AC23 Recap: Friday, June 9

The 2023 Class of Ordinands. More photos from the Service of Ordination and Commissioning will be shared shortly.

June 09, 2023

2023 Service of Ordination and Commissioning

More photos can be found in the galleries at right. 

Watch the Service of Ordination and Commissioning

At the Service of Ordination and Commissioning, the New England Conference welcomed nine ordinands and eight comissionees.

Bishop Héctor A. Burgos Núñez, who serves the Upper NY Area, was guest preacher. In his sermon titled "What does this mean?" on Luke 4:14-19 /Acts 2:1-12, Bishop Burgos offered this advice and encouragement to the clergy class and all of us:

"I do not pretend to know everything there is to know about this subject," he said, "but through the story of Pentecost, and my life journey, I am learning that living in the fullness of Christ and experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit every day in my leadership includes ..."

First, remaining connected to the source of our faith and hope. Instead of envisioning your leadership flowing out of the latest leadership theory, I encourage you all today to envision your leadership flowing out of a deep and abiding relationship with God in Jesus Christ ...

Second, develop and practice the ordained spiritual disciplines. Disciplines deepen our spiritual life and empower our leadership. They keep us centered and replenish us when we go through challenging times. 

Third, always seek to align with God’s purpose and vision for your lives and those you are called to serve. Always seek to serve God’s purposes first ...

Fourth, embrace change as a friend. Change is our calling. It is through new insights and ways of thinking and doing that we get to experience God’s regenerative power that releases us to do relevant and meaningful ministry in the world. 

Read the full sermon here
2023 ordinands

Maylis de la Fe-Rodriguez​
Ashley Michele Benner Murphy

Kate Galop             
Jordan Marcel Harris 
John Herbert Domingo Lucy
Bumshik Min
Alicia Vélez Stewart
John Brooks Whitley

Welcomed from another denomination
JongWook Hong (elder)

Thomas Anthony Andrew
Joanne Hus
Barry Alan Judd
Yuseong Kim
James Jeounghun Koo
Evan Reid McElreath
J.J. Warren

Welcomed from another denomination
Gil Pyo Lee (provisional elder)

Received for the Ministerial Education Fund


Black Clergy Caucus

Page numbers indicate where the item can be found in the Pre-Conference Materials (including addenda)

RS-23-118 2024 Budget Resolutions – page 580 – approved

  • Clare J. Chapman, who has been serving as Acting Treasurer/CFO/Director of Administrative Services – was elected to her position by unanimous vote

RS-23-212 Covenant Hills Visioning Team – page 81 – approved
RS-23-213 NEAC Divest From Fossil Fuels – page 83 — approved
RS-23-214 Fund Black And Urban Churches With Equity — page 83 — approved
RS-23-215 Cancel Conference Debt of Black Churches – page 84 — approved – as amended

RS-23-216 Praying For Korea’s Peace – page 86 — approved

RS-23-217 Exploring Land Restitution – page 87 — approved
RS-23-218 Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion – page 88 — approved
RS-23-219 Re-Organizing the Connectional Table – page 90 – approved
RS-23-238 Endorsing A Strategic Vision Forward for NEAC – page 586 – approved as amended


  • Amendment “2023 Session of the NEAC commits to incentivizing collaboration, and innovation, and diverse representation by directing its Connectional Table and Conference-supported funding and resourcing bodies to prioritize grants and other support …” (click link to see full text)
  • ​Video presentation from the Vision Forward Team

Historic Questions/Passing of the mantle

2023 Ordinands answer John Wesley's Historic Questions

2023 retirees Rev. Young Hwan Joseph Kim and Rev. Dr. Karen Munson welcomed the new clergy class with some sound advice, baseball analogies and a rousing musical tribute "Sweet Ordinands" sung to the tune of "Sweet Caroline.

Watch the video

Watch the Opening Worship

Friday's opening worship service was led by the Asian and Pacific Islander Commission and the Korean Caucus.
As part of the worship, members offered a prayer in the Korean Tongsung Kido style. Tongsung, “cry out together loudly;” Kido, “pray.” 
Take a listen:

