Bishop Mark J. Webb’s retirement celebrated at the NEJ Conference
Bishop Webb will be retiring from the Upper New York Conference on Dec. 31, 2022. There will be an open-house style celebration and farewell gathering at the UNY Conference Center at 7481 Henry Clay Blvd. in Liverpool on Saturday Nov. 19 from 1-4 p.m. All are welcome and you can come and go as you please. The tentative schedule is as follows:
- 1 p.m. Gathering begins – open-house-style fellowship time
- 2 p.m. Official program by the Episcopacy Committee
- 3 p.m. Cutting of the cake followed by more open-house-style fellowship time until 4 p.m.
We hope to see you there!
On Wednesday Nov. 2, at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb’s retirement was celebrated along with three other bishops’ retirements (Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, and Bishop Jeremiah Park).
Bishop LaTrelle Easterling introduced the four bishops as leaders who have “moved many, many mountains,” bishops who have “never been tired of being agents of change.”
Colleagues of each retiree shared witness and gratitude–and some amusing stories and inspiring stories of the bishops’ time in ministry. Each bishop shared a favorite hymn and Bible verse and was given time to share their thoughts and gratitude to those who have helped them fulfil their role as bishop.
Bishop Webb’s favorite hymn is “Holy, Holy, Holy,” written by Reginald Heber and composed in 1861.
His favorite Bible verse is Ephesians 3: 17-18, which in the New International Version (NIV) reads, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
Bishop Jane Allen Middleton was the first to give a speech about Bishop Webb. She had the crowd roaring with laughter with some of the statements she made-some which were mistakes she attributed to her “old age.”
Bishop Middleton shared how Bishop Webb’s childhood foreshadowed his spiritual journey; he would play “church” in his home sanctuary; he would be the pastor and his sister would be the congregation.
She explained how Bishop Webb went to Shippensburg University to pursue a career in hospital administration but felt a call to maybe be a missionary.
She said, with a chuckle, “He was a little slow to catch on that God was calling him to be a pastor.”
Bishop Middleton described Bishop Webb’s leadership as a District Superintendent in the Susquehanna Conference—she said she cried with joy when he was elected as bishop.
Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball also spoke of Bishop Webb’s legacy and his friendship.
She said, “Mark and I were consecrated together; we have become great friends…he has gotten me through the deepest pains of my life.”
When it was his turn to speak, Bishop Webb auctioned off a cup of coffee reminiscent of an Upper New York Annual Conference when we did the same thing to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria. This time, his cup of coffee raised money for Seeds of Security, which serves victims of domestic violence.
Bishop Webb’s coffee went for $1,500, to the Rev. Jen Williams, pastor at Aldersgate UMC in Mechanicsburg, PA, a church that Bishop Webb built years ago. Bishop Webb agreed to preach at both the church’s Christmas Eve and Easter services.
He offered words of gratitude to many people who supported him as bishop.
He said, “Thank you for the privilege and honor to have me serve as Bishop. The UMC has given me opportunities to see God working in my life, in ways that I could not have imagined, especially this one as Bishop.”
Bishop Webb thanked Upper New York; he said, “Thank you for your fellowship and honesty, for being able to accept all of me, even when it would be easier to throw me out of the room.”
Bishop thanked his wife Jodi most of all and exclaimed, “Of everything I accomplished in life, my best accomplishment is my 33 years of marriage to Jodi.”
He went on to explain how she has always been his partner in ministry and that “too often, spouses of the bishops you elect become invisible. It doesn’t have to be that way. Pay attention!”
At the end of Bishop Webb’s speech, the crowd was asked to shoutout words that represent Bishop Webb.
Words that echoed through the room included: leader, mentor, loving, caring, bold, friend, passionate, encourager, disciple, and lastly, auctioneer!