UMC 2020

From Pastor John:

Dear Peakland Members and Friends,

     As you may be aware the United Methodist Church is once again in the news about our denominational stance on homosexuality, the celebration of same-sex marriage, and the ordination of professing gay believers. We are in the news because a group of global leaders has come together and hammered out a plan to allow at least one new denomination to be formed and the United Methodist Church to rescind what has been called the "Traditional Plan" which is viewed by many as exclusive and punitive. I am writing for three reasons:

   First, let's all take a breath. What you are seeing in the news is no more than a plan that key leaders, representative of many constituents, are offering for consideration to General Conference which will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from May 5 - 15, 2020. General Conference must hammer out legislation, that legislation must past the test of constitutionality, and, if passed, will take a while to implement.

   Second, check out www.peaklandumc.org on a regular basis and click on the link "UMC 2020." We will be posting information as we receive it. At this moment, there is a copy of the official document, a word of explanation and a separate article about how to explain to the children what is going on (I found this one most helpful, personally).

   Third, and it really ought to be first, please pray. While I am saddened at the possibility of separation, we have to accept the reality in which we live. At the same time, I sense a light leading us out of the thicket we have been mired in for so long. I believe the United Methodist Church which has formed me for a generation is evolving into the inclusive and nonjudgmental institution that makes us distinct among the denominations of the world.

Finally, there are on-line opportunities for us to listen and learn. On Monday, United Methodist News will conduct a live-streamed interview with a panel of group members at 9:30am ET on Jan 13 on www.UMNews.org 

We are planning an informal gathering in the weeks ahead for a time of discussion, questioning, and simply being together. Additionally, we have always intended to have a Peakland Cafe close to the General Conference gathering to help set the stage as we anticipate the possibilities that can happen there.

   Grace and Peace,

   Pastor John

Rev. Tom Berlin's latest video

You may be trying to figure out how to explain or understand the Protocol legislation for General Conference without reading 64 pages of legislation with words like “indemnification.” This video will help. I explain why we are still talking about this, offer a mid-level explanation of the legislation and share why it matters. Take a look and let me know if you have any questions.

Letter to VAUMC Laity 

from Lay Delegates to the 2020 General Conference

 

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! 

As General Conference delegates from Virginia, we write to send our love and share that we are praying mightily for you and your communities through this prayer. 

 

Loving God, we give thanks for our United Methodist family across Virginia and the 

many ways in which they seek to be your hands and feet on earth. May your 

constant presence be felt in these times of uncertainty, your guidance more 

acutely heard, and your call in our lives be sought more and more each day. 

Amen. 

 

We write to you to share our hopes for The United Methodist Church and try to dispel some fears. Just as the geographic makeup of the Commonwealth of Virginia boasts sandy beaches to the Appalachian Mountains, rural havens to growing suburbs to busy cityscapes - the Virginia Conference celebrates the beautiful tapestry of United Methodists as varied as our geography. Together we seek “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” As the Virginia Conference, we have and will continue to follow the teachings of Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 27:37-40). We also faithfully follow John Wesley’s teaching, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” (Sermon 39 Catholic Spirit from the 1872 edition of Wesley's Complete Works - Thomas Jackson, editor) We recognize that as United Methodists, we are at an impasse which requires us to bless those who would like to depart the denomination. A proposal called the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace through Separation was announced publicly on January 3, 2020. Two members of the Virginia Conference, Rev. Tom Berlin and Rev. Keith Boyette, were part of the global team that developed the proposed Protocol legislation which will be presented at the General Conference in Minneapolis in May 2020. 

If the Protocol legislation is passed at the General Conference, it will allow churches and 

individuals to part with a blessing. The post-separation church would be free to fully embrace all of God’s children. The post-separation United Methodist Church that remains in Virginia will resemble our current Conference including, embracing, and celebrating individuals and local churches who hold a variety of views. In times of great uncertainty, it is important for us as leaders in our Conference to take great care to choose our sources of information wisely. The United Methodist News Service is always the best option for clear and up to the moment information. With regard to legislation for the 2020 General Conference, ResourceUMC.org will be your most helpful and accurate resource. 

Most specifically, there are concerns about what local churches actually have to do within 

the Protocol legislation. While this legislation was finished outside the typical cycle, there is provision for it to arrive differently which you can read about in this article.

 

To be clear, should the Protocol legislation be adopted by the General Conference a congregation in an Annual Conference that remains in the post-separation United Methodist Church and wants to continue as they are with no changes of denominational status to the local congregation DOES NOT NEED TO TAKE ANY ACTION. Action by a congregation will only be necessary if it intends to join a newly formed denomination pursuant to the Protocol legislation or become independent of The United Methodist Church. Appointment of clergy will continue to be made just as it always has with the Cabinet seeking to find the very best fit for all. 

