Jesus Prays for All BelieversJohn 17:20-23 (NIV)
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Alexandria and Arlington Districts Vision: Leading with Love
The Districts of Alexandria and Arlington continue, despite all obstacles, with the wisdom God has given us, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, to lead with love in our communities, “united as one”!
I can affirm this is happening as I work with pastors and laity, with experienced churches and new plants, with confirmands in local churches and with people discerning a call to ordained ministry – there is life where we have also seen death and struggle over this last year. With God, anything is possible. With God, the people of these two districts have lived out faith, hope and love, and especially love.
I write this report as many of our churches are just beginning a time of renewal and revival. Some have been meeting together for a year or more; some just a few weeks. Most all have adapted to a world of hybrid worship, where some are in the room, and some are safely at home. Masks, vaccinations, ventilation – so many things to be thought through, but loving our neighbors as we do, we sacrifice and we innovate – and praise God! Finances and stewardship have changed, missions work is moving closer to what we have seen prior to the pandemic, and people are stepping up to show Christ to the world in innovative ways.
I am so proud to be the District Superintendent of these two Districts! I am proud of our laity, who loved and protected their church communities. I am proud of the pastors, who lead through unprecedented times, where roadmaps meant little, and so much was on their shoulders. I am proud of the technical folks, the financial folks, and all those who had to innovate whether they wanted to or not. I have watched your worship, I have seen and heard of your struggles, and you are courageous and gifted in ways you never knew before these times challenged you.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to praise God with the folks at New Life at St. Andrews, as they broke ground on a new building, made possible by circumstances no one could have planned for or predicted. Two pastors met at a Christmas luncheon, shared their stories, and found synergy where no one expected, synergy that allowed both of their congregations to dream new dreams.
I am also so proud to see the legacy of the former Arlington Forest UMC; it currently houses mission congregation First Vietnamese American UMC, and also Central UMC, who are currently out of their church as it is rebuilt into affordable housing and a new church building. As our Bishop says – Look what God can do!
We will never return to everything that was pre-pandemic, but God is shaping us all, challenging us and loving us into what comes next for the people of the United Methodist churches in Northern Virginia. I am excited to begin work this November on the District Initiative, looking toward creating a whole new District, beginning July 1, 2022. We are praying, we are listening, we are discerning with God what this future will look like and be like. It might just be like our Annual and District Conference theme – United as One!
These are exciting times! I thank you for joining with us on the journey – may we all be called to lead with love every day, and let the light of Christ shine on so many who need a good word.
Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert
Alexandria & Arlington District Superintendent