Conversations Following General Conference from District Superintendent Alex Joyner
On March 26, 2019, a document titled "Statement in Response to General Conference 2019 from the People of the Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church,” was received by interim Bishop Peter Weaver. Although a link to the document appeared on the Virginia Conference Facebook page, the statement has not been endorsed by the Virginia Conference as an official response to the General Conference.
The statement was developed by a group of concerned United Methodist clergy, (active and retired), and lay people who feel that the actions of the General Conference do not reflect their understanding of the call of the church to be in ministry with all people, including LGBTQIA+ persons. The statement also declares their intent not "to uphold any exclusionary provisions against LGBTQIA+ Christians.” To this date the statement has been signed by over 1200 clergy and laity in the Virginia Conference.
I offer a few observations on the statement:
Virginia reflects many of the dynamics experienced by the denomination as a whole. There are traditionalists who are reassured by the General Conference’s passage of elements of a plan that affirms the UMC’s current position forbidding same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQIA+ clergy. There are also centrists and progressives who were grieved by the actions of the Conference. The beliefs of many of these clergy and laity find expression in this statement, which states that marriage and the call to ministry “flow from the waters of baptism,” which is open to all.
One of the opportunities offered to us by the period of preparation for the General Conference was the encouragement to have honest exploration and holy conversation around these questions of human sexuality. The Commission on A Way Forward modeled for us this kind of work and it revealed that a sense of blessed community can come in the midst of theological disagreement. I have heard lay people say that they desired more transparency from their leaders, lay and clergy, about how they think through these issues. Statements such as this one give a framework for how some of our leaders understand their ministry with LGBTQIA+ people.
Looking through the list of signatories I see the names of many people who are colleagues for whom I hold a great deal of respect and love. I am confident that the clergy signatories remain committed to being in ministry, not only with their LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters, but also with traditionalists and others with whom they may disagree on these questions. It is an unavoidable fact of ministry that we will find ourselves in close and loving relationship with people who think differently than we do. This is not only a challenge but a joy and an opportunity for growth for everyone involved.
What about the question of accountability to the language of the Book of Discipline?A couple of facts are relevant here: The Judicial Council of the UMC is scheduled to meet April 23-26, 2019 to review the actions of the General Conference. A preliminary ruling by that body that was given at the General Conference indicates that at least some of the legislation passed will be declared unconstitutional. The parts of the Traditional Plan that are declared constitutional will go into effect in the United States on January 1, 2020. In the meantime, the language of the current Book of Discipline remains in effect and Bishop Lewis has said that she will uphold the Discipline. Another General Conference is scheduled for May 2020, which could take up additional and alternate legislation.
What General Conference revealed is that we are divided and traditionalists, centrists, and progressives are all discussing how to avoid another acrimonious General Conference in 2020. It is a season in which we are feeling the pain of division. There are raw emotions. We need to be gentle with one another in this time, seeking to do as little harm to one another and to the LGBTQ community as possible as we walk toward God’s future. It does not mean that we need to be silent. It does mean that we need to put a premium on love, which as 1 Peter 4:8 reminds us, covers a multitude of sins.
Clarification of General Conference Response circulating on social media Posted on behalf of Madeline Pillow, Virginia Conference Director of Communications, at MadelinePillow@vaumc.org
Bishop Peter Weaver received an email on March 26, that included a link to a statement from persons concerned with the action of the 2019 General Conference. The document linked with the email was entitled “Statement in Response to General Conference 2019 from the People of the Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.”
In receiving this response, Bishop Weaver stated that, as the interim bishop of the Virginia Conference, he is open to receiving responses from all perspectives related to the 2019 General Conference. Bishop Weaver also wishes to clarify that the document he received is a response from persons who have chosen to sign the supporting document and is not a statement indicating an official response of the Virginia Annual Conference to the action of the 2019 General Conference.
SAVE THE DATE:
Clergy from the Tidewater Area Districts (Eastern Shore District included) are invited to meet with Bishop Weaver on Sunday, May 19, 4 pm at Baylake UMC on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach. There will be conversation about the 2019 Special General Conference and the April 23-25 Judicial Council meeting.
A Great Day to Share Your Loose Pennies
Some people think the penny is obsolete. Jaden Clark, a student at Metompkin Elementary School in Parksley, thinks that pennies spend like any other money so she is collecting loose pennies as a Youth Mission Project at Calvary UMC, Parksley, where she attends with her great-grandmother Laura Mae East.
Jaden loves to come to church and is often the only youth. Last summer she met Missionary Charlene Harris when she came to speak to the congregation about her continued work in the Congo. Calvary collected funds the previous year to donate for the purchase of solar lights used in homes and hospitals and this year, Jaden accepted the mission project to collect pennies to purchase at least one of the solar lights. This is a wonderful opportunity for Jaden to learn about responsibility and mission giving. Since September she has received loose pennies by the handful, bagful and jar-full.
In recognition of National One Cent Day on April 1st, Jaden is inviting other youth, adults or churches to help her fill her largest container yet. She has already brought in larger containers three times! Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, Jaden and the Finance Committee won’t be spending hours counting and rolling the pennies but it may take a few trips to the bank or Credit Union to cash them in. If you, or your church or youth group is interested in donating pennies to “Jaden Lights Up Africa” project please contact Susie Smith or Barbara Justis. The 2019 collection project ends August 31st.
