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Service of Remembrance celebrates 'great cloud of witnesses'

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On June 2, members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference gathered to remember the great cloud of witnesses, men, and women – clergy and laity – who faithfully served God during their lifetimes and died during the past year.

During the Service of Remembrance, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, members of the Cabinet, and the families of those who had died, celebrated the lives of these saints – 31 clergy, 12 clergy spouses and 10 lay members to annual conference.

To commemorate these lives, the worship leaders evoked the sacred waters that flow throughout the pages of the Bible and cast stones of remembrance, as a symbolic act, into a basin of water. 

The Rev. Frankie Revell, pastor of LaVale UMC, spoke to the families of those who died from a deep sense of personal and profound grief. He shared how he lost eight family members over the past two years – not to COVID, but to the ravages of poverty.

He shared with the families and loved ones who were present at the memorial service about how grief comes in waves in unexpected way.

He expounded on the theology of Hebrew 12:1-3, on theories of atonement, the supremacy of Christ, on the role of suffering and salvation, and the way faith intersects with our daily lives -- in history and today.

But mostly, Revell offered words of assurance and comfort. He called on people of faith to choose to run the race God puts before them with perseverance, with endurance, and as a call to growth.

“We each have our own unique stories of grief and loss,” Revell said. From his own, he learned “we’re supposed to be here for each other. We don’t enter muddy waters of faith alone. … God means what God says: He says, ‘I am with you forever.’

“Although my family is much smaller now, we’ve learned to love each other,” said Revell. “We’ve learned to forgive each other and let things go while we still have the time.”

And, Revell added, he learned that “we only have time for the things that allow people to draw near. Be patient, gentle, and graceful with yourself. Be kind loving and forgiving with your neighbors,” and embrace the ways of grief with your savior by your side. We need each other, he said.

As the service came to close, the people prayed: “By the reassuring power of the Holy Spirit, may we step into life, persevering in faith, confident in the new life available to all through grace.”

Pastors who were remembered at the Memorial Service included:
Edward W. Bauman, Jr.
Harry T. Baxter
Sharon K. Bourgeois
Jack H. Cassel
Edward W. Conaway
Clarence Davis, Jr.
Louis L. Emerick
Charles Wayne Frum
Sylvester Gaines
Jack R. George
Edgar Ward Hammersla
Mary L. Holley
Victor Olatunde Johnson
Richard Karpal
William C. Kercheval
Robert G. Kirkley
Norman Bruce Kuehnle
Ellis Leif Larsen
James Sherman Mason, Jr.
Bríndice Muñoz-Rivera
Lovell Parham
Davis W. Peck
Clarence Lendon “Pete” Roark, III
Robert Kenneth Rodeffer
Leonard B. Ranson
Richard K. Shamer
Donald L. Shearer
Walter Allen Shropshire, Jr.
James Maylon Warner
Clifford Carlson Webner 

See photos of the clergy, clergy spouses and lay members whose lives were celebrated at the Service of Remembrance.