special session of general conference

A Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church will take place Feb. 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. You can watch the conference live by clicking here: umc.org/live

You can find Virginia Conference specific information to General Conference by clicking here: www.vaumc.org/GC2019.

Following the Special Session, Bishop Sharma D. Lewis will give an address titled “State of the Church: Where Do We Go from Here?” on Monday March 4. Bishop Lewis will also offer a Q&A period after her talk and encourages submission of questions in advance by clicking here: wayforward@vaumc.org.  

Williamsburg UMC will live-stream Bishop Lewis's address on Monday March 4 from 10:00 to 11:30 am in the Fellowship Hall. All are invited to attend. 

You may also view Bishop Lewis from your own device by clicking here: www.livestream.com/vaumc/stateofthechurch

Commission on a way forward

The Commission on a Way Forward is tasked with helping the United Methodist Church (UMC) find a way past its current impasse on issues related to sexuality, particularly in relation to the ordination and marriage of LBGTQ persons. The Commission has regularly issued updates on its work, and all United Methodists are encouraged to learn about the work of the Commission and to keep the Commission and the whole church in prayer.

In 1972, the decision-making body of the United Methodist Church (the Generall Conference) inserted language about homosexuality into the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which is the official UM book of order, faith and practice. Until this occurred, the Discipline had been silent about homosexuality. Since then, the United Methodist Church has been openly wrestling with language, theology, Biblical interpretation, and other issues related to sexuality and especially homosexuality. As a denomination, we are not of one accord in our thinking, beliefs, or practice concerning a wide range of LGBTQIA concerns. 

In 2016, our UM Council of Bishops appointed a geographically and theologically diverse group of clergy and laity to explore how we can faithfully be in ministry as a church, even as our members hold different perspectives on these issues.  The Council of Bishops has called a Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church to be held 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 based on the recommendations of the Council of Bishops. 

Learn more about the Commission on a Way Forward by clicking here.

Review the latest updates and news releases about the Commission on a Way Forward by clicking here.

Access the Commission on a Way Forward Handbook by clicking here.

Read the final Commission on a Way Forward report by clicking here.

praying on a way forward

The Council of Bishops invites all the people of the United Methodist Church to join together in prayer as we prepare for the 2019 General Conference. The General Conference will address proposals to move beyond the UMC’s impasse on the Discipline’s language regarding homosexuality, specifically (1) the provision of marriage rites to same-sex couples, and (2) the ordination of LGBTQIA persons. The Bishops specifically call upon us to:

1. Engage in a weekly Wesleyan 24-hour fast from Thursday after dinner to Friday mid-afternoon. Those who have health situations causing food fasts to be unadvisable might consider fasting from social media, emails or another daily activity.

2. Pause and pray for our church’s mission and way forward daily for four minutes from 2:23 - 2:26 a.m. or p.m. in their own time zone OR at another time. This is because the Special Session of General Conference will be held February 23 - February 26, 2019.

3. Pray using a weekly prayer calendar that will be posted on the UMCPrays.org website from June 2, 2018, through the end of February 2019. The calendar will list a unique cluster of names each week. The names will balance United States bishops and delegates with Central Conference bishops and delegates. It will also include General Secretaries, Commission on a Way Forward members, the Commission of the General Conference and the staff of the General Conference.

The Bishops urge every Annual Conference to use the video available on the umcprays website to promote Phase 3 of Praying Our Way Forward.

The above information and more can be found at: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/bishops-the-upper-room-launch-phase-3-of-praying-our-way-forward#.Wwac4pQdz5s.facebook%20


On September 26, 2018, Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, along with the Rev. Tom Berlin and Ms. Martha Stokes, hosted a question and answer event at Reveille UMC, in Richmond.  The event focused on the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the three proposed models, and the 2019 General Conference. Bishop Lewis, Rev. Berlin, and Ms. Stokes shared their thoughts, as well moderated questions from the audience on these topics. The event was live-streamed to nine locations across the District, with Williamsburg UMC being one site.

In order to view the archived video of this presentation, please select "Watch Here" after clicking on this link to take you to the Virginia Conference on a Way Forward site:  https://livestream.com/VAUMC/COWFQA. 

A Letter from our Bishop

From Bishop Sharma Lewis: “The topic of human sexuality has long been a source of disagreement within The United Methodist Church. Right now the topic is the focus of many conversations as we prepare for the Special Session of General Conference 2019 in February. With tensions so high, congregations may be concerned about what is happening and what this means for their church. Church leaders may feel fear or uncertainty. I send this letter in the hopes of setting us on the same course in the Virginia Conference. It is my hope and prayer that we can stay a connected church.”

To read Bishop Lewis’ letter, click here.

concerns, questions & comments

Pastor Helen Casey-Rutland is leading WUMC as we seek to understand more about this topic.  

To submit online concerns, questions and comments to Pastor Helen,

click here.