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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.

    news article

    Clergy and Deaconesses commissioned at Annual Conference 2024

    June 1, 2024 / By Tara Barnes / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    A Service for the Celebration of Ministry and Commissioning was held Friday May 31 at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College, part of the 15th annual meeting of the United Methodists of Upper New York. Four people were commissioned for the work of an elder, one for the work of deaconess, and one deaconess transferred her relationship from the Philippines to the Upper New York Conference.  

    Presiding Bishop Héctor Burgos Nuñéz was joined by Bishop Tracy Smith Malone of the Ohio East episcopal area and president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops. 

    Bishop Burgos Nuñéz began the service by calling those gathered to remember their baptisms, pouring water into a basin created from the broken glass brought to the altar in prayer by conference members during the 2023 conference. 

    “This baptismal font serves as a reminder of our oneness formed from the broken pieces of the past,” Bishop Burgos Nuñéz. “It continues to be a symbol of the hope and promise offered to us as God’s faithful people. It symbolizes for this community of faith the possibility and promise of newness and blessing as we seek to discern God’s invitation for us as we move forward.” 

    The “conference cane” was passed from the Rev. Norman Parsons, who passed away in September 2023, to the Rev. David Lubba, the longest living serving clergy member in Upper New York. 

    The conference cane was made from the wood of the first Methodist church in the Genessee Conference, which was built in 1818. The cane was made by the Rev. George Taylor and given to the Rev. Glezen Fillmore with the request that he keep it as long as he lived and that it “descend after Brother Fillmore’s decease to the oldest member of the conference, (that is, the longest serving) and so on successively.” 

    The Rev. Rachel Dupont received the cane on behalf of the Rev. Parsons. 

    The Rev. Dr. Sherri Rood, dean of the cabinet, with Conference Secretary the Rev. Carolyn Stow then led a celebration of retiring clergy.  

    Called to love, justice, and service 

    Deaconesses Constance Glover and Josefina Nicholas-Tacadena were commissioned into their vocational ministries as part of the Upper New York Conference. Glover serves as the lead coordinator of the Community Café at Penn Yan United Methodist Church, a free community meal served twice a month. Nicholas-Tacadena serves as a nursing home resident support attendant.  

    Deaconesses and home missioners are laypeople who are called by God to be in a lifetime relationship in The United Methodist Church for engagement with a full-time vocation in ministries of love, justice, and service. Together they form a covenant community that is rooted in Scripture, informed by history, driven by mission, ecumenical in scope, and global in outreach. 

    Deaconesses and home missioners function through diverse forms of service directed toward the world to make Jesus Christ known in the fullness of his ministry and mission, which mandate that his followers: alleviate suffering, eradicate causes of injustice and all that robs life of dignity and worth, facilitate the development of full human potential, and share in the building global community through the church universal. 

    “Friends in Christ, we rejoice that you responded to God’s call to servant in ministry as a deaconesses of The United Methodist Church. In your ministry you continue a tradition of service that is as vital today as it was in 1888 when the Office of Deaconess was first authorized in the Methodist tradition,” Bishop Burgos Nuñéz said. “The call of God is always profound, and our response can be no less extraordinary. In the varied ministries of love, justice and service to which the Holy Spirit is leading you, you will testify to the infinite love of God in Christ Jesus.” 

    Set apart 

    Conference Lay Leader Jessica White presented those to be commissioned on behalf the laity, joined by the Revs. Ann Kemper and Carmen Perry, who presented on behalf of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Candidates for ministry complete a long process of discernment, education, mentoring, and examination before clergy of the conference vote to elect them provisional or full elders.  

    The Rev. Perry read the names of those to be commissioned for set-apart ministry in Christ’s holy Church in Upper New York, and Bishops Burgos Nuñéz and Smith Malone administered the general examination.  

    Shift the atmosphere 

    As part of the service, Bishop Malone delivered a sermon on “The Joy of Hope,” inspired by Ephesians 1:15-23.  

