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Friday Morning Session

Thomas Kemper

Mr. Thomas Kemper, a native of Germany and chief executive of the General Board of Global Ministries, is this year's Bible study leader. He greeted the clergy and lay members of conference Friday morning and presented his first lesson on Friday morning. Click here to listen to Friday morning's Bible study. (mp3)

The Rev. Marc Brown, director of Connectional Ministries, presented the Report of the Common Table, accompanied by Shirley Cauffman, conference lay leader. The report highlighted the ways in which Virginia Conference program boards and commissions have been structuring and aligning to the conference vision statement -- "We envision faith communities where all God's people are welcomed at table, nurtured, and transformed to be Christ to others in the world" -- through the lens of All Tings New that was approved by the annual conference in 2008.

Beth Christian of the Board of Discipleship said her board has set a course to better equip local and churches and new faith communities with effective tools and leadership training.

Shirley Cauffman, for the Board of Laity, said board members agreed to a new structure and direction. The proposed structure focuses on three new leadership teams, each led by an associate conference lay leader. They are the Engaging Team, the Equipping Team, and the Empowering Team.

Jeff Harlow brough the report of the Campus Ministry Implementation Team. The team is evaluating the effectiveness and fruitfulness of campus ministries. They are looking at organizational structure and evaluating the best stewardship of campus ministries properties. The proposals presented by the Common Table were approved by the conference members.

Shirley Cauffman led the election of boards and agencies. These persons were recognized and consecrated by Bishop Whitaker.

The Cabinet, represented by the Rev. Myrtle Hatcher, presented the report of New Faith Communities. Ebenezer Church, Portsmouth District, began a service of worship called Bread and Jam that focuses on seekers and unchurched who were not present in their congregation. The Rev. Carl LeMon and the Rev. Brent Seusy are pastors of this congregation. In the fall of 2009, a group within West Point Church, Rappahannock District, launched "The Point," under the Rev. Betsy Basehore. This program has reached many young families in the community. Mount Olivet, Lynchburg District, closed in 2009, but the church's spirit has given new faith to a community that will be located in its facilities. The Timberlake East congregation has been formed under the leadership of the Rev. Rob Colwell, pastor of Timberlake.

The children visited from Brazil were granted time to present a thank you banner for their visit to Virginia.

Two new faith communities have been launched. Worship and Praise is a newly revitalized faith community in the Richmond District as a result of the merger between the Aldersgate congregation of the Ashland District, and Worship and Praise, a former nondenominational congregation. The Rev. Timothy Kirven is being appointed to serve this new faith community. The first new faith community in over 70 years on the Farmville District will be planted in July. Journey, a United Methodist Missional Faith Community, will respond to projected growth along the Route 360 corridor. The Rev. Mike Davis is being appointed to serve this new faith community.

The Rev. Peter Moon presented a report of the 5 Talent Academy. A video about the continuing work of the academy was viewed. The fall event on evangelism will be hold Oct. 6 at Oak Grove Church in Chesapeake. Stories of five growing churches in Virginia will be shared. If you register during the annual conference session, the cost is only $15 per person. Go to

A video of the Emergency Response Team was aired. To view the video, go to

 It showed the many ways people in the Virginia Conference are shown helping others in need following natural disasters, including the spate of spring tornadoes in Virginia and other states.

The Rev. Lee Sheaffer, executive director of the Association of Educational Institutions, introduced the presidents of United Methodist-related schools in Virginia.

Sam Wells

Dr. Sam Wells, dean of Duke Chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at the Divinity School of Duke, is this year's conference preacher. He gave his first sermon Friday morning, titled "Shaking the Dust."Click here to listen to his sermon (mp3).

Bishop Whitaker announced that some 7,000 pounds of potatoes were bagged this morning to be distributed by the Society of St. Andrew to hungry people in Virginia. The efforts of churches in the conference who have donated birthing kits were acknowledged. Julie Warren, director of congregational care at Woodlake UMC, Richmond District, who was been on mission trips around the world, has seen firsthand how the kits are a blessing to people in many countries. She announced the following numbers of donations that have been received at this conference.

Collecting the conference offering.
15,192 school kits
3,723 layette kits
648 sewing kits
62 bedding packs
854 cleaning buckets
9, 200 pounds of food
5,243 birthing kits


Ushers came forward to take the conference offering. Ushers included the holy rollers, a group who bicycle to conference every year to raise awareness and funds for the conference offering. Ray Stearns, a Holy Roller, and Julie Warren gave the prayer of dedication. Following lunch, Bishop Whitaker announced that $167,345 had been collected so far for the offering.


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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