones. The churches in the county are split between two conferences, Upper New York Conference and New York Conference.  The first Methodists came to the Schoharie area in the late 1700's and the first Methodist societies were established around that time. The slide show started with some historic Methodist figures.

    The tour started at the original 1793 Christ Church (Episcopal) near Duanesburg. Duanesburg was founded by James Duane in 1765.  The church has three New York State historical markers in front by the highway.

    Christ Church was erected by Judge James Duane, first mayor on New York City when it was the Capitol of the United States. In this church the pulpit with lectern below was central (not the altar) and there was a box for the Duane family in the front left facing the pulpit.  Several prominent early Americans are buried under the floor of Christ Church including James Duane (who died 1797 before his house in Duanesburg was finished) and William North, Duane's son-in-law and aide to General Steuben in 1779.

    "Devil Repellant" horseshoes in the left back of the Episcopal sanctuary - The smaller card notes that Saint Dunstan 909 - 988 was the Archbishop of Canterbury and relates a story how Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil’s foot when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil’s horse. This caused the Devil great pain and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe was over the door. This is claimed as the origin of the lucky horseshoe (always displayed with the ends up).

    This is the 1807 Friends Meeting House (and carriage sheds) in Quaker Street. The village was home to agents on the underground railroad.  This building was erected near the site of the original log structure of preacher Ezekiel Tripp. The Society was organized about 1790.

    Rev. Natalie Hanson on the impact of compassion

    July 12, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    “You sweep humans away like a dream;” these words were part of a Call and Response in the June 1 Memorial Service at the 2017 Annual Conference session.

    Bishop Webb thanked the members who supported the clergy and clergy spouses who have passed away since the 2016. He said, “Thank you for supporting the ways in which you supported the ones that we celebrate tonight…I pray that you will continue to remember that in death, there is resurrection.”

    The Rev, Natalie Hanson, in her Memorial Service sermon, Does it Last?, reiterated the fact that life passes by so quickly and that so many at the end of their lives stress over whether or not they have made an impact to anyone, whether or not they will leave a legacy behind?

    Rev. Hanson said, “I imagine that many of these friends whose lives we celebrate tonight have asked…in the small hours of the night…What in God’s name am I doing? Does anything I do matter, to anybody…Will anything survive?”

    She offered an interesting perspective on how we can leave a lasting impression in this world.

    Rev. Hanson insinuated how so many are fixated on their job and so deeply desire that their work lasts longer than they do, but she brought up examples of how so many projects we work years on, never become anything.  She referenced how many of St. Paul’s churches were gone 100 years later.

    Rev. Hanson shared a personal experience that poignantly showed her how we can have an impact on someone without ever even knowing it.  She illustrated how it’s the little things we do that plant seeds to have a lasting impact.

    Recalling her experience, Rev. Hanson said, “Years ago, at a United Methodist gathering of some kind, I ran into a young woman who had been in the very first church I served. She had grown up, and married, and she and her husband had recently had a baby boy… It was absolutely delightful to talk with her, to catch up with what all the family had been doing, to hear her joy in her life, her excitement in being a mom. It was obvious that she had grown as a person and grown in her faith: her face was shining with it. Just before we parted, in the midst of the crowd, she lowered her voice a bit and she said, ‘You know, we named our son Nate.’

     I said, ‘That’s a great name, it’s almost like ‘Natalie.’

    She said, ‘It would have been Natalie if we’d had a girl. We named our son after you’ She went on to say, ’Do you remember when I was in the hospital, and you came to see me? I’ve never forgotten what you said that day. It meant the world to me. So we named our boy Nathaniel’

     I was speechless, absolutely caught by surprise. They named their son after me?

    They named their son after me? When I found my voice, I told her how humbled and pleased I was, and that she and her husband had given me an extraordinary gift that day – which was all true.”

    Rev. Hanson had no recollection of her conversation with the young woman in the hospital. She wasn’t intentionally trying to do something amazing; she wasn’t purposeful in trying to have an impact on this woman’s life. She was just being compassionate.

    Rev. Hanson said, “I believe that it is the essential work of God’s Spirit to catch up the bits and pieces, even the tiniest seeds, of compassion and love that we scatter about in our every-day lives, and make something meaningful, something life-giving, something lasting from them. So I believe God did ‘the rest,’ and does the rest, creating the most extraordinary impacts in the world with the most ordinary offerings from us, again and again.”

    Rev. Hanson explained how simple offerings of compassion can literally be a life-line for someone.

    She continued, “We’re never going to know which word, what hug, which shared moment is going, by God’s continuing grace, to take on lasting meaning in someone’s life, or in the world. “

    Rev. Hanson challenged the crowd to "live every, single day as attentively as we can, as honestly as we can, as lovingly as we can, as generously as we can. The challenge is to put ourselves out there: trusting, but not knowing. The challenge is to make giving ourselves away in love an ordinary thing…not a once-in-awhile event, but a lifestyle. The challenge is for us to give the Spirit a little something to work with.”

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    From the Desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb: A response to the flooding in Upper New York

    July 12, 2017 / By Mark J. Webb

    Dear sisters and brothers of Upper New York,

    Grace and peace to you in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ!

    Over the last several weeks, severe weather has caused significant flash flooding in several communities throughout Upper New York. Individuals and families have been greatly affected.

    Communities within the Mohawk District have been the most severely impacted. Residents of 300 homes have had to evacuate. Seventeen homes were completely destroyed and another 217 homes have had their heating systems compromised. Our Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, Joe Auslander, has reported that our Emergency Response Team has already offered 185 hours of work on the ground, with more to come this weekend; and long-term recovery efforts are being evaluated.

    I invite you to join me in praying for those affected by these most recent floods, as well as share in an opportunity for the United Methodist Church in Upper New York to once again be a shining light, offering God's love and compassion.

    I am asking you to consider taking a special offering at your local church over the next few weekends or make an individual donation. Checks may be sent to the Conference Office, 7481 Henry Clay Blvd. Liverpool, NY 13088, with "2017 storms # 474" written in the memo line.

    One of the amazing things about being United Methodist is our connectional system. Though our connection, we can support people around the country and throughout the world in their times of need. This time, it is individuals and families in our own Conference who need our help. Thank you for being a part of that connection.

    Grace and peace,
    Bishop Mark J. Webb

    Young People Worship reflects AC17 theme

    July 5, 2017 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    Young People Worship reflects AC17 theme

    By Kathleen Christiansen

    At the Young People Worship on June 3, various young adults emphasized the phrase, “God is enough” as well as trusting in God, which are part of the 2017 Annual Conference session’s theme: “Together in Prayer:  Trusting that God is Enough.”

    The service began with a bilingual Call to Worship, led by Ian Urriola and Julio Guity. After, Jon Standhart and Marthalyn Sweet delivered the Young Adults address. They discussed a January trip some Upper New York Conference adults took to Washington, D.C., spending two days at the General Board of Church and Society to participate in seminars on poverty.

     “ … Many of us were fortunate to participate in this year’s Do Something trip to the General Board of Church and Society to further understand poverty in our own society,” Jon said. “Poverty is not an issue that should be easily shrugged off. There are opportunities to make an impact all around you, and no impact is too small.”

    Former Conference Council on Youth Ministry co-chairs Katie Allen and Elyse Muder took the stage to give an update on CCYM for the past year. They also passed the baton to the new co-chairs — Sam Smith and Maria Schermerhorn — and prayed for the new CCYM leaders, including the leadership team: Zach Aiosa, Will Allen, Bri Joose, Katie Allen, Connor Crowell, and Rachel John.

    Elyse also took time to thank and present a plaque to the Rev. Ted Anderson, pastor at the Fairport United Methodist Church, for his 35 years of service to young adult ministries.

    Emily Lasher and Gabriella Wilson, who went on the 2017 Misson of Peace trip to Nicaragua, gave a brief presentation about their trip as the Mission of Peace offering for the 2018 trip to Cuba was taken.

    “As Christians, we are called to spread God’s unconditional love to the people we meet,” Gabriella said. “We are called to promote peace, joy, and hope in our world … The Mission of Peace changed both of our lives immensely and taught us so much about Nicaragua, God, and ourselves.”

    The sermon “Trust: God is Enough” depicted three young people sharing their struggles, followed by scripture relating to the story.

    Maya Smith shared that she received good grades in high school with minimal studying, so she figured she could take the same tact in college. She quickly found what worked in high school would not in college. She studied harder, but still not a lot, for finals. Her grades didn’t improve.

    “I was searching and wondering where the Lord was leading me and where even was He. Why did he let me think that I already knew everything? Why wasn’t he guiding me?” she said. “But the thing is, He was leading me in a very important direction. He was guiding me … He saw I was leaning on my own understanding of things, on what I thought I knew.”

    The next semester, she vowed to work harder and the results paid off.

    “Yes, I wavered and questioned when things did not go my way, but when I finally listened to the voice in my head telling me what to do, I succeeded,” Maya said. “That voice was and is God. Now I know I must always leave my trust in him.

    “So regardless of what stage you are in your life, how God works is amazing! How he puts us on the right path, and pulls us back when we wander. How when we trust in Him, when we remember he is always present and always loving, we end up succeeding,” she said. “We end up gaining so much by trusting our amazing God, by trusting that He is enough.”

    Claramar Galarza then read Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.”

    Pastor Lynnette Cole, serving at the Schroon Lake Community Church, shared her story of how she felt so “unlovable” that she pushed people away until it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. But then she turned things around; she went to seminary and learned that it didn’t matter how much you faltered, you would always be loved.

    “It’s not about how loved we are, it’s about that we’ll be loved no matter what we do,” she said.

    Krystal Cole read Romans 8:38-39, “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers 39 or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.”

    J.J. Abrams discussed his role as the leader of the Christian Union at Sarah Lawrence College, leading weekly discussion groups on various religious topics.

    One week, he didn’t want to go. Nobody responded to his event and he didn’t “want to waste his time.” But he realized “how selfish” that sounded and went. He prayed for God to “please lead one thirsty person to this group tonight.”

    After some time, a girl walked in, and J.J. told her the message of the Gospel: that there is a God who created everything, including her, and loves her so much that He sacrificed His son so that she could have a relationship with “this perfect God.”

    J.J. said she started to cry and told him she had never heard that Gospel before.

    “And that night, that girl accepted Jesus as her savior and Lord of her life,” J.J. said. “Jesus says in John 15:16 that we did not choose him, but he chose us — and appointed us as disciples to go and to bear fruits. And if we ask for anything in Jesus' name, it will be given to us. And I realized God called me to this campus to help this one child of God know she was loved.

    “And I continue to trust God … And I trust that God will move here in Upper New York. I trust God to be with The United Methodist Church, and I trust God for the transformation of the world through love.”   

    Sam Smith read John 15:16, “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, will be given to you.”

    Pastor Paul Winkelman, serving at Freeville and the Cortland: Homer Avenue UMCs lead the sermon wrap-up.

    “I am continuing to learn every day and continuing to live into the reality that God is enough,” he said. “I am continuing to place my trust in God, and in the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ … ” he said.

    Pastor Winkelman discussed 1 Peter, 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy, he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”

    He said this means we are promised through Jesus Christ the hope of glory after this earthly life is over, if we place our trust in him.

    “ … I also believe in what are called to do here and now on earth, that we are called to build a better, a more loving, a more just, and a more equitable world, through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Pastor Winkleman said.

    “May we trust that God is enough, and may we believe and live out our hope we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that God is still moving, and that together, through God, we can still do amazing things, trusting that God is enough.”

    After the closing song and benediction by Pastor Brian Lothridge, serving at the Falconer UMC, Upper New York Area Bishop Mark J. Webb asked all young people to come to the stage and hugged each of them.

    “We have been blessed,;we have been encouraged; we’ve been challenged; we have encountered God,” he said.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Study session two guides churches in making change

    July 5, 2017 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    The Rev. Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean, the 2017 Annual Conference session study leader, held her second study session “Doing a New Thing: The Church of No Excuses” in the afternoon on June 2. During this session, she focused on new spiritual communities and how churches can be open to change and adapt.

    Rev. Dean mentioned 1 Chronicles 12:32, saying “the children of Issachar, who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel could do.”

    She said we all need an understanding of our times and the wisdom to determine how to respond. Rev. Dean said she aimed to convince everyone that we are living in amazingly creative times to be in ministry and God’s already given us more to work with than we know.

    New spiritual communities are popping up daily. Question-hungry young people want to know what it means to be human and to know about God.

    Rev. Dean showed videos about a United Methodist church plant, Gastrochurch, and Dinner party, a nationwide community. She pointed out that both focus try to respond to new economy: principles of abundance, collaboration, and building value.

    Some examples of these new communities are Harry Potter as Sacred Text, which discusses Harry Potter like a Bible study every week; Camp Grounded, which helps millennial Silicon Valley employees “disconnect to reconnect;” and Robloxian Christians founded by then-11-year-old Daniel Herron is an online church with traditional services that now has 4,500 members.

    “All of these spiritual movements capitalizing on the principles of the new economy — doing things often overtly,” Rev. Dean said.

     While she said she does think some of these new spiritual communities are “nuts,” Rev. Dean said, “I don’t blame young people for trying ways to find community, meaning, and purpose when churches aren’t all helpful.”

    “And I don’t blame them for thinking that finding God might not be that important when sometimes churches don’t seem to give much evidence that God really does much of anything.”

    She said churches need to ask themselves, “What kind of evidence is your church going to provide young people that God is doing a new thing?” and “How do you become a new economy church — a place young people can once again turn who want to live creatively, abundantly, collaboratively and in ways that make a difference?”

    And Rev. Dean reiterated that it doesn’t have to be something weird.

     “Being willing to let go of the Church as we know it and follow Christ doesn’t mean God will want us to do that, but holding our most cherished traditions loosely instead of rigidly opens up all sorts of possibilities for the Holy Spirit to Act,” she said.

    Rev. Dean said there are three categories of churches: Fresh, Flipped and Fuzzy.

    Fresh Expression churches lead with mission and evangelism before ministry.

    “Until The United Methodist Church is willing to give up our institutions so people can encounter Christ in new ways, we will never truly be a missional Church,” Rev. Dean said.

    Fresh Expression churches often meet in third spaces, like United Methodist Pastor Michael Beck who leads Bible studies in a local tattoo parlor in Florida.

    Instead of churches using students as cheap labor to accomplish our ministries, Flipped churches come alongside young people to accomplish theirs. An example of this is Uniquely Abled founded by 17-year-old Nathan Harley, which employs and advocates for people with disabilities.

     “In a Flipped church, we come alongside young people, not to use their gifts to strengthen the church’s ministry, but because when a person uses their gifts, we see God,” Rev. Dean said.

    With Fuzzy churches, it’s difficult to tell where the church ends and enterprise starts. An example is Union coffee shop, founded by UMC Pastor Mike Baughman UMC Pastor in Texas, which gives 10 percent of proceeds to local charities, makes capes for children in hospitals every month, and hosts worship.

    “If we’re going to preach that God is up to a new thing, then we must show the world some evidence that God is making things new through us,” Rev. Dean said.

    She also pointed to a quote by Ministry Architects’ Mark DeVries:  “Your organization is perfectly designed to get the results you are currently getting.”

    Rev. Dean mentioned she recently discovered how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. When the caterpillar goes into its cocoon, it turns to “goo,” digests itself, and the caterpillar is no more. In time, goo solidifies, and eventually something new, a butterfly, emerges.

    “Our Church is like a cocoon full of caterpillar mush: What we become next won’t emerge from what we’ve been before,” she said. “God is not tweaking us. God is innovating, making us new. When whatever God has in mind for us becomes too magnificent for what we are now to hold us – that new church will shatter our tiny tombs.

    “We will not be a new and improved form of what we are now, we will have new life.”

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    First study session covers missional entrepreneurship

    July 5, 2017 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    The Rev. Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean watched lobsters molt in Maine. For a lobster to molt, it takes on extra water to bloat, cracks the shell, turn itself inside out — and goes blind while doing it —  and flips itself before breaking free of its tail. Now a blind, squishy blob, the lobster can easily be eaten, but it has become something new.

    “I think this is the Church,” Rev. Dean said. “At various stages in this process, we have got to get out of our shells, for new life awaits us. We can’t see what’s going on and some of us are afraid, disoriented, but new life awaits us because we are called to have great love and because God is doing a new thing.”

    Rev. Dean — an ordained United Methodist pastor in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference and professor of youth, church, and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey who served as the study leader at the 2017 Upper New York Annual Conference session — held her first study session “Love Made Me an Inventor: Why an Entrepreneurial Church Matters to Young People” on June 2.

    The session focused on missional entrepreneurship and how churches can become entrepreneurial.

    She started the session discussing the American blacksmith union membership decline in 1909, which increased over the next few years, only to decline 10 years later as Ford began mass production of Model-T cars. We’ll circle back to this later.

    Rev. Dean showed multiple videos, since it was an early morning session, including one clip from “Apollo 13,” where NASA workers had to figure out how to fit a square peg into a round hole.

    “Most of us have had that ‘Houston, we have a problem’ moment — we realized that the oxygen that once fueled the church we loved was leaking out, and we had nothing lying around to fix it with,” she said.

    Rev. Dean said in these situations, you have to “hack,” to use familiar stuff in a different way. And the Church has to learn how to hack, she said, to become missional innovators.

    Rev. Dean mentioned several examples of missional innovators from Father Gregory Boyle, who started Homeboy Industries to help with gang member rehabilitation; Episcopal priest Becca Stevens, who founded Thistle Farms to help women coming out of prostitution get back on their feet financially; Rev. Richard Joyner, who by establishing a farm in North Carolina, brought down emergency room visits in his town from 80 people visiting the ER each year to five; and Maggie Barankitse, who watched 72 people slaughtered in Barundi and decided to build Maison Shalom (a place where children can be loved) that includes a farm, movie theater, mechanic shop, and more at the site of the massacre.

