AUMC has a wide variety of events for all ages – newcomers are always welcome! We have a list of our special events below. Click here to read our latest Witness newsletter for details, news, and more.

If you have any questions about the events, contact the church office at 703-256-8330 or office@annandale-umc.org

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AUMC News

Special Session of the General Conference: After the global UMC voted to accept the Traditionalist Plan in late February 2019, strengthening prohibitions against gay marriage and gay clergy within the church, there has been a lot of uncertainty about what this means for Annandale UMC  and how we want to proceed in the future. Click here to read head pastor Rev. Jason Micheli’s letter to the congregation after the United Methodist conference on human sexuality, or read his FAQ on what it all means below. Jason was also the co-author of a book on Christian ethics – click here to read his chapter about the Biblical perspective on human sexuality.

Jason's FAQ on the decision and survey

Hi Folks,

I wanted to another opportunity to thank all of you for your patience with me, the grace you’ve shown one another, and the candor of your thoughts and questions. I’m fortunate to serve with such a community, and I believe if we lean into the strength of our community then we can take positive next steps through the disruption in the wider United Methodist Church. About 200 folks stayed after either the 8:30 or 11:00 services this Sunday to discuss the decisions at the General Conference and what they might mean for our congregation. I will tell you what I heard, but you can also talk to one another as well.

Here are some of the questions that came up on Sunday and have come to me privately too:

1. What is different now? Hasn’t the UMC always had this policy about homosexuality?

The UMC’s Book of Discipline has indeed contained language about sexuality being “incompatible with Christian teaching” since the 1970’s. What makes this GC different is twofold, I believe. First, the 2/3 of the delegates from the US voted in favor of the One Church Plan at this GC; in other words, the Traditionalist Plan passed in the face of the strong will of congregations in America. A second reason for the uproar is that this is the first time the UMC has made its policies on homosexuality more restrictive since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Unlike denominations that went through this fight before us, we have married gay couples in our congregations— there are several at AUMC. So, the default position of the Traditionalist Plan is now that those couples should get divorced. This is a logic that even many moderates and conservatives find objectionable.

2. Does this mean we’re breaking away from the UMC?

No.

It does mean a long-simmering feud has been brought to a head, and the marriage called United Methodism (which isn’t all that old, actually) may be headed towards a divorce. There are many centrist pastors and laity across the denomination who will not able to remain in the UMC if the new policy holds. If it does not hold, the group behind the Traditionlist Plan, the Wesley Covenant Association (notice, they already have a name, logo, website…) will leave the UMC. Either occurence will force large changes in what we currently call the UMC. That nothing happens is very unlikely— both sides are weary of spending literally millions (of your dollars) to continue having this fight at General Conference and engaging it in a way that damages our witness to the world.

This is why we’re talking about these issues.

3. What can we do as a local church to let people in our community know we’re not the church they’ve read about in the papers?

We’ll be sending out a mass mailer postcard to the Annandale community this week, paid for by a generous donor (image, above), to reiterate that everyone is welcome at our church and they are welcome to be themselves at our church.

Paul says there is no distinction among any of us and that not one of us is righteous— that’s too much for a postcard but it’s the basis for our inclusivity.

About 3/4 of you disapprove of the General Conference’s adoption of the Traditionlist Plan, and many of you have been asking how we can articulate and communicate that we are an open and affirming church. I think the events out of General Conference and your survey responses show that this is a conversation we should have as a congregation (including our wedding and ordination-vetting processes).

As I mentioned in my sermon, I’ve never been a fan of the rainbow flag. Like all symbols, it communicates different things to different people. To some, it rightly says “You’re welcome here.” To others— conservatives— it rightly or wrongly says “You’re not welcome here.” What has made AUMC is its diversity so I would like us to engage a conversation about how to move forward and be clear about our welcome of LGBTQ people in a way that traditionalists do not feel excluded. In other words, I want us to do locally what the larger church cannot do, and I want us to do it in a way that does not simply replicate the political antagonisms in our wider culture. I have enough gay friends to know that they come to church for the same reasons straight people come to church: Jesus.

I want to find out we can communicate our welcome of all yet keep the message that we’ve been welcomed in Christ our main thing.

4. What can we do to let our voices be heard in the larger Church?

You can serve as a delegate to Annual Conference. AUMC sends one delegate for every pastor on staff. You can write to the bishop. You can come up with creative ways to resist and protest the Traditionalist Plan (Jonathan Page has a few ideas). You can connect with the one of the many groups of pastors and laity forming around this issue now.

5. Can we withold the money (apportionments) we’re obligated to pay the larger denomination?

I’ll get grumped at for nodding my head here, but alot of you have asked me this question and the answer is yes. In truth, the folks behind the Traditionalist Plan, the Wesley Covenant Association, have been withholding funds for years both in protest and to save for the possibility of a schism in the UMC. Their advocacy, in other words, was paid for in large part by unpaid apportionments. I understand that for many of you this is a matter of deep personal pain and moral, righteous indignation.

If this is the case and you’d like for your gifts to the church to remain with the local church, you need only communicate that to myself or to Garry Bell.

