This year, the traditional service of remembrance was combined with recognition of local pastors and the commissioning service to create a Celebration of Ministry held on Saturday morning. In this way, the Conference recognized God’s work through the ministry of those who have departed this life in the past year and gave thanks for those who will carry that work forward into the future.
The stage featured a stack of stones signifying that something holy has happened here and serving as a reminder of the way God has worked through the lives of the saints who have gone before. A family representative of each person memorialized received a stone at the end of the service as a remembrance.
One of the songs sung during the service was “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which mentions the raising of an Ebenezer stone like the one Samuel raised to remind the Israelites of the help received from God. Those who were commissioned and licensed also received a stone to remind them of those they follow in ministry.
The service included recognition of a large number of persons who completed licensed local pastor school in 2015 and five local pastors who graduated from the course of study. Rev. Karen Hayden presented eight persons who have been elected provisional members, and Bishop Schnase commissioned them for ministry. After the commissioning, Rev. Dale Stone, representing the retiring class, passed the mantle to Rev. Tina L. Harris, a representative of the provisional class.
An offering was taken to support Restorative Justice in the form of the New Direction Scholarship Fund for children of incarcerated adults in Missouri.
Dan Steska shared that one in every 28 children in the United States has a parent in prison. These children are at great risk of ending up in the same situation. The scholarship fund is an effort to break the cycle, allowing students to earn college credit during high school and thus encouraging them to pursue college degrees.