November 12, 2020
Welcome to the weekly update of the Rappahannock River District of the UMC 
Virtual District Conference THIS SATURDAY via ZOOM
Our virtual District Conference will be Saturday, November 14 at 10:00am. This will be a much shortened version of our normal conference.

Zoom Details (password and meeting code have been sent to churches for them to share). Please contact your pastor for them or email Lynn at and include your name and church name.

Reports are now available on the district website for your review.

 Involuntary Departure from our Norms

Nine-months ago COVID-19 struck and sent us on an involuntary departure from our daily norms. Little did we know that the virus would still be around today, and yet, we have weathered the storm by the grace of God.

As of the writing of this article, there were 10,384,543 COVID-19 cases in the United States. Virginia reports 196, 506 cases and 3,741 deaths. Unlike other states, the death toll in Virginia is low. However, one death is one too many deaths, and as citizens, we must do something to safeguard lives.

As United Methodists, our participation in safeguarding lives have caused many involuntary departures from our norms. The timing of the virus has caused major life shifts, and the adjustments or adaptive changes are enormous. The impact of these adaptive orientations poses challenges and strains on our daily functions. Often, our priorities are shifted, and our normative human behaviors in reaction to the involuntary departures from our norms can be perceived as rebellious.

You are not a rebellious people; you are grieving and mourning the loss of your individuality, independence, and autonomy. As a result, you are reacting differently. So, take time to grieve, but do it with the hope that “this too shall pass” because grief is a normal human phenomenon that is expressed in different ways.

Recently, many of you expressed concerns and reacted rather strongly against the restrictions in the Technical Assistance Manual (TAM). We want you to know that your concerns and reactions are not judgment of your characters. Your reactions are evidenced by the involuntary departures from your way of worship and way of life.

Even though our decisions are unpopular, they are necessary because COVID-19 is a health matter. The Cabinet does not know everything, and we do not profess to know everything. Research informs our decisions, and we are grateful to the medical and professional staff that help to guide our evidence-based decisions. Moreover, the Bishop and Cabinet have moral and spiritual obligations to care for the members entrusted to us for oversight. Our Baptism Covenant calls us to remain loyal and faithful. It also calls for mutual responsibility. 

We cannot emphasize enough our appreciation for your innovative and creative work over the past nine months; let us not give up now. With your prayers, support, patience, and perseverance, we will make it. It is not easy, and we do not pretend to think so. What we do know is that you have the capacity and ability to dream about possibilities and opportunities and implement them. We, therefore, employ you to be a voice and advocate for patience, calm, and perseverance.

We realize that we are asking a lot of you. We want you to know that while we may not understand your feelings, we certainly empathize with you. Thanks for your usual prayers and support as we work together with the anticipation of overcoming this virus. The bigger picture is just beyond the horizon. With a long-term outlook, we will attain that goal, God being our helper.

Blessings to you!

Irvington UMC Fall Bazaar open by appointment only following social distancing guidelines. Please contact Audrey Lowery at (804) 438-6122 or
to schedule an appointment to shop. The bazaar gift shop will be open for sales on December 5 from 9-12.
Coping Through the Tinsel and Tears
The Loudoun County Area Agency on Aging is offering a virtual discussion next week focusing on grief and loss during the approaching holiday season. The discussion is open to all who are interested. Please share this information with your congregations. “Coping Through the Tinsel and Tears” will be held on Thursday, November 19 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM. The description of the discussion reads: “Dealing with the pandemic has changed how traditions and holidays are being celebrated; learn strategies on how to cope through the holiday season as many are experiencing grief-related losses during the COVID-19 pandemic or grieving the loss of a loved one during this season; a message of hope will be presented.”
Lee B. Sheaffer
November 17, 1932 – November 5, 2020

The Rev. Dr. Lee B. Sheaffer achieved resurrection on Thursday, November 5, 2020.

He served as a pastor in the EUB/United Methodist Church for over 50 years, serving many churches and as District Superintendent in three districts in the Virginia Conference. Dr. Sheaffer graduated from Shenandoah College in Dayton VA, Bridgewater College in Bridgewater VA, and The United Theological Seminary in Dayton Ohio, and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity from Shenandoah University in Winchester VA.

Dr. Sheaffer had the pleasure to serve as pastor to Mt Hebron EUB Church where he was awarded Rural Pastor of the year. After graduating from seminary he served at the Inwood/Pikeside EUB Charge, St. Marks United Methodist Church in Arlington VA, First United Methodist Church in Salem VA and Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria VA. Dr. Sheaffer also served as District Superintendent to the Winchester, Norfolk and Ashland Districts of the United Methodist Church, Virginia Conference. He served as Council Director for the Virginia Conference. He served as the executive director of the Association of Educational Institutions which serves all United Methodist-affiliated Colleges and Schools in Virginia.

Dr. Sheaffer had a long association with Shenandoah University. Dating back to his close association with former president Forrest Racey, he worked closely with many of the university presidents until his retirement in 2004. Dr. Sheaffer served on the Shenandoah University Board of Trustees for forty years from 1964 to 2004 and was granted emeritus trustee status.

Dr. Sheaffer is preceded to the afterlife by one son; Jonathan Bruce Sheaffer and survived by his loving wife; Sue Anderson Sheaffer, two children Lee B. Sheaffer Jr and Gina Sheaffer Thornton. He has five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He will be greatly missed by both family and the many congregations he served.

