An inclusive, Christ-centered community making a difference.



We are pleased to announce that, effective July 1, Dr. Carl Johengen will formally join the Asbury First team as the new Director of Music Ministry. Carl has been serving this year as the Interim Director of the Sanctuary Choir and was the unanimous choice of the search committee. His reputation for excellence, giftedness with people, and faithful spirit have already made a lasting impact on our community and we are excited to welcome him into this reinstated role at Asbury First.

This full-time position has been made possible through a restructuring of the current music staff and the generosity of several members. In May, our long-time Director of the Asbury Singers, Brian Bohrer, stepped down from his position in order to make it possible to hire a full-time Director. Brian made this decision because he believes the mission and ministry of Asbury First is best served by a return to a full-time director. We are deeply grateful to Brian for all of the ways he has led and served at Asbury First, and we look forward to seeing how his gifts will be used in the future.

We are grateful to the many members who have made gifts in order to fund this position for the rest of this year. We are thrilled to announce that one member has made an endowment gift to fund part of this position in perpetuity. When fully funded, The Helen Fultz Music Fund will help ensure our ongoing commitment to music at Asbury First. Dan Fultz, the creator of this fund, has graciously endowed this position in memory of Helen Fultz, his dear wife of 62 years, honoring our memory of her in this meaningful way. Look for more information about the Helen Fultz Music Fund, including an interview with Dan, and the opportunity to contribute to this fund, in the next issue of The Visitor.

Please join us in welcoming Carl in his new role and thanking all of those who helped make this position possible.

JJWarrenPoster web

Come and show your support of our LBGQIA+ siblings by dressing in the colors of the rainbow. J.J. Warren will be preaching at both services. J.J. just graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and will start at Boston University in the fall. He is a certified candidate for ministry in The United Methodist Church. He has worked as the Children’s Ministry Director at Ardsley UMC, and as the Spiritual Life Coordinator for Casowasco Camp and Retreat Center. J.J. has spent the past four years preaching at churches and youth events, founding a progressive Christian community on his campus, leading the Young Adult Ministries Team of the Upper NY Conference, and was a lay delegate to the special session of the General Conference in February where he made an impassioned speech for inclusion and unity.  J.J. has a free YouTube Bible study, “Called to Love,” which you can watch here: J.J. is excited to announce that this summer he will be preaching at churches across the U.S. Join us in extending our hospitality and showing that Asbury First is open to all.

Click here to view photos from our last Rainbow Sunday!

(Leawood, Kansas) -- More than 600 United Methodists, including our Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady, gathered in Kansas this week for UMCNext, a conversation in response to the adoption of The Traditional Plan by the 2019 Special General Conference. The participants depart today from an event that has been remarkable for many reasons.

"Every movement has a tipping point, a game changer, a watershed moment, this is one of them," said convening team member Rev. Junius Dotson. "In a moment none of us have experienced before and could never have fully anticipated, we have come together and held many important things in tension. We have managed ambiguity and cared for the waves of our own emotions and reactions. It has been intense, challenging, powerful, beautiful work we have engaged together."

The depth of the discussion is evidence of the strength of this movement and points toward an authentic new beginning. Participants from every U.S. annual conference took part in the gathering. The group found ways to work together, despite differences, and found many areas of common ground including four commitments.

Four Commitments of UMCNext
We believe these commitments are essential to a hope-filled future for the global Methodist movement as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world:

  1. We long to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ, committed to a Wesleyan vision of Christianity, anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience, and reason as we live a life of personal piety and social holiness.
  2. We commit to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church which affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.
  3. We reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation.
  4. We will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. We affirm the sacred worth of LGBTQ persons, celebrate their gifts, and commit to being in ministry together.

"What is clear as we depart this meeting is that we have a vision for a future filled with hope. We have not reached closure," said team member Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli. "This is just the beginning. We remain open to the Holy Spirit and with convicted humility, we will follow where God leads us."

Noting that this is a gathering of leaders rather than a leadership team, the convening team will now begin to process pages of substantive work that were generated through table conversations over the next few days. Participants will go back to their annual conferences to organize and mobilize others in ways appropriate to their context.

“Resistance looks very different in Baxter Springs, Kansas than in Boston, Massachusetts,” said team member Rev. Adam Hamilton. “For some, resistance is putting up a banner saying all are welcome; and for others, it may mean participating in a same-gender wedding. The hundreds of participants are all thinking about what does resistance look like in their particular context.”

