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 May 14 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

Update from the Way Forward Task Group

Dear Annandale UMC Members and Friends,

Greetings to you from your Way Forward Task Group.

As you probably know, our Task Group of volunteers was created in early April to help our church discern our way forward after the divisive 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, February 23 – 26, in St. Louis, regarding the church’s current policies regarding homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and ordination of LGBTQIA+ persons. The General Conference upheld these policies and enforcement was strengthened. On April 23 – 26, the UM Judicial Council reviewed these decisions and found the major decisions to be constitutional, which will take effect on January 1, 2020. These decisions caused great hurt and pain for many in our global church as well as our congregation who were praying for policies which affirm the sacred worth of all persons and allow for differing views on these sexuality topics within the church. Also, guidelines were provided for congregations who wish to leave the United Methodist Church “for reasons of conscience” regarding these human sexuality policies.

Pastor Jason has done a masterful job of keeping you informed about these actions over the past couple months, including his recent April 27 Update: UMC Judicial Council Ruling email (see below) which provided more details of the Judicial Council ruling.

As the surveys Pastor Jason conducted last fall and this spring indicate, we have a diverse congregation related to views on these topics. We believe there is richness in our diversity and we embrace our diversity. Our task is primarily to provide recommendations to Church Council and our clergy on steps and actions our church should take as we heal from these decisions, build unity and understanding on these issues, prepare our congregation regarding future options, and serve as the primary point of contact for your thoughts and concerns regarding these topics. There is a Way Forward Task Group mail box outside the church office where you may leave your notes for the Task Group. Please sign your note so that we may follow-up with you.

There will be a large gathering of approximately 600 centrist and progressive laity and clergy, who disagreed with the decisions of the General Conference, in Kansas City on May 20 – 22. These representatives come from all UMC conferences across the U.S. They will discuss various paths forward for the larger church, which allow for disagreement on these sexuality issues, in contrast to the decisions of the General Conference which do not allow for disagreement. In the end, there may even be dissolution of the UMC, and the formation of new Wesleyan/Methodist denominations. These new paths forward will take time to develop. The Task Group will keep you informed on these developments and make recommendations to Church Council when the options are developed.

For now, we appreciate your love, concern, and prayers for our church – globally and here in Annandale. As opportunities develop for your discussion and learning, we encourage your participation. Through our sharing, we will grow in our understanding and appreciation of each other, as we move forward together.

Bill Iwig, Chairperson
Way Forward Task Group

Task Group Members:
Pam Adams, Elvira Arteaga, Bill Chambers, Harry Day, Bill Harrod, Jan Harrod, Sophie Luckenbaugh, Jon Page, Christi Schwarten, Pat Sherfey, Pete Snitzer, Jr., and Terri Ruhter.

Hi Folks,

In the spirit of transparency and ongoing communication, I wanted to make sure you were aware of the United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council rulings decided at the end of this week.

Bill Iwig, a leader in our congregation, has begun convening a small cross-sampling of people from the congregation to discuss how Annandale UMC works through these issues. You’ll be hearing more soon from Bill about the Judicial Council decisions; in the meantime, I wanted to make available to you some reporting about the decisions from the wider Church.

Here is the UMC News reporting on the decision.

In a nutshell, some of the measures of the “Traditional Plan” which passed at General Conference were judged unconstitutional while other parts of it were upheld.

CHANGES TO CURRENT UMC POLICY FOUND CONSTITUTIONAL

    1. The definition of “self-avowed practicing homosexual” now includes people living in same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union, or who publicly state it. These persons are not considered qualified for United Methodist ministry.
    1. Boards or District Committees on Ministry must make a full examination and shall not approve anyone who does not meet the qualifications for ministry and the bishop shall rule unqualified persons, if recommended, “out of order.” Bishops may not consecrate a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” as a bishop.
    1. A pastor who has conducted a same-sex marriage shall be given a minimum penalty, after due, fair process, of one-year suspension without pay for a first offense and termination for a second.
  1. If allegations are brought against a pastor, any resolution of the offense must include agreement from the person bringing the allegation. The resolution must identify the harm caused and how that will be addressed by the pastor.

SEVEN PROPOSED CHANGES WERE FOUND UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Some of these sought to provide a way in which to certify that only persons who would “uphold, enforce, and maintain” the Book of Discipline (our book of order) could serve in certain committees. Other proposals suggested an additional process for removing bishops from active office. The Judicial Council found these unconstitutional because of lack of balanced and fair processes.

GRACIOUS EXIT PROPOSAL

An exit proposal passed at General Conference was found to be constitutional for churches thinking of leaving the United Methodist denomination. They would have a “limited right” to disaffiliate for reasons related to the church’s law concerning homosexuality for a limited time.

Approval for such a move would require:

    1. A two-thirds vote of the members of the local church
    1. Terms related to financial and legal matters, apportionments and clergy pensions
  1. Approval by a majority vote of the Annual Conference

Remember, this is only the latest development in what will be a process that plays out over the coming months in advance of another General Conference that will happen next May in Minnesota. Remember, too, what is not in dispute between the factions in our denomination is that our polity clearly states that persons in the LGBTQIA community are “persons of sacred worth created in the image of God” so we should take care to engage members of that community, especially in our own local community, in light of that fundamental shared belief.

