The William C. Ziegler Award for Excellence in Preaching for 2016 is awarded to the Rev. Tom Getchell-Lacey. Rev. Getchell-Lacey is pastor of the First UMC in Gilford, NH.
Rev. Getchell-Lacey preached during the opening worship service on Saturday, June 18, and began by saying that while he was humbled to receive this honor, it "comes with baggage."
"I mean, how many awards do you get where you need to prove that you deserved the award after you received it," he said, suggesting instead a reality-show style preach off titled "So You Think You Can Preach."
The award is given each year at the Annual Conference session to a person who demonstrates?excellence in preaching the whole Gospel, addressing both personal and social salvation.?The award is presented by the Conference Board of Church and Society.
Rev. Getchell-Lacey said he felt a bit daunted by the notion of being prophetic on demand.
"I think it usually takes at least a few decades to figure out who the real prophets are, which kind of eliminates the possibility that any of us will be
consulted about whether we make the grade," he said, so, I’ll leave it you and to time to see if my words will reach the exalted level of prophetic."
And, he said, the recent news made being topical a challenge as well. "Thank God the Scriptures don’t change," Rev. Getchell-Lacey said.
The Scripture he chose was Isaiah 11:6 "that lays out God’s dream for the world that God created – a world where the wolf lies down with the lamb, and children can play in snake pits, and where ultimately, 'they,' or maybe we should say 'we,' will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.'
There are three things, Rev. Getchell-Lacey said that it’s time for us to commit ourselves to:
"First, it is time for us to stop talking about the 'issue' of homosexuality and start seeing LGBTQI folks as real human beings," he said. "Because when the wolf is attacking the lamb, you don’t have an issue.You have an emergency."
"It’s time to stop thinking that it’s all about us. ... We have tended to fret about the damage our division over how we treat our LGBTQI siblings has done to the church and its witness," he said. "I have said it myself – what a shame it was that we were so caught up in the morass of our 'debate,' and how much it was hurting the church. It’s time to let go of this self-centered sort of thinking."
"And finally," he said, "it’s time to say no to fear and yes to courageous, risky commitment to doing no harm."
"It’s time not only to accept our LGBTQI brothers and sisters, but to embrace them, fully, and completely, for the wonder and the miracle that they are," Rev. Getchell-Lacey said."It is time to move from merely saying, 'you can belong to our church if you want,' to saying 'we want you to belong, we need you to belong, we are incomplete without you, we are not fully the body of Christ without you.'"
In 1981, the Mathewson Street United Methodist Church in Providence, RI, established the Wilbur C. Ziegler Award to honor Rev. Ziegler’s “compassion and optimism, his ability, courage, and sensitivity."