Interim Bishop,
Virginia Conference:
Pete Weaver

Bishop Peter (Pete) D. Weaver began his duties as interim bishop of the Virginia Conference effective Thursday, March 7, 2019. He is serving as interim bishop while Bishop Sharma D. Lewis is on medical leave.

Peter D. Weaver was born into a parsonage family in Greenville, Pa.  Following education at W. Va. Wesleyan (BA), Drew University (MDiv) and Boston University (ThD) he served United Methodist churches in Pittsburgh, Pa. for 25 years focusing on making disciples through ministries with youth, young adults, older adults, the homeless, industrial workers and executives and with weekly radio broadcasts.  He was a founder of “Bethlehem Haven” for homeless women and “One Voice Against Racism.”

In 1996, he was elected a bishop and served the Philadelphia Area (1996-2004) and Boston Area (2004-2012).  From 2012-16 Bishop Weaver served in Washington, DC as Executive Secretary of the United Methodist Council of Bishops and now serves as Bishop-in-Residence at Drew University Theological School.

Pete (as he prefers to be called) and his spouse Linda now live in Williamsburg, Va. and have eight grown daughters and twelve grandchildren.  Along with enjoying family, Pete plays the trombone, does woodworking, water sports, and helping with ministry with persons who are homeless.

His “life verse” is:  “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation!”  (II Cor. 5:17)

You can reach Bishop Weaver at (804) 521-1102 or


Bishop Pete Weaver RSS Feed
Thanksgiving for Partners in Ministry

"Every time we think of you, we thank God for you... as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father.  It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special."  I Thessalonians 1:2-4 (The Message)
As my time as your interim bishop draws to a close this week, my heart is full of thanksgiving for the partnership in ministry that we have had together during these six months.  When Bishop Lewis went on medical leave she assured me that the Virginia Conference was a wonderful conference of faithful, loving, and hopeful followers of Christ. 
I have been blessed to meet with you across the 16 districts, at Annual Conference, in local churches, at camp, in the work place with grieving Virginia Beach municipal workers, on our college campuses, in gatherings calling for change in immigration practices and gun laws, in many individual conversations and multiple meetings where we have prayed and dreamed about the future God has for us and the United Methodist Church. And I have been blessed to serve closely with a fine Cabinet and conference staff. In and through it all, three things have deeply impressed me about our Virginia Conference:
1.  Christ is at our center, even when we have different perspectives on matters such as human sexuality.  Let us nurture our faith-connection as the Body of Christ!
2.  Virginia United Methodists yearn to respect and love each other, and stay together continuing to be partners in God's mission.  Let us not lose this yearning as we work on fresh ways to stay together in love.
3.  There is amazing creativity and lively envisioning of a future born of resurrection hope that guides much of what we are doing in local communities and the conference. Let us live in that hope.
Thus, I give thanks for you and the time we have served Christ together.  After giving thanks for the Thessalonian's faith, love and hope, Paul wrote, as I do to Virginia Conference, "it is clear to (me), friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special!"  Thanks be to God for Bishop Lewis, someone special, who will return next week in good health and great gifts to lead us partners in ministry toward that "something special" of faith, love, and hope.  "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
Grace and Peace,

