“What I learned over the course of my ministry is that I embrace all of the various caucus groups in our conference and denomination. I understand that we don’t all see eye to eye around various theological issues. And I’m not bothered by the variety of beliefs held by United Methodists because that’s the glory of the big tent that is United Methodism,” said Bishop Laurie Haller at her Celebration of Retirement Service on December 4, 2022.
Des Moines First United Methodist Church, decorated for Christmas with poinsettias lining the stage, was the retirement celebration host. Haller began her time of reflection by singing “Do You Have Room” by Shauna Edwards, accompanied on the piano by Ben Allaway, director of the DSM First Chancel Choir.
“Do you have room For the Savior? And do you seek Him anew? Have you a place for the One who lived and died for you? Are you as humble as a Shepherd Boy, Or as Wise as Men of Old?” Bishop Haller sang. “Would you have come that night? Would you have sought the light? Do you have room?”
Guests donated children’s shoes and boots in honor of Bishop Haller’s belief in the importance of being active. The shoes will be distributed to the United Methodist-related non-profit Bidwell Riverside Center. The offering taken during the celebration will be donated to the United Methodist Africa University in Zimbabwe. Bishop Haller has been an ardent supporter.
During the offering, the Mabaan South Sudanese UMC Choir sang in their native language, “Victory in Jesus (Bwatt Yaccuti).”
Other speakers and performers during the service included Rev. Gary Haller, who used lyrics from “Iowa Stubborn,” a song from Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, “Ought to give Iowa a try!” and thanked Iowans for their welcoming spirit and hospitality; Rev. Edgar Solis, pastor at DSM First; Rev. Martha Ward, Committee on Episcopacy; District Superintendents Rev. Ron Carlson and Rev. Melissa Drake; Margaret Borgen, Iowa’s Lay Leader, Rev. Abraham Funchess, pastor at Waterloo Jubilee UMC; First UMC Chancel Choir; and organist Deanna Snyder.