A Thread of Love: Celebrating Incoming and Retiring GNJ Clergy

April 16, 2024 |

April 10, 2024, marked a poignant evening at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in East Brunswick, NJ, where the Greater New Jersey Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) held a worship service and dinner celebrating the rich ministry journeys of retirees and the promising beginnings of incoming provisional and full members.

The gathered blessing the incoming commissioners and ordinands.

The service opened with heartfelt greetings from Aldersgate’s pastor, the Rev. Sung Chun Ahn, followed by thoughtful liturgy led by the Rev. Michelle Ryoo, BOOM Chair, and music director Youngkwang Jun, guiding the congregation through a reflective and spiritual evening.

The Rev. Jessica Naulty took the stage to introduce and offer prayers for new clergy to be commissioned and ordained, a group embarking on their own sacred paths of ministry. Their anticipation and readiness to serve were palpable, mirrored by the congregation’s supportive energy. 

Carolyn Pendleton introduces the retirees.


Carolyn Pendleton introduced the retirees, leading to the highlight of the evening. That’s where the seasoned servants of faith were invited to impart their wisdom. The theme for the evening was unmistakably “Love,” a thread that connected every speech, reflection, and shared memory.

The Rev. David LeDuc, reflecting on his 39 years of ministry, described his journey as a “privilege and blessing,” invoking the divine essence of love from 1 John 4. He reminded everyone that the core of our mission is love itself, as echoed in the lyrics of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “It’s all about love.”

In a similar vein, the Rev. Linda Ross emphasized the importance of self-love as a cornerstone for ministering to others effectively, urging the new ministers to embrace self-care alongside their duties. “Love God, love yourself, and love others,” she advised, encapsulating the foundation of effective ministry. 

The Rev. David Schumacher’s advice was succinct yet profound: “Put a lovin’ on them,” a reminder that the essence of ministry often lies in simple acts of love and presence.

Rev. Frank Davis shared a moving testimony and charge for the incoming members.

The Rev. Frank Davis shared moving anecdotes highlighting that what people remember most are not the sermons or the dogma but the moments of shared humanity—being there in times of joy and sorrow, embodying the love and presence of Christ in the most challenging times.

“When you ask (past parishioners) what they remember about your ministry, they’d say they remember when you showed up for their daughter’s graduation. Or when you sat with them when their parents died. Or when I was mourning and you just sat there with me silently,” shared Rev. Davis. “In the end, God doesn’t see how many Bible passages you memorized, or how many sections of the Book of Discipline you can recite. What God really cares about is how you treat people. How you loved people. How you sat with them, cried with them, and would just be with them. That’s what truly matters.”

The evening also served as an homage to Bishop John Schol, recognizing his dedication and leadership as he approaches retirement at the end of August this year. The collective prayer of blessing for him from both new and retiring members was a powerful testament to his impact and the continued legacy of servant leadership within the church.

Attendees gather in a circle of prayer, blessing Bishop John Schol as he prepares to retire this year

Rev. Michelle Ryoo’s closing words captured the essence of the night, “Please know that you leave behind a legacy of love and servant leadership. Thank you, Bishop,” offering a resonant tribute to both the retirees and the bishop.

As the evening concluded, the gathered left inspired, reminded that at the heart of ministry lies a simple yet profound commandment: to love. It’s a legacy that outlasts all others, a beacon that guides the new generation of leaders as they step forward, and a lasting imprint of those who have served faithfully. In the words and lives of these dedicated servants, the message is clear: Love is the greatest ministry of all.

Commissioners/Provisional Members:
Timothy Conaway, Provisional Elder
Tayler Necoechea, Provisional Elder 

Transferring from Korean Methodist Church:
Jaeyoun Kim

Elder Ordinands/Full Members:
Nicole Hamilton, Elder
Joseph Jueng, Elder
Eunkyong Kim, Elder
Sunghyuk Kim, Elder
Sooah Na, Elder

Jesse Ruch, Elder
Laura Steele, Elder
Vanessa Wilson, Elder
Jamie Youm, Deacon

Transferring from The Methodist Church of Puerto Rico:
Javier Barroso, Elder
Jason Rios, Elder

Jim Bolton
Sharon Burniston
Carla Costantino
Frank Davis
Tony Godlefski
David LeDuc
Jinwook Jeong
Carol Jean McMullan
Lynn Mears
Beth Whalley Mitchell
David J. Montanye
Andrew Paek
Veronica Palmer
James Peterson
Patricia Piazza
Linda Ross
David Schumacher
J Neill Tolboom
Paul Zorn 

Main photo: Bishop John Schol offers a prayer of blessing over the retiring Greater New Jersey clergy.
All photos by
James Lee