In lieu of flowers, it was Dr. Sheaffer’s request that donations be made to the Lee B & Sue A Sheaffer Scholarship fund at Shenandoah University
The Office of Advancement
Shenandoah University
1460 University Drive
Winchester VA 22601
UMFS December offering - new resources now available
United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) is the Virginia Conference designated offering for December. UMFS deeply appreciates the support of local churches in this ministry, helping high-risk children create a brighter future. We have created a variety of digital assets to support the offering this year, and help you share the work of the ministry with your congregation. You can find the following resources at short videos, an electronic bulletin insert, church offering scripts, and images for newsletters, emails, social media, and websites. Please contact Jill Gaynor ( or 804-254-9463) with any questions. Thank you for your support!
On Sunday evening of Thanksgiving weekend, Afton United Methodist Church will be playing all your favorite hymns and uplifting songs! 

You are cordially invited to join them at the church or streaming on their Facebook Page. Follow the instructions below to send in those requests and make your donation to their relief efforts.

Proceeds will benefit United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Through UMCOR, United Methodists extend loving care to people within the United States. We have all seen the devastation caused by recent hurricanes and wildfires. For those on the ground, it was life-threatening and life-changing. Please join Afton to help provide ongoing relief for those who are still struggling and suffering.

Olivia Morgenthaler has generously donated her beautiful Tokai baby grand piano to Afton in loving memory of her mother, Mary Priscilla Cockrell (pictured below), who was a long-time member of Afton. She was much-loved, and served faithfully as Afton’s choir director as well as Sunday School Teacher. In order to dedicate the piano and allow Afton members and friends to enjoy the beauty of the music, they are planning a musical evening of requests. Afton’s talented members and special friends have offered to play your favorite hymns and other special songs in honor or memory of a loved one. Some of the pianists offering their talents are: Jan Bean, Alf Braxton, Everett Hanson, Barbara Hays, Judy Jett, and Anne McMahan. The special music will also be available on Afton’s Facebook Page for viewing at any time. 

Please send your name and phone number via text to 804-724-0706 or via email to matthew.ewoldt@yahoo.comYou are kindly asked to submit all requests by November 18th. Someone will contact you to collect details of your request and donation.

So, mark your calendars for Sunday, November 29th, 6:00 PM and join them in person or streaming on Afton’s Facebook Page. What a wonderful, blessed way to glorify God at the end of Thanksgiving weekend! All donations for this worthy cause will be appreciated and will bless those affected by these disasters. Mother Nature’s devastation is always difficult, but especially so during this time of Covid-19. Afton is following all CDC guidelines and requires that all persons entering the sanctuary wear masks and practice social distancing.

Afton UMC is located at 5130 Hacks Neck Road in Ophelia, and invites all to join them at 11:00 AM on Sundays in person or on their Facebook Page.  
Heart Havens has several exciting events coming up soon that we wanted to share.

Holidays at Heart Havens: Heart Havens takes pride in providing a joyful holiday for all our residents. There are people in our homes who would not otherwise receive gifts.

Would you or your church or community group help us by sponsoring Christmas for a Heart Havens home with donations to buy gifts for the residents? Holiday donations allow staff closest to the resident to shop for items they know they will love, giving joy to our residents and staff. You can note "Christmas for Heart Havens" with your donation or contact us to learn more at

Target Circle: We are honored and excited to be a part of the Target Circle program. Now through December 31, 2020, vote for us through the Target Circle program to help determine how Target’s donation will be divided up. You can vote multiple times.

Giving Tuesday: Join us on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, a global day of unity and giving. Our goal for Giving Tuesday is to raise funds for urgent maintenance needs. You will find more details as the event nears on
Disciple II Classes Starting at Fredericksburg UMC on Tuesdays
Sign up by emailing , or visit our site and click on the rotator picture

Emmanuel UMC

Searching for a pianist for their 9:30 am service. The pianist would play hymns and lead the choir anthem. 

There is no choir practice during the week. 
All those who are interested in may contact us via and 804-514-1830 (David Henley) 
Ebenezer UMC, Stafford, VA, is seeking a part-time Assistant Property Manager to assist the Property Manager in maintaining the church building and grounds to provide a clean, safe, and welcoming environment that supports Ebenezer’s strategic vision. The selected individual will complete routine tasks on Sunday morning prior to worship, such as Café set up and breakdown, sidewalks and parking lot clear of debris, vacuuming, windows, trash removal, bathrooms, etc. as needed; ensure facilities are in good working order for worship services; perform basic repairs and maintenance to the various areas of the church building to include, but not limited to, plumbing, carpentry, painting, and lighting. For details, please visit the conference website jobs listing here


District Superintendent: Rev. Charles F. Ledlum-Bates, Ph.D.
DS Cell: 804.724.0202

2020 District Co-Lay Lay Leader:

2020 District Co-Lay Leader:

Lay Servant Director: Rev. Kevin Elmore
Heartwood Director: Rev. Gayle Porias
Crossroads Minister: Rev. Mark Roscoe
Youth Coordinator: TJ Oliver,
Office Manager: Lynn Manley
Cell 804.304.8566
Administrative Assistant Connie Devenport

Mailing Address: PO BOX 100, Ladysmith, VA 22501 Phone   804.448.8326
Office Location: Inside Wright’s Chapel UMC at 8063 Ladysmith Road, Ruther Glen, VA (do not use for mail)