Connectional Ministries Director Smith invites 'vision alignment' feedback from around the conference

Update 12/3/19
As a follow-up to last week’s call for the input on vision alignment in the conference, the Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, Director of Connectional Ministries, is providing an additional avenue to share your input. Join him on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 12 noon or 7 p.m. for one-hour sessions via ZOOM. Participants are being asked to share their opinion on two specific things:

1) Is there a disconnect between the conference office and Virginia’s local churches, districts, laity and clergy?  If so, say more. 

2) Do you know what resources the Virginia Conference provides to local churches, districts, laity and clergy? 

To join the ZOOM meeting, call in by phone at 877-369-0926 or sign in by video to at 12 noon or 7 pm on Dec. 10. The meeting id is 876 599 433. Please mark your calendar and join in.

In order to help the DCM and one another, here are some pointers on how the listening session will proceed:
• Please mute your device upon signing into ZOOM to reduce background sounds;
• Ted will begin by reviewing the two very specific session questions (listed above) with 30 minutes per question (other topics of interest may be shared at a later time);
• Be prepared to speak from your personal perspective;
• Ted will be recording these sessions;  joining the session indicates your permission to be recorded;
• Ted will call on folks, alternating clergy and lay, to share for one minute per person. Ted will be the time keeper;
• Ted will work in reverse alphabetical order from the York River to the Alexandria District;
• Please stay on topic regarding the two session questions;
• Whether you are able to share or not, feedback on the two specific questions may be sent to


Nov. 26, 2019 -- At the 2017 session of the Virginia Annual Conference, Bishop Sharma D. Lewis shared her vision for the conference “To be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve.” She also challenged all Virginia Conference churches to have a process of intentionally forming disciples of Jesus Christ by 2020. This new vision was received by the conference but the implementation is still taking shape.

The implementation of this vision falls to the Virginia Conference Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM). Under the Book of Discipline, the office of Connectional Ministries serves as the “steward of the vision” of the annual conference and is charged with aligning the total resources of the conference with its vision, “enabling the “connections among the local, district, annual conference, and general church ministries.” 

The Rev. Dr. Ted Smith started in the role of DCM in July of this year. “Throughout the summer and fall months, I entered into a time of prayer, listening and evaluation of Connectional Ministries responsibilities and working on how our conference and its resources can better align with this vision,” he said. “There have also been conversations between myself and a number of groups in the conference to analyze disconnects between the conference vision and the use of human and financial resources.”

Smith has had conversations with the following groups:
• Common Table
• Common Table Personnel Committee
• Extended and Appointive Cabinet
• Connectional Ministries Staff
• Bishop’s Steering Committee
• Bishop’s VITAL Team
• Way Forward Team
• Council on Finance and Administration (CFA)

As a continuation of this work, Smith has offered an invitation. “Connectional Ministries alignment with our conference vision is necessary and timely because of the rapidly changing denominational and cultural landscape," he said. "Many, if not most, of the churches, laity and clergy of the conference long for a return to the ministry of disciple-making and mission.”

Smith said many also recognize a time of uncertainty could exist for the next two to five years specifically regarding the status of the United Methodist Church as an institution. “A commitment to openness and transparency now leads us to inform and invite to as many sectors of the Virginia Conference as possible to share in this alignment process,” Smith said.

Smith invites the entire Virginia Conference to “provide feedback specifically regarding your thoughts and perceptions of any disconnects you believe may exist between our conference vision and a) the use of our human and financial resources, b) as well as perceived disconnects between our Connectional Ministries and our laity, clergy and districts.”

Smith emphasized, “We want to hear from you. We want to have an open and honest gathering of what we think, how we feel to give guidance to our alignment process. Through this notice, we invite boards, agencies, individuals, caucus groups and any who care to share thoughts and perceptions of alignment and connection.”

Please send feedback about vision alignment to


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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