News from the Virginia Conference – January 6, 2012
Solar panels installed on conference center roof
This week, workers from Johnson Controls have been installing solar panels on the roof of the Virginia United Methodist Center. The conference staff “Green Team” proposed adding the panels early last year as a response to the Council of Bishops’ pastoral letter, “God’s Renewed Creation: A Call to Hope and Action.” Funding for the panels was provided by conference Trustees, Common Table and Council on Finance and Administration. The panels will not only lower the building’s energy usage – and bills – but also will generate tax credits that the conference can sell. Visitors to conference headquarters will find a monitor in the lobby that shows a real-time read-out of how much power the panels are generating and how that power translates into real savings to the environment. More …
Debbie Duty announces resignation, effective Jan. 31
Debbie Duty, conference Production Designer/Graphics Communicator, announced this week that she will be resigning her position, effective Jan. 31, in order to take another path on her career journey. Duty has provided almost 26 years of dedicated service to the pastors, congregations and offices of the Virginia Conference. Her work has included layout and design of the monthly Virginia Advocate magazine, “Mission Opportunities” booklet, “Book of Reports,” directories, Annual Conference printed materials, brochures, letterhead, business cards and other information pieces. The Communications office is now in the process of developing a new job description, and the conference will soon begin a search to fill the position.
First UMC, Martinsville, recognized again as ‘Welcoming Congregation’
First United Methodist Church of Martinsville has received renewed certification from United Methodist Communications (UMCom) as an official “Welcoming Congregation.” “Welcoming Congregations” are a select group of United Methodist congregations nationwide that meet criteria including embracing newcomers and providing opportunities in discipleship. The recognition program is part of a larger effort launched in late 2000 by UMCom, the denomination’s communications agency, to use modern technology and the common language of television to spread the good news of Christ to a world in need. More …
Table I statistics due Jan. 15; Table II stats due Jan. 31
The 2011 statistics system is now accessible to local churches to log on and print reports in preparation for year-end reporting. You can access the statistics Web site at http://ezra.gcfa.org. The Eagle statistics system has been enhanced and renamed Ezra. Logons have been reset for the 2011 year. Ezra allows for two logons per church using the 6-digit General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) church number ending with the letter “p” for pastor or “o” for office. The password for 2011 is “methodist.” Statistics for Table I are due Jan. 15. Statistics for Table II and Table III are due Jan. 31. Once you've entered data in each of the tables, you must select “Submit” from the Home menu. This indicates to your district that you are done. You will need to enter an explanation for all warnings when you submit your statistics. If you need your password reset, contact your district office administrative assistant. Direct questions to David Dommisse, conference Treasurer, at (804) 521-1109 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 109.
Sunday, Feb. 5, is Disability Awareness Sunday
The 1996 General Conference of The United Methodist Church voted to create Disability Awareness Sunday (without a special offering). Paragraph 265.4 of the 2008 Book of Discipline states: “Disability Awareness Sunday shall be observed annually on a date to be determined by the annual conference. Disability Awareness Sunday calls the Church to celebrate the gifts and graces of persons with disabilities and calls the Church and society to full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community.” In the Virginia Conference, Disability Awareness Sunday is the first Sunday in February (Feb. 5, 2012). The conference Commission on Disabilities has developed worship materials and suggestions for disability awareness experiences that you can use on this Sunday or at any other time throughout the year. The worship materials were developed based upon the Epistle reading for Epiphany 5B, which is 1 Corinthians 9:16-23. Click here for the Disability Awareness Sunday packet on the conference Web site.
Contract offers local churches special rates on background checks
The Virginia United Methodist Conference has partnered with ScreeningONE to handle all volunteer and pre-employment criminal background screening. ScreeningONE is a full-service reporting agency that specializes in meeting the needs of nonprofit organizations. The new program allows all conference churches to access an industry-leading background screening program at exclusive rates. Getting started is easy and requires zero paperwork. For more information, contact Paul Craddock at ScreeningONE: pcraddock@ScreeningOne.com or 1-888-327-6511, ext. 109.
Human Relations Day is Sunday, Jan. 15
Human Relations Day is Sunday, Jan. 15. This day of social action and raising awareness aims to heal social ills at the national level. It supports Community Developers, United Methodist Voluntary Service, and the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program. In The United Methodist Church calendar, Human Relations Day is the Sunday immediately following the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. However, you can observe Human Relations Day anytime of the year. Be sure to order your free offering resources for this offering that supports ministries that advocate for those often on the margins of society. Click here for a list of video resources. More …
Applications for ‘Calling 21’ internships due Feb. 1
"Calling 21" is a conference-wide, grass roots, congregation-based, youth-focused approach to the Virginia Conference's culture of call. During the summer, college students are placed in church internships and spend the summer immersed in the life of a local church, not their own, discerning God's call into church leadership. Calling 21 interns will both learn and lead. Calling 21 is looking for college students to apply. Application deadline is Feb. 1. Applicants shall be college students and interested in exploring their call to church leadership. More ...