    She thanked Bishop Burgos Nuñéz for not only inviting her to preach during the commissioning service but to be a part of the holy conferencing. 

    “The Spirit of God has been on the move in this place,” she said. 

    In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul prays that the God “give the saints a spirit of wisdom, revelation, and discernment to know God better and deeper,” said Bishop Malone, that “eyes of their hearts will have enough light and spiritual focus that they can see the hope of God's call to see exactly what God is calling them to do.” 

    “What if we make Paul’s prayer our prayer for the Upper New York Conference, for the worldwide people called United Methodists, for every local church?” Bishop Malone asked. 

    God is always at work, she said, if we have eyes to see. She challenged the congregation to recognize the presence and power of Jesus Christ, to fully trust God, and rely on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Faith is not an intellectual exercise or spectator sport, she said. It requires training, practice, and discipline. 

    Bishop Malone dared the Upper New York Conference and especially those being commissioned to own that God’s Spirit is already upon all of us, and to be convinced that nothing is impossible for God. 

    “It is not popular to be bold and prophetic in our witness. And yet, that’s what we are called to do,” said Bishop Malone. “Fear, division, and hatred tear at the very fabric of our culture and world. Our society is increasingly becoming more racially divided, violent, and unjust. Political and cultural wars have us anxious, fearful, and suspicious of one another. We can’t afford NOT to be bold. We can’t afford NOT to share the love of Jesus. We can’t afford NOT to walk in power. Don’t be afraid to use God’s gifts in you relying on the Spirit of God that is in you.”  

    We must be bold in our witness, she said. Be committed to building the beloved community. 

    “Don’t be apologetic for how your prophetic witness and presence will shift the atmosphere,” she said. “You ought to shift the atmosphere because the light of Christ that is reflected in your life as shown up and brightened up a room. It holds everyone accountable. If we all show up in a room and let the light shine—imagine what can happen in those places.” 

    Bubbling of the Spirit 

    After the message, Bishop Burgos Nuñéz joined Bishop Malone to offer the prayer for commissioning. 

    “God of the apostles and prophets, martyrs and teachers, you raise men and women to 

    be apostolic leaders in your Church. By your Holy Spirit, help these servants understand and live the mystery of your love with boldness and joy. Deepen their sense of purpose as they exercise commissioned ministry,” said Bishop Burgos Nuñéz. “Empower them and those who will walk with them to guide their ministry, together with your people, to heal the sick, love the outcast, resist evil, preach the Word, and give themselves freely for your name’s sake.” 

    He closed the service by inviting forward anyone present feeling a call to ministry to be blessed and prayed for. 

    “I wonder if among us there might be some who are sensing a bubbling of the Spirit that they have never felt before, that is inviting them to take the next faithful step in their journey as disciples,” said Bishop Burgos Nuñéz. “If this is sounding to you like a call … it is because it is a call. God is calling all of us to respond to the question, ‘What are you going to do with this gift that I have given you?’” 

    “I want you to hear that one who calls is not the church, it is Jesus Christ,” he continued, “We give God thanks for those tonight who hear your voice calling, ‘Come follow me.’ This is an encounter with the spirit of the risen Christ. It doesn’t end here tonight. Hallelujah.” 

    You can watch the service on the Conference’s Vimeo page hereClick here to view the worship booklet.  

    Deaconesses commissioned to lifetime of love, justice, and service 

    Constance Glover 
    Josefina Nicholas-Tacadena 

    Provisional members commissioned for the work of an elder 

    Justin Michael Hood 
    Christine Ann Mitchell 
    Danyal Mohammadzadeh 
    Alicia Margaret Wood 

    Tara Barnes is director of denominational relations for United Women in Faith and a lay equalization member from the Binghamton District.

    TAGGED / Communications / Episcopal Office / 2024 Annual Conference

    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."