    Dean said many churches are jumping on the missional entrepreneurship bandwagon.

    “But here is the truth: ‘Big ideas’ will not save the Church; only Jesus Christ saves the Church,” she said. “You might try for many reasons, only one matters: Because love has made you an inventor, do it for love, or don’t do it.”

    Dean pointed to Rev. 21:5, where God says, “Behold, I am making new things!”

    “Turns out the Bible both begins and ends with stories about God innovating,” she said.

    Dean said we are at an entrepreneurial moment in our culture, especially with young people. She said young people’s affinity for entrepreneurial ministry helps them move past two cultural streams that have them stuck between a rock and a hard place — “the New Sincerity” and “the immanent frame.”

    “In the New Sincerity, the impulse to do good is so strong even those who don’t want to do good, do good,” she said.

    Rev. Dean said according to Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, young people live within the “immanent frame,” which means young people have flattened their horizons so much they can’t imagine anything being true or real except what is true or real in their own experience.

    “So here is the reason social entrepreneurship has so much power: Young people sense that this immanent frame they’re stuck inside is too small,” she said. “They feel it; they know it, but they don’t know how to get beyond it. They sense there is more to life than this … And doing something good for others, volunteering, or social entrepreneurship, is one way to tamp down the uneasiness that comes from having plenty in a world where few have enough.

    “When love makes you an inventor, it stretches the canvas on their immanent frame so thin that they might be able to make it out, just a little, to see the shape of God on the other side,” she said.

    Before closing the first study session, Rev. Dean cautioned three things: We are not called to have big ideas, we are called to have great love; it’s a myth that the most successful innovators leave everything behind to purse moon shot; and one group of blacksmiths survived: the mechanics because they adapted to the change brought about by mass production of cars.

    “Churches that value innovation try new things, even when they don’t work particularly well, giving young people the distinct impression that they too have something to offer, that their gifts make a difference, and that the church will welcome their contributions,” Rev. Dean said.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Rekindling the love of God and each other

    July 5, 2017 / By Pastor Scott Rogers, Whitehall UMC

    Editor’s Note: The Adirondack District Superintendent, the Rev. Bill Mudge informed the UNY Conference about the pastor of Whitehall UMC; he said,   “Pastor Scott Rogers came to us as a missionary - he agreed to take on a congregation that admitted they could not offer much in the way of financial support because he was following the call of God on his life. The congregation and its ministry has revitalized and grown both numerically and in depth of spirit.” This is what Pastor Rogers has written about his ministry.

    Look for the next issue of the Advocate, arriving in churches and published on the UNY Issuu website within the next couple of weeks, which features several stories from churches and individuals who, like Pastor Rogers, have trusted that God is enough. 

    Brief Testimony on The Sufficiency of Grace:

    Is Jesus enough? I have learned and continue to learn that Christ alone is certainly enough. 2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

    God’s Mission & Today’s Ministry Context:

    What a beautiful story! God has set out to redeem and restore all of broken creation through the blood of his son Jesus (Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1: 15-17). From this perspective, it is my understanding that disciples go with Jesus and not the other way around (John 8:12; Matthew 28: 18-20). This is because it is God’s mission in the world and not ours. His beloved Church, in the power of the Holy Spirit, receives with joy this grand invitation for participation (Acts 1:8)!

    God developed a sense of urgency in me to reach our contemporary post-Christian American culture with the Good News. This is a tall order! In some cases there has been a subtle effort to undermine the power of scripture (Sola scriptura) to transform our lives, (John 8: 31-32; Hebrews 4:12) which leads to transformed kingdom shaped communities. Without this crucial connection to the source of faith and love (John 1:1-5), families become untethered to the truths of God and we lose our way

    My Current Assignment(s):

    My first step of faith was helping my brother, also a pastor, with church planting efforts in Vermont during the summer of 2014. My family and I served with this planting team for one year before we began a season of fasting and prayer regarding how God could use us independently. It was during this time that God orchestrated our relationship with Bill Mudge and we began discussing the opportunity to serve Whitehall UMC and Fort Ann UPC. We accepted God’s call in July 2015.As a novice, I only knew to do one thing--Tell the story of Jesus (Mark 16:15).

    The average attendance for Whitehall UMC has increased from 12-15 each Sunday to approx. 50-60 over a year-and-a-half span. Our best number to date is 90. To God be the glory! For better or worse we have not used any special curriculum, style of worship, or outreach effort. Together, we are simply returning (an act of repentance) to the word of God and learning to trust God in all things. Love for God and each other are being rekindled in both churches. Although we are not yet where we want to be; God is bringing the increase spiritually and numerically and in this order (I Corinthians 3:7). We trust that as we grow we will bear more fruit (John 15:5).

    It is such a special blessing to be able to spend time in God’s word each week and for him to reveal the nature of his love for all of us in this process. For me, the only thing better than preaching is preparing to preach during the week! I have simply felt compelled to expound on this each Sunday morning. The summation is always Christ’s life, crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead (I Corinthians 1: 23). Finally, we are all, as disciples, continuing to grow up in Christ (Ephesians 4:15) and learning that the Spirit that lives within us is very bold (2 Timothy 1:7). So, is Jesus alone really enough? You betcha (Philippians 4:19; 2 Peter 1: 3-4)! We trust that you will pray with us that laborers are sent to testify to Him! (Luke 10:2)

    UNY AU Scholarship recipient graduated June 10

    July 5, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Africa University celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. This institution, which was developed by United Methodist bishops, enables young men and women from dozens of nations throughout Africa to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees on the Africa University campus.

    Africa University students are supported primarily through endowed scholarships. The UNY Conference has an Africa University Endowed Scholarship Fund that helps support specific students at Africa University.

    According to the Africa University website, “Funding for scholarships is vital for Africa University, which is a residential institution, because many students would not be able to attend without financial help. Most are first-generation college students with backgrounds that include displacement, underemployment, and relatively low annual incomes for many workers.”

    This year, 718 students graduated from Africa University. One of the graduates was a recipient of one of the five current Upper New York Annual Conference endowed scholarships. Her name is Faith Tatenda Nyatoti and she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education.

    In a letter addressed to Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb, Elaine Jenkins, Director of Planned Giving in the Africa University Development Office said, “Because of the generosity and faithfulness of donors like the Upper New York Annual Conference, Africa University has now educated more than 8,000 young men and women from 31 of the 55 nations of Africa. The majority of our graduates have returned to their communities to engage in cutting-edge ministries which are transforming lives.”

    Africa University’s motto is Learning Here. Living Here. Leading Here. Serving God. All the time. Everywhere. The members of UNY Conference who have hosted fundraisers and/or made donations to Africa University are part of the reason that thousands of young African women and men are fulfilling the motto of Africa University.

    Service of Blessing and Anointing at the 2017 AC

    June 28, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The song Turn, Turn, Turn was the perfect song for InsideOut to perform at the Service of Blessing and Anointing on Friday June 2 at the 2017 Upper New York Annual Conference session. “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose, under heaven;” these lyrics portrayed the rejoicing over retired clergy and clergy spouses, newly ordained and commissioned deacons and elders, and new church appointments.

    Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb first recognized the retired clergy and clergy spouses; click here to view the complete list of retirees and their videos on our website.

    “The future looks bright,” Bishop Webb said as he recognized the large group of commissioned deacons and elders and ordained deacons and elders. He called special attention to the deacons; he said, “This is the largest group of deacons the Upper New York Conference has ever ordained.”

    Bishop Webb then had each District Superintendent mention the new church appointments in their District; there were dozens. Dave Masland, Director of New Faith Communities, also mentioned the new church plants across the Conference.

    Bishop Webb recognized Beckie Sweet who served as District Superintendent of the Northern Flow District and is now appointed at Kenmore United Methodist Church. He also recognized the Rev. Mike Weeden who will be the new District Superintendent of the Northern Flow District effective July 1.

    Once all of the new appointments were recognized, Bishop Webb said, “I declare that, by the grace of God, these appointments are fixed, that Christ may be glorified in the Upper New York Annual Conference and wherever the love of these congregations may reach. As we seek to be partners of Christ in birthing God’s reign on earth, may the many ministries represented by the laity and clergy here, be fruitful in reconciling humanity to our gracious Creator God.

    A unique blessing and anointing took place during the service; everyone attending the service received anointment with unscented olive oil (if they chose) and all received a blessing for their season of life or ministry,

    The service ended with the song Oceans, which lyrics were also so fitting considering the new journeys that many will travel on in the coming weeks, years, and lifetimes. “Sprit lad me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    2017 CF&A Report shares positive news

    June 28, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Every year at Annual Conference, the UNY Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A) present their proposed budget for the next calendar year and also discuss where their focus has been since the last Annual Conference.

    This year, CF&A did not get the opportunity to present their report because of a surprising action that took place…there was a motion to put the budget report on the consent calendar…and it was supported!

    What would have been presented is very positive.

    First and foremost, the overall 2018 budget is over $80,000 less than the 2016 budget. The narrative budget (pages 13-34 in The 2017 Conference Journal Volume I, “The 2018 Budget Booklet”) describes each line item of the budget.

    The UNY Conference CF&A planned on presenting three powerful testimonials of how local churches’ Ministry Share dollars effectively supported a variety of ministries.

    Increased Ministry Share giving allowed the UNY Conference to meet 100 percent of its General Church apportionments for the first time in the history of the Uny Conference.

    Here are three stories of how Ministry Shares greatly supported ministries in UNY.

    CONAM and the Onondaga Nation Methodist Church

    Despite the fact that most of the congregation lives well below the Federal Poverty Levels, the Onondaga Nation United Methodist Church meets 100 percent of their Ministry Shares year after year. They prioritize their Ministry Shares, even over heat.

    Pastor Rose Kingsbury of the Onondaga Nation United Methodist Church said, “One winter they did not have the money for heating the church, but they still sent their shared ministry in. They laugh and joke about wearing coats during worship service. Because we are a connectional church however, the church was able to ask for an emergency grant from the Committee on Native American Ministries. CONAM gave us funds to get fuel oil.” Ministry Shares help support CONAM.

    Syracuse University Chaplaincy

    The Conference’s increased Ministry Share giving enabled the chaplaincy at Syracuse University to be restored.

     Pastor Rhonda Chester is overjoyed with her position as Chaplain at Hendricks Chapel; she said “As a result of our presence on campus, we are able to provide an evening program called Courageous Conversations that draws students in to engage dialogically on issues of faith, spirituality, culture, current issues, and social media. We also offer a Sunday evening worship gathering and a monthly dinner that students look forward to. From my assessment our chaplaincy reaches about 150 students altogether through our programming.”

    Rhonda shared anecdotes how SU students deeply appreciate her. For example, she spoke of Samuel, a PhD student and Rhodes Scholar from Kenya. She said, “Samuel shares his story of struggle and survival as he lives with a disability. He had this to say about my chaplaincy: ‘Rhonda, I am glad that you are here and that this chaplaincy exists. To be able to break bread with you as often as I do (we have Holy Communion every Sunday evening) and to hear you preach really refreshes me.’”

    Several New Faith Communities have been made possible because of Ministry Shares.

    For example, Rev. Sonxay Chantasone (Sean) has planted several Southeast Asian faith communities across Upper New York.

    He said, “Your financial support has helped us develop three New Faiths Congregations in Johnson City and Syracuse areas. Already we have been able to send one student to Seminary, two leaders from each Congregation have received a Local Pastor Licensing school, our Children and Youths increased from 15 to 25 people and we are able to share the love of Jesus with 55 people from Karenni Congregation, 60 people from Napeli Congregation, and 40 people from Lao and Karenni Congregation in Johnson City.”

    These are only a few examples of what Ministry Shares from local churches help accomplish through the United Methodist connection. For more examples, click here to read Volume 8, Issue 4 of the Advocate.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    The 2017-2018 Illuminate Preaching Academy begins in September

    June 28, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Built around the characteristics of bright spot preaching, Illuminate Preaching Academy seeks to come alongside good preachers and help them grow toward being great preachers. Time is given to exploring methods of sermon writing, series development, delivery of the sermon, and connecting with the community to whom we are preaching.

    “Every year we try to gather guest faculty from across the Connection to provide insight and instruction for Illuminate Preaching Academy and Leadership Academy. This year the teams have once again brought together a faculty that is sure to help every Christ-following leader grow in leadership capacity” the Rev. Dr. Aaron Bouwens, Director of Vital Congregations said. He went on to add, “The Academies are a great opportunity to grow in skills, as well as spiritual depth from which our leadership originates.”

    The 2017sessions will be held Sept. 26-28 and Nov. 7-9; the remaining sessions will be held Jan. 9-11, April 10-12, and May 15-17 in 2018.

    Reflections from UNY Conference leaders who have attended the Illuminate Preaching Academy in the past include:

    Preaching academy was a wonderful experience. I was shown some new technics and different was to approach preparing a sermon. My favorite part was the opportunity to preach for other pastors and learn from their experiences. As a CLM new to serving a church I am aware of the big responsibility of sharing God's word. Preaching academy has giving me the confidence to do that with more passion.

    -Jeanette Mann

    Like every Vital Congregations' training I have experienced, I found the training events insightful, relevant, and fruitful. We all get different things from them. It is the kind of training that is both theoretical and hands on. The program not only brings in national leaders whenever it can, but it shares insights from peers in our conference. The more relaxed environment gives a chance to allow the seeds of awareness and growth to just begin to take root. For me, I think I got as much or more from sharing with colleagues and friends as I did from the teaching.

    -Rev Mike Weeden, DS

    I have to admit, I signed up for the Illuminate Preaching Academy to fulfill the obligation of continuing edu-cation requirements - I had no idea what God had in store for me. I enjoyed the experience much more than I anticipated I would and gained more knowledge about myself as well as the art and craft of sermon prep and preaching. The colleagues I met and the connections I made have stayed with me and I find myself thinking of them each and every time I step to the pulpit to preach, I say a prayer for them as I re-member the bond we now share. The Illuminate Preaching Academy experience was much more than a filling of an obligation, it was a much needed time of learning, self-reflecting, connecting (with God and colleagues), fellowship and retreat.

    -Pastor Jack Ford

    Knowing the importance of preaching, I've always worked very hard on this craft. There are some great resources out there and I've taken advantage of many of them. That said, Illuminate Preaching Academy (IPA) was a game changer for me. I loved the collegiality. Whether listening to fantastic presenters or just listening and learning from other great preachers, whom I would never otherwise get the chance to hear, it brought my preaching to the next level.In fact, that's just it. Sharing in the IPA program, took my preaching to a place I may never have achieved on my own. If you want to be your best too, check out Preaching Academy. I promise you, the results will speak for themselves.

     -Chris Wylie

    Click here to register for this training.

    Lottie Brown Scholarship Recipients announced

    June 28, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Each year the Upper New York Annual Conference College Scholarships Committee offers Lottie Brown Scholarships for undergraduate students who are intending to enter a career in Christian service.  This year’s recipients are Elyse Muder, Emily Allen, and Katherine (Kate) Bobsein.

    The three recipients are all active in their churches and excel academically.  In their applications, each recipient not only included remarkable letters of recommendation, but also, wrote strong statements of how their academic studies will help prepare them for a career in Christian service.

    Elyse is attending the State University of New York at Fredonia. She is pursuing a career in Social Work. One day, she hopes to run a Christian-faith based social work office. She said, “I think encouraging people with a Christian attitude will help many with the daily life struggles people must cope with. Learning how to help people of any kind to me is a similar life to what Jesus led in the Bible. In my faith journey, I plan to live as Christ-like as possible and I believe Social Work will help me to fulfill this.”

    Elyse attends the First United Methodist Church of New Hartford; her senior pastor, Brad Chesebro recommended Elyse for the Lottie Brown scholarship. He said, “Elyse is very respectful, helpful, and compassionate about the needs and feelings of everyone she meets. She is faithful in her dedication to honoring God with her time, talents, and treasures. She always cheerfully interacts with others with the love of Christ by offering acceptance and affirmation. Her involvement in local and overseas mission work is a testament to her love of helping others. Elyse is a young woman with great character and a positive, bold witness for the Church.”

    Emily is attending Houghton College. Like both of her parents did, Emily is on the path to become a clergy member. She Is a Theology major.  Emily said, “As a Christian I believe I am called to share the Good News of Christ with others. I have been influenced by both my parents and other pastors in my life to be involved in ministry in my future…I think I have a gift for teaching and being a pastor is one way in which this could express itself.”

    Steve Atwater, Director of Youth at Bemus Point United Methodist Church recommended Emily, who attends the church. He said, “Emily is a great leader, excels academically, but most important to me, is wonderful working with people. She has the ability to bring many personalities with different viewpoints together and serve for a greater purpose. She is able to do this with a humble yet confident strength that draws people to her.”

    Kate attends Ithaca College where she studies Music Education. Kate said, “As a music educator, I hope not only to be a high school chorus teacher, but also, I would like to have a leading role in many of the music ministries at my church. I hope someday to be the director of our church choir. I would also like to be part of the regular worship band on Sundays and would like to start a choir for middle and high-school aged students.”

    Kate attended Pendleton Center United Methodist Church (PCUMC) her whole life. Her pastor at PCUMC, the Rev. Tom Kraft said, “Kate has provided leadership in a variety of areas including our children, youth, music, and fundraising ministries, Kate is the type of young person the Church should encourage as an example of faith and commitment. I expect she will have a bright future in the Church.”

