Divinity and Diversity: A Season of Change
The Central District welcomed its Ministry Team in a service of Celebration on Sunday, October 16. Gathering under the theme “Divinity and Diversity: A Season of Change,” laity, clergy, a Conference Superintendent and Bishop led nearly one hundred people affirming the leadership and supporting a mutual ministry with Rev. Dr. Heecheon Jeon – Superintendent, Naomi Sea Young Wittstruck – Field Outreach Ministry, and Wendy Lubkeman – District Administrative Assistant.
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Rev. John Gaulke offered a welcome to Altoona United Methodist Church and Angela Hansen-Abbas, the Central District Lay Leader, introduced Bishop Laurie Haller and other special guests.
Together, the community declared, “Eternal God, by your grace you have set us together in your Church…we pray [for] all who exercise leadership in your Church that they may with diligence and faithfulness fulfill their various ministries…grant that we your people may follow them where you lead and minister faithfully in the world.”
Bishop Laurie Haller introduced Rev. Jeon as the Central District Superintendent saying, “you have been appointed…to be among us for the ministry of word and Sacrament and called to a special ministry of supervision and leadership as a chief missional strategist for the district.” In response, the community declared, “We welcome you. We celebrate your appointment…affirm your leadership…[and] pledge to you our support in our mutual ministry.”
Rev. Jackie Bradford, Dean of the Bishop’s Appointive Cabinet/Northeast Superintendent, presented Naomi Sea Young Wittstruck as the Field Outreach Minister, saying, “you have been assigned…to be among us…and called to a special ministry of developing leadership and resourcing church leaders for cultivating healthy and vital congregations…to empower lay and clergy leaders and to equip them to carry out the mission and vision of the church.”
A Bible, bread and cup, Hymnal, Book of Worship, towel and basin, stole, globe, and Book of Discipline were displayed on the altar as symbols of the work of the District Superintendency and District Ministry Team.
Bishop Laurie blessed the team. “May God bless your collaborative and cooperative effort in ministry,” she said, “that your joint ministry.”
Following the theme of the installation service, Rev. Jeon spoke on “Divinity and Diversity: A Season of Change,” based on Luke 4.18-29. “We are living in a season of change,” he said. “Whether you like it or not, changes are inevitable. But it is happening not just one time, but always all the time. It means change is a natural cycle of life. As long as we live, we are facing some kinds of changes along the way.” He went on to ask, “ Do you tend to resist a change or passively ignore it or proactively adapt it?“
Click here to read the full text of Rev. Jeon's sermon
“If you resist changes, you will be most likely stuck in a status quo. If you ignore them, you will be surprised or embarrassed by unexpected changes. But if you are prepared and equipped to adapt those changes, you will be actually living a life that is generative and creative for the future.”
“I believe Central District will be a beacon of hope because just like Jesus we will bring divinity and diversity altogether by recognizing and reaching out to a Jesus, the least and the lost in our neighborhood. I believe Central District will be the place where immigrants and minorities of all kinds and refugees are treated equally and invited to the kingdom of God through the United Methodist Churches in our district. I believe Central District will be one body of Christ, which embodies challenges but leads the whole churches into new generations to come.”
The day’s offering was dedicated to support Change A Child’s Story, which was described by Patty Link, the program’s Conference Advocate.
Other participants in the service included: Rev. Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, Rev. Dr. Willy Mafuta, Rev. Jeff Kodis, Rev. Lee Schott, Rev. Gary Marzoff, and Rev. Jen Jibben.
Thanks to Rev. John Gaulke and the team at Altoona United Methodist Church for their hospitality.