Kits for Conference
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is currently focusing efforts on Cleaning Kits (aka Flood Buckets), Hygiene Kits, and School Kits. Click on the kit name to see PDFs for specific item listing and assembly instructions. To download a suggestion for blessings over the kits before they go to Annual Conference or are otherwise donated CLICK HERE.
Collection of the kits will begin Wednesday, June 19 from 4—8 p.m. and continue Thursday, June 20 from 8 a.m.—7 p.m., and Friday, June 21 from 8 a.m.—5 p.m. Contact Kit Collection Coordinator, the Rev. Morris Fleischer (Newport-Mt. Olivet UMC/Roanoke District), at (540) 544-7183 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. A volunteer sign-up page will be available soon.
If you prefer to make a financial contribution to enable UMCOR to purchase relief kits, you can contribute $75 for each cleaning kit; $12 for each health kit; and $11 for each school kit. Additionally, UMCOR asks for $1 per kit ($3.00 for cleaning buckets) to cover processing and shipping and $1 for toothpaste for each health kit. Please do NOT bring checks to Annual Conference. All checks (for processing and shipping, for toothpaste, and in lieu of providing kits) should be made payable to “Virginia Conference UMC,” earmarked for “kits” and mailed to Treasurer, Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA, 23058 any time prior to Annual Conference and no later than August 31.
Annual Conference Offering
Churches can begin now to receive the Annual Conference Offering. The 2019 goal is $150,000 and recipients will be:
. Africa University Student Scholarships -$40,000
. Cambodia Pastors Leadership Training-$40,000
. Mozambique Lay Leadership Training-$20,000
. Brazil “Shade and Fresh Water” children’s program-$20,000
. Just Neighbors Matching Funds Grant for Immigrant Legal Counsel in 4 districts-$30,000 (Eastern Shore District is one of the districts that will be a recipient of the Just Neighbors Grant)
Recognizing our Scouts (Pictured: Scouting Sunday at Market Street UMC). Scouting Sunday (formerly Boy Scout Sunday) is observed on the second Sunday in February. An alternative Scouting Sunday (formerly Girl Scout Sunday) is observed on the second Sunday in March. Churches may choose to observe this special Sunday at another time. Scouting Sunday offers an excellent opportunity for the local congregation to recognize the Scouting program, the Scouts, and their leaders as an integral and intentional part of the Church's ministry. Use Scout members as ushers, acolytes, worship leaders, and musicians. For worship resources go to https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/scouting-sunday
Parsley Receives Silver Beaver Award
The Reverend G. Wayne Parsley (retired UMC pastor) received the Silver Beaver Award this month at a Delmarva Council BSA Dinner/Award Banquet. The Silver Beaver Award is the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. Upon nomination by their local Scout council and with the approval of the National Court of Honor, recipients of this award are registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council, The Silver Beaver is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self-sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service. It is given to those who do not seek it.
Parsley was recruited as the Virginia District Chair in 2014 and is still serving in that capacity. The Virginia District continues to be a Gold District in Journey to Excellence. He was awarded the Virginia District Award of Merit in 2015.Wayne has conducted God and Country classes for 50 + scouts and served on Eagle Scout Boards of Review.
Congratulations from your Scout and Church Communities!
What if we stopped "fixing" and started "seeing"?
YOUTUBE.COM Let Me Show You | #SeeAllThePeople
The 2nd short film in the #SeeAllThePeople series. CHURCH LEADERS: What if we stopped "fixing" our churches and started seeing the people Christ calls…
Safe Sanctuaries - Free "Train the Trainer" Webinar
Discipleship Ministries is offering web training is for those who train others in Safe Sanctuaries, and will cover a wide variety of topics. It will be offered twice, in two identical webinars, April 30 and May 2, 2019 from 4:30-7pm Central Time. There is no fee. Participants MUST have completed basic Safe Sanctuaries training. If you are planning to particiapte contact email@example.com.
Tuesdays, April 2, 9, 16, 23 @ Melfa UMC Devotional Life the the Wesleyan Tradition, sponsored by the E.S. District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries. It’s great for Lent as it is structured around Wesley’s “means of grace.” This course covers Scripture, the Lord’s Supper and fasting which were all major features in John Wesley’s devotional life. It's not just for lay servant/speakers; anyone can participate. Registration and more...
The Agape Christian Children's Community Center in Horntown has a part-time Teacher and Aide positions available for their pre-school during the hours of 7 am -1 pm. Great opportunity for a retired teacher who wants to work part-time! Salary is based on experience. Call the Center today for an application at 757-824-0072 .
Friday, March 29th, 5-7 pm St. John's UMC, 10352, Atlantic Rd., Atlantic is hosting a Pancake Supper. Includes pancakes, sausage and eggs. Dine in or Carry out. (Tickets: Adults $6.00 Kids age 10 & under $3.00) Call the church office at 757-824-6241 for more information or to place order
Saturday, March 30th, 6 pmPraise Dance Service at St. John's UMC, Atlantic. All are welcome!
Saturday, April 13 -Yard Sale, 7 am - 1 pm at Downings UMC, Oak Hall, VA. Call 757-824-5117 or 757-824-4877 to reserve a table. Rain or Shine
Sunday, April 14, Gospel Music Event, 3:00 pm at Downings UMC Social Hall, Oak Hall, Va. Featuring The King's Ambassadors, Bethany Howard, Linda Hollinshead. Light snacks provided. No admission fee.