Memorial service celebrates lives of clergy, clergy spouses


June 09, 2013

Click to see a gallery of images as Rev. J. Robert Burkhart preaches

In one voice the Conference expressed its care for clergy and clergy spouses who have died in the past year.  “We gather today for worship not simply as the people assembled here in this place on this occasion.  We also gather with those who have occupied these places with us in the past, though they are with us on earth no longer.  And we gather with those who formed the church long before it ever came to be known in this place.  We are united in communion with the saints.”

Their example was recalled with appreciation. “We recall with gratitude those whose faithful witness has been a part of our journey of faith.  We give you thanks for the church that has blossomed and flourished because their service and sacrifice became the seeds of our present life.  Grant that we may follow their example, to serve where you summon us, to accept our calling, and to be faithful even in the face of adversity.  And grant that we, too, will find our home at last in the fellowship of all the saints.”

The preacher was Rev. J. Robert Burkhart, Assistant to the Bishop for Adminsitration, who retires on July 1, 2013.  He confessed that he “hears voices!”  He related that he remembers the birth date of family members, people who had influence on his life, and other significant people.  He pauses on each of their days and said “I take some time and I listen for their voices.  I remember what they had to say to me, the story that they had to tell.”

Rev. Burkhart noted that he knew most of the people being memorialized.  Relationships are important to him.  “Knowing them gives me a good feeling.”  He often learns about people at their funeral services by “hearing their voices through other people.”  Then he experiences their gifts “through those voices.  And in that hearing I get to recognize the gifts of the Spirit in other people.”

Clergy remembered included: Alex T. Washington, L. George Pimlott, Duane R. Voas, Ronald E. Hall, Leon V. Wallace, L. Dean Surface, John C. Ling, George W. Paterson, Edward G. Clevenger, James A. Davidson, P. Boyd Mather, Robert W. Lemmermann, Thomas R. Balm, Gerald B. Wolcott, John G. Bissett, Keith E. Hamilton, Robert F. Cooper, Charles L. Birchmier, Dwight P. Bonham, Robert L. Smith, Wayne R. Gjerde, Robert W. Shreve, William L. Cotton, Helen L. Brown, James M. Ford, Donald F. Maple, A. Harold Sparks, Wendell L. Burroughs, Alferd E. Wilken, Harlan A. Stenberg.

Diaconal Ministers remembered include: Rachel I. Ireland and Jimmie Ruth Ellsworth.

Clergy Spouses remembered include: Martha Avis Shoemaker, Esther Webb, Shirley W. Gaul, Leola I. McKinley, Shirley M. Bissett, Margaret R. Brown, Leora E. Musser, Frances M. Bass, Mildred Dunham.