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June 12, 2024

2024 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Recapping Annual Conference


There were many highlights packed into three days at Annual Conference, including times of worship and fellowship. Some of those memorable moments include recognizing more than two dozen retirees, remembering the clergy and clergy spouses who died in the past year, and celebrating the four clergy members who were commissioned for the work of Elder during the Celebration of Ministry and Commissioning Service. There were moments of inspiration and parts dedicated to learning more about our Methodist history. Relive your favorite moments or experience them for the first time through video recordings, notes, articles, and more.

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Youth present inspiring messages of hope


Invite youth to have a voice and play an active role in church and let God lead in all you do were some of the suggestions made by two Upper New York youth members at the 2024 Upper New York Annual Conference. Both Victor Giso from First United Methodist Church of East Greenbush and Destiny Hoerbelt from North Tonawanda First United Methodist Church were invited by Bishop Héctor to speak during this time of holy conferencing.

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Creation Justice Team’s composting efforts at 2024 Annual Conference


Three 95-gallon containers of food-associated waste were diverted from landfills to composting, thanks to the efforts of the UNYAC Creation Justice Team. Discover how this initiative is helping to reduce waste and care for God's creation.

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Learn more about the UNYAC's Creation Justice Team

CONFERENCE NEWS & INFORMATION

NEJ Bishops ready to move forward 


The Northeastern Jurisdiction (NEJ) College of Bishops is moving forward as a church and embracing our theological diversity following the postponed 2020 General Conference. As ruled at General Conference, the NEJ College of Bishops is upholding the decision made by the delegates to discontinue and not support any more disaffiliations. Bishop Héctor is fully supporting this statement. Furthermore, pastors and churches will not be penalized for refusing to perform same-gender weddings. Clergy and congregations are entrusted to make those decisions while considering ministry with and by LGBTQ persons.  

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Bishop Burgos Núñez announces clergy appointments 


After the prayerful discernment of the Upper New York Cabinet, Bishop Héctor A. Burgos Núñez announces the following appointments. All appointments, unless otherwise noted, are effective July 1, 2024.

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New episode of Spiritual Practices podcast available


A practice introduced in an earlier episode, the Examen allows us to notice the ways in which God is present in our lives and help us become more sensitive to these moments. The First Step, known as the Examen of Consciousness, is indented to help us focus on the level of our awareness of God. The Second Step is known as the Examen of Conscience. Join the Rev. Nancy Debelius as she guides us through step two of this practice.

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FEATURED

Watch Manny’s journey

Meet Manny Valdez


Follow the inspiring journey of the Rev. Manny Valdez, a bi-vocational pastor from the Philippines who balances his work at a Toyota assembly line with his profound commitment to growing the Filipino community in Ontario, Canada. Rev. Valdez dedicates long hours, driving two hours each way to lead worship in Toronto and to nurture a New Faith Community in Barrie. This story explores his unyielding faith, his transformative impact on his congregation, and his ambitious vision to establish a network of churches that will serve as spiritual homes for Filipinos across the region.

COMMENTARY

Upper New York Communications may include commentaries in the Weekly Digest that reflects a variety of voices and viewpoints. They are the opinions of the writers, not of Bishop Burgos Núñez, or any Upper New York staff member or team.

Lessons from Puerto Rico


The Mission of Peace (MOP) is a yearly journey of discovery and shalom to nations in our global community sponsored by the Northeastern Jurisdictional Council on Youth Ministries of The United Methodist Church. The most recent MOP trip was to Puerto Rico in February 2024. Upper New York participant, Noah Stierheim, shares his eye-opening experience in San Juan.

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The woman at Rafah


In 1993, Noelle Stevens captured an image at the Rafah border in Gaza that tells a compelling story of separation and resilience. This photograph, prominently displayed in her home, opens a window into the tangled historical and political narratives that have shaped the region. Stevens, a dedicated palliative care physician and an active member of The United Methodist Church, has channeled her firsthand experiences in Palestine into a passionate advocacy for peace and justice.

