Introducing our new President!

Introducing our new President!


Effective March 30, 2019, Rev. Gayle Thornberry is the President of the Wesleyan Covenant Association of Virginia We wanted to take this opportunity to have her introduce herself and tell you a little more about her as well.

A Note From Gayle:

What an honor to be the newly elected President of the regional chapter of the Wesleyan Covenant Association here in Virginia as of March 30, 2019.  It is my honor and privilege to help lead the way into a bright future.  Seasons of great change require faithful prayer and I appreciate you joining with me in focused prayer each morning at 8:30am, from wherever you are. Please feel free to email me if you have questions or concerns.


Gayle Thornberry came to the Virginia Annual Conference by way of the Northwest Texas Annual Conference in 2004 where she was the 2003 Denman Award for Evangelism recipient for clergy.  While in Texas, she served on the NWTX Annual Conference Insurance Commission.  After moving to Virginia, she was the President for the Associate Member & Local Pastor Fellowship, served on the Board of Ordained Ministry for 5 years, served on the Small Church Taskforce, and participated in the New Church Leadership Academy, served on the Church Development and Revitalization Committee, among others.  On the District level she has served as the District Chaplain, Chair of the Spiritual Formation Committee, was the Missions Chair; heading up District mission trips, was a mentor to several entering the clergy process, served on the DCOM, among serving in other ways on the District.

She has a B.S. degree in education and art from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas and a Masters of Divinity from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union in Richmond, VA. In 2017, she was ordained Elder in the VA Conference.  Prior to receiving her Masters of Divinity, she completed 6 years of Course of Study as a local pastor from Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C.

She is the Vice President of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Virginia Annual Conference.  She has been the keynote speaker at many women’s events in several states and was the founder and President of Hepzibah Word and Worship, Inc.

She married her sweetheart, Wes Thornberry, in 2004. They share 4 children, 7 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.  They reside in Grottoes, VA where she pastors the Annex-Crimora Charge in the Harrisonburg District.  They enjoy “glamping” in their Motorhome and seeing all the states in the Union.

Prayers needed for our Bishop

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeupDuring this morning’s live stream about the recent General Conference, Bishop Lewis shared the news that she is having to take a six months medical leave. She is facing at least two more surgeries, including one this Thursday. This will all be here in Virginia this time. An interim Bishop will be appointed to the VA Conference while she is on Medical Leave.

We are in prayer for Bishop Lewis and ask you to also hold her in prayer for healing and strength over the next several months.

Also, be in prayer for the selection of our interim Bishop, and begin now to ask God to anoint whoever is selected with wisdom to guide and lead our Virginia Conference while Bishop Lewis is on Leave.

Final General Conference Update-Feb. 26, 2019

An Update for the events of Feb. 26 at General Conference from Rev. Bob Cooper, a Virginia Conference Reserve Delegate to the Conference and the Virginia Wesleyan Covenant Association President

The final night in St. Louis,

Today was a very difficult day. There was a great deal of pain and anxiety that was felt by everyone. Some difficult choices were before the General Conference.

So, what happened?

The One Church Plan was presented as the minority report before the General Conference. There was a motion made to substitute the Traditional Plan legislation with the One Church Plan legislation. The General Conference did not approve the motion 54.56%-45.44%.

The General Conference then took up legislation regarding the Traditional Plan. After much passionate debate, the General Conference approved the Traditional Plan 53.28%-46.72%.

What this means is that the current language in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality is unchanged. It also means there will be some stronger measures to hold bishops and denominational leaders accountable who refuse to follow the Book of Discipline.

In the last few minutes of General Conference, a plan for disaffiliation was approved. This means a “gracious exit” would be provided for churches and/or clergy who desire to leave the The United Methodist Church if they could not accept the outcome of General Conference.

It also important to know that several pieces of the Traditional Plan legislation and the plan for disaffiliation were deemed unconstitutional prior to the General Conference vote. Measures were taken to perfect these two pieces of legislation, but they will be reviewed by the Judicial Council.

As you can imagine, there were mixed reactions to the days events. There were multiple protests but I also witnessed many acts of kindness and compassion.

It was a day when that my heart was heavy. It was very difficult to see so many in pain. The brokenness of our church was apparent.

This Sunday I’ll be speaking more about General Conference.

Please continue to be in prayer for our church.

General Conference Update for Monday, Feb. 25

An Update for the events of Feb. 25 at General Conference from Rev. Bob Cooper, a Virginia Conference Reserve Delegate to the Conference and the Virginia Wesleyan Covenant Association President

Hello from chilly Missouri,

Today was a day of committee work. There were several pieces of legislation that were addressed. Here’s a round up of today’s work:

  1. The Legislative Committee approved the Traditionalist Plan by 56.22% to 43.78%

2.   The Legislative Committee did not approve the One Church Plan 53.04%-46-96%

3.   The Connectional Conference Plan and the Simple Plan did not receive the support of the Legislative Committee.

4. Two plans for disaffiliation were approved. This has to do with churches who may desire to leave the denomination regardless of the outcome of General Conference.

So, what does this mean?

The Traditional Plan will come before the plenary session of the General Conference tomorrow. There are some constitutional amendments the Judicial Council is considering that could impact the Traditional Plan. We should know something in the morning.

While the One Church Plan was not approved, it can still be presented as a “minority report.” This means it can come before the plenary session of General Conference tomorrow providing it gets enough support.

