Morning Bible Study
The Rev. Lisa Greenwood is leading morning Bible Study for the conference. She is an ordained elder in the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church and, after serving 20 years in the local church, currently serves as Vice President for Leadership Ministry at the Texas Methodist Foundation and the Wesleyan Investive (formerly United Methodist Development Fund) and the Executive Director of the National Association of UM Foundations.
The bishop announced there had been another shooting at a church in Alabama. “What I want to say to us, is that as leaders, we need to pray. When believers like us, 2300 of us here, gather together, we have the power in prayer.” The Rev. Kimberly Barker-Brugman led the opening prayer.
Several youth members spoke to the gathering and telling them, “Here I am,” and the many ways they serve the church and conference. The youth received a standing ovation.
The Rev. Nickie Moreno Howard, Associate Director of Learning who oversees conference youth ministries, presented the bishop with a gift on behalf of the youth. The bishop prayed over the youth.
At 9:15 the bishop officially called the conference to order again to reconsider the District Initiative.
The Rev. Mark Ogren gave a speech for the initiative. He has served as a district superintendent and conference staff member. “There is funding for the proposed districts for transitions. Those decisions are made at the local level. District leadership will be making staffing decisions over the next several yeTherears.”
The question was asked if this would take our youth lay membership from 32 to 16. Standing rules allow for two youth members from each district. The superintendents shared that they want to see a rule change take place to allow for more. Youth can be added as at-large district members in the meantime.
Theresa Duke, Richmond District, spoke in support of the motion. “What we have been doing is not working. We are becoming disconnected. We need to have the courage to get out of the boat, walk on the water, and give it a try.”
After several more speeches, Cynthia Martin, Roanoke District, called for the question, which the conference members approved.
After closing remarks by the Rev. Denise Bates and prayer by the Rev. Charles Ledlum-Bates, the conference clergy and lay members approved the District Initiative.
The Rev. Rob Vaughn, Community of Faith UMC, Arlington District, moved to suspend the rules to return to the Cabinet report to receive a motion. It was seconded. The motion passed by two-thirds vote.
Vaughn moved that the Virginia Annual Conference petition the Judicial Council for the following declaratory decisions:
1) Request for a Declaratory Decision from the Virginia Annual Conference on the Meaning, Effect and Application of Paragraph 362.1(e) and Paragraph 2701.5 and Paragraph 2704.2 and Paragraph 2706.5, in determining if, and under what circumstances, the supervisory process can be extended beyond the 90-day limit of Paragraph 362.1(e), as well as what role a bishop has in facilitating a timely resolution of a complaint, as well as what role a bishop has in bringing about a just resolution after the matter has been referred to the counsel for the church as a judicial complaint, and whether the complainant and respondent and counsel for the church may reach a just resolution without the bishop’s involvement.
2) Request for a Declaratory Decision from the Virginia Annual Conference on the meaning, effect, and application of Paragraph 362.1, in determining the permissibility of a bishop, having received a signed written complaint, to solicit a second complaint on the same matter from a different complainant, as well as whether the complaint may be continued even after the original complainant withdraws that complaint.
3) Request for a Declaratory Decision from the Virginia Annual Conference on the meaning, effect and application of Paragraph 362.1, in determining the proper course for remediation when the process outlined in the Book of Discipline is not followed, and whether the annual conference may have some way to intervene along the lines of Judicial Council Memorandum 1189, which states in part, “In instances where appropriate process were not observed, the annual conference should consider taking appropriate steps to resolve any deviation from disciplinary process.”
After consulting with Mr. Steve Brown, chancellor, Mr. Scott Diamond, chair, Rules Committee, and Mr. Michael Wagner-Diggs, professional parliamentarian, Bishop Lewis “ruled that this motion falls outside the purview of this body and is affected by law and we will not be able to hear this motion.” Bishop Lewis called for the report of the Minutes Committee.
The Rev. Drew Ensz, director, Arise Campus Ministry, George Mason University, Alexandria District, raised a Point of Order “appealing the decision of the chair” and was seconded.
Bishop Lewis ruled the decision was not appealable.
Another Point of Order was raised by the Rev. Ryan Ware, Wesley Chapel-Rock Springs, Danville District that said in part the Judicial Council is the only parliamentary oversight the body has to appeal the decision of the chair. Bishop Lewis responded that she had not made a decision that is appealable. She further stated that, “it is a hierarchy issue that law trumps parliamentary procedure.”
The Rev. Timothy Barth, Floral Hills-Mount Olivet Cooperative Parish, Danville District, raised a Point of Order, stating the body had a right to ask for a declaratory decision and that this was a matter for the church to decide.
After consulting with the Chancellor and Parliamentarians, Bishop Lewis ruled, “This is not the business of the Annual Conference.” Bishop Lewis further ruled that she cannot discuss a pending complaint.
Ensz raised a Point of Order appealing the decision of the chair and was seconded. In consultation with the chancellor and parliamentarians, Bishop Lewis ruled that this is not an appealable decision.
