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To submit news items, events, or corrections, email the conference Director of Communications at [email protected].

April 20, 2021

Take part in the Conference Vision this week:

"to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve."

new succulent
  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?

View the newest Diversity Kitchen episode with Conference Lay Leader Martha Stokes, the Rev. Dan Kim, and the Rev. Hung Su Lim as they cook TTeok Guk. While they cook, they explore Korean culture and the traditions of Lunar New Year. Diversity Kitchen is a video series created in the hope that by bringing people of different cultures together over the love of food and Jesus that further conversation and relationship-building can begin in our denomination and in our world. Watch episode...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

On April 11, 2021, the world witnessed another unarmed black man killed at the hands of law enforcement. As the raw realities of ongoing societal injustice, unrest, and pain relentlessly flash across our screens, we are reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words of admonition and encouragement to the Corinthian church. They ring as true today as they did more than 2,000 years ago.
Beginning Friday, April 16, at 11 a.m. CT, and in upcoming days, the Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC21), Native American Comprehensive Plan (NACP), Discipleship Ministries, and The Upper Room a offering Facebook Live events and other resources that can help equip and strengthen us for the journey. Learn more...
  • How can you serve this week?

Earth Day, celebrated globally on April 22, is a good time for faith communities and individuals to assess their environmental impact, celebrate gains that have been made, and plan new steps to sustain the Earth’s precious and unique environment. Visit https://umcmission.org/worship-resources-for-earth-day-2021/ to find worship and other resources for celebrating Earth Day in April.

Virginia News

appointments general

March 2021 appointments announced

The March 2021 appointments have been announced by Bishop Sharma D. Lewis and her Cabinet. They may be viewed on the conference website. These appointments areeffective July 1, 2021.
PRG Promo

Take part in webinar event about in-person worship in the conference

What is ministry going to look like as we move out of the pandemic? Join a live webinar event hosted by the Back to In-person Worship Work Group (led by the Rev. Alex Joyner) and Mission and Ministries Work Group (led by the Rev. Doug Forrester) on Monday, April 26, 2021, at 7 p.m. to learn more.

Bishop Lewis and members of the workgroups will offer a progress report and announce some new developments. Clergy, Healthy Church Team (HCT) members, and lay members of the Virginia Conference are invited to join this event.

The event will be streamed live on the Virginia Conference Facebook page (www.facebook.com/vaumconf) on Monday, April 26, at 7 p.m.

Annual Conference members are invited to participate in a short survey before the webinar starts. Survey link: https://forms.gle/c6TGCeikjNrW8My58.

The In-person Worship Work Group and Mission & Ministries Work Group thank you for your commitment to continuing to be a church together!
anthem blue cross blue shield

Learn more about class action lawsuit against Anthem

The Virginia United Methodist Pensions, Inc. (VUMPI) office was recently made aware of a class action lawsuit against the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and certain Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. A settlement has been reached, and the Association and the settling plans have agreed to establish a settlement fund.

Individuals who were enrolled in self-funded health insurance plans administered by a settling plan between September 1, 2015 and October 16, 2020 may be entitled to receive a payment from the settlement fund. Read more...
ac 2018 mission musicians

Musicians needed for Annual Conference 2021

Gerald Lee Ricks, the Worship Leader for Annual Conference 2021, is asking for musicians, virtually and in-person, for the two-day event. Specifically needed are:

  • Acoustic Guitarist
  • Electric Guitarist
  • Alto
  • Bass
  • Soprano, and
  • Pipe organist
To share your interest in these positions, please email [email protected]. You can learn more about Ricks at the link.

Submit laity names for inclusion in AC 2021 Memorial Booklet

The Conference Lay Leader Martha Stokes is gathering the information on lay members who should be honored in the booklet for the Service of Remembrance/Memorial Service that is part of the Annual Conference session. Annual Conference members' assistance is needed to make sure that the conference has the correct information of lay members who have passed since the last Annual Conference session.

These persons must have been a member of the previous Annual Conference (2020) or elected to represent their charge or district at the 2021 Annual Conference. Again, Stokes needs only the names of lay members of the Annual Conference, not all church members. The time period for this year's listings would be August 28, 2020, and through the deadline for publication of April 30, 2021.
• The full name of the person, date of death, and district are needed.
• It would be helpful to begin receiving the names as quickly as possible, recognizing that names can be added as well of anyone who may die between now and April 30.