    Elyse, Emily and Kate’s scholarships will help support their not only their education goals, but also their life-long goals to apply their gifts to Christian service.

    Lottie Brown Scholarship Recipients announced

    June 28, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Each year the Upper New York Annual Conference College Scholarships Committee offers Lottie Brown Scholarships for undergraduate students who are intending to enter a career in Christian service.  This year’s recipients are Elyse Muder, Emily Allen, and Katherine (Kate) Bobsein.

    The three recipients are all active in their churches and excel academically.  In their applications, each recipient not only included remarkable letters of recommendation, but also, wrote strong statements of how their academic studies will help prepare them for a career in Christian service.

    Elyse is attending the State University of New York at Fredonia. She is pursuing a career in Social Work. One day, she hopes to run a Christian-faith based social work office. She said, “I think encouraging people with a Christian attitude will help many with the daily life struggles people must cope with. Learning how to help people of any kind to me is a similar life to what Jesus led in the Bible. In my faith journey, I plan to live as Christ-like as possible and I believe Social Work will help me to fulfill this.”

    Elyse attends the First United Methodist Church of New Hartford; her senior pastor, Brad Chesebro recommended Elyse for the Lottie Brown scholarship. He said, “Elyse is very respectful, helpful, and compassionate about the needs and feelings of everyone she meets. She is faithful in her dedication to honoring God with her time, talents, and treasures. She always cheerfully interacts with others with the love of Christ by offering acceptance and affirmation. Her involvement in local and overseas mission work is a testament to her love of helping others. Elyse is a young woman with great character and a positive, bold witness for the Church.”

    Emily is attending Houghton College. Like both of her parents did, Emily is on the path to become a clergy member. She Is a Theology major.  Emily said, “As a Christian I believe I am called to share the Good News of Christ with others. I have been influenced by both my parents and other pastors in my life to be involved in ministry in my future…I think I have a gift for teaching and being a pastor is one way in which this could express itself.”

    Steve Atwater, Director of Youth at Bemus Point United Methodist Church recommended Emily, who attends the church. He said, “Emily is a great leader, excels academically, but most important to me, is wonderful working with people. She has the ability to bring many personalities with different viewpoints together and serve for a greater purpose. She is able to do this with a humble yet confident strength that draws people to her.”

    Kate attends Ithaca College where she studies Music Education. Kate said, “As a music educator, I hope not only to be a high school chorus teacher, but also, I would like to have a leading role in many of the music ministries at my church. I hope someday to be the director of our church choir. I would also like to be part of the regular worship band on Sundays and would like to start a choir for middle and high-school aged students.”

    Kate attended Pendleton Center United Methodist Church (PCUMC) her whole life. Her pastor at PCUMC, the Rev. Tom Kraft said, “Kate has provided leadership in a variety of areas including our children, youth, music, and fundraising ministries, Kate is the type of young person the Church should encourage as an example of faith and commitment. I expect she will have a bright future in the Church.”

    Elyse, Emily and Kate’s scholarships will help support their not only their education goals, but also their life-long goals to apply their gifts to Christian service.

    Conference supports 2017 budget

    June 21, 2017 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    Budget discussions at the 2017 Annual Conference started a day earlier than scheduled on June 1 thanks to a surprising and historical motion to the Consent Calendar.

    Pastor Nate Lang of the Cornerstone District made a motion to move the budget report to the Consent Calendar. After discussion and debate, his amendment was supported.

    As there was a question as to whether or not this amendment is or is not in constitutional order, Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb committed to researching it and reporting back to the Conference on June 2. The vote was then called on the Consent Calendar, which was approved.

    At the start of plenary June 2, Bishop Webb revealed the findings of his consultation.

    “Yesterday a motion was made to place the budget on the consent calendar,” he said. “That motion was supported by well over 2/3 of those voting. The motion to place the budget on the Consent Calendar was in order and when the Consent Calendar as amended was adopted, you took action on all the Consent Calendar items, including the 2018 budget. The 2018 budget was approved by your action yesterday.”

    Bishop Webb said that consultation with the Conference chancellor and several other bishops revealed that in The Book of Discipline, paragraph 64, it states “The Council on Finance and Administration shall recommend to the annual conference for its action and determination budgets of anticipated income and proposed expenditure for all funds to be apportioned to the churches, charges, and districts.” It does not prohibit action on the budget by consent.

    The consultation also found that under General Rule 33, “Action from a legislative committee shall be placed on the Consent Calendar if: The item is neither a constitutional amendment nor one having financial implications; and adoption of 985 Consent Calendar by vote of the Conference shall be deemed action al all calendar items on the Consent Calendar.” Since the Annual Conference is not a legislative committee, this rule on financial implications does not apply and the budget can be placed on the Consent Calendar.

    After Bishop Webb told the crowd they could repeal his decision or ask for reconsideration of the Consent Calendar, several called for reconsideration and debate ensued.

    A call for reconsideration of the Consent Calendar was not supported, and the Consent Calendar and budget therefore remained supported.

    Those against reconsideration asked why we would want to reconsider a budget that is less than last year and pointed out that attendees were given ample time to consider and review the budget prior to AC session. Those in favor of reconsideration said that hard work was put into creating this document and it would be nice to know how the Conference arrived at certain numbers.

    Emily Allen, laity from the Cornerstone District, called the question.

    “This is fun, isn’t it?” Bishop Webb said.

    Reconsideration of the Consent Calendar was not supported, which meant both the Consent Calendar and the budget were supported.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Petition and Resolution Results at the 2017 Upper New York Annual Conference

    June 21, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Discussion and voting for the petitions and resolutions brought to the 2017 Annual Conference session began in the afternoon plenary on June 2 and continued through the June 3 morning plenary.

    After a few resolutions had been brought to the floor, discussed, and voted on during the June 3 plenary, there was a motion to suspend rules and eliminate discussion for the remainder of the resolutions. This motion was supported.

     Here are the results of each resolution.

    UNYAC2017.A, not supported

    This resolution called for the Upper New York Annual Conference to select a new slate of delegates for the 2019 special session of General Conference.

    UNY2017.SGRec-1 Avoid Purchase of Hewlett Packard Products, supported

    This resolution called all Conference boards, agencies, offices, local congregations, campus ministries, and individual United Methodists to refrain from purchasing HP products until this family of companies ends its involvement with the Israeli occupation.

    UNY2017.SHRec-2 Protecting the Right to Peacefully Address Injustice through Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions, supported

    This resolution called for the UNY Conference to oppose any state or federal legislation that seeks to restrict the right to address injustice through boycotts, divestment, and sanctions, and to join the Rabbincal Council of Jewish Voice for Peace in calling on elected officials to resist efforts to stifle the movement toward justice for Palenstinians through the current wave of anti-BDS legislation or Executive orders. This resolution also called to write to the NYS Governor to rescind the Anti-BDS Executive Order; it also called to have the UNY Secretary to write a letter to the NY Conference Secretary to do the same. Lastly, this resolution called to communicate to other UM Conferences, churches, etc. to advocate against anti-BDS legislation appearing anywhere in this country.

    UNY2017-Rec-3-Consider Investing in Wespath’s Equity Social Values Plus Fund (ESVPF), supported

    This resolution for UNY Conference clergy and lay employee participant and the Conference to consider ESCPF for the portion of their accounts invested in equities.

    UNY2017.SHRec.4 – Permission for a special offering to Support Prison Chaplains Certification through the New York State Council of Churches, supported

    This resolution called that the Social Holiness Committee of UNY be granted permission to invite all congregations to receive a special offering to help support and fund the prison ministries through the NY State Council of Churches. It also called for resources that support and pertain to Prison Ministries for this special offering be made available to all congregations to help educate and involve them in the vital ministry.

    UNY2017.SGRec.5-Special Sunday Offering, supported

    This resolution called for UNY congregations to discuss and become educated about the Special Sunday Offerings and commit to supporting each offering.

    UNY2017.1 - Spiritual Gifts, amended and supported

    This resolution called for all churches in the Conference to receive training in the Spiritual Gifts in this coming year of 2017-2018.

    The resolution was amended to “This resolution called for all churches in the Conference be invited to receive training in the Spiritual Gifts in this coming year of 2017-2018.

    UNY2017.2 - Support the 2017 Criminal Justice Reform Act, supported

    This resolution called for the Upper New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to heartily and emphatically support the passage of the 2017 Criminal Justice Reform Act ( It also called for members of the UNY Conference to boldly petition New York State lawmakers to pass the 2017 Criminal Justice Reform Act. Additionally, it called for NY State assembly members and senators to be notified of the passing of this resolution.

     UNY2017.3 - Support to Raise the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction to Age 18, supported

    This resolution called for that the Upper New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to publicly support a change in the law raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction to age 18 and process all 16 and 17 year old youths accused of crimes as juveniles and customize sentencing for all but the crimes of violence. Additionally, it called for access to programs and services tailored to support rehabilitation for all minors under the age of 18 and implementation of polices that both promote public safety and improve outcomes for court-involved youth.

    UNY2017.4 - New Headquarters Operations Budget, withdrawn

    This resolution called for the Treasurer and the Trustees of the UNY Conference provide to this 2017 session of the Annual Conference the proposed annual 12-month costs of operating the headquarters building with the following details and line items:

    Salaries (Building manager, accounting, custodial, including payroll taxes, benefits)
    Utilities (gas, water, electricity, sewer)
    Custodial supplies (equipment, supplies, service contracts)
    Snow removal
    Grounds upkeep
    Reserve for future major replacements, i.e. heating, parking lot paving, roof repair/replacement, air conditioning, etc.
    Miscellaneous expense
    In lieu of invested income from cash assets, 4% of capital investment in real estate, renovations and furnishing

    It also called for future budgets to provide detailed projected expenses for the operation of the headquarters building with the heading, “Conference Building Operations Expense” and for the Treasurer and Trustees to provide this Annual Conference with an analysis of the difference in costs for 2017 over 2016. Lastly, this resolution called for the Treasurer and Trustees provide this Annual Conference with a comparison of Conference headquarters operations costs with the average office occupancy costs in the region.

     UNY2017.5 - Speaking Out for Compassion: Transforming the Context of Hate in the United States, supported

    This resolution called for United Methodists in the Upper New York Annual Conference be encouraged to end complicity with hate by speaking out when jokes, disparagements, and stereotypes are based on differences. It also called for the creation of opportunities to hear from excluded groups about the reality and impact of hate and partner with them to act for justice. Additionally, it called for members of the UNY Conference to collaborate with interfaith organizations in developing community activities to unite religions in an effort to end hate as well as for the UNY Conference members to be active participants in civic or religious organizations that promote unity and diversity. It called for the need to end cyber bullying as well. Lastly, it called for the use of language of responsibility and healing rather than blame and punishment.

    UNY2017.6 - Resolution on Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies, supported

    This resolution called for the Upper New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and any of its agencies to not knowingly make investments in any company or entity whose core business activity involves the production of petroleum, natural gas, or thermal coal. Also, it called for that the Upper New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church to join the New York Annual Conference in requesting and urging that the United Methodist Frontier Foundation to add a similar investment screen to its holdings and investments related to any and all funds held on behalf of the Upper New York Annual Conference. (Note: this request has also been made by the New York Annual Conference).

    UNY2017.7 - Health Care for All in the United States, supported

    This resolution called for swift passage of legislation that will entitle all persons within the borders of the United States to the provision of health-care services, the cost of such services to be equitably shared by American taxpayers, and the government to distribute the funds to providers in acoordinated and comprehensive manner.

    UNY2017.8 - Health Care, supported

    This resolution called for the Upper NY Conference of the United Methodist Church encourage its members to petition their federal representatives to preserve the Affordable Care Act unless and until

    they have a better plan that the ACA, to insure that every American, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, age, financial condition, mental, or physical health has access to affordable health insurance; and to unequivocally adopt the policy of resisting all efforts to abort or curtail the present plan as it has been implemented without guarantee.

    UNY2017.9 - Human Sexuality, withdrawn

    This resolution called for that the Upper New York Conference to fully support the United Methodist Church’s stand on sexual ethics and its teaching on marriage, encouraging its boards and agencies to abide by them, and its Bishop to enforce them.

    UNY2017.10 - Support for New York Health Act – A.5062/S.3525, supported

    This resolution called for the Upper New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church to support the New York Health Act (A.5062/S.3525) and to autherize the Conference Secretary and Bishop Webb to band with others to organize and work toward passage of the NYHA by taking the necessary steps for the UNYAC to join the Campaign for New York Health ( and endorse the NYHA. It also called for the Conference Secretary, on behalf of the UNYAC, to express its support for the NYHA to the sponsors of the NYHA, which include Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, and Senator Bill Perkins.

    UNY2017.11 - Resolution Endorsing Equitable, Just, and Environmentally and Fiscally Responsible Carbon Pricing, in Conjunction with the Removal of Fossil Fuel Subsidies, supported

    This resolution called for the UNY Conference to endorse carbon pricing that: is equitable, just, and environmentally and fiscally responsible; does not hurt persons of low income; is assessed at the point of import or extraction; rises briskly at a steady, predictable rate; and is implemented in conjunction with removal of fossil fuel subsidies.

    UNY2017.12 – A Rejection of Schism, not supported

    This resolution called for the UNY Conference to affirm an understanding of God’s nature as one of love, justice, and compassion, and identifies this as a core element of the Christian faith. It also called for the UNY Conference to reject the misuse of Wesleyan teachings by the WCA and related individuals and groups.

    A new resolution presented by Doug Mackey of Tully United Methodist Church on Maintaining Unity and Not Supporting Division Efforts, supported

    This resolution called for the UNY Conference to support ways to maintain Unity of the UMC and to do not support plans that include division or schism efforts.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Service of Commissioning and Ordination at the 2017 UNY Annual Conference

    June 21, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    When addressing the individuals to be commissioned for the work of a deacon or elder and the individuals to be ordained for the work of a deacon or elder at the 2017 Upper New York Annual Conference during the Service of Commissioning and Ordination, Bishop Webb said, “Remember you are called to serve rather than to be served, to proclaim the faith of the church and no other, to look after the concerns of God above all. So we may know you believe yourselves to be called by God and that you profess the Christian faith.”

    This year, there were nine commissioned as elders and two commissioned as deacons.

    Commissioned for the Work of a Deacon

    • Nancy Elizabeth Dibelius
    • Rebecca L. Guthrie

    Commissioned for the Work of an Elder

    • Sung Ah Choi
    • Anna Kathryn Blinn Cole
    • Patricia M. Hubman
    • Marilyn Jane Kasperek
    • Eunice Sunae Kim
    • Brian P. Lothridge
    • David Bradley McKinney
    • Rachel Erin Stuart
    • Ruth Rosa Warner

    This year there were seven elder ordinates and four deacon ordinates.

    Ordinates to the Order of Deacon

    • Molly Joy Turner Golando
    • Rebecca Lynn Naber
    • Carrie Colleen Sturtevant Wolfe

    Ordinates to the Order of Elder

    • Penny Lee Brink
    • Abigail Cady Browka
    • Susan K. Hadley
    • Derek Hollis Hansen
    • Gary Mark Kubitz
    • Phillip Wayne Phaneuf
    • Chad Michael Sayers

    Also, Yohan Moon’s orders were recognized as an ordained elder.

    The Ordination and Commissioning sermon was given by Dr. Junius Dotson, the General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries.

    Dr. Dotson likened the work of a commissioner or ordinate to that of someone running a race; however, he said “The race is not about you, it’s about generations that coming after us….it is a race that requires the investment of your life, but it is a race worth running.”

    He said there are three elements that will exemplify that the race the ordinates and commissioners are running through their career path is one of excellence: Readiness, Accountability, and Commitment.

    In terms of readiness, Dr. Dotson said “There are things that we have to let go of…God knows who we really are. [One of those things is] your ego so that God can really use you….you’ve got to move away from arrogance so that God can use you.”

    Dr. Dotson affirmed, “Our readiness for this amazing race comes by taking off our garments of our own selves and putting on the garments of grace that come from knowing Jesus.”

    As far as accountability is concerned, Dr. Dotson told the ordinates and commissioners that they are surrounded by a crowd of great witnesses. He said, “If they can cross the finish line, you and I can cross the finish line too….you are standing on the shoulders of people who have faithfully run this race.”

    Dr. Dotson repeated in many different ways that the race of the ordinates and commissioners is not one that will be easy, that there will be difficult circumstances just as there are in life. He said that through these trying times they need to keep their commitment. Dr.  Dotson said, “You can NOT quit at the first sign of trouble”

    Dr. Dotson ended his inspiring sermon by saying that “Readiness + Accountability + Commitment = Excellence.”

    Bishop Webb ended the Service of Commissioning and Ordination by saying, “Go in peace to serve God and your neighbor in all that you do.”

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    UNY members can “Walk to Emmaus” this fall

    June 21, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The Walk to Emmaus, a program created by The Upper Room, is an experience of Christian spiritual renewal and formation that begins with a three-day short course in Christianity. It is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers.

    The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with the prayerful discernment and invitation from a sponsor.  After one accepts this invitation they complete an application. The Emmaus leaders prayerfully consider each applicant and in God’s time, the person is invited to attend a three-day experience of New Testament Christianity as a lifestyle.

