East Rochester United Methodist Church

East Rochester United Methodist Church

A Time to Pause and Reflect on the Special Session of General Conference of The United Methodist Church

Todd GoddardComment

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

West Walworth: Zion and East Rochester United Methodist Churches

March 1, 2019


The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make “disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” After the 2019 Special Session of General Conference, few are paying attention.

Our unique Wesleyan DNA places a particular emphasis on God’s grace and Christian living. The world witnessed the division and conflict exhibited at General Conference in February with disbelief. How can such hurtful words and actions come from Christians known as United Methodists?

A few observations:

1) Decades long conflict over human sexuality continues to undermine and obscure our mission. There is no mission and there is no vision for a denomination at war with itself.

2) We are divided; minds are already made up. Churches know where their congregation stand. Clergy have each come to their own conclusion. Lay people know where their convictions are leading them. Arguing theological and Biblical points of contention will not change deeply held beliefs. It feels like trench warfare, going nowhere, that never ends.

3) Our differences are irreconcilable. We are a global church with great diversity of world views, beliefs, and experiences. The negative side effect of diversity are cries of discrimination. Instead of celebrating the benefits of diversity, we have allowed our differences to usher evil, injustice, and violence into space that should be Holy and safe.

4) The authority of our bishops was significantly undermined when their recommended One Church Plan never made it out of committee and the Traditional Plan was passed 53% to 47%. I wonder how effective our bishops will be in carrying out the discipline of the Traditional Plan.

5) There is nothing Holy about conferencing. Winners are often those who work Robert’s Rules of Order more effectively than losers. Many pray for the Holy Spirit to come, then shut it out with points of order.

6) Reading reflections and listening to many colleagues and lay members makes it clear everyone lost the battle, the wounded are being dragged away, blood trails are everywhere, no one knows where to go next. This is a time of waiting. Leaders who led this bloody fight to a stalemate have had their pride and privilege exposed. Who wants to be led by those who would sacrifice the Church of Jesus Christ simply to get their own way?

My personal, prayerful, vision moving forward:

1) Cease fire. Stop fighting. End the violence. Lay down all weapons, leave the trenches, be brave enough to walk across no-mans land, and extend a hand of love and charity to those so bitterly opposed. Love enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. The world is watching our behavior and listening to our rhetoric. It better be genuine.

2) Repent. It’s time for sack-cloth and ashes. Let us vow never to allow ourselves to so harm each other ever again. Those who led us to the abyss should surrender authority. Pride, privilege, and ego nearly killed us; it’s time for humility, confession, reconciliation, and love.

3) Agree to a graceful, amicable divorce. No one gets the house. Assets and liabilities should be fairly divided. Allow the divorce to extend to the basic element of Christian faith: the local church.

4) Strip the Discipline of the United Methodist Church of everything except for a common Christ-centered theology with a Wesleyan emphasis on grace. Allow the global United Methodist Church to become an umbrella under which all those of like minds and hearts are encouraged and welcomed to gather.

5) Three beautiful plans are already on the table. Each speaks to a particular group of United Methodist. Each plan could serve as the groundwork for establishing three new denominations moving forward, united by a global United Methodist communion. Encourage clergy, laity, congregations to organize and affiliate with those most closely aligned to their beliefs and conscience.

6) End the fallacy of holy conferencing. Replace it with the Holy Spirit. Make sacred and Holy space for discernment. This requires establishing relationships and building trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of others as well as at work in my own life. What will this looks like? I don’t know; but I’d love to explore the possibility further.

My commitment:

1) I will love the people who are entrusted to my pastoral care and will serve to the best of my ability as their spiritual leader.

2) I will listen, counsel, love, and pray with all people, regardless of their theological and Biblical beliefs.

3) My sack-cloth and ashes will be a disciplined tongue and tempered behavior that contributes to healing.

4) I will pray and discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in others and in myself. I will look to movement in our Episcopal leaders, our District Superintendents, and our conference delegates, giving them the safe space necessary for progress to be made. I will listen to colleagues and laity alike, listening for the Holy Spirit at work, watching for the presence of the Spirit’s fruits.

5) I will remain true to my ordination vows, to the very best of my ability. I will serve where called and submit when it is the Spirit’s will.  

I look forward to the day when we will bring laser clarity to our mission as United Methodists, when our every effort moving forward is to glorify Jesus Christ and to propagate his Gospel, when we can be united by the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Love, always- Pastor Todd

Parish Announcement

Todd GoddardComment

Beloved members and friends of the West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist churches, Grace and peace to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

On Sunday, February 10, 2019 it was announced at the conclusion of worship that Bishop Mark Webb has appointed me pastor of the Rush United Methodist Church, effective July 1, 2019.

It has been a profound privilege to serve as your pastor, for the past 18 years at Zion, and for the past 6 years at East Rochester. My friendship and  love for every one of you will never end. Our time together as been one filled with grace and growth, all the while, keeping Jesus Christ the center of our faith, worship, and outreach.

Your love and kindness makes it very hard for my family and I to leave. I am confident that God is working through Bishop Webb and our District Superintendent, Vonda Fossett, to discern, identify, and appoint an exceptional pastor to each church. Both congregations are strong and I have every expectation that you will thrive!

In forthcoming months, District Superintendent Vonda will be meeting with the appropriate teams from both churches to guide you through the appointment process. She is wonderful! I’m confident the Holy Spirit will guide this process, you will warmly welcome your new pastor, and your new pastor will bless you abundantly.

