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Saturday Morning

Chris Ganoe, a member of Ivey Memorial UMC, James River District, led the morning opening prayer. He is the incoming co-chair of the Conference Council of Youth Ministries.

The Rev. Stan Thompson, chair of the Minutes Committee, asked that minutes from the previous day be approved. They were approved.

Retirement Service

This year's class of retirees represents 1,285.5 years of service.

The Rev. David Forrest, Arlington District, was the retirement service preacher.

Forrest related a story about a small group gathering. The leader of the group asked members to name someone who helped them in their faith journey. This person said, "David Forrest." Thsi small group member went on to explain that he had been a part of a Disciple 1 Bible Study. He came to Forrest with a question. Forrest couldn't remember what the question was but Forrest responded he didn't know the answer "but always wondered about that himself." This small group member said it helped him to know he didn't have to have all the answers to know Christ. "Keep following the Lord."

Forrest related that retirees are asked for their favorite Bible verse. He read from Paul and said "I've been perplexed most of my life." He admitted he went to his first appointment completely perplexed. And now upon retirement he's "perplexed but not driven to despair because of what God has done for us."

Forrest continued, "I'm convinced that you and I don't know much about God but what we do know is so important that we've got to go around the world and across the street to share that good news. The people have behind me on stage have been proclaiming this good news for decades. They've had problems but they've been faithful to this good news. What we do know makes all the difference. Waht we do know is that God sent us His son and Jesus is risen and Jesus is Lord."

John Fuller, executive director of VUMPI, recognized the class of 2018. Pictures and quotes from the retirees were shared as they were introduced to the conference members.

The retirees are:
White, Valerie L.

Associate Members
Hammond, Joseph E. Jr.
Mann, Larry F.

Biler, Brenda J.
Cannon, Jeffery L.
Colwell, Robin L.
Copeland, Michael D.
Davies, Larry E.
Davis, William A., Jr
Drinkard, David R.
Erbin, Lawrence A.
Ferrell, Dwala J.
Forrest, David T.
Gable, Pamela J.
Gentry, Kay Barstow
Herndon, Ernest Tommy, Jr.
Horton, Alvin J.
Jacobs, Barbara M.
Kincannon, Karla M,
Lagerveld, David C.
Lugn, Bruce N.
McAllister‐Wilson, Drema
Morris, Ronald K.
Nixon, Paul A.
Pugh, Jeffrey C.
Reynolds, Charles F.
Rivero, Janice M.
Robbins, Gary L.
Rose, Brenda L.
Seibert, Vickie R.
Sharp, Robert W.
Sherrod, Thomas W.
Stroud, R. Levi, Jr.
Thompson, Lawrence R., Jr.
Throckmorton, Barry E.
Tony, Pat B.
Townsend, Charles W.
Watts, P. Michael
Werner, Paula P.
Zuchelli, David J.

Business of the Conference

Following the Recognition of Retirees, Bishop Lewis recognized the Virginia Conference delegation to the 2019 General Conference for a report about the called 2019 General Conference.  Ms. Martha Stokes and the Rev. Tom Berlin are the leaders of the delegation. Berlin reviewed some of the slides he shared the day before about the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. The slides are available on the conference website. He reiterated that the Council of Bishops has voted that they want all three plans shared and they are recommending the One Church Plan.

Martha Stokes related that Petitions to General Conference are due by July 8. The delegation is planning to hold four meetings before the called General Conference. She encouraged members of conference to surround the delegates and the Special Session in prayer, as a group and individually.

Following the prayer for the General Conference delegation, Bishop Lewis introduced the Glory Sighting video about the Staunton HELP medical closet.


The Rev. Melody Tanner, chair of the Committee on Resolutions, took to the stage to lead a time to consider Resolutions. The committee recommends concurrnece or noncurrence with the "Therefore be it resolved" portion of resolutions.

Resolution 6 was called out of order by the bishop. It called to ignore a part of the Discipline. It is improper as a matter of church law. Only General Conference can enact changes in the Discipline.

Resolution 3 - Compassionate Support for Members of the Armed Forces, Veterans and Their Families Suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress and Moral Injury. The committee recommended concurrence. The resolution was approved.