    Following the three-day experience, participants are joined in small groups to support each other in their ongoing walk with Christ. A Walk to Emmaus is open to members of any Christian denomination. Emmaus is for the development of Christian leaders who:

    • Are members of a local church
    • Have a desire to strengthen their spiritual lives
    • May have unanswered questions about   their faith
    • Understand that being a Christian involves responsibility
    • Are willing to dedicate their everyday lives to God in an ongoing manner

    This fall, Western New York (WNY) Walk to Emmaus Community Lay Directors, Lora and Jim Keiper, are hosting two Walk to Emmaus weekends. The WNY Emmaus men’s walk is October 12-15, 2017. The women’s Walk will be held November 2-5, 2017. These will take place at Faith UMC in Lancaster, New York. For questions and registration information, contact Lore and Jim at 585-591-3121 or

    If you know of other Walk to Emmaus events that will be taking place in Upper New York , please send them to

    How racism cannot be blamed on the South

    June 21, 2017 / By By Linda Hughes, CORR

    For most of my life, I thought the majority of the racism blame was owned by the South. The Southerners of earlier America were the slave-holding plantation owners and the Northerners were the noble abolitionists. My eyes were opened when I learned the vast majority of slave trading ships were launched from New England; about half of them from Rhode Island. The Trade Triangle was New England, to West Africa, then to Cuba and the southern colonies. From New England, rum and goods were shipped to Africa and traded for people, who were off loaded in Cuba and the south, and sugar (molasses for rum) and tobacco was loaded for return to New England. Between 1500 and 1800, 14 million people came to the USA. Of them, 11-1/2 million were forcibly removed from Africa.

    A successful trip in the Trade Triangle could reap a 25% return on investment. Some ship owners, captains, and cargo inspectors amassed great wealth and lived in homes of grandeur. They had fine furniture, chandeliers, grand portraits, and house slaves. They had social status, political influence, and could operate outside of the law.

    The everyday New Englander also benefited from the slave trade. They were ship builders, ironworkers for chains and shackles, coopers for rum barrels, makers of sails and rope, farmers to provide food for the crews and for trade, architects, weapon makers, textile workers, candle makers, and tool makers.  The buying and selling of African people resulted in the growth of banks and insurance companies. Both upper and middle class people could buy shares in slave ships, much like we buy shares in the stock market today. The entire coastal town and surrounding areas were invested in slave trading, and it was the basis for prosperity in the Northeast for more than a century.

    Does that mean anything to us today? What if our ancestors came to the US after the Civil War, or during the Irish potato famine, or to escape a World War? Does that exempt them (and us) from the benefits of the slave trade? Even though our ancestors struggled when they arrived, if they were white, they joined a society that was two tiered and they joined the upper tier. They had access to education, housing and jobs that were not available to African-Americans.

    I have to conclude, as did Thomas Norman DeWolf, in his book Inheriting the Trade, that every white person in America still benefits greatly from the progress and prosperity that the slave trade generated. Does this mean I should feel guilty? I don’t think that would be productive. But I do think it means that I should be invested and involved in the dismantling of the tier system still functioning today that benefits some at the expense of others.

    For more understanding, read Mr. DeWolf’s book, or watch the DVD Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. Then follow it by reading Gather at the Table for some practical guides to healing.

    Trusting that God is enough to make my half-time pastoral appointment effective

    June 21, 2017 / By By Pastor Bob McCarthy

    Editor’s Note: The Summer 2017 Issue of the Advocate will focus on the theme “Trusting that God is Enough.” This 40-page issue will highlight many amazing things that can happen at an individual level, the church level, and even on a global level when you trust that God is Enough. Here is one example of how Pastor Bob McCarthy trusted that he could have an effective ministry at Black River UMC with a half-time appointment.

    I am currently bi-vocational, serving as a part-time licensed local pastor and working full-time as the administrative assistant. As such, I face serious time constraints that impact ministry in the local church. It did not take me very long to realize that there is not enough time or enough of me to engage in all the ministry and outreach opportunities. Fortunately, I also realized that God is more than enough and had already provided all that was needed to accomplish effective ministry in the local church.

    The key to being an effective part-time pastor in the local church is twofold: teamwork and comprehending the current demographic context of the community. At Black River UMC, where I am appointed as a half-time licensed local pastor, I have been blessed to partner with a group of people committed to being “doers of the word” who need a little direction and focus. We joined together to study and understand our context and set about finding effective means to reach persons with the good news of the gospel. We discovered that the local town, abutting Fort Drum, was heavily populated with military families, largely comprised of millennials (under 30).

    This generation proved difficult to connect with for a variety of reasons. One thing we eventually realized was that among millennials the front doors to the Church represent a very real and formidable barrier. There are a couple of reasons for this. Many millennials have not had much or any experience with the Church and passing through those Church doors means entering the unknown, which can be frightening. Others have at one time or another entered a main line church only to be greeted very coolly and in a few instances regrettably felt very unwelcome.

    To overcome these obstacles we committed to moving ministry and outreach outside the walls of the church to more public places whenever possible. The congregation committed to meeting our neighbors in their comfort zones rather than solely expecting them to enter into ours.

    We moved a weekly Bible study offsite to the local Dunkin Donuts, feeding body and soul. A weekly discussion group was formed and held at Panera Bread. 

    Several times during the summer, we held Sunday services out on the lawn followed by a barbeque. We even went so far as to cancel the conventional Sunday service on the Sunday prior to Independence Day. On that Sunday, there is a 5K memorial race that winds through the local town. On race day, the congregation meets at the church, wearing bright yellow “church” T-shirts, for prayer and to get directions to which street corners we will be occupying where we offer support and encouragement to all the participants. Several of the congregation members also participate in the race.

    In order to facilitate these ministries as a part-time local pastor, I have adopted a pastoral model that could best be described as player/coach. In practice what that means is that I do not have lead or be intimately involved in each and every ministry effort. In order to maximize our impact for the Kingdom, the laity are encouraged, empowered and allowed to engage in and lead ministries that they are passionate about.  

    Several new ministries have emerged from this model that I personally would never have imagined. A monthly interdenominational book group has been formed that reads and discuss one work of Christian fiction. Another group of that is passionate about crocheting and knitting have formed a group – aptly named the Critters – to make prayer blankets and shawls to be given away to bless those dealing illness.

    As the Holy Spirit ignites the passions of persons, they know they are free to pursue that ministry opportunity; all that is asked is to inform the leadership team (aka administrative council) and myself so we can celebrate the ministry with them.

    Obviously all of this ministry activity is well beyond the normal expectation of what a half-time licensed local pastor would engage in. It is only through the grace of God which is more than enough that effective ministry can be conducted with a part-time, bi-vocational pastor.

    In the Black River United Methodist Church, each person is encouraged to live the mission statement of the church: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by living the gospel of Jesus Christ and being God’s love to our neighbors in all places.

    All who attend the Black River UMC are invited to embrace the vision of the church as well: To seek justice for all, to display loving kindness to everyone and to walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8) 

    TAGGED / Advocate

    Bishop Webb proclaims when you know your WHY, your WHAT will have more impact

    June 14, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Opening Worship at the eighth session of Annual Conference took place June 1. Through music, video, a unique Holy Communion, and a powerful sermon, the service zeroed in on the Conference’s theme, “Together in Prayer: Trusting that God is Enough.”

    Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb’s sermon focused on the importance for members and churches of the Conference to focus on their WHY not their WHAT or HOW, as the Church moves forward.  

    “This message was one of the hardest I have ever prepared,” he said.

    Bishop Webb reminded the crowd that the WHY is our mission, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

    “We must offer to a despairing world the good news of Jesus—through our actions and in our words,” he said. “If we keep the WHY primary, I know, I believe, I trust that God will show us the way into the WHAT and HOW.”

    Bishop Webb showed a video that illustrated what happens when one focuses on their WHY. In the video, comedian Michael Jr. calls on a random audience member during the middle of a comedy show in Winston-Salem, N.C. He asked the gentleman, Daryl Duff, what he does for a living. Daryl answered that he’s a musical director.

    Michael Jr. then asked Daryl to give him a couple bars of Amazing Grace. Daryl did as was instructed and wowed Michael Jr. Then, Michael Jr. said, “Now, I want you to give me the version as if your uncle just got out of jail and you got shot in the back when you were a kid. You know, what I am saying; I want you to give me the ‘hood’ version.” Daryl sang with all of his heart using an astounding range — audience members got up when he was finished to embrace him, pat him on the back, and to compliment him.

    After showing the video, Bishop Webb said, “When you know your WHY, your WHAT has more impact.”

    Bishop Webb expressed that God is enough for the future we face. He used 17 biblical examples of God being enough from when “Noah built, loaded, and lived in the ark for 40 days and 40 nights” to “when the stone was rolled away and sin and death were forever defeated.” The crowd’s applause crescendoed with each example he gave.

    Bishop Webb explained that the members of the UNY Conference have to start living the truth that God is enough. He recalled what Bishop Felton May used to say after he preached; he said, “Many times, when Bishop May preached, he ended with these words, ‘Do you believe it? Then, act like it!’”

    “I need to turn from not trusting that God is enough!” Bishop Webb said. “We need to turn from not trusting that God is enough. I believe God is enough. I need to start acting like it!”

    Bishop Webb then concluded his sermon by reminding the crowd of the importance of unity. He showed a video of a young boy, Rick, who was unable to walk due to a tragedy during his birth. When he was 15, Rick told his father Dick that he wanted to run a race. Rick was wheel-chair-bound, so Dick decided to enter a race wheeling his son. That one race turned into many races, with Dick and Rick running and participating marathons and triathlons together.

    “Together has power,” Bishop Webb said.

    Holy Communion took place after his sermon, though it was unique than traditional Holy Communion. Members of the Conference were invited to also receive ashes as an outward and visible mark of their repentance and posture of humility.

    The offering collected during Opening Worship helps support the new Mission Central HUB at the United Methodist Center of Upper New York. The chair of the Mission Central HUB steering committee, the Rev. Jeff Hale, came to the mic to express the importance of the offering.

    “Our 5,800 square-feet of warehouse space will allow us to be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus … our new HUB will allow us to do more mission work than ever … What we need is prayer, ideas, resources, and time,” Rev. Hale said. “Please prayerfully and I hope generously give so that our Mission Central HUB can have a ripple effect throughout our Conference and the world.”

    In his benediction of Opening Worship, Bishop Webb referred to Ephesians 3: 1-6, where Paul wrote for the Ephesians to be completely humble and gentle, bearing with one another in love and to preserve the unity of the Spirit. Referring to the possibility of preserving the unity of the Spirit, Bishop Webb then said, “Do you believe it? Let us act like it. Go in peace.”

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Phil Butler hired as Building Maintenance Technician

    June 14, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Please join us in welcoming Phil Butler to the UNY Conference office staff. He is our new, full-time Building Maintenance Technician at the United Methodist Center in Liverpool.

    Phil recently moved back to the Syracuse area after living in Missouri for nine years. Phil’s experience in building maintenance work began by a call from God.

    He said, “The Lord started to draw me back to Him about three years ago. After a lot of prayer and doors closing, I felt directed to attend New Life Assembly of God church. When I walked in the door, the first thing I saw that needed to be done was to clean this 38,000 square ft. church. What started to be a desire to bless the congregation turned into a ministry.  For the next three years, it turned into 35 hours a week in addition to my full-time job of 45 hours a week. God was preparing me to do exactly what I am doing here.”

    Susan Latessa, UNY Conference HR/Office Manager said, “I love having Philip on my team. He is a tremendous addition to the Conference. Philip always has a positive attitude. He is a very good at what he does and is willing to go above and beyond to do anything that is needed to help staff and to maintain the building and grounds.” 

    Phil is an animal lover; when he lived in Missouri, he raised goats and horses.

    He feels blessed to be working at UNYUMC and we feel blessed to have him on our staff.

    United Methodist Center opens doors to public

    June 14, 2017 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    Before the start of the 2017 Upper New York Annual Conference session, the Conference opened its doors — literally — May 31, to any and all who wanted a tour of the new United Methodist Center of Upper New York, located at 7481 Henry Clay Blvd. in Liverpool

    Visitors from across the Conference received guided tours of the new facility from 3:30-7:30 p.m. during the Open House.

    “I’m really amazed at the space and the potential. I see a lot of potential for events in this space,” said Molly Butler from the Harris Hill United Methodist Church.

    Among things attendees saw were the new Mission Central HUB, the Media Resource Center, Conference office work stations, and the variety of meeting rooms available for individuals and groups across the Conference to use anytime.

    “It’s nice to see so many Conference rooms and work areas,” said Mitchel Smith from the Saranac Lake First UMC. “I actually met in Meeting Room C because the Equitable Comp meeting met there recently so it worked out very nice.”

    Cindy Smith from Saranac Lake UMC added that the Conference is so big that many people do not know each other, but the new center gives the Conference a place for everyone to connect.

    “I like the idea that when there’s more than one group meeting in the Conference Center that they can meet together at the same place for lunch,” she said.

    Douglas Pratt from the Lyndonville UMC, who is attending an Annual Conference session for the first time this year, said he found the building “impressive.”

    “I see how they purposed the building appropriately, and I love the decorations, the colors — somebody put a lot of thought into this,” he said.

    The evening culminated with a Service of Celebration and Dedication for the new center. Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries, the Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, opened the service.

    “It is my pleasure to welcome you to the United Methodist Center of Upper New York, your Conference Center,” he said.

    Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding explained the road to the new center took more than three years. He said when the team working to find a new center walked into the Liverpool building, something captured them, from the fountain at the center to the current Mission Central HUB space.

    “The area that we are calling our Mission Central HUB captured us because one of the things our four conferences that came together to form one Conference had in common was a heart for mission, to be a blessing to the people of Upper New York,” he said. “And we saw the possibility of having 6,000 square feet dedicated to just that work.”

    The team brought their dream to a special session of Annual Conference in the fall of 2014 and were told to proceed. They knew they wanted the space to be filled with light; to serve as a space where staff, volunteers, clergy, and laity could come together to work on mission and ministry; and to have plenty of parking. This building met those needs.

    While the Conference staff moved into the center in March, Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding said, “We all moved in because this is our Conference C enter, a place for us to engage in ministry.”

    Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding then invited everyone to participate in the consecration of the space with a Call to Worship and Celebration and singing of Welcome. Conference Lay Leader Susan Hardy read the Scripture, Ephesians 2:13-22, in which Jesus Christ is Jesus himself called the cornerstone.

    Upper New York Area Bishop Mark J. Webb spoke following the Scripture, talking to the point of Jesus as a cornerstone.

    “This is a building. It’s a great building — but its building,” he said. “It’s the purpose of the mission that Jesus calls us to that makes this building vital and important.”

    Bishop Webb said the center gives the Conference opportunities that Upper New York would not otherwise have “to increase the capacity of Christ-following leaders so that we can be the Church that God has called us to be, and that we can faithfully and effectively and fruitfully accomplish that mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

    He took time to recognize the hard work of everyone involved in creating this beautiful space, from contractors Irish-Millar Construction to King + King Architects, the Buildout Team, Board of Trustees, and more.

    Bishop Webb said there was always an intent to create this space, but God provided a place that was “more than we imagined” for less cost — as the center came in under budget and was fully funded by the sale of predecessor Conference buildings.

    Following Bishop Webb’s remarks, he as well as President of the Board of Trustees ,Pastor Richard Barling and Hardy led the consecration of the building

    Then, Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding and various members of the Conference staff participated in a consecration of staff work at the new center.

    “Bless our ministries with meaning and purpose, productivity and usefulness, so that even our smallest tasks bring honor to you,” Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding said. “Bless all who work here as we acknowledge your mysterious power over all that we will speak, think, do or decide here.”

    The service concluded with Our Hope is Built, followed by the benediction, which told the crowd to go forth in the presence and power of God.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    The Black College Fund thanks the UNY Conference for its support

    June 9, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    A dreamer, a leader, a believer, and a seminarian…these are the words that the Rev. Dee Finch used to introduce James L. Cogman, this year’s Black College Fund speaker on Friday June 2 at the 2017 UNY Annual Conference session. Currently a Certified Lay Servant in the Baltimore Washington Conference, James is pursuing his Masters of Divinity at Yale University.

    James’ enthusiasm lit up the room as he began his speech by singing This Little Light of Mine. He said that he started his speech with that song as a reminder of the light inside every individual; he said, “We all have a light that needs to shine and that our light has an impact everywhere we go.”

    James is a representative of the Black College Fund, a fund approved by the General Conference of 1972 that represents 11 historically black colleges and universities and one medical school affiliated with the United Methodist Church.  James attended Claflin University, a historically black college that was started by two United Methodist missionaries in 1869.

    James commented, “Attending a historically black college funded by the United Methodist Church allows me to view life from different perspectives because of the inviting atmosphere…it’s the only university you will go to where the president knows you by name.”

    James informed the crowd that their support of the Black College Fund allowed himself and the other 15,999 students attending these universities the opportunity to be successful. He thanked the UNY Conference for giving 100 percent of its apportionments to the Black College Fund this year.

    James described success with an interesting analogy; he said, “The road to success is not straight; there is a curve called failure, a loop called confusion, speed bumps called friends, red lights called enemies, caution lights called family, and flats called jobs. But if you have a spare called determination, an engine called perseverance, insurance called faith, and a driver called Jesus, you will make it to a place called success!” 

    James urged the UNY Conference to continue prioritizing the Black College Fund. He said, “Success isn’t easy, but it is certainly attainable. Just plant the seed, watch God do the rest, and continue to let your light shine so bright!”

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    What is different at Annual Conference this year?

    May 24, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The Upper New York Annual Conference will be held June 1-3 at the Oncenter in Syracuse. There are a number of differences in Annual Conference 2017 compared to years past. Here is an overview of some of the differences.

    The Conference begins with Open Worship

    In years past, the Conference began with Clergy and Laity sessions. This year, the Conference begins with Opening Worship at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday June 1. Closed clergy and laity sessions will take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday after lunch.

    Retired Clergy recognition

    On Friday evening, June 2, the retiring clergy will be recognized as always. Instead of airing the videos during the service however, the retiree videos are posted on the UNY website. Click here if you’d like to view them.

