News and Views

Memorial service remembers the saints of the BWC

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 Though the pandemic kept members, guests, visitors, and families apart from the Annual Conference Session again in 2021, the sacred time of remembrance in the Memorial Service went on in a powerful way.

The Rev. HiRho Park proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected at the Memorial Service Tuesday evening. She was virtually surrounded by powerful music and hymns shared by choirs from churches throughout the conference, the lighting of candles, and the sharing of sacred texts. Park is the senior pastor of Bethesda UMC in Bethesda. Prior to that, she served as vice president of International Relations and Advancement at Huree University, the only Methodist-related school in Mongolia and for 15 years as the executive director of Professional Development with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

“We invite you to have a candle or multiple candles nearby … to provide you a sense of healing, hope, and peace,” said the Rev. Kyle Durbin, one of the worship co-chairs for the Annual Conference Session. As each one of the deceased name’s was read, a small candle was lit shown in a powerful video. Each lit candle was placed one step from the next until a long trail of light cascaded through a cemetery, ending at a candle-strewn altar and a cross.

Bishop Easterling introduced Park, noting that the words of a certain hymn were resonating in her spirit. “Sing the wonderful love of Jesus,” she said, “sing his mercy and his grace / In the mansions bright and blessed, he’ll prepare a resting place / When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be / When we all see Jesus, we will sing and shout the victory.”

That is the promise of the resurrection and our hope through Jesus Christ our Lord, Bishop Easterling said.

“And yet,” she said, “on this side of the Jordan, the physical absence, and the loss of those we loved, have served with, and miss is painful. May the God of all comfort and healing continue to strengthen and keep you as you grieve, mourn, and celebrate those who have transitioned from labor to reward.”

Park began her sermon by noting that death, grief, change and searching for hope are inevitable issues we need to deal with. But, she noted, people who have a clear sense of the impact their lives have made on others face the end of their life better than those who have not.

“Today,” she said, “we celebrate the lives of our loved ones who strived to make a difference in the world by responding to their calling from God. How they have transformed the world around them, and how they are rising again with God.”

Using Revelations 7 as her text, Park proclaimed that the loved ones being remembered here have been standing with God in this world, renouncing the spiritual forces of wickedness, and they are standing with God still.

“When people were asking, ‘where is God in all of this?’ or ‘When is God going to show up?’ they were standing proclaiming a hope for the world. They were standing with God. For their service and sacrifice, they have found refuge,” she said.

When people were faint with despair and the hopelessness of life, Park said, these saints urged people to draw near to God and reminded people that God would speak hope unto them.

“Revelation 7:10 describes how our loved ones are standing with others whose lives have been transformed,” she said. “Even though death separates us from one another, God declares that we are still one in Jesus Christ.”

We are still one in the fullness of God’s grace, she said, adding that our loved ones are united with God in eternal life. “They are free of pain, grief, the tears.

“All of the saints whose lives we celebrate today,” Park said, “played their part inaugurating a new world order; an alternative on how humanity can get along; how all humans can live an abundant life. We are all called to do this sacred work like they did.

“They want you to know Christ, who holds the key to all these things. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Because they live, we live. Because they rise, we also rise. Because they are one, we are one.”

Saints who were remembered during the service included:

Bishop J. Woodrow Hearn, Bishop John K. Yambasu, and Bishop Joseph Hughes Yeakel

Donald Atkinson, Glen O. Barrick, William H. Bice, Kenneth E. Bowen, Curtis F. Campaigne, Richard C. Chambers, Edward W. Conaway, Robert J. Fringo, Robert Eugene “Gene” Funk, Albert L. Galloway Jr., Lowell Sanford Garland, Earnest Gayles, Jack R. George, Mae Etta Harrison, Michael Arnold Harrington McKinney, William B. Hill, Robert L. Hurley, John T. Jennings Jr., Norman Bruce Kuehnle, Richard A. Kroll, Donald W. Llewellyn, James Sherman Mason Jr., Angela Maves, Daniel C. McLellan Jr., Sheril D. Merki, Robert E. Mitzel, Douglas E. Moore, Isaac Mapipi Mawokomatanda, Roosevelt Oliver, Anne Perry, Gene Ray Perry, Robert Bruce Poynter, Sang Kook Ro, McCarl Roberts, Moses S. Sangha, Richard K. Shamer, Donald L. Shearer, Charles A. Simms, Franklin E. Smith, Kathy Spitzer, Judith T. Stone, Henry A. Swain, Daniel G. Taylor, Roland J. Timity, Wayne H. Upton, Maurice E. “Jack” Vineyard, Ingrid Wang, Harold W. Watson, Franklin L. Ways, Mamie Alethia Williams, and Charles E. Wolfe

Wyoming Lillian Adams, Mary Ophelia Melton Aist, Shirley Mae Allen, Mary Ellen Amos, Grace M. Andrews, Donald Arnold, France Molesworth Bartlett, Georgeanna Bradshaw, Marguerite Ardis Lambert Brown, Linda G. Cassel, Kevin P. Condon, Alma Jane Conley, LeVurn E. Custis, Nan M. Doggett, Fannie G. Gibson-Williams, William T. Groseclose, Dorothy “Dottie” Lila Harrison, Madelyn Carrie “Kitty” Hoffman, Cynthia A. Jackman, Sonora Johnson, Letitia L. Kess, Mildred B. Llewellyn,Mabel Macauley, Jean A. McCulloh, Dorothy J. Mitchell, Norma Moales, June E. Patrick, Grace Janet Pipes, Karolyn Poynter, Mary L. Ross, Marilyn E. Shearer, Joy A. Smith, Evelyn Stansbury, David E. Taylor, Carole B. Thompson, Geraldine L. Thompson, Joy Fisher Smith, Helga Heidi Bramekamp Upton, Martha Ella Vaughn, Mayme Hudson Carmichael Vineyard, Patricia Ward, Carol Eloise Hummel Ways, Ruth C. Whye, Fay Juanita Wright, and Phyllis S. Yingling

Garnipudi Sukumar Christopher, Richard David Pickett, Tom Price, and Linda Worthington

And, for all loved ones and for lives lost to COVID-19