Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
Sunday June 10 will be Reverend Grace Han’s final Sunday at St. Matthew’s. Grace has served faithfully as one of the church’s associate pastors for the past four years and will be missed. She has a special message planned for her sermon and I know you will want to be here. Please note that this will not be her final day at the church but will be her last Sunday morning with us before she begins her new ministry as the pastor of Trinity UMC in Alexandria in July. We will also commission our summer mission teams in worship on Sunday.
Then on Wednesday June 20, the Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) will host a celebration of Grace’s ministry at St. Matthew’s. This will give us an opportunity to thank her and say farewell to Grace and her family. We are asking for RSVP’s for this event so that we can set-up and be prepared. We are also asking everyone to bring a side dish to share. The main dish will be provided (homemade BBQ!). Dinner will start at 6:00pm. Please contact Angela Culbertson (SPRC Chair) at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 16 to RSVP.
Next weekend, June 15-17, the Virginia Annual Conference will meet in Hampton. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the structure of The United Methodist Church, here is one pastor’s description of an Annual Conference:
“An Annual Conference is a regional body led by a bishop, encompassing all of the United Methodist Churches in that region. These churches are bound together for mutual support and mutual ministry. Pastors are members of annual conferences, while laity are members of local churches.”
Approximately 3,350 United Methodists, both clergy and laity, representing more than 1,100 churches from all over Virginia will gather to worship, celebrate the ministry of the Conference in the past year, and prepare for the future ministry of the Conference by ordaining clergy, electing officers, and approving ministry plans and budgets for the coming year. All active and retired clergy are members of the Conference. Anne and I will be attending, along with Grace Han, Bill Moberly, St. Matthew’s Lay Members of Annual Conference-Bob Hull, Beth Lanthier, and Lyle Minter-Judy and Jim Hall, and Edna Joyner. The plenary sessions and worship services are open to everyone if you’re in the Hampton area. You can find out more about Annual Conference at www.vaumc.org/AC2018. (This page includes the Book of Reports, the agenda for the Conference, and information about live video streaming if you want to watch the proceedings online.)
If you decide to look at the information at the link in the previous paragraph, you will get a sense of the scope of the Annual Conference agenda and you can imagine the challenge of conducting business with a 3,000+ person “committee.” It is sometimes very frustrating, sometimes quite entertaining, and sometimes, it is emotional and inspiring. But the truth is that some of the most important happenings at Annual Conference next week will not occur on the floor of the Annual Conference. For Anne and me, and many others, Annual Conference is a time for what Methodists call Christian conferencing. We connect with friends and colleagues, some of whom we haven’t seen since last year’s Annual Conference sessions. In corridors and hotel lobbies, around the displays, over coffee, and at meals we catch up and share what’s been happening in our lives since we last met.
Making and renewing personal connections is an important spiritual discipline, not just for the pastors and laity who attend Annual Conference, but for everyone who follows Jesus. As you continue to grow in your faith, I hope you will remember our Methodist tradition and look for opportunities to do your own Christian conferencing with the family of God. Whether it is in Sunday worship, in one of St. Matthew’s church programs, or over coffee with a friend, we all need to remember and follow the teaching we find in the New Testament:
“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”(Hebrews 10:24-25)
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.