The Northern Virginia District

Beginning July 1, 2022*

District Initiative

In early 2021 Bishop Lewis appointed eight district superintendents each to serve two districts (a bi-district). Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert was appointed as the District Superintendent of the Alexandria and Arlington Districts and began serving both districts in July of 2021.

Later, Bishop Lewis asked each bi-district to begin the process of creating a new district to begin July 1, 2022.

In late September of 2021, each District Superintendent was asked to “convene a workgroup” from their districts “to integrate the two districts into one.” (You can read that letter here.)

Sarah Calvert created that workgroup, called the Core Team, and that group began dreaming about and planning for a new district.

*At Annual Conference this June, lay and clergy members will vote on reducing the number of districts in our conference from sixteen to eight. If we discern that eight districts is how we wish to align ourselves, then we will put into effect the excellent work done by District Initiative teams across Virginia.

Timeline

The District Initiative Core Team created a timeline walking through the history of the Alexandria and Arlington Districts to help inform and guide their work.

As you can see in the timeline graphic below, we have a long history of working together for ministry in the Northern Virginia area.

timeline of the Alexandria and Arlington Districts

The Process

The District Initiative Core Team has been working feverishly to respond to the Bishop’s request for all Districts to begin the work of planning to combine their two districts into one new district.

When the Core Team began its work last fall we created a District Dreaming Survey and sent it to all who serve on District Committees, our clergy, and to our District Newsletter list. The team received a great response and collected hundreds of surveys. THANK YOU!

In addition to seeking feedback and information from clergy and laity across the Arlington and Alexandria Districts, the Core Team’s responsibility was to dream about how to respond to the increasing work and time constraints placed on the DS as she now serves two districts. Between the Alexandria and Arlington Districts, our Superintendent now serves 106 churches and 156 clergy.

Creating a better flow for Sarah to stay connected to all of those churches and clergy while also reducing the number of administrative district meetings that need her attention was a major goal for the Core Team.

To support the DS in terms of staying connected with the churches and clergy, the Core Team has recommended the addition of a part-time staff person. The Director of District Operations is an appointed clergy position responsible for the administrative ministries of the Northern Virginia District and attending to the organizational teams and functions of the district.

On March 21, 2022, we will welcome Rev. Larry Thompson as the new Director of District Operations. Rev. Thompson is a retired elder, who has served as a pastor, district superintendent, and interim pastor. He brings a very specific wealth of knowledge to the role. We are excited to have Rev. Thompson with us but more excited that he is willing to lend his expertise to help us in this season of transition as we move toward one district.

Another item the Core Team is working on is increasing connection and conversation among the clergy and laity. Details are still unfolding around how to better connect clergy and laity across the district and how our District Superintendent can work with those groups.

A New (Yet Familiar) Name

Our new district will be named The Northern Virginia District. Because Alexandria and Arlington have a great history of working together as a Bi-District often called NoVaUMC, this name suits us and provides a clear way to refer to our geographic location.

We are currently in the process of designing a logo and are excited to share that with you once it is complete.

Information Sessions

Change is hard and we expect that there will be many questions about this process and about what comes next. We have designed information sessions to help offer time for the Arlington and Alexandria Districts to hear about this process and ask questions of members of the Core Team.

We’ve also put together some Frequently Asked Questions that you can find below in our F.A.Q. section.

Information Sessions

We held several information sessions for laity, clergy, committee members, and lay leaders in April and May. The May 11 information session was recorded and can be watched here.

District Initiative Core Team

These individuals have served on the Core Team working to create The Northern Virginia District. In addition to the District Superintendent, District Lay Leaders, and District Staff, the Core Team consisted of a mix of clergy and laity from the Arlington and Alexandria Districts.

Clergy (Pastors)

  • Sarah Calvert, Alexandria and Arlington District Superintendent
  • Kyungsuk Cho
  • Drew Colby
  • Melissa Dunlap
  • Grace Han
  • Michelle Holmes Chaney, Bi-District Coordinator, Revitalization and Leadership Development
  • Young Bong Kim
  • Jonathan Page

Laity

  • Karen McElfish, Arlington District Lay Leader
  • John Meeuwissen, Alexandria District Lay Leader
  • Artabia Campbell-Marshall, District Executive Administrator
  • Patty Edwards
  • Kim Johnson, Bi-District Communications Coordinator
  • Cynthia Lopynski, Bi-District Program Coordinator
  • Carl Moravitz
  • Marilyn Traynham

FAQs

In an effort to streamline and focus our attention on the important ministry of supporting the local churches to make disciples, we are excited to become The Northern Virginia District beginning this July. In anticipation of an Annual  Conference decision to create eight districts and with input from churches and leaders across the conference, a team of laity, clergy, and staff has been working to create something new while honoring the long standing history and work of the Arlington and Alexandria districts.

