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 April 16 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

Ruth Anne Luckenbaugh to become director of AUMC’s Early Learning Program

It is with mixed feelings that we announce that Ruth Anne Luckenbaugh, Annandale’s director of children’s ministries, has accepted a newly created position in our Weekday Children’s Programs. Ruth Anne will become director of the Early Learning Program, one of three early childhood programs we offer during the week.

The Early Learning Program provides early childhood education to children ages 1-3 with classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the school year. The program is state licensed and accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs. It was twice chosen as a top preschool program by Northern Virginia Magazine.

We are sad to see Ruth Anne go, although she will remain in the church and in the building during the week. She’s excited about her new job and working with Angela Wilmore, executive director of our Weekday Children’s Programs. Angela will be coordinating with us on Ruth Anne’s start date to ensure a smooth transition as we search for her replacement. Ruth Anne expects to have Vacation Bible School and our fall kickoff planned before her departure.

Ruth Anne joined our church staff in 2017 after serving at Vale UMC in Oakton as director of Christian education and director of preschool programs. She and her husband Dave and their three children, Megan, Noah and Sophie, are members of Annandale UMC, so we will continue to see them on Sundays.

Please join us in congratulating Ruth Anne on this new opportunity and thanking her for a job well done with our children’s ministry program.

You will hear more soon as our Staff-Parish Relations Committee forms a search team and begins posting the position.

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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Upcoming Events

Friday, April 19: Good Friday. The Sanctuary and Little White Church will be open for prayers from noon – 3 p.m. We will hold a Seven Last Words service at 7 p.m., 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. Sermon topic: “Grace in Everything,” based on Romans 4:18-25. All services will include Holy Communion.

  • 6:30 a.m.: Sunrise service. A brief celebration of the Resurrection under the dawning sun in the atrium.
  • 8:30 a.m.: Contemporary service. Celebrating the Resurrection with our worship band in the sanctuary.
  • 9:45 a.m.: Children’s Easter service. A child-oriented worship in the courtyard, followed by an egg hunt.
  • 11 a.m.: Traditional service. A grand worship with full choir, including a performance of the Hallelujah chorus.

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, bunnies 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

Monday, April 22: The church office will be closed in celebration of Easter.

Thursday, April 25, 6:30 p.m.: United Methodist Men’s dinner. Men, young and old, are invited to a dinner of New York strip steak and lobster tail in Wright Hall. Invite your son, a neighbor or a friend for fellowship and some delicious food. Afterwards, we’ll have a choir rehearsal with Pat Vaughn for the 11 a.m. service on May 12 (Mother’s Day). Due to the special meal we have planned, we MUST have your confirmed reservation for dinner. RSVP to Gary FitzGibbon at gary@garyfitzgibbon.com or 703-963-8707.

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.

Friday, May 3: Due date for graduate information. The May issue of the Witness newsletter will highlight our 2019 high school and college graduates. If you’d like to be included, please send us a photo and the following information: name of student, degree, name of high school or college, and any other information you would like to share such as future plans (college, graduate school, new job, etc.). Email your info to jmorris@annandale-umc.org by May 3. For an example, click here to see the May 2018 Witness.

Sunday, May 5, 1:30 p.m.: FaithJustice immigration forum: “Hospitality, Sanctuary, Advocacy.” Join us for the next FaithJustice Forum in Wright Hall. From providing legal services to traveling to the border, this panel will discuss ways that people of faith are fulfilling our biblical calling to welcome the stranger and to oppose injustice and oppression. Learn more and RSVP at www.faithjusticefoundation.org/event/immigration-forum/ .

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

June 16: Summer Sunday school begins.

July 8-12, 9 a.m. – noon: Vacation Bible School: “Escape to Athens with Paul!” Click here to register a child. Volunteers, center leaders and shepherds are needed to make this week possible. Click here to sign up to volunteer! We also have childcare available for volunteers with children too young to participate in VBS – click here to register a child too young for VBS for childcare while you volunteer.

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 12April 16

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

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.

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

Summary of Way Forward Discussion Church Council Meeting

About 60 members of our congregation gathered at a church council meeting on March 19, 2019 to talk about a “way forward” on the issue of human sexuality. The United Methodist Church’s governing body, the General Conference, voted in February to more strictly enforce language in the Book of Discipline prohibiting United Methodist Churches from performing same-sex marriages and ordaining gay clergy. A majority of delegates from around the world voted in favor of the proposal, known as the Traditional Plan. However, the plan faces a judicial review in April, which may render it unconstitutional.

The events at General Conference were extremely divisive, with many saying it will be impossible for the United Methodist Church to remain one body. More moderate to liberal churches and conferences are openly talking about splitting off. At the same time, more conservative churches may leave if the Traditional Plan is declared unconstitutional.

In our own congregation, many are grappling with their place in the church—whether they should stay or leave. At the meeting on March 19, members voiced their sadness, hurt, anger and frustration regarding the General Conference’s decision.

Among the sentiments expressed:

  • The decision flies in the face of my understanding of the gospel—that grace is extended to all, no matter who we are, and that there are no conditions on God’s love. How can I be part of a church that doesn’t treat LGBTQ people as equal?
  • The decision is tearing apart the church I love and grew up in, and will cause members to leave.
  • We at Annandale are an open, loving church; that has not changed. Surely we can work together to discern a way forward. Let’s not let this decision divide our church.
  • The UMC name has been tainted. We ought to remove “United Methodist” from our signs and branding.
  • I support the Traditional Plan. Is there a place for me at AUMC? Are we creating a climate where those with minority views feel they no longer have a home?
  • I am 100% in favor of welcoming all to our church, but I’m uneasy about same-sex marriage.
  • We need to take a stand. This issue has been simmering for years, but now it has boiled over and we can no longer sit on the fence.
  • More study is needed on what the Bible says about marriage and sexuality, and how we are to interpret the scriptures.
  • We should stop paying our apportionments.
  • Change is not necessarily bad. Perhaps it is time for a split, a time for trimming branches. Often when churches split, there is new growth.
  • We need to understand the financial implications of a split—what it means to lose the connectional aspect of the United Methodist Church.

During the meeting, Jason reported that Tom Berlin, pastor of Floris UMC (the largest UMC in Virginia) and a member of the Commission on a Way Forward, has said that churches have about six months to “figure this out.” He noted that we have a PR problem that we did not plan for and that we need to get the message out that all are welcome and have a voice at Annandale UMC.

Jason said he would like a 5-7-member task force comprised of members of the congregation to study the issue and make recommendations to church council on:

  • Concrete steps we can take in our local community to be fully welcoming and inclusive
  • Strategic steps we can explore so that our church’s voice is heard in the larger denominational debate
  • A timeline of General Conference-related events for our congregation to participate in

Members of the task force are to reflect the full range of opinions on this issue and have a youth representative. 

As a beginning step towards discerning our way forward, Church Council Chair Bill Sinclair asked those in the room to suggest ideas that should be addressed by the church. Among those suggested:

  • Remove the United Methodist name
  • Make sure minority voices are heard
  • Conduct a Bible study on human sexuality
  • Be a part of a larger dialogue of churches in Virginia and the U.S. that are also considering a way forward
  • Study the financial implications of exiting the UMC
  • Better understand apportionments and/or stop paying apportionments
  • Make sure the voices of young people are heard
  • Better understand the needs of LGTBQ people and ask them to participate in decision making
  • Don’t stop giving to our own church
  • Have more discussion on human sexuality and the implications of the Traditional Plan
  • Consider all options

Additional resources on this topic are available above and below.

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