    Location, Location, Location

    Pay special attention to signage this year as there are many changes in locations of particular sessions and displays.  For example, the Clergy session on Thursday will be in Ballroom West, which is downstairs and displays will not be in the atrium; instead, they will be along the side of Ballroom East.

    Flood buckets and health kits

    Please note that flood buckets and health kits will not be picked up at the Oncenter; however, there will be a flood bucket and health kit collection at the new Mission Central HUB at the United Methodist Center, 7480 Henry Clay Blvd in Liverpool, during Open House on Wednesday May 31, 3:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Please bring them directly to the loading docks.

    We look forward to seeing you at the 2017 Annual Conference!

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    The United Methodist Center agrees to be a Mission Central HUB

    May 24, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    When members of the Upper New York Conference staff and trustees were searching for an ideal headquarters space, one of the appeals of the building eventually purchased in Liverpool was the warehouse space. The Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries, said, “Hands-on mission work is part of the DNA of the four previous Conferences that make up the Upper New York Conference; all four Conferences have always been involved with preparing flood buckets and other forms of hands-on mission work. When we found this building, a big appeal was the 6,000-square-feet warehouse space with loading docks and garage space. This combined with the fact that the building was close to several major highways helped us to foresee the possibility of hands-on mission work happening onsite at our headquarters.”

    Now that the headquarters, the United Methodist Center, at 7481 Henry Clay Blvd. in Liverpool, NY, is open, the UNY Conference has already begun using the warehouse space for hands-on mission work. The Upper New York Conference United Methodist Men sponsored "Shoes For Service," a shoe drive that benefits Upstate New York veterans, from March 1-31. UM Men worked with Funds2Orgs, which gives organizations money based on the total weight of the shoes gathered during shoe collection campaigns. Hundreds of shoes were dropped off, stored in, and collected at the United Methodist Center warehouse.

    Now, even more mission work will be possible in the warehouse space at the United Methodist Center! Why? We are happy to announce the United Methodist Center in Liverpool has agreed to be a Mission Central HUB!

    Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb said, “For over a decade the ministry of Mission Central has been impacting lives in the Northeast, the United States, and throughout the world. This opportunity for Upper New York to join in this effort will increase our ability to engage in mission together, while partnering with our brothers and sisters in Christ in neighboring conferences. I look forward to seeing how God will use this space to deepen our engagement in disaster response, mission outreach, and mission education. Individuals and congregations from Upper New York will find in our Mission Central HUB, a place to carry out hands on mission that will truly reach around the world.”

    What is Mission Central?

    In 2002, Mission Central of the United Methodist Church started as one sole warehouse in Mechanicsburg, PA, in the Susquehanna Conference. Mission Central has had three points of focus since then: Disaster Response, Mission Outreach, and Mission Education.

    Mission Central primarily operates with the energy and hard work of faithful volunteers. Goods and items handled are generous donations from churches, groups, organizations, and individuals. Some of the items that are stored and assembled at Mission Central for example are: UMCOR health kits; UMCOR flood buckets; and kits for God’s children who are in prisons, shelters, or are homeless.

    In 2006, Mission Central began to search for a way to enable persons from the more distant regions of their Conference to be able to participate in the type of volunteer and service activities experienced in Mechanicsburg, without having to travel so far.

    The creation of Mission Central HUBS

    From this idea, HUBS were born. HUBS are smaller versions of Mission Central, where similar items are collected and assembled by volunteers. Mission Central originally envisioned eight HUBS and now they have over 35. In fact, Mission Central has expanded far beyond the Susquehanna Conference, getting other Conferences in the Northeastern Jurisdiction on board.

    The process of the United Methodist Center becoming a HUB

    Bishop Webb formed a steering committee chaired by Rev. Jeffery Hale that includes Volunteers-in-Mission coordinators Roger and Donna Cullen; Joe Auslander, Disaster Relief Coordinator, and Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, among others. This committee is developing their vision of how the United Methodist Center will fulfill its Disaster Response, Mission Outreach, and Mission Education work in this new HUB.

    Donna Cullen expressed some possibilities of what could take place in the United Methodist Center Mission Central HUB:

    • “Imagine grandparents working alongside children to pack school bags.
    • Imagine teenagers listening to Christian rock as they prepare flood buckets.
    • Imagine a garage bay where volunteers restock a tool trailer prepared to repair a family’s home.
    • Imagine Sew Sisters and Brothers gathered in fellowship and craft – creating school uniforms and layettes.
    • Imagine young adults on fire for the Lord being trained in mission leadership.
    • Imagine volunteers for disaster response engaged in an exercise to sort flood damaged goods.
    • Imagine your vision of outreach.”

    At the United Methodist Center Open House, on Wednesday May 31 from 3:30p.m.-7:30 p.m., the UNY Conference Mission Central HUB will be collecting fully-assembled flood buckets and health kits. Flood buckets and health kits should be brought directly to Mission Central located behind the building at the two garage bays near the loading dock. Click here for a printout listing which items should be included in the health kit. Click here for a printout a listing of what should be included in a flood bucket.

    At Opening Worship On June 1 at Annual Conference, you will have the opportunity to help the United Methodist Mission Central HUB get started with your offering. Donna Cullen said, “Your donation can help the hands, feet and the heart of Jesus be seen by many through the operation of this HUB.”

    Donna Cullen mentioned some of the specific work that needs to be done to the space; she said, “There are doors and windows that need repair and painting that needs to be done through the space. We have some shelving and work tables, but more will be needed. We will need a way to move pallets and load trucks.”

    The offerings collected at Opening Worship at Annual Conference will help pave the path the UNY Conference to make the warehouse space of the United Methodist Center Mission Central HUB ideal for individuals and teams to come do mission work.

    TAGGED / Mission Central

    Cokesbury Unveils New Ministry Resource Center at Annual Conferences

    May 24, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Cokesbury announced today that it is bringing a new consultative retail experience to Annual Conferences this year with the new Cokesbury Ministry Resource Center. Focused on equipping leaders to build disciples, the Ministry Resource Center will offer the opportunity for more personalized consultations with church leaders in order to match products with their specific ministry needs.

    Features of the Ministry Resource Center include:

    • Showcases highlighting new and classic resources ranging from adult and children’s curriculum to church-wide stewardship and Bible studies – all available for review and ordering.
    • A robust selection of additional new titles and best sellers available on-site for immediate purchase featuring the Bishop’s “picks,” speaker’s books, and UMC official resources, new titles and best sellers.
    • Consultation areas where church leaders can meet with trained consultants regarding ministry needs including studies, curriculum, robes, signs, sanctuary furnishings and much more.
    • An ordering kiosk with access to titles unique to each conference as well as resources not included in the Ministry Resource Center.
    • Free shipping on all orders placed at Annual Conferences on regularly stocked merchandise.

    “We are excited to bring this new approach to each annual conference,” said the Rev. Brian K. Milford, president and publisher of The United Methodist Publishing House. “In previous years, up to 80% of purchases were from only 20% of the titles displayed. The new approach will showcase products that are intentionally selected for each location and focused on equipping your church leaders for ministry.”

    About Cokesbury

    Cokesbury is the retail and customer service arm of The United Methodist Publishing House, which serves more than 11 million United Methodists worldwide as well as a broad ecumenical audience representing many denominations and independent churches, with books, Bibles, curriculum, worship resources, and church supplies. Cokesbury offers more than 200,000 products to congregations through and the Cokesbury Customer Care Center 1-800-672-1789.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    What to bring to Annual Conference

    May 24, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    In just over a week, attendees to the Eighth Session of the Upper New York Annual Conference will begin arriving in Syracuse, NY. If you are one of them, let’s make sure you come prepared.

    What to bring:


    The theme of the 2017 session of the Upper New York Annual Conference, taking place June 1-3 at the Oncenter in Syracuse, is “Together in Prayer: Trusting that God is Enough.”  

    By trusting that God is enough, we can be sure that our offerings will successfully support missions and ministries. This year, five offerings will be received during the session. Click here to learn about these special offerings.

    Vol I of Your Conference Journal

    Bring your copy of the Conference Journal. If you do not have one, you can access one on our website. To save paper, feel to view it on your electronic device at the Conference. We will have FREE Wi-Fi for your use.


    The central air at the Oncenter will be cold so please be sure to dress in layers.

    A Notebook

    Whether you like to write your reflections down in a notebook or on your electronic device, bring your preferred method of notetaking. The studies presented by Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean and the sessions will offer thought-provoking insights. You will also be called upon to report what happened at Annual Conference to your local church.

    Umbrella and Sunglasses

    Syracuse is fickle when it comes to weather. It may be 60 degrees and raining or 90 degrees with clear skies. At the moment, the forecast calls for cloudy skies and rain, but that can certainly change as we get closer to the Conference. Be prepared for sun and rain!

    A Bowtie

    To make this event extra fun, the Conference will celebrate Bowtie Friday on June 4! Yes, even the Bishop will be wearing his bowtie! Click here to learn a little more about this event.

    A Positive Attitude

    While it is easy to get caught up in parliamentary procedure, debate, and other stressful parts of the Annual Conference session, Annual Conference is one of the things that define United Methodists in a truly unique way. It is an opportunity for laity and clergy to come together to discuss the important issues at hand in a worshipful setting though Christian conversation. It is also a chance to rejoice in the ministry that we accomplish together and fellowship as one Upper New York Conference family. Stay focused on what is important, and look for the Holy Spirit to move among us.

    If you have additional questions or need further information please contact

    Your prayer can be simple

    May 17, 2017 / By Theresa Eggleston, UNY Young Adult

    “Now I need to fold my hands and kneel, right?” Her bright, eight-year old eyes looked up at me seeking approval for the next step. “You can pray however you feel most comfortable,” I told her. “Well then I want to pray with Teddy.” She grabbed her scruffy loved bear from her bunk and nestled on the cabin’s front porch to pray. Her prayer came out pure and simple, no more bad dreams, a fun week at camp, and bacon for breakfast. There was no fanfare or intricate detail in her chosen words; her prayer was pure words from her heart. With a deep sigh of relief, she toddled back to bed.

    When I think about prayer, I think about that moment. I was counseling at camp for my second summer and prayer came forward in my life as something simple and pure. I remember telling my cabin later that week that it didn’t matter how you prayed, just as long as you did. God is always there, ready to hear your prayer. Recently, prayer’s simplicity in my life was lost. Allow me to elaborate:

    Like many of my peers, I have found myself drowning in headlines, scrolling through Facebook news feeds, and shaking my head when I open Twitter. When I finally take a moment to breathe and set my phone down, my heart aches. Words fill my head; antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, racism, hate, fear, and the list goes on. In these moments, prayer suddenly seems demanding. The ache in my heart screams that I must bring all supplications, all at once, before God. I begin thinking, crafting, and editing. I feel the need for a prayer that is eloquent, powerful, thought out, drafted, and placed before God. I am compelled to cite every article, every Facebook status, every Tweet as a resource in my prayer. Overwhelmed, I comb through and check every headline I’ve seen, every article I’ve read, and every conversation I’ve had. My heart races; I scribble my thoughts; I find points to back up my prayer; I bring facts and figures when suddenly I have lost all focus. I have fallen into a political, media- filled prayer. My heart is lost and I have compiled a research paper. This is where I have found myself this year. My heart aches. However, God, in all of God’s mercy, reigns me in.

    “You can pray however you feel most comfortable,” the words I spoke several years ago come back to me. I am forced to ask myself, “What is prayer, if not my messy humanness contacting the divine?” I didn’t need a drafted essay; I didn’t need an article to back up my statement. I needed faith and simplicity, much like my eight-year-old camper. With the passion that once filled my check list of articles coupled with the simplicity of my young camper, I bring my prayer before God...

    Suddenly there was no art, no fanfare, and there was no intricate detail with words or resources...there were simply words. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” My words, my statements, my human prayer may come out unclear, sporadic, and messy, but the Spirit has the ability, the agency, the compassion for my humanness, to turn my prayer into the song on my aching heart and God hears.

    What is prayer, if not our humanity contacting the divine? Our prayer may not come out perfect, clean, or with resources, but when it comes from the depths of our hearts, the Holy Spirit translates our humanness and brings it before God. I am brought back to my campers words, “No more bad dreams,” she said, “a fun week at camp, and bacon for breakfast.” What is your simple, human prayer?

    TAGGED / Advocate

    Susan LaTessa hired as HR/Office Manager for the UNY Conference

    May 17, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Susan LaTessa has been hired as the Human Resources/Office Manager for the UNY Conference office. She replaces Debi Marshall, our former Human Resources Generalist, who has decided to pursue other career opportunities.

    Susan comes to the UNY Conference with over 20 years of Human Resources experience, in banking, non-profit, and manufacturing. She is married and has two children; her son Anthony is 13 and her daughter Rose is 11. Susan is very involved with her children’s’ sports teams, having coached baseball, softball, and hockey.  She is also a USA swimming official.

    Susan is delighted to bring her experience to the UNY Conference; she said “I am excited to be able to share my expertise and I am also exited to learn more. I am a sponge; I want to be a person who helps move things along so that Vicki (Swanson) or others can take a vacation without having to worry about anything.”

    Susan’s supervisor, Vicki Swanson said, “We are very pleased to be welcoming Susan into our Conference office staff family!  Susan comes to us with wide-ranging experience in Human Resources, which will help her to adapt to the roles here as both HR and Office Manager.  While keeping on top of employee relations and compliance, Susan will also help us to create a more coordinated support system in the office.  I’m really looking forward to working with her in these areas! ”

    In addition to Human Resources roles, Susan will also be serving as the UNY Conference Office Manager.

    Repent, Remember, Rejoice: Worship at AC 2017

    May 17, 2017 / By Rev. Rachel Ann Morse, Chair, Annual Conference Worship Team

    If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

    2 Chronicles 7:14

    When Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Mark J. Webb introduced the theme scripture for the quadrennium, our Annual Conference Worship Team discerned a need for a shift in our approach to worshipping together. Bishop Webb’s theme is Together in Prayer: Trusting that God is Enough. We are trusting that God is enough.

    God is enough. So we are paring way back from the complex liturgy and music that so many large gatherings have been using. We are using simple, scriptural liturgy, gentler music, and greyscale art design. Over the quadrennium, as we continue to be Together in Prayer, the textures and colors of worship will build and grow. But for now, God is enough.

    Opening Worship: Repent

    We repent for the ways we have turned against our siblings in Christ.

    This year, Annual Conference will open with worship and Communion in the morning. We will be offered ashes as a sign of repentance during the service. Look for visual cues of ashes, an almost empty stage, and prayerful hands. Listen for scriptural themes from Ecclesiastes that will root during opening worship and grow to tie together this year’s services. Bishop Webb will share a message during this service to help us focus on trusting that God is enough.

    Memorial Service: Remember

    We remember that we are only human, and that our work means nothing without God’s love.

    We will honor traditional worship practices in the Memorial Service with a robed procession of the Cabinet while we sing more traditional hymns. We will celebrate Communion again together, with a more formal liturgy. Rev. Natalie Hanson will share a message titled “Does it Last?”

    Listen for scriptural themes from Isaiah: “a turban instead of ashes, the festive oil instead of mourning.” Look for visual cues of oil being exchanged for ashes. Our gift to families of deceased clergy will be anointing oil, to remember their anointed service.

    Blessing and Anointing: Rejoice

    We rejoice, trusting that God’s love is enough.

    Perhaps the biggest shift in worship is our Friday evening service. Formerly the “Celebration of Ministry,” we introduce a service of Blessing and Anointing. This service is intentionally worshipful, while creating space to recognize retiring clergy, those to be ordained and commissioned, and a liturgy to set appointments.

    Retiring clergy will still be making videos to share with the Conference, but they will not be aired during the service. Instead, they will be shared through the Annual Conference website, so that they will be accessible to a broader audience. Each retiring clergy person and their spouse will be recognized. Bishop Webb will ask the Historic Questions of those to be ordained. Together, we will celebrate the Setting of Appointments for the year.

    Retirees and ordinands will be offering a blessing and anointing to all who wish to receive it for the season that they are entering into. This service is designed to be a blessing for each person the Annual Conference.

    Listen for scriptural themes from Ecclesiastes and special musical and Native American blessings. Look for visual cues rising from the ashes. Expect to be deeply blessed by God’s love.

    A note about Communion

    We will share Communion together twice during Annual Conference. Both times, our bread will come fresh from a local gluten-free bakery. It is both gluten-free and nut-free. Servers will be instructed to wash their hands before serving. We will ask the congregation to pay attention to the mobility needs of others around them as we share the responsibility of making space at the table for everyone.

    A note about Ashes and Anointing

    You will be invited to receive ashes as part of the Opening Worship Communion celebration. These can be received on the back of your hand or on your forehead. You may also choose to receive Communion without receiving ashes. The ashes are finely ground palm ash mixed with a small bit of plain unscented olive oil. They will take the form of a small mark of a cross.

    At the Blessing and Anointing service, a few drops of plain unscented olive oil will be used for anointing. You may also choose to receive a word of blessing without receiving oil.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Prayer on the Bluff

    May 10, 2017 / By Pastor Sandi Pearl, Bluff Point UMC

    Editor’s Note: Bluff Point UMC uses two unique methods of praying for members of their congregation and beyond: One Call Now and Prayer Cards.

    One Call Now

    Bluff Point UMC uses One Call Now to communicate with members of our church family. Any family can sign up to be added to the One Call Now list. At Bluff Point the One Call Now technology allows the Pastor, or someone designated, to inform the congregation of prayer requests occurring outside of worship. The prayer request will come to Pastor, through email, a phone call, text message, in person, etc. and within minutes the prayer request can be sent out to the church family.