Use the red + sign to select the item you’d like information about.

What is the District Initiative and why are we doing this?

In 2021 Bishop Lewis appointed eight district superintendents each to serve two districts (a bi-district). Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert was appointed as the District Superintendent of the Alexandria and Arlington Districts. Later that year, Bishop Lewis asked each bi-district to begin the process of creating a new District to begin July 1, 2022.

In late September of 2021, each District Superintendent was asked to “convene a workgroup” from their districts “to integrate the two districts into one.” Sarah Calvert created that group, called the Core Team. The Core Team is composed of the District Superintendent, two district Superintendency chairs, two Trustee Chairs, two finance chairs, two lay leaders, three Clergy from different leadership teams and the district staff.

What is the goal of this work?

Creating a better flow for Sarah to stay connected to all of those churches and clergy while also reducing the number of administrative district meetings that need her attention was a major goal for the Core Team.

When will it go into effect?

July 1, 2022. At the Annual Conference in June, lay and clergy members will vote on reducing the number of districts in our conference from sixteen to eight. If we discern that eight districts is how we wish to align ourselves, then we will put into effect the excellent work done by District Initiative teams across Virginia.

How were district clergy and laity able to give input to this plan?

In October and November we conducted surveys sent to clergy and lay leaders from both districts. We received 112 responses. We also held listening sessions for Clergy lay leaders and all laity in early November. Later this spring we will be holding information sessions for both clergy and laity, to share updates and answer questions. You can find those dates in the Information Session section above. 

Will the name change?

Our new district will be named The Northern Virginia District. Because Alexandria and Arlington have a great history of working together as a Bi-District, often called NoVaUMC, this name suits us and provides a clear way to refer to our geographic location.

We are currently in the process of designing a logo and are excited to share that with you once it is complete.

How long will this plan be in place?

While the structure of the District is subject to change, the District Initiative Core Team believes the current structure of the conference will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

What do our two districts look like between now and then?

The current plan, between January and June 2022, creates a season of meeting together as full Arlington and Alexandria administrative teams, and discussing inside of those teams what the ‘new’ team to look like for July – December 2022.

We will need some rulings from the Rules Committee, and to know what District Conference work will need to be done before and after the Annual Conference.

At this time we anticipate a Called District Conference on July 9, 2022 at 10:00 AM via Zoom.

In January 2023 we will move to a Simplified Accountable Structure.

What impact will this have on the local church?

While in the near term we do not anticipate this change having an immediate impact on day-to-day ministry, over time we anticipate the establishment of a NoVA district will have a positive impact on local churches.

The new district structure will help us build an even more collaborative NoVA district, while continuing to resource local churches (clergy and laity) in ways that help them adapt and grow in their ministry context.

What impact will this have at the district level?

To accomplish the major goal of creating a better flow for Sarah to stay connected to all churches and clergy and reduce the number of administrative district meetings she needs to attend, the Core Team is recommending increasing district staff and restructuring the current administration to a Simplified Accountable Structure.

What should clergy expect to change in the new district?

The expectations of clergy should remain the same, to continue to seek out the district for resources, training, consulting and coaching.  

Do we need to vote on the Initiative?

The Conference Rules Committee concurred that the agency/authority to structure and organize the district is with the district conference–not Annual Conference–so a called District Conference during the summer to close each of the 2 (voted on by each district) and open new (voted on by all), transfer assets and incorporate) would be in order. (BOD PARA 659.4, 661)

At this time we anticipate a Called District Conference on July 9, 2022 at 10:00 AM via Zoom.

Will we have an opportunity to celebrate the Alexandria and Arlington districts?

YES! Sometime in the fall we will plan and hold a celebration of the ministry of the Arlington and Alexandria districts. 

 

This FAQ sheet will be updated as more details are finalized.

Questions? Contact NoVaDistricts@vaumc.org