Please email the information to [email protected].
being the church book

Book focuses on Church post-pandemic

Being the Church in a Post-Pandemic World by Kay Kotan focuses on how churches took on the challenges that the global pandemic presented them with in the past year. Churches now resuming on-site worship may find this a helpful resource in considering how the pandemic might continue to have an effect on their church and how church leaders can lean into change. Several bishops in the denomination were guest contributors to the book including Bishop Sharma D. Lewis. Find book...
jason moore

Clergy, laity invited to hybrid worship webinar

The Elizabeth River and James River Districts will be hosting Jason Moore’s Both/And webinar on Saturday, April 24, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for clergy and laity. This 3-hour workshop will delve into strategies for how to create powerful transformative worship where no one feels like they’re an afterthought. It will explore:
• Re-imagining worship for both/and
• How to create interactive both/and experiences
• Bringing at home and in-person audiences together in real-time
• Alternative opportunities for online audiences watching in-person live streams
• Repurposing in-person worship for online audiences
• Strategies for adapting practices for both/and
• Avoiding letting your groove becoming a rut
• And more.

Click here to register...

Documents available on reopening playgrounds, pastoral visitation, VBS

The Mission and Ministry Workgroup has produced documents for the reopening of church playgrounds and in-home pastoral care. Plans for playgrounds should be submitted to the district superintendent for review and approval. Plans for in-home pastoral visitation do not require a plan to be submitted, but this document must be followed. Finally, the Vacation Bible School document has been updated to reflect the Governor's orders for expanded in-person gatherings. Read more...

Questions should be directed to your district superintendent. Contact information is available at www.vaumc.org/districtoffices.

Join virtual movie screening, panel discussion with Wesley Seminary

Join Wesley Theological Seminary and Journey Films on Monday, April 26, 2021, at 7 p.m. for education and reflection on Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel to watch and discuss the new film about his life from Journey Films, Spiritual Audacity: The Abraham Joshua Heschel Story.

Directed by awarding-winning filmmaker Martin Doblmeier, Spiritual Audacity explores the life and work of Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel. Mentor to Martin Luther King Jr, and the entire Civil Rights Movement, a leading critic of the Vietnam War, a champion for Soviet Jews, and a pioneer in the work of interfaith dialogue, Heschel was one of the most remarkable and inspiring figures of the 20th Century.

The film screening will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Martin Doblmeier and an esteemed panel, including:
• Rabbi Fred Reiner, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Sinai in Washington, DC
• Dr. Aaron Rosen, Professor of Religion & Visual Culture and Director of the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary
• Dr. Josiah Young, Professor of Systematic Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary
• Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope, Provost of Washington National Cathedral, and former Deputy Director of Presidential Personnel in the White House.
• Mr. Martin Doblmeier, Filmmaker, Journey Films

Panel Moderator:
• Dr. Lorena Parrish, Associate Professor of Urban Ministries and Director, Community Engagement Institute and Center for Public Theology

Please register for Zoom access and view the film's trailer. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected] or call (202) 885-8678.
save the date clergy session 2021

Save the Date: 2021 Clergy Session

The Center for Clergy Excellence is preparing for the virtual Clergy Session on June 10, 2021, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, via Zoom video conference. The session will be open to participants at 9:30 a.m. The proceedings will begin promptly at 10 a.m. All clergy participating in the session will have their voice/vote taken into consideration. Clergy will receive registration information in the coming weeks. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected].
resource hub

Join resourcing Facebook group for church communications, technology

You are invited to join the Virginia Conference Resource Hub. This page has been created by the conference Board of Communications and the conference Communications Office. The goal is to provide a space to share information and resources about various topics related to church communications, technology, discipleship, and more. This is a place where those who have questions and those with experience and answers can collaborate, assist, and equip one another. Every week, as part of #TopicTuesday, a new discussion is started in the group. Topics so far have included video editing, streaming providers, and more. Join group...
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Join the weekly Chapel Service at the Virginia Conference Center

You are invited to join the staff at the Virginia United Methodist Center for Wednesday morning chapel services. The services are conducted on Zoom and run from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. each Wednesday morning. The service features guest clergy and laypeople from around the conference.

This week, April 21, the Rev. Jason Stanley, Elizabeth River District Revitalization Coordinator, will lead worship.

Upcoming April leaders:
  • The Rev. Beth Givens, Welborne UMC, April 28
The following Zoom meeting link will be used for all chapel services.
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 949 3801 3018
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,94938013018# US (Germantown)
8558801246,,94938013018# US Toll-free
giving day umfs

Join UMFS Giving Day for Foster Care

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 5 to join United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) for UMFS Giving Day for Foster Care. The organization is kicking off National Foster Care Month with a special Giving Day to support children and teens in foster care at UMFS. Your donation will help provide the care and support they need to overcome obstacles and achieve a brighter future. Be an influencer in the lives of children and teens...
umfs 120 years

UMFS is grateful for your partnership and support

The 2020 United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) Annual Report is now available, celebrating 120 years of partnership and support from local churches, donors, and volunteers. Thank you for the impact you have made on the high-risk children and families at UMFS. In 2020 your generosity was on display more than ever. UMFS thanks you for your partnership in this ministry. Access full report...

