Some of you may have seen the recent message (available through LaityNet) from our Conference Lay Leader Martha Stokes … it’s a message of hope – renewed hope, restored hope, and rekindled hope.  Renewed hope in that the majority of adults in our country may be vaccinated by early summer.  Restored hope for a different future in the Virginia Conference to address our history and strive for greater understanding and advocacy.  Rekindled hope, as in the challenge posed by Amanda Gorman (first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate) … “We must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.”

As I read Martha’s message to the laity, I couldn’t help but reflect on the opportunities for us to project renewed, restored, and rekindled hope.  Renewed hope during the past year made us become creative, innovative, and nimble when it came to worship services.  I heard about it all during our charge conferences this past fall, and some of you, I’m sure, took advantage of our Bi-District Training Day offerings to become even more innovative.  Join the Healthy Church Team Zoom call opportunity on March 24 at 7:00 p.m. for renewed hope in getting to ‘normal’ in-person worship.

We need to understand that restored hope begins with transformation in our own lives.  Have you taken advantage of the opportunity to register for classes through our District and/or Conference Lay Servant training network?  Because of the pandemic, training went virtual; and some is even spread out over numerous weekends – check it out.  Restored hope also challenges us to be informed … are you on LaityNet and do you receive the weekly e-Advocate?

Rekindled hope ignites as we partner in ministry, taking the gospel message into the world (or our own communities) through our words and actions.  Have you heard the latest – those kits we assemble for those in need are still a ‘go’ but will be focused on local and community needs (due to overcrowding at our storage facilities).  Look for more information on a Virginia Conference Service Project, “United as One – Community Cans & Kits Collection,” scheduled for Saturday, June 16 (2-4 p.m.) with masks and social distancing protocols in place.     

I close with Martha’s last paragraph.  “I ask you again to enter into a time of reflection as winter ends and the signs of new life that come with spring begin to emerge.  Join me in prayer that, united as one, the United Methodists of the Virginia Conference will demonstrate the kind of holy living that our founder, John Wesley, understood as our primary task – loving God and caring for one another with Christ-like love.”

John Meeuwissen
Alexandria District Lay Leader