By Sara Richardson
MAP dining hall was full of bright faces and laughter Sunday morning, June 12, as annual conference members enjoyed breakfast before the ordination service. The service marked a beginning for the newly ordained, but also a bittersweet end as we prepare to say goodbye to Bishop Bickerton.
Reflecting on what they would miss most about the Bishop, many breakfast-goers mentioned his personable nature. “Oh, how would I word it?” one member from the Butler district said. “Hugs. That’s it.”
“I think I will miss his genuine love,” Rev. Duk Hee Han, pastor of Albion Grace UMC said.
“I’ll miss his smile and his calm disposition. His earnest striving for the truth,” said Nancy Colliver of the Connellsville District.
Conference members lit up when sharing how Bishop Bickerton has influenced their lives.
“As a pastor, he knows me – knows my name. I’m going to miss that. With a new bishop, I won’t have that,” Rev. Jeff Little of Franklin First UMC said. “He was the bishop who ordained me and took me to England. I will miss him.”
Rev. Sara Wrona, who serves as pastor of First UMC in Vandergrift and New Beginnings UMC, said, “I’ll miss his positive outlook. I love his enthusiasm and encouragement. He’s always been so encouraging to me.”
A member from the Erie-Meadville District said the Bishop takes time for every person, adding, "I appreciate his leadership style. He’s very by the book, like me. We get out of order and he gets us right back on.”
There was a genuine sense of love as people shared memories and remarks.
“I’ll miss his high energy,” Rev. William Mock, a former District Superintendent who after retirement served for a time as the Bishop's Assistant. His comment was met with eager agreement at the table. “[I’ll miss] his commitment. He exudes love for the church, and he’s a good friend.”
Diane Bolin said she would miss Bishop Bickerton's “integrity and his passion, -- and not just for Jesus, but for the denomination. He wants to see us survive.”
A table of youth pages and members were perhaps the most excited to answer, talking over one another to share stories from the pizza party the night before.
“I got roasted by the Bishop!” Luke McGowan said.
“I’ll miss his face,” was Luc Devereux’s answer.
“I’m going to miss how cool he is and how he’s connected to the young ones,” Kaulten Kreger said.
McKenna Keltz summed up very well the character of Bishop Bickerton that many will miss: “When you walk into a room, he lights up! He just wants to share his faith with everyone.”