Finally, this Sunday continues the season of Eastertide. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the most important claim the Church makes. It’s especially important at times when we find ourselves at a dead end, without answers, and maybe even without hope.

Jesus is not dead, making him the only participant in this mess who is without sin. Only the not-dead-Jesus is perfect in faith and blameless before the Law of God. Only the Risen Son knows fully the will of the Father. All the rest of us are trying to make our way foward while we, as Paul says, strain our eyes to see through a glass dimly; in other words, Easter demands from us humility and charity.

If the Living Lord wills for the Gospel promise of grace to be proclaimed by the particular people called Methodists, then the responsibility to find a way forward through this debate is not our responsibility alone. Thus Easter frees us for prayer and patience, continuing in the midst of this ecclessial fight with what scripture calls “our most urgent concern:” conveying the Gospel to a world that knows not God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness.

Grace and Peace,
Jason

New Director of Christian Education for Children needed!

Annandale United Methodist Church in Annandale, VA is a community of faith focused on spreading the good news of God’s grace and nurturing discipleship for all ages in God’s Kingdom.  A Director of Christian Education for Children is needed to lead our active children’s ministry and its volunteers.  The ideal candidate is an enthusiastic Christian with a passion for helping children and their families grow in faith together and will have the skills necessary to recruit, motivate, train, and lead a corps of volunteers for Sunday morning ministries as well as other ongoing programs and more than 10 other children’s activities and special events throughout the year.  This person will have the skills, education, and experience required to collaborate successfully with church leadership, church staff, and church members.  This individual will be able to develop, lead, and oversee engaging programs for children and families as a vital part of the ministry of AUMC, relying on an evolving pool of volunteers for their implementation.  Strong planning and assessment skills are required to lead an ongoing critical evaluation of successful efforts to shape future programming. This is a full time position that includes Sunday morning responsibilities.

Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree preferably in Christian Education or a related field, with a minimum of two years experience in Children’s Ministry; Commitment to the church’s total ministry and mission; Proven organizational, planning, interpersonal, and communication skills; Basic computer skills (Word and Excel); Knowledge of multiple children’s curriculums including Frolic, Group, and Godly Play also preferred.

Click here for a detailed job description. Please submit resume with cover letter via email to Garry Bell at office@annandale-umc.org or by mail to AUMC, 6935 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA  22003.  

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

Saturday, June 15: Due date for missions commitments. AUMC is sponsoring an adult mission trip to Jonesville, VA, to help with the Appalachian Service Project (ASP) on Oct. 6-12. We will be doing relational ministry and home repairs. Typical ASP projects include roofing, drywall and insulation, wheelchair ramps, plumbing, electrical repairs, foundation repair, painting, and stair and floor repairs. Cost for the week: $450, including transportation, lodging, meals and all construction materials. Cost for a partial week (three days): $300. For more information, contact John Clarke at clarkejh1@gmail.com. Commitments are needed with a nonrefundable deposit of $225/full week or $150/partial week by June 15.

Sunday, June 16: Children’s Summer Sunday school begins.

Sunday, June 16, 12:15 p.m.: Charge Conference. AUMC members are invited to attend a called Charge Conference on Sunday, June 16, at 12:15 p.m. in the sanctuary. The meeting is to elect new officers for the church and will be led by District Superintendent Jeff Mickle.

Sunday, June 16, 7 p.m.: Annandale Book Lovers meet in the parlor. The book club will be reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. All are welcome.

Thursday, June 20 – Saturday, June 22: Virginia Annual Conference meets in Roanoke. This is the annual meeting of the regional body of our church and includes the ordination of new clergy members. Our lay delegates are Maribeth and Harry Day, and Betsy Clevenger. Among the duties of this year’s delegates is electing 22 Virginia delegates to next year’s General Conference in Minneapolis, May 5–15, 2020. This is also the time of year when churches get new pastors. As we’ve noted previously, Jason, Chenda and Peter are being reappointed for another year at AUMC.

Friday, June 21, 10:30 a.m.: Solidarity March. If you are interested in participating in the Solidarity March sponsored by the Organization of Iranian American Communities, there is a sign-up sheet in the atrium. The march begins in front of the U.S. State Department.

Monday, June 24 – Tuesday, June 25: Attend an AARP Smart Driver class. The two-day course for drivers 55 and over will be held 10 a.m.– 3 p.m. each day in the Media Center, with one hour off for lunch. Cost: AARP members – $15; nonmembers – $20. Completion of the class may save on your auto insurance. The class is full; thank you to all who signed up!

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.

Sunday, Oct. 6 – Saturday, Oct. 12: Mission trip to southwestern Virginia. AUMC is sponsoring an adult mission trip to Jonesville, VA, to help with the Appalachian Service Project (ASP) on Oct. 6-12. We will be doing relational ministry and home repairs. Typical ASP projects include roofing, drywall and insulation, wheelchair ramps, plumbing, electrical repairs, foundation repair, painting, and stair and floor repairs. Cost for the week: $450, including transportation, lodging, meals and all construction materials. Cost for a partial week (three days): $300. For more information, contact John Clarke at clarkejh1@gmail.com. Commitments are needed with a nonrefundable deposit of $225/full week or $150/partial week by June 15.

Previous Witness Newsletters

2019: January 15February 12, March 12April 16, May 14

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