Welcome to The York River District of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, one of 16 districts in the Virginia Conference. It stretches from Mathews to Isle of Wight counties. The District consists of 66 churches, grouped in 58 charges, and 1 Wesley Foundation. There are 59 pastors serving in the District, including Associate pastors and the pastor serving at the Wesley Foundation.
The administrative office is located in the Towne Bank building on Route 17 just south of Denbigh Boulevard. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm. We ask that you call ahead to make certain we are in the office. If you are not vaccinated against the coronavirus, visitors are asked to wear appropriate face coverings when coming to the office. Making more and better disciples for Jesus.
August 2, 2021
In his 1884 Memorial Day address, the late American jurist, the Honorable Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., said, “We pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for our country in return.” In his acceptance speech at the 1936 Democratic National Convention, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "To some generations, much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."
In his first inaugural address, President Roosevelt said, “In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.”
In his inaugural address in 1921, President Warren G. Harding said, “My Countrymen: When one surveys the world about him after the great storm, noting the marks of destruction and yet rejoicing in the ruggedness of the things which withstood it, if (s)he is an American (s)he breathes the clarified atmosphere with a strange mingling of regret and new hope. ... Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much from the government and at the same time do too little for it.”
In his inaugural address in 1961, President John F. Kennedy reechoed, or we should say he elegantly rephrased what Holmes, Jr., Roosevelt, and Harding had said many years ago: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” He addressed the difference in the world at the time. The question is, what is different in the world today? Our response is the world is rapidly changing. But one thing that has not changed is the call to citizenship.
Science and technology, education, and health care are a few ways the world is changing. The entire fabric of life is changing. The world looks different now at faith, religion, theology, and family. And we dare say that the Coronavirus has and will change the world just like 9/11 or the 2008 financial crisis (Politico, 2020). The truth is, the last two events reshaped this nation. Contritely, we are still living through and fighting the pandemic. Therefore, we must rely on God, science, and the experts, to guide us. Sadly, however, we seem to be divided on the issue of whether to wear masks or not to wear masks. Despite our diverse views, we are one people, and we should strive to protect each other.
In the middle of President Kennedy’s speech, he said, “Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors.” He further said, “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.” We believe that the President’s call was a call to citizenship. We believe that we can do anything if we collectively put our minds to it, with God’s help. But first, we must seek “new alliances for progress.” This alliance calls the nation together and challenges every American and resident to contribute in some way to the public good through civic action. It summons each of us to consider how we can utilize our citizenship for the greater good of the nation. Based on the health crisis that we are dealing with today, what civic action is more prudent than to help “… invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors.”
Citizenship requires participation. It requires allegiance and in turn, the individual is entitled to protection, recognition, and respect of their civil, political, and social rights. Citizenship involves relationship, partnership, alliance, corporation, affiliation, connection, participation, ownership, and agency. It is a moral responsibility to the community and nation.
For example, as good citizens, we will not be traveling to Liberia as planned. However, we will still observe our Renewal Leave at home. The plan was to conduct some trauma training and teach at the United Methodist Theological Seminary in Liberia. We thought it to be negligent on our part to travel to a country where the people are dying just to justify a means. We believe that we will be doing more harm if we went. The delta variant has increased exponentially in Liberia. People are dying. The hospitals and mortuaries are filled with bodies. They do not have the luxury of modern medical facilities that we have in the United States. The lack of COVID vaccine, respirators, and oxygen, have further complicated the problem, and those are reasons why we are not traveling because we empathize with the conditions of others.
Many people are vaccinated but many others are not. Citizenship requires us to be considerate of others who are not vaccinated. In a recent clinical review article, it was determined that barring bedside visitors from ICU deprives patients of the best care (STAT). But how can we visit when we are not vaccinated? We will be exposing our loved ones to other medical complications. The study further showed that bedside visitors offer not only comfort but true clinical value. They are experts on their loved ones. They can provide important details and offer subtle changes in behavior that may precede adverse medical complications.
The study showed that visitors can calm agitated patients with a touch of the hand and reassure them with a word. They can fluff pillows, fetch ice, clip fingernails, brush hair, and bring in favorite foods that might convince a patient to eat for the first time in a long time. But how is any of the above opportunities remotely possible when many people are refusing to “… invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors.”
We pray that each of us will be the best citizen we can be. Let us remember that sometimes in life, it is more about others than it is about ourselves. Let us support our local and national leaders. The marks of destruction of COVID-19 are evidenced by how our way of life has changed. The destiny of our church and nation is in your hands. With your prayers and support of our shared ministry as allies, we will persevere through these challenging times. We therefore invite you to consider what it means for you to be a citizen during this pandemic.
Blessings to you!