Send in care packages now for 2021 All God's Children Camp

Although All God's Children Camp will be canceled this summer, the camp leaders will be reaching out and ministering with their camp families by sending resources and care packages. If you would like to get involved check out the list below.

Care Package List: All packages are due by June 1
  • Jump rope
  • Hand size Nerf ball of your choice
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Crayons
  • Activity paper/construction paper
  • Kids puzzle book/workbook/coloring books
    Individual size snacks of your choice-no chocolate candy or peanuts
  • $25 grocery gift card

    You or a group of people can put together one or more care packages for the All God's Children Camp campers. You may also send monetary donations to the address below to help support this ministry. If you live in the Richmond area, contact Lori Smith at [email protected] to make arrangements for delivery. If you live outside the Richmond area, please mail care packages to:

    Virginia United Methodist Conference Center
    All God's Children Camp
    10330 Staples Mill Rd.
    Glen Allen, VA 23060
Reigniting Our Call (1) (1)

Clergy encouraged to reignite the call

For the past year, there has been a relentless pace to ministry. Despite the extraordinary amount of work needed to be done, Jesus taught his disciples to find a sustainable pace of work and time apart. When his energy was depleted, Jesus would find time to go apart, to rest, to sleep, to pray, to relax with friends and family, and this is what he modeled and taught his disciples.

In this joint letter from Bishop Lewis, the Virginia Cabinet, and the Center for Clergy Excellence, learn more about the three distinct ways these entities want to help clergy to survive and even thrive during these days which includes a specific Day Apart for Renewal on May 24. Learn more...

Worship Service from Older Adult Council for Older Adult Recognition

In the United States, we honor older adults, through Older Americans Month each May. To spread the news and to provide pastors with a Sunday "off," the Older Adult Council will be making available a recorded worship service for churches to use for Sunday, May 2, which is Older Adult Recognition Sunday in The United Methodist Church. All churches within the Virginia Conference are invited to support older adult ministries by sending prayers and taking an offering to support ministries with older adults. This year's offering will go to support Pinnacle Living's Samaritan Offering. The Samaritan Offering is from Mother's Day-Father's Day annually and your gifts go to ensure the personal security and peace of mind of Pinnacle Living's most vulnerable residents. Learn more...

Take survey to share your local church technology, communication needs

The Virginia Conference Board of Communications offered technology grants in 2020 to support local churches as they moved their worship services online last year. The grant program also included technology consultations.

The board would like to expand on this initiative and identify other ways to assist local churches with their communications ministry. To help identify areas of greatest need, the board is asking local churches to complete a survey on their communications needs.

The information gathered in the survey will help the Board of Communications create a system for churches to obtain communications advice and expertise. Please take a few minutes to share your feedback by completing this survey Thank you for your help!

Join virtual Lay Servant training this spring

The Rappahannock River District is pleased to offer another virtual training session this May open to all districts. The following classes will be available: Basic, UM Polity, and Leading Worship.

The classes will be held on Zoom on May 1,8, and 15 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Participants must attend all three sessions to receive credit for the class.

If you have any questions, please contact the district Director of Lay Servant Ministries, Pastor Kevin Elmore at [email protected].

Learn more information with the district flyer.

Lay Servant Training is a leadership development program for our laity in the UMC. It can help anyone who is interested in learning more in their pursuit of being a better leader and servant for Christ’s church. These classes can be used as tools in discerning God’s call for your personal walk and ministry. If you are a Lay Servant, you must attend the ENTIRE course in order to receive credit for certification or recertification. Recertification is required every three years for both Certified Lay Servants and Certified Lay Speakers.
tumcu logo

Deadline for PPP loans extended until May 31, 2021

The United Methodist Credit Union (TUMCU) is proud to have helped hundreds of United Methodist churches and related organizations receive critical funding through the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program. So many churches and faith-based organizations are struggling to keep their doors open and their ministries alive - and this program can help. TUMCU is ready to assist members in securing these forgivable loans as quickly as possible. Because of the extended timeframe of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SBA is sponsoring another round of PPP funding, and TUMCU would like to assist as many ministries as it can. To this end, TUMCU has just opened the online portal to these new PPP funds and ask that you share this information with a trustee, finance committee member, pastor, or COM chair at your church. Since some of the rules have changed since the first round of loans (including some eligibility changes), please check out their PPP information page. The deadline for new applications to the
Payroll Protection Program (PPP) has now been extended until May 31, 2021.
wesley merit scholarship

Wesley Merit Scholarships make seminary affordable; application deadline June 1

It’s not too late to apply to Wesley Theological Seminary. It’s been a difficult year – but now, more than ever, Wesley believes God is calling people to lead change in the world and the church. Wesley is there to journey with and equip students to accept that call, with classes and community in the format they need.

