March 27, 2019

Welcome to The Bridge, a weekly update of the Rappahannock River District of the UMC 

Hello Friends,

I was recently asked to share my reflections about the 2019 Called General Conference. In responding to the question, I realize that the 2019 General Conference is now a very controversial and mixed matter for United Methodists. Before attending the 2019 General Conference, I facilitated 3 presentations and after the General Conference have facilitated 7 additional public group conversations. My two goals in each one of those ten conversations were to present the actual facts and to try to get folks of varying perspectives to hear each other’s perspectives. The commitment to hearing one another is of critical importance to me for several reasons despite my personal thoughts and feelings regarding human sexuality issues.

We MUST Listen to One Another, then process spiritually what we are hearing from another of God’s children! 
My participating, listening, and observing the Called General Conference have brought to me these reflections, understandings, and thoughts:
  • The Global UMC must utilize a method of reaching reconciliation and agreement different from our UMC polity structure;
  • We began with six hours of prayer, but somehow it wasn’t enough;
  • We said things to one another that have resulted in deep hurt and pain that leaves many believing the UMC is the church of hate;
  • At the General Conference (as the only official voice of the UMC) we made decisions that upheld (and went further in language regarding the three things we came together to address; 1) the language of incompatibility re: Christianity and homosexuality, 2) prohibitions on clergy performing same gender weddings, and 3) prohibitions against United Methodist Churches’s holding same gender weddings on UMC church property;
  • Some continue to state that, we prayed for God’s will to be done and it was, so why are we now challenging the answer to the prayer?
  • Some are organizing to engage in a variety of reactions to the 2019 General Conference;
  • Some have decided that they cannot in good conscience remain in the UMC;

In serving as the Rappahannock River DS, I see, hear, and understand the variety of reactions to the 2019 General Conference. I also understand that my responsibility is to be the DS of all the 18,000+ United Methodists on the district I serve. I also hope our 70 pastors understand their responsibility to do the same in their respective congregations. It’s not that I don’t have personal opinions, however, I was not called to force others to live by my personal opinion and/or perspectives. There have always been Book of Discipline paragraphs and polity I don’t agree with, but I still love, respect, and even cherish our Global UMC, and I cherish a church of differing perspectives. I choose not to disavow parts of the BOD any more than I disavow parts of the Holy Bible.

I serve in a denomination that is still seeking to love All God’s People! I see the churches of the Rappahannock River District as places that continue to wrestle with the most perplexing social and cultural issues, not as places that claim perfection. I still serve in a denomination that is truly global and is now wrestling with what that means. The RRD has 74 churches and two mission ministries that are seeking to love in Christian Agape style. I take some comfort in RRD UMC members who are also LGBTQ and LGBTQ supporters who have for the moment decided that they will remain with their local church because it was not their local church that inflicted the pain, hurt, and expressions of hate. For the remainder of my days as the RRD DS, I encourage every pastor and lay person to demonstrate that  Christ’s love is our core Value.    I hope and pray that the pastors and churches of the RRD will keep Christ at the center and use Christ’s love to prayerfully wrestle with every challenge before making declarations. After all, I think it would be a tragedy to now begin declaring an exclusive openness (of one group) rather than fight the sin that has led to historic exclusionary behavior in our communities.

Friends, we don’t need the WCA, Reconciling Ministries, Good News, Confessing Movement or any other organizations to set an agenda for us or tell us what to do. We need more Christ focused salvation from sin and deep Christ centered relationship building beyond our personal perspectives. 
That’s my reflection resulting from the General Conference.

Pastor Ted
Post General Conference and Judicial Council Conversation with Bishop Weaver

Our District is joining with the Richmond District for a Bi-District time of conversation with Bishop Weaver.

