As we heard during our recent Annual Conference; and as we begin to prepare for our upcoming District Conference in late September and all of our local Charge Conferences this fall – all centered on the theme, ‘A New Thing’ – I have to ask, “What’s all this fuss about?” Haven’t we been doing this already in the Alexandria District (and the Arlington District)?
Over the past two to three years, haven’t we successfully focused on starting new faith communities within the Bi-District Board of Missions? Over a year ago, we launched our fabulous Next Level Innovations initiative within the Bi-District? Wasn’t one of our Alexandria District churches highlighted in the June 2017 Advocate magazine – where Cameron UMC, the church, becomes the Cameron Christian Campus with six congregations worshipping individually but within a mutually supportive environment? And then, during our June Annual Conference, our new faith communities were introduced: Arlington Commons, Christ Online Campus, Floris Online Campus, Gainesville Second Site, and Ghana Wesley UM Mission Second Site (all NOVA)! So, what’s all this fuss about?
To answer this, I have to focus on two things – Bishop Lewis’ Episcopal Address at Annual Conference and the Virginia Conference’s new vision statement. Bishop Lewis stated that in order to capture the new spirit at work in the Conference, “We must change our focus, clarify our focus, and commit to God’s plan.” We must stop looking at our past and start looking at our future. “If we are constantly looking at what we used to do and how we used to do it, then we will never see the ‘new thing’ that God has for this Annual Conference.” In her closing sermon, Bishop Lewis said, “After much prayer, discernment, sharing, and compiling data from the 32 Chat n’ Chew sessions; our ministry vision for the Virginia Annual Conference is to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners, who influence others to serve.”
So that’s what all the fuss is about – it’s all about discipleship. We’ve got a great start in the district – now, how do we keep the ‘new thing’ momentum going?
John Meeuwissen, Lay Leader