The author of Hebrews speaks of a great “cloud of witnesses” — saints that have gone on to glory whose faith impacts our own as we traverse the trail they blazed and sets the example for us to follow.
It is this same chord that Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball and Dean of the Cabinet Joe Kenaston struck as they memorialized those that completed their race and joined that great cloud of witnesses during the 2019-20 conference year.
The memorialization occurred during the Special Annual Conference’s Celebration of Ministry and Mission.
“I give thanks and praise today for those who have laid the groundwork for this outreach and ministry that we are experiencing today, and the willingness to risk doing new things for the sake of the gospel,” said Bishop Steiner Ball. “Their witness has made a difference in this generation, and for generations to come.”
A total of 38 deceased clergy, clergy spouses, and surviving clergy spouses were honored at Saturday’s event, which was live-streamed from Wesley Chapel on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon.
In addition to a discussion of their lives and legacy as Bishop Steiner Ball and Kenaston engaged in conversation on the chapel platform in front of the altar, a nearly four-minute memorial video produced by the conference highlighting each name and face was played, prompting Kenaston to fondly reflect upon all those that have now been clothed in glory.
“As I listened to the names and saw the pictures, I knew virtually all of those persons,” he said. “And the few that I didn’t know I know that God gave them to touch people’s hearts and minds and to make a difference in people and in this world, and I celebrate their ministry.”
The celebration included honoring the faithfulness to the gospel displayed throughout their lives, and the influence they continue to have on their colleagues even in death – particularly in the midst of a pandemic.
This was highlighted by Kenaston, noting that their legacy is celebrated and carried onward as the conference finds new ways to do creative and impactful ministry during the unparalleled times in which we live.
“They’ve been inspired by the laity and clergy that have gone before them,” he said of how their risk-taking ministries continue to shape current ministry in the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. “It’s been built on the saints.”
This sentiment was reinforced by Bishop Steiner Ball, who referred to those being memorialized as “the saints who took risks in their times to do new things.”
“They took risks to grow the church,” she continued. “They learned things too that they didn’t experience or learn in seminary. Just like we are. And many of the persons that we are honoring today, they spent their entire lives in ministry. When they retired they didn’t really retire. They kept being the light and hope of Christ for this world. I’m truly thankful for how they’ve helped us transition into this place where we embrace change.”
To watch the 2020 memorial video follow this link.
Clergy: G. Randall Adkins (Elder); Andrew C. Agnew, Sr. (Elder, retired); Arthur G. Backus (Elder, retired); Michael L. Daniels (Elder, retired); F. Olive Davis (Elder, retired); Esther Wilmoth Dyer (Diaconal Minister); Jerry R. Eaton (Licensed Local Pastor, retired); Clyde L. Gu, (Licensed Local Pastor, retired); George Hamrick (Licensed Local Pastor, retired); Parker L. Hinzman (Elder, retired); Harold A. Langevin (Licensed Local Pastor, retired); Harold A. Laparl (Elder, retired); Harry P. Light, Jr. (Elder, retired); Richard L. Longbon (Elder, retired); Edward D. Lowe (Licensed Local Pastor); John L. Lowther (Licensed Local Pastor); Bryan W. McMullen (Associate Member, retired); Ernest D. Metheny (Elder, retired); Billee Scott Mick (Elder, retired); Charles W. Scragg, Jr. (Elder, retired); Lawrence F. Sherwood (Elder, retired); Donzel B. Wease (Elder, retired); Ralph E. Wycoff (Associate Member, retired)
Clergy spouses: W. Blaker Boling (spouse of Julia Boling); Kim L. Craft (spouse of Edward A. Craft); Sylvia J. Daily (spouse of James E. Daily); Karyn Mock Harris (spouse of Mark S. Harris); Sharon L. Jones (spouse of Larry Jones); Virginia M. Saville (spouse of L. Curtis Saville)
Surviving Spouses: Rheba V. Arbogast (surviving spouse of James B. Arbogast); Geraldine Beal (surviving spouse of Paul R. Beal); Rosalia A. Hanna (surviving spouse of Tally Hanna); Virginia M. Hinkle (surviving spouse of Charles J. Hinkle); Naomi M. London (surviving spouse of Kenneth L. London); Helen McCauley (surviving spouse of Donald McCauley); Lela V. McCormick (surviving spouse of James L. McCormick); Joann Morrison (surviving spouse of Albert Morrison); Mamie Helen O’Dell (surviving spouse of Garlen O’Dell)