Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Amherst, Virginia.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
We serve the Lord with love and praise.

A message from our Pastor


I Ponder:

A Poem for after Christmas

The heavens are silent, the wise men have gone,

The flurries of angels have finished their song.

The shepherds have long since returned to their sheep,

The stable is empty, the star fast asleep.

I ponder the wonders I carry inside:

A star bright as diamonds, an ebony sky,

The shepherd who cradles a little white lamb,

The wise man who offers the gold in his hand.

That Bethlehem evening is far, far away

From the world where I live, the world of today.

I pause and I ponder, a miracle starts,

The Savior is born once again in my heart.

I ponder the wonders I carry inside:

The thunder of wings from the angels on high,

The sight of the manger, the scent of the hay,

The Child smiling up at the creatures He made.

                                                               ~ Pamela Martin


The Global UMC Anticipates the Special Session of General Conference

          On February 23-26, 2019, United Methodist Delegates and others will gather in St. Louis, Missouri for the Special Called Session of General Conference. The General Conference of the United Methodist Church, which typically convenes every four years, represents our global church and is the only official body of our denomination that can speak for the worldwide UMC and make changes to The United Methodist Book of Discipline.

          The 2016 session of General Conference reached an impasse regarding proposed changes to the Discipline’s current statements about same-sex marriage (whether or not these ceremonies can be performed by UM clergy and if they can be held in UM churches), and the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” Our Bishops were called upon to lead when it became apparent that decisions on these issues would not be reached. This resulted in tabling of the petitions related to these issues and the eventual formation of a 32-member Commission on a Way Forward. The Commission has worked diligently over the last 2-½ years to further study these issues and create a report that will be presented to the Special Session of General Conference for legislative action.

          Below is a very brief, bullet-point summary of the three plans that the Commission will present to General Conference. Sketches of these plans were shared previously through our church newsletter.  The plans themselves reflect thediversity of opinion currently represented across our denomination on these divisive issues. Others petitions may also be brought to the floor of the Conference. The complete 93-page Commission on a Way Forward document can be accessed on our conference website at vaumc.org (under “Quick Links” on the right side of the homepage, click on General Conference 2019. From there, many informational resources can be accessed, including a video from the Q & A Session with Bishop Lewis held in Richmond on September 26, 2018). A copy of the full report is available for your review in Pastor Nancy’s office.


The One Church Plan Summary:

*Recognizes the diverse theological and scriptural understandings of our global church

*Provides generous unity for conferences, churches, and pastors

*Removes the restrictive language from our current Book of Discipline.

*Maintains the current structure of the denomination

*Does not require any annual conference, bishop, congregation, or pastor to act contrary to their convictions

*Allows congregations and pastors greater freedom to reach new people


Connectional Conference Plan Summary:

*Unified core that includes shared doctrine and services

*Creates three values-based connectional conferences: traditional, unity, and progressive

*Allows for a Book of Discipline within each connectional conference

*Reduces General Boards and Agencies to a few shared services (Wespath, Publishing House, GCFA, GCAH,

  UMCOR, parts of Global Ministries)

*Current central conferences have the choice of becoming their own connectional conference or joining a values-

  based connectional conference.

*Council of Bishops is focused on shared learning and ecumenical relationships

*Episcopal oversight, accountability, elections, assignments, and funding occur within the College of Bishops of

  each connectional conference

*Jurisdictional Conferences choose their connectional conference

*Annual Conferences can choose a different connectional conference than Jurisdictional Conference.

*Local churches can choose a different connectional conference from their annual conference


Traditional Plan Summary:

*Strengthens the current language of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and increases


*Asks Annual Conferences and Bishops to certify they will support Discipline

*Streamlines the process to enforce penalties for violations of the Book of Discipline related to marriage and

  ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexual persons

*Maintains the current structure of the church

*Continues all general agencies

*Designs process for those who cannot live within Discipline to change their relationship with the UMC.As we enter into the final weeks before the Special Session, all United Methodists are asked to pray fervently for our delegates, our leaders and for the future of our United Methodist Church. We are challenged to set aside 4 minutes for prayer each day from 2:23-2:26 (a.m. or p.m.), times that correspond to the dates of the Conference. Bishop Lewis has also offered to us her own guiding principles during this time: 

1. Clergy and laity are asked to lead with a non-anxious presence.

2. Pray for our church's mission and a way forward daily for four minutes from 2:23 through 2:26 AM or PM or at another time.

3. Continue to pursue the Mission of the United Methodist Church: "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."

4. Continue to pursue the vision of the Virginia Conference of the UMC: "to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve."

5. Strive for unity within the Virginia Conference.

6. Pledge to keep our promises:

     Retiree pension and healthcare

     Global commitments (e.g. Mozambique, Cambodia)\


Our church will have a time of Prayer and Conversation on Sunday, January 20, 4:00-5:00 p.m. Other opportunities, during worship and at other times, will be offered as the Special Session approaches. Please take time during your individual devotional moments to pray for the future of our United Methodist Church and our work and witness around the world.