Freedom is theme of Cynthia Moore-Koikoi’s sermons for Week 2


Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, head of the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church since 2016, says the work of bishops is to “oversee the work of the church, working prophetically, evangelically and apostolically with all as they cooperate with the grace of God.” 

She believes a key component of that cooperation is leaving space for the transforming movement of the Holy Spirit, especially at times when the church is divided and people wonder what the future holds. 

“That’s spiritual work — remembering who God is and who God has called us to be,” she said. “We got God, so we got this.”

Moore-Koikoi will serve as chaplain-in-residence at Chautauqua for Week Two. She will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning worship service in the Amphitheater. Her sermon title is “The Declaration of Independence: We are Free from Grandma’s Context.”

She will also preach at the 9:15 a.m. worship services Monday through Friday in the Amp. All of her titles are prefaced with the words “Declaration of Independence.” 

They include: “We are Free from Peer Reviews,” “We Are Free from Other People’s Stuff,” “We Are Free from the Errors of Our Religion,” “We Are Free to Love” and “We Are Free to Be A New Creation.” 

Moore-Koikoi earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Loyola College in Maryland in 1988, and a masters and advanced certification in school psychology from the University of Maryland in 1992. She worked as a school psychologist for Anne Arundel County Public Schools for 17 years, serving in leadership roles in the church as a layperson before answering her call to the ordained ministry.

She answered that call while a member of Sharp Street Memorial UMC in Baltimore, her great-grandparents’ church and the church which sent her father into ministry. Her husband, the Rev. Raphael Koikoi, served as pastor there until February 2017.

Moore-Koikoi is familiar with church life and ministry in rural, urban and suburban settings. Growing up in a preacher’s family, when she was in elementary school, her father served a rural hilltop church. Later, they moved to serve a church in suburban Silver Spring, Maryland, where she went to junior high and high school.

She attended Wesley Seminary and was appointed as a student pastor to “a small congregation with a proud Evangelical United Brethren heritage in a section of East Baltimore that was experiencing change.” 

The congregation had to learn how to navigate that change. Later, she was appointed associate pastor at Calvary UMC, a large congregation in Annapolis. Ordained an elder in 2010, she served on the Conference staff working with churches on discipleship. She later served as district superintendent for the Greater Washington Area, and then as superintendent of the Baltimore Metropolitan District.

In that role, she played a key spiritual role in the city in 2015 during the unrest after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. She helped to organize United Methodist churches to open their doors and minister to children and families whose schools were closed, and to meet other basic needs. She became the face of the United Methodist Church, and church volunteers in red shirts were visible walking through neighborhoods, praying for and ministering to people.

Moore-Koikoi sees herself as a bridge-builder, clear and confident about what she believes, while respecting others who might not believe the same way.

Her vision is of a diverse church that embraces justice and the life-saving love of Christ. It won’t be easy, she said, “but I remind myself, God has got this. God is in control.”

Tags : chaplain-in-residenceCynthia Moore-KoikoireligionThe Declaration of Independence: We are Free from Grandma’s Context.United Methodist ChurchWe Are Free from Other People’s StuffWe are Free from Peer ReviewsWe Are Free from the Errors of Our ReligionWe Are Free to Be A New Creation.We Are Free to Love

The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the recap of the morning worship service. A life-long Chautauquan, she is a Presbyterian minister, author of Chautauqua’s Heart: 100 Years of Beauty and a history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. She edited The Streets Where We Live and Shalom Chautauqua. She lives in Chautauqua year-round with her Stabyhoun, Sammi.