UNY delegates meet their new bishop, Hector Burgos
“I was almost asleep, but I was so excited;” this was the Rev. Hector Burgos’ response when he found out, after 2 a.m., on Friday Nov. 4, 2022, at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, that he was assigned as bishop to the Upper New York (UNY) Conference and would be starting Jan. 1, 2023.
Rev. Burgos was just elected as bishop of the Northeastern Jurisdiction on the third ballot during the afternoon plenary on Wednesday Nov. 2. Rev. Burgos, 48, is the first Hispanic elected bishop in the jurisdiction and the first Puerto Rican ever elected in the denomination.
Bishop Burgos’ assignment was announced to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference body during the Nov. 4 morning session. While many wanted to clap and cheer, the episcopacy committee asked everyone attending to kindly refrain from applauding because there was also deep sadness and pain in the room because a bishop was not yet assigned to the New England Conference. This reason for that is due to the conference body voting to postpone the election of a second bishop until the 2024 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference; this decision was made after 18 ballots with no elections following Bishop Burgos’. The College of Bishops plans to meet with New England to determine a bishop for them very soon.
Bishop Burgos had 25 minutes to meet with the UNY delegates after the morning session and before his consecration service. He, his wife Jazelis, sons Fabian and Marcos, and daughter Valeria were welcomed in a private room with applause and hugs. His son Joel was unable to attend—he is a professional soccer player, currently living in Mexico City.
A time of encouragement and prayer
Bishop Burgos encouraged the delegates, “I know there will be challenges ahead of us, but no challenge is bigger or greater than our God. And with that faith and with that trust, we are going to walk forward into that season, one day at a time and one step at a time.”
With the pandemic in mind, Bishop Burgos asked the delegates to form a circle “only as you feel comfortable” for a time of prayer.
He then said, “Outstretch your right hand with your palm up to the person on your right and your left hand, palm-side down to the person to your left and hold hands. Let’s unite in prayer.”
Everyone comfortably interlocked hands.
Bishop Burgos prayed, “Friends, in this joining of hands, knowing we see the visible sign of God’s call, one people in ministry for all. But there is also a promise and a challenge in this. The challenge is that you are called by God to hold somebody’s hand on the journey and bring them along side of you, support them, encourage them, challenge them, and even hold them accountable in love.”
He continued, “And there is also a promise. As we enter this season, God promises that you are not alone. Friends, God is with us and there is someone holding your hand. God has given us each one another to sustain and be sustained. And it’s in that responsibility and invitation and promise that we leave this space to go and celebrate our new beginning in the name of the one who is our Creator—Jesus Christ is our savior and friend, and the Holy Spirit is our wisdom and guidance. Amen!”
The delegates roared with applause and Bishop Borgos exclaimed, “Woohoo!”
Bishop Burgos pulled out his phone and told the delegates, “One thing that you’ll quickly learn about me as your bishop is that I am a selfie guy.” He took a serious and silly selfie with the delegates before a professional group photo was taken.
The symbol animal the delegates chose for their new bishop
Ian Urriolla, with a bag in his hand, asked the delegates, “When we were talking about what animal represents the qualities we want in an episcopal leader, what animal was that?”
The delegates answered in unison, “Unicorn!”
Ian pulled a unicorn hat out of the bag and presented it to Bishop Burgos who happily accepted it, smoothed his hair, and placed it upon his head.
The delegates cheered for him.
Bishop Burgos asked everyone to join around him for another photo and hugged everyone after saying, Thank you so much!”
The Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady, later said, “We all got together as a team and talked about all the qualities we wanted in a bishop and what we recognized is that what we’re really looking for is a unicorn and nobody is going to be able to be a unicorn; but, we can walk alongside of them to make sure that that which they lack, we are willing to do our very best to help fill. Even if they’re not a unicorn themselves, together we’re a unicorn.”
The delegates encourage Bishop Burgos
The Rev. Dr. Cady, said, “I want you to hear us say that we’re with you; we’re for you; and we’re going to walk alongside you to make sure that you are able to live with us as we’re able to find ways toward the Gospel together.”
We are blessed to have Bishop Burgos
All the delegates are thrilled to have Bishop Burgos come to UNY as the new bishop in a couple of months. You are invited to come alongside Bishop Burgos with the delegates and encourage him as he encourages you.
Bishop Burgos comes to us with decades of leadership experience. Most Recently, he was a District Superintendent in the New Jersey Conference; he also served as Directional of Connectional Ministries (DCM) in the New Jersey Conference from 2013-2018. He is the author of several books and has helped increase vitality in many congregations.
His interests include leadership development, racial and organizational equity, evangelism, contextual worship, and strategic communications in a digital era.
Click here to find his comprehensive bio on the Northeastern Jurisdiction’s website.