eoac16 | Worship



  • Holy Communion & Commemoration
  • Celebrating the Ministry of Bishop and Elaine Hopkins
  • Tuesday Morning Worship
  • Celebration of Retirement
  • Wednesday Morning Worship
  • Commissioning & Ordination
  • Thursday Morning Worship

Service of Holy Communion and Remembrance

"So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!" -2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB)

Nehemiah PriebeSermon:
Transformed by Water and the Spirit
Bishop John L. Hopkins

By Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader*

As all sang together “And are we alive and see each other’s face?” the gathered community shared this hymn of Charles Wesley that calls us together every June at Lakeside, Ohio. Its words remember the events that transpire between annual conferences, filled with “mighty conflicts past, fightings without, and fears within, since we assembled last”. The hymn ends with a note of triumph and a boast of Christ’s redeeming power, for there is unity and a sense of purpose in the calling that is ours through Jesus, a call that will carry us through all of the challenges and joys of living.

It is good for the church to be reminded of life’s transitions, and the opening worship touched on several – Bishop John Hopkins’ retirement and the assignment of a new bishop to East Ohio; our denomination returning from its quadrennial General Conference as United Methodists (despite rumors of a possible split); the transitions from life to death to eternal life; and the transformation that occurs when a person becomes a new person through Jesus Christ.

Bishop John HopkinsBishop Hopkins’ sermon was based on the theme verse for the week, found in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians: “So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 CEB)

The bishop began his message by remembering a time in 1996 when he traveled to Florence, Italy and had an opportunity to see Michelangelo’s statue of David, recently cleaned and restored for its 500th birthday. “The first time I saw him, I wanted to kneel.”

The church is much like this statue of David. “It needs to be cleaned up from time to time. It can become neglected, unappreciated and even off course in fulfilling its mission,” the bishop noted. The statue was regularly damaged and often mistreated over five centuries; the church has also taken its blows over time.

The Christian church in Corinth gave Paul more trouble than all of the other churches put together. His leadership was attacked, and yet some of his best writing came out of that. As Bishop Hopkins reminded us, “There is sacred presence in the midst of conflict.”
Paul unified the church by reminding them of Christ. Christ died for all and was raised for all. “Our unity is not something that we choose; it is given to us by God.” It is at the foot of the cross and the empty tomb where the church finds unity.

CommunionThe church itself is a creation of God. “In Christ, God has created a new humanity in which we all belong together.” Bishop Hopkins challenged those in attendance: “Are we willing to be transformed by God so that God can use us to transform the world?”  In the sacrament of baptism, Hopkins said, we die to self and are born anew in Christ. We can remember and reaffirm our baptism each day.  As a witness to this kind of sacramental transformation, a short video from Garfield Memorial UMC in Pepper Pike shared personal testimonies from people whose lives were changed through baptism and the reaffirmation of baptism. Baptism into the Christian faith, Hopkins said, also claims a person for the work of the church. As new persons in Christ Jesus, “you are required to seek justice and mercy in the world. We are entrusted with the message of reconciliation.”

Holy Communion transforms us by spirit and by power. “Whenever the church shares in the sacrament,” Hopkins said, “the spirit of Christ is present.”   

“As we honor the saints in glory, we remember the struggles and the joy they experienced in doing God’s work. We will honor them by sharing the love that they passed on to us.”

Circuit Rider saddlebagBishop Hopkins shared a gift that the Annual Conference recently received from an Ohio couple. It was the circuit rider saddlebag used by the Rev. Daniel Lambert (1801-1872), who served congregations throughout Ohio.  It is a symbol of the legacy that is passed onto us.  Inside the saddlebag was found a portable communion set.

During the Great Thanksgiving, clergy, clergy spouses, and lay leaders who had died since the last annual conference were remembered through the lighting of candles and individual remembrances projected on the screens of Hoover Auditorium.

And then the bread was broken and the cup was shared. As the church received forgiveness and new life through the sacrament, we were once again one in Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to the entire world.

“O blest communion, fellowship divine! We feebly struggle, they in glory shine; yet all are one in thee, for all are thine. Alleluia!”

*Bruce Batchelor-Glader serves Pt. Clinton Trinity UMC (Firelands District)

Photos of the Service of Commemoration and Holy Communion and more can be found at EOC Flickr.