Labor this Labor Day

 LABOR THIS LABOR DAY : "The laborer is worthy of his/her wages" (Luke 10:7)
When I was a kid I thought it was strange that on Labor Day, most people did not labor.  What I learned later was that many people called Methodists had labored hard over many years to put the spotlight on unfair labor conditions, child labor, 12-hour work days, seven days a week, the rights of workers to organize and the just principle spoken by Jesus, that the laborer is worthy of wages, dignity, and fully and equally loved by God.  Those Methodists labored to have Labor Day set aside to honor workers of all varieties and to remind us to keep working for economic justice as a sign of our love and concern for all God's children.
So Jesus met the fishermen, the homemakers, the tax collectors, the soldiers, the servants, the wealthy, the poor right where they were.  And Wesley famously went to be with the coal miners, opposed slavery, visited those in debtors prison, and "labored" among the poor and those without a living wage in his time. 
As the Industrial Revolution grew in America many Methodists became concerned about the exploitation of workers and the ripple affects on children and families.  My first appointment was in Pittsburgh just up the hill from the Homestead plant of US Steel where the Pinkerton guards killed six workers and wounded many more to break the 1892 steel strike in which some Methodists had been organizers.
By 1908 the Methodist General Conference courageously passed the Social Creed (predecessor to our Social Principles) becoming the first American denomination declaring: "For equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life.  For the principles of conciliation and arbitration in industrial dissensions.  For the protection of the worker from dangerous machinery, occupational diseases, injuries and mortality.  For the abolition of child labor.  For such regulation of the conditions of labor for women as shall safeguard the physical and moral health of the community.  For the suppression of the 'sweating system.'  For a release from employment one day in seven.  For a living wage in every industry....."  (Incidentally, one of the famous Methodists of the time was Judge Gary, President of US Steel !!)
That phrase "living wage" sounds familiar 111 years later!  This week's TIME Magazine cover story is about those without a living wage and "the left behind economy."  There is still labor to be done, inspired by Labor Day.
After the famous 1919 steel strike 100 years ago, Methodist Bishop Francis J. McConnell was asked to lead the national commission that prepared a two-volume report on the strike and ways to bring about labor/management reconciliation and justice.  The report was presented to President Wilson in 1920 and was widely credited with laying the foundation for the major labor reforms that would follow in the next three decades.
In addition, Methodists initiated new ways of reaching out to workers in their communities.  In the Homestead Steel Plant in the 70s we built the "Little Chapel" picnic-like pavilion on the mill floor where workers would gather during shift breaks for prayer and Bible study, led by clergy and laity of our churches.  Many of the area businesses, offices, car dealers, etc. also began having regular prayer and study groups, where, like with Wesley, workers could talk about faith in their work place.  Such groups also met in office buildings and restaurants throughout the city. The downtown church which I later served had weekday, noontime services and, on every Friday, ongoing Communion offered along with pastoral care/counseling all day.
This is my invitation to you and us.  In honor of this Labor Day , "work" on some ways your congregation can engage with various industrial, farm, office, professional, migrant, service workers in your area.  Work on some ways to assure economic justice and a living wage for the laborers worthy of their wages. Join with Jesus who is already at work there in the places of labor this Labor Day and every day.

Celebrating camps; healing day bell ringing

Sometimes people will ask me what I celebrate about the Virginia Conference. There are so many things such as mission engagement around the world, our ministries with college students, a great new chapter opening in Hispanic ministries, and the amazing day to day ministries bubbling up in over 1,100 United Methodist Virginia churches and flowing out into their communities.
And then there are our camping ministries! Thousands of children and youth engage with hundreds of volunteers, including many pastors, in the five United Methodist camp locations and two camp ministries (All God’s Children Camp and Camp Rainbow) across Virginia. Lifelong friends are made, and life changing relationships with Christ nurtured. It was at camp that I first publicly gave my life to Christ. It was at a campfire, years later, that I committed myself to enter ordained ministry. 
From age 8 on, I went to United Methodist camps every summer; I worked there summers while in college and served as a counselor/dean/speaker for at least one summer week for nearly every year I was a pastor and active bishop. It's not that I felt I had so much to give to the kids, but that they had so much to give helping me to understand their challenges and the inspiring power of Christ in their lives.

  The Rev. Pam Culler with a camper at 2019 All God's
  Children Camp.

It happened again last Wednesday. My wife, Linda, and I hung out with the kids (7-12) and counselors of the Virginia Conference’s All God’s Children Camp for young people who have an incarcerated parent. Started nearly 20 years ago as a part of the conference emphasis on "children and poverty," this great ministry continues with three different weeks each summer.In Bible study, creative crafts time, recreation, times of prayer and worship as well as "Harmony" time to talk through feelings and challenges, we saw the Holy Spirit move in amazing ways to surround these young people with the Good News and experience that they "are somebody" because they are created and loved by God. WOW...THAT'S REASON ENOUGH FOR ANY OF US TO CELEBRATE!

I urge you to join with many other faith communities on Sunday, August 25, at 3 p.m. in responding to the National Park Service invitation to participate in the HEALING DAY NATIONAL BELL RINGING as we commemorate and remember this first landing of slaves here in Virginia.
Our worship that day should be a time of confession for those of us who are still complicit in the attitudes and systems of racism that continue in our time, four hundred years later. I cannot forget standing in the "port of no return" on the western shore of Angola where those captured as slaves were forced to be branded like cattle and then baptized, to make them Christian, before being marched onto the slave ships. Sadly, Christians have often been partners in rationalizing the injustices visited upon others.
Healing will only happen when our confession leads to new commitments that are as "clear as the bells" that will ring across the land Sunday afternoon. These commitments to love our neighbors as ourselves and do justice will "loose the chains" that now bind us. (Isaiah 58:6)
Please also note and support the many fine events in your local area that will bring people together in this commitment to healing.

