After serving for two decades in one remarkable church, the Rev. Steve Morton hit the road July 1, as Superintendent of the North District; and he has been traversing his new far-flung district ever since. He stopped long enough to be officially installed in his new role on Sept. 8-9 in a full weekend of installation services. But even that celebration happened in three church locations.
Morton, lead pastor of the populous, very active Hopewell UMC in Downingtown for the past 21 years, and two churches before that, now finds himself visiting mostly small but also large congregations across the diverse landscape of his district. Members of some of those churches gathered to welcome and pray for him in three church settings.
First, St. John’s UMC Shamokin hosted a pre-installation prayer service on Saturday evening, Sept. 8. Then, Bishop Peggy Johnson formally installed the 35-year pastor him into the office of district superintendent on Sunday Sept. 9 at two services: at Neola UMC Stroudsburg in the afternoon and at Salem UMC Shoemakersville in the evening.
At Salem, where Morton’s Assisting Elder, the Rev. Jennifer Freymoyer, is the pastor, the choir started the celebration with an upbeat rendition of the fitting song “Circuit-Riding Preacher.” The Rev. Fred Day, a former superintendent and now General Secretary of the UMC’ Commission on Archives and History, shared his learnings about the unique cultures, history and geography of the sprawling district in its former iterations in a fond and pointedly instructive reminiscence.
Both services featured presentations by district leaders and former superintendents, special music, Holy Communion, a sermon by the new “DS” and a ceremony, led by Bishop Johnson, calling that new DS to the “special ministry of supervision and leadership.”
“You are called to guard the faith, to seek the unity and to exercise the discipline of the Church,” read Bishop Johnson, “and to supervise and support the Church’s life, work, and mission. Do you affirm your commitment to these ministries in our midst?”
Following his acceptance, Morton preached from Judges 18:1-10 on the formidable theme, “The mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord.”
The new district superintendent maintains a small office at Mt. Pocono UMC and has a home with his wife Joan Morton in the Pocono Mountains, just above Tobyhanna. Newly hired District Resource Assistant Sheri Kentner works in the Conference Office.