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Members celebrate lifetimes of ministry

Members celebrate lifetimes of ministry

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Members celebrate lifetimes of ministry

By Jenna De Marco | June 12, 2009 {1032}

The Rev. Dr. Rick Neal says the conferencewide memorial service for clergy and clergy spouses marks a “bittersweet occasion” for all members.

The Rev. Dr. Rick Neal preaches during the service. Photo by Greg Moore. Photo #09-1204.

Neal, who serves as superintendent of the Florida Conference’s North East District, preached during the annual service of remembrance June 11, leading into this year's annual conference session at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Neal emphasized the double meaning of the service — a time of remembrance of lost loved ones, as well as a time of worship.

“We remember with rejoicing all the good things about the people being remembered here today … that we will not build on this relationship as we have in the past, for a season, and we’re sad,” Neal said.

But the sadness, Neal added, is also mixed with joy for the loved ones’ final step in a lifelong journey following God.

Referencing the struggles found in several well-known literary and artistic works, Neal reminded worshippers to consider that they, too, are on a journey that might sometimes be challenging.

“So, I would remind you, as a soul-friend, that a journey means that we are not where we want to be at the moment,” Neal said. “There is someplace else we’d rather be … so we begin by confessing that not all is well with us.”

Neal highlighted Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem as one traveled not by accident.

The Rev. Walter and Paulette Monroe light candles as the names of the clergy and clergy spouses are read. Photo by Caryl Kelley. Photo #09-1205.

“If we are to be good disciples … we should give up the idea that Jesus walks with us. We are to follow him,” Neal said.

In concluding, Neal suggested that participants remember their loved ones’ journeys as inspiration to continue following Jesus through “thick and thin” in their own lives.

“The Lord Jesus Christ has lived and died and was resurrected,” he said. “Friends, we are still taking casualties, but the battle has been decided and the victory has been won.”

Members remembered more than three dozen clergy and clergy spouses. A white candle was lit as the name of each person was read, and individual photos were displayed.

More information about the conference session, including a schedule of activities and reports presented, is available at

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011,, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.