Moving worship service celebrates milestones in ministry

June 18, 2019
Rev. Ailsa Harl receives a stole after being ordained as an elder. Photos by David Haines.

By: Christa Meland

In the midst of a turbulent, uncertain, chaotic, and divisive season within our denomination, more than two dozen gifted individuals came forward to be licensed or ordained on Tuesday evening at a moving Celebration of Life in Ministry worship service.
“They are, I believe, prisoners of hope,” Bishop Bruce R. Ough told those gathered. “They are trusting in a future none of us see, but one they believe God is even now creating and will reveal in time. They understand that hope is not a strategy, but an expression of trust in a faithful God.”
Hundreds of Minnesota United Methodists attended the worship service to remember friends and colleagues who have died over the past year, honor retiring clergy who have collectively given 565 years of service to Christ and the church, and celebrate newly licensed local pastors, those being ordained, and other milestones in ministry.
Preaching on Zechariah 9:9-12, John 4:23-26, and Hebrews 10:23, Ough told attendees that we are all prisoners of hope.
“Every person gathered this evening—traditional or progressive, young or older, white or a person of color, grieving or rejoicing—is a person of hope,” he said. “It is a part of our DNA.”
We hope with Abraham and Sarah, old as dirt, who believed they would still have a child. We hope with an old prophet, Ezekiel, who looked across a valley of dry and lifeless bones and asks, “Can these bones live?” We hope with Mary as she asked the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” We hope with the woman at the well, disgraced and displaced, for One who could give her the living water.
“Then, the risen Jesus appears! The risen Christ appears! Once dead, now alive! Now the whole world can hope,” said Ough. He concluded by telling those being licensed or ordained: “Come this night to embrace the fullness of the hope to which you have been uniquely called. Come and allow the Hope of the World to fill the very center of your being. Come and offer yourselves to Christ as a prisoner of hope. Come and take authority to be sent into the world, and into Christ’s Church in the strength of God’s Spirit, to give hope to others.”
Throughout the course of the worship service, these individuals were lifted up in remembrance, recognition, and celebration:

Those who have died:

  • Lorraine Charlotte Thompson (May 14, 2018; wife of the late Rev. Roy C. Thompson)
  • Marlene Almquist (June 5, 2018; wife of the late Rev. Earl A. Almquist)
  • Rev. Sharon D. Mills (July 12, 2018)
  • Rev. Charles Wendell Ankeny (July 15, 2018)
  • Lois Mae Engstrom (Aug. 1, 2018; wife of the late Rev. Paul H. Engstrom)
  • Rev. Clem Wagstrom (Aug. 3, 2018)
  • Rev. Ruth Ann Hograbe (Aug. 17, 2018)
  • Evelyn M. Johnson (Sept. 5, 2018; wife of the late Rev. George D. Johnson)
  • Geneva R. Davison (Sept. 25, 2018; wife of retired elder, Rev. Keith Gordon Davison)
  • Rev. David S. Schneider (Sept. 29, 2018)
  • Jean A. Witt (Sept. 30, 2018; wife of retired elder, Rev. Norman C. Witt)
  • Rev. Richard M. Harper (Oct. 10, 2018)
  • Hazel M. Haarup (Nov. 1, 2018; wife of the late Rev. Donald A. Haarup)
  • Kathryn N. Colescott (Nov. 4, 2018; wife of retired elder, Rev. Theodore G. Colescott)
  • Rev. Mark D. Winther (Nov. 28, 2018)
  • Helen M. Walkes (Dec. 24, 2018; wife of the late Rev. Donald L. Walkes)
  • Alice Marion Purdham (Jan. 11, 2019; wife of the late Charles “Chuck” Purdham)
  • Mary Ellen Xavier (Jan. 28, 2019; wife of retired elder, Rev. Joel Xavier)
  • Rev. Yeo Sang Cho (Feb. 28, 2019)
  • Rev. Clarence Edward LeMasters (March 11, 2019)
  • Marjean Carr Postlethwaite (March 13, 2019; wife of the late Rev. R. Deane Postlethwaite)
  • Rev. Joyce H. Rosene (March 24, 2019)
  • Robert George Yanchury (April 10, 2019; husband of Rev. Cindy Yanchury)
  • Rev. Alice Virginia Tobler (April 20, 2019)
  • Rev. Thomas Melvin Wilson (May 7, 2019)
  • Rev. Duane V. Ernst (May 17, 2019)
  • Rev. Dr. Akbar Abdul-Haqq (May 20, 2019)
  • Marie A. Toews (May 27, 2019; wife of the late Rev. Alquinn L. Toews)
The retirement class:
This year's retirement class has contributed a combined 565 years of service to Christ and the church.
  • Darrell Boe
  • Debra Lee Berry Clausen
  • Donna Stacy Draeger
  • Kristi L. Franken
  • Dan Horn
  • Torger Paul Johnson
  • Wesley Johnson
  • Larry George Kasten
  • Mary Kitchell
  • Marilyn D. Loken
  • Clay Oglesbee
  • Roger Parrish-Siggelkow
  • Cindy M. Rasmussen
  • Jean Rollin
  • Dan Schneider-Bryan
  • Robert Shaffer
  • Yong O. Son
  • Wane O. Souhrada
  • Dennis R. Tamke
  • Jeff Utecht 
Ordained for the work of an elder:
  • Stephanie Escher
  • Karen Ann Evenson
  • Ailsa Loraine Harl
  • Cullen Tanner
Restored for the work of an elder:
  • Michael McInnis 
Licensed local pastors:
  • Newly licensed local pastors are celebrated on stage during the Celebration of Life in Ministry worship service.
    Andrew Bonsell
  • Penny Bonsell
  • Jia Starr Brown
  • Kayla Brunkow
  • Hannah Choi
  • Mickson Deronvil
  • Justin Dietel
  • Amy Dinkel-VanValkenburg
  • Regenia Garrett
  • Jeramy Girard
  • Laura Hannah
  • David Hodd
  • Julie Kocher
  • Chad Koppes
  • Trevor Maine
  • Gerhardt Miller
  • Lao Moua
  • Adam Roberts
  • Carollee Smith
  • Eli Somers
  • Cynthia Spear
  • Lori Stanton-Artner
  • Lisa Vick
  • Yolanda Williams
  • Vicheye Young
  • Leslie Zeek
Licensed local pastors finishing course of study:
  • Karen Finnegan
  • Guy Sederski

Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

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(612) 870-0058