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A Service of Remembrance; Memorial Service Opens Annual Conference 2023

June 13, 2023

"Who Are Your People?"


The 2023 Annual Conference of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church officially began with a beautiful and moving Memorial Service at University United Methodist Church. Delegates gathered Tuesday evening to remember and celebrate the lives of those who have recently passed away, leaving behind a remarkable legacy.

The service featured heartfelt musical performances, and provided a poignant moment of reflection and remembrance to start the 2023 Annual Conference.

The service commenced with a beautiful rendition of "Song of the Wanderer" performed by Dr. Johnnie Bankens on bass and accompanied by Ms. Mary Bresowar on the piano. 

Rev. Johnathan C. Richardson delivered the prelude, emphasizing the enduring love for humanity and the significance of the gathered community. "In these liturgies of life, we tell the story again and again of how you so loved the world," Rev. Richardson said. "We tell it now as we remember those who have most recently passed from our midst—whose legacy is ours to treasure and whose love is ours to extend."

Following the prelude, the congregation united their voices in a Hymn of Praise, "For All the Saints," expressing gratitude for the lives of those being honored. 



Rev. Kathy C. Fitzhugh and Rev. Dr. Carl E. Rhoads guided the congregation through the Remembering of the Saints.

Rev. Fitzhugh expressed gratitude to an infinite God who had been present in all ages and seasons, partnering with every generation in an unfolding story.

Rev. Rhoads encouraged a moment of silence and remembrance, trusting in the everlasting hope and the comforting presence of the Spirit, who is near to the brokenhearted.

The following saints were lifted and remembered: 

Clergy

  • Tommy Ray Bergeron, Sr.
  • Lillard Rhoades Bevill 
  • Robert Earl Carter
  • James Vernon Fairley, Sr. 
  • Elmer Benjamin Fant
  • Kenneth M. Fisher 
  • Michael Thomas Head
  • Richard Charles Hebert 
  • Frank Morrison Jones
  • Steven Randall Kelly 
  • Calvin Oliver Lapuyade
  • William Marshall McCutcheon 
  • James Albert McLean
  • Jerry Akin Means 
  • Jesse Lafayette Means, Jr.
  • Roy Brown Nash 
  • Kenneth Randall Reed
  • Maynard Rolly Walker 
  • Marva Louise Washington-Mitchell
  • Theodore R. Weber 
  • Christmas Carol Wilbur 
Clergy Spouses
  • Shirley M. DeLaughter
  • Percy Joseph Guidry 
  • Peggy Anne Moore Johns
  • Ocelia Jo McLean 
  • Susan Mary Bell Trickett
  • Sue Johnston
  • Jordan Warren 
  • Sarojini Welch 

Bishop Delores J. Williamston proceeded to lead the congregation in the solemn act of Holy Communion, a sacred tradition that unifies the community in remembrance and celebration of Christ's sacrifice. Bishop Williamson then closed the service with a moving prayer, acknowledging the mysteries of life and death and affirming the power of love that transcends the grave. The prayer reassured delegates, guests and family members that love, which raised Christ from the dead, would sustain them until the day they worship together in the eternal kingdom.



Rev. Jan Curwick preached, drawing inspiration from Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-16. Rev. Curwick shared words of comfort, hope, and inspiration, reminding everyone of the faith that sustained the saints who have gone before them.

"We begin to realize that with everyone, we have more in common than the things that divide us. The people here in the pews around, look around you," Curwick said. "Think about the people in our churches, in our communities, in our state, in our nation, the people around the world, old and young, poor and rich, Republicans and Democrats, First Nation people and lawful immigrants and undocumented immigrants. No matter the color of the skin or the educational level or the sexual orientation, we were all, ALL created by God and are loved by God."


Finally, Bishop Williamston imparted a benediction, sending the congregation forth with peace and hope, urging them to carry the memories and stories of the departed into the future, knowing that death had not separated them from the love of God in Christ Jesus. 

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