Move to their residential campus in Washington, DC, or remain in your own context with online and hybrid courses. In either format, you can engage the unique context of faith and life in Washington, DC as well as Wesley’s diverse community and worship through weekly in-person and online activities as well as during Wesley Community Days, community-wide celebrations two to three times per semester. Get the education you want in the format you need. To be considered for merit scholarships, apply by June 1. More information and to apply...
wesley seminary

Wesley Theological Seminary All-Online Summer Term Course Registration Is Now Open!

Plan your summer with Wesley. Their all-online Summer Term course will enable you to study this summer safely and from wherever you may be! Just a few of this summer's course offerings:
  • Biblical Storytelling - Dr. Tracy Radosevic
  • The Church and the Civil Rights Movement - Dr. C. Anthony Hunt
  • Spirituality and Ecojustice - Dr. Beth Norcross
  • Church Finances - Dr. Lovett Weems
  • Music and the Civil Rights Movement - Dr. Carolyn Rosen
  • Social Justice in Cinema - Dr. Dawn Cooper Barnes
  • Introduction to Disability & Deaf Ministry - The Rev. Leo Yates
Register early to avoid disappointment - classes fill up quickly! Registration closes for degree, non-degree and certificate courses May 21 . Learn more...

Where to find the latest Annual Conference news

As more information becomes available, clergy and lay members to Annual Conference can find resources and more at the conference website.

Join the 2021 Bible Challenge

Bishop Lewis has encouraged the clergy and laity of the Virginia Conference to read the Bible in a year since 2017. Each year has featured a different way of reading.

Commit to reading the Bible all the way through Genesis-Revelation in 2021. You can access the daily readings by visiting the conference website or BibleGateway.com.

Tips on reading the Bible daily:
  1. Set aside a specific time and place each day. Set your schedule and then stick to it. Mornings are great, but feel free to use any time that works consistently with your schedule.
  2. Get a good study Bible to help to illuminate the meaning of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek text.
  3. Choose a translation to use during your reading.
  4. Say a short prayer to God before you begin, asking the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding.
  5. Dive in and enjoy the richness of God’s Word! Apply God’s Word to your life. Bible study should be practical and applicable. These seven steps will help you begin a journey in becoming a “lifelong learner” of God’s Word.

General Church News

umc judicial council

Judicial Council declines COB request to rule on Protocol legislation

The highest court in The United Methodist Church has exercised its discretion to decline a request by bishops to decide whether the plan for separation on the part of some in the church, known as the Protocol, is constitutional. In its decision released April 16, the Judicial Council denied jurisdiction in the case, noting there was no indication that the Protocol has been adopted by either the General Conference or the Council of Bishops (COB). Read more...
church transition post pandemic

Do you need a mission statement for your post-pandemic transition plan?

LEWIS CENTER FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP--As congregations plan for a future with fewer pandemic-related restrictions, Lovett H. Weems Jr. says they need a standard for assessing various options. Without a clear connection to your primary mission your transition plan could easily be hijacked by those pushing hardest for their point of view or what neighboring churches are doing. Read more...
digital church

5 surprising ways churches move outside the building

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--The year 2020 may have forever changed our picture of church. A Barna Group study found that 59 % of churchgoing Gen Zers will not return to regularly attending in-person church gatherings, meaning they will engage with their church communities in other ways. The Rev. Ryan Dunn, minister of online engagement for Rethink Church, looks at creative ways the church has been and may continue to be in ministry outside of in-person worship. Read more...
washington cathedral vaccine

5 ways churches can play a critical role in vaccination efforts

LEWIS CENTER FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP--Asa J. Lee of Wesley Theological Seminary shares key learnings from a recent event at the Washington National Cathedral which highlighted the critical role churches can play in encouraging vaccinations and fighting the coronavirus. Read more...

One Last Word: Meanwhile on Mars

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter made the first-ever powered flight on another planet, 117 years after the Wright Brothers' historic flight on this planet.
The flight itself was modest. The 4-pound helicopter rose 10 feet in the air, hovered briefly, and returned to the Martian surface. An image taken from the craft showed Ingenuity's shadow on the surface and another taken from the Perseverance rover showed an airborne Ingenuity.
"We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet," project manager MiMi Aung announced to her team.
The results were beamed to Earth on April 19, 2021.
nasa ingenuity
The use of face masks is one way that United Methodists can continue to show their care and concern for all of their neighbors as the nation and world continue to grapple with COVID-19. Thank you, Virginia Conference, for showing your ‘Faces of Care.’

Learn more from a two-part series in which Bishop Lewis talked with Dr. George Moxley, VCU Health, about the importance of wearing masks.

Learn more about the three-stage return to in-person worship at Virginia Conference churches: https://vaumc.org/return/

Please send any issues or concerns to [email protected]. If you have issues with the formatting trying to forward (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More...
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