Valley Ridge District

Virginia Conference

United Methodist Church


September 15, 2023

At our best, we are the spirit-filled, resilient, connected, missional, faithful, diverse, deeply rooted, committed, disciple-making, Jesus-seeking, generous, justice-seeking, world-changing people of God called The United Methodist Church.

Valley Ridge District Day, November 18, 2023

Beginning at 9:30 AM at First UMC, 125 W. Main Street in Salem, the Valley Ridge District will hold a morning of charge conferences, district conference, learning, and fellowship.

United as One in Mission will be our theme for the day. We will be collecting socks, gloves, and hand warmers. Begin collecting now and bring your church's donations on November 18. They will bless the ministries at Embrace, a Valley Ridge District mission.

District United Women in Faith (UWF) Annual Meeting

The Valley Ridge UWF (formerly United Methodist Women) invites you to their Annual Meeting on Saturday, October 14 at 10 AM at St. Mark's UMC, 19 Cedar Ridge Drive in Daleville. Everyone is welcome. We will celebrate the work of our units, recognize our reading program participants, remember our saints with a candle-burning litany, hear from guest speakers, and enjoy refreshments and connection.

932 Fir Street

Waynesboro, VA 22939

Saturday, October 7 from 8 AM -noon: Harvest-to-Holiday Farm & Fair-Trade Market. In addition to showcasing fall-themed products and seasonal items, vendors are encouraged to bring samples of holiday decor and items and take orders for the upcoming gift-giving season. Embrace will also offer products from our Good Seed line, including hand-crafted elderberry syrup, lavender balm, and scented bath salts. 

Saturday, November 4: Kick-Off to Christmas Community Celebration

8 AM- noon: Holiday Market. This market is part of a day-long holiday celebration. In addition to harvest and Thanksgiving-themed items, ready-to-purchase Christmas decor and gift items will be available and orders taken for personalized items. 

6 PM-9 PM: Holiday Village Party. Congregations, clubs, classrooms, and civic organizations are invited to "adopt" and decorate a themed Christmas tree for our decorating competition and silent auction. This event will feature refreshments, and guests are invited to wear their favorite tacky Christmas sweater as they mingle and vote for their favorite tree with their spare change. Participants can also make their own tacky sweaters. Photos of sweaters worn and/or made will be placed on the Embrace website for community voting the following week. Prizes will be awarded.

Saturday, December 2:10 AM - 1 PM: Brunch with Santa and Family Holiday Workshop Share brunch with Santa, join our team of elves in making gifts and holiday decorations, and have a family portrait made. 

For vendor rates or more information, email [email protected].

Milestones Celebrated

First UMC in Salem will celebrate their 220th Anniversary with one service on Sunday, September 24 at 10:30 AM. Bishop Sue Shupert-Johnson will be the guest preacher. A reception will follow the worship service.

183rd Homecoming will be celebrated at the Collierstown UMC located at 3998 Collierstown Rd, Lexington, on Saturday, October 7 at 6 PM with refreshments and special music by the Ladies of Mercy and continue on Sunday, October 8 with 11 AM worship led by Rev. Doug Mitchell. Lunch will follow.

Christ UMC in Staunton will celebrate their 50th Anniversary on Sunday, October 15 at the 10 AM service followed by food and fellowship. Rev. Don Carlton will speak.

edges at Blacksburg UMC in partnership with the

Virginia Conference invites you to...

the work of the people - rethinking church culture, Blacksburg UMC - edges campus, 706 hardy avenue, Blacksburg. November 3-4. the work of the people - rethinking church culture is a workshop designed to give you and your church team space to ask tough questions like: what's your why? who is missing in your community? and what are our possibilities? then you and your team will work through them, recognizing new opportunities that will enable you to reach your next best step as a faith community. Maximum space of church registrations is set at 15 for this workshop so register quickly at this link:

A Book Recommendation from Rev. Dr. Dale White, District Director of Congregational Excellence

I've just completed reading Kay Kotan and Blake Bradford's new book "Mission Possible for the Small Church." Before you stop reading this book summary, thinking this book is just for churches considering Simplified Accountable Structure (SAS), I found nuggets for every pastor and church leader in this quick-read 156-page book with addendum resources. I encourage you to add this to your reading list. Since many of our Valley Ridge District churches fit the parameter of "small church" I highly recommend it to pastors and laity across this district. There is excellent information packed into this concise book. Some of the lessons learned are:


1. 70% of all congregations in America have memberships of less than 100 people and fit into the small church category.

2. Small churches are not identical and are found in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Differences in location impact the number of signature ministries and the size and scope of the ministry area.