February is Heart Havens month
February is Heart Havens Month in the Virginia Conference, a time when churches are asked to make financial contributions to this agency that provides residential services for men and women with intellectual disabilities by building and operating 12 group homes throughout Virginia. This February, help support this mission in your own backyard by donating, volunteering or advocating for Heart Havens (www.hearthavens.org). For more information or if you would like a Heart Havens speaker at your church, call (804) 237-6097 or toll-free 1-877-442-8368; or e-mail email@example.com.
National PAUMCS conference to be April 12-15 in Richmond
The Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries (PAUMCS) will hold its national conference in Richmond April 12-15 at the Hilton Short Pump area. Virginia Conference members can lend a hand to local PAUMCS leaders who will be hosting this event by volunteering with registration and hospitality. Visit www.vaumc.org/PAUMCS for more information.
Clergywomen’s Collective to gather Jan. 11
All women in ministry – licensed, ordained, consecrated, candidates for ministry and other women – are invited to a gathering of the Clergywomen’s Collective 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11. The group will meet at the Virginia Conference Center in Richmond. Bring a bag lunch or run to Martin's across the way. Participants will share scripture, song and Holy Communion. Come, be a part, find the support and friendship sisters provide. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ministers’ Convocation to encourage time of renewal
Theme of the 2012 Ministers’ Convocation is "Bread for the Journey: A time for personal renewal and fellowship to regain joy and vitality in our lives and our vocation." Keynote presenter will be Wayne Muller, a therapist, minister, community advocate, public speaker and best-selling author of Sabbath; A Life of Being, Having and Doing Enough and Legacy of the Heart: the Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood. The convocation is set for Jan. 17-19 at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center. Click here for more information or to register.
ERT training scheduled Jan. 21 in Prince George
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Early Response Team (ERT) certification training is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at Sycamore United Methodist Church, 9710 Old Stage Rd., Prince George. Course will be taught by Michael Morris. Early Response Teams respond during the first phase of disaster relief, providing a Christian presence. Your church and your community could also be faced with a disaster. Train to be ready to respond and know the first steps to help. Registration fee is $55, which includes training manual, UMCOR ERT badge, lunch, T-shirt and background check fee (forms will be handed out at training). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. Deadline to register is Jan. 16. To register, contact Nancy Chesser at email@example.com or (804) 541-1181; or Becky Paxton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 732-2538.
United Methodist Day at General Assembly is Feb. 2
United Methodist Day at the General Assembly 2012 will be Thursday, Feb. 2. The day begins at 7:30 a.m. at Bon Air UMC with a hot breakfast provided by United Methodist Men. Then travel together on buses to the General Assembly to meet with legislators and attend committee meetings. In the afternoon, return to Bon Air for lunch, singing and presentations from Bishop Charlene Kammerer and Jim Winkler, General Secretary of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. Click here for more information and to register. Early bird registration ($20/person) ends Jan. 20.
Visioning about Strengthening Black Church to be Feb. 18
A day of discussion and visioning with Dr. Fred A. Allen, national director of Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC21) will be held 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Conference Center in Glen Allen. SBC21 is a program designed to help United Methodist churches with predominantly black congregations become more fruitful in mission and ministry. The goal of the time with Dr. Allen will be to begin a process of developing a strategic plan to better support and nurture leadership and congregational development in existing predominantly African-American churches as well as to explore new church development possibilities in the Virginia Conference. For more information, contact the Office of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 153, or (804)-521-1153 or e-mail email@example.com.
Lay Servants Academy to be Feb. 24-26 at Blackstone
All laity are invited to the Lay Servants Academy to be held at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center Feb. 24-26. The Academy will include the 35th Annual Conference Lay Speakers Training; however, you do not need to be on track to become a Local Lay Speaker or Certified Lay Speaker to attend. Every chairperson, committee member, teacher or congregational leader is encouraged to take the introductory Lay Speaking course and overview of United Methodism. The information and skills you will be introduced to will serve you well within your local congregations. A variety of 10-hour courses will be offered for Advanced Lay Speaking. New will be the offering of introductory 2-hour classes. Click here for more information and brochure. Registration deadline is Feb. 10.
