General Conference

General Conference News and Information

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 General Conference News and Information

Information from the Virginia Conference:


Video archive: UM News interviews protocol developers (January 13 recording)


United Methodist Traditionalists, Centrists, Progressives & Bishops sign agreement aimed at separation (from the Council of Bishops, January 2)


News of Separation Plan (UM News Service Article, January 3)


The following was sent out via Virginia’s ClergyNet and LaityNet email lists on January 6.

An unofficial group of representatives from various United Methodist advocacy groups and bishops from across the world has agreed on a proposal that would provide a pathway for separation of churches or annual conferences that wish to leave the denomination to start a new denomination(s), but only if approved by the United Methodist General Conference in May. Read more about this proposal and others coming before the General Conference at the link below. United Methodist News will conduct a live-streamed interview with a panel of group members at 9:30 a.m. ET on Jan. 13 on

Find links to the major proposals for the reorganization of The United Methodist Church to be considered by General Conference delegates at its upcoming meeting May 5-15, 2020 in Minneapolis.

Plan information:

The following was sent out via Virginia’s ClergyNet and LaityNet email lists on January 8.

Information provided by United Methodist News Service. News media contact: Tim Tanton,  or 615-742-5473.

 A livestreamed panel discussion with members of the team that developed a new proposal for The United Methodist Church’s future is set for Monday, Jan. 13.

 The panel interview, conducted by UM News, will be streamed on beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern U.S. Time. It can be viewed at The panel discussion will last approximately one hour and will be recorded and archived on the site.

The panelists will describe how they developed the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, a proposal that they are working to have drafted as legislation and sent to General Conference. The proposal, announced Jan. 3, would provide a means for traditionalists to leave The United Methodist Church and form their own denomination, as well as a way for others to leave the denomination within a specified time. Proponents emphasize that no one is being asked to leave the church.

The proposal is the latest effort to move the church past a decades-long debate over inclusiveness and interpretation of Scripture with regard to same-gender weddings and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy. The United Methodist Church’s official positions are that all people are of sacred worth; the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching; “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” shall not be ordained as clergy; and same-sex weddings shall not be performed in the denomination’s churches nor by its clergy.

When The United Methodist Church’s General Conference meets May 5-15 in Minneapolis, delegates from around the world will consider a number of proposals for splitting or restructuring the church.

The protocol document was developed by people from centrist, progressive and traditionalist perspectives, as well as bishops from the United States, Africa, Europe and the Philippines. The group was led by mediator Kenneth Feinberg, who worked on the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the Agent Orange Victim Compensation Fund, and programs to compensate victims of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Boston Marathon bombing.

Panelists will include:
Bishop John Yambasu, co-convener, mediation team
Janet Lawrence, executive director, Reconciling Ministries Network
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president-elect, Council of Bishops
Kenneth Feinberg, mediator
The Rev. Junius Dotson, co-convener, UMC Next
The Rev. Keith Boyette, president, Wesleyan Covenant Association
Bishop Thomas Bickerton, co-convener, mediation team
The moderator will be Tim Tanton with UM News.

The livestream will originate from Tampa, Florida, where the mediation team will be meeting that day.

People interested in suggesting questions for the interview may send an email to by Friday, Jan. 10. The panel discussion will not include live audience interaction. Time constraints will limit the number of questions used, but UM News and Ask The UMC will refer to the remaining submitted questions in planning future stories and resources.

As We Prepare

Opportunities for Laity and Clergy to prepare for GC2020

As we all are in preparation for General Conference 2020, the Bi-District Staff is in the process of preparing events and resources for Clergy and Laity in the Arlington and Alexandria Districts.


Opportunities in the works:

  • Clergy Meeting lunch sessions will offer opportunities to think practically about our own spirituality in order to help mitigate some of the anxiety surrounding all that is to come.
  • At Bi-District Training Day (January 18, 2020) Martha Stokes will give a morning session on “What’s Ahead in 2020” as well as a lunch time Q&A session.
  • We will hold a General Conference briefing on March 11, 2020 to help both clergy (AM) and laity (PM) learn more about General Conference 2020.
    The Revs. Tom Berlin and Keith Boyette will offer remarks and will participate in a Q&A.
  • We will be entering into a season of prayer in May for General Conference.
  • We hope to have delegates speak to clergy and laity after GC2020 in another “What Just Happened” event sometime in June.
  • For Delegates to Annual Conference: At our Annual Conference Orientation this year we will spend the first hour orienting new delegates and then plan to offer a “What Delegates Need to Know” presentation in the second hour based upon the happenings of General Conference.


We continue to update this GC2020 webpage with information as we receive it.


Bishop Weaver's Eastertide District Days

Walking the Journey Together

Bishop Weaver held an Eastertide District Days event on May 10 at Fairfax UMC.


