View photos by Pam Sheldon and Rev. Joseph McBrayer
By Sybil Davidson
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson was officially welcomed as resident bishop of the North Georgia Conference on Sunday afternoon, September 18. A crowd of more than 1,000 filled the sanctuary of Peachtree Road UMC in Atlanta.
A beautiful processional led by waving ribbons included ministry partners in higher education, leaders of related agencies, retired bishops and worship participants.
Glorious music throughout the service included the Mass Choir of Cascade UMC, The Candler Singers, The Georgia Boy Choir, The Chancel Choir of Peachtree Road UMC, and The Atlanta Brassworks.
Dr. Bill Britt, senior pastor of Peachtree Road UMC, welcomed those in attendance.
A nod to our new episcopal family, a clergy couple (Bishop Haupert-Johson is married to the Rev. Allen Johnson), a number of clergy couples participated in the service, beginning with the Revs. Will and Blair Zant who brought greetings on behalf of the committee on episcopacy. Other clergy couples the Revs. Dorcas and Joel Rodriguez, the Revs. Stacy and Dalton Rushing, the Revs. Sondra and Walter Jones, the Revs. Joy and David Melton, and Rev. Herzen Andone (married to Rev. Jenny Andone) took part in the service.
A highlight of the service included the presentation of the eight signs for episcopal ministry. The dean of the cabinet, Dr. David Naglee, read a message about each gift as representatives of the Conference presented our bishop with symbols of shepherding, the prophetic Word, baptism, communion, service, teaching, supervision and appointments.
Deacons, elders, laity, young adults, members of the North Georgia Conference delegation, and conference leaders gave prayers, read gospel lessons, served communion, and participated in the service.
An offering that totaled $3,320.26 was collected to support the efforts of UMCOR for the Louisiana flood relief.
"What a glorious day," said Bishop Haupert-Johnson (or "Bishop Sue") as she addressed the congregation. "I stand here and marvel at what God has done in my life and what God has done in the North Georgia Conference up to this point. I enter into it rejoicing."
Bishop Sue preached from the Book of Luke a sermon titled "Search Party, Found Party, Party Party."
Recounting the story told three times in Luke of searching for the lost, rejoicing over the found, and calling friends to celebrate, Bishop Sue challenged the congregations of the North Georgia Conference to look outside the walls of their buildings and to search for those who are lost.
"Who is nobody else looking for?" she asked. "I love the image of a search party, shoulder to shoulder, looking for the lost."
In a service filled with references to the shepherd, she concluded: "If I am going to be your shepherd, let's go shoulder to shoulder together."
The service was interrupted when a startling alarm sounded during the bishop's sermon. The worship leaders and congregation soon learned that a person experiencing a medical emergency in another part of the building had pulled the alarm. Bishop Sue led the congregation in prayer for "a friend who needed aid, and that aid is here."
The moment was a fitting illustration of Bishop Sue's message to leave the 99 to look for the 1 and to turn attention to those who are outside our sanctuary walls.
Following the service, a reception was held in Grace Hall by Peachtree Road UMC.