Resolution 1 - Affirm Unity in Christ. The committee recommended concurrence. It resolves that the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church urges the 2019 General Conference to affirm unity in Christ in the midst of our diversity, to challenge in love all that divides, and to offer to all people God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ that transforms the world. We urge and we pray that the 2019 General Conference will resist schism and express openness to diverse perspectives in matters of sexual identity and practice. We urge all faithful United Methodists to pray for a way forward that nurtures an inclusive, evangelical, and faithful Church. The resolution was approved.


The Rev. John Peters of the Association of Educational Institutions introduced the new president of Ferrum College, Dr. David Johns. After addressing conference members, Johns introduced his colleagues, the presidents of our United Methodist schools: From Randolph-Macon College, President Robert R. Lindgren; from Shenandoah University, Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons; from Virginia Wesleyan University, Dr. Scott D. Miller. A video about all the schools was shared with conference members.

John Hatcher was recognized for his 48 years of service to the Wesley Community Service Center in Portsmouth. He was presented a plaque. The conference offered a standing ovation. He accepted the honor on behalf of the individuals and families who have been assisted from the conference's missional support. 

Bishop Lewis recognized Dr. David McAllister-Wilson, president of Wesley Theological Seminary.



  The Rev. Daniel Park leads music for worship

In introducing the conference offering, Bishop Lewis said, "Friends, we Virginia United Methodists have a strong tradition of serving others.  This year at Annual Conference, we are focusing on how we can make a difference as disciples of Jesus Christ in the transformation of the world by our servant leadership. This afternoon we will be actively participating in serving God’s mission here in Hampton in several ways in our Great Day of Service! Another part of this Great Day of Service is responding in faith to those with whom we support through our Annual Conference Offering. Our goal this year is to receive $200,000. Please review the list of missional priority projects designated to receive our gifts that are displayed on the screens. As you read about them, please offer a prayer for their mission and witness and then make your personal offering, as well as representing your faith community. Let’s make a difference with our commitment to God’s mission and continue our tradition of service to others!"

Morning worship was led by Bishop B. Michael Watson who was elected to the episcopacy by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2000 and was assigned to the South Georgia Area. He served there until 2008, when he was assigned to the North Georgia Area. He retired in 2016.

Bishop Watson related it is his 45th wedding anniversary. He said he fell in love with her when he was in the sixth grade.

"You've got a great bishop and now it's time for us to have a Great Day of Service," said Bishop Watson. "We want the area to know that the United Methtodists are in the area and they are now going to 'do' in the world," he said.

He related the story of two men walking through the woods. One was small and the other was quite large. The little guy told the big guy he felt safe in his presence. The little guy told the big guy if he was that big guy he would go in the woods, find the biggest bear in the woods and tear it limb to limb. The big guy finally said, "There are a lot of little bears in those woods, too." The point the bishp was making: "It's easy for us to say, 'You know what I would do if I was you. If I was the bishop, do you know what I would do? If I was the preacher, do you know what I would do? And we may even say, 'If I were God, do you know what I would do?'"

Bishop Watson continued, "Let us stop looking at those around us and look at ourselves. Let us see if we can hear God's word to us as we get ready to go from this place."

He then posed a question, "What are you doing? What are we doing? I believe that is what God is asking us."

God came in flesh and blood and acted, Watson said. He didn't just say... He did. "We must serve God in flesh and blood," said Watson. "That's the reason we are going to go out and let the world see the living Christ in us."

You are going to get out and go and do and serve, he said. This church is a voluntary organization. "We are doing what we do because God has called us to it. Does that define you? I believe it does. Someone has touched you and imparted to you the word of God. I believe you've accepted that God wants you to act on that word and go forth and serve."

Bishop Watson read section 1A of the Virignia Conference Rules: The purpose of the Virginia Annual Conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God. He said that is all he needed to read.

"It's a powerful witness when you do what God is calling you to do. Words are a powerful witness but what we do is really the powerful witness. It's time for us to be a witness and speak a word for Jesus. Hearing the spirit is important. Following the spirit is important. We must go out and serve like Jesus. God is asking you today, 'What in the world are you doing?' And the Virignia Annual Conference needs to say, 'Lord we are serving you. Because of gratitude. God has done so much for us that now we want to do for others.' "

Bishop Lewis then prayed over the gathering as they exited for lunch and an afternoon of service in the Hampton area.


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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