Do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.  

With a tear in my eye, and a heart filled with love,

Pastor Todd

Strive for the Tithe!

Todd GoddardComment

Dearly beloved,

Are you experiencing the joy of living a tithing lifestyle? I am, and I invite you to join me. Tithing is an opportunity to increase faith and strengthen the church of Jesus Christ. 

Our Leadership team asked our Lay Leader, Jim Coleman, and our Financial Secretary, Ellie Kopp, and myself to develop a stewardship effort by the end of the 2018 year. We developed a campaign, identified stewardship values, brought focus to the joy of tithing, and established a timeline. Here are the highlights:


On November 25th and December 2nd, Jim and I spoke about the joy of tithing and this efforts during the announcements prior to worship. As per our timeline, over the next two Sundays - December 9th and December 16th, pledge cards will be distributed. Please make every effort to fill out your card and return it to Ellie by Sunday, December 16, 2018. We plan to make effort for 100% participation. We can do it!

Thank you for your thoughtful, prayerful participation and incredible generosity. 

God loves you, and so do I,

Pastor Todd

Eulogy for Lee “Buck” Franklin Gilhart

Todd GoddardComment

September 3, 1933 – April 11, 2018

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

East Rochester United Methodist Church

April 16, 2018




Buck, you fought the good fight

And now the victory is yours.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

Rest peacefully, dear friend.


Today, we gather

To remember Buck,

To ease our grief,

To survey our path forward,

To say “thank you” to God for sharing Buck with us.


Buck was born precipitously,

So quickly, he was instantly coined “Little Buckshot.”

Boom! The rest is history.


Buck was a child of East Rochester,

Meeting Margot in the third grade,

Graduating from High School in 1952.

He attended our parish as a child and youth.

He answered our nation’s call to duty,

Honorably serving in the Air Force.

Thank you for your service.


Marriage and family blessed Buck’s life.

A 35-year career with R.G.&E. enabled a good life;

A cottage on the lake,

A motorcycle and sidecar,

Water skiing, campfires, and special projects in the shop or kitchen.


Buck lived by his core values:

Honesty, dependability, strict adherence to the rules.

Being a stickler to rules probably saved his life more than once,

And the lives of his co-workers,

Both in the Air Force and

High up in the bucket fixing high power lines.


“Buck was rough and tough and hard to bluff,”

Margot recently told me,

“But, underneath it all, he was soft.”

Indeed, making Margot breakfast,

Doing the dishes,

Melting in the midst of an expanded family, or

Simply watering the gardens outside the church front door on hot summer days,

All gave evidence to Buck’s softness,

His love,

His heart.


“How are you doing?” I’d often ask when I’d stop in to visit.

“Oh, I’m getting by,” he’d reply. “Day to day.”

I knew the pain he was in and the suffocating nature of his heart disease,

Which just about killed me.


A few days ago I asked Buck to look me straight in the eyes.

I suggested to him that instead of living one day at a time,

That perhaps this was the time to start thinking about living by faith;

Drawing deeply from the stockpile of faith

Upon which he had built his life.

“Hum,” he responded. “I’ll have to think about that.”


Indeed, Buck made the spiritual development of living day by day

To living by faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ;

His promise of forgiveness,

His promise of resurrection and eternal life.

Today, the Lord has taken Buck by the hand and welcomed him home.

This is a gift,

We call it grace, and

Grace is the perfected destination of our spiritual journey to God.


It’s a gift that Buck’s sins have been forgiven.

“We’re all good,” our heavenly Father grants at the pardon.

Jesus paid his penalty;

Paying it forward,

For Buck, and every disciple of Christ.

It’s a gift that Buck’s burdens, pain, sickness, and temptation are now ended.

It’s a gift that Buck has been resurrected into eternal glory,

Forever abiding with God.


Today, we thank God for these enormous, generous gifts,

That has now brought Buck home.

Gratitude facilitates our healing,

Eases our mourning, and

Deepens our faith.


Say “thank you” to God

For the gift of his son, Jesus Christ, and

For the gift of Buck, his life, his love, his family, his friends, his church.

Say “thank you” to God

That Buck was able to spiritually grow throughout his life;

From living day by day,

To living by faith, and now

Being redeemed and resurrected into eternal life by God’s grace.


Thank you, God.

Thank you.


New Banners Dedicated!

Todd GoddardComment

New liturgical banners were dedicated on Sunday, April 8, 2018! Jody Watters and her family donated six banners - two Lent (Purple), two Christmas (White), and two Easter (White, see above) - in thankful gratitude for the kindness of Neil and Sally Glassbrook. 

Thank you for your generous gifts that will inspire our worship for years to come!

Thank You to the Family of Betty Kreyer

Todd GoddardComment

On Sunday, November 5, 2017 memorial banners were dedicated in memory of our own, Betty Kreyer. Banners and stands were made possible by generous donations in Betty's name and kindly directed by Betty's family. 

Thank you, Kreyer family!

Special thanks is also extended to Ellie Kopp, Margot Gilhart, and Pastor Carol Sierk for their work to make the special memorial dedication possible! 

Our saint, Betty Kreyer, and her family at the dedication of her memorial banners. 11/05/2017

Our saint, Betty Kreyer, and her family at the dedication of her memorial banners. 11/05/2017

Contact Ellie, Margot, Pastor Carol, or Pastor Todd if you would like to make contributions for additional banners.