Bishop Sharma Lewis welcomed clergy and lay members to the Saturday session and introduced Dr. John Kinney for a second day of Bible study.
Mary Dadisman presented the report from the Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW). “I feel like we have had greater laity involvement this year,” she said. “Mostly through worship.” She said she also believes there has been greater ethnic diversity this year. “Yes, may God call us to be one,” she said. Dadisman also shared information from CEMCA. Today is Juneteenth. They call on all United Methodists to celebrate emancipation.
Bishop Lewis extended thanks to music leader Gerald Ricks and his ensemble.
The closing UNITED IN MISSION AND MINISTRY WORSHIP, was led by Bishop Lewis. The Rev. MiRhang Baek gave the invocation.
The congregation then welcomed the Galilee Dancers of Praise to the sanctuary.
The Rev. Kendra Grimes read the Scripture from John 17:20-23.
20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us,[a] so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
The theme for Bishop Lewis’ sermon was “United as One.” She was asked last week why she chose, “United As One,” for the theme. The person pointed we are not united on human sexuality issues. “The question remains today,” she said, “What does unite us? Does God not give humanity the grace to feel passionate about certain life issues? Does God expect us to agree on all matters? I chose this theme because I believe God is calling us now more than ever to be one with Christ.” She said the annual conference logo captured the hands pointing to God.
“Why do we worry about this denomination?,” Bishop Lewis asked. “Why do we put a limit on God? We’ve seen the word unity displayed this week, but unity has varying degrees of interpretation. Unity is a very important matter. In the last moment of Jesus’ earthly existence, he prayed for unity. He entrusted his own future to God. But the question remains, how do we maintain this unity in the midst of disunity in our culture and denomination.”
She said, “Before we can love God and each other, we must love ourselves. We must proclaim Christ as the Savior, as the Messiah in our own lives.”
“Let us not fall for the trick of the enemy who comes to kill and destroy,” Bishop Lewis said. “Let us not be so divided that we cannot see Christ in each other.”
“We are mandated to share the Good News in season and out of season, that Jesus Christ is the living son of God. God loved us so much he sacrificed his only son. Our priority is to win souls for Christ. Can Jesus be the heart of the matter?”
“What we can agree on is Jesus,” Bishop Lewis said.. “Jesus died for us to be reconciled.”
Following the sermon, Bishop Lewis explained where this year’s Conference Offering would go. It will address food insecurity, poverty and global mission.
The Rev RJ Jun, associate director of Serving, gave thanks to all local churches and the partners of hope ministries. Money will continue to be collected until the end of August. You may give online at www.vaumc.org/acoffering. If the goal of $200,000 is met, a bucket of ice water will be poured on Bishop Lewis. Jun gave thanks for the work of the Community Cans and Kits at 34 sites around the conference.
The Rev. Josette Franklin led a responsive litany.
Bishop Lewis and the Cabinet led the “Fixing of Appointments” that may be found here: https://doc.vaumc.org/ac2021/2021appointments.pdf