Monday, June 30, 2014

Celebrating the visionaries, the equippers

2014 Class of Retirees
Back row, left to right: Rev. Keith R. Bitner, Pastor Kenneth R. Kitzmiller, 
Rev. Thomas B. Morningstar, Rev. Allen F. Hulslander, Rev. Dr. G. Edwin Zeiders, 
Rev. Dr. Lewis Arnold Parks, Pastor James Paul Rouse
Middle row, left to right: Rev. Dennis W. Derr, Rev. Judith P. Hulslander, Pastor Thomas M. Osif, Rev. Dr. David LaRue Reed, Rev. John Frederick Rauhut, 
Pastor Constance Anne Waugh
Front row, left to right: Rev. Susan Louise Halverstadt, Pastor Barbara Lynn Pease, Mrs. Tina M. Rockwell, Rev. Cheryl Saunders Cavalari, Rev. Jeffrey S. Swanger, 
Pastor Darwin C. Goshorn 
Not Pictured: Rev. William T. Anderson, Rev. H. Russell Blanchard, Rev. David E. Gallick, Pastor Sherry L. Good, Pastor Darlene Teeple Miller, Rev. W. James Pall

By Bethany Wood

The Celebration of Ministry, held Friday evening, June 13, kicked off with the jazzy sounds of the
Unforgettable Big Band. Joyously inviting the congregation to affirm the ministry of retiring clergy and welcoming those to be ordained, the traditional hymns had a decidedly swinging beat. “Come Thou Almighty King!” Be present with us this night, with might!

The celebration began with a welcome and continued as Pastor Kristen Wall-Love, one of the members of this year’s class of ordinands, offered prayer and then proclaimed the Epistle Lesson found in Ephesians 4:7-16. “To each of us, grace has been given …. It was he who gave some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers … to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.” We are to speak the truth in love, and the body is built up in love.

Rev. Catherine Boileau offered words of encouragement. Recounting her mother’s near drowning when young, Boileau told the gathering of her mother’s subsequent insistence that her children would learn to swim proficiently at the YMCA. She spoke of the grace that comes in equipping those we love for the life that is ahead. Her mother’s gift of making sure she could swim was providential when she joined her youth on a tubing trip. A beautiful day turned challenging as the water on the river began to rage into white water, with a waterfall in sight. The youth were safely able to get on shore with one exception. A boy’s tube overturned, taking him with it. Boileau swam out to help him and was able to rescue him, pushing him out so that he, too, could move to safety. But she was the one now trapped. Equipped by those swimming lessons, Boileau was able to release herself to the movement of the water and eventually find safe harbor. The real grace of the situation occurred when Boileau later baptized the young person who had been trapped under that overturned tube.

Speaking to the retiring clergy, she spoke of how they stepped into the water when they took that spiritual gift of mercy and sat with those who needed comfort; took that gift of administration and organized the work of the ministry, even as Jesus breathed life into that work. In his baptism, Jesus was fully with us. Lovingly he pushed us out of the way of harm with baptismal water and Pentecostal power. He did not ask us to make a memorial plaque and put it in the sand where we were saved. He said take this power and make witnesses and disciples in my name. And so Jesus came and equipped us to be teachers, preachers, and apostles to send to all parts of the river – even to those places we did not dream we would go. Tonight we celebrate the visionaries and equippers, those who prayed, proclaimed, and encouraged. “You lifted us up where our faith was weak, and coaxed us out into the deep where Jesus is.” Possibly we did not thank you at the time, but we are grateful.

The body of the service was crafted under three central themes detailing the many responsibilities and joys of pastoral ministry: The Journey of the Word, The Journey of Sacrament, and The Journey of Order and Service. A fourth theme, The Often Overlooked Journey, gratefully acknowledged the vital contribution and sacrifices made by spouses and family members to the living out of the call. Retiring clergy were greeted warmly by Bishop Jeremiah J. Park as their names were read and years of service were noted.

An offering was taken for the Bishop’s Partners in Mission initiative. Bishop Park invited pastors who do not pick up their congregational packets detailing the initiative to join him in doing one hundred pushups. There were few packets left after the celebration.

Retirees Rev. Dr. G. Edwin Zeiders and Rev. Susan Halverstadt passed the mantle of ministry to ordinands Anna Layman Knox and Ryan Krauss. Stoles belonging to Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, who presided over the formation of the Susquehanna Conference, and Bishop Park were placed by the retirees upon those representing the 2014 ordination class.

Bishop Park led the ordinand class of 2014 in the Historic Examination for Admission into Full Connection. A prayer litany preceded the celebration song of closing and benediction.

A video of the Celebration of Ministry can be viewed at

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