Celebrating the Ministry of Bishop John and Elaine Hopkins

"Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you heard from me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Protect this good thing that has been placed in your trust through the Holy Spirit who lives in us."- 2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NSRV)

Clebtion decorationsBy Jon Wilterdink

A beautiful day at Lakeside came to a beautiful close. In Hoover Auditorium the 2016 Annual Conference gathered to recognize the many ways that Bishop John and Elaine Hopkins have impacted so many lives through the East Ohio Annual Conference. 

Led by the musical gifting of Rev. Gary Streiff the gathered congregation sang "It is Well With my Soul" to set the tone of celebrating ministry as well as saying goodbye to a faithful leader of the conference. The tone of celebration continued through the reading of scripture from 2 Timothy 1:13-14; 

"What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us."  (NIV). 

Truly many have benefited from the sound teaching, faith, love, and caretaking of Bishop Hopkins. Following the scripture reading a song, "For This Hour" written just for Bishop Hopkins lifted praise for the work God has done. 

Molly and LoganThe worship service moved into a time of remembering. After the songs had dissipated through the cool summer air, Bishop Hopkins took his seat on the stage of Hoover. What followed was perhaps the most compassionate and grace-filled roast of Bishop Hopkins and his three quadrenniums of service to the East Ohio Conference.

Molly McNamara and Logan Martens shared the impact Bishop Hopkins had in furthering the work of "Imagine No Malaria" and the work he has done to help eradicate global disease.

Kaye Wolfinger and Conner Prusha shared thanks for the support given to Youth and Young Adul Ministries. Prusha made it clear that the bishop has been a source of constant support to the leaders of the conference youth. Wolfinger expressed gratitude for the bishop's desire to hear the stories of young adults. This work has led a re-visioning process of how the conference can engage young adults.

Flat BishopTony Walsh shared the impact the Timothy Fund Scholarship has had on reducing the debt of students who have accepted a call to ministry. In a heartfelt poem Walsh expressed his gratitude regarding how the scholarship has allowed him to reduce the financial impact of pursuing a call to ministry.

Luigi Perez shared how after escaping from Cuba he experienced the hospitality of the East Ohio Conference. Through the leadership of Bishop Hopkins, Perez has seen the work of multi-cultural leadership via a call to plant churches within the Hispanic communities of Ohio. He also shared his gratitude for the bishop's vision to pursue wholeness and community by appointing him to cross cultural ministries.

Gail Angel introduced the work Bishops Hopkins took on to create clinics, classrooms, and churches by traveling to Liberia.

Angel introduced Christopher Marshall of the Liberia Annual Conference who testified to the goodness of God seen through the connections Bishop Hopkins cultivated between the East Ohio Conference and the Liberia Annual Conference. On behalf of 287,000 United Methodists in Liberia, Marshall called out Bishop Hopkin's gifts of peace, calm, and wisdom to serve in tense situations. If anything Bishop Hopkins will always have an open invitation to serve in Liberia!

The BridgeKimberly Arbaugh and Dan Loomis shared thoughts of future ministry and the challenge to plant new church communities. Arbaugh shared the work of "The Bridge" called to guard the treasures of the kingdom for the community and gave thanks for the grassroots movement that Bishop Hopkins started. 

After a time of witnessing to the faithful work of Bishop Hopkins, the worshiping congregation affirmed each believers call to guard the covenant made through baptism to be people of the kingdom. 

There were also more than memories shared at this worship service. Bishop John and Elaine Hopkins received a number of gifts in honor of their work. These gifts of love were offered to express the gratitude of their work to unify the conference. There were many gifts to celebrate.

Twelve years of leading a conference to make and mature disciples, $11,000 plus added to the Timothy Fund Scholarship, the work of Christ extending beyond international borders, but the most personal gift of the evening was a custom made guitar for Bishop Hopkins. Many in the conference have learned of his passion for playing music and continuing to develop his skills as a guitar player.

Gift of a handmade guitarThis time of celebration revealed the many ways the Hopkins have impacted many lives in East Ohio and beyond. Hopefully, through these parting gifts Bishop John and Elaine will continue to see their years of service bear fruitful results and keep this couple rocking the house! 

At the conclusion of the service the worshiping congregation took the celebration out into the streets. "Marching to Zion" led people marching out of Hoover auditorium to continue the joyful strain celebrating two faithful and dedicated leaders. Thank you Bishop John and Elaine Hopkins! 

Jon Wilterdink serves Mentor, Concord Hope Ridge and Willowick Shoregate UMCs (Western Reserve District).

Photos of the Service of Commemoration and Holy Communion and more can be found at EOC Flickr.

