Members celebrate ministry, legacy of ‘saints’



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Members celebrate ministry, legacy of ‘saints’

By Jenna De Marco | June 22, 2010 {1187}

The living must advance their deceased loved ones’ legacies of compassion, purpose and mission.

The Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin challenges lay and clergy members and guests to continue the legacy of clergy and clergy spouses who died during the past conference year. “Legacy bears fruit,” Rankin said. “The body of Christ of the saints continues with us today. This is why Christian ministry thrives — because of this unbroken line of splendor for over 2,000 years. And it has no end.” Photo by Dave Summerill. Photo #10-1483. Click on picture for larger photo or view in photo gallery with longer description.

Doing so is a Christian tribute to their lives, said the Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin during the memorial service for the 48 clergy and clergy spouses who died during the past conference year.

The service was held during the 2010 Florida Annual Conference Event June 10-12 in Lakeland. Rankin’s sermon was titled “At An Acceptable Time.”

Rankin, who served for 14 years as director of the Florida Conference mission ministry, will retire from full-time ministry, effective July 1. He has been serving as pastor at Bayshore United Methodist Church in Tampa since July 2009.

Call to ministry

“We do honor our sisters and brothers,” Rankin said to the friends and family of those being remembered. “And what legacy they have left for us to live and die for is not only a question, but also a challenge and a call to ministry. For a legacy is much more than a memory.”

The late clergy and clergy spouses lived out the Christian legacy of following Christ, Rankin said, and “having inherited eternal life, they rest from their labor.”

Recalling a message of community spoken by the late theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rankin connected the Christian fellowship lived out by the clergy and spouses to their legacy to the living.

“Legacy bears fruit,” Rankin said. “The body of Christ of the saints continues with us today. This is why Christian ministry thrives — because of this unbroken line of splendor for over 2,000 years. And it has no end.”

The honored clergy and spouses found a mission field by serving in local churches, Rankin said, experiencing both great triumphs and disappointments.

“And yet the final fulfillment of their lives was achieved when they heard the voice of Christ Jesus saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ ” he said. “It is they who leave us a legacy of compassion, purpose and mission.”

We do honor our sisters and brothers. And what legacy they have left for us to live and die for is not only a question, but also a challenge and a call to ministry. For a legacy is much more than a memory.”

Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin

Rankin noted that the apostle Paul suggests the “acceptable time, the kairos of Christ, involves the gift of salvation given only by Christ,” but is also achieved by people being Christ’s hands, feet and voice. In this service, the legacies of the departed continue, Rankin said.

Legacies of compassion, purpose

One of those servants, Rankin said, was his late brother, Dr. David Rankin.

Others knew David, who had multiple sclerosis, for his compassion and sensitive medical care, Rankin said.

As a radiologist by profession, David was able to read his own MRI, showing he had cerebral melanoma. But as he battled for his life, Rankin recalled him saying, “ ‘I know whatever happens to me physically, that I have been healed for here and for eternity.’ ”

Rankin inquired whether those in attendance could recall a time when their late loved ones had to confront a prophetic — or defining — moment in their ministries.

“The church needs prophetic pastors and lay persons, and our connectional system should provide the support and encouragement as guided, among others, by our United Methodist social principles” he said. “And when those times come, we can be ready as an extension or as a connectional ministry. This is the legacy of purpose.”

One person who lived through such a defining moment in world history is the Rev. Frances Helen Guest, a retired clergywoman in the Florida Conference.

Growing up the child of missionaries, Guest lived in the Philippines with her parents in 1942 when the Japanese military invaded the country. With her family, she walked the Baton Death March and remained in prison camps for several years. During liberation, her father was killed when Allied forces bombed the camp.

Guest survived in spite of this extreme adversity, remaining focused on her faith and purpose, Rankin said.

A candle is lit as the name of a loved one is read — one for each of the 48 clergy and clergy spouses remembered. Photo by Dave Summerill. Photo #10-1484. Click on picture for larger photo or view in photo gallery with longer description.

“Her legacy of purpose is ours to live, just as it is given to us by the saints we remember today,” Rankin said. “Each one has stories of strength and purpose and living through prophetic moments which honor the Christ and keep us in focus as to our purpose: to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.”

Always the ‘acceptable time’

Florencio Duran Bravo, founder of the Alfalit literacy ministry in Peru, “lived with a passion for offering Christ to his people,” Rankin said. The ministry seeks to eliminate human suffering caused by illiteracy and introduces readers to the Bible.

Rankin recalled Bravo’s ability to race ahead with “indomitable spirit and strength,” despite Peru’s higher elevations, as well as Bravo’s loss of one lung to childhood pneumonia. Rankin remembers traveling with Bravo and witnessing “the miracle of persons reading the Scriptures for the very first time.”

And like Bravo, Florida Conference clergy and spouses have left legacies of mission, Rankin said, ones their friends and families must now continue.

“It is always the acceptable time to live the legacy of compassion, purpose and mission inherited by our heavenly loved ones,” he said.

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011, tparham@flumc.org, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tenn.




Contact Us

The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815

(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011