Who sits upon the throne?; district gatherings continue

The last chapter of the fantasy TV series Game of Thrones was shown Sunday night. While I never really followed it, I was struck by the popular engagement the show had over the years with mythical, fictional characters engaged in dramatic battles of good and evil. Violence and deception reigned. Villains and heroes clashed. It seemed, as James Russell Lowell wrote in his great poem/hymn, that truth's "portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong."  This week, TV critics are now complaining about the last chapter of the series.
On one Monday morning show, the hosts passionately discussed the outcome of the Game of Thrones as if it were real news of eternal consequence. This was followed by a brief news report on the horror of war in Yemen, massive killings, thousands of children starving in a real place, with real people, with real devastating consequences. Even as you read this, in many parts of the world, the reality of the evils of violence and hatred seem to be overcoming the good of aid workers and peacemakers, including United Methodist missionaries. Why do fantasies of good versus evil captivate our attention more than the realities happening around us every day? And what about the resurrection promise that our Risen Lord ultimately sits upon the throne?
"I heard a loud voice from the throne say, ‘Look! God's dwelling is here with humankind.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples.... Then the one seated on the throne said, 'Look!  I'm making all things new." (Rev. 21:3,5)
Let us join in living this real story that can transform lives and the world!  It's no game or fantasy!

Thank you to all who have been coming (some driving over two hours) to our "Walking the Journey Together" gatherings on the districts. As your interim bishop, I have been greatly blessed to be with you. 
These have been times of "listening, learning and loving" with each other as we are seeking to discern where God is leading us as United Methodists. I have appreciated the candor ("leveling") and authentic witness of minds and hearts that we have shared. Like those first disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection, I have felt Christ walking with us, and again and again my "eyes have been opened" to new insights, deeper faith, fresh gratitude for the love and oneness we share even with our many differences.
If you have not been able to attend your own district's gathering, you are welcome to come to any of the last three gatherings: 
• June 1 – 9:30AM Charlottesville/Staunton; Crozet UMC, 1156 Crozet Ave Crozet, VA 22932
• June 1 – 3PM Lynchburg/Roanoke; Bethlehem UMC, 13586 S Old Moneta Rd Moneta, VA 24121-6210
• June 2 – 3PM Danville/Farmville; St. Luke’s UMC, 3090 N Main St Danville, VA 24540-1741
John Wesley reminded us that even in the most challenging times, "Best of all, God is with us!"

Standing against hatred; gleaning; 2019 GC decisions

+ANTI-SEMITISM…ANTI-MUSLIM…ANTI-CHRISTIAN  Shots have sliced the sacred silence of yet another sanctuary!  Shots given birth in “anti” attitudes and hatred. Again this past weekend in Chabad Synagogue in Poway, Calif. we are compelled to face the growing hatred for “the other” and the violence it spawns, with the aid of automatic rifles. And again we ask “Why,” “What can we do?”
The last congregation I served in Pittsburgh, Pa. was close to the Tree of Life Synagogue where exactly six months before the Poway shootings, 11 were murdered on the Sabbath. Our congregations had worked together on many things.  I knew two of those killed: Daniel Stein, a very faithful Jew who was a classmate at “very Methodist” West Virginia Wesleyan, and Dr. Jerry Rubinowitz who cared for many of the HIV-AIDS patients with whom our congregation was seeking to minister through our “AIDS CARE TEAMS.” Those care teams were made up of our members who had all the different opinions about homosexuality, but were united in the certainty that Christ would have us love our neighbors as ourselves.  Wesleyan had persons of a variety of faiths, but encouraged us all to respect and care for each other, as all were children of God.  These were communities working to be “pro” rather than “anti” anyone.
What about your community… your congregation… your own talk and actions?

+GREENING AND GLEANING The wonder of spring greening surrounds us. The bounty of God’s creation embraces us. The miracles of bud, and leaf, and flower break out of winter slumber pointing toward the seasons of growth and harvest. For some United Methodists on the Farmville District the season moves from seeding to sharing and from greening to gleaning. 
The Southside Gleaning/Salvaging Network of the District gleaned and distributed 130,000 pounds of fresh produce in 2018.  The food was delivered to individuals in twelve counties.  Plus, 16,000 pounds of potatoes from a Society of St. Andrew Potato Drop at Heritage UMC in Lynchburg were distributed! 
If you want to know more about this ministry, call Mrs. Martha Reed at 434-294-3002.
I also know of urban churches that do community gardens on vacant lots, and a church near a mobile home park that helped farm undeveloped land nearby.  And the hungry were fed and the seeds of wonderful friendships sown.  Plan such a ministry of greening and gleaning that creatively fits your area and Jesus will be there to help!

