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The June 21 morning session opened with Singing our Faith. Bishop Sue opened the session at 8:41 AM and called on Blair Ellis, Mission Rivers District,  to pray. Rev. Jenny Day and Rev. Lauren Wright, co-Chairs of COSROW,  shared the Monitoring Report. They shared that there will be a resource for gender-neutral language and prayers. 

Bishop Sue called on Dr. Scott Miller to share the UM College President’s report. Dr. Miller thanked Bishop Sue for her leadership. Dr. Miller shared that the private UM institutions are dependent on the giving from UMC churches and individuals. Rev. Devon Earle, UVa Wesley Foundation campus minister,  spoke from the floor calling for members to also continue supporting campus ministries.

Bishop Sue called on Rev. Jessie Colwell, Clergy Excellence Director,  to give the Clergy Excellence report. Rev. Tammy Estep , Board of Ordained Ministry chair, then presented the candidates for ministry. Rev. Meredith Dean Webb who spoke on behalf of the Licensed Local Pastors class and presented Bishop Sue with a green stole. Bishop Sue asked the Historic Questions of the candidates of Full Membership. Bishop Sue and Rev. Tammy Estep invited everyone to the installation tomorrow. 

Rev. Jessie Colwell introduced the Just Compensation Task Force. The report can be found here. Rev. Colwell made a motion that the Just Compensation Task Force continue its work for another year. An amendment was made to include regular inspections of health hazards, including mold, lead paint, etc. The amendment and motion were approved. Rev. Tom Durrance gave the Equitable Compensation Report. Rev. Durrance made a motion that the Minimum Compensation Schedule and Floor schedule be approved. After discussion, Bishop Sue asked the Just Compensation Task Force to continue considering alternative funding since many churches struggle with paying their pastor the minimum. The motion to approve the Equitable Compensation Report was approved. 

Bishop Sue called on Rev. Joshua King to recommend the Election of the Leadership for the next quadrennium. The motion was approved. Rev. King then moved the Nominations to be approved for the next quadrennium. The motion was approved. Finally, Rev. King moved that the Historical Committee be elected, the motion was approved. Bishop Sue and Mrs. Martha Stokes, Conference Lay Leader, led in the commissioning of the Leaders of the Annual Conference.

Rev. Denise Bates, dean of the Cabinet,  offered the Cabinet Report. A video was played of the closed churches. A question from the floor was about the change in language from funds remaining with the Districts, now the funds are directed to the Annual Conference. Bishop Sue answered that the Book of Discipline dictates that the funds from closed churches go to the Annual Conference. Bishop Sue stated that this remains a team effort with the districts. A task force exists to further study how to improve this process. Bishop Sue closed with a prayer over the closed churches.

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Page, Director of Connectional Ministries for Innovation and Creativity, gave the Church Development Team Report concerning New Faith Communities. CDT has compiled a list of Lessons Learned Report in a successful church plant. Dr. Page shared that the CDT has been working with Ministry Incubators to streamline the grant making process. A Strategic Grantmaking Task Force will soon be created, digital resources will be shared, and potentially a Conference Staff person will be hired to write grants. 

Page introduced two new faith communities, Appomattox UMC and King William Campus of New Song UMC. Appomattox UMC formed from the remnants of major disaffiliation in the area. There was not a UMC presence in King William county prior to the planting of the King William Campus. 

Bishop Sue called on Rev. Matt Sergent and Rev. Tim Hazlett to present the One Matters Award and the Denman Awards. The One Matters recipient is Emmanuel UMC in the Mountain View District. The Harry Denman Evangelism Award was then presented to youth member Jesse Burdette and clergy member Rev. Don Jamison. 

Mr. Brian Christoffersen was called to present the Green Church Award. The Green Church Award recipients are: Cranford UMC, Fairlington UMC, St. Andrews UMC, Wakefield UMC; Sustaining Green Church Award Winners: Bethlehem UMC, Burke UMC, and St. Stephens UMC. 

Bishop Sue introduced Rev. Dr. Michael Beck for the teaching session focused on the historical movement of Methodism and its role in the future.” Dr. Beck opened by sharing about a Fresh Expressions church at a dog park. Larry is a lay leader who planted this church and recently asked, “If God was a dog, what kind of dog would God be?” Dr. Beck then shared several options for how to reach people not connected with a church: Pray and Wait, Attractional, or Incarnational. What Larry is doing is Incarnational, connecting with people where they already are and doing life together. 

The first Methodist to do Fresh Expressions was Susanna Wesley in her kitchen. Dr. Beck shared several examples of Fresh Expressions that his church has including meeting in a tattoo parlor, Burritos and Church, Shenanigans in a retirement facility – all of these are an ecology of church where “the world is our parish”. His church is not sustained by plate offerings but has grants and other funding as a shelter. 

Dr. Page joined Dr. Beck for a dialog. The best way to begin Fresh Expressions is to just experiment. Try doing something like dinner church for 3 months and then evaluate. They discussed how everyone can have a part; for example, very introverted people can really blossom in a digital space such as a gaming church. These incarnational spaces provide opportunities for people who were harmed by the church to share about that experience. Dr. Page shared that most churches claim to be Welcoming but they are often not as welcoming as they think they are. Rev. Dr. Rodrigo Cruz shared that “People go where they are welcomed, they stay where they are valued”. He also shared that “following Jesus is not complicated, but it is hard.” Rev. Woo Kang shared, “When you break bread together, you typically aren’t going to do so in silence” – by doing so it creates an opportunity for dialog and sharing life together. Dr. Beck reminded us that we are in a loneliness epidemic and the one critical thing that we have to share is the communal life with Jesus. Bishop Sue challenged us to “go do some history” – all of our churches have “Fresh Expressions” in our history.

Bishop Sue called Rev. Isaiah Park, Northern Virginia District,  for the closing prayer and adjourned the meeting at 11:58 AM.

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