It is our prayer that each United Methodist in Virginia will enter this season with a spirit of charity, that is with goodwill. As we have all experienced relationships that change or end in different life seasons, we recognize this season will include a measure of pain and perhaps even mourning. Still, we know that if we enter into it with love for one another at the center of what we say and do, then perhaps we can minimize the hurt we all experience. We look forward to being better equipped to focus our efforts on our shared mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

We urge you to offer your positive and faithful leadership to your congregation in sharing open and respectful conversation as we move toward the General Conference in May. Your lay leadership teams and committees need to be knowledgeable about what is taking place in the life of the denomination. Those who actively participate in the life of your congregation need to be aware of the beliefs and principles that make us uniquely United Methodist. We need to journey through the months ahead with a high level of discussion about the upcoming General Conference and who we are as United Methodists so we can move into the future with hope and courage. 

 

From now through the summer, we will be sharing additional resources, reflections, hopes and dreams for our beloved church with you. We also ask for your prayers for our entire delegation as we make our way to General, Annual and Southeastern Jurisdiction Conferences. Pray for us as we continue to pray for you. 

 

Virginia Conference Lay Delegates to the 2020 General Conference

Warren Harper Martha Stokes 

Shirley Cauffman Darlene Amon 

Beth Christian Alison Malloy 

Marshall Bailey Jill Gaynor 

Joshua Blakely Jacob Paysour 

Mark Elder 

March 1, 2020

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! 

As General Conference delegates from Virginia, we write to send our love and share that we are praying mightily for you and your communities through this prayer. 

Loving God, we give thanks for our United Methodist family across Virginia and the many ways in which they seek to be your hands and feet on earth. May your constant presence be felt in these times of uncertainty, your guidance more acutely heard, and your call in our lives be sought more and more each day. Amen.

We write to you to share our hopes for The United Methodist Church and try to dispel some fears. Just as the geographic makeup of the Commonwealth of Virginia boasts sandy beaches to the Appalachian Mountains, rural havens to growing suburbs to busy cityscapes - the Virginia Conference celebrates the beautiful tapestry of United Methodists as varied as our geography. Together we seek “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” 

As the Virginia Conference, we have and will continue to follow the teachings of Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 27:37-40). We also faithfully follow John Wesley’s teaching, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” (Sermon 39 Catholic Spirit from the 1872 edition of Wesley's Complete Works - Thomas Jackson, editor)

 

We recognize that as United Methodists, we are at an impasse which requires us to bless those who would like to depart the denomination. A proposal called the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace through Separation was announced publicly on January 3, 2020. Two members of the Virginia Conference, Rev. Tom Berlin and Rev. Keith Boyette, were part of the global team that developed the proposed Protocol legislation which will be presented at the General Conference in Minneapolis in May 2020.

If the Protocol legislation is passed at the General Conference, it will allow churches and individuals to part with a blessing. The post-separation church would be free to fully embrace all of God’s children. The post-separation United Methodist Church that remains in Virginia will resemble our current Conference including, embracing, and celebrating individuals and local churches who hold a variety of views.  

In times of great uncertainty, it is important for us as leaders in our Conference to take great care to choose our sources of information wisely. 

 

To be clear, should the Protocol legislation be adopted by the General Conference a congregation in an Annual Conference that remains in the post-separation United Methodist Church and wants to continue as they are with no changes of denominational status to the local congregation DOES NOT NEED TO TAKE ANY ACTION.  Action by a congregation will only be necessary if it intends to join a newly formed denomination pursuant to the Protocol legislation or become independent of The United Methodist Church. Appointment of clergy will continue to be made just as it always has with the Cabinet seeking to find the very best fit for all. 

It is our prayer that each United Methodist in Virginia will enter this season with a spirit of charity, that is with goodwill. As we have all experienced relationships that change or end in different life seasons, we recognize this season will include a measure of pain and perhaps even mourning. Still, we know that if we enter into it with love for one another at the center of what we say and do, then perhaps we can minimize the hurt we all experience. We look forward to being better equipped to focus our efforts on our shared mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

We urge you to offer your positive and faithful leadership to your congregation in sharing open and respectful conversation as we move toward the General Conference in May.  Your lay leadership teams and committees need to be knowledgeable about what is taking place in the life of the denomination.  Those who actively participate in the life of your congregation need to be aware of the beliefs and principles that make us uniquely United Methodist.  We need to journey through the months ahead with a high level of discussion about the upcoming General Conference and who we are as United Methodists so we can move into the future with hope and courage.  

From now through the summer, we will be sharing additional resources, reflections, hopes and dreams for our beloved church with you.  We also ask for your prayers for our entire delegation as we make our way to General, Annual and Southeastern Jurisdiction Conferences.  Pray for us as we continue to pray for you.

 

Virginia Conference Lay Delegates to the 2020 General Conference

Warren Harper

Martha Stokes

Shirley Cauffman

Darlene Amon

Beth Christian

Alison Malloy

Marshall Bailey

Jill Gaynor

Joshua Blakely

Jacob Paysour

Mark Elder

 

 

Beth Christian

Director of Congregational Vitality

Staunton District, VA United Methodist Church

A Pastoral Letter to the People of The United Methodist Church
Ash Wednesday, 2020
From +Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., President, Council of Bishops 


 
On Ash Wednesday, it is the tradition of the church to focus on the cross, in the form of the imposition of ashes, and to read Psalm 51.  This is also a spiritual practice for many every Friday, to read this Psalm and to focus on the cross.  Without a deep and constant turning to Jesus, we are always prone to pride and arrogance, we are always tempted by power and using any available means to achieve our ends, even those purposes we believe to be of God.
 