+INFORMATION ON THE STATUS OF 2019 GENERAL CONFERENCE DECISIONS  I sent this letter to our Virginia Conference following the Judicial Council (our Supreme Court) rulings announced last Friday, April 26.

The cross in the rubble; important step forward

Dear Partners in Ministry,

+THE CROSS IN THE RUBBLE:  Easter Sunday morning we heard the bad news of the devastating bombings in Sri Lanka targeting, in part, Christian churches and Easter worshippers. Nearly 300 had been killed. But as the news camera panned the scene, in the background you could hear someone shout the Good News: “He is Risen!” And in the center of the rubble, a cross was still standing, strong.

Thousands of miles away in Paris, Easter crowds gathered around the ruins of Notre Dame and sang and called out: “He is Risen!” And in the center of the sanctuary rubble, a cross was still standing, shining.

Whatever the “bad news rubble” of our time, or place, or life, hear the Good News: “He is Risen.” See the cross guiding us to hope, peace, life, and salvation, through it all! Let us all respond and live in the truth, “He is Risen, indeed!”

+ANOTHER IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD: Join me in praying daily for our United Methodist Church Judicial Council which is meeting this week in Evanston, Ill. This group of nine United Methodist followers of Christ are the “Supreme Court” of our church which will consider all of the legislation that was passed by our General Conference in February and determine whether the legislation is in keeping with our church’s Constitution or not. This is another important step forward on our denomination’s journey of decision making around matters of human sexuality.

Some people have asked me, “Who are these nine people who will make this decision?”

Here’s a glimpse. They were elected by the General Conference over a number of years. They are five laity and four clergy (no bishops). They are five men and four women. Three were born in the United States and five now live here. There are six lawyers, three of whom are women. Six are persons of color. They include a former dean of a law school, retired Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, and Harvard Law School graduates. One was born in Vietnam, worked for the Swiss Justice Ministry, was a missionary in Kenya, and serves a local church. One was a Bible study leader for the Philadelphia Eagles Football team and a pastor of the same church for 27 years. Other countries where our Judicial Council members have lived include Norway, the Congo, Liberia, Mozambique…California, Kansas, Ohio, New Jersey (Oh, aren’t they countries? Well, they can be as different as countries!)

And most of all, like you and me, they yearn to follow where Christ leads us as a United Methodist people, and they seek to make fair and impartial judgments about the General Conference decisions. Please keep them in your prayers.

Learn more about the Judicial Council and its members and the decisions at:

Holy Week and Easter

Dear Partners in Ministry,

Some thoughts and observations from this past week…

+ UNTYING DONKEYS   The Chair of the church’s Board of Trustees spotted a brand new, never ridden in, SUV (Savior’s Ultimate Vehicle) in the parking lot.  When the owner came out of church, the Trustees Chair said to the owner, “Give me the keys, so I can use your SUV!”  Question: “Why are you taking it?”   Answer: “The Lord needs it.”

The Palm Sunday story is more about the disciples than it is about Jesus. More verses are devoted to the disciples providing the vehicle for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, than to the entrance itself.  They were the key partners in making Palm Sunday happen.

Maybe the story was told again and again to remind us all that we disciples are called to untie some of our cherished “donkeys” if Jesus is ever going to have a vehicle to come into our world today.  We are necessary partners in this ministry!  Why?  “The Lord needs it!”  (Luke 19:29-38)

Know of any donkeys that need untying?

+ SPRING CLEANING… SPRING GLEEMING Trinity UMC on the Amelia Charge is made up of older Anglo adults and young Latino adults. Pastor Callie Walker writes that this spring, cleaning the church inside and out took only three hours!  Why?  See the picture of the team and the gleem! Trinity started a Spanish outreach 15 years ago that has borne fruit in the form of 30 new members with young families and lots of gleaming community and witness for Christ.  These days, Trinity has one worship service in English, and two in Spanish. Quote: “The energy and new life that this has given to Trinity are a blessing to all.”

+ CROSS WORK Coming into worship last Sunday, we had all been handed palm leaves. In the pew behind us a wonderful new member from Liberia began to shape her palm into a carefully crafted cross.  Soon others in front of her, beside her, behind her, different ages, backgrounds, nationalities were learning from her how to shape their palm leaves into a cross (the picture is of one of them).  There was great joy in the cross work.

Isn’t that the way with the Cross of Christ.  We are bound together by the cross, learning from each other, working together, sharing “new creation,” rising to new, life-giving relationships with one another and God!

