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Virginia Conference news from 2016 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - July 14, 2016

Bishop Sharma Lewis to lead Virginia Conference
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, the first African-American woman elected a bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, has been assigned to lead the Virginia Conference. She will begin her tenure on Sept. 1. Click here for her bio.

VAUMC delegates welcome new bishop at ice cream social
Virginia Conference delegates and friends welcomed Bishop Sharma Lewis as the new leader of the conference by holding an ice cream social in Lambuth Inn on the grounds of Lake Junaluska Thursday night after the assignments of SEJ bishops were announced. A room packed full of Virginians erupted in cheers when Bishop Lewis entered the room. "I am excited about coming to Virginia!" the new bishop exclaimed. Watch video interview with Bishop Lewis on Facebook.

SEJ honors Bishop Cho and other retiring bishops
Bishop Young Jin Cho was among five retiring bishops honored during a retirement service Thursday evening at Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. Shirley Cauffman, chair of the Virginia Conference Committee on Episcopacy, gave a short presentation about Bishop Cho, saying he has "truly been a servant leader."

Virginia Conference bids farewell to Bishop Cho
At a dinner Thursday night at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, Virginia Conference delegates and friends honored Bishop Young Jin Cho and his wife, Kiok, who will be retiring, effective Sept. 1. Speakers celebrated Bishop Cho's "ministry of presence." Martha Stokes, lay head of the Virginia Conference delegation, thanked Bishop Cho for his "calm, peaceful spirit."

Ted Smith posts 'thank you' on Facebook
The Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, Fredericksburg District superintendent who was endorsed for the episcopacy by the Virginia Conference, posted a note on Facebook saying he was grateful for the love, affirmation and support he received. "No regrets, no remorse, & no condolences necessary," he wrote. More ...

Bishop Cho says church should move from maintenance to fruitfulness
In his sermon preached at the Memorial Service during the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, Bishop Young Jin Cho said the best way to honor those who have gone before us is for The United Methodist Church to stop focusing on maintenance and move toward fruitfulness. More ...

Virginia Conference clergy, laity elected to leadership positions
On Thursday evening, Southeastern Jurisdictional (SEJ) Conference delegates voted to elect clergy and laity to fill open seats on the boards of United Methodist general agencies. Elected from the Virginia Conference are: Michelle Hettman, Connectional Table; the Rev. Rob Vaughn, pastor of Community of Faith UMC, Herndon, and Alison Malloy, member of Sunset Drive UMC, Reston, General Board of Church and Society; the Rev. Brenda Biler and Neal Wise, General Board of Pension and Health Benefits; Warren Harper, Virginia Conference lay leader, SEJ Committee on Coordination and Accountability; the Rev. Jeff Mickle, Alexandria District superintendent, SEJ Council on Finance and Administration; the Rev. Mike Houff, Hinton Rural Life Center Board of Directors; the Rev. Joanna Paysour, Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center Board of Directors; Laurie Preston, SEJ Commission on Archives and History and Heritage Center Board of Directors; and Aldo Gonzalez, SEJ United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Board of Directors. Earlier in the week, David Dommisse, conference treasurer, was elected SEJ treasurer.

SEJ delegates approve 60% lower budget for 2017-2020
The Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference approved a budget of $1,774,000 for the 2017–2020 quadrennium. The budget, recommended by the SEJ Committee on Finance and Administration, reflects a 60% reduction over the previous budget. As a result, the Virginia Conference jurisdictional apportionment will be $190,636 for the quadrennium or $47,659 per year. More ...

SEJ delegates approve bishops' proposal for mission initiative
The Southeastern Jurisdictional (SEJ) Conference approved a proposal from the SEJ College of Bishops to form a Southeastern Jurisdictional Mission Initiative for the purpose of focusing on new forms of church beyond the walls, children and poverty, unity and human sexuality, making disciples and structure, finance and the future church. At the 2017 College of Bishops meeting in January, the bishops will collaborate with conference lay leaders, Committee on Episcopacy and directors of Connectional Ministries to form a commission and assign a bishop and appropriate lay leaders to convene and guide the work of these five initiatives.

You can watch SEJ Conference via live streaming
You can watch live streaming of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference at Streaming will end on Friday, July 15, with the Service of Consecration for newly elected episcopal leaders, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Click here to watch live streaming of the conference. More ...

3 Communications staff members reporting from Jurisdictional Conference
Linda Rhodes, conference director of Communications; Madeline Pillow, Advocate editor and news associate; and Nick Ruxton, conference videographer, are attending the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference July 13-15 in Lake Junaluska. Watch for e-Advocate reports, articles and pictures on the conference website, blog posts, video features and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts. To follow their coverage, go to the conference website at, the conference YouTube channel at, the conference Facebook page at, the conference Twitter feed at, and the conference Instagram page at To follow or participate in conversations about Jurisdictional Conference on social media, use hashtags #sejumc16 and #VAUMC.

For in-depth news and features about United Methodist mission and ministry, subscribe to the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, the Virginia Conference’s award-winning monthly magazine — now available in both print and digital formats. Click here to subscribe. Or call the Communications office at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110, or (804) 521-1110. Or email For information about the Virginia Conference and resources for ministry, visit the Virginia Conference website at



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