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The Memorial Service began with Bishop Sue leading the procession of families of those being remembered during the service.  The names of the honored dead: bishops, clergy members, clergy spouses, and lay members were read as candles were lit.

Mr. William T. Greer opened the service with prayer. Madison Elliott read a poem with a song proclamation. Amy Song shared the Gospel Lesson: Mark 4:35-41. 

Rev. Kyungsuk Cho began his sermon “Over to the Other Side” with prayer. He shared several stories where people thought he was younger than he actually is. We appreciate being perceived as younger because it makes death seem further away. We avoid thinking about death because it is “the great unknown and uncharted territory”. Rev. Cho shared about the bravery of the first wave of missionaries to Korea, most facing certain death from either disease, accidents, or persecutions. In this faith, we have to keep moving forward to the otherside. When things stop moving, it’s death. Most of the problems in the Bible occurred when people stopped moving. We are not remembering a dead story, we are remembering a story of God’s movement. “One’s person’s movement is not just one person’s movement. When the dots are collected, it forms a line. And every line has a direction. All we can do is to keep moving in the right direction.” 

After the singing of The Storm is Passing Over, Rev. Dr. Clarence Brown and Rev. Beth Downs led us in a prayer for the Honored Dead. Rev. Brown and Rev Downs read the names of the individuals being remembered. Click here to view the Memorial Bulletin for the names of those being remembered. Rev. Downs concluded with a prayer. The AC 2024 Band led those gathered in singing, Prayers of the People and praying the Lord’s Prayer. This was followed by singing Stand By Me together as the Sending Song. Rev. Cho closed the Memorial Service with a benediction. 

Bishop Sue introduced Rev. Sam NeSmith for a moment of personal privilege. Rev. NeSmith shared about Judge Willard Douglas, a pillar for African American Methodism, who currently has advanced dementia. 

Bishop Sue introduced Rev. Woo Kang for the teaching session. Rev. Kang asked “Why do we seek to be missional?” Is it because we are now in a privileged position because we can go and do various things? Just to have more people in the seats? We should ask ourselves, “why should we want to be a part of a missional church”? Rev. Kang compared the stories of the Tower of Babel and the Day of Pentecost. The first was about the people initially speaking the same language and then God confused them with a multitude of languages and scattered them to the ends of the earth. With Pentecost, people were still speaking a multitude of languages but the Holy Spirit spoke to them in their own language. The why of why we are called to be missional is so that we can be a good neighbor. Are we willing to walk with someone even though we do not fully understand them. Rev. Kang shared that the main reason he became Methodist was because of the Open Table, where all are welcome. 

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Page invited to Rev. Kang to a dialog. They dived a little deeper into the differences between diversity and unity. How do you approach cultural diversity without approaching cultural appropriation? Kang responded by inviting people of other cultures to tell their story. For example, rather than sing a song in Spanish, ask a Hispanic person to sing that song. Dr. Beck and Dr. Cruz were invited to join the conversation. Dr. Page asked, “How do we commit to ‘Doing No Harm’”? Cruz responded that you have to own the privilege that you own. For example, he said that as a Hispanic male, he has privileges that Hispanic females often do not have. Dr. Beck responded that we have a lot to learn from the Addiction Recovery Program. Apprenticeship/sponsorship and being real with people. Kang responded are we really willing to commit to love someone? Cruz responded that all churches should be risk taking churches. 

Bishop Sue opened the Business Session at 4:20 pm and invited Elijah Gilliam to open in prayer. Bishop Sue called on Rev. Joshua King to discuss the resolutions. We will consider only the language starting with “Therefore” and only that language will be in the official record. This only affects this Annual Conference and there will be more work for next year’s Annual Conference. Rev. Drew Ensz rescinded his initial resolution, and stated a new resolution. After a lot of discussion, the vote was too close to call. Bishop Sue decided that we need to sleep on this tonight and vote by paper ballot tomorrow.

Bishop Sue called on Larry Dickenson to give a special announcement from the VA UM Housing Development. Mr. Dickenson stated that he had promised last year to bring good news last year and hopes that we are as excited as he is. 

VA UM Housing Development and Wesley Housing will merge into a single company to assure that affordable housing development will continue to be an expression of the VAUMC’s desire to provide more opportunities for housing to Virginia’s citizens representing the bottom 50% of income earners.  By combining into a single entity, they will be better positioned for long term sustainability and competitiveness in the marketplace. The combined companies will represent a portfolio of over 5000 apartment units across Virginia, with another 1000 units in the immediate pipeline.

Bishop Sue called on David Dommisee to give the Reports of the Statistician and Treasurer – in interest of time, see the reports here. Dommisse recognized William Talley, IV as the retiring CFA President, and Angie Williams will be the next President of the CFA. 

Rev. Ryan LaRock was invited to present the Francis Asbury Award to Rev. Bret Gresham, Wesley Foundation at Virginia Tech, and Rev. Amanda Miller Garber, previously the Director of the Rise Community Center in Harrisonburg, now the Director of Missional Engagement at the Virginia Conference. 

Mr. Scott Diamond reviewed the Standing Rules of who can vote for the ballot vote tomorrow. 

The Kingstowne Communion took a moment of privilege to present a check for $4,375 for the UnDue Medical Debt (Annual Offering) – they challenged their members to a matching gift. 

The Bishop called on Angie Williams to give the closing prayer and adjournment at 5:47 PM.


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