The United Methodist Church
Virginia Conference

Bi-District Initiative

District Initiative Affirmed at Annual Conference 2022

At Annual Conference 2022 in June a motion was passed to restructure the Virginia Conference from 16 district into 8 districts.  As of July 1, 2022 the Valley Ridge District will be created and during the next six months work will continue to implement the plan created by the Roanoke/Staunton DI Team.  A called District Conference has been scheduled for Sunday, June 10 at 4 PM by Zoom for the purpose of incorporating the new district and other organizational matters.

District Initiative Listening Sessions Added in 2022

At Annual Conference 2022 in June a motion will be made to restructure the Virginia Conference from 16 district into 8 districts.  We invite you to a time of conversation to hear WHY this motion is being considered and HOW the Ronaoke and Staunton Districs are preparing for this anticipated change.  We welcome your questions and concerns.  Those can be shared in advance during registrations. 

  • Thursday, March 17 at 7 PM by Zoom 
  • Wednesday, April 6 at 7 PM by Zoom

CLICK HERE to register for either session.  Your registration will be acknowledged and the Zoom link share by email.  For assistance with registration contact your District Office.

District Initiative Plan Announced by Bishop and Appointive Cabinet

Beginning October 1, each of the eight District Superintendents will convene a workgroup from their districts to integrate the two districts into one. This planning will be a collaborative effort of the Cabinet and District Leadership. It will be anchored in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, as we equip disciples who are life-long learners who influence others to serve. By centering this critical work at the district level, it will engage people who are experts on the geography, ministries, and missional needs of their communities. CLICK HERE to read the entire announcement.At Annual Conference 2022 in June a motion will be made to restructure the Virginia Conference from 16 district into 8 districts

Roanoke/Staunton District Initiative Team

Roanoke/Staunton District Superintendent, Rev. Doug Forrester, convened a workgroup with leaders from each district to integrate the two districts into something new.  This District Initiative Team (DIT) met regularly and is collaborated on a new structure, centered on supporting clergy and laity while understanding the geography, ministries, and missional needs of our communities and our core mission to make disciples for Christ.  CLICK HERE to view the 2021 DIT Team members. We give thanks for their work laying the foundation of this new structure.

Minutes of the 2021 District Initiative Team meeting are available:

October 21, 2021
October 26, 2021
November 1, 2021
November 7, 2021

An Update on the Roanoke/Staunton District Initiative Team (March 2022)

How We Got Here

In September 2021 Bishop Lewis and the Virginia Conference cabinet unveiled the District Initiative, which sets the goal of creating eight new districts out of the existing sixteen districts. As a result, the Roanoke-Staunton District Initiative Team was formed. Since then, we have had the following:

  • One Initial Stakeholders' Meeting
  • Five Team Meetings
  • Three District Structure Subcommittee Meetings
  • Two Laity Town Halls
  • Two Clergy Town Halls
  • One presentation to our team from a former DS whose Conference redistricted
  • Two coaching sessions between Doug Forrester and Dr. Nancy Rankin on redistricting
  • Beginning exploration of relocating the Roanoke District office to a local church

In addition to this, Doug has presented our work so far to the rest of the Cabinet and has heard presentations from the rest of the superintendents on the work of their District Initiative teams.

Who We Are

  • N.L. Bishop (Roanoke District Common Table Chair)
  • Jim Pearman (Roanoke District Treasurer)
  • Rev. Won Un (Pastor, Central UMC, Staunton District)
  • Cindy Martin (Admin and Bookkeeper, Roanoke District)
  • Donna Desper (Admin, Staunton District)
  • Larry Creamer (Lay Leader and Leadership Team Chair, Staunton District)
  • Rev. Dr. Dale White (Director of Congregational Excellence, Staunton District)
  • Debbie Brown (Leadership Team Chair, Roanoke District)
  • Rev. Joe Cailles (Pastor, Trinity UMC and DCOM Chair, Staunton District)
  • Rev. Robert Stutes (Pastor, Mt. Pleasant UMC, Roanoke District, At-Large)
  • Rev. Lauren Lobenhofer (Pastor, Cave Spring UMC, At-Large)
  • Rev. Jenelle Watson (At Large Staunton)
  • Rev. Bill Bearden (At Large Staunton)

The 2022 team has begun to refine the work done in 2021. May we all be in prayer for this workgroup and ask for God's guidance and wisdom to be with them.

Some Things We Know

The work of the Rev. Dr. Dale White as the Director of Congregational Excellence for the Staunton District has been, in many ways, a successful "beta test" of deploying an effective congregational developer into a district while the DS is serving two districts. Dale has been able to lead significant strategic planning work with congregations ranging in size from the smaller to the larger while being "eyes and ears" for the DS.

Both districts love their staff and appreciate the decades of institutional knowledge represented in these persons.

There is wisdom in maintaining offices in both the northern and southern regions of this new, nearly 5,000 square mile Valley Ridge District.

What is in Process

DS Doug Forrester has enlisted the consulting of Kay Kotan and Blake Bradford, co-authors of Mission Possible: A Simple Structure for Missional Effectiveness to explore how a pure SAS (Simplified Accountable Structure) model could operate at the district level. Doug is meeting with Kay and Blake for the first time on January 7, 2022 to begin the process of evaluating the new district structure developed by the first Roanoke-Staunton District Initiative team, a structure loosely based on SAS. Kay has also agreed to work with our team.

Next Steps

Throughout its time together, the original District Initiative Team worked diligently to articulate a clear "why" for district realignment, as well as address concerns about it. This work should continue for our context as we hone in on ways in which we can make this new district structure work for missional effectiveness the churches on the current Roanoke and Staunton Districts. 

We will need to examine any financial implications of the creation of this new district, including the possible relocation of the Roanoke District office.

On Monday, November 1, 2021, all Roanoke and Staunton District Clergy and Local Church Lay Leaders were invited to participate in the first Listening Posts. 

Additional Listening Sessions have been added.  Roanoke and Staunton District Clergy, Local Church Leadership and members of the Annual Conference 2022 delegation from the two districts are invited to Zoom gatherings on March 17 or April 6 at 7:00 PM.  Register for either session to receive the Zoom link HERE.

Other Resources

Job Description of Staunton District Director of Congregational Excellence