Clergy recognized, commissioned, and ordained at AC2023
June 19, 2023 / By Tara Barnes, Director of Denominational Relations, United Women in Faith
A Service of Commissioning and Ordination was held Friday June 2 at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College, part of the 14th Annual Conference of the United Methodists of Upper New York. Five people were commissioned and 10 ordained, and the orders and full membership were recognized for four clergy members transferring to The United Methodist Church in the Upper New York Conference.
Presiding Bishop, Héctor Burgos Nuñéz was joined by Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi of the Western PA and Susquehanna Conferences.
“In these past days, we have come together in community; we have lamented, cried, laughed, prayed, and, yes, occasionally disagreed, and God has been present in all of this,” Bishop Burgos Nuñéz said to open his first ordination ceremony as an episcopal leader.
He 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 opening worship.
These broken pieces “have become something new, life-giving, and holy,” the bishop said. “In years to come, at this baptismal font, Upper New York will welcome new disciples into the journey. Every time you see it, remember the day when God brought us back together.”
Conference Lay Leader Jessica White presented the ordinands on behalf of the laity, joined by the Revs. Rick LaDue 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 ordained, commissioned, or recognized for set-apart ministry in Christ’s holy Church in Upper New York, and Bishops Burgos Nunez and Moore-Koikoi administered the vows of ordination.
Strength in Diversity
As part of the service, Bishop Moore-Koikoi delivered a sermon on “The Power of One,” inspired by John 17:17-24. She described oneness as different from sameness, with strength a product of diversity, not conformity. After naming Upper New York as one of her favorite vacation spots, biking around the Finger Lakes, and an upcoming lecture at the Chautauqua Institute, she called Upper New York to “be one with each other just as Jesus is one with God.”
“Our God wants to be one with us! With a ragtag, sinful, pitiful people like us,” she said. “Our God wants to be one with us. It blows my mind. The great I Am wants to be I Am with me.”
She spoke about her ethnic background including DNA from various African and European countries, acknowledging the violence that brought those strands together, violence “not sanctioned by God but redeemed by God” through a DNA in which the strands remain unique, diverse, and distinct yet one, making the body strong.
God is not glorified by a monolithic body, she said. Not by like-mindedness or a gathering of people from the same economic strata or privilege or single perspective or same definition of rightness.
“The scripture points to the fact that diversity in the body makes the body stronger. Our spiritual body needs some diversity in order for it to be healthy,” Bishop Moore-Koikoi said. “The power of our oneness the impact of our oneness is greater when there is diversity in the body.
“Beloved, the world is looking at us to see how we treat one another. They’re looking at us to see what our actions say about who God is.”
She closed her sermon with a call to action.
“That’s the God that we need to show the world.”
Coworkers with God
After the message, Bishop Burgos Nunez joined Bishop Moore-Koikoi to administer the ordination vows and offer the prayer for commissioning, the recognition of orders, and the examinations of deacons and elders.
“My siblings in Christ, you have been called to an ordained, commissioned, or recognized status in set apart ministry. The Church now confirms your calling. As commissioned or ordained ministers, you are to be coworkers with all the people of God: with laity, bishops, elders, deacons, local pastors, provisional members, diaconal ministers, deaconesses, home missioners, supply pastors, all who serve God in the Church,” said Bishop Burgos Nunez. “Remember you are called to serve rather than to be served, to proclaim the Church’s faith and no other, to look after the concerns of God above all.”
Those to be recognized, commissioned and ordained took turns with their family to receive the laying of hands by Bishop Burgos Nunez and receiving the authority to live their calling.
He closed the service by inviting forward anyone present feeling a call to ministry to be blessed and prayed for.
“Church, more than ever, the world needs to hear about the hope that you and I have found in Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Burgos Nunez. “More than ever the world needs to see the people of God extending their arms in service for those who are hurting. More than ever God is calling God’s people to raise our voices for those who have been deemed voiceless and to advocate for justice and reconciliation. This is not the work of a few—this is a work for the entire body.
“Rather than serving out of our deficiencies,” he continued, “out of our scarcity or our fear or our doubts, we can go out and serve out of our abundance of the presence and love of Christ.”
You can watch the service on our Vimeo page.
Provisional members commissioned for the work of an elder
Daniel Joseph Bradley
Cori Joan Louden
Michael George Whitcomb-Tavey
Full members ordained for the work of a deacon
Deborah M. Coatsworth
Patrick James Dupont
Theresa L. Eggleston
Full members ordained for the work of an elder
Andy McClaren Anderson
Casey Edward Bradley
Brett William Johnson
Jennifer K. Piatt
Olga Elsie Gonzalez Santiago
Alison Elaine Schmied
Jee Hae Song
Orders recognized in The United Methodist Church
Lal Fak Mawia
Jefferson Calvin Niles
Tanya Renate Spencer