The Journey Continues … Don’t Stop Now!

By Rick Wolcott*

The goal of Black Clergy Women of The United Methodist Church (BCWUMC) is to “identify, develop, support, and enhance opportunities for the inclusion and empowerment of black clergy women at all levels of The United Methodist Church.”

Black Clergy Women of The United Methodist Church reception
Black Clergy Women of The United Methodist Church reception

This year’s 28th annual gathering of members was a celebration of the historic elections of four black clergy women to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church.

Honored in Cincinnati, Ohio during the August 7-10 The Journey Continues …Don’t Stop Now! meeting were:

“When it was announced at the national meeting in Florida (in 2014) that there were no black clergy women elected to the episcopacy, the administration of national Black Clergy Women were very intentional and said, ‘we are going to put forth two representatives from each jurisdiction.’  It took intentionality to get the respect that we deserve as black clergy.  We thank and praise God, that God was faithful to us as we were trying to be faithful to him,” said the Rev. Waverly Earley, of Wesley UMC in the West Ohio Conference, during the opening night reception.

“The elections mean that the glass ceiling is constantly being shaken, and even shattered, over and over again, and I think that is so very important because it says to younger people, younger women in ministry, ‘we can do this,’” said BCWUMC President the Rev. Telley Lynette Gadson.

“Our time under God is now to pay it forward and, indeed, to continue the journey,” said the Rev. Jocelyn Roper, superintendent of the Miami Valley District in the West Ohio Conference.  “We also encourage those new sisters, and new brothers, who are trying to find their way to the way, to get on the way, and stay on the way, the way that is love, peace, joy, grace and mercy.”

Rev. Yvette Massey presents a gift to Bishop Sharma Lewis
Rev. Yvette Massey (right) presents a gift to Bishop Sharma Lewis

In presenting Bishop Sharma Lewis of the Virginia Conference, BCWUMC Vice President the Rev. Yvette D. Massey explained that each bishop would receive “a time piece inscribed with the words ‘in thanksgiving for your historic election to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church on (date), we celebrate you, your gifts, your graces, and your ministry.  To God be the glory,’ and because you all are so valuable, a string of three-strand pearls.”

In accepting her gifts, Lewis said, “I am actually supposed to be on renewal leave but I knew, honestly, that I had to be here because if it wasn’t for the sisters, I wouldn’t have been elected.  So the only thing I can say is ‘thank you,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘thank you.’”

Bishop Linda Lee accepted a gift on behalf of Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi from the Rev. Telley Lynette Gadson
Bishop Linda Lee accepted a gift on behalf of Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi from the Rev. Telley Lynette Gadson

Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi of the Western Pennsylvania Conference was unable to be present for the gathering but in a video greeting thanked the members of the Black Clergy Women of The United Methodist Church for their recognition and encouraged them in their ministry.

Bishop Tracy S. Malone receives a string of pearls from the Rev. Danita Anderson
Bishop Tracy S. Malone receives a string of pearls from the Rev. Danita Anderson

“I consider it a privilege, and an honor, and a gift, and a sacred trust to serve as an episcopal leader in The United Methodist Church,” Bishop Tracy S. Malone of the East Ohio Conference told those gathered.  “The Black Church, the BMCR, the Black Clergy Women, you have formed me since I was a young woman, and I continue to be formed by your love, by your hospitality, and by your generosity toward me.  So thank you for your prayers, thank you for your support, and I solicit your ongoing support and prayers as I seek to be faithful to what God has called me, and is calling me, to do on his behalf and on all of our behalf as we continue to journey together.”

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling receives a gift from the Rev. Dr. Gennifer Brooks
Bishop LaTrelle Easterling (left) receives a gift from the Rev. Dr. Gennifer Brooks

“You have no idea what it means to me to stand before you in this way,”said Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.  “Truly, truly, my only desire is to serve God, serve God’s people, and to further the kingdom of God, and I do it humbly, I do it humbly, only wanting for God to get the glory.  Thank you for every prayer, thank you for every text, thank you for every phone call, and, as my sisters have said, continue to pray for us because this is a precarious, peculiar time to be a bishop in The United Methodist Church.  It takes all of our courage to be able to lead at such a time as this.  So please continue to pray for us as we serve you.”

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Candidates for Ministry Say, “Yes,” to God

By Rick Wolcott*

God’s call is personal, and so is the way we respond to it.  Some answer early in their life, while others need more time.

“I’m looking forward to discerning the direction that God wants me to follow because I know he’s calling me to do something, I’m just not sure what that is yet,” said Kristen Buchs of Rocky River UMC (North Coast District).

“This is a continued journey into ministry from a number of programs including the walk to Emmaus, teaching at our church, and being encouraged by others to take this step,” said Gerald Killian from Cuyahoga Falls First UMC (Canal District).

“Answering God’s call has been a discernment, it’s an ongoing discernment, and it is finally moving forward in this process in The United Methodist Church,” said Scott Racut, of New Leaf UMC in Conneaut (Western Reserve District).

He, Buchs, and Killian joined 31 others exploring their call as part of the July Candidacy Summit Retreat at Methodist Theological School in Ohio.  The collaborative ministry of the East Ohio Conference and West Ohio Conference is the first step of the discernment journey.  During the summit, candidates worshipped and fellowshipped together, gathered in small groups for discussion, attended workshops, and were assigned mentors.

Bishop Tracy S. Malone told those gathered that, “We don’t know what’s around the corner.  We don’t know what’s ahead.  But one thing we do know is that God’s promise is sure, that he will not leave you nor forsake you, that he will put the words in your mouth, that he will give you the power and the authority and the anointing that you need in order to do what he is calling you to do.”

The next Candidacy Summit is January 4-6, 2018

Watch Bishop Malone’s message to the candidates.

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Young people encouraged to take the bold, faith step

MRI is a fun, action-packed, intense spiritual retreat, designed to assist youth ages 12-18 to hear, ponder, and answer God’s call to ministry. Held at Baldwin-Wallace University, Berea, OH. from Sun, July 16 to Friday July 21,  the week will offer intense Bible study, spirit-filled worship, intentional small group time, focused prayer, workshops specific to teen issues, recreation and mission work.

Through a trained staff of pastors, teachers, adult mentors, music ministers, and others, young people will leave the Institute with a sense of transformation and empowerment to live out his/her divine calling.

Guest theologians include: Rev. Troy Benton, senior pastor at St. John’s UMC,  Edwardsville, IL; Bishop Gregory Palmer, resident bishop of the West Ohio Conference; and Bishop Tracy Smith Malone, resident bishop of the East Ohio Conference.

Bishop Malone shared, “Enjoying my visit with the youth and leaders of the East Ohio Conference Ministerial Recruitment Institute (MRI). The theme is “Called By Name, Redeemed, and Not Afraid!” (Isaiah 43:1). I had the joy of sharing my “call story” and I encouraged our youth and leaders to take the bold, faith step to listen and not be afraid to respond to God’s calling on their lives.”

Bishop Malone also shared these photos and a video of the large youth gathering in praise.