6. But what does the Bible say about sexuality?

Good question! And it’s worth a discussion and study. Again, like I said on Sunday, good, faithful, Bible-reading Christians can come to different conclusions on this subject. The challenge of the new policy is that it, in a top-down fashion, takes that diversity of interpretation away from you.

It makes sense to me that do some Bible study around this and the larger theme of hospitality. Several years ago I wrote an e-book about Christian ethics with Dr. Barry Penn Hollar. It’s dated now and no longer available on Amazon as a consequence, but I wrote the chapter in there on marriage and sexuality. Click here to read it.

7. What comes next?

— We wait to see what comes of the Judicial Council’s ruling on the Traditionalist Plan (April).

— We’ll talk about who we want to be as a local congregation and what steps or actions that will require. The lay leaders will talk about how these questions could impact the life of the congregation over the next 18 months.

— Adam Hamilton, pastor of Church of the Resurrection, the largest UMC in the country, is convening a group of centrist and progressive churches in the spring. If you’d like to participate, let me know.

8. What did the survey show?

The survey was remarkably consistent with the survey we sent out in the fall.

I received 307 responses.

76% disapprove of the General Conference’s vote for the Traditionalist Plan. That’s a majority of you all who either want the UMC’s restrictive policies changed or resent the larger Church hierarchy taking away from you the ability to figure out these questions on your own.

The question of leaving the denomination over the decision is, predictably, muddier. 54.9% would support exploring leaving the denomination— exactly the sort of close vote that any church would be stupid to take (the sort our denomination just did).

The question of affiliating with other Methodist congregations in a new denomination, however, was different. 67% responded that would support such an exploration. The questions about same-sex weddings being performed at AUMC and gay members discerning ordination received similar results, around 70%.

The demographics, I think, tell the story. Nearly half of respondents have a friend who is LGBTQ while 63% of respondents have an LGBTQ family member. Meanwhile, we have 24 respondents report that they are LGBTQ.

These demographics also show that we should proceed with care and compassion in how we discuss these matters in church, for it’s very likely you’ll be talking about someone’s child, nephew, or even the neighbor in the next pew. We should proceed with care as well because, with the life of the denomination in turmoil— if not worse— the local church is now more important than it has been in the relatively short history of the United Methodist Church. I believe it’s forgetting that fact that has led to the problems we face today.

I’ll see you on Wednesday at 7 for Ash Wednesday.

Grace and Peace,

Jason

Caring Ministries is starting a greeting card ministry and would appreciate donations of cards to give to homebound members. Blank cards or greeting cards with messages such as “thinking of you” or “get well soon” are needed as well as Easter and Christmas cards. Donations can be placed in the purple bin outside the church office, or given to Dottie Rogerson in the church office or Barbara Gordon on Sunday mornings.

2019 budget now available: Click here to learn how we’re being responsible stewards of your gifts.

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Every Week in Lent

Sundays during the 11 a.m. service: Children’s Church. For centuries Lent has been observed as a time of preparation for Easter celebrations. At Annandale this year, the children of the congregation will have their own special preparation time during the 11 a.m. service for the rest of Lent. Following the children’s sermon, Ruth Anne will lead children Third grade and younger to Hughes Hall. There they will learn more about God’s love through stories, crafts and other kid-friendly activities. Volunteers will be needed to make Children’s Church a success; please contact Ruth Anne (rluckenbaugh@annandale-umc.org) to find out how you can help.

Wednesday Lenten worship: Our 7 p.m. Wednesday Lenten Services continue through April 10. There will be communion and a homily reflecting on one of “The Comfortable Words” from John Wesley’s Prayerbook. For those who cannot make the Wednesday night services, there will be communion at the 8:30 a.m. service during Lent (starting March 17).

Wednesday Night Together dinners, March 13–April 10: Join us for dinner during Lent on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. in Wright Hall. Then stay on for our Wednesday Lenten Service at 7 p.m. Sign up on the pew pads or RSVP to the office at office@annandale-umc.org or 703-256-8330, ext. 0. The dinner on March 13 will be a potluck. Remaining dinners will be $8 for adults, $4 for children and $20 maximum per family.

Upcoming Events

Sunday, March 24, 8:30 and 11 a.m.: Guest preacher Todd Littleton will discuss “The Four Pillars of Grace,” inspired by 2 Corinthians 3:1-11.

March 30, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Prayer School with Brian Zahnd. Prayer is one of those things that we as Christians know we’re supposed to do, but almost none of us have ever been trained to pray in a way that can spiritually form and enrich us. Prayer School with Brian Zahnd is designed to provide a convenient setting for you to learn about, and actively engage in, the prayer regimen that Brian has developed during a lifetime of pastoral ministry. This prayer school will help you gain a completely fresh perspective on the purpose of prayer, and will provide you with a valuable, sustainable framework for community and personal prayer life. Brian is the founder and lead pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO. He is also the author of several books, including Beauty Will Save the World, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, A Farewell to Mars and Water to Wine. The school will take place at AUMC on Saturday, March 30, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Lunch will be served and child care is available. The cost is $10. Click here to register.