Just as the gathering began with worship, the event closed Wednesday with worship. UMCNext participants stand firmly on this promise: “God, by His mighty power at work within us, is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20

Please visit, for more information about the Four Commitments and to watch stories from the meeting or to learn more about the UMCNext Convening Team.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield selects Rochester area nonprofits to share in Community Health Awards

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Eleven nonprofit Rochester area organizations are receiving Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Awards to help improve the community’s health. Each award recipient will receive up to $4,000 to help fund programs that include improved infant care; increased access to breast cancer education among African American women; and increased access to drug treatment.

Excellus BCBS is donating almost $108,000 to 33 nonprofits across upstate New York with this round of its Community Health Award program.

“The grants demonstrate a corporate commitment to supporting local organizations that share our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Holly Snow, director of community health engagement for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Awards focus on improving the health status of the community, reducing the incidence of specific diseases, promoting health education and enhancing overall wellness. Winning organizations are selected based on the proposed program’s scope of need, goals and the number of people expected to benefit from it.

The nonprofit organizations in the Finger Lakes region chosen to receive Excellus BCBS Community Health Awards include:

  • Angel Care Ministry of St. Marianne Cope Parish, to supply new and expectant mothers in need with portable baby beds and other newborn necessities to ensure babies have a safe place to sleep when they arrive home from the hospital.
  • Asbury First United Methodist Church, to support the UR Well Clinic, an outreach program within the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry that offers free acute health care to uninsured and underserved adults.
  • Celebration of Life Community Inc., to benefit the Help Me Read one-on-one tutoring program at School #17 in Rochester. Volunteer tutors are paired with children in grades 1-6 to provide additional reading support and mentoring.
  • House of Mercy, Health & Wellness Program, to provide CPR, first aid, and opioid overdose training, as well as first aid kits to help treat homeless individuals who visit the House of Mercy’s drop-in emergency services.
  • Jefferson Family Health Fund, to support the Magnolia Children’s Community Garden, which brings healthy, fresh produce to the food desert of Rochester’s inner city.
  • Medical Motor Service of Rochester and Monroe County, Inc., to help address the needs of the chronically homeless in the Rochester area with funding for the MMS Homeless Shuttle, a late-night program to provide food, health care, and overnight housing.
  • Mt. Hope Family Center, funding to support the Building Healthy Children program and provide teen mothers entering the program with welcome bags that include parenting and child health resource information and developmentally-appropriate baby items.
  • Nazareth College, to support 13 Head Start Hearing Screenings for approximately 750 Head Start students throughout the greater Rochester area.
  • United Way of Seneca County, Inc., funding will help increase access to treatment through Seneca County Substance Abuse Coalition which provides transportation opportunities to attend mental health and substance abuse treatment and programs.
  • Wilson Commencement Park, to support the newly redesigned Youth Development Program offering year-round structured educational and recreational opportunities for children of its residential community.
  • Witness Project of Western New York, to support its culturally competent, community-based breast cancer education program for African American women. Funding will provide 10 breast health education programs in Monroe County. The Witness Project educates on early cancer detection through stories told by area breast cancer survivors.

“These awards complement our existing grants and sponsorships with agencies that work to enhance quality of life, including health status, in upstate New York,” said Snow.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has been serving upstate New Yorkers for more than 80 years. In that time, the company has supported hundreds of programs that help residents in our community live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care.

Next Sunday, the Rochester Regional Health Flower City Half Marathon will be taking place and will cause some road closures that may have an impact on getting to our services. The race begins at 7:30 am on the Broad Street Bridge in downtown Rochester, with the course closing at 11 am.

The following traffic advisories will be in effect the morning of Sunday, April 28, 2019:

Blue Cross Arena Area (4:30 am - 12:30 pm): Broad Street Bridge between Exchange & South closed. Exchange Blvd between Broad & Court closed.

Zone 1 & 2 (7:15 am to 9:00 am): Broad St Bridge to the impacted streets on W. Main, Madison, Brown, Morrie Silver Way, Plymouth Ave Northbound from Allen St to Brown St., State St. to E. Main to East Ave to Right on Brunswick to Park Ave to Goodman.

Zone 3 (8:00 am to 10:00 am): Goodman from Park to Pinetum. No Exiting Off I-490 to Goodman Street.

Zone 4 (8:00 am to 11:00 am): Pinetum to Doctors, left onto Mt Vernon to Alpine then cross South Ave and then Robinson to Mt. Hope over to the River Path at U of R over the Ford St Bridge. Delays Expected. To and from Wilson Blvd from Elmwood during peak runner times will be restricted, use Intercampus, Ford Street or McLean.

Zone 5 (8:45 am to 12:30 pm): Exchange Blvd at Ford Street to Court Street. Court Street Bridge Closed at 7:15 am.

For more information on the marathon or the route, please visit the Flower City Challenge website.