    This is how it works. An app is on my iPhone (I am sure there is an app for all phones), I record the message, choose the group of people who are going to receive the prayer request, schedule the time it is to be sent and the message goes out to those on the list. Everyone gets the same information, at the same time! Later in the day I receive a report telling me how many people answered the phone call and how many messages went to a voicemail or an answering machine.

    My messages simply state what the request is (a condensed version of the request) and then I pray with everyone for the request. One Call Now is the way to go to ensure everyone gets the same message and everyone takes a moment to pray for the situation.

    One Call Now can also be used to cancel meetings, send out reminders of events, ministry opportunities, team meetings, and has a feature for simple surveying of members. This process can also be used from a regular phone through a system of passwords. At Bluff Point we give the information to all team leaders, the choir director, and other key people who use the building. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

    Prayer Cards

    During worship, prayer requests (celebrations or concerns) are written on prayer cards and brought to the front of the church where they are read, out loud, by the pastor and the person who brings the cards. After the cards are all read through the pastor prayers for the group of cards, ending with a congregational Lord’s Prayer. The cards are then sent back out into the congregation for people to take and add to their daily devotions. I am careful with the process for the cards coming back into the congregation every week to ensure visitors know they can take a card and have a responsibility.

    TAGGED / Advocate

    Tongsung Kido (A Unique Korean Prayer)

    May 10, 2017 / By Pastor Yohang Chun, Oswego First UMC

    Before I came to the United States from South Korea, to study, I had some concerns. One of them was, “How will I survive without Korean food? Can I live with only American food?” Fortunately, since coming to the U.S., I have become well-adjusted to American food culture. 

    However, as time passed, I missed Korean foods, like kimchi. So, my wife and I went to Korean markets, bought Korean food items, cooked them, and were able to enjoy Korean food.

    In the same way that I adjusted to new food, I experienced the same process with my spiritual life in this country. Since I moved to the U.S., I have learned a lot of good and different things, not only from seminary, but also from several churches where I served. That is, I have been exposed to many good spiritual and church cultures and learned from them. Those experiences are amazing blessings to my ministry and me.

    However, sometimes I miss some of the spiritual disciplines found in Korean churches. One of them is prayer life. Did you know that there is a unique form of prayer in Korean churches? Can you guess what this prayer is?

    A unique and special Korean prayer style is called Tongsung Kido. Tongsung means, “cry out together loudly,” and Kido means, “pray.”  So, Tongsung Kido means, “praying together out loud.” This unique form of Korean prayer is an important part of prayer life among the spirit-filled prayer life of Korean Christians. Personally, I think that Tongsung Kido has value as an example of a fervent and earnest way of crying out to God.

    If you have a chance to visit a Korean church and see Tongsung Kido, even in public worship, you would be surprised. Some of you might think, “What is going on in this public worship service? Are they crazy? They are out of control! What makes them pray together loudly? Why don’t they pray silently?”

    However, when you know about the history of the Korean church, as well as its current situation, you understand why Korean Christians have no choice but to pray in this unique style.

    According to Korean church historians, Tongsung Kido has a strong connection with the idea of Han, a term used to describe an experience unique to Korean people. Han is typically defined as an unresolved resentment or emotional pain that is carried by a person; it is a kind of internalized grudge. Han is frustrated hope, the collapsed feeling of pain, resentful bitterness, and the wounded heart.

    In fact, it is better to understand Han among Koreans through a socio-historical contextual lens: Koreans have experienced many tough times throughout their history, such as the Japanese colonization (1909-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), and the institutionalized oppression caused by the military dictatorship(1961-1992). Because of these painful experiences, Koreans held Han in their hearts for a long time.

    In these situations, Korean Christians prayed to God with their pains, sufferings, and broken hearts. They couldn’t pray silently and quietly. Rather, their pains, tears, and bitterness mixed with Han made them cry out to God loudly: “Lord, please come to us! Listen to your children’s outcry.” Through this unique form of prayer, Korean Christians have poured out their pains, bitterness, and wounded hearts before the Lord and asked God to listen to their prayers.

    Generally Tongsung Kido is performed as follows: during worship, usually at the time of special prayer request, the minister or the worship leader will call the congregation to pray in unison. The whole congregation joins together to pray aloud, individually at the same time. Sometimes, in the beginning of prayer, the congregation may shout, “Lord! Lord! Lord!” in unison, as a cooperative sign of engaging in prayer. Usually the congregation is given a specific amount of time to pray, with a common theme of petition. At the end of the time allotted, the minister’s closing prayer finishes Tongsung Kido. 

    Tongsung Kido reminds me of the passionate prayer the Israelites put forth to God in their hopeless situation in Exodus 2:23b-25: “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.”

    I hope you now understand this Korean prayer practice, Tongsung Kido, better. If you have the chance to visit a Korean church, why not join in this unique form of prayer, and try some delicious Korean food?

    Editor’s Note: If you have a unique prayer practice in your culture, we’d love to hear about it. Send us a description of it to with “Prayer in my Culture” as the subject line.

    TAGGED / Advocate

    Cadie Hockenbary hired as Northern Flow Administrative Assistant

    May 10, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Ms. Cadie Hockenbary has been hired as the Northern Flow District Administrative Assistant. She comes to the UNY Conference as a member of the Gouverneur First UMC

    She found out about the position from her pastor, Elizabeth Quick, and felt the position would be a great way to get involved in her local community and serve the Church. 

    Cadie said, “I’ve discovered through the last three years that becoming more involved in my faith and church were priorities for me.  Being in this position really allows me to stay connected to my faith and be a part of the bigger picture.  I’ve been looking for new ways to become involved in ministry and I felt this position would allow me to contribute.”

    After her first day on the job, Cadie said, “My thoughts on accepting this new position is that I get to be a part of something bigger than myself.  I definitely feel humbled to be accepted into this organization and all it does for our community.  It was a little scary at first when I understood how many churches the Northern Flow District is responsible for, but I’m ready to meet everyone and be of service!”

    Violet’s Garden Call for Grant Applications

    May 3, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Grant Applications are being requested for the final round of Violet’s Garden Awards. Violet’s Garden, created in 2008 in honor of Bishop Violet Fisher’s great love for children and youth has been awarding funding to local UNY churches to foster the spiritual development of children and youth for 10years. This will be the final opportunity for churches to apply for the grant. There is $1,200 available to be awarded.

    Click here for a grant application to complete, which  are to be submitted to: Rev. Dr. Joellyn Tuttle, Skaneateles UMC, 26 Jordan St., Skaneateles, NY 13152 or to: by June 1, 2017.  Questions? Contact Rev. Tuttle via e mail or by calling the church office at 315-685-5963 weekday mornings.

    The Youngest Prayer Warriors

    May 3, 2017 / By Melanie Clark, Lead Sunday School Teacher at Bath: Centenary UMC

    The Apostle Paul exhorted us to “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5: 17), but did he determine an age when we should begin? 

    The children in the Sunday School program at Bath: Centenary United Methodist Church have learned that we are never too young to join the ranks of faithful warriors of prayer.  Throughout the months of January and February 2017, these young believers, from first to fifth grades, were presented with a toolbox for prayer, learned prayer how-tos from the examples of several Bible heroes, learned the Lord’s Prayer, became engaged in the Joys and Concerns sharing time of our worship services, and gained practice in group conversational prayer.  

    Utilizing Children’s Ministry Deals curriculum, Prayer Warriors, our children:

    • Learned to pray Thankfully following the example of King David.  In 1 Chronicles 29, we read David’s prayer of praise and thanksgiving.  We learned how important it is for each of us to praise and thank God for our many blessings.  What a revelation to young children that prayer isn’t synonymous with a wish list!
    • Learned to pray Boldly as demonstrated by Peter and John following their arrest, imprisonment, and release (Acts 4).  As a result of their bold behavior and prayer with the believers, the Holy Spirit actually shook the room! We also learned about present-day teenage American and Australian missionaries to Vietnam who  boldly teamed up with the underground church to smuggle Bibles into that country! 
    • Learned to pray Honestly as we learned from Hannah.  Through her sadness at being childless, she held nothing back as she prayed to God to give her a son.  Like Hannah, we can let God know what we are honestly feeling.
    • Learned to pray Willingly as our Savior demonstrated in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Although Jesus understood the agony ahead of him, he was willing to do the Father’s will.  Like Jesus, we learned to seek out and follow God’s will, not our own.

    Along with the Prayer Warriors curriculum, we spent time in each Sunday School class practicing the Lord’s Prayer and discussing its meaning and use in our lives. 

    Over the course of these two months, it became increasingly important each week to set aside enough time for our group conversational prayer.  As we prayed, we used the Five-Finger prayer model to guide our prayers:

    • Thumb:  Praise God.
    • Pointer Finger:  Confess sins.
    • Middle Finger:  Thank God.
    • Ring Finger:  Pray for Others.
    • Little Finger:  Pray for Yourself.
    • Palm:  Closing.

    Unlike many adults, these children show no signs of shyness or apprehension in praying aloud together!  They also found praying with their eyes open more comfortable, looking to their friends and teachers for eye contact as they expressed their thoughts.  The honesty expressed in their prayers is humbling—prayers for health and wellbeing of family members and pets, prayers for guidance in making good decisions in peer pressure situations, prayers for stability in their parents’ marriages, and prayers for their own behavior within complicated family structures.

    With the encouragement of Pastor Eleanor Collinsworth, we extended our learning experiences into weekly worship services. Children brought with them to worship a weekly prayer calendar.  With Pastor Eleanor’s guidance during the Joys and Concerns portion of our worship services, each child noted the joys and concerns expressed by members of the congregation.  The calendars went home each week for the kids to use in their daily prayer time.  Following the sharing of joys and concerns, Pastor Eleanor leads the congregation in a pastoral pray, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.  What a blessing to witness the engagement of children in prayer during a worship service and to hear their voices participating in the Lord’s Prayer!

    Of course, the children in our Sunday School program are at various stages in their faith and spiritual development.  Yet, they all continue to impress with their insights and application of lessons.  Our discussions confirm that they think about our lessons throughout the week and assess their own behavior in a variety of settings with regard to their spiritual training.  Here are a few comments made when asked what they learned in our Prayer Warriors series:

    Pastor Eleanor Collinsworth shares that the adults were encouraged to “be mindful of what and how they were sharing in the ‘joys and concerns’ time in the worship services.  Everyone’s prayer time and prayer lives were enriched by this whole-church focus on the power of prayer.”  In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “…and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6, NRSV).  Amen!

    10 Ways to improve your prayer life

    May 3, 2017 / By Susan Hogan,

    Prayer, like tennis, takes practice to become accomplished. Spiritual guides and sages, pastors, and other church members are filled with advice and counsel. Here's some of that wisdom condensed into 10 tips about prayer:

    You are worthy.

    Do not feel guilty about the quality of your prayer life, or fall victim to doubts and despair about your worthiness to talk to God. Each of us has a spiritual gift. So remember John Wesley's words: "In Christ we gain more than in Adam we lost."

    The more you pray, the richer your prayers become.

    To deepen your prayer life, don't be a slacker. Like anything in life, to become good at prayer you must be disciplined. Just as running is an exercise in physical fitness, prayer is a spiritual discipline.

    Prayer is active.

    Prayer involves action; namely being attentive to God's voice in your life. Listening for God means stopping and sitting still. It means paying attention to what God may be saying to you at any point in your life.

    Prayer should not be an afterthought.

    Prayer was the backbone of Jesus' ministry. Often, he broke away from his disciples to spend time with God. In the same way, prayer is essential to individual lives and to the life of the Church. Break away from your daily routine for quiet time in prayer.

    Surround yourself with people who are seasoned at praying.

    People who've established prayer routines have much to teach those wanting to draw closer to God. Seek out those who can help guide and encourage your prayer life.

    God doesn't require eloquence.

    Don't worry if you fumble for words when you pray. God is not looking for Toastmaster's graduates, but sincerity (not that you can't have both at once). If the words won't come, God still knows what's in your heart. Lift up that desire.

    Prayer need not involve words.

    The great Christian saints all write of prayer as a time of sitting quietly with God. Jesus even went off for 40 days of prayerful solitude. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Follow the breath as it flows in and out of your body. Think of it as the spirit of God breathing life into you.

    Prayer is a time for conversation with a friend: God.

    Whether you see that friend routinely or just every once in awhile, know that whenever you turn to God, you're turning to someone who loves you.

    Ask God for help if you get stuck.

    Maybe you've hit a dry spell. There's no shame in asking God to guide you to pray in a new way.

    The three Ls of prayer: Listen, listen, listen.

    Listening for God is central to prayer, according to the great saints. It's so critical that St. Benedict began his famous Rule with this command for monks: "Listen with the ear of your heart."

    And remember, prayer can happen anywhere -- it doesn't have to take place in a church.

    Editor’s Note: Hogan is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Emily Cooper and Jan Surratt of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate did reporting for this story. This story was originally published on

    The Upper Room: Where the world meets to pray

    April 26, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    The Upper Room is a global ministry dedicated to supporting the spiritual formation of Christians seeking to know and experience God more fully. It is a part of Discipleship Ministries.

    Sherry Elliot, The Upper Room’s Executive Director of Interpretation and Development, said, “The Upper Room exists for the purpose of calling people to prayer and inviting The Church to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, scripture reading, small group study, and other tenets of faith that draw you closer to God and strengthen your faith.”

    “Prayer is our mission work,” she said. “Prayer is about paying attention to God, listening to the Spirit. Prayer shapes the soul so you can discern God’s call for your life. As United Methodists, we know that personal time with God (piety) gives us power to show mercy and do justice in the world.”

    The Upper Room was prayed into existence by a women’s prayer group at Travis Park Methodist Episcopal Church in San Antonio, Texas, during the Great Depression. They were interested in supporting daily prayer and devotional life in the home and petitioned a general Church board to consider a simple publication to facilitate daily prayer. This action birthed the popular devotional guide, The Upper Room, in 1935, which is used by millions of Christians around the world and available in 33 different languages and more than 100 countries today.

    The Upper Room focuses on five ministry areas:

    • Supporting small group ministries.
    • Guiding personal spiritual practices.
    • Supporting spiritual leaders.
    • Transcending languages and cultures to serve all nationalities.
    • Using E-learning as a way to help people grow spiritually online.

    The Upper Room now includes publications, programs, prayer support, and other resources to help believers of all ages and denominations move to a deeper level of faith and service. Below are just some of the resources and programs made available by The Upper Room ministry.


    The Upper Room has several publications:

    • The Upper Room’s daily Daily Devotional helps people feel invited and welcomed into God’s presence to listen to scripture as God’s personal message, linking their stories to God’s story; commune with God in prayer; see their daily choices and small acts of obedience as part of God’s work; realize their connection through Christ as a universal family of believers; and encounter the living Christ and be transformed into Christ’s likeness. Check it out at
    • El Aposento Alto is a daily devotional for Spanish-speaking individuals. Find it at
    • devozine is a lifestyle magazine written by young people and designed for youth. Its purpose is to help young people, ages 14-19, develop a lifelong practice of spending time with God and reflecting on what God is doing in their lives. Find it at
    • Pockets is a devotional magazine for children ages 6-12. It is designed for the personal use of children to help them grow in their relationship with God. Check it out at
    • The Upper Room’s Voices blog offers current news, stories, and insights from the publications and ministries of The Upper Room. Check it out at


    • The Upper Room offers six programs:
    • The Walk to Emmaus, which empowers Christian leaders.
    • Chrysalis, which builds up young people.
    • Face to Face, which is an adaptation of The Walk to Emmaus for men and women ages 60 and older.
    • Academy for Spiritual Formation, which combines academic learning with experience in spiritual disciplines and community.
    • Living Prayer Center, which is an intercessory prayer phone line and online prayer wall for those in need of prayer. It’s staffed by about 600 Christian volunteer and receives about 800 prayer requests a day.
    • Journey to the Table, which is a spiritual formation ministry specifically designed for young adults, ages 18-35, that allows participants to explore faith through authentic teaching and fosters open discussion through which participants can build relationships with a community of peers.

    Most recently, the Upper Room has worked with the Council of Bishops and created a United Methodist Prayer Community in support of the “Praying our Way Forward” initiative, in which every Annual and Central Conference has committed to a week of prayer. Visit the website to learn when the UNY will pray together, to submit posts to a prayer wall, and more.

    From the Desk of Bishop Mark J Webb: Together in prayer

    April 26, 2017 / By Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb

    Editor's Note: This letter was first published in the 2017 Issue 2 of the Advocate, which focuses on the power of prayer. Click here to access this issue.

    “Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.”

    “God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.”

    Those two quotes attributed to John Wesley are two of my favorite quotes about prayer. Prayer is at the heart of our journey with God, one another, and the world. Prayer takes us deeper, wider, higher, and longer, as we seek to serve God with all that we are and all that we have. We experience prayer individually and corporately. We offer prayers of thanksgiving and intercession. Prayer drives us to talk with our God and even more, to listen to the voice of our God.

    As we seek to be the church of Jesus Christ, boldly living the mission of being used by God for the increase of disciples who love and follow Jesus, prayer is our greatest resource and spiritual weapon. Prayer leads us to a place of trust and dependence upon God. Prayer reveals God’s dreams, offers God’s direction for our path, and provides Holy Spirit boldness for the steps we take.

    In the pages of this edition of The Advocate, you will find some amazing stories of prayer from brothers and sisters in Christ in every part of the Upper New York Conference. You will see various practices of prayer, powerful experiences of prayer, and awesome results of prayer! I hope these expressions encourage and challenge us to go deeper in our prayer life, as individuals and together as the body of Christ.

