Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Amherst, Virginia.
Monday, July 22, 2019
We serve the Lord with love and praise.

A message from our Pastor

Moving Forward in God's Mission:

       Highlights from the 237th Session of the Virginia Annual Conference
The 2019 Session of the Virginia Annual Conference was held on June 20-22 at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, VA.  This year’s theme was “Moving Forward in God’s Mission” and is taken from Matthew 28:18-20 which says: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Annual Conference delegation includes the clergy and one lay delegate from each charge within the Conference. Districts also elect lay delegates. Rev. Peter Weaver, Interim Bishop for the Virginia Conference, presided over the session since Bishop Sharma Lewis will continue on medical leave until August.


Mission is always a major focus of Annual Conference and this year was no exception. Churches across the conference are encouraged to participate in the Annual Conference offering which was designated for the following ministries this year: Africa University Student Scholarships -- $40,000; Cambodia Pastors Leadership Training -- $40,000; Mozambique Lay Leadership Training -- $20,000; Brazil “Shade and Fresh Water” children’s program -- $20,000; Just Neighbors Matching Funds Grant for Immigrant Legal Counsel in four districts -- $30,000. The offering goal is $150,000 and the collection is still being received at this time. Emmanuel contributed $750 to this effort through budgeted funds and our June communion offering that was collected for this purpose. 54,202 disaster relief kits were collected for UMCOR at an estimated value of $641,950 (14,243 school kits; 39,296 health/hygiene kits, 9 of which were from EUMC; 663 flood buckets). This represents an increase of 9, 428 in total kit collection over last year, requiring a third tractor trailer. The kits will make their way to the Mission Central warehouse in Mechanicsburg, PA for distribution anywhere in the United States they are needed as determined by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Because of the devastating storms and flooding in our own country this year, it was determined that this year’s collection would be used domestically.

To live into the vision of our Bishop, Sharma D. Lewis, and to support the Annual Conference theme, all conference attendees were invited to participate in the 2019 5K Walk/Run/Bike and Yoga Event on Saturday morning offering an opportunity for fitness, fun, fellowship and fundraising for everyone. Funds were raised for KIDS SOAR, a community outreach program of Roanoke and a Virginia Conference Advance Special which has provided direct services for children, youth and families of poverty in inner-city Roanoke for over 30 years.     

 The following includes some additional highlights from this year’s Virginia Annual Conference:

 A Service Recognizing Clergy Retirements was held on Friday afternoon. This year’s class totaled 60 persons and represented 1,288.75 years of combined service to the United Methodist Church. Our own Rev. Marc Brown, with 42 years of service as pastor, District Superintendent and member of the Conference Staff, retired as Director of Connectional Ministries for the Conference. He was recognized and appreciated several times by the body for his 11 years of service in that ministry, which includes the overall planning and execution of the Annual Conference gathering each year. Marc will be returning to the local church in retirement to serve Fort Hill UMC in Lynchburg. It has been a blessing to have Marc and Beverly as part of the congregation of Emmanuel over the last several years and we look forward to having them with us whenever possible.

 Rev. Bob Parks, District Superintendent for the Farmville District, also retired with 36 years of service. Bob and Susan worship with us regularly, having purchased their retirement home on Main Street in Amherst. Bob will also be returning to the local church in retirement to serve the congregations of Bethany and Sardis UMCs in Amherst County, and we look forward to seeing them as often as possible.

 A Service of Remembrance and Holy Communion was held on Friday afternoon where 63 conference clergy and laity who have died since last Annual Conference were remembered (21 retired clergy; 4 active clergy; 1 retired diaconal minister; 30 spouses of retired clergy; 7 lay members).

 A Service for the Ordering of the Ministry: 16 people were ordained as elders, 3 as deacons. 13 were commissioned as provisional members, 24 were licensed as local pastors, 1 was recognized as an associate member, and 2 had their orders recognized.

 Report of the Cabinet: Dean of the Cabinet, Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster, gave the cabinet report which included resolutions pertaining to the discontinuance of churches. 6 churches in 5 Districts were discontinued, but none of these were on the Lynchburg District this year. Rev. Mark Ogren, Director of Congregational Excellence, reported and celebrated two new faith communities that have been established since last Annual Conference.

 *General Conference 2020: This year’s Conference included the voting and selection of delegates to represent the Virginia Conference at the next General Conference of the UMC that will take place in May 2020, and the Southeast Jurisdictional Conference that will be held in July of 2020. Each of these gatherings are held every 4 years, regardless of any called special sessions of General Conference that may occur for specific purposes (like the one held in February of 2019). Because no decisions from one General Conference are binding on any other subsequent General Conference, issues relating to ‘statements in our current UM book of Discipline regarding clergy and homosexual practice, and gender weddings will be on the agenda once again.

Annual Conference closes each year with the “fixing” of pastoral appointments for the coming year and the distribution of the “appointment issue” of the Advocate. In bygone days, many clergy would not know if they were moving, and churches would not know who their pastor would be for the coming year until this official announcement! It is with great joy and gratitude that I return to begin my seventh year as pastor of the congregation of Emmanuel UMC. I am blessed to be able to continue in ministry with you! We also give thanks that Emmanuel was recognized in the Advocate with other churches across our Conference that paid 100% of their conference apportionments in 2018. We give thanks for God’s faithfulness to us and the generosity and stewardship of our congregation!

 As your 2019 delegates, Sue Lamm (Lay Delegate) and myself (Clergy Delegate) were honored to represent our congregation at this year’s Virginia Annual Conference. We appreciate the prayers and support of our church family that make it possible for us to attend this important gathering. You may find additional information and reports from this year’s Annual Conference at our Conference website, www.vaumc.org

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nancy