2021 e-Advocate logo
To submit news items, events, or corrections, email the conference Director of Communications at [email protected].

April 27, 2021

Take part in the Conference Vision this week:

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

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  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?

The Bible tells us to encourage each other and build each other up. Who does that for you? Get Them Talking is a series of resources to help families start conversations about issues of faith. Learn more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Facebook is now offering a new feature to Facebook groups...prayer posts. This function will allow members of Facebook groups to ask for and respond to prayer requests. According to a Facebook spokesperson, the idea for prayer posts grew from the ways users have connected on the social media platform while distancing during the pandemic. Learn more...
  • How can you serve this week?

Learn more about Kit and Can Collection at Annual Conference 2021. Learn more...

Virginia News

zoom fatigue

Don't get Zoom fatigue!

A few weeks ago, a video was shared to give tips and provide some humor as video conferencing and a greater familiarity with Zoom has become the norm during the pandemic. But clergy and laity, don't forget, to look out for your own self-care and that you don't have to say "yes" to every Zoom meeting or event. Other tips are provided at www.vaumc.org/zoomfatigue. View video...
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Updates shared about ministry post-pandemic

What is ministry going to look like as we move out of the pandemic? 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, shared more information including a progress report and other developments.

You can access the recording at the Virginia Conference Facebook page (www.facebook.com/vaumconf) on the conference YouTube page.

A news release also went out today, April 27, detailing more information. Find this information, a schedule of upcoming learning opportunities, and the updated Technical Assistance Manual (TAM) at https://vaumc.org/prg/.

Voices of Youth will travel to Africa in 2022

Voices of Youth (VOY) is a mission and ministry program of the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church that gathers youth from across the conference to sing and serve. While the group has not gathered in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are plans for a trip in Fall 2022 when VOY will travel to Africa University. VOY will include current students and alumni of VOY from previous years. The trip will be in late September, early October of 2022. Final travel costs, logistics, and arrangements will be determined based on the number of participants. The plan for this trip is to include opportunities to learn about Africa University, its students and impacts for the African continent, and special events to learn about Zimbabwe. This trip to Africa University will also launch a four-year partnership between Africa University and the Virginia Conference called Usahwira. Usahwira (YOU-suh-we-rah) in the Shona language means a “beautiful friendship.” Learn more...
maria sut

Asylum Seeker achieves respite from ICE deportation

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has issued a one-year Stay of Removal for Maria Chavalan Sut, an indigenous asylum-seeker from Guatemala. Maria entered sanctuary at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church (WMUMC) in Charlottesville at the beginning of October 2018, when ICE sought to enforce her deportation to a country where she fears for her life. The Stay is a formal promise from ICE not to deport Maria for one year, giving her more time to challenge the fairness of her deportation order. Learn more about her story and from Wesley UMC's leadership...

Two upcoming listening posts about district alignment

Bishop Lewis formed a work team in May 2020, after being asked by the conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) to evaluate the Virginia Conference’s district structure, to consider this important question: “How can districts most effectively order themselves for the adaptive challenges of the 21st century?”
If you haven’t already heard about the work of the District Alignment Team (DAT), you are encouraged to go to www.vaumc.org/dat and view all the resources including the first video from February 8, 2021 with Bishop Lewis and the most recent video from April 5 concerning the position of district developers.
The District Alignment Team (DAT) and the subsequent team called the Implementation District Alignment Team (iDAT) have been diligently deliberating the question posed by Bishop Lewis over the last 12 months. The teams are now inviting all clergy and laity in the Virginia Conference to two opportunities to learn more about district alignment and take part in this ongoing conversation.
The first listening session will be held Monday, May 3 from 6:30-8 p.m. The second session will be held Monday, May 17 from 6:30-8 p.m. Both sessions will be held through Zoom with registration and log-in information to be provided soon.

Interested clergy and lay members should choose the session that works best for their schedule. Each listening session will begin with a short update on the efforts thus far, a few discussion questions, and a period of Q&A. Recordings of both sessions will be shared following the May 17 listening session.
To view current district alignment information and resources, visit www.vaumc.org/dat.
focus 2020 event

Virginia FOCUS hosting May event

Virginia FOCUS invites you to "Minding your Spiritual Business and Sacred Duties," a virtual event on May 22, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Virginia FOCUS is hosting a group of speakers to share their vision for the church as we move into the next decade. Featured speakers are:
• Dr. Candace Lewis
• Brennen Boose
• Jazmine Smith
• and Dr. Dana Lyles

In addition to the speakers, there will be Master Classes, virtual booths, and opportunities to network. There is no cost for participants. For more information, see the website (https://vaumc.org/vafocus2020/) or contact Dwayne Stinson at [email protected]. To register, click here.
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.
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...