Tuesday Morning Worship

"So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB)

Water pouringSermon:
Up and Out
Bishop Peter D. Weaver

By Timothy McCollum*

As we gathered to worship on Tuesday morning, I was looking forward to a morning of grace in the Spirit.  I have always appreciated the morning services which center my own heart before a long day of conference business and reports.

Tuesday’s service was designed to bring grace right to us.

We were met from the start with the reminder of God’s imminent presence in the wake of the recent violence in Orlando. God is here.  The choir opened with “Come to the Water” while youth came forward bearing flags and ribbons as a symbolic form of flowing water.

Water sprinklingPart of the service included reaffirmation of baptism.  I could not help but be struck by the vows in which we committed ourselves again to be a prophetic voice and resist evil, injustice and oppression in the wake of the largest mass shooting in American history.  As we continued through those vows and prayed together over the water, it was carried through the gathering and sprinkled upon us once again. 

Our guest speaker was retired bishop Peter D. Weaver.  

Bishop Weaver called upon us to remember our identity is rooted in our baptism.

Sharing from Mark 1, Bishop Weaver invited us to look again on the baptism of Christ which we share.  As Jesus came up from the water, he was then sent out into the wilderness.  In the midst of our current wilderness of violence and hatred, we are called to be heralds of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives.

Bishop WeaverBishop Weaver brought forth the “most important question that can be asked”: “Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” We have been called into life as a new creation in Christ, a life transformed in love and grace.  We are called to invite others up into that new life.  We are called to remember our baptism.

After the message, we sang together and modified the hymn “Marching in the Light of God”.  Bishop Weaver then blessed us, sending us out to be Christ to the world.  May it come to be.

*Timothy McCollum serves Fitchville, New Haven and North Fairfield UMC (Firelands District)

Photos of the Tuesday Morning Service and more can be found at EOC Flickr.

Celebration of Retirement

"So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away and look, new things have arrived!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB)

Retirement ServiceReflection:
To God Be the Glory
Bishop John L. Hopkins

By Timothy McCollum*

As I am preparing for this year’s retirement service, I have a confession to make.  My first several years in the ministry, I usually skipped this service.  Mostly, they didn’t seem to mean much because I didn’t know anyone who was retiring.  But, for the past ten years I have sat with one of my ministerial brothers and we have not missed a one.  Sometimes we celebrate people we know, sometimes we simply celebrate the ministry of so many who have been faithful in leading the way before us.

This year, the retirees gathered on the stage were one of the largest groups I’ve seen.  Thirty-two pastors, including Bishop Hopkins, have committed themselves to this change in their appointment.

Bishop John and ElaineMembers of the retirement class shared in various ways during worship.  Bishop Hopkins then shared in the evening reflection on Ephesians 3:14-21.  In his reflection, Bishop Hopkins shared how incredible is Christ’s love which has sustained this group of pastors and strengthened their ministries. Each of the pastors retiring has given their life to be the presence of love to their churches, their communities, and their various ministry settings. Each has often been called to make sacrifices to share Christ with others.  And each has touched countless lives in responding to the call of Christ.

Returning to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians, Bishop Hopkins offered thanks for the many ways God has filled each of the retirees with a love deeper than our understanding.  Then, he closed with verses 20-21, that in all the retirees have done, may God receive the glory for the love that has been poured into and through each of them.

The choir shared an anthem of praise.

Peg Welch shared a moment of reflection that we have an opportunity to celebrate Bishop Hopkins retirement, though technically he does not retire until September 1.  She offered a gift to Elaine Hopkins.
Retired Bishop Peter D. Weaver then stepped forward to be a representative voice of the Council of Bishops.  He shared a brief synopsis of Bishop Hopkins ministry, offering thanks and praise to God. And then Bishop Weaver led the congregation in a liturgy or gratitude and prayer. 

RetireeAs the many retirees were recognized, there was a broad diversity in the many ways God has used and blessed each of them in ministry.  It is an interesting reminder of the vastness of God’s grace and love. 

After we shared in the singing of “Because He Lives”, Bishop Weaver invited us to remember those who have shared Christ with us and then led us in a benediction.

* Timothy McCollum is the pastor of Fitchville, New Haven and North Fairfield UMCs (Firelands District)

Wednesday Morning Worship

"So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away and look, new things have arrived!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB)

Skit - Envy signSermon:
In Order That
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer

By Ruth Roth*

Wednesday morning worship began with a call to rise up and love as the CCYM youth led us in worship.  The call continued in scripture as the word proclaimed that we are a "chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession" (1 Peter 2:9).  The morning drama continued to reinforce the message that we are called to serve through prayer, witness, patience, and love.  Mercy is extended when we fall short of living out our call, with a reminder that there is room for everyone who just believes.