Eastertide Documents

  • What are apportionments?
  • Bishop Weaver Letter following Judicial Council
  • Bishop Weaver’s Letter regarding Eastertide Events

Resources Following Judicial Council

Bishop Weaver Responds to the Judicial Council Ruling

Additional Resources in response to the Judicial Council Ruling

General Conference 2019

 Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church takes place February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. The purpose will be to receive and act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward, authorized to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and to explore options to strengthen church unity.

From St. Louis–Resources from General Conference 2019

Daily Advocates from St. Loius | General Conference 2019: Daily Christian Advocate

Legislation Tracking | 2019 Legislation Tracking

VAUMC Social Media Accounts |  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

GC2019 delegates hear Way Forward report on Sunday 



Letter from the Board of Laity

Virginia Conference Laity beyond the Special General Conference 2019  (A letter from the Board of Laity).

What Just Happened?

Video from the March 13 What Just Happened Laity session can be found here.

VAUMC Resources (Including the power point presentation/notes, General Conference FAQs, a Legislation Summary and more are available on the VAUMC General Conference Resources page.

State of the Church Archive

Bishop Lewis’ State of the Church Address

Additional resources referenced in the State of the Church (including the PowerPoint, notes, FAQs, and legislation information) can be found on the VAUMC General Conference webpage. 

Bishop Peter D. Weaver will serve as interim bishop of Virginia Conference

A Letter from Bishop Lewis (February 27, 2019)

From Bishop Lewis

A Prayer for Sunday, February 24

The denominational Praying Our Way Forward Team has prepared the following prayer to be used as part of the worship liturgy and opening of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference in St. Louis this weekend.
The Council of Bishops requested this prayer be distributed to all churches in the Connection thus Bishop Lewis, DS Jeff Mickle, and DS Cathy Abbott offer it to all Alexandria and Arlington Clergy. Churches are invited to use it during their worship services on Sunday, February 24

Sunday, February 24, 2019 – Congregational Prayer for United Methodist Church

Gracious and loving God, who leads, teaches and guides,
You who offer compassion, grace and mercy, be with us now.
We passionately seek Your presence during challenging times and circumstances and we trust
that you are moving in and around our lives.
We, as one part of your Body, the Church, go into the days and weeks ahead seeking to discern
Your deep desire for us as The United Methodist Church.
Give us courage as we continue to live and respond to Your invitation to be Your hands, feet and voice.
We ask for a fresh wind of Your Spirit and guidance for each of us as individuals, for the faithful
congregations, and for this global community of United Methodists.
We ask for Your wisdom and presence for those among us who have been called to serve as
delegates as the Special Session of General Conference gathers today.
Grant them clarity and a discerning spirit as they seek to listen for You in their midst.
Reveal to them Your deep desire for our future as a church.
Give them and us the faith to lay aside our personal wants and needs so that we can be truly
present to You, sit with You in reverence and awe, and listen deeply for the still small voice that
woos us, comforts us, and invites us to that place where we can live fully and wholly into the
Kingdom life that You desire for us.
We lay all this before You as the deep desire of our hearts and minds in the name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen

Download Prayer in PDF

Download Prayer in Word


From our Delegation

What are some ways to prepare for as well as respond to what occurs at General Conference 2019?  That was the question the Virginia delegation asked The Right Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary, during our recent prayer retreat.  One of the reasons we invited him to speak was the desire to learn from the experience of The Episcopal Church during their walk down a similar path and what he had observed both before and afterwards.

The six-minute video of his interview is available on the conference Vimeo site at and a transcript is attached with this email. Our prayer is you will find Dean Markham’s words helpful as you guide your congregation through the coming weeks.

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.

Bishop’s Charge Conference Message 2018 from Virginia Conference of the UMC on Vimeo.

Additional Plans/Gen. Conf. related links

Praying Our Way Forward

We are in Phase 3 of the Denominational Praying Our Way Forward movement. Learn more.

Partnering with Clergy & Laity on A Way Forward

The Bi-District has offered many events this year to help clergy and laity  prepare for A Way Forward.

Coming Soon:

What Just Happened? March 13, 2019 | Herndon UMC

General Conference Delegates Tom Berlin (clergy) and Martha Stokes (laity) will provide us with an update on the process and decisions that were reached during the 2019 Special Called General Conference.


The United Methodist Church has created a page on their website,, with additional information and resources regarding A Way Forward.

United Methodist Bishops Recommend a Way Forward

Bishop Lewis Responds:

Additional updates from the United Methodist Church:

 JUNE 26, 2018

Commission on a Way Forward offers more video resources for 2019 General Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – In its continued efforts to inform The United Methodist Church on its processes and work, the Commission on a Way Forward is releasing four more videos this week that document the experiences, hopes, dreams, concerns, approach, and learnings of the 32-member Commission.

The videos released today are:

Last week, the Commission release four videos.  Click here for the list of videos released last week.

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:

The link to the devotional by George Acevedo is here:

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.




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: 

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.