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2013 Annual Conference

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

Saturday Afternoon Session

Marg Kutz

The afternoon session started with the Recognition of Retirees. The Rev. Marg Kutz, who is retiring this year from Chester United Methodist Church, gave a sermon titled "Leave Bodly." Using Scripture from Isaiah 40:8 and 1 Corinthians 3:12-14, she talked about the foundations that we build upon in our lives. "What can be seen is temporary," she explained. "What cannot be seen is eternal." Repeating Isaiah, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever," she asked "Why did we spend all that time building something to have it wash away like the sand castle on the beach." There are things that last in God's world, Kutz said. "We choose the building materials," she said. "We need to spend time building the temporary and the eternal.

Jennifer Pennison (vocals) and Josh Wortham (vocals, keyboard) provided the music for the service singing "Do it Anyway."

The 2013 class of retirees were recognized with statements from each being read while they were greeted by the bishop.

The mantle was passed from Mike Houff, representing the retiring class, to Rachel May, representing the incoming class.

Dr. Steve Harper returned to the stage for Bible study and conversation.

People who are committed to a devotional life are explorers, Harper said. "We are speaking works into an infinity of love and mercy and grace that we can begin to understand." Ask it, don't hold back, no holds barred, he said.We are free to ask, we are free to seek. It's in that very exploration that we discern the will of God for our lives. He talked about how he learned the word "obedience" means "listening." Obedience is faithfulness to the things we are supposed to do. We must first listen. "Let's just our hearts, let's join our hands, let's join our spirits," he said, "We move ahead with confidence even when we cannot move ahead with certainty because we know God is in our midst."

Brent Staul accepts the Denman Award for laity from
the Rev. Mark Ogren.

Harper talked about the prayer-structured church. "If I could give you one assignment, it would be to go back to your church, sit down with the leaders of your church, and move through every program and every group and ask, 'What would it look for this to be structured by prayer.'" God wants you to celebrate what you are already doing, he said. Then maybe you'd have the opportunity to dig deeper into what the programs need... who needs prayer. 

The members of the boards and agencies were elected. Bishop Cho recognized all the members of conference boards and agencies.

The Rev. Larry Davies was recognized to present the All Things New - Equipping Vital Congregations Task Force. A video was played about the program (Click here to view the Vital Congregations video that had technical problems at Annual Conference. It can be viewed on YouTube channel at The desired result of a conference systemic response through All Things New–Equipping Vital Congregations will be the development of a data system that will eliminate the replication of data entry while providing real-time data for use by congregations, a discipleship model for congregational leaders to connect with and resource each other across the conference, and the alignment of conference resources. The projected time-line for this systemic process to begin is January 2014. Each member of the conference was asked to reach under their chair and retrieve a card that had the name and contact information of a faith community in the Virginia Conference. They were asked to take that card and begin praying for that faith community.

The conference then moved on to Constitutional Amendments.(They can be found beginning on page 144 of the Book of Reports). Because of incorrect wording on one of the ballots, they will be reprinted and the ballot will be taken tomorrow.

Dr. Jennifer Braaten, president of Ferrum College, talked to
annual conference members about the 100th anniversary of
Ferrum College

The Rev. Lee Sheaffer introduced four of visiting college presidents: Dr. Jennifer Braaten from Ferrum; Dr. Robert Lindgren from Randolph-Macon College; Dr. William Greer from Virginia Wesleyan College, and Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons from Shenandoah University. Dr. Fitzsimmons spoke on behalf of the college presidents and thanked the conference for the support that is given to the schools. Dr. Braaten spoke about the 100th anniversary that Ferrum is observing this year. She spoke about the strong relationship the school has with United Methodist Women and John Wesley's legacy of establishing educational institutions. "You have been faithful and strong supporters," she said. She gave special thanks to the Rev. Wes Astin who is retiring after being chaplain at Ferrum for many years.

Beth Christian presented the winners of this year's Denman Evangelism Awards:
Clergy recipient - the Rev. Clarence Brown, pastor of Annandale UMC, Alexandria District.
Laity recipient - Mr. Brent Staul, member of Tabernacle UMC in Poquoson, York River District.
Youth recipient - Mr. Tim Hares, member of Fredericksburg UMC, Fredericksburg District.

Ms. Tammy Gaines brought greetings from Cokesbury and shared an informational video about how to find the right resources for your church. Gaines introduced the local area representatives. Bishop Cho reminded the gathering that the Cokesbury stores were closed this year but Cokesbury is still available to help local churches.

Dr. Stephen Mansfield conducted the Historical Society meeting. He presented the list of trustees from the Book of Reports. They were elected.

A video was shown that explored the different types of calls to ministry and the journey to take if one feels that call.


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