The choir continued to share their gifts with a wonderfully upbeat version of "This Little Light of Mine" by H. Helvey. 

Bishop Hopkins introduced our morning preacher, stating, "He is no stranger to East Ohio."  Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, resident bishop of the West Ohio Annual Conference was welcomed home. Rev. Palmer served East Ohio in many ways before his election as a bishop in 2000. 

Bishop Gregory V. PalmerBishop Palmer reminded the congregation that to be "called out" has many meanings, some not good as others.  Yet Jesus does not call us out to rumble, but rather to live life under Jesus' sovereignty.  The church needs to spend more time naming and claiming our identity in Christ, which we have not done, rather we spend our time trying to blend in to the world.  Bishop Palmer stated that “Yes we are a chosen people called out of the darkness, to live in God's marvelous light - IN ORDER THAT..  In order that we might declare the great works of God in us, in the church and in the world”.  We are called to tell the world what God is still doing and live our lives in such a way that we bear witness - not only in the safety of our church but everywhere we go. 

Bishop Palmer challenged the congregation that whether we serve in hands on ministry  or through our advocacy, justice work Christians are to continually bear witness as what God is doing all around us.  As people of God, we are to do more than stare at "our ecclesiastical navels."  We are to live in the world and live out God's call declaring that God wants us to proclaim "what God has done for us, God will do for you."

Bishop Palmer shared a story of two faithful women from a church served by his father in a card as the Palmer family was moving to another church.  The message simply read, "Rev. Palmer, You learned us about God."  I must say Bishop Palmer as you serve Jesus Christ, in your witness and faithfulness, in the message you shared on this Wednesday morning - I must say - "You learned us about God." Thanks be to God! 

Ruth Roth serves as the pastor of Atwater UMC (Canal District) and Deersfield UMC (Mahoning Valley)

Service of Commissioning for Ministry and the Ordination of Elders and Deacons

"So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away and look, new things have arrived!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB)

Called to Be a Witness - Bishop John L. Hopkins

By Robin D. Dillon*

The dimensions of God’s Spirit were ablaze during the opening processional as the gathered community -- of “all persuasions” – sang “God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar; we your people, ours the journey, now and evermore.”

As the candidates and other service participants took their places on the stage, Bishop Hopkins ceremoniously sprinkled the waters of baptism on the candidates and congregation reminding all that through the sacrament of baptism, Christians are called by God to the priesthood of all believers.

Conference Lay Leader Greg Rentsch, Board of Ordained Ministry chairwoman Nancy Hull and others from the board presented five candidates for commissioning as provisional elders, one candidate for commissioning as provisional deacon, three candidates for ordination as deacons and seven candidates for ordination as elders.

DeaconsThe bishop examined these persons and all affirmed their commitment to the work to which they have been called “with the help of God.”

Following a reading from 1 Peter 5: 1 – 11, the bishop shared some stories about his father, noting that whenever his father called with a whistle, there was no hesitation. He knew what he had to do: go home. Not always knowing what his father wanted when he got home, there was generally some anxiety so he learned to pray on the run. He likened this to God’s call on our lives: we are to drop everything and answer. There is always anxiety in answering that call, but “when God calls your name, you learn to pray on the run.” He then went on to outline four necessary things the ordinands must do: experience the call of God; grow in relationship with Jesus; love the church; and sacrifice for the mission of the church. He advised them that ordination is not about them or their accomplishments, but about the church claiming their gifts for the work of Jesus in the world.

EldersAfter the laying on of hands and prayers for the ordinands, a chorus of ordained clergy sang “Lift High the Cross” to welcome this group to the order. Bishop Hopkins then showed the congregation a set of saddle bags that had been delivered to the conference office. Holding these saddle bags, originally used by circuit rider Rev. Daniel Lambert (1801 – 1872), he asked the question, “Who will carry these saddle bags into the next generation?”

Several responded to this invitation to ministry and went forward to meet and pray with representatives of the Board of Ordained Ministry while the congregation sang “The Summons” and Fritz Streiff and Connor Prusha sang a duet “Will You Be the One?”

The service concluded with a benediction by newly-ordained elder Matthew Merriman and newly-ordained deacon Amy Price.

*Robin Dillon serves as pastor at Oak Chapel UMC (Canal District)

Thursday Morning Worship

"So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away and look, new things have arrived!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEB)

Bishop Peter D. WEaver

Out and About
Bishop Peter D. Weaver