Please save Saturday, May 11 from 2:00pm - 3:30pm at Wright's Chapel UMC in Ladysmith (8064 Ladysmith Road, Ruther Glen). This will replace the Chat & Chew 3.0 and will be for clergy and laity.
Thank You from Eastland UMC !
        On behalf of our Eastland UMC congregation, we would like to offer a belated “thank-you” to our sisters and brothers in Christ who responded to Eastland’s call upon the Builder’s Club. Your generous contributions helped us to bring the building of our new fellowship hall to completion.
       February 17 th was a special day in the life of Eastland UMC. We thank our District Superintendent, Rev. Ted Smith, for the inspiring and challenging message he delivered during our celebratory worship service and for his part in consecrating our new building for Christian use.
       Again, we thank everyone who helped to make this possible. We hope you will join us in support of the current call upon the Builder’s Club from Zion UMC and all future calls as well.
In Christ,  
Rev. Craig Muffley & Mr. Bill Todd, Building Committee Chair  
Builder's Club Call Continues for Zion UMC

The Rappahannock River District Builder’s Club has approved a call for Zion United Methodist Church. The request is for installation and foundation construction for a trailer (24’ x 36‘) for use in their food pantry ministry. 

Please see the letter from Zion Pastor Barry Blakley for additional information about this need.

Anyone can donate to this worthwhile project - simply send a check payable to: “Rappahannock River District" and mailing to Builder's Club, Rappahannock River District, PO BOX 100 Ladysmith, VA 22501 before April 30, 2019.  

All donations are tax deductible.
Easter Blessings Food Packing
Easter Blessings Food packing for Stafford County schools will take place April 10th beginning 9am at St. Matthias UMC, 426 Deacon Road, Fredericksburg. Please join us!
Lay Servant Training Offered
Lay Servant Training can help anyone who is interested in learning more in their pursuit of being a better leader and servant for Christ’s church. These classes can be used as tools in discerning God’s call for your personal walk and ministry. 
We are pleased to announce that Lay Servant Training will be offered on May 3 & 4 at Warsaw UMC.

Classes Offered include:

The Basic Course
Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts
Policy in the UM Church
Leading Worship
Intentional Discipleship Making

If you have any questions, please contact Lay Servant Ministries Director Dottie Garrison at 703.403.8953 or
We hope you can join us!

El Salvador
UMVIM District Mission Trip
August 3-10, 2019

We are excited to reconnect with our International Methodist Mission Partner—The Evangelical Methodist Church in El Salvador. In 2019, we’ll send a District team to continue our relationship-building, food distribution and VBS.

Applications are available by clicking the buttons below or contacting the District Office.

Trip Cost:  Expected to be in the $750-$850 range, including airfare. $300 scholarships will be available to persons under 30 years of age.

Application and Deposit Deadline:  April 30 th , 2019 - $250 deposit is due with your application. Make checks payable to “Rappahannock River District UMC”, memo: El Salvador Trip and mail to:
Rappahannock River District Office
PO Box 100
Ladysmith, VA 22501

Final payment will be due at the second team meeting – June 8. No refunds after the airline tickets are purchased.

Team Meetings are mandatory (or must be made up) – May 11 th , June 8 th , July 13 th (all second Saturdays) at a location to be determined, 9:30 am – 11:30 am

If you have any questions, please contact Co-Team Leaders Rev. Carol Seeley ( ) or Rev. Robin BeMiller (