It’s possible both disaffiliation plans could be merged into one plan.

As you can imagine, today was a day of highs and lows. Strong emotions surround all of these issues. Throughout all of this, I have felt your love and support.

Tomorrow is the final day of General Conference. Please continue to be in prayer.

General Conference Update for Feb. 24, 2019

An Update for the events of Feb. 24 at General Conference from Rev. Bob Cooper, a Virginia Conference Reserve Delegate to the Conference and the Virginia Wesleyan Covenant Association President

Good evening from St. Louis,

The first day of the Called General Conference began with a wonderful worship service. It reflected the global nature of The United Methodist Church as we heard different languages used to express the glory of God.

The rest of the morning was spent with some house-keeping matters to organize our proceedings of the day. As the afternoon got underway, our first matter was to vote on pieces of legislation that would be considered “high priority.” There were multiple pieces that were considered. These are the top results:

The results I will focus on are where the two of the three plans lined up. The Traditional Plan came in with 459 votes (55.57%) and the One Church Plan came in with 403 votes (48.67%).

What this means is that the Traditional Plan will be the first plan to be considered by the General Conference on Monday morning. Please keep in mind the One Church Plan or another plan may also be considered, depending on the decision of the General Conference.

Please continue to pray

Bob Cooper

GC Update Feb. 23, 2019

Hello from St Louis!

The first day of the Called General Conference is complete. The day was spent in worship, prayer, and fasting. Holy Communion was celebrated at the conclusion of the day.

There were a few protests outside of the facility, but overall things went smoothly. Tomorrow we will be getting into some of the legislative matters. Please see upcoming schedule for the remainder of General Conference:

General Conference Links of Interest

Here are some links you might find of interest over the next few days during the UMC General Conference

The Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) contains the agenda, rules, delegate listings, petitions, reports from the general agencies/commissions and study committees, information for delegates, and codes of conduct for the 2019 General Conference.
The Daily Christian Advocate (DCA) is produced daily during the General Conference sessions, and contains news and features as well as the verbatim transcript of the conference proceedings and calendar items.
It can be read online here

The General Conference will be live streamed and can be viewed by clicking here

The WCA will have a video recap each morning at 8am CT (9am ET). That can be viewed on their FB page by clicking here

The UMC Official GC page with links to official latest news and other items of interest can be found by clicking here

“Let your gentleness be known to everyone”

Like so many of you, my mind has been dwelling on the upcoming General Conference. There is a great deal of commentary and conjecture as to what may or may not happen and its impact on The United Methodist Church. There’s a lot being said as to what that future could look like. Accusations are flying back and forth, rumors abound, and I find myself becoming anxious.

I find that the anxiety I’m feeling comes because I’m not listening as closely as I should to others and to the Holy Spirit. It takes great effort to listen these days. There’s a lot being said but very little being heard. I find that I need to center myself and find the solid ground in the midst of all the noise.

Recently Philippians 4:4-7 has been coming to mind:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul reminds us to rejoice and to practice gentleness. We are told the Lord is near and to not worry. How is this possible? Because our hearts and minds are being guarded by a peace that is greater than we can understand. I find all this encouraging and convicting, especially the part about being gentle with one another.

It’s not easy to be gentle. In fact, it’s easier to go in the other direction. We see this hurtful pattern modeled in how we speak to each other and how we disagree with one another. This is especially true with social media.

So why is it important to practice gentleness?

In a recent Facebook post, Rev. Shane Bishop, a United Methodist pastor from Fairview Heights, IL, shared some interesting thoughts on gentleness:

“To be gentle means you could choose to do harm but you choose not to do so.  A mouse is meek, not gentle.  My daughter’s pit bull is gentle.  Gentleness comes from a position of strength, not weakness.

When we choose not to return evil for evil, hate for hate and insult for insult, we choose a life of gentleness.  When we choose not to throw gasoline on a fiery thread, we choose gentleness. When we are mature enough to realize people of sound mind, good intelligence and deep faith may disagree with us on important things, we choose a life of gentleness.

By choosing gentleness, we honor God, respect people and preserve our Christian witness.

There is nothing wrong, and a lot right, with standing for important things.  Just do so with gentleness.”

To live a Spirit-filled life is to walk a path of gentleness. It means to intentionally practice a way of life which is in contrast with our culture. We choose not to injure or tear down. We choose to love and respect others, especially those with whom we may disagree.

As General Conference approaches, let us seek to be gentle with one another.

Statement on Mission Charlottesville

We have become aware that erroneous information is being distributed asserting that the Wesleyan Covenant Association and/or the Virginia WCA are planting and/or providing financing for the planting of a new church in Charlottesville, Va.  Neither of these statements is true.  On December 2, Mission Charlottesville held its first service. The leadership of Mission Charlottesville has completed the process for the church to be a member of the Wesleyan Covenant Association.  Membership in the Wesleyan Covenant Association is open to any church that is willing to affirm the WCA’s statement of biblical authority, statement of beliefs and statement of moral principles.  Churches do not have to be United Methodist to be members of the WCA.  Neither the WCA nor the Virginia WCA has had any role in the planting of Mission Charlottesville.  Neither the WCA nor the Virginia WCA has provided any financial resources to Mission Charlottesville in connection with its activities or launch as a church.

Keith Boyette, President, Wesleyan Covenant Association
Bob Cooper, President, Virginia WCA

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