Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church urged each conference to use the One Matters award to recognize one church that is turning zeros into positive numbers with a renewed focus on discipleship.
During Annual Conference 2017, held at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, Don Jamison of the conference Board of Discipleship presented the award to Bethel United Methodist in Virginia Beach. Bethel had been declining financially and in membership, fearful of closing. In July 2014, a new pastor was appointed and the church revamped programs, invited children, and held a confirmation class. The progress has been slow in professions of faith, but there has been an increase in membership.
Bethel UMC received the first One Matters Discipleship Award in the Virginia Conference.
On Saturday, March 25, 2017, commuters on the Norfolk Light Rail were greeted with an unexpected gift as they departed at the Newtown Station. Members from Aldersgate UMC in Norfolk handed out chocolate candy bars to passengers, along with a smile and a greeting. Church members plan to greet their communities in other ways throughout the year.
On Friday, March 31, a tornado touched down in the Greenbrier section of Chesapeake, and proceeded to travel eight miles into Virginia Beach causing major destruction along the way. The Virginia Conference Disaster Response Team received the call for assistance Saturday, April 1, and within minutes a team was on site to remove debris and do roof tarping for six homes.
Clergy from the Elizabeth River District who serve in various roles with the Conference Disaster response team, including Kirk Culpepper, Frank Jennings, Ellen Comstock, and Bob Pihlcrantz were present Saturday organizing volunteers, coordinating equipment, and with spiritual and emotional care to survivors and volunteers.
Currently, there are about nine homes in Virginia Beach that did not receive assistance over the weekend. If you can help with debris clean-up and more or have volunteers in your church who would be interested, please contact Rev. Kirk Culpepper at 757.434.0078 or email@example.com.
Earthkeepers are United Methodists commissioned by the General Board of Global Ministries who are keenly aware of the ecological challenges in our world today and feel called to be part of a movement to transform the world.
Earthkeepers work with congregations and communities to have a theological base for Caring for Creation. They work with different ministries/projects such as: landscaping with native plants; creating community gardens in urban "food deserts," instituting recycling; advocating for renewable energy policies, or working for environmental justice by cleaning up rivers, landscapes and toxic waste sites near their communities. They may do all of these things and more!
Earthkeepers are laity and clergy, students, part-time and full-time
workers, and retirees. They may have a vocation that allows them to focus on
caring for creation during their regular work hours, or they may choose to volunteer their time.
Eden on the Elizabeth (River)
Ellen Comstock, retired clergy,living in Portsmouth, was commissioned as one of the 1st VA Earthkeepers in November. She is available and looking for ways to resource ER District churches to develop theological grounding, goals and projects to maintain and improve the Elizabeth River watershed while deepening their spiritual awareness and commitment through caring for creation.
Eden on the Elizabeth looks to pilot: 3-4 or more small to mid-size UMC churches in the ER watershed developing projects to deepen mindfulness of river vitality and sustainability, and develop and implement projects to lessen pollution and enhance water quality and quality of life, in the ecosystem surrounding the river. Collaboration with the Elizabeth River Project.
Contact: Rev. Ellen W.Comstock 757 373 3137 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
by Rev. Sherry Daniels, Norfolk UMC
The Convocation for Pastors of Black Churches’ mission is and always has been the inspiration, information, and encouragement of pastors of Black Churches and those who support them. It started 20 years ago, as a “grass roots” effort and the need for such an event has evolved to the Convocation Network today and well into the future. The beauty of the United Methodist Church is the “Open Table” and the covering of Grace that we claim in Jesus’ name. John Wesley spoke about his heart being “strangely warmed” and this conference never fails to remind pastors and laity leadership that our hearts have to be warmed first in order for others to be warmed. This open table that we embrace embodies the reality that we appreciate the various ways that we worship and how we help all people to find their way to the sanctuary or better stated the House of the Lord.
