The Retirement Service for the 2014 Annual Conference celebrated the ministries of 33 clergy.
Rev. Kathy Martin, Chaplain at Morningside College gave the sermon for the Retirement
Service, entitled, “Looking Back, Moving Forward, Story On.”
Sarah Stevens, Field Outreach Minister for the Northwest District and Conference Worship
Coordinator, opened with An Invitation to Imagine, reading from Psalm 126.
The Scripture passage Luke 24: 13-35, concerning the road to Emmaus, was then offered.
“If we’re fortunate, the road is short,” Rev. Martin began. “You know the road – the road from
there to here, the road from illness to health, the one from grief to joy, from the pits to new life,
the one from loneliness to beloved community.”
The road from Jesus’ death to resurrection was three days, she said, for the disciples it most
likely seemed like an eternity.
“The road to Emmaus from Jerusalem was about seven miles,” said Rev. Martin. “For two of
Jesus’ followers, still grief-stricken from his death, it most likely seemed like a thousand.”
Rev. Martin spoke of her being ordained just eight years, and appreciation of the years of service
of the retirees being honored.
“Today, I am thankful to look back while moving forward with this faith-full “class” of retiring
pastors, their spouses, families, church communities and friends,” she said. “I thank God for the
call upon your/our lives to “lead, as our Discipline says, in service, word, compassion and justice
and equipping others for this ministry through teaching, proclamation and worship…to preach
and teach the Word of God, (administer) the sacraments, (order) the Church for its mission and
service, and administration of the discipline of the Church.”
“And I am especially thankful for those of you who have arrived at this place in the journey
with your love for God, your gift for listening, your sense of humor and most of the parts of
your body and spirit intact and functioning,” Rev. Martin continued. “Oh, how you have blessed
God’s creation; oh how you have blessed the Church!”
Rev. Martin shared the significance of the story, including that of the Bible and the connection of
our story there.
The uncertainty of the two followers on the road to Emmaus mirrors the uncertainty we face
“After a series of events, good or not-so-good,” Rev. Martin said. “We have a tendency to focus
our vision on the rearview mirror, to relive the moments, to stay in the zone.”
There are both blessings and curses in remembering, said Rev. Martin, the blessings are
treasured memories and life lessons.
“The curse is that you can become stuck in the past, she said. “So much so that you begin to miss
Rev. Martin detailed the struggles of John Wesley as he returned to England from his
disappointing missionary journey to Georgia, and how that led to the future Methodism.
Quoting John F. Kennedy, Rev. Martin said, “For time and the world do not stand still. Change
is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the
She spoke of Nelson Mandela as written in an article from earlier this year.
“Rather than leaving prison as an angry, resentful man, Nelson Mandela left there with a mission
to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor,” said Rev. Martin. “Completely unstuck, Nelson
Mandela remembered his past but didn’t live there. We shouldn’t either – there’s too much yet to
live, share, learn, do and celebrate.”
“Brothers and sisters in Christ, this story has not ended,” she said. “It lives on in you – in your
life, in your story. It lives on in my life and my story.”
“And though some of us are “retiring” from full-time ministry, whatever that means, we still
have a story, many stories to tell about God’s good news in Jesus Christ, said Rev. Martin. “And
whether we do that from the pulpit, or at the grocery store, on the golf course, or through acts of
compassion, forgiveness, service and kindness it matters not!”
We are still and will always be among the baptized, she continued, bearers of God’s grace and
forgiveness and given life through the pouring out of God’s Spirit among us.
“In Luke’s gospel, Jesus declares to his followers that they are witnesses – we are witnesses,”
Rev. Martin said. “Retiring or leaving church doesn’t mean that we’re done sharing God’s good
news in Jesus.”
Letters of connection, affirmation, support and companionship were given to the ordinands from
Each of the retirees was recognized, walking across the stage with their spouses to be greeted by
Nigerian students at Morningside and Simpson Colleges were the benefactors of the offering
taken at the Retirement Service.
Nigerian student David Ishaya spoke for the Offertory.
Bishop Trimble gave the Blessing for Retirement.
“Now is the time for your heart’s desire,” Bishop Trimble said. “To live the dreams you’ve
waited for, to awaken the depths beyond your work, and enter into your infinite source.”
Members of the Retiring class of 2014 are: John T. Abraham, Marsha A. Acord, Sheryl K.
Ashley, Nancy M. Bender, Peter K. Chang, Neil H. Cross, Trevor D. Davis, Ellery H. Duke,
Lynn B. Elrod, Lynn D. Gunderson, Lorraine J. Hartman, Richard A. Iles, Charles J. Johnson,
Charles E. Klink, Kathy J. Martin, Douglas K. McGraw, Brian S. McNamara, Gary A. Nims,
Michael L. Orthel, Douglas E. Reynolds, John P. Scherb, Dennis J. Shepherd, Jane E. Shepherd,
James M. Shopshire, Mary H. Shultz, Stephen A. Taylor, Dennis G. Tevis, Martha D. Ward,
Robert B. Ward, Jo A. Watkins, R. Karl Watkins, James O. Young and Thomas L. Zeleny.