Older Adult retreat set for April 20-21
“ReFirement: A Creative Spark,” a retreat sponsored by the conference Older Adult Council, will be held April 20-21 at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center. The retreat will focus on fostering the spark of creativity to enrich the lives of older adults and enhance the ministries of the church. A variety of workshop sessions including watercolor and acrylic painting, music, liturgical movement and knitting/crocheting as well as fellowship opportunities will be available. More …
Conference clergy urged to attend Festival of Homiletics May 14-18
The Virginia Conference Order of Elders is encouraging all clergy across the conference to attend the Festival of Homiletics May 14-18 in Atlanta. More …
Church restructure plan heads for vote at General Conference
The plan for a restructured United Methodist Church, which took shape in 2011, heads toward 2012 General Conference with the hopes of some and the misgivings of others. UMNS reporter Heather Hahn takes a look at how this plan evolved, the hopes of the planners and the concerns of others in the church. If the plan is approved, the structure of The United Methodist Church will look very different this time next year. More …
Randolph College professor given Exemplary Teacher Award
Karin Warren, associate professor and Herzog Family Chair of Environmental Studies at Randolph College in Lynchburg, was one of 11 professors at United Methodist-related colleges, universities, and United Methodist theological schools who received the Exemplary Teacher Award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Faculty members were nominated and selected based on exemplary teaching, service to students beyond the classroom and commitment to values-centered education. The program expresses the church’s support of and appreciation for outstanding teaching at United Methodist-related colleges and universities. More …
Rethink Church offers Lenten worship resources
How are you reaching people for Christ this Lent? United Methodist Communications is ready to help you with a free Lenten sermon series, online advertising and a multimedia bundle to help you include the broader community. The Journey to Hope series begins with Christ’s journey to the cross and connects with matters like relationships, money, work and suffering to share the hope that exists beyond life’s most difficult issues. The sermon series was developed in 2010, and has been supplemented this year with small group, children and youth resources. A new multimedia resource bundle will assist in bringing messages to life (in the sanctuary or classroom) as well as extending an invitation through newspaper, door hangers and more. An online study component to Journey to Hope will be featured on www.rethinkchurch.org during Lent, offering your congregation another chance to connect with weekly themes and with those who may not have a church home. Digital advertising will connect newcomers to the site and provide an opportunity for them to learn about The United Methodist Church and local congregations. Go to www.umcom.org/journeytohope to review and download the series, order the bundle ($25) and update your Find a Church profile. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
GBCS salutes divestment from private-prison corporations
The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) saluted the recent announcement that the denomination’s pension fund divestment from private-prison corporations had established a screen on investments in companies that derive more than 10% of their revenue from the management and operation of prison facilities. The agency called on all organizations and institutions of conscience to divest from the private-prison industry. More ...
New database eases conference workload
Thanks to United Methodist support of the General Administration Fund, Ezra provides real-time answers for annual conferences. Ezra — a Hebrew name that, appropriately, means “help” — is a Web-based interactive database in which each conference or United Methodist agency can enter data and have real-time access to information such as membership and attendance statistics. More …
GBOD offers free webinars for church leaders
The General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) is offering free webinars for church leaders. Register for any of them at www.gbod.org/committee_resources. Webinars include: Jan. 18 at 2:30 p.m. EST: “Principles Of Church Renewal For Ds’s” (Key factors for setting a path toward renewal of district congregations); Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. EST: “Goal Setting For Vital Congregations” (A guide for setting realistic numerical goals for your congregation on the Web site umvitalcongregations.org); Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. EST: “10 Commandments For Church Web Sites” (A Web site is the new front door to your church. Patrick Steil, webmaster for the North Texas Conference and owner of ChurchBuzz.org, will walk you through 10 Commandments that transform your Web site into the BEST outreach and communications tool that has ever been possible.); Feb. 23 at 7:30 PM EST: “Healthy Church Leaders – Key Factors” (SPRC has a key role for health of body, mind and soul for your pastor and leaders. GBPHB's Center for Health shares key factors for a healthy ministry environment.) Training for new church leaders is also available. One-hour recorded modules are available for the Church Council, Trustees, Nominating Committees, Finance leaders, and S/PPRC. Individuals can watch at home or church groups can view the modules when they meet. Encourage the pastors and laity in congregations to learn their jobs with these modules posted at www.gbod.org/committee_resources.
For in-depth news and features about United Methodist mission and ministry, subscribe to the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, the Virginia Conference’s award-winning monthly newsmagazine — now available in both print and digital formats. Click here to subscribe. Or call Peggy Cribbs at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110, or (804) 521-1110. Or e-mail Advocate@vaumc.org.