Loved ones remembered during Memorial Service
June 2, 2023 / By Tara Barnes, Director of Denominational Relations, United Women in Faith
Clergy and clergy spouses who have died since May of 2022, were honored and celebrated during a service of remembrance Friday morning at the Upper New York Annual Conference.
“We take this special moment to give thanks to God for the lives of those who have come to be with the lord,” said Bishop Héctor Burgos Núñez to open the gathering. “We give thanks to God for their legacy of love and service and for a healing presence for their family and loved ones.”
Music was provided a band comprised of musicians from Greater New Jersey and Upper New York, and by the conference’s Korean Caucus.
The Rev. Nola Anderson offered the message.
“As we come together our hearts are heavy with the weight of grief but let us embrace the transformative power that lives in this moment,” she said, and asked in prayer for God’s eyes to be fixed on the gathering and for God to surround the family in God’s everlasting arms.
She shared the story of learning of her sister’s passing, that even 20 years later the grief is still present.
“It felt as if a light within me had extinguished,” she said. “Engulfed in a wave of numbness, hurt, heartbreak and anger. Losing a loved one brings forth a profound grief that knows no bounds.”
She offered up 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 as a source of hope, reminding the families and all of us that through Christ we have the assurance of eternal life.
She also gave the mourners permission to grieve.
“It is okay to say ‘terrible’ when someone asks you how you are doing.”
“Grief isn’t something to be swept under the rug or hurriedly swept aside,” she continued. “Grief is not a sign of weakness or lack of faith. It is a price we pay for love. To deny grief its due is to deny the love we had for the one we lost.”
The Rev. Anderson offered condolences to the families and loved ones of those honored in the service by quoting the “Hymn of Promise,” which attendees sang in response to her message.
The names of clergy spouses and clergy lost were read by district superintendents as those who knew the named stood up to honor and a bell was rung. Click here to find their names in the Memorial Booklet.
Conference Lay Leader Jessica White asked for the names of lay members to Conference who have passed away in the past year, and names were lifted.
“Thanks be to god for the love shown to the world through these saints,” Jessica said.
Bishop Burgos Núñez thanked God for faithfulness and service of those who passed.
“There are a lot of things we don’t know about in life. Things we’ll never be able to comprehend or explain. I hope that as we go about our lives and ministries that we go knowing that death is not the end of the story,” the bishop said in closing. “May we continue to live life abundantly and through our own lives live the legacy of those we are here honoring, knowing that healing will find us on the journey.”