Remarks made by Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. when presenting the first Bishop's award at 2013 Annual Conference Session, Thursday, June 20, 2013.
In the l0th Chapter of Luke, Jesus with the story of the Good Samaritan, reminds an inquiring lawyer about what the law requires to inherit eternal life, "Love God ... and your neighbor as yourself." But, the lawyer asks Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" At the end of the story, Jesus answers him, "The one who showed mercy," arid commands the lawyer to "go and do likewise."
In alignment with the theme for our 2013 Annual Conference "See what you have, See your neighbors too." the Bishop's Awards are going to some those who see and serve their neighbor.
This afternoon, we pause to honor two faithful disciples who "walk the talk" of reaching out to their neighbors. This lay couple has been charter members of their local church since October 1962. They both serve on the Board of Trustees and he is the current president. She is taking her turn as the chairperson on the church's Joint Venture Advisory Committee. This means if anything should go wrong on the church campus, between the two of them, one of them is probably the "go-to" person.
She is also serving as the current president of the United Methodist Women. This couple is committed to sharing their faith with the next generation. They bring their granddaughters to church, Sunday School, and vacation Bible School. This commitment has led these 2nd and 4th graders to request baptism.
Since Hurricane Katrina, they have journeyed four times to the Gulf Coast with Volunteers In Mission (VIM) teams to assist in the rebuilding efforts. This dynamo couple organized a group of 17 volunteers to spend two weeks at Sager Brown, the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) depot in Baldwin, Louisiana, following the hurricane.
It was in August of 1992 when this couple took their RV to be part of the California-Nevada Conference's first Jubilee event at Humboldt State University. They volunteered to help blitz-build two Habitat for Humanity homes that were constructed during the event. They camped at the local high school in their RV, along with two or three other RV families.
A call was issued for retirees who might be interested in volunteering to help churches and campgrounds that needed extra help. This couple answered that call by helping to spearhead the group. Today, this group, called the "CARE-A-VANers" consists of over 30 people who participate in one to five projects a year. Since its inception in 1993, this couple have missed only 4 or 5 times, which means they have helped lead more than 75 projects saving local churches thousands of dollars over the years. Their RV has criss-crossed our annual conference.
He is a retired engineer from Lockheed and she is retired from DeAnza College where she was director of services for the physically limited.
My brothers and sisters, as we see what we have and see our neighbors too, we honor the dynamic duo of Rod and Gloria Castor who are members of Trinity United Methodist Church in Sunnyvale.
As they are coming, I want to tell a story about Rod, who is 82 years young. Not much stops him, at least not until recently when a PG&E person ordered him to come down from the cherry picker where he was painting the steeple on the roof of the Boulder Creek UMC, perilously close to live electrical wires. Rod's response: "I just have a little more to finish, then I'll be down."
"No," said the PG&E man, "you're coming down now or I'm calling the police and you're ending up in jail." Rod came down; but, only after the PG&E man offered to finish the painting.