Benefit - Betty Smith Gaskins Scholarship Fund
AFTON UMC – HAND-TOSSED PIZZA NIGHT Saturday, April 6 th   5-7 PM
The Betty Smith Gaskins Scholarship committee is having a pizza party and Mike DeGaetani will be hand-tossing the pizzas in the kitchen. Chef Lenny Gaskins and his crackerjack staff will be helping with all the fixin’s and the serving! We invite all to come on out to celebrate Spring with all you can eat HAND TOSSED PIZZA.  Delicious salads and tempting home-made desserts will accompany the pizza. 
Members of the Scholarship Committee are: Betty Appleby, chair, Allison Cockrell, Heather Conley, Fran Gaskins, Bonnie Miller, Ron Goheen, Joyce Jett, and our newest member, Chris Sauer.
Since the scholarship began in 2012, we have awarded eight scholarships in Betty’s memory to deserving second-year students from Northumberland County attending Rappahannock Community College. We hope you will continue to support this very worthy cause.
So, mark your calendars for Saturday, April 6th, 5:00 – 7:00 PM and bring your appetites and all your friends to Afton UMC, located at 5130 Hacks Neck Road in Ophelia.  If you love NY style pizza , you will not be disappointed! It will be our pleasure to serve you; in return, we ask for your donations.  SEE Y’ALL THERE!!


Irvington United Methodist Church
( Proceeds are for installing a handicap pad at the handicap entrance to the church)

Friday, April 12, 2019
4:30 P.M. TO 7:30 P.M.

  Educational Building 
26 King Carter Drive
Irvington, Va.

(Price includes Baked Spaghetti, Salad, Garlic Bread, Beverage, and Dessert)


For tickets, call Church Office (804)438-6800; Bonnie Pettey (804)438-5101;
Audrey Lowery at (804) 438-438-6122 or Pastor Jesse Blythe at 804-580-9723

Kits for Conference
While other types of kits have been received in the past, UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is currently focusing its efforts on  Cleaning Kits  (aka Flood Buckets),  Hygiene Kits , and  School Kits . Click buttons below for specific item listing and assembly instructions as well as our Kits for Conference logo for use to promote your efforts.

Collection of the kits will begin Wednesday, June 19 from 4—8 p.m. and continue Thursday, June 20 from 8 a.m.—7 p.m., and Friday, June 21 from 8 a.m.—5 p.m. Contact Kit Collection Coordinator, the Rev. Morris Fleischer (Newport-Mt. Olivet UMC/Roanoke District), at (540) 544-7183 or  with any questions. A volunteer sign-up page will be available soon!

If you prefer to make a financial contribution to enable UMCOR to purchase relief kits, you can contribute $75 for each cleaning kit; $12 for each health kit; and $11 for each school kit. Additionally, UMCOR asks for $1 per kit ($1.50 for cleaning buckets) to cover processing and shipping and $1 for toothpaste for each health kit. Please do NOT bring checks to Annual Conference. All checks (for processing and shipping, for toothpaste, and in lieu of providing kits) should be made payable to “Virginia Conference UMC,” earmarked for “kits” and mailed to Treasurer, Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA, 23058 any time prior to Annual Conference and no later than August 31. (If you don't see all 3 buttons, your browser has shortened the email - click "see entire message" at the bottom of your screen).
Emmanuel UMC at Morattico is seeking a pianist/choir director. For more information, please contact
Easter Sunrise Service will be held on Sunday, April 21 at 6:30am at the Merchants Square Pavilion in the Spotsylvania Courthouse area. Please contact Carolyn at 540.538.0034 for more information.
Upcoming Meetings

April 1 Connectional Ministries, Wright's Chapel UMC
April 5 - 7 District Youth Retreat
April 8 Board of Missions, Tab UMC
April 9 Ordained Ministry, District Office
April 11 Church Location & Building, Wright's Chapel UMC


District Superintendent: Rev. Dr. Theodore Smith
DS Email: Cell: 540.419.5131

2019 District Co-Lay Lay Leader:

2019 District Co-Lay Leader:

District Lay Servant Ministry Director  Dottie Garrison
Heartwood Director: Rev. Gayle Porias
Crossroads Minister: Rev. Mark Roscoe

District Secretary: Lynn Manley
Cell: 804.304.8566

Mailing Address: PO BOX 100, Ladysmith, VA 22501 Phone   804.448.8326     FAX        804.448.8328 
Office Location: Inside Wright’s Chapel UMC at 8063 Ladysmith Road, Ruther Glen, VA (do not use for mail)