After hearing further requests for Points of Order called out, Bishop Lewis paused the session for a word of prayer. During the prayer, a gathering of people came forward in front of the stage in support of Vaughn’s motion.
Following the prayer, Barth called out Point of Order three times with no response from the Chair.
Bishop Lewis stated, “at this time I understand that the group before you is in support. I would like to pray for this group and then ask this group to take a seat.”
Bishop Lewis offered a prayer. Bishop Lewis requested the gathering in front of the stage to now disperse and requested Mr. Gerald Ricks and the House Band to play music.
The Rev. Tom Berlin, Floris UMC, Arlington District, appealed to the Bishop to allow the decision to go to Judicial Council. Bishop Lewis called for a 10-minute recess.
The Rev. Alphonso Irving, Agape UMC, Winchester District, called for a Point of Order and offered a word of prayer for Bishop Lewis.
Following the prayer, the assembly recessed at 10:31 AM.
Bishop Lewis called the body back to order at 10:41 a.m. from recess. Bishop Lewis asked the body to be seated, and those that had gathered at the front were invited to remain if they wished. Bishop Lewis explained her position that she believes she is following the Book of Discipline as she vowed to uphold it.
Bishop Lewis stated that after prayer and consultation with the chancellor and parliamentarians, “the standing in which you have asked is not properly before this body.” Bishop Lewis has asked the Conference Secretary Rev. Joshua King “to add into the records what Rev. Vaughn has put before us.” Bishop Lewis then stated she will send Vaughn’s request for a Declaratory Decision to the Judicial Council for them to decide on the standing.
Rev. Rob Vaughn, Community of Faith UMC, Arlington District, raised a Point of Order asking that the Annual Conference take a vote so that the declaratory decision would be properly before the Judicial Council.
Bishop Lewis ruled that the Point of Order was in order and called for the vote.
The motion to request declaratory decisions was approved and the gathering began to disperse back to their seats.
Bishop Lewis requested the Rev. Alan Layman, Chair, Minutes Committee, to give the Minutes Committee Report. Layman began his report.
Neal Wise presented the report of the Site Selection Committee. The Site Selection Committee recommends the 2025 Annual Conference be held in Roanoke on June 12-14, 2025. It was approved.
The Rev. Tom Durrance, chair of Equitable Compensation, gave his report. The numbers are available on the addendum here. (pdf)
A motion was brought to decide the numbers of youth and young adults that will be attending annual conference sessions as elected members.
A Mission Service, highlighting the many areas the Virginia Conference is in mission throughout Virginia, the country and the world started at 11:45. The Rev. Marcela Jarman issued the Call to Worship. Kayana Cloud shared the Scripture from Mark 2:1-12 NIV. The Rev. Seungsoo, “RJ” Jun and the Rev. Kendra Grimes preached on “Does Jesus See our Faith?”
The Rev. David Magruder asked, “What we can we do to serve those in our communities, around the world? That’s where UMCOR comes in.”
He announced the UMCOR Kits totals as of Friday because more kits will be collected on Monday to be taken to Mission Central in Pennsylvania.
18,560 total kits valued at $298,724. Some 12,611 pounds have also been collected for food banks across the conference.
“This is just a small representation of the districts around the conference who did this collection,” Magruder said, “using the gifts of the people who said we are the hands, we are the legs, we are the body of Christ. I give you thanks for your support and work and for being the body of Christ in God’s world.”
The Rev. RJ Jun, associate director of serving ministries, serving churches on how to become a blessing to others in the world. The Rev Kendra Grimes, chaplain at Randolph-Macon College, and a member of the missional board.
“Mission is all about relationships,” Jun said. “Kendra and I have been a team. Throughout the pandemic, we learned we cannot do this alone. We are here to know and remember we are in this together and as a team, we hope God will change our hearts and minds so we can continue to serve in mission together.”
Grimes said, “Let’s jump into the context of Mark. It jumps right into Jesus being active in ministry. By Chapter 32, Jesus can’t go anywhere without crowds of people following him. So Jesus’ ministry is flourishing. But then when Jesus went home, the people were excited.”
Jun picked up the story saying, “I pray this is the same kind of excitement we can have today. We are grateful we are able to come together. We are eager to see what God has done during the pandemic. We want to see what God brings to this world through our churches.”
Jun shared an African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Maybe Jesus is waiting for us to use our teamwork We need coordination and conviction.
The Rev. Evelyn Penn closed the service with a responsive litany.
Information was given about the chaplaincy programs. Some of the funds from the Conference Offering will be given to scholarship aid for chaplain programs.
David McAllister-Wilson shared how chaplains from Wesley Seminary assisted Afghan refugees in Germany who were fleeing Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover. He said this has become the story of the loaves and fishes with the support they are receiving.
The Rev. Clarence Brown thanked the clergy and lay members gathered and asked them to give themselves a hand for the work being done with Partnerships in Ministry.
Members of the Holy Rollers and youth members helped collect the Conference Offering.