Information and Resources for
NoVa UMC Clergy and Laity
As we move closer to 2020’s General Conference, we anticipate an influx of information related to The Commission on a Way Forward. In order to help keep Northern Virginia Churches updated on the news and information from the Commission, we have created this page. We will continue to update it as new information is released.
The Commission on A Way Forward
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.
Partnering with Clergy on A Way Forward
The Bi-District is offering four events in the coming months to help clergy (and laity) prepare for the work of the Commission.
Anatomy of Peace
February 21, 2018 | Annandale UMC
Rev. Brian Brown, pastor of Woodlawn-Faith UMC and trained Arbinger facilitator will offer training on the book Anatomy of Peace, a suggested reading from the Commission on a Way Forward. Brian will present at the Clergy meeting (9:15-12:30) and then will offer a session for laity that evening from 7:00-8:30 p.m. as part of the new Laity Spiritual Formation program.
Laity may register for this and the other two Spiritual Formation sessions HERE.
Chat n’ Chew 2.0
February 24, 2018 | Ebenezer UMC
Bishop Lewis is focusing her Chat n’ Chew 2.0 session on the Way Forward. This event is open to Laity and Clergy and will be a 4-District event, including Arlington, Alexandria, Richmond and Rappahnnock River. Registration space is limited, so please register today. Chat n’ Chew 2.0
A Clergy Conversation Group
The Clergy Conversation Group has ended. Here are the resources they used during their time together.
The United Methodist Church has created a page on their website, umc.org, with additional information and resources regarding A Way Forward.
Additional updates from the United Methodist Church:
- Jan. 30 Update: Commission moderators emphasize mission as key to way forward
- Jan. 22 Update: Commission on a Way Forward prepares updated report to bishops
Nov 9 Press Release from the Comission & the Council of Bishops: http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/bishops-uphold-values-of-mission-unity-space-contextuality-in-interim-repor
Here is the direct link to the booklet: http://s3.amazonaws.com/Website_Properties/council-of-bishops/COWF_Handbook_2017_REVISED.pdf
- UMC Bishops call for respectful conversations in time of uncertainty
- Bishops uphold values of mission, unity, space, contextuality in interim report on Way Forward work
- Commission on a Way Forward drafts interim report to the bishops
- Commission on a Way Forward issues status report
- Bishops set date for special 2019 General Conference
- A letter from the Council of Bishops, April 24, 2017
- Consecration of Gay Bishop Against Church Law
- President of the Council of Bishops: Statement regarding Judicial Council decision 1341
- Judicial Council Decision
From Bishop Lewis
April 29, 2017
Dear Virginia Annual Conference,
I write this letter to inform you that last night, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church ruled that the consecration of Bishop Karen Oliveto, who leads the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Conference, must be reviewed in order to determine if it is in violation of church law. The ruling does not remove Bishop Oliveto from the Episcopal office but provides for further administrative or judicial process by the jurisdictional or central conference or the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops.
We must remember that only the General Conference speaks for the denomination. The Council of Bishops exercises oversight and supports the church’s mission. The particular role of the Judicial Council is to determine the constitutionality and legality of actions taken by individuals or constituted entities of the church. The Judicial Council’s actions are always specific to particular circumstances and this decision will not change The 2016 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church.
As the Resident Bishop of the Virginia Conference, I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Judicial Council, understanding that its decision has come after prayerful deliberation and with intense interest from many concerned parties, all of whom have hopes for our denomination. Unfortunately, in this decision there are no “winners.” I acknowledge there will be great pain and disappointment on either side of this outcome.
I know many of you are wondering – how does this decision affect the Commission On the Way Forward? In short, the work of the Commission will continue.
The Commission On the Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and to propose possible revisions of every paragraph of The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality. The Commission was also charged to explore options to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.
My prayer remains that we trust that God is leading our denomination to that unity and that we continue as an annual conference to keep the mission of The United Methodist Church before our congregations. Today, as yesterday, we are called “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
In closing, I ask that you join me in continuing to pray for Bishop Karen Oliveto and her family, the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Annual Conference, the Western Jurisdiction, the Judicial Council, the Commission On the Way Forward and The United Methodist Church.
If you would like to read the ruling in its entirety, click here.
Peace and Blessings,
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis
Read More from Bishop Lewis
VAUMC Train the Trainer Session and Resources
The Rev. Tom Berlin, a member of the Commission on a Way Forward, was the presenter for a livestream training event on Jan. 24. This presentation was related to the work of the Commission on a Way Forward and the 2019 General Conference. The livestream includes: how to have conversations on difficult topics in the local church, resources to discuss LGBTQ inclusion in the local church, and a review of the work of the Commission on a Way Forward and what will happen between now and the called 2019 session of General Conference.
The link to watch or download is: https://vimeo.com/252932845
The link to the devotional by George Acevedo is here: https://vimeo.com/252191940
Resources for Discernment
At the Clergy Meeting on April 19, Rev. Tom Berlin, an Arlington District Pastor and a member of the Commission on a Way Forward, offered some insight on the process and progress of the Commission and offered these as resources that have been helpful to him and may be so to others.
- “Be Strong and of Good Courage”: A Call to Quiet Courage in an Anxious Time by Gil Rendle (2016)
- “Wonder, Love and Praise” Document and related materials
Week of Prayer
As Bishop Lewis notes in her letter above, the Virginia Conference prayed during April 2-8. You can learn more about how the Arlington and Alexandria Districts prayed for the Way Forward on our Week of Prayer page: novaumc.org/week-of-prayer
Resources from Tom Berlin
Rev. Tom Berlin, an Arlington District pastor and member of the Commission on the Way Forward, offers these resources for you.