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District Initiative

In early 2021, Bishop Lewis appointed eight district superintendents each to serve two districts each (a bi-district). The Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert was appointed as the district superintendent of the Alexandria and Arlington districts and began serving both districts in July of 2021.

Later, Bishop Lewis asked each bi-district to begin the process of creating a new district to begin July 1, 2022.

In late September of 2021, each district superintendent was asked to “convene a workgroup” from their districts “to integrate the two districts into one.” (You can read that letter here.)

Calvert created that workgroup, called the Core Team, and that group began dreaming about and planning for a new district.

*At Annual Conference this June, lay and clergy members will vote on reducing the number of districts in the Virginia Conference from 16 to eight. If the conference discerns that eight districts is how we wish to align, then it will put into effect the excellent work done by District Initiative teams across Virginia.


The District Initiative Core Team created a timeline walking through the history of the Alexandria and Arlington Districts to help inform and guide their work.

As you can see in the timeline graphic below, there is a long history of working together for ministry in the Northern Virginia area.

The Process

The District Initiative Core Team has been working feverishly to respond to the bishop’s request for all districts to begin the work of planning to combine their two districts into one new district.

When the Core Team began its work last fall a District Dreaming Survey was created and sent it to all who serve on District Committees, clergy, and to the District Newsletter list. The team received a great response and collected hundreds of surveys. THANK YOU!

In addition to seeking feedback and information from clergy and laity across the Arlington and Alexandria districts, the Core Team’s responsibility was to dream about how to respond to the increasing work and time constraints placed on the DS as she now serves two districts. Between the Alexandria and Arlington Districts, Calvert now serves 106 churches and 156 clergy.

Creating a better flow for Calvert to stay connected to all of those churches and clergy while also reducing the number of administrative district meetings that need her attention was a major goal for the Core Team.

To support the DS in terms of staying connected with the churches and clergy, the Core Team has recommended the addition of a part-time staff person. The Director of District Operations is an appointed clergy position responsible for the administrative ministries of the Northern Virginia District and attending to the organizational teams and functions of the district.

On March 21, 2022, the Rev. Larry Thompson was welcomed as the new Director of District Operations. Thompson is a retired elder, who has served as a pastor, district superintendent, and interim pastor. He brings a very specific wealth of knowledge to the role. Thompson will lend his expertise to help the districts in this season of transition.

Another item the Core Team is working on is increasing connection and conversation among the clergy and laity. Details are still unfolding around how to better connect clergy and laity across the district and how the district superintendent can work with those groups.

A New (Yet Familiar) Name

The new district will be named The Northern Virginia District. Because Alexandria and Arlington have a great history of working together as a Bi-District often called NoVaUMC, this name suits provides a clear way to refer to the geographic location.

The district is currently in the process of designing a logo and will share that once it is complete.

(Visit Bi-District page)

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