Newsletter April 2024


Emmanuel United Methodist Church Newsletter

April 2024

General Conference of the United Methodist Church
April 23-May 3, 2024, Charlotte, NC

The Mountain View District Prays for General Conference
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
As United Methodist delegates from all over the globe prepare to gather for General Conference later in April, we are invited to join in prayerful support for the work they will do on our behalf. Together we will be still and seek God’s will for our church. General Conference is scheduled in Charlotte, NC from April 23-May 3, where United Methodists from around the world will gather together for worship, prayer, holy conferencing, discernment and work for the future of the church. As a district we want to join in praying continually for this important and holy work from now until the end of General Conference. We invite you to join us as we unite in daily and ongoing prayer.
Ways to pray with us: 1) “Pause and Pray” every day between 4:23-5:03 – AM or PM, for however long you are able. If these times (which coincide with the dates of General Conference 4/23-5/03) don’t work for you, then simply pick another time each day to pause and pray for General Conference wherever you are – at home, work, school, church, etc.
2) An in-person prayer gathering for the Peaks View Region of our district will take place on Sunday, April 21, 5:00 p.m. at Chestnut Hill UMC 4600 Fort Ave., Lynchburg, VA 24502. Similar gatherings will take place on this same day at other locations in the Ridge View and River View regions.
3) Zoom prayer time every day of General Conference
(April 23-May 03) from 4:23-5:03p.m. Join us for this time via zoom where our whole district can intentionally pray together for our bishops, our delegates, and the work they are engaged in each day of General Conference. If you can’t connect with us via zoom please plan to still “Pause and Pray” on your own wherever you are during these days. Here’s the zoom link for the daily prayer: Join Zoom Meeting, https://zoom.us/j/98170052005 Meeting ID: 981 7005 2005 Passcode: 496334Information about Upcoming General Conference: General Conference is the only body of the UMC authorized to set official policy for the denomination and make changes to our United Methodist Book of Discipline. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 General Conference has been postponed twice. When delegates gather in Charlotte in several weeks, the Judicial Council ruled that they will be participating in the postponed 2020 General Conference and that the delegations elected in 2019 for 2020 will represent us at General Conference. No new elections were required.
Detailed information about General Conference can be found online at the following links:
Agenda of this year’s General Conference: https://www.resourceumc.org/-/media/umc-media/2024/01/22/23/57/gc_charlotte_adca_schedule_english_ed.pdf
Virginia Conference Website: www.vaumc.org Official UM Site for General Conference information and news: https://www.resourceumc.org/en/churchwide/general-conference-2020
https://www.umnews.org/en/landing-pages/general-conference-news-and-commentary
In order to help us better understand how the UM structure works regarding the General Conference decision making process, the VAUMC has created a helpful infographic which is attached to this newsletter. Due to the scope of the issues being addressed at General Conference, it is impossible to summarize all the legislation that will come to the floor. Please visit one of the links above, or www.umc.org to find those details.
However, there are key pieces of legislation that are receiving much attention. These include:
Regionalizalization; “Prohibitive Language”; Social Principles; and Path for Disaffiliation. Each is very briefly described below, including some representative and opposing opinions on these issues.
Regionalization: The question before General Conference 2024 is: Will the General Conference change the structure of our worldwide connection by dividing the church into several new regions, each with its own specific rules for regional governance but united by a shared Book of Discipline? If passed, this legislation would require changes to our church Constitution, which further requires the approval of every annual conference in the denomination. If passed, a general Book of Discipline would continue to keep us connected. However, there would be aspects in our current Book of Discipline that would then fall under the jurisdiction of each specific region. Centrist-Progressives advocate for regionalization, arguing that it will enable each world area to be more culturally contextual in its ministry, while allowing for differences elsewhere. Traditionalists oppose this change arguing that it will weaken our connection and marginalize the voice and influence of African United Methodists who will soon be in the majority.
“Prohibitive Language”: The question before General Conference 2024 is: Will the General Conference remove from the 2016 UM Book of Discipline the language (1) declaring “the practice of homosexuality” to be “incompatible with Christian teaching” (par. 161.G2), (2) prohibiting “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from being ordained and appointed as clergy (par. 304.3), and (3) defining marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” (par. 161.C)? Centrist-Progressives support the removal of these sections of the BOD as discriminatory and harmful, and advocate for “full inclusion” of homosexual and LGBTQIA+ persons in the life of the church. Traditionalists argue that the disciplinary language is in harmony with Scripture and Christian tradition, and is consistent with our affirmation that “all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God.” (par. 161.G). For the most part, it is this issue in particular that has led to the disaffiliation of approximately 25% of the United Methodist churches in the U.S. The overwhelming majority of these churches would identify as conservative/traditional, even though no official changes to our BOD have yet been made.
There is a great deal of speculation, and even misinformation, about what such changes would mean for the local church if the prohibitive language is removed from the BOD. In an April 4 letter to the members and friends of the Virginia Conference, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson addresses some of the misinformation that is currently circulating related to this issue. That letter is included in its entirety following this article. It is important that all United Methodists understand that the General Conference is the only body authorized to speak for the denomination. Be cautious about media coverage of General Conference rulings because incorrect assumptions can be made about how any changes will impact the local church due to lack of understanding about our church governance.
Social Principles: The Social Principles in our Book of Discipline (pars. 160-166) represent the commitment of the UMC “to speak to the human issues in the contemporary world from a sound Biblical and theological foundation” (preface). The question before General Conference 2024 is: Will the General Conference approve a rewrite of our Social Principles that could alter our understanding and commitment to vital and sometimes disputed social issues of our time? A coalition of representatives have composed and advocated for a proposed revision to the Social Principles (40+ page pdf available in several languages at https://www.umcjustice.org/who-we-are/proposed-revised-social-principles-for-general-conference-charlotte). These changes are a stated priority of the coalition. Opposing voices share the church’s commitment to our shared social witness on pressing matters of the day, but resist many of the “liberalizing” changes to United Methodist statements about sexuality, marriage, abortion, etc. that are being recommended by the coalition’s revision of the Social Principles.
A New Path for Disaffiliation: From 2019 to December 31, 2023, United Methodist churches within the United States had opportunity to leave the denomination by means of a special paragraph added to the BOD at the 2019 Special Called General Conference. Paragraph 2553 allowed churches to follow a process to disaffiliate from the UMC due to principled disagreements with potential changes to the denomination’s stance and practice on matters of sexuality and marriage. That paragraph expired on December 31, 2023. The question before General Conference 2024 is: Will a new pathway for disaffiliation be created for those churches that may desire to leave after the 2024 (2020) General Conference? The details of how that pathway would be structured and what it would contain are yet to be determined. Centrist-Progressives argue that the legislated period of time for disaffiliation has expired, and that it is now time for the UMC to focus anew on unity in a new “season” for the denomination. Traditionalists argue that the time period for disaffiliation ended prematurely, before key issues had been resolved, that the disaffiliation paragraph did not apply to the international church, and that it would be unjust for the African churches and others not to have the opportunity to disaffiliate after the 2024 General Conference.
Please visit www.umc.org for more complete information on General Conference and legislation slated to come before the body.

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson Addresses Disinformation in The United Methodist Church
(April 4, 2024) To the members and friends of the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church:
As we approach the convening of the postponed 2020 General Conference in Charlotte, N.C., I must address the varying types of disinformation being promulgated by some as they continue intentionally and concertedly to undermine and tear apart The United Methodist Church. The following are commitments I want to make as your resident Bishop:
The Cabinet and I spend countless hours praying and discerning appointments in order to get the best pastoral fit between pastors and congregations. We are not part of a subversive or underground campaign to appoint LGBTQ+ pastors to every congregation (if General Conference approves proposed changes to the BOD). We would never send clergy to parishes that would not welcome them, follow their leadership, and do them harm. Further, many congregations have indicated that (if and when allowed to do so) they would be delighted to receive LGBTQ+ pastors. We do not anticipate an overwhelming supply of LGBTQ+ pastors and there should be more than enough congregations to receive those LGBTQ+ pastors we anticipate having (if changes to our BOD are approved at General Conference).
One common point of disinformation is the assertion that, over time, (if proposed changes are passed), all United Methodist clergy will be forced to perform gay weddings or face being sued if they refuse to officiate. This allegation shows an ignorance of our legal system and denies the great deference it gives to clergy. The U.S. doctrine of separation of church and state prohibits the intrusion of the state into church affairs. Such a lawsuit will never succeed. Giving clergy the opportunity to discern their involvement in a wedding is a right that has always been given to clergy. Calendar conflicts, family conflicts, and differences of perspective have long been realities that keep clergy from officiating weddings. You will always have the ability to refer a couple to another United Methodist clergyperson who might be able to officiate a wedding for a couple when you cannot, no matter what the circumstance might be. No doubt countless clergy refused to conduct marriages between persons of different races when that was legalized. Have you ever heard of a biracial couple bringing suit and successfully forcing a clergyperson to conduct their wedding? No. It hasn’t ever, and will never, happen.
Much fear is stirred up by saying that the “progressive movement” and “woke agenda” are taking over The United Methodist Church. Often such statements are coupled with derogatory comments about “social justice.” Social justice and social action do not require alignment with a single political party or perspective. To be clear, The United Methodist Church has a proud history of standing on the side of the poor, the imprisoned, the migrant, the oppressed, and the excluded. The Methodist movement born in England in the 1700’s spoke out against these evils from its inception. The early Methodists established orphanages, feeding stations, schools, and medical facilities. They worked to abolish debtor prisons and the slave trade in the British Empire. Indeed, for John Wesley the natural and expected outgrowth of being personally transformed by Christ (“personal piety”) was to respond to the call to transform society and the world (“social Holiness”). The two cannot be separated: Methodism is not Methodism without social action.
United Methodists also have long been at the forefront of the civil rights movement and all other movements that work to ensure that all of God’s children have the equal opportunity to fully live into their God-given gifts and calling. We are proudly inclusive because God excludes none of God’s children and, as revealed in Scripture, God has harsh words for any political system that treats any of God’s children inequitably. We also live as ambassadors for a God that is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and always seeking what it best for God’s children. We are to channel God’s compassion and mercy for all who are in unimaginably hard circumstances, especially those without safety and prosperity in the countries of their birth. We take exception to any who do not first approach aliens, strangers, and migrants with compassion and mercy. It is incomprehensible to us to perceive them with fear, contempt, superiority, and ugliness. We certainly cannot categorically label them all as rapists, murderers, thieves, and vermin. Such an approach does not reflect the nature of the God we follow and is contrary to our Methodist heritage and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We want it to be clear that there will be a place for all in The United Methodist Church. We appreciate traditionalists, centrists, and progressives and stand ready to evangelize as many people as possible by having traditionalist, centrist, and progressive churches. In fact, we doubt there are very few churches that can be described with one of these labels. Most churches are a wonderful array of folks of all types. We see the church as a place of compassion and grace in which all of us journey together as we seek to become more perfect in love for God and love for neighbor. We are bound together in our common proclivity to sin and to pursue our own agendas. Only in an environment of grace and love, with mutual support, where the Holy Spirit does its amazing transforming work, can we work as one in mission to the world. We are bound together by our common mission and our common dependence on God. We do not let our own disagreements drive us apart, but we stay together for the sake of the mission and to live into Jesus’ prayer that we all may be one. Being one despite our differences is our best witness to the supernatural power of God that unites and transforms us all.
Beyond the commitments we make and the responses we have in the Virginia Annual Conference, I would invite you to review the linked statement from the Council of Bishops, which underscores the need for unity in The United Methodist Church.
In closing, I want to condemn the disinformation that is being disseminated that is overtly racist and homophobic. It is unfair to take isolated and extreme situations and present them as the norm or that which will be widespread in the future. We invite all United Methodists to consider the source of such polarizing materials, and to be in conversation with folks throughout the connection, as well as Conference leadership, to gain perspective and a more balanced analysis of our current situation. Our doors are always open to hear your concerns and fairly discuss all matters.
In Christ,

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, Resident Bishop, Virginia Annual Conference

Upcoming Meetings and Schedule Changes
Church Council & Finance Team: Our regularly scheduled Church Council/Finance team meeting on Tuesday, April 9 will be cancelled so that the Finance Team members of our Council can attend a District Training Event from 7:00-8:00 p.m. via ZOOM led by our Conference Treasurer, David Domisse. You may join the meeting from your own connected device using the link below, or come to the Mattie Ware classroom at the church to participate together. The Finance Team members of our Church Council are the following: Mike Stinnett, Finance Chair/Church Treasurer; Pam Brockman, Council Chair; Jill Clark, Secretary; Mike Gamble, SPPRC Chair; Mike Mozingo, Board of Trustees Chair; Gail Payne, auditor (not required to attend meetings); Charles Clark, Elbert Maddox, David Mears, Karen Sacasky. All council members are welcome to attend. An email has been sent out to all Council members with the following information:
Link to Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/95760615385
Meeting ID: 957 6061 5385 Passcode: 926793
1-855 880 1246 US Toll-free Meeting ID: 957 6061 5385
Our regular Church Council/Finance Team meeting will be rescheduled for Tuesday, May 14, 6:30 p.m. in the Social Hall.

Women’s Bible Study will NOT meet on Tuesday, April 9 as scheduled. Our next gathering will be May 14 @ 9:30 in the Mattie Ware Classroom. The group generally meets every month on the second Tuesday morning and we welcome other women to join us!Lenten Study on Psalms: We have one more session to complete this study and will meet at the following times in the Mattie Ware classroom: Wednesday morning, April 10 at 9:30 and Wednesday evening, April 24, 5:30.

The Prayer Shawl Ministry Group will meet on Tuesday, April 9 at 1:00 p.m. in the Youth Room. The group welcomes others to come and join us on the second Tuesday afternoon of each month. Bring your knitting or crocheting, or come and learn from others. All are welcome!

A General Conference Information Session will be held on Sunday, April 14 in the Sanctuary immediately following morning worship to briefly review the information presented in this month’s newsletter and answer any questions from the congregation.

The Children’s and Youth Ministry Team will meet after worship on Sunday, April 28 in the Social Hall.

The Weeds are Growing!The weeds are quite happy growing in our gardens, so it is time to form our garden maintenance teams for the 2024 growing season. If we can locate 8 volunteers, each team of 2 volunteers would only be required to work once a month from May through October. Having more volunteers would even be better and most welcome.Landscape maintenance work includes deadheading, weeding and watering once a week in the gardens surrounding the church plus the sign gardens.Reduce your stress level digging in the dirt for a couple of hours and spending time as a steward of God’s green earth. Please call or email Karen (946-5545, RoadsEnd1991@gmail.com) no later than April 15 to sign up for this task.
Karen Sacasky and Augusta Peters

The Board of Trustees invites the congregation to sign up to help with clean-up projects around the church during the months of April and May. Instead of having one church work day, you can pick the job(s) you can accomplish and come when it suits you. Please plan on gathering at least one other person to work with you so that no one is working alone in the church building to complete these projects. Please be mindful of the church calendar and work around events and meetings that are scheduled. The sign-up sheet will be available at church beginning Sunday, April 14.

Mountain View District: Equipping Clergy and Laity, Zoom Leadership Series ~ Our Mountain View District is offering online training events to enhance our ministry within the local church. These opportunities are open to everyone. All workshops will take place via zoom from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on the date listed. You must register in advance to participate. After registering, you will receive a link to join the session by phone or other connected device. The sessions will also be offered at church in the Mattie Ware classroom on the date and time listed for those who wish to participate together. Please contact Pastor Nancy (ncolemanjohnson@gmail.com; 434-401-5776) if you need help registering for these events.
~ Why I’m United Methodist, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, District Lay Leader, Susan White. What’s so great about UM Theology and why I “stayed.”
~ MissionInsite, Wednesday, May 8, Rev. Clayton Payne. Learn how to use MissionInsite to get to know the people in your community and target effective mission and ministry. You must register in advance to receive the link via email. Register:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1d3WUiDviN0CQNjHjOyhNQVTTeLrfQdDzonekYZ8CZKY/edit.

