Dear Virginia Annual Conference,
By the end of January, I will have completed two sessions of the Bishop’s Chat and Chew 2.0 hosted by the districts of Danville, Farmville, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Staunton and Winchester. I want to thank Bethlehem United Methodist Church, Moneta, Va., and Verona United Methodist Church, Verona, Va., for hosting this event. I would also like to express my appreciation for all of the host churches that will provide excellent meals and hospitality during my visits this year.
The remaining Chat and Chews 2.0 are listed below:
February 17 – Eastern districts at Ebenezer United Methodist Church (Suffolk, Va.)
February 24 – Northern districts at Ebenezer United Methodist Church (Stafford, Va.)
I would like to thank Mr. Warren (Virginia Conference lay leader) and Sandy Harper for accompanying me during the Chat and Chew sessions.
This year, the purpose of the Chat and Chews is to provide lay and clergy an opportunity to engage directly
in conversation on the work of The Commission on the Way Forward regarding unity and human sexuality.
This past November, The Commission on the Way Forward presented The Council of Bishops three models/ sketches of the work done thus far.
These models/sketches are not in any order of priority; for further explanations, please review The Commission on a Way Forward website (umc.org/wayforward)
- Model/Sketch 1 – affirms the current Book of Discipline language and places a high value on accountability.
- Model/Sketch 2 – is grounded in a unified core that includes shared doctrine and services and one Council of Bishops, while also creating different branches that have clearly defined values such as accountability, contextualization and justice.
- Model/Sketch 3 – removes restrictive language and places high value on contextualization. This model/sketch also specifically protects the rights of those whose conscience will not allow them to perform same gender weddings or ordain LGBTQ persons.
After the models/sketches were presented to The Council of Bishops, the bishops recommended that The Commission do further study and work on all three models.
I would like to commend The Commission on a Way Forward for all of the prayer, study and work they have done for the past year. I would like to strongly encourage the Virginia Annual Conference to continue to pray for The United Methodist Church, The Council of Bishops and The Commission on a Way Forward.
Peace and Blessings,
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis