Saturday Afternoon, June 17

The afternoon session began with the retirement service. Dylan Aron of the Danville District issued the Call to Worship. The Prayer for Illumination was given by the Rev. Daniel Kim. He read the Scripture from  II Corinthians 5:16-21. The Rev. Janet Knott, representing the retiring class, preached on "Be An Ambassador." She talked about questioning God but then she realized God said, "I will be with you and it will be good." She had to ask, "Did I trust God." She said she decided she had to trust God. Using a scarf and the colors in it, she illustrated how the colors interweave and contains a beautiful message. "Maybe you are in a change point in your life. Maybe you will receive a new pastor and you're not sure what it's going to be like. Stay connected to Christ. Maybe you're the pastor and you don't know what to expect either. Stay connected to Christ and to Christ's people." She also told the retiring class to stay connected. Knott said that ambassodor is defined as a representative. "As Christ's ambassadors we are appointed by God. We are not citizens of this earth. We are citizens of heaven. Are we representing Christ or just our side of the issue?"
"Love is not something we say," she said. "It is something we do. We are ambassadors. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors!"
John Fuller, executive director of the Board of Pensions, introduced the retirees. (Click here to view a list of this year's retirees-pdf)

Bishop Lewis acknowledged that Bishop Kern Eutsler is at conference and he was recognized by conference members. He is the second oldest living episcopal leader.

She also recognized Bishop Ray Chamberlain who will preside over the report of the Committee on the Episcopacy. Mrs. Shirley Cauffman, chair of the committee, gave the report. They are recommending that a new residence be found and purchased and spend no more than $500,000 out of reserves. The reserve will be replenished by the sale of the current residence. The report was approved.

The Constitutional Amendments found on page 163 of the Book of Reports. They are not subject to amendment and must be voted on as presented. The voting results will be made known after all annual conferences have voted.

Click here to download Tom Berlin's newest PowerPoint on the Commission on a Way Forward
The Rev. Tom Berlin, a member of the Commission on a Way Forward, was asked to give a report. The Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.  The Council of Bishops has asked each annual conference to engage in dialogue to get questions answered and give input. Berlin offered his "sugar packet" presentation to local churches to help work through this. "Leaders don't avoid conversations," Berlin said. "If you don't want to talk about this, what other important issues don't you want to talk about?" he asked. The questions you have to think about, "Do you think a General Conference working as it has in the past will solve these issues?" Berlin said probably not. "The hearts are at war, rather than at peace." He recommended the book The Anatomy of Peace. "It is time to stop destroying each other with these hearts at war," he said.  Berlin said if "you are waiting for me to spill the beans, I don't have any beans to spill." The work of the commission hasn't reached that point yet, but they are close. They are studying numerous proposals and other denominations, and essential things before they submit a proposal. He said the commission is working kindly and respectively. "We must move beyond convincing others we are right," he said. He said we have many branches, but much, much fruit. Berlin said he's been skeptical and feeling like there is no hope. He said he held his cynicsm up to Jesus and Jesus said, "I don't want to see it." He said he's been guilty of the sin of hopelessness. You have to hold the crucifixion with the resurrection. "All things are possible in Christ Jesus," said Berlin. "It's either true or it's not!" Berlin said, "Go home and read the Scripture and see if the Holy Spirit is done with us yet." Bishop Lewis ended the session praying for Berlin and the commission.


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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