Looking Ahead
Save the Date! Women’s Spring Tea: Saturday, May 11, 2024, 3:00 p.m. in the Social Hall: All women are invited to join us for a Mother’s Day-themed event celebrating women. If you don’t have a mom, daughter or grandmother, “adopt” one and plan to come. Traditional tea party foods will be provided as we enjoy some lighthearted entertainment, door prizes and fun! Please purchase a ticket in advance beginning Sunday, April 14 from Jeanie Combs or Cat Brandell ($5.00/person). The reservation deadline is Wednesday, May 8. Come and bring someone with you. Sponsored by the Vitality Team.

Save the Date! Retirement Celebration for Rev. Denise Bates, Mountain View District Superintendent, Sunday, May 19, 4:00 p.m., Bethlehem UMC, 13586 S Old Moneta Rd, Moneta, VA 24121. Join with others on our District as we celebrate the ministry of our retiring DS, Rev. Denise Bates. The celebration will consist of a worship service, followed by a reception. Baskets will be available to receive cards for Denise, or to make donations to designated district mission projects in her honor. All are welcome.

Words of Thanks
*Words cannot express how much I felt loved after receiving all the get well and birthday cards, balloons, protein drinks, you name it during my 6 days in the hospital. I must have done something right to deserve each and every one of you. I would also like to thank everyone who attended the Scleroderma Walk Fundraiser or made a contribution. Monies are still trickling in but as of now we have raised over $12,000. Margaret Ann is like a dog with a bone when it comes to soliciting sponsors and requesting donations. As you probably already know, I have scleroderma which is an incurable disease. The monies raised are designated to research. We had a great crowd and a great time (but then again we always do). Cat Brandell
*Dear Nancy and Emmanuel UMC: On behalf of Amherst Woman’s Club and Sweet Briar College, I want to thank you for being a Silver Sponsor again this year for our “March for Scleroderma.” Because of your generosity, we will be able to send a check to the Scleroderma Foundation of over $12,000.00, all designated for research. We appreciate your continuing sponsorship and support. Blessings, Margaret Ann White
*Bob and I wish to thank all for prayers and wishes of sympathy at the loss of Bob’s brother, Rick and my sister, Lois. It had been unexpected in both cases. We are blessed by such a church family. Love, Bob and Carol AndercykIf you have joys or celebrations within our church family that you would like to share, please submit them by the 20th of each month to EUMC Newsletter editor, Cat Brandell or to the church office. Thank you.

Stewardship
We give God thanks and praise for God’s gracious provision for us, and for the faithfulness of our church family in the giving of God’s tithes and offerings. To God be the glory!

Attendance & Giving
Sunday    In-Person    Online    General Fund    Other
February 25                                 $3,052.00       $ 755.00
March 3                                        $3,827.00      $ 170.00
March 10                                     $4,240.00      $ 500.00
March 17                                        $ 689.00     $2,190.00

Partners in Ministry
April                                            May
Ushers:           Mike Mozingo/Mike Stinnett                Need Volunteers
Greeters :           Jill Clark                                              Jill Clark
Lay Reader:       Need Volunteer                             Need Volunteer
Altar Flowers                          Children’s Church
April 7           Communion                           Teresa Belcher
April 14           Tom & Janie Hall                Charlene Lawson
April 21           Janette Mears                        Jeanie Combs
April 28             Margaret Ann White         Jeanie Combs
Please contact Janie Hall (janiewmh@aol.com; 434-841-0513) if you would like to place
altar flowers on a particular Sunday. If you have special words of dedication for the bulletin on your Sunday, please email or call the church office no later than noon on the Wednesday before:
(office@emmanuelamherst.org; 434-946-7624)

Newsletter Editor: Cat Brandell, Phone: 946-9102, Email: catbrandell@gmail.com. Deadline to submit newsletter articles: 20th of the month. If you can send your information by email, it would be appreciated. If you do not have email, your information may be left at the church office in the newsletter basket.