AC 2020: Memorial Service

Rev. John McCullough delivers the sermon at this year's Memorial Service.

October 19, 2020

[Deuteronomy 31:6] – Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; God will not fail you or forsake you.
[Lamentations 3:19] – Remember my affliction and my bitterness, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.
This year’s guest preacher was the Rev. John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, the global humanitarian agency with programs in development and humanitarian affairs, refugee assistance, and advocacy for social justice.
He is an elder in the New England Conference and graduate of the Boston University School of Theology. Read more about him
In introducing Rev. McCullough, Bishop Devadhar said: “Knowing you have already read and heard about the wonderful gifts and graces of Rev. John L. McCullough, please allow me to share some of my personal reflections.”
“As a young boy growing up in India, I stood on the milk line generously provided by Church World Service. As a pastor in my home Conference (now Upper New York), I walked the CROP Hunger Walk,” the bishop said. “Being a recipient of the ministry of the Church World Service, it gives me great joy, and it is indeed a privilege, to share the platform with the president and CEO of Church World Service.”
In his sermon titled “Balancing Grief and Promise in the Season of Hope,” Rev. McCullough reflected on the challenges of 2020:
“… many of us have already concluded that this has been anything other than a great year. As a nation and human race, getting to 2021 can’t come soon enough, but it is about more than the passing of time as a human construct. What we continue to witness is the struggle all of us face in navigating crisis, turmoil and sorrow.”
But, he said, “As Christ’s church we perpetually live in a season of hope. This is not an easy or convenient thing to do. It never amounts to discrediting the realities of the current moment and often is excruciatingly hard and painful.”
“The convergence of remembering and grieving the death of loved ones who have shared their lives with us and who are not only part of our story but have helped shape it; of a global pandemic that swirls about us regardless of acknowledgement or denial, and poses a threat to health and survival; and the wanton acts of discrimination intended to make others feel less than fully human that provoke tangible fear, and that are an abomination to the creative genius of God, these are part of the reality that we as people of faith need willingly confront.”
“As people of faith we search for the balance of grief and promise, understanding that both are necessary parts of the human experience …,” said Rev. McCullough. However, he continued, “… our calling is not merely to find convenient ways of holding them in balance. Neither is it to allow grief to overtake us. As God’s beloved community our goal is to believe and find fulfillment in the power of the promise to overcome tragedy, outrage, uncertainty, despair, and unspeakable grief.”
The service was created by worship leader Dr. Marcia McFee and music leader Dr. Mark Miller.

Read Rev. MuCullough’s full message
Watch a video of the Memorial Service
See a list of this year’s Memorial Gifts