A church that loses touch with the spiritual practice of focusing on the cross and reading Psalm 51 will inevitably transfer its trust to institutions and leaders who are always in need of reform and renewal.
 
To read Psalm 51 is to be utterly transparent and open to the truth—in our spiritual lives and in our institutional practices. This leads us— as persons before God and as leaders of communities and congregations—to a deep and constant dependence on God, who has the power to change us, who is finally the source of our hope.
 
Create in me a clean heart, O God
And renew a right spirit within me
Do not cast me from your presence
Or take your Holy Spirit from me
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
And grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
 
Lent is a forty-day journey that can become, for us, an extended conversation with God.  God’s power, our weakness.  God’s provision, our emptiness.  God’s abundance, our scarcity.  God’s righteousness, our imperfection.  God’s wisdom, our confusion.
 
And a conversation with God can become the foundation for a conversation among God’s people. 
 
I see hope in the conversations that are happening across the church. Some conversation is between followers of Jesus who have very real differences with one another.  Their unity is in the cross.
 
I continue to affirm, perhaps especially now, the resources contained in The Anatomy of Peace and the work done by the Commission on a Way Forward on convicted humility.
 
Another traditional text for Ash Wednesday is 2 Corinthians 5. It is a passage about reconciliation.  The Greek word for reconciliation is katallage. It is a word that appears only three times in the New Testament, and was a term more commonly used in politics than in religion. It is a word about settling disputes.
 
God settled a despite with us through the cross. And God now asks us to move toward, not away from each other, as we take up this ministry of reconciliation. It is linked, Paul will go on to say in the first verses of 2 Corinthians 6, to our salvation. Our salvation is not in fleeing from each other.  The Triune God did not flee from us. Our salvation is the way of the cross, our settling disputes with each other.  
 
Finally, our hope is in the power and providence of God, in whose image we are all created, in whose church we  are joined together through public promises.  For the signs of hope, in conversations, in grace extended, and in justice sought, I give thanks. God is not finished with us yet.  We now have these forty days.  We are finite, God is infinite.  And this is at the heart of Ash Wednesday—the way of the cross,  which is God’s great agenda.
 
That agenda is to resist the forces of evil, injustice and oppression, and to turn to the crucified and risen Lord, our judge and our hope, with convicted humility. This is the path by which we become disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
 

January 17, 2020


Update on the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation

Dear Virginia Annual Conference,

On January 3, 2020, the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation (the “Protocol”) was released. You can find the document on the conference website. It is important to emphasize that the Protocol does not mean the future of our denomination has been agreed upon. The Protocol is one of several plans for the General Conference to consider from May 5-15, 2020.  

The level of anxiety and stress for bishops, clergy and laity is high as we approach the General Conference. There is a deep collective longing to resolve our human sexuality disagreement in a way that provides everyone with grace and hope.   

In this journey to resolve our disagreement, I hope you can hear and understand my vow to continue to live out my episcopal consecration. On July 15, 2016, I made a solemn covenant to uphold the Book of Discipline. I did not enter into this covenant lightly. I pledged my commitment to God and the denomination to honor my consecration covenant through each passage of Church law enacted at every General Conference. 

Our Church law governs our denomination and it provides the processes we as United Methodists agreed to follow. However, I am sensitive to the views of those who do not agree with the Book of Discipline or the legislation passed at the 2019 Special Session of General Conference as it relates to human sexuality. Therefore, it is crucial that we pray for our Virginia Conference delegation and the 862 delegates from all over the world that will be discerning God’s will for the future of our denomination in May 2020.

I have been asked by many whether I will implement the request in the Protocol that bishops put in abeyance any complaints filed against clergy who are self-avowed practicing homosexuals or who preside over same-sex weddings.  I respectfully ask that the Virginia Conference clergy do not perform same-sex weddings, keeping to our sacred vow in the Book of Discipline. However, if clergy preside over same-sex weddings and a complaint is filed about such conduct, I will process the complaint by the 2016 Book of Discipline and the legislation that was passed at the 2019 Special Session of General Conference.  

On May 15, 2019, Interim Bishop Pete Weaver provided wise counsel when he sent a letter to all Virginia Conference clergy specifying how they can participate in same-sex weddings without violating the sacred covenant of the Book of Discipline. Click this link to view the letter. I fully agree with, and support, Bishop Weaver’s letter.

Please pray for our denomination daily. Prayer is a powerful discipline and I believe we can get through anything if we trust in God and seek God’s wisdom. These are trying times in The United Methodist Church, but I am confident that we will emerge stronger in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

Peace and Blessings,
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis

safe_image.php.jpeg
mediation+team1.jpg

4434 Boonsboro Rd, Lynchburg, VA 24503

Contact us:

Office: ​434.384.2791
Fax:  434.384.2795
Email:  peaklandoffice@gmail.com