    Over the next few years, we have chosen a theme for our life together that is defined by three simple words: Together in Prayer. The realities of our world, our future as congregations, as an Annual Conference, and as The United Methodist Church call us to get serious about the discipline of prayer! In the midst of uncertainty, prayer opens us to the truth and promise of the Holy Spirit’s work within and among us. Imagine the Church’s impact upon the world if we took our prayer lives to a higher level. Imagine the vitality and revival our churches would experience not because of the plans born of our own ingenuity, but from the power and promise of prayer. Imagine how we would approach the future, if our present was even more deeply grounded in the practice of prayer.

    As we continue to seek ways to be the hands and feet of Christ, as we wonder about the future of The United Methodist Church because of our disagreements around homosexuality, as the Commission on a Way Forward carries out its task and seeks to offer solutions for the days ahead – LET US PRAY!

    As we travel through another season of Lent, I want to challenge us to go deeper in our discipline and practice of prayer. Starting now, let’s get serious about praying for God’s power and direction for the ministry we have been called to. Here’s the challenge: 

    Once a month, there will be a gathering for prayer in every District!

    Once a week, there will be a gathering for prayer in every local congregation!

    At the request of The Council of Bishops and in partnership with the United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women, and United Methodist Communications, The Upper Room has posted all sorts of prayer resources on its site. Over the next days and weeks, other resources and suggestions will be made available on the Upper New York Conference website to help churches and Districts launch their prayer gatherings. When you do gather, I suggest you start by praying for these things:

    • for the community/communities we are called to reach.
    • for the congregation(s) we are called to go forth from.
    • for the individuals that God is begging us to offer Christ to.
    • for ways in which God desires to use our gifts and resources, leading us into new and vibrant forms of ministry and service.
    • for the future of God’s mission as lived out by United Methodist Christians in Upper New York to be one of great vitality, fruitfulness, and effectiveness.
    • for God to reveal the way for the future of The United Methodist Church.
    • for God to spiritually revive us and for spiritual revival to spread across the land.


    “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  -Romans 12.12

    Walworth United Methodist Church Listed On the National Register of Historic Places

    April 25, 2017 / By Gene Bavis, Walworth Town Historian

    A few years ago, while working on a list of historic sites for Wayne County, I discovered that the Town of Walworth had NO structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  After attending a few preservation workshops and seminars, I invited Cynthia Howk of the Landmark Society of Western New York to speak to Walworth Historical Society and others who might be interested in learning about the National Register of Historic Places.  This took place on October 20, 2014 at the Walworth United Methodist Church, and it worked!  Pastor Jacque Ruth, Jessie Keymel and others from the church submitted a very detailed application for the Walworth United Methodist Church to be listed on the National Register.

    The following description was taken from a flyer by the NYS Division of Historic Preservation.  “Established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historic properties that have been recognized as significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture.  The Division for Historic Preservation in the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation coordinates the National Register program in New York State, as well as the parallel State Register program.”

    There are five categories of historic properties that are eligible for listing:  buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts.  There are strict guidelines for acceptance.  Properties and objects must retain the integrity associated with the category and be at least 50 years old.  There are about 40 listings of National Register properties  and districts here in Wayne County.  Now Walworth can brag that we have one, too.

    The National Register program started as a result of the Urban Renewal movement during the 1950s and 1960s when large numbers of historic structures were being demolished to build “new and better” downtowns.  A prime local example occurred in the Village of Newark.  While the program does not save all historic structures, it has brought more awareness of the value of historic buildings.

    The properties on the list are significant and can help us create pride in our communities.  There are also some economic benefits to the owners of listed properties.  In some cases there are preservation tax credits, and non-profit organizations can sometimes qualify for grants.  In the case of churches, there is a matching grant program from a foundation interested in preserving sacred sites and structures. 

    To learn more about the National Register of Historic Sites, you may want to visit .

    Flood bucket and health kit collections during the UNY Conference United Methodist Center Open House

    April 25, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    In previous years, the UNY Conference Disaster Response Teams collected flood buckets and health kits during a set time period in a parking lot across from the Oncenter at Annual Conference.

    However, this year the UNY Disaster Response Team will be collecting flood buckets and health kits during the UNY Conference United Methodist Center’s Open House, making use of the new Mission Central space.

    The Open House will be held at the United Methodist Center (7481 Henry Clay Blvd., Liverpool) on Wednesday May 31 (the day before Annual Conference begins) from 3:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. followed by a service of dedication at 7:30 p.m.

    Flood buckets and health kits should be brought directly to Mission Central located behind the building at the two garage bays near the loading dock.

    Click here for a printout listing which items should be included in the health kit. Click here for a printout a listing of what should be included in a flood bucket.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    From the desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb: Judicial Council

    April 25, 2017 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb

    Editor’s Note: On the morning of April 25, Bishop Mark J. Webb sent the following letter to the members of the Upper New York Conference about the coming Judicial Council meeting that will address some matters around human sexuality and the called Special Session of General Conference in 2019 that will address the work of the Council of Bishops and the Commission on a Way Forward.  

    April 25, 2017

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    Today, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church gathers in Newark, New Jersey to begin the work of their spring docket. That docket is composed of several matters, including cases involved in our continued conversation as a denomination about human sexuality. One of these matters before the Judicial Council is the status of Bishop Karen Oliveto, a married lesbian who was elected, consecrated, and assigned this past July by the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church.

    The Judicial Council in many ways mirrors the Supreme Court of the United States. Its role within our Church is to determine the constitutionality and legality of actions in light of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. The Judicial Council does not have the authority to change the Book of Discipline and none of their decisions does so.

    I am urging you to pray for our sisters and brothers who have assumed the leadership and responsibility of serving as members of the Judicial Council. May God provide them wisdom and understanding. Pray for each individual, congregation, and Annual Conference represented in the cases that are being considered by the Judicial Council this week. Pray for Bishop Oliveto, her family and the people and congregations she serves.

    No one can predict the outcomes of this session of the Judicial Council, but I implore us to trust that God is in the midst of it. While the work of the Judicial Council is significant and has impact upon our common life, I urge us to see this week as simply one part of the whole work that is before us as a denomination. The Commission on a Way Forward, commissioned by the Council of Bishops and authorized by the General Conference, is working diligently to help us find God’s way forward for The United Methodist Church, specifically in our fractures around homosexuality.

    While you may be tempted to allow the decisions made this week to guide your sense of the future, I beg you not to do so. Whatever the Judicial Council decides, it is the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, acted upon by a special session of the General Conference, which will be the most important decision point for these critical matters.

    Just last evening, the President of the Council of Bishops issued a call for a special session of General Conference. That session, which will be limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward, will be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.

    So my friends, pray and pray some more! Continue to love one another, especially in the midst of disagreement and diversity. Seek ways to find the Christ in every one. Stay focused on the mission that is before us – the opportunity to walk beside others and assist God in showing them the amazing love and life offered in Jesus Christ!

    I am not naïve; these are days of uncertainty and anxiety. But more assuredly, they are also days of faith! Days for us to continue to trust God, trust one another, and move into the future that God has promised God’s Church. A future that not even the gates of hell will prevail against - a future that finds God already present!

    Thank you for being the Church of Jesus Christ. As always, you remain in my prayers.


    Mark J. Webb 

    2017 Conference Journal now available

    April 19, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The 2017 Upper New York Conference Journal, Vol. I (formerly known as the Pre-Conference Booklet) is now available for download as a free PDF and for purchase through online publisher To view an online version or download a copy from Issuu, click here. To purchase it for $6.02 (plus shipping and applicable sales tax) from, click here.

    If you have any questions about the materials presented in Vol. I of the Journal or the 2017 Upper New York Annual Conference Session in general, please send them to The Conference Communications Ministry Area will assemble pertinent questions and answers and post them as a FAQ on the Conference website. 

    For further discussion of the materials in the Journal, the 2017 Pre-Conference Briefing will be produced via video and released in early May. 

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    AC ’17 special offerings announced

    April 17, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The theme of the 2017 session of the Upper New York Annual Conference is “Together in Prayer, Trusting that God is Enough.” During AC2017, our sisters and brothers throughout the Conference will gather together in Syracuse, trusting God to guide us in prayer, fellowship, action, and giving. This year, five offerings will be received during the session, held June 1-3 at the Oncenter in Syracuse.

    On Thursday, the Clergy Care Fund offering will be taken at the clergy session and a Helping Hands Fund offering will concurrently be taken at the laity session. The Clergy Care Fund assists clergy who are in need of financial support, and Helping Hands raises funds to be used by the Upper New York Cabinet to assist congregants in need of financial support.

    There will also be three additional offerings:

    During opening worship on Thursday morning, an offering will be taken that will help support development of Mission Central space at the new UNY Conference Center, located at 7841 Henry Clay Blvd., Liverpool.

    The next offering will be received Saturday morning during the Young People’s Worship Service. This offering will support the Mission of Peace (MOP) – a yearly journey of discovery and shalom to nations in our global community sponsored by the Northeastern Jurisdiction Council on Youth Ministries. Youth from Upper New York went to Nicaragua as part of MOP ’17. The next MOP trip is to Cuba. Click here for more information and to apply.

    The final offering will be received on Saturday at the Service of Commissioning and Ordination. The offering will support the development of new faith communities.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Africa University celebrates 25th anniversary

    April 17, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Africa University – the first and only fully accredited institution of higher learning established on the African continent by action of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church – recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The celebration included a dinner for alumni and friends at Amber Hotel in Mutare, Zimbabwe, the main celebration at Africa University’s graduation arena, and a celebration/worship service at AU’s Kwang Lim Chapel.

    With an enrollment of more than 1,500 full-time students and 800 part-time students, Africa University, located in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe, today boasts more than 6,100 graduates from 32 African countries. More than half of the students (53 percent) are female — more than double other universities throughout Africa.

    The United Methodist Church’s support of AU – which was previously funded by the Upper New York Conference’s Africa 360 initiative – has and will continue to produce a growing number of effective disciples and tangible positive change. Investment in AU helps fund scholarships for African students who would otherwise have no way to pay for a university education.

    Click here to see photos from the celebration.

    Apply now – UNY Conference hiring Custodian/Building Maintenance Technician

    April 15, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The Upper New York Conference is hiring a full-time Custodian/Building Maintenance Technician for the UNY Conference Center in Liverpool. Duties include extensive cleaning of bathroom, kitchen, and office areas; maintaining the custodial supply inventory; set up and tear down of tables for meetings; basic grounds maintenance; light carpentry; and more. Qualified candidates will have a high school diploma or equivalent, at least one year of experience in facilities maintenance or custodial work, and basic knowledge of machinery, equipment, and tools necessary for the maintenance and repair of buildings

    For more information and to apply, click here.

    UNY wins at UMAC gathering

    April 11, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    The United Methodist Association of Communicators has announced their 2017 award winners, and the Upper New York Conference Communications Team won the following awards:

    The Weekly Digest

    The Upper New York Conference’s weekly e-newsletter, The Weekly Digest, came in 2nd place among conferences across the connection.

    The Upper New York Conference website came in 1st place for website content among conferences across the connection.


    The Upper New York Conference blog, Perspectives, came in 1st place among conferences across the connection.

    Rev. Robin Blair of Marcellus United Methodist Church also won an award for the online radio project, called Common Good Radio™.  Common Good Radio educates families about the messages media sends and creates media that offers alternative healthy, heartfelt, and caring choices, so they can make faithful choices in consumer culture. Common Good Radio won best in class for audio production and First Place for Internet streaming, The Kindness Project.

    TAGGED / Communications

    Book review: Uprooting Racism—How White People Can Work for Racial Justice

    April 10, 2017 / By Linda Hughes, CORR member

    Have you ever thought of a racial joke as verbal abuse? Have you ever thought of interrupting a racial joke as public education? These are two premises that Paul Kivel brings out in his book Uprooting Racism – How White People Can Work for Racial Justice, in the chapter entitled “Jokes.”

    We have all been in the situation of being told a joke we are uncomfortable with. Sometimes we realize it’s racist right away. The last time it happened to me, it didn’t come out until the punchline. It’s uncomfortable to interrupt racist comments but we have to do it anyway! At some level, the joke teller knows the joke is inappropriate, so speaking up IS educating both the teller and the bystanders. Your comments may also give others the courage it takes to be a vocal racial ally.

    I have a sign in my office that says “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the part of the oppressor.” None of us want to be part of this bullying any longer. So how do we do it? Paul Kivel says there are no right or wrong ways, and the more we do it, the better we get at it. We can say something short and sweet like, “Please stop right there.” I once said in response to a racial joke, incredulously and in a moderate voice, “That’s not funny.” The joke teller said defensively, “To me it is,” and that was the end of it. Now it’s up to him to decide about telling a racist joke to anyone in the future.

    Ask God to give you the courage to be a positive influence and an anti-racist example to others. These are good seeds to plant!

    Display Tables AC 2017

    April 5, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Display tables are once again being offered at the Upper New York Annual Conference Session, held June 1-3 at the Oncenter in Syracuse. To request a display area at Annual Conference please fill out the attached form and return it by April 15. You will be advised, by April 30, as to the granting of display space for your group or organization. Request does not guarantee reservation. Direct all questions to Cherish McGowan or call her at (315) 898-2012.

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Updates to the Peace with Justice Grant Program

    April 5, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    The Social Holiness Team has recently re-evaluated our conference Peace with Justice Grant guidelines. This was necessary because folks have been utilizing the Peace with Justice Sunday funds to support wonderful ministries and opportunities. In 2016, the Social Holiness team was able to grant $21,500 to five projects, including:

    • NYS Council of Churches Luncheon with speaker
    • Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS Faith for Fair NY Conference
    • NYS Council of Churches Protestant Chaplain Care Program
    • NYS Council of Churches Congregations for Justice Initiative
    • Brown Memorial Church Adult Life Skills

    Currently, the Peace with Justice fund is down below $8,000 and in order to continue supporting a wide range of ministries for both education and advocacy, the application process has been tightened.

    The most important changes are that grants will not exceed $2,000 (from $5,000) and will only be considered twice a year (instead of as applications are received). Each application must now include a statement of support from someone close to, but not involved in, the project. More details are provided on the Peace with Justice Grant application. Please contact Heather Smith, UNY Peace with Justice Coordinator, with questions ( The next application deadline is April 30, 2017.

    Teaching children to pray: A helpful script

    April 4, 2017 / By Kerry Evans, Jamesville Community Church

    Editor’s Note: The theme of our next issue of the Advocate, which will arrive at local churches and be accessible through our website the first week in April, is Together in Prayer. The issue features many stories of how prayer has made a difference from an individual-level, all the way to our Conference level. Like this story, some of the stories provide guidance on teaching children to pray.

    At Jamesville Community Church in Jamesville NY, our Sunday School has recently implemented an opening prayer program with an effort to teach children to pray, and also to increase the feeling of community in our Sunday School.  This is a script that we encourage our teacher to use to help to help children through the process of prayer.

    Teacher: “Good morning and welcome to Sunday school at Jamesville Community Church. My name is                                  and I am happy to be your Sunday school teacher this morning. I know most of us know each other's names but let's go around the circle and tell everyone our name, just in case. Good morning my name is (teacher’s name).”

     (Now the children go around the table) “Good morning, my name is                      .”

    Teacher:  “Welcome everyone; I am happy you’re here. I know you all have busy weeks since we've seen each other last. Does anyone have something that happened to them this week that was a celebration event or good news?”

     Children share good news.

    Teacher: “That sounds wonderful. Let's say a prayer thanking God for all the good news in our lives. (bow heads)

    Dear God, thank you so much for all the good news in our lives in this past week.  We are so thankful for (give some examples here, like Amelia learning to ride a bike and Nora losing a tooth) and know that none of these blessings would have happened without your love and guidance. In Jesus name, Amen.

    Teacher: I think maybe some of us have had some sad things that have happened to us too. Does anyone have any challenging or sad events that you would like to share with us?

    Kids share sad events or problems.

    Teacher: Now let's say a prayer to ask God for help.

    Dear God, please help us in our lives with the challenges and problems that we face. We pray for (give some examples here) and ask that you be with them and help them each and every day. In Jesus name, Amen.

    Teacher: Thank you everyone for sharing. Now we will read our bible story and then we will (do a craft, play a game, etc.)

    A Reflection of UpWord! 2k17

    April 4, 2017 / By Kristian J. Snyder, CCYM Member 2017-2018

    Hundreds of youth and adults from all across Upper New York came together in Liverpool, N.Y.for UpWord! 2k17. UpWord! 2k17 was held on March 31 - April 2 at the Liverpool Holiday Inn. There were over 300 youth and adults who joined the 57Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM) members who planned and organized the event. There were a total of 35 youth groups from 10 different districts in attendance. The weekend included 15 workshops on Saturday, and five workshops on Sunday. The weekend also had four worship experiences planned by the CCYM Worship Team.  Worship speakers were four young adults and former members of CCYM - JJ Warren, Krystal Cole, Marthalyn Sweet, and Jefferson Dedrick.

    Here is a sampling of some of the workshops:

    Some Saturday Workshops:

    • “God is in Devotion” was led by Mary Anderson. This workshop helped us understand the question, What is devotion?
    • “God is Organized” was led by Betsy O’Flynn. We learned how to live our life organized with God’s help
    • “God is Mingling” was led by Sue Russell. In this workshop we got to know other people in different youth groups.
    • “God is Speaking” was led by Carol Doucette. In this workshop, we prayed and had a two-way conversation with God.

