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2013 Annual Conference

June 21-23
The Hampton Roads Convention Center
Hampton, VA

231st Annual Conference opens with separate clergy, laity sessions

The Cross Purposes praise band from
Wellspring UMC, Williamsburg, performed
during the opening laity session. Pictured is
Peel Hawthorne.

The 231st session of the Virginia Annual Conference opened Friday, June 21, at 1 p.m. with seperate clergy and laity sessions. The district lay leaders assisted Warren Harper, conference lay leader, with a Litany of the Lord's Prayer. The Designed by God liturgical dance group performed to the Lord's Prayer by Antwaun Stanley.

   Luke Jordan learns what saying the
   Lord's Prayer really means.

Luke Jordan, a summer intern at the Virginia Conference Center, was in a skit with God (aka Warren Harper). Luke had a conversation with God about what the Lord's Prayer really means, disecting it section by section and how to live it on a daily basis. Luke learned, "The moral of this skit is when you say the Lord's Prayer, don't repeat it, PRAY IT!"

A video was shared showing the ministry of deaconesses and home missioners.

   Warren Harper

Warren Harper asked members of the Board of Laity to stand and be recognized. He thanked them for their work around the conference.

He thanked the band, dancers and former conference lay leaders. He asked lay members attending their first conference stand up and be recognized. He encouraged them to have conversations with others about annual conference. "God wants us to listen to one another," Harper said. He encouraged members to be at the convention center at 8:15 to participate in the Bible study being led by Dr. Steve Harper, emeritus professor of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies at the Florida campus of Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando.

Harper explained that discussions will be held about items that need to be voted on. He said he hopes that everyone has read the Book of Reports. He explained how to be recognized by the bishop and he hopes that no one will be intimidated and will ask permission to speak if they have questions. By Discipline, annual conference members are to report back to their local churches.

Bishop Cho with the Rev. Raymond Wrenn who is attending
his 73rd annual conference.

At 3 p.m., Bishop Young Jin Cho called the 231st session of the Virginia Annual Conference to order. This is his first conference as presiding bishop. The bishop announced the singing of "Are We Yet Alive," a hymn by Charles Wesley that has been sung by persons gathering for holy conferencing since the beginning of the Wesleyan movement." The Rev. Raymond Wrenn, who is attending his 73rd annual conference, and Tim Hares, who is attending his first annual conference, led the opening prayers.

York River District Superintendent Joe Carson welcomed the gathering to his district. York River District Lay Leader Booker Brown introduced the bishop's wife, Kiok Cho; and Joe Carson's wife Donnie. Carson recognized retired bishops from Virginia. He also spoke about Bishop Leontine Kelly who died last June and the contributions she made to the church. The bar of the conference and agenda were approved.

The Rev. Bob Blinn, conference secretary, moved the election of Delano Douglas and Bev Myers as assistant secretaries; and Neill Caldwell as editor of the Journal. They were approved. He also moved the election of annual conference committees. They were approved.

The Rev. Steve Bray brought a report from the Rules Committee.

Bishop Cho delivered his episcopal address (click here to read or download the address in pdf). He has been serving the conference as bishop for nine months. "We might still be on the honeymoon," he said. He expressed his appreciation to God for the chance to serve the conference in this capacity.

The bishop admitted it's a hard time for the church with declines in membership, attendance, and professions of faith. But, he said, the Vital Congregations program that the denomination has undertaken is trying to reverse this. He also spoke on the power of prayer and being centered on Jesus as being instrumental in bringing others to the church. He will continue to work to establish more faith communities and bring about a culture of cooperation with all the boards and agencies. "We haven't been very effective working together as a team," he said. "The challenges we have today are strong and serious ones but, we the United Methoidst Church, are not on a sinking ship because our captain is the Risen Lord," the bishop proclaimed. "Our good shepherd will lead us to a different future."

"Just saying hello to Jesus at table a couple times is not enough," he said. "We, clergy and laity, should pray more. We need to pray harder, longer and deeper in such a time as this."

Shannon Sixbey brought the report of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women. They monitor inclusivity by gender, ethnicity and other abled. "Positive changes have occurred in the last 40 years," she said.

Eastern Shore District Superintendent Tammy Estep brought the report of the Cabinet which included Minute Questions 14, 15, and 16, and the transfer of Fellowship Church into the Virginia Conference on the Danville District from the Western North Carolina Conference.

The Rev. Mark Ogren, director of the Center for Congregational Excellence, announced the new faith communities in the conference:

  • Sept. 2012: Ebenezer UMC on the Elizabeth River District started a Latino/Hispanic new faith community with a seminary student, David Jimenez, under the leadership the the Rev. Carl LeMon.
  • Sept. 2012: Belmont UMC on the Richmond District started a Latino/Hispanic new faith community with Julio Serrano under the leadership of the Rev. Larry Cochran.
  • April 1, 2013: start of Ashburn Korean UMC on the Arlington District with the Rev. Hyunsik Kang as planter pastor.
  • July 1, 2013: start of Aldersgate UMC at Fort Belvoir on the Alexandria District with the Rev. Jason Micheli and the Rev. Dennis Perry as the planter team.

The Consent Agenda was presented by the bishop and accepted.




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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center