2023 Ziegler Preacher

Rev. Dr. Becca Girrell

The Rev. Dr. Becca Girrell received the 2023 Wilbur C. Ziegler Award for Excellence in Preaching. Dr. Girrell serves as pastor of the United Community Church of Morrisville, VT. 
On Friday morning, Dr. Girrell preached on Acts 10 with a sermon titled “What’s Next?”
Calling Acts 10 “the height of drama in the early church,” she described Jesus’ followers, at this point about 10 years after Jesus’ ascension, as “largely underground and disorganized, still threatened and harassed.”
“… this fledgling church is at a critical crossroads: do they remain a revival movement within their Jewish faith, inviting others who were awaiting the Messiah to “come and see”? Dr. Girrell said. “Or do they draw the circle wider, extending the faith to include Gentiles, non-Jewish people, those who know nothing of their scripture, their God, their culture, and their people, even those awash in the power and destruction of Roman might?”
“Who will the church be? Who is in and who is out? Decisions have to be made. Lines are being drawn. Sound at all familiar?” she asked. 
The answer that comes to Peter, Dr. Girrell said, is that “God has shown me I must call no person impure or unclean. Full stop.”
“It’s not about who God has or has not called pure,” she said. “It’s not about who we think God has or has not called pure. Peter has accepted that God might work through those Peter doesn’t suspect or even like, and Peter is done trying to figure that out.”
“And that’s where we need to be, asking God, ‘what’s next?’ Dr. Girrell said. 

“… for all we have lost and will lose, for all the fear of the unknown, for all the temptation to fold in on ourselves and draw in close for protection, this is the time to ask not why now, but what’s next? She said. “Even now, the Spirit is doing a new thing, birthing a new movement. And so yes, this is precisely the moment to take another leap, and to draw the circle wide, and wider still.”
The Ziegler award is presented to someone “who demonstrates excellence in preaching the whole Gospel, addressing both personal and social salvation.” Each year’s Ziegler honoree is invited to preach at the Annual Conference session.

Watch the video
Read the full sermon

Bryant Awards

The Board of Church and Society also recognizes laity who do justice work.
Watch the video 
Read more about this year's recipients.    

Climate Coordinator

New England is the only UMC Conference to have a staff person dedicated to the work of climate justice. Grace Pugh Hubbard will serve as Conference Climate Coordinator, a part-time position, helping churches be more responsible stewards of the environment and leading advocacy efforts.

Read about Grace Pugh Hubbard
Watch the video

Statistical Report

Statistician Joy Mueller
Conference Statistician Joy Mueller gave her annual report looking back at the past year's statistics. Some highlights from 2022 include: 
In 2022, 83 percent of churches held in-person worship for at least 48 weeks. Looking at data from 2019 to 2022 – while
average in-person worship attendance fell by 9,465, over that period, online attendance increased by 15,590.
In 2010, current giving funded 76 percent of churches’ operating budgets; in 2022 that percentage had dropped to 63 percent. 
In 2022, more than 1/3 of our churches (34 percent) baptized at least one child. While professions of faith are down from 2019 levels, they have been steadily increasing since 2020.

Commission on Religion and Race Report

Much of CCORR's work this year has been conducting the required quadrennial anti-racism training; 10 sessions were conducted around the Conference. This year's training focused on intersectionality. A make-up session for those who missed the training will be held on Aug. 26, 2023 at a location to be determined. Please save this date if you have not had the opportunity to take this training; if you are serving a local church by virtue of appointment, assignment, or as interim this course is mandatory.

Chair Rev. Effie McAvoy said that five churches have reported on their work of researching their property's history with regard to redlining. She encouraged all churches to do this work outlined in RS-22-225 from last year's AC and said CCORR members are prepared to help churches in this work.

Be on the lookout for further conversation on intersectional Justice coming this fall. We will be delving deeper into our conversations on intersectionality with focuses on sexism/heterosexism, classism, ableism, and ageism. 
In partnership with the UM Foundation of New England, the CoRR team has awarded grants for ministries that are living into the work of justice, ending systemic racism, and caring for the marginalized. Let's celebrate these ministries!
This cycle we have awarded: 
En La Luch/The Struggle for Life in Medford, MA 
Hearts for Social Justice/RIUMA in RI 
The Maris Center, Salisbury, MA 
Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy/HYLA, Boston 
Finally, my siblings, remember that the work to end systemic racism is ongoing — it's not a “one and done.” It is a daily commitment to do “all the good we can, for whomever we can, whenever we can, by whatever means we can, for as long as we can.” Never forget that God loves you with an everlasting love. If anyone tells you differently they are LYING to you. GOD LOVES YOU.

Disabilities Committee Report

Chair Joan Farrar urged churches to observe Disability Awareness Sunday and to do an accessibility audit.

Each year [October], The United Methodist Church observes Disability Awareness Sunday as a reminder that the church is called to be in ministry with all of God's children, regardless of abilities and needs. It is a Sunday when we are called to look for the overlooked and to listen for those with no voice.

An accessibility audit is a list of items your congregation can use for self-assessment. Conducting an audit does not guarantee compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, building codes, or other legal requirements, but it can be used to alert you to potential problems and possible solutions. 

If you score 85% or better on the items at each level you can receive a badge for use on your congregation's website so that people looking for an accessible place faith community will see it and learn about your commitment.