    Some Sunday Workshops:

    • “God in the Bible” was led by Beckie Sweet She delved into the Bible and taught how to apply it to our normal life.
    • “God is calling” was led by the Board of Ordained Ministry. In this, we found out what we are called by God to do in our own life.
    • “God is walking the Labyrinth” was led by Tony Hipes. In this, we prayed while walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

    Each evening was brought to an end by eight late-night options that all youth took part in and had fun before going to their rooms for the night. The weekend was full of laughter, joy, renewal, music, prayer, spiritual growth, and fun times with other youth, due to the wonderful worship speakers, workshop leaders,and the people who led late night options each night. Click here to see some photos of Saturday’s worship, workshops, and lunch.

    2017 Harry Denman nominations sought

    April 3, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Nominations are open for the 2017 Harry Denman Evangelism Awards. The awards honor United Methodists in each conference whose exceptional evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Each year, annual conferences join the Foundation for Evangelism in recognizing one youth, one clergy member and one layperson in their conference. The 2016 recipients in the Upper New York Conference were lay member Shari Schuck and the Rev. Joseph Pascoe. The deadline for submitting your nominations to the Conference is May 1. Please contact Cherish McGowan at with your nominations. DETAILS

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017 / Connectional Ministries

    Registration open for the UNY Local Pastor License School (June 4-9)

    March 31, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    The 2017 Upper New York Conference Local Pastor License School (LPLS) will be held June 4-9 at the Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center in Moravia. Registration is 4-5 p.m. June 4. Dinner is provided at 5:30 p.m., and students must be present for worship at 7 p.m. The school is in session from registration on Sunday and continues through dinner on Friday.

    The LPLS experience provides an opportunity to learn with other students about the basics of ministry, to interact with and share ministry practice with the faculty and students, and to be creative in beginning pastoral ministry. Students in the LPLS should be in the process of completion or have completed the requirements for certified candidate.

    The school is a concentrated learning experience. A “normal” school day begins with morning worship and preaching lab at 8:30 a.m. and includes five classes for learning, concluding at 9 p.m.

    Completion of the LPLS meets a portion of the requirements for the licensing process, but the school does not grant the Local Pastor’s License; district superintendents have that privilege after a candidate’s satisfactory completion of the LPLS, approval by the District Committee on Ministry, and appointment to a church or extension ministry.

    Students are encouraged to bring their own recreational equipment, as there will be free time Wednesday evening for recreation. There is a beach and accessibility to non-motorized boats as well as many opportunities for walking and hiking.

    Students will reside in two-person rooms and will be provided all meals and beverages.

    Registration costs $400 for UNY members; $600 for members of other Conferences. The deadline to register is May 15. Click here  to register.

    2017 Pre-Conference Briefing to be produced via video this year

    March 30, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    In years prior, leading up to the Annual Conference, Pre-Conference Briefings were held across the UNY area to provide information about the budget, pensions and benefits, resolutions, constitutional amendments, and other details to help you feel prepared for Annual Conference.

    This year, we have successfully developed a narrative budget and conducted listening sessions across the UNY Conference to discuss the budget. You can review and/or download our 2018 narrative budget booklet here.

    Budget has always been the primary topic of the Pre-Conference Briefings. Because travel was required for the listening sessions, which centered on the budget, we decided not to have people travel again.

    This year, we are producing a Pre-Conference Briefing video that will be released in early May. This video will provide all of the same information you would have received in the “live” briefings, but you can watch it in the convenience of your home or church, on your own, in small groups, or as a congregation.

    Keep watching the UNY Conference news platforms to find out when the video is released.

    The Rev. Dr. John Tyson reflects on John and Charles Wesley’s prayer life

    March 27, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    Editor’s Note: The next issue of the Advocate, which will arrive at local churches and be accessible through our website in early April, focuses on prayer. For this issue, we connected with Wesleyan scholar, the Rev. Dr. John Tyson to learn more about John and Charles Wesley’s prayer life and insight on how the Wesley’s teachings can help nurture our prayer life today. Below are some some questions and answers with Rev. Dr. John Tyson. Look to the next issue of the Advocate for more questions and answers with Wesleyan scholars.

    UNY Communications: If John and Charles Wesley were here today, what do you think they would recommend for people who feel that they need to revive their prayer life?

    The Rev. Dr. John Tyson: The Wesleys used and enjoyed the Book of Common Prayer and its readings and prayers shaped their daily devotions and prayer life. They also read spiritual classics. Often, it seems we need fresh simulation and new input for our souls;  a good devotional guide can sometimes put a new charge and new energy into our prayer life.

    UNY Communications: John Wesley would often write out prayers. Do you feel that writing, drawing, or other creative modalities help some to better connect with God through prayer?

    The Rev. Dr. John Tyson: I find that writing out my prayers can be very helpful, though I do not do this every day. What helps me about this discipline—it causes me to be more reflective about how I am saying my prayer, and what things and attitudes are coming to expression. Prayer is nothing more than talking with God. But God is a very important person, and when one speaks to an important person it is sometimes a good idea to choose one’s words well.  So writing prayers helps me check on my prayer focus, and upon the words (needs, concerns, experiences) with which I come before the Lord.

    UNY Communications: John Wesley advocated for fasting as a way to make prayer more powerful and he himself fasted every Friday; at one point in his life, he fasted every Wednesday and Friday. Do you advocate for fasting? If so, how often?

    The Rev. Dr. John Tyson: Fasting was very important to the Wesleys. They found it helpful to their prayer life, and to their over-all approach to Christian discipleship. They generally advocated for “fasting or abstinence” as if to remind us that the one is almost as the other. In other words, core virtue being developed in fasting is self-denial and self-denial can be cultivated by not eating or by denying ourselves certain things for a specific time and reason.

    But yes, fasting should be directly linked to prayer, because it is not simply going on a diet or trying to develop self-control. “Thy will be done” may be the most difficult clause of the Lord’s prayer, and fasting helps us learn to bend our own will  and inclinations to God’s will and God’s work. And that is a pretty good thing, in the process of being a vital Christian disciple.  Jesus put it simply:  “Deny yourself and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).  The two things; discipleship and an appropriate sense of self-denial are intimately related.

    Equitable Compensation Application for July-December 2017 available

    March 24, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    The Commission on Equitable Compensation has issued guidelines and an application form for salary grants to local churches for the period July 1 to December 31, 2017. Salary grants are available only to churches with a pastor under full-time appointment.

    To apply for salary assistance from the Equitable Compensation Fund, applicants should review the policies and procedures in the application document for guidance, and then complete the application according to the directions provided by the April 14, 2017 deadline.

    Please note the following documents must be submitted with your application to be considered complete:

    • Application for CEC Grant for July to December 2017 time period
    • Copy of the Clergy Compensation Form for all churches the UNY clergy person currently serves
    • Copy of church’s most recent budget (if serving more than one church, include budgets from all)
    • Ezra Church Summary Six-Part Graphic Report

    Attach the application, along with the above documents, to an email or print them to mail to your District Superintendent for receipt by April 14.

    NOTE: The application is set up as a Microsoft Word template. To add text, tab through the document to each box and start typing. Once completed, save the document to your computer as “[your church name] July 2017.”  The Commission anticipates notifying churches of its determination by mid-May.

    Click here for the application form.

    Update on Milford UMC and Fonda-Fultonville UMC

    March 16, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Please continue to pray for Milford UMC and Fonda-Fultonville UMC as they recover from the fires that destroyed their buildings earlier this week.

    The Milford UMC, which caught on fire Sunday March 12, begins moving forward.

    In a letter to her congregation, Millford UMC pastor, the Rev. Sylvia Barrett, explained the logistical and administrative procedures that have taken place since the fire. She said, “We are working on an inventory of the church, on plans for the Food Pantry to be relocated, and on all the arrangements needed to begin our worship on Sunday mornings, at the Cultural Center, which has generously offered us a temporary home until our church is rebuilt. And yes, our church will be rebuilt, and from the blackness of Sunday night, there will come a day when we all stand in the sunlight and look at a new building with happiness and peace in all our hearts. I have received over 100 emails from other ministers, other congregations, other denominations, total strangers, people who worshipped at Milford in the past, and concerned friends and family members. I am sure we all can recall kind words spoken, sympathetic hugs, and offers to help.

    The fire at the Fonda-Fultonville UMC took place on Tuesday March 14, amidst Storm Stella, that swept the Northeast. We will release future plans for the Fonda-Fultonville UMC as soon as we are made aware. In the meantime, Albany District Superintendent, Rich Weihing, said, “The church building…is considered a total loss. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Vital ministries of worship, service, and outreach have used this structure as a home and a headquarters. This is a tremendous loss to the church and the community. Times like this remind us of a powerful truth that we sing, ‘The church is not a building... the church is the people.’ Powerful worship, Christ-like service, and life-changing outreach will certainly continue through Fonda-Fultonville UMC.  At this point, though, let us put our faith into action by upholding, supporting, praying for, and loving our brothers and sisters of the Fonda-Fultonville UMC and community.”

    As we continue to pray for these two churches and their congregations, let’s also offer up prayers of praise for fire and rescue personnel.

    The Rev. Natalie Hanson to preach at the 2017 Annual Conference Memorial Service

    March 14, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The Rev. Natalie Hanson will be the Memorial Service preacher at the 2017 Upper New York Annual Conference, held June 1-3 at the Oncenter in Syracuse. Rev. Hanson is currently the pastor at Christ-First UMC in Jamestown, N.Y. 

    Prior to being appointed to Christ First, Rev. Hanson served as District Superintendent of the Niagara Frontier region of the United Methodist Church for eight years. She supervised 81 churches in that position. Rev. Hanson is a graduate of Wesleyan University and completed her seminary work at the Harvard Divinity School.  She said of her calling, “I believe I’m called to help others find their calling, their own sense of Christ’s presence in their lives, their own experience of the Spirit’s empowerment, their own identity as beloved sons and daughters of the Living God. I think one of God’s constant nudges is to live more honestly, more transparently, more lovingly.”

    Honored to be chosen to deliver the message at the Memorial Service, Rev. Hanson spoke about her feeling on the service held every year at Annual Conference. She said, “The Memorial Service is an especially tender and personal time at Annual Conference, a time when we are able to remember how human we are and how much we are family. So, for me, bringing the message is an incredible opportunity to be in conversation with my colleagues and friends and family about things that are basic to our humanity and central to our faith: our mortality, the mystery of death, the question of ‘what lasts?’ It’s an intimate conversation, even though it’s in a large setting – and it’s a deep privilege.”

    Rev. Hanson’s topic for her sermon is “Does it Last?” She will speak about how often Christians wonder whether or not what they do means anything to others, whether or not it makes a difference, whether or not their work will be remembered.

    Rev. Hanson will be working with Psalm 90: 1-4, 10, 12-17 and John 12: 20-29. She said she has chosen these scriptures because they are so often used in Memorial celebrations and graveside services and she wants to dig deep into the profound truth that they hold.  She said, “The longer I serve in ministry, the more I appreciate the wisdom and ‘pith’ in many of our traditions, and the more I want to unpack the depth and challenge in these much-used passages. If we take them seriously, they’re not easy reading - but they are particularly honest, and profoundly true.”

    Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb said, “Rev. Hanson’s willingness to be our Memorial Service preacher will deeply enrich our experience of worship and the remembrance of the saints who have gone before us.”


    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Registration for the Upper New York 2017 Annual Conference session opens

    March 9, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Registration is now open for the Upper New York Annual Conference session, held June 1-3 at the Oncenter in Syracuse. Click here for the registration form and to obtain more information about the 2017 Annual Conference session, including the registration and event guidelines and the housing form.  

    Questions about registration can be addressed to Julie Valeski at

    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017

    Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean to serve as AC17 study leader

    March 8, 2017 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean will serve as the study leader at the 2017 Upper New York Annual Conference session, which takes place June 1-3 in Syracuse.

    “I’m delighted to be at Annual Conference,” she said. “There are lots of people that I love that are serving in the Upper New York Conference. I’m really happy to do it.”

    Dr. Dean is an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference and professor of youth, church, and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where she works closely with the Institute for Youth Ministry. She graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio; Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.; and received her doctorate at Princeton Theological Seminary. Before working at Princeton Theological Seminary, she served as pastor in suburban Washington, D.C. and as a campus minister at the University of Maryland-College Park. She is currently appointed as the coordinating pastor of the Kingston United Methodist Church in Kingston, N.J.

    Dean will host two study sessions during this year’s Annual Conference session, which will focus on innovation in ministry with young people, with biblical overtones.

    “I think it will be mostly about missional innovation and young adults in The Church and what that means for congregations and what that means for the future of youth ministry.”

    Session one is titled “Love Made Me an Inventor: Why an Entrepreneurial Church Matters to Young People,” and session two is called “Doing a New Thing: The Church Has No Excuses.” The two sessions focus on doing new things and touching on Bible passages that speak to this, such as 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Revelations 21:5.

    “The Bible begins and ends with the story of God innovating and the role that The Church has played in innovation,” Dean said. “I’m hoping that we’ll poke the box a little bit to see where this might be leading the Upper New York Conference when it comes to doing new things, particularly where young people are concerned.”

    She said many churches today are afraid of trial and error, that taking a risk seems “terminal.”

    “It’s the opposite impulse we need to follow: We need to risk more, not less,” Dean said. “There’s no magic bullet … it’s a matter of testing and trying and experimenting until we discover where our hopes and God’s mission come together, and that takes an awful lot of trial and error.”

    Dean encourages those attending AC2017 to bring ideas with them to discuss.

    “Let’s play with it while we’re there and make The Church a place where new ideas are brought to life, rather than a place where ideas go to die.”

    Budget listening sessions begin in Upper New York

    March 7, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

     At the 2016 Annual Conference, after much deliberation, the 2017 Conference budget passed with an added motion for the Conference Council of Finance & Administration (CF&A) to lead the production of a narrative budget that includes one paragraph describing the ministry and priorities of each line item in our 2018 ministry share budget for the 2017 Annual Conference to be posted on the UNYAC website at least two weeks prior to the 2017 resolutions and petitions deadline of February 1, 2017. This task has been completed and has been further updated once Conference leadership had the opportunity to review it —click here for the 2018 narrative budget booklet, which includes graphics and FAQs.

    The motion was further amended that through March of 2017, there be regional listening and interpretation gatherings for the entire Conference.  These listening sessions are intended to help CF&A to further improve the narrative budget so that the budget can be presented at the Annual Conference with little confusion over the ministries that the dollars support and how the budget numbers are calculated.

    The first listening session was held for the Oneonta District on Saturday March 5 at Worchester UMC. Susan Ranous was the CF&A Rep and Oneonta District Superintendent Rev. Everett Bassett was the facilitator. They showed a video about the narrative budget produced by the UNY Conference Communications Team, provided narrative budget booklets to all attendees and opened the floor for feedback and questions.

    The feedback about the narrative budget was positive. One attendee stated, “This booklet is a great gift.” Another attendee said, “This booklet is wonderful and contains good explanation with details and results.” Attendees expressed that they want to have the narrative budget and listening sessions again next year, which is what the Conference plans to do.

    The narrative budget is a work in progress—the response and questions raised at the listening sessions will greatly help to make the narrative budget an effective tool year after year.

    Listening sessions will continue to take place through March 26. Click here to find a listing of listening sessions along with corresponding dates, times, and locations.

    Blueprint for Wellness Annual Conference Event Pre-Registration Begins

    March 6, 2017 / By UNY Communications

    Wespath Benefits and Investments and The Center For Health has again teamed up with Quest Diagnostics to offer "Blueprint for Wellness," a free health screening program for eligible participants* in the Upper New York Conference. Quest Diagnostics will be at the Upper New York Annual Conference event at The Oncenter (Meeting Rooms 2/3), on Thursday, June 1 and Friday, June 2 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

    This is an opportunity to obtain a free comprehensive "biometric" screening which provides information about your heart, liver and kidney function, diabetes risk and blood sugar control, calcium and iron – plus PSA screening for men.  In addition to having information to take to your doctor to help implement a wellness plan, HealthFlex participants can earn $100 in Virgin Pulse HealthMiles Cash.**

    Pre-Registration is strongly recommended for the Annual Conference event. You can register for an appointment between now and May 18. A limited amount of walk-ins will be allowed depending on time and supply availability. Walk-ins must provide a HealthFlex ID number at the time of the screening.

    You may also choose to get your screening at a local Quest laboratory between April 1 and July 31. Pre-registration is required and appointments can be made beginning April 1.

    Click here for instructions on how to register at Annual Conference, as well as fasting requirements.

    Click here for 2017 HealthFlex Wellness Incentives FAQs.

    *IMPORTANT! Please note: The screening is only available to participants and spouses covered by the HealthFlex PPO B1000 and CDHP plans, and participants and spouses enrolled in One Exchange. The screening is not available to participants or spouses enrolled through AmWINS.

    **To earn the $100 in HealthCash, you must be a HealthFlex participant enrolled in Virgin Pulse by the end of the day of your screening (OneExchange participants are not eligible for the HealthCash). To enroll in Virgin Pulse, login to your HealthFlex/WebMD account at:, choose “Join Virgin Virgin Pulse” and following the instructions.

    Upper New York Conference 2018 budget booklet available

    March 2, 2017 / By UNY Communications / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    The UNY Conference 2018 narrative budget, released earlier this year, has been updated into a full booklet, including graphics and FAQs.  Click here (as of April 19, 2017) to download a pdf version of the booklet from our website. Click here to view the budget booklet on Issuu. Printed copies of the budget booklet will be available at all District listening sessions. Click here to view listening session dates, times, and locations. Once the listening sessions are completed, the budget booklet will be further updated, and added to the 2017 Annual Conference journal. 


    TAGGED / Annual Conference 2017 / Finance

    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 867 local churches and 65 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."