Laity inspired at Bishop Héctor’s final Regional Gathering this season
On March 9, 2023, Upper New York Area Resident, Bishop Héctor A. Burgos Núñez held his final clergy and laity Regional Gathering of this winter at Central UMC in the Southern Tier Region. When the Rev. Dr. Sherri Rood, District Superintendent of the Mountain View District, introduced Bishop Héctor at the laity session, she said, “Be prepared to be blessed.” And blessed they were!
The sanctuary was filled with 114 lay members and their brimming smiles—it was a joy-filled celebration as though the division and concerns in the denomination faded a bit. Tara Barnes, a member of Tabernacle UMC, said, “It was a packed house. The Spirit was moving in the Southern Tier!”
The Rev. Bob Kolvik-Campbell, District Superintendent of the Binghamton District, delivered a message about being in tune with the spirit, using his guitar as a metaphor. He explained that spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting (“not just from food,” he said, holding up his iPhone), reading scripture, holy communion, sabbath keeping, journaling, and Christian fellowship (more in person as the pandemic is no longer prolific) can all help us get in tune with the Spirit.
Rev. Kolvik-Campbell finished his message, by asking, “How much are you going to use your spiritual disciplines to not only be good but to be Godly?”
Bishop Héctor began his time of sharing after taking a selfie in front of the vibrant crowd.
He then talked about his family, providing details about each person.
Jazelis Adorno, his wife, is also an ordained pastor and currently finishing up her appointment at a local church in the Greater New Jersey District.
Twenty-five-year-old Fabián, Bishop Héctor’s oldest son, works for Amazon in quality control and loves playing the drums, being outdoors, and playing disc-golf.
Joel, his 23-year-old son, is a professional soccer player, living in Belize. He was just informed that he was selected to be on the Puerto Rico National Team.
Marcos, Bishop Héctor’s 17-year-old son is a senior in high school. He is the family clown, always making everyone laugh. He plans to go to vocational school to apply his passion for automotive engineering.
Valeria is Bishop Héctor’s 13-year-old daughter; “Daddy’s little princess who gets whatever she wants,” he said.
As he did in the clergy gatherings, he shared his upbringing and his perspectives. Click here to read about them all.
A unique quality that Bishop Héctor brings to the Upper New York Conference is that he recognizes the importance of personal holiness, which is central in the Puerto Rican Methodist churches, developed by retired Pentecostal ministers. And having been a part of the United Methodist Church for over 20 years, he also acknowledges the importance of social holiness.
Bishop Héctor said, “I am going to constantly encourage you to go deeper in your personal journey with Christ. And I am always going to challenge you to go out into the world and be agents of mercy and justice.”
When speaking of his two children who do not attend a Methodist church because they hate how it seems that it is more about debating than the people, Bishop Héctor asked, “How can we get people to like church when we messed it up for them?”
He mentioned how as a layperson, he always argued with his pastor over the lack of excellence. He compared it to his job in IT, where he always worked with a goal of excellence and was confounded by the fact that the Church did not do that.
Bishop Héctor said, “I dream big for God to develop a Church that will be here long after we’re gone. We’re a legacy generation. So much is changing so quickly. What do we need to do so that new generations can experience the love of Christ? It means that we might need to get rid of the old way of doing things to make room for the new.”
Bishop Héctor told the laity that they are the “engine” of the church and that he is trying to inspire District Superintendents and clergy to do less and equip more.
He encouraged the laity by emphasizing that “When you do more as disciples, you will get so much joy back!”
With great passion, Bishop Héctor reminded the crowd of Jesus’ final commandment to “Love your God above all others, and to love others as I have loved you!”
After Bishop Héctor emphasized the importance of the commandment, he said, “I hope that I just blew your mind out! If we can truly embrace the love of Jesus Christ, there will not be enough seats in our churches.”
The guests were very responsive to Bishop Héctor’s words of wisdom with head nods, “Amens,” and “Yes”es. Bishop Héctor continually asked the crowd to take a deep breath.
After his time of sharing, he asked the guests to be in conversation with each other about what hope they have for the new season in Upper New York.
“Stop closing our churches,” one person responded.
Bishop Héctor explained that unfortunately with changing demographics and very small congregations, it’s very difficult to be the good stewards we are called to be.
Then, he said, “Our churches will remain open so long as we are on fire for Christ and put ourselves in the community!”
Another person said, “We need to bring children and youth back to church!”
Bishop Héctor explained how churches in the 50s and 60s attracted youth with swimming pools and gymnasiums, but now so many other places in the community offer those things.
He continued, “But what those places can’t do that the church can do is help the children build a relationship with Christ. We can do this if we are in tune ourselves!”
Another guest pled for LGBTQIA+ to be more welcomed in local churches.
Bishop Héctor said, “If God loves you, I love you. That also means that we need to love people who think differently than us. If you think we need to agree, that makes us a club, not the community we are called to be.”
Bishop Héctor ended the evening by reminding folks that, “It took 12 disciples to change the world.”
And then he told them, “That might happen if the 114 people here tonight can commit to putting God at the top of their life and loving their neighbors as God loves them.”