+ THE ESSENCE OF NOTRE DAME The tragic fire and loss at Notre Dame in Paris has stirred many responses. For some it is the art and architecture, for others the national/global landmark status. My most abiding memory of visiting Notre Dame on a cold December day as a seminary student, was the dozens of homeless people sleeping in the aisles near the heating grates and the nuns and others trying to minister to them.
As one of the observers yesterday said, "The essence of Notre Dame is the Living Christ and the people gathered to follow Him." Whatever the art and architecture, or humble simplicity of your church building this Holy Week, like Notre Dame, the real essence is the Living Christ and those gathered to follow Him. Celebrate it. Serve those whom Christ loves. Don't just go to the church building. Be the Church! Christ lives!

May it be so for you, and all of us this Holy Week and Easter.

Grace and Peace,
Pete Weaver

Partners in Ministry

Dear Partners in Ministry,

+THANKS BE TO GOD for all the partners in ministry, laity and clergy who make up the Virginia Conference.  Last week I met with the conference Cabinet for four full and long days (in retirement I had forgotten how long some meeting can be!)  But the Holy Spirit was in our worship, our prayerful conversation about appointments (over 100 made), our “weeping with those who weep,” and our “rejoicing” in many of you who are engaged in life-changing and world changing ministry (I spotlight a few below).

+THE “McDONALD’S GOLDEN ARCHES” became a sanctuary for sharing the “bread of life.”  This innovative ministry was started by members of the New Hope UMC in Stafford as they sought to reach and build relationship with new people by going to McDonalds.  Eating, fellowshipping, relating, connecting with people’s needs, praying….sounds like Jesus.  Where better to do it than under the big “M” (for “mission”).  Now, even the workers at the McDonalds help to look out for folks in need and direct them to the New Hope “Bread of Life” folks!  Maybe the “M” means “miracles.”
If you want to know more are this ministry for your church, call the Rev. Teresa Smith at 540-370-4875.

+THREE LOCAL CHURCHES ARE A TRINITY OF PARTNERSHIP in feeding, praying for, and being Gospel (Good News) for folks living around the Prince Edward Charge in the Farmville District.  People from the Beulah, Mt. Pleasant, and Mt. Harmony congregations meet twice a week, 51 weeks of the year to organize donated food, collect fresh grown food, pray and then each Saturday to share with over 200 families the caring and bounty…..”the gifts of God for the people of God!”
If you want to know more about this ministry for your church, call the Rev. Evelyn Penn at 434-223-8237.

+THE LATINO CLERGY CAUCUS welcomed me as a partner in ministry last Friday with joyous singing and fervent laying-on-of hands prayer.  We are greatly blessed as a conference to be able to partner together in sharing Christ in different languages and cultural traditions.  I shared how much my own spiritual journey had been enriched through Latino ministries in the areas I have served and Nicaragua.  The joy and challenge has been spreading here as Latino leaders from Trinity UMC in Amelia, Ramsey Memorial UMC in Richmond, and Floris UMC in Herndon have been trained as “Lay Servants.”  Creative new strategies are being developed with the help of Dean Wingeier-Rayo of Wesley Seminary.  What great partners in ministry!  The Spirit is moving!
If you want to know more about this ministry for your church, call the Rev. IIeana Rosario at 804-776-6250.

The Virignia Conference Latino Clergy Caucus

Grace and Peace to you all as we share the Lenten Journey!

Partners in Ministry

Partners in Ministry is meant to be some periodic, random thoughts, prayers and experiences which God is stirring in me as I journey with you in following Jesus and serving Virginia while God brings healing to Bishop Lewis. It was only four days before I started serving you as your interim bishop that I had any notion that this might happen. God is full of surprises. 

Bishop Lewis assured me that there are great people…partners in ministry… in Virginia. And she is right. So far in my short time serving, I have met wonderful children, scientists, retirees, farmers, artists, youth, teachers, military personnel, conference staff, and, yes, pastors (!) and, yes, one very friendly United Methodist dog in the parking lot of the church hosting the Danville District conference! God is full of gifts.

I will confess, that when I started, having never served in the Virginia Conference, I felt really challenged to learn new names of people and places I had never heard of before (how do you spell Rappahannock again?). And I knew, as you do, that we are living in a time when the church is experiencing many different challenges. But then I remembered the night that I was very unexpectedly elected a bishop and a teenager handed me a small card that said, “The task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you.” That card still sits on my desk…and still stirs my soul. God is full of faithful promises.

So I write to you, as Paul did to the challenged and sometimes conflicted church in Corinth, “We are God’s servants working together…The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.” (I Cor. 3:9, 16:23-24) God is full of surprises, gifts, promises and grace making us Partners in Ministry together.


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