Read Noelle's story

ANNOUNCEMENTS

You’re invited to the Niagara Frontier Neighborhood HUB consecration


Join the Niagara Frontier community on Sunday, June 16 for the consecration of the Neighborhood HUB at Kenmore UMC, located at 32 Landers Rd. in Kenmore. The Neighborhood HUB will store supplies for disaster and aide relief needed within their community. Bishop Héctor will be the guest preacher at the 10 a.m. worship service followed by the consecration of the HUB at 11:30 a.m. All clergy and/or church representatives are welcome to attend.

Embracing Juneteenth: A call to justice and equality


Join us in observing Juneteenth on June 19, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This is an opportunity to educate our congregations about the realities African Americans face and their contributions to our church, community, and world. Respectfully attend events, support Black churches and businesses, and discuss racism and its current implications. This resource offers practical ways to observe Juneteenth, including preaching, teaching, and discussing its history and significance. Let’s recommit to spreading God’s love and light, working together towards justice and equality for all.

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Office closed for Juneteenth


Please note that the United Methodist Center and the Episcopal office in Liverpool will be closed on Wednesday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.

TOGETHER: SABBATH REST

Getting rest may seem unthinkable for many of us. Between work, family, and endless to-do lists, downtime is out of the question. We all know it’s what our bodies need, but our souls need it too. The act of Sabbath pauses our daily rituals of doing and shifts our focus to being. Do you have a unique way to find time for yourself? Tell us all about how you Sabbath.

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Sabbath rest isn't just for Sundays


Rest isn’t just getting more sleep at night and taking naps. Rest that feeds our minds, bodies, and souls can look like anything that brings stillness and draws us closer to God. Here are some different ways that you can quiet your mind and soul.

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MORE RESOURCES

Understanding new Compass retirement plan


A new retirement plan for United Methodist clergy in the United States goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2026. The General Conference voted approved moving forward with Compass at the postponed 2020 gathering, held a few weeks back from April 23-May 3. You can learn all about the plan, how it’s different from the current plan, and what to expect moving forward. The denomination’s pension and benefits agency, known as Wespath, has produced handouts in English, Spanish, and Korean so UMC clergy to learn more and start planning.  

English guide
Spanish guide
Korean guide

An overview of Generation Alpha


Generation Alpha, born in the early twenty-first century, is marked by significant technological, social, and geopolitical changes. They grew up amidst pivotal events like the launch of the iPad, Instagram, and the impacts of a pandemic. Known as digital natives, they integrate technology seamlessly into their lives and redefine societal norms, becoming the most ethnically diverse generation in the U.S. While they face challenges like shortened attention spans and climate change threats, they will enter a workforce with new roles such as cybersecurity experts and AI specialists. To support Generation Alpha, education and ministry must adapt to personalized, project-based learning, and institutions must bridge the generational gap to connect with and care for this dynamic group.

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AROUND THE CONNECTION

Church, nonprofit launch community gardens


Stanwood United Methodist Church and Puget Sound Public Farms proudly announced the launch of the Wild Goose Community Gardens on April 20th. Located at the church's grounds, this new community initiative offers residents the opportunity to cultivate their own food, learn gardening skills, and engage with their neighbors. The gardens will support the Stanwood Camano Food Bank with fresh produce and provide educational gardening classes.

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Zimbabwe men's group expands beyond musical activities


The Zimbabwe East Conference men's organization has expanded its focus from music to include business ventures, aligning with a strategic plan for sustainable growth. Known for their spiritually uplifting music, they are now pursuing income-generating projects like farming, and have launched a funeral assurance product in collaboration with ZB Financial Holdings. These initiatives support church programs and ensure equitable salaries for pastors. Additionally, the organization is exploring diverse projects, from poultry farming to establishing a private school, aiming to enhance financial independence and community support.

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