3. Small rural churches in small towns have benefits over larger churches:

   a. Small rural churches are often anchor institutions with a rootedness that makes them an inseparable part of the fabric of a community's life.

   b. Small rural churches may be the only institution the community has for accessible social services or be the building block for those services while other health institutions or schools have closed.

4. Small churches can have a significant impact in the community because they have one or two well-known signature ministries, and they do them well.


1. Small churches have a smaller pool of leaders. Streamlining multiple committees into one Leadership Board tightens the governance structure and helps the leadership to focus on mission and less on management. Roles among even a few leaders are more clearly defined.

2. Small churches moving to SAS unleash laity from committees to make disciples of Jesus.

3. Our world works at a much quicker pace today, and we are living in a post-Christendom culture that won't wait for the church to catch up. Leaders are looking to work within a governance structure that has a real and greater impact more quickly and routinely.

4. SAS meeting agenda is people-focused, not management-focused. Leadership Board meetings focus on reaching new people for Christ, and ministry and mission goals.

F. Douglas Powe from the Lewis Center at Wesley summarizes it with his review: "If you are a small congregation, this book is a game changer." SAS or not, it truly is worth the read!

Valley Ridge District Youth Groups are invited to. . .

Upcoming Events

Yard Sale and Hot Dog Lunch at Central UMC - Salem, 428 S. College Ave. Salem on September 16, 2023, from 8 AM to 2 PM. The United Women in Faith are holding their annual yard sale; all proceeds go back to local missions in the Roanoke Valley.

Beginning September 24 the Pumpkin Patch will be open at South Roanoke UMC, 2330 Jefferson Street in Roanoke. You can purchase your seasonal pumpkins. All proceeds go to missions.

2023 Walk to End Alzheimer's in Greater Augusta County will take place on September 30 at Mary Baldwin University - Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences in Fishersville. Join other churches in your community and raise awareness and funds for research. CLICK HERE for more information.

Saturday, October 7, 9 AM - 2 PM the Craft Group of Fishersville UMC, 1600 Jefferson Hwy in Fishersville invites you to their Craft Fair featuring Handmake Craft and Homemade BBQ and sides.

Saturday, October 7, from 3:00-5:00 pm- St. John's UMC, 1716 N. Augusta St., Staunton, will host a "Praise the Lord" concert. It features the gospel quartet - Streets of Gold, handbells by Diane Grant, and pianist Deborah Reed. Dessert will be served. A free-will offering will be taken. Contact the church at 540-886-1500 with any questions.

Newport-Mount Olivet UMC will host a Blessing of the Animals on The Village Green at 311 Blue Grass Trial, Newport, from 9 AM—11 AM on Saturday, October 7. Bring your pet(s) for a special blessing and treat that morning. Please have all pets on a leash or in a crate. All are welcome!

The Roanoke CROP Hunger Walk takes place on October 8 at 2:00 PMThere is energy when we walk together as a group. We will gather at First Evangelical Presbyterian Church and walk a 4-mile loop.  The total goal for 2023 is $25,000. Twenty-five percent of the funds will be contributed locally to Feeding America Southwest Virginia - Community Solutions Center to address hunger issues in the Roanoke region. CLICK HERE to set up your church’s team or contact Mary Beth Layman, our UM representative at:  [email protected] or (540) 655-3563.

St. James United Women in Faith invites you to their program featuring a presentation by Ronda Wimmer and Jim Pearman from Alta Mons, a camp ministry of the Valley Ridge District on Tuesday, October 17 at 2 PM. St. James UMC is located at 3777 Churchville Ave, Churchville. Please RSVP to Linda White at [email protected] or 910-546-3391 by October 10. All are welcome.

The Virginia Conference Treasurer's Office provides a monthly newsletter, Dollar and Sense, to support our local churches' work.

The September issue shares the timeline of 2024 Apportionment distribution, information about church audits and World Communion Sunday.

Find Dollars and Sense HERE

Valley Ridge District churches and ministry partners have several job openings.

Find them on our website HERE. To remove a out- of-date listing or to post a new opening please contact [email protected]

Resident Bishop - Sue Haupert-Johnson

District Superintendent

Rev. J. Douglas Forrester

District Lay Leader

Larry Dickenson

Fishersville Office

26 Orr Drive

Fishersville, VA 22939

(540) 932-1055

Roanoke Office

402 Second Street, SW

Roanoke, VA 24011

(540) 989-3335

Administrative Assistant

Donna Desper

Director of Communications and Programming

Cynthia Martin


David Mawyer

Director of Congregational Excellence

Rev. Dr. Dale White

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