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Friday Afternoon

Bishop Lewis convenes 236th session of conference

Following separate Laity and Clergy sessions in the morning, Bishop Sharma D. Lewis officially called the 236th session of the Virginia Annual Conference to order at 2 p.m., June 15.  The conference began with the historical singing of "Are We Yet Alive," a hymn that has been sung by persons gathering for holy conferencing since the beginning of the Wesleyan movement.
Bishop Lewis calls on the Rev. Gilbert F. Cofer and Chaz Nickens to open the Annual Conference in prayer.

The Rev. Raymond Wrenn, who has offered the opening prayer for Annual Conference since 2009, was unable to be present this year.  Wrenn will be 100 years old on June 25. 

This is the Rev. Cofer’s 73rd year as a member of the annual conference.  He is 97 years old. The Rev. Cofer is accompanied by his daughter, Mary Dix. 

This is Nicken’s first annual conference.  He is a member of Fairview United Methodist Church, Danville District.

The Rev. Seonyoung Kim, host superintendent, York River District, welcomed lay and clergy members to conference and introduced Nancy Yarborough, York River District lay leader.

Mark Ogren introduces leaders of the new faith communities.

Some business from the afternoon's proceedings included:

Closing churches
Bethel UMC, Charlottesville District
Chesapeake Avenue UMC, Elizabeth River District
Salem UMC, Lynchburg District
Big Island UMC, Lynchburg District
St. James UMC, Lynchburg District
Bethel UMC, Roanoke District
West View UMC, Staunton District
Chestnut Grove UMC, Winchester District
Pleasant Valley UMC, Winchester District

New Faith community recognition
Fairfax UMC Multi-site
David Bonney, Lead Pastor
Minoo Kim, Church Planter
Jeff Mickle, Alexandria District Superintendent

Floris UMC Restoration Loudon
Tom Berlin, Lead Pastor
Jake McGlothin, Church Planter
Cathy Abbott, Arlington District Superintendent\

Chartered Church Status from New Faith Community
Korean UMC Koinonia
Young Bong Kim, Pastor
Cathy Abbott, Arlington District Superintendent

Bishop Lewis reviewed the Conference Vision and had all those gathered repeat the vision together aloud. She reminded everyone  … All United Methodist churches in the Virginia Annual Conference will have a process of intentionally forming disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by 2020. The conference will not have a one-size-fits-all program for forming disciples.

Bishop Lewis suggested that churches:

1)     Begin in prayer
2)     Have a conversation about your potential mission field for intentionally forming disciples
3)     Study three books:

Developing an Intentional Discipleship System: A Guide for Congregations by Junius B. Dotson

Engaging Your Community: A Guide to Seeing All the People by Junius B. Dotson

From Membership to Discipleship: Grow Maturing Disciples Who Make Disciples by Phillip Maynard

Lay Leader Warren Harper gave the Laity Address

Harper praised Lewis for the 16 Chat and Chew sessions and the four Chat and Chew 2.0 sessions
Click here to read Harper's address (pdf)

Bishop Lewis reminded everyone that beginning in 2019 Annual Conference will be held Thursday-Saturday “for as long as I am bishop.” Her statement was met with applause.

Report of Equitable Compensation was presented by the Rev. Joseph T. Carson III.

The Report from Virginia United Methodist Pensions, Inc. (VUMPI) was presented by Ken Peterson, chair. It was approved by the conference.

Report of Common Table was presented by Iris Smith, Carlos Liceaga and Gary Miller. Miller reported that 2018 marks the 10-year anniversary of All Things New:  The Virginia Conference – Fruitful and Multiplying.  Since the approval of All Things New, including the appointment of planters at this annual conference, the Virginia Conference has formed 47 new faith communities by emphasizing the training of church planters and launch teams.  The result of this emphasis is that 37 of these new faith communities (including the two new faith communities introduced this afternoon) are currently active with an average of 3,548 persons in worship every week.

  Susan Healey

Susan Healey, a long time member of Monumental UMC, Portsmouth, was evicted from her home after flooding from Hurricane Matthew the week of Thanksgiving. The wait for FEMA was long and contractors were booked for a year or more. In July of 2017 the home Healey was staying in was struck by lightning and burned. She was homeless again and living in a hotel. Some friends, family and choir members gave her clothes and basic necessities. "There is no way I can express the depth of despair I was feeling," she said. She was living in a hotel and trying to find a place to live.  While she was at the hotel an old friend came to visit. She is now a United Methodist pastor. UMCOR came to the hotel and made a plan for her. "SInce last July I have met some of the most amazing people," she said. People came from throughout Virginia and beyond. "They came to rebuild my home and my life. These workers showed by the grace of God." Healey said this is the type of service that will bring young people to church. For the first time in 18 months, she hopes this week she will have a home.

The Rev. Robert Pihlcrantz serves as the Disaster Response Coordinator for the annual conference.  He provides oversight to the immediate and long-term disaster response efforts of the Virginia Conference.  He was introduced to the conference.

The Report of the Common Table was accepted including and amendment by Charles Swadley to study the conference's relationship with the Virginia Council of Churches.

The 40 years of service by Pat Hickman who served the conference administrative staff was recognized.

Lay Leader Warren Harper and the Rev. Marc Brown, director of Connectional Ministries, brought a report from the Conference Leadership Discovery and Development Team. The report was received.

Bishop Lewis prayed for consecration of conference leadership.

A Glory Sighting Video about Parkview Community Foodbank was shown to the gathering.

Susan Reaves, conference secretary, explained voting procedures on Constitutional Amendment 1. The clergy and lay members of the 2018 Virginia Annual Conference will be voting on one Constitutional Amendment. General Conference Secretary Gary Graves, in an email to conference secretaries, said, "It is imperative that this vote occur during the very next session of your annual conference (2018 or prior to May, 2019)."  Members of the Virginia Annual Conference will vote on the corrected proposed constitutional amendment at Annual Conference, Friday, June 15 at 5 p.m.  Results will be announced after all annual conferences vote on the amendment. 


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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