The unofficial kickoff of the 2017 New England Annual Conference is the luncheon hosted by the Preachers’ Aid Society of New England
. The lunch was held on Wednesday, June 14, at the Radisson in Manchester, NH.
The Clergy Lunch is a time to celebrate what the Rev. Catherine Anderson, Director of Pastoral Care Ministries & Clergy Family Services North, at Preachers’ Aid, called the “full spectrum of ministry.” Recognized were those marking 50 years since ordination, those entering retirement, and those who will be ordained at this Annual Conference.
Preachers’ Aid is marking an anniversary this year as well. It is 185 years old. In recognition of that milestone it has created a new planned giving opportunity: The 1832 Legacy Society. The Rev. Dr. Wesley E. Palmer, Preachers’ Aid Executive Director, invited those attending to consider becoming charter members of the society.
The presentation of the Blaine and Lois Taylor Fellowship Award, which honors retired clergy and surviving spouses with significant years of distinguished pastoral service, is also made each year at the lunch.
This year, there were three recipients. Each receives a gift of $7,500. This year’s Fellows are:
- The Rev. Deborah Shipp, who said she will use the money to travel to South Africa. Her father went there during his service in World War II and was disturbed by the treatment of black South Africans. His passion became a lesson for her and her siblings “to respect all people no matter the color of their skin,” Rev. Shipp said.
- The Rev. Ronald Messer began by thanking his wife, Marilyn, for being a large part of his ministry, which he said would “not have occurred without her presence.” He said they are unsure what they will do with the money, but may travel or use it on home projects.
- The Rev. Dr. Stephen Melius noted that Blaine Taylor was his District Superintendent in 1980. Rev. Melius was married that year, and said his bride had to borrow her wedding dress. That December, he got a check from Taylor for $50. Rev. Melius said he and his wife, Sandy, have bought a house in Salem, NH, and plan to use the fellowship money to put a full bathroom in on the first floor.
In addition to celebrating the retiring Conference clergy, the society honored one of its own. Rebecca Hewett is retiring after 12 years as Director of Clergy Family Services Southeast. Hewett serves as pastor of South Middleborough UMC in Massachusetts. Her successor is Karen Ruggiero, who as introduced at the lunch.
Those celebrating the 50th anniversary of their ordination are:
Carol J. Borland
Clark S. Callenderu
C. Edward Deyton
Norman B. Pierce
Thomas W. Porter
Keith D. Rae
Richard E. Thompson
New England Conference clergy retiring this year are:
Lorene "Lori" Eldredge
Mark Monson Alley
Margaret "Peg" Moser
Those being ordained as full elders this year are:
Preston Lee Fuller
Cheryl L. Meachen