Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Everywhere I go, I am asked by laity and clergy alike “What is it like having two districts?” or more commonly, “How are you handling two districts?” or occasionally “So are you like crazy or something?”
OK, I have never heard the third question, at least not yet, or at least not out loud.
When I had just become a district superintendent in 2020, people would ask me what it was like, especially trying to be a new D.S. during COVID. Back then, my standard response was “It probably helps that I have nothing to compare it to.” As far as my experience goes, COVID, schism, and disaffiliations have always been part of the job. I really do not have anything to compare it to.
All things considered, when I receive the questions about making it all work, my answer is always the same: I have the very best staff and district leadership making it happen. I have wonderful clergy and laity to superintend, located in wonderful churches endeavoring to make Christ’s kingdom known in tangible ways in their communities and beyond.
Much more often than not, my people give and live and serve and love in ways that reveal an earnest desire to be kingdom people.
This year, at Annual Conference in Hampton, the body voted to pass the District Initiative, which set the number of districts in our conference at eight. For us, that means that the territories heretofore covered by the Roanoke and Staunton Districts are now one. We are now the Valley Ridge District.
And now, when people ask me what is it like superintending a new, larger district, my response is both “It probably helps that I have nothing to compare it to,” and “With the staff, district leadership, churches, clergy, and laity that I have, the sky is the limit. Nothing is impossible with God.”
The new Valley Ridge District will maintain two offices, just as we have for the last year. What was once called the Staunton district office will now be the Valley Ridge North Area office, and what was once called the Roanoke District office will now be known as the Valley Ridge South Area office. We will work together just as we have done for the last nine months.
We are in the process of nominating for a new, streamlined leadership structure and we will be creating a new budget for the new district to be approved by the District Stewards later this summer. We will do all of this with our eyes set upon answering the question, “How can we best partner with local churches, missions, and campus ministries in our areas?”
There are more questions to ask that I hope will become “frequently asked question,” although I hope it will be asked by me, our staff, our leadership, and you as together we move forward into God’s future. That question is “Will you join me?” Will you join me in committing anew to your church, your pastor, your congregation, your community and your mission? Will you join me in committing anew to the disciplines of prayer, fasting, worship, and the study of scripture? Will you join me in “spreading scriptural holiness through these lands?” Will you join me in serving as the hands and feet of Christ in your churches? Will you be a voice for the voiceless? Will you give hope to the hopeless, and healing to the broken?
Nothing is impossible with God, and God is with us, doing a new thing. Can we perceive it?
Grace and peace, Doug