Equalization Members allow our congregation additional representation at the meeting of our Annual Conference (Upper NY Conference), held this year from June 5-8, in Syracuse. We currently are represented by our three appointed clergy (not counting Jackie Nelson, as she is not appointed), and three laities. In addition, our retired clergy may attend and vote. For each retired clergy, we can have one equalization member. 
If you are available on the conference dates and are interested in attending and voting on business items at the Annual Conference, please complete the application, and you'll be notified if you are accepted. All lay members of the Annual Conference must be Professing Members of The United Methodist Church for two years preceding their election, and shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years preceding their election. There is an $85 fee to apply and applications are due on March 11.  


"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain that way." 
- Augustine of Hippo (4th Century)
The Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church in St. Louis, MO ended last evening. Their work is complete, but ours is just beginning.
My prayer was that this special session would finally provide an official way forward for those among us who, responding to the call of Christ, long to fully embrace our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in marriage and ministry. Unfortunately, it did not. The "One Church Plan" (the compromise supported by a clear majority of US delegates and for which many of us advocated) failed. Instead, the "Traditional Plan" (which hardens our restrictive language) passed--due largely to the support of international delegates. It was a day of tears, anger, and embarrassment.
Nevertheless, there are signs of hope. The "Traditional Plan" has twice been ruled "unconstitutional" by the Judicial Council (both before the Special Session and during). As a result, most of the provisions of the plan are expected to be rendered moot. If that happens, the Wesleyan Covenant Association (a conservative splinter group) has said that it will leave the denomination. While I lament the occasion of their loss, it now seems inevitable that The United Methodist Church will divorce.
Where does that leave us? To be honest, it is still a little early to know for sure. Over the next few days, we will hear from the Council of Bishops and the Judicial Council as to what legislation will stand. Following that, Annual Conferences, Jurisdictions, and local churches will plan their responses. To that end, we will have a meeting tonight at 6 pm (following the community dinner) as well as a town hall meeting following the 11 am service on Sunday. Both will take place in Fellowship Hall. At those meetings, we will share more detailed information about what happened and begin to prayerfully process together how we will respond.
As of now, nothing has changed--not within the denomination and most assuredly not at Asbury First. We will continue to advocate, agitate, and advance the full inclusion of our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. I recognize that there will be many who hear this news and feel that it is time to leave Asbury First. I echo your anger, mourn your loss, and will love you and support you whatever decision you make. But make no mistake; the church needs you now more than ever. The church needs us now more than ever. If you are willing to answer the call of Christ to stand up for justice, this is a time when Asbury First can be at the vanguard of the change that is coming. It may be that God is doing something new.
Thank you for your prayers and your support for all of those hurt by these events, both those within our congregation and those who may never come because of this. Asbury First is blessed to be a church with a future as strong as its past. With our help, the denomination might be as well.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady II
Senior Minister

Rev. Dr. Stephen Cady was recently featured on the WXXI News program Connections with Evan Dawson. Dr. Cady and Asbury First member Cory Tylenda discussed the decision of the Special Session of the General Conference and its possible impacts. If you missed it, listen online at


Shower of Stoles Project

This was a disheartening week for The United Methodist Church and for our siblings in the LGBTQIA+ community. But even amidst this darkness, we are committed to focusing on the light of hope. Because Asbury First is a place committed to loving and affirming all people, we are honored to be able to display numerous stoles from the Shower of Stoles Project ( this Sunday. 

Each stole contains a story of an LGBTQIA+ individual who is a ministerial leader in their faith tradition. This display exemplifies the beautiful truth that we are all children of God, and we are all called into ministry regardless of our various identities. We hope this exhibit will be a reminder to us of our task to make love louder.

If you are unable to view the exhibit on Sunday, you may also peruse the stoles and stories online, here:

Also, join us for #rainbowsunday — In an attempt to show solidarity and support for our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, we encourage persons to wear rainbow attire this Sunday (bow-tie, scarf, pin, lanyard, headband, etc.). This idea came out of the town hall meeting on Wednesday night, in response to the Special Session of the General Conference.


We are excited to host the internationally acclaimed Morehouse College Glee Club on Tuesday, March 12, in the Sanctuary at 7 pm. The MCGC is the premier singing organization of Morehouse College, traveling all over the country and the world, demonstrating excellence not only in choral performance but also in discipline, dedication, and brotherhood.

Founded in 1867, Morehouse is a private, all-male, liberal arts, historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of only three remaining traditional men's liberal arts colleges in the United States. Morehouse is also one of only two historically black colleges in the country to produce Rhodes Scholars, and it is the alma mater of many African-American communities and civic leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tickets will be sold at the door for $20, $10 for students with ID, and free under 18. For more information, contact David Strong at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at (585) 271-1050.