Rev. Steve Zekoff, retiring Conference Benefits Officer, preached during the Retiree Recognition and Worship Service on Saturday afternoon. He spoke on the theme of “Good Bye Tension; Hello Pension” and read from the scripture Hebrews 12: 1 - 2a NRSV. Rev. Zekoff said that “Over the decades, I have become increasingly conscious of what makes up my personal version of what Bishop Talbert refers to as the American tossed salad.”  Rev. Zekoff described his lineage as being a “stew” of Bulgarian, Suedo Finnish, Manx, and lower class English. He reminded all that some of the discrimination that early 20th century immigrants experienced is being faced again by those entering the U.S. today.

In addition to his ethnic DNA, he explained that the Church is also part of his DNA. “Overlaying my stew of ethnic identities has been my life in the Body of Christ as manifested in The United Methodist Church. We all have a stew,” he said.  Zekoff explained that your retired status cannot remove the essence of being a UM clergy. “For any of us to believe that our part of the Body should be removed is to deny the contributions we made.” Those retiring represent over 450 years of service. All contributing an important part to what makes up the Body of Christ, he said.

Yes, it will be nice to embrace our pensions and move from some of the tensions that come with working with a diversity of believers, Zekoff said. He continued, “You are entering into a season of recharging, and will be entering new adventures, activities and opportunities. But the Church remains in your DNA. I suspect many of you will be seeking new forms of ministry, perhaps not as obviously labeled as when you pastored a congregation. But God will uplift us all. I am thankful for a Church that has my DNA.”

In a booklet created to honor the 15 retirees, Bishop Jung shared his congratulations. He said, “Words can hardly express the depth of appreciation that we have for your excellent leadership and ministry with and through the Wisconsin Annual Conference. We offer you our blessing as you enter a brand new phase of your life and ministry. Each of you has built faithfully upon the foundation and work of others; each of you has shared unique and God-given gifts to build God’s Church. Our Conference is what it is today because of your good work. Feel proud and blessed as you reflect on your lifetime of ministry, and know that your legacy will be appreciated for years to come.”

The 15 retirees who were honored include, Janis Blean-Kachigan, Michael Roger Carlson, Joan C. Deming, Dale Alton Engen, Linda Jane Farmer-Lewis, Bruce Steven Fenner, Mark William Geisthardt, George Hubert Groves, Ki Sung Kim, Ronald Martin Kral, Timothy Matthaei, Donald Olm, Jean B. Schmidt, David T. Wilkinson, and Brenda Wingfield. Note that Rev. Steve Zekoff’s retirement was announced last year, but graciously extended for an additional year his service as Conference Benefits Officer. Many thanks to Steve for your devotion and spirit of giving.