VAFOCUS 2020 is an innovative process for African American congregations to be "the" catalysis in the communities where they serve. There have been to many years where we have allowed others to come into our communities and take key leadership positions--particularly, prophetic leadership and we have been silent. It is now time for us to take back our rightful place. Even in our denomination, there are times when we have been silent, when our voices should have been loud and strong. This conference reminds us that we cannot be afraid to stand up, speak out and take leadership and accountability when needed.
It involves congregations that are willing to be coached--both the clergy and laity to be the very best that they can be. It involves being creative and risk-takers in "making disciples" for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It also focusses on community context and culture in understanding how we reach new people where they are and how we keep them and develop the leadership potential in them. While it is easy to find "cookie cutter" models, Virginia Conference has taken the time and put forth the effort to understand who we are and who God has called us to serve. And in understanding this, chosen coaches with specialized expertise to "walk alongside them" to help them move to the next level of ministry effectiveness. The goal is not to create another program, but to walk alongside congregations that will grow stronger, more impactful where they serve and relevant in their ministries. In other words, this is not just another exercise or church program, this will and is becoming a movement.
Participants at the Convocation for Pastors of Black Churches from the Virginia Conference
United Methodist Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Praying Our Way Forward Phase 2 Commences January 1
Nashville, Tenn.: The second phase of the 'Praying Our Way Forward' initiative launched New Year’s Day with 75 weeks of focused prayer for The United Methodist Church. The effort began January 1 in the North Carolina Conference, and wrap up in the West Angola Episcopal area in June 2018.
"The aim of 'Praying Our Way Forward' is to ask and listen for God’s leadership at this critical time in the life of our church,” said Bishop Al Gwinn, who co-chairs the initiative.
Co-chair Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett adds, “In addition to participating in a designated week of prayer, individuals are invited to join the initiative by praying daily and fasting weekly for our church, mission and future.”
“Praying Our Way Forward” was created by the Council of Bishops as a part of their larger commitment to “lead the church in every part of the world in times of worship, study, discernment, confession and prayer for God’s guidance.” To achieve this mission, they invited The Upper Room to help engage every annual conference around the world. United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men and United Methodist Communications have recently joined the partnership.
Each annual conference will take one week to have intentional prayer for the mission of The United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and for the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, which begins meeting in January.
United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men will encourage their constituencies to pray throughout phase two, and especially during their annual conference sponsored week. Resident bishops are invited to reach out to UMW and UMM leaders in their areas to involve them in developing plans for the “Conference Week of Prayer.”
The Upper Room has developed UMCprays.org, a website where spiritual leaders and intercessors can share prayers, information and resources. The site has prayer resources for individuals, families, small groups, districts, and annual conference events, as well as promotional ideas and information about the Commission members and the weekly prayer schedule. There is also a place for the bishop of the annual conference scheduled to pray during the coming week to share a prayer.
This year, 5,000 people joined the website, formerly 60daysofprayer.org, to connect intercessors around the world to pray for the work of the 2016 General Conference. The group has continued to pray together and remains a valuable spiritual support network of The United Methodist Church.
During phase 1 of the new initiative, 84 bishops of the church spent 15 minutes each day for four months in prayer for the selection and initial work of the Commission on A Way Forward.
For more information, visit UMCprays.org.
On Saturday, October 29, 2016 the Elizabeth River District Youth sponsored a Stop Hunger Now packaging event at Virginia Wesleyan College. Over 125 volunteers from many churches including students from Virginia Wesleyan packaged over 40,000 meals. People of all ages came out to work together and have fun while fighting hunger and providing education opportunities to those in need around the world.
The District Youth would like to thank Virginia Wesleyan Collage for hosting this event and for the support to make this a successful event.
If you would like to see what Stop Hunger Now is about and how you can help please visit their webpage at http://www.stophungernow.org
Potential college students looking for a great education should checkout what Virginia Wesleyan College has to offer at http://www.vwc.edu/
The latest information, reflections, and notifications from the Elizabeth River District.