From time to time, Long Island’s houses of worship may invite missionaries, clergy from different congregations (and religious traditions) and other visitors to share the pulpit — and their views. This week’s clergy discuss how such guests can offer the congregation something new, different and insightful.
The Rev. Henrietta Scott Fullard
Presiding elder (retired), Long Island District, African Methodist Episcopal Churches
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was founded in the United States by people of African descent and heritage, has members in 39 countries on five continents. I am the adviser to the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens, where more than 100 members serve missions around the world. Their ministry has taken them to Tanzania and to Haiti to help the victims of 2020s Hurricane Isaias.
All A.M.E. churches around the globe have missionary societies whose members speak at worship services. Visiting missionaries can help to enrich a service by lifting Jesus up and giving testimony to his goodness. In doing so, they follow in the footsteps of St. Paul, who spread the Word of God around the then known world after Jesus spoke to him on the road. Paul said, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the spirit’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)
Visiting clergy offer spiritual confirmation that worship is the same all over because we serve the same God. Different places will praise God in their own way and language, but the praise is to the same God we all serve.
The Rev. Randolph Jon Geminder
Rector, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Amityville
One of the great blessings of having visiting clergy is the opportunity for parishioners to hear a different perspective on the faith and to meet, perhaps for the first time, leaders from mission areas they have been supporting. The teaching of Jesus in St. Matthew's 28th chapter that we "make disciples of all nations" is mightily enfleshed on these occasions. (Matthew 28: 19)
On May 22, our parish will be welcoming our dear friend, Fanuel Magangani, bishop of northern Malawi in Central Africa. I had the privilege of conducting the Advent clergy retreat there when he was studying for the priesthood. After more than a century of British and American hierarchy, Magangani is the first native African to serve as bishop in the nation affectionately known as "the warm heart of Africa."
Sharing reflections regarding daily church life in a dangerous and impoverished land will help our folks put things in perspective — we have so much in our country. As a wise seminary professor reminded my classmates and me more than 50 years ago, "Boys, always remember that the most rigorous fast you might embrace, would be a feast in most of the world!"
Rabbi Jonathan Waxman
Temple Beth Sholom of Smithtown
There are many ways that congregations benefit from hearing from someone with knowledge and insight.
Many synagogues have an annual residence program in which a scholar, often but not always a rabbi, is invited to offer two or three talks over the course of the Sabbath. This format affords the congregation to hear from someone very knowledgeable about a specific area of expertise. As much as rabbis are Renaissance folk, knowledgeable about a wide range of material, none can claim mastery of every facet of Jewish life. And often when the rabbi doubles as the one and only instructor for adult education, such a program offers congregants insights beyond the rabbi’s purview.
Occasionally, congregations are blessed with visiting clergy who are attending a bar or bat mitzvah. On rare occasions, the visiting rabbi consents to speak although, more often than not, they would like to consider that Sabbath as a week off and enjoy the festivities. More frequently, this occurs when there is a funeral and a new rabbi is in place, and the previous rabbi returns to eulogize someone she or he knew for many years.