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...
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].
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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.

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...
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...

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

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...
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.

General Church News

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Megachurch seeks exit over appointment strife

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--The largest congregation in the North Georgia Conference announced April 26 that its senior pastor is surrendering his credentials and it plans to leave The United Methodist Church. Mt. Bethel UMC in Marietta, Ga., made the announcement following a weeklong public protest over its pastor’s transfer away from the congregation. What exactly happened is a matter of dispute. Mt. Bethel leaders — including Jody Ray, its pastor — say the conference did not follow the normal consultative process for new appointments. Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, who leads the North Georgia Conference, said the church never gave the conference a chance to follow that process. On April 27, Mt. Bethel leaders announced they were filing formal complaints under United Methodist law against the bishop and the Rev. Jessica Terrell, the district superintendent who oversees the church. The complaints accuse the two women of disobeying the order of The United Methodist Church and undermining the ministry of another pastor. The complaint process is a lengthy process in The United Methodist Church that aims for a just resolution between parties. The United Methodist Church operates on a tradition of itinerancy — meaning clergy go where they are appointed — going back to Methodism’s founder, John Wesley. Read more...
inmate church ministry

How churches can help former inmates adapt

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--About 600,000 inmates will be released from prison this year, which may feel like more of a threat than an opportunity. During five webinars this week, United Methodists will argue that it is a great opportunity to do God’s work, and they’ll suggest ways to do it. The “Released: I’m Home, Now What?” webinars are sponsored by Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century and United Methodist Communications’ ResourceUMC. The Zoom events, beginning at 6 p.m. U.S. Central time Monday through Friday, require registration to attend. “I see this as a ministry that the church really needs to embrace because 600,000 returning citizens come (home) every year, and guess what? They’re coming to your communities,” said the Rev. Michael L. Bowie, national director for SBC21, the national racial-ethnic plan of The United Methodist Church. “Instead of running from them, how do we run to them?” Bowie said. “(We have to) realize they can be a huge part and expand the kingdom of God and really help reduce this pervasive issue of mass incarceration in our communities.” Read more...

Lack of ruling adds to protocol concerns

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--The United Methodist Church’s top court has held off on deciding whether a denominational separation plan passes constitutional muster. And that has some of the plan’s architects frustrated and worried. “This ruling simply adds to the feeling that the denomination is ‘stuck’ and to the sense that our well-regimented institutions are unable and unwilling to address the very big challenges facing The United Methodist Church,” said veteran church leader Randall Miller. Among those challenges is the denomination’s decades-long, intensifying debate over the status of LGBTQ people that already has some congregations heading for the exits. Read more...
tree greenhouse gases

Agencies set greenhouse gas emissions goal

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--Eleven general agencies of The United Methodist Church are pledging to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 across ministries, facilities, operations and investments. The initiative was announced on Earth Day. “I think it’s important for us as stewards of God’s resources,” said Roland Fernandes, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, one of several agencies leading the denomination’s environmental efforts. “It’s exciting that we’re having all these sister agencies join us because … there’s so much more momentum and even excitement that we can get into this really important need for our time.” Net-zero emissions means the amount of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions does not exceed the amount taken out of the atmosphere, according to the World Resources Institute. Greenhouse gas removal is achieved by tactics such as restoring forests or direct air capture and storage. Read more...
cynthia fierro harvey

Bishops, delegates called to mission focus

UNITED METHODIST NEWS-- Faced with a potential denominational split put on hold by pandemic, many United Methodists feel stuck. That has not stopped heated disputes over church life among United Methodists, especially on social media channels. In her second public address as Council of Bishops president, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey encouraged church leaders to use this time of waiting to focus on the church’s outward mission — not on its internal turmoil. “We must stop stirring the pots and creating our own chaos,” said Harvey, who also leads the Louisiana Conference. “We have the power within us, by the Holy Spirit, to speak truth, to act on the injustices in our world. We must speak the truth with love, and in love.” Harvey spoke to United Methodists spread across four continents — bishops meeting by Zoom and the wider church watching on the bishops’ Facebook page. She spoke at the beginning of a weeklