September 6, 2019
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Clergy & Lay Leadership of the New York Annual Conference
FROM: Thomas J. Bickerton, Resident Bishop
RE: Matters for your Attention
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
Grace and Peace to each of you! As I write the summer is winding down and we are beginning to set our sights on the work that lies ahead of us this fall season. As a result, there are several items to bring to your attention.
Hurricane Disaster Response
Attached to this letter, you will find an official letter from me as the Chairperson of UMCOR making a special appeal for offerings in response to the devastation caused during this hurricane season. Please be sure to have this letter brought to the attention of your congregation, hopefully this Sunday or shortly thereafter, and consider receiving a special offering for the work urgently needed by our United Methodist Committee on Relief.
In addition, I want you to know that I have corresponded with the Theophilus N. Rolle, the Bishop of the Bahamas, Turks, and Caicos Islands Conference of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas expressing concern and pledging our prayerful support for our sisters and brothers in the Bahamas who have suffered catastrophic damage from hurricane Dorian. I have also met with our Coordinator of Mission Ministry, Tom Vencuss, about the specific responses that could be initiated from the New York Annual Conference. Tom has been working closely with me and the staff at UMCOR to coordinate the denomination’s response to this disaster as well. At this point, the best we can do is coordinate financial offerings through UMCOR as an initial response. At the appropriate time, once the organization structures are in place, we will initiate the recruitment of volunteer work teams from NYAC to the Bahamas in order to provide a hands-on response. In the meantime, let us be faithful and earnest in our prayers for anyone anywhere who has been affected by this latest natural disaster.
I want to first of all express my heartfelt thanks to so many of you within our congregations that are maintaining consistent and faithful giving to our 2019 Conference Apportionments. Your commitment is enabling us to carry out our goals and objectives as an Annual Conference in ways that are deeply appreciated.
Still, as we enter the last four months of this year, we find ourselves running 1.5% behind our collection rate of last year. I want to urge each of you to work hard to achieve 100% giving to your conference apportionments by year’s end. We are working hard to be faithful stewards of our resources in the midst of these challenging days and need your committed giving to help us live into the strategic goals related to our Mission, Vision, and Core Values.
Let’s work together to make this fall push for apportionment giving a great success for our Annual Conference.
Directly related to apportionment giving is the excited news that our Conference Staff development goals have been accomplished with the addition of Doris Dalton, our Director of Leadership Development and Intercultural Competency, Lisa Isom, our Director of Communications, and Jenna Johnson, our Youth Coordinator. These three persons are the fulfillment of several of the goals identified as a part of strategic plan of the Annual Conference that are a direct result of our Mission, Vision, and Core Value work.
Doris, Lisa, and Jenna all have specific portfolios that we believe will help us go to the next level in leadership development, intercultural competency, communications, and youth work. These are areas of significant need throughout our Annual Conference and these staff additions will center specifically on how to improve our ministry in these specific areas.
I urge you to pray specifically for Doris, Lisa, and Jenna as their work unfolds in our midst and invite them into conversations with you in ways that would be helpful in your particular local church ministry.
Cooperative Parish Conversations
This week I, along with Matt Curry, Doris Dalton, and David Gilmore, began a robust schedule of meetings in the newly formed Cooperative Parish cluster groups throughout the Annual Conference. This schedule, which extends through mid-December, is designed to give me the opportunity to meet with every pastor and representatives from each local church in our Annual Conference. These gatherings will also provide an opportunity for us to form our new Cooperative Parishes and begin to lay out a framework for leadership development and support among our leaders.
The importance of your participation in these gatherings cannot be underestimated. This is a time for us to engage in deep listening and honest sharing on a more intimate level. There is information that we will be bringing regarding the current state of the church, developments on our future as a denomination, and ways in which to engage in important and meaningful conversations among your people. There is also information that we need to gather as we plan and prepare for the days that lie ahead.
It is my goal to meet with every pastor and local church lay leadership before the end of the year in this format. Please make every effort possible to be present on the date when your Cooperative Parish is scheduled to meet.
Along with this letter, I send along my sincere thoughts and prayers for each of you. I pray that God may continue to bless you with what you need in order to fulfill the calling that God has placed on your heart. Know that you are precious and important to me and that I look forward to the days that lie ahead when we will see each other’s faces and unite together in meaningful conversation and discernment.
Please stay well and be blessed.
The Journey Continues, . . .
Peace & Joy,
Thomas J. Bickerton