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A Report from the 2018 Virginia Annual Conference
By our lay conference attendees: Mark Elder, Roma Sexson and Wray Sexson
Our clergy, Mary Beth, Devon and Christian, were reappointed to Fairlington UMC for another year effective July 1! Devon was ordained a full elder in the United Methodist Church during a moving service on Saturday night. In addition, there was a service to recognize retiring pastors, including Drema McAllister Wilson, our church’s former senior pastor. On Saturday afternoon, fulfilling Bishop Sharma Lewis’ vision, 1,637 conference attendees (over half) participated in a Great Day of Service. There were three opportunities: an outdoor mission activity in the City of Hampton, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) kit building in the convention center, and presentations on social justice issues (immigration, racism, and stewardship of the earth); Fairlington’s own Anne Wilson presented on God’s creation at the latter service opportunity.
Annual Conference members brought 44,774 disaster relief kits for UMCOR to Annual Conference (a record of 200 from Fairlington alone!). Kits included: 29,409 Hygiene kits; 13,367 School kits; 703 Birthing kits; 334 Layette kits; 840 Cleaning kits; 16 Bedding kits; 102 Sewing kits; and 3 miscellaneous kits; this includes 100 Hygiene kits and 100 School kits collected by FUMW. Virginia Reconciling United Methodists gathered for dinner to hear Jan Lawrence, Director of the Reconciling Ministry Network, discuss planning and strategy for the February 2019 called General Conference where delegates will deliberate the future structure of the United Methodist Church, particularly as it relates to issues of human sexuality and welcoming of LGBTQ persons in the church. Rev. Tom Berlin, a pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon and a member of the Commission on a Way Forward – a group of 32 clergy and lay members from across the world who have spent the last 18 months discerning the future of the UMC – presented a summary of three possible options for a future structure of the denomination.
Delegates passed a resolution to send from our Annual Conference to General Conference advocating that a solution to the future of the UMC be sought that maintains unity and avoids schism. Also, on the last morning of Conference, delegates passed a motion opposing the policy of separating children from the parents at the border, accentuating that “love is the fulfilling of the law,” asking federal agencies to find ways to reunite separated families and pass immigration reform, and requesting a copy of the motion be sent to the U.S. Attorney General. See https://livestream.com/VAUMC/AC2018 for an archives of all the events that occurred at Annual Conference.