Sunday, March 31, 8:30 and 11 a.m.: Guest preacher Brian Zahnd will talk about “Grace in Families,” based on 2 Corinthians 5:14-16, 19-21.

Saturday, April 6, 10 a.m. – noon: Children’s Lenten Fair. Families with children through the fifth grade are invited to our Lenten Fair in Wright Hall. We’ll use crafts, stories and snacks to learn more about Lent and the important story of Holy Week, the week before Easter. Parents can join their children to learn along with their kids! For details and to help, contact Ruth Anne Luckenbaugh at 703-256- 8330, ext 104.

Sunday, April 7, 8:30 and 11 a.m.: Sermon topic: Grace in Politics. Sermon scripture: Romans 3:9-20.

Wednesday, April 10: Calling all Easter Bunnies! Donations of wrapped, soft candy (like M & Ms, kisses and Starburst) and small toys, stickers or other trinkets for our goody bags are needed for the Easter egg hunt on April 21. No nuts or choking hazards (including hard candy), please. Drop off in the basket in the atrium or in the church office by April 10.

Saturday, April 13: Help with ACCA furniture delivery. AUMC’s ACCA furniture team helps deliver donated furniture once a quarter. We need a volunteer to lead the team, which includes distributing the schedule to other team members, sending reminders, recruiting new team members and working with our ACCA representative to publicize the program to the congregation. Please contact Ryan Witkowski at witkowskir@gmail.com or 703-635-6062 if you are interested.

Sunday, April 14: Palm Sunday. Sermon topic: “Grace in the Church,” inspired by Colossians 2:9-15. There will be a Holy Week Walk during children’s Sunday school.

Thursday, April 18: Maundy Thursday. Our Lenten sermon series continues with “Grace in Prayer,” based on John 17:1-6.

Friday, April 19: Good Friday. We will hold a Seven Last Words service, pondering the final words of Christ before the cross. Our Lenten sermon series continues with “Vicarious Grace,” based on Romans 4:16-17.

Sunday, April 21: Easter. We will have a children’s Easter egg hunt and other celebrations between services. Sermon topic: “Grace in Everything,” based on Romans 4:18-25.

Sunday, April 21, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Live Easter animals at AUMC! The animals will be on the Columbia Pike side of the church, near the front parking lot. The live nativity animals we had on Christmas Eve attracted families from all over Annandale, not just our own church members. So we have asked the folks from Mary’s Go Round to come back again, this time with lambs, goats and a donkey. Make plans to come by and see the animals, and bring your friends and neighbors, too!

Sunday, April 21: Monetary donations for Kairos due. The Kairos Prison Ministry team is preparing to share God’s love with the men at Greensville Correctional Center, May 2–5. A cookie sign-up sheet, prison-approved cookie recipes and instructions are on the table in the atrium. Sugar-free and gluten-free cookies are especially needed. If you cannot bake cookies but want to make a donation for baking supplies, make a check payable to AUMC (with Kairos Cookies in the note line) by April 21. Cookies must be baked by April 28. If you are willing to pray for the team and weekend participants, please add your name to the sign-up sheet in the atrium. Contact Bill Iwig at 301-365-7532 for more information.

Spring Warms to Summer

April 27: Mark your calendar for Rebuilding Together. AUMC will again be joining with ACCA and St. Barnabas Episcopal Church to help renovate the home of a deserving family in our area. Youth (age 14 and over) and adults are encouraged to participate for the whole day or part of the day. It’s a great opportunity for students who need service hours. If you are interested in helping or fixing snacks for the workers, contact John Clarke at clarkejh1@gmail.com or 703-642-3836.

Sunday, April 28: Cookies for Kairos due. The Kairos Prison Ministry team is preparing to share God’s love with the men at Greensville Correctional Center, May 2–5. A cookie sign-up sheet, prison-approved cookie recipes and instructions are on the table in the atrium. Sugar-free and gluten-free cookies are especially needed. If you cannot bake cookies but want to make a donation for baking supplies, make a check payable to AUMC (with Kairos Cookies in the note line) by April 21. Cookies must be baked by April 28. If you are willing to pray for the team and weekend participants, please add your name to the sign-up sheet in the atrium. Contact Bill Iwig at 301-365-7532 for more information.

Thursday, May 2-5: The Kairos Prison Ministry team is preparing to share God’s love with the men at Greensville Correctional Center.

Sunday, May 26: Service projects in Wright Hall during children’s Sunday school.

June 16: Summer Sunday school begins.

Saturday, July 13: Help with ACCA furniture delivery. AUMC’s ACCA furniture team helps deliver donated furniture once a quarter. We need a volunteer to lead the team, which includes distributing the schedule to other team members, sending reminders, recruiting new team members and working with our ACCA representative to publicize the program to the congregation. Please contact Ryan Witkowski at witkowskir@gmail.com or 703-635-6062 if you are interested.

Previous Witness Newsletters

2019: January 15February 12, March 12

2018: January 16, February 13, March 13April 17May 15June 12July 17, August 14, September 18, October 16November 13, December 18

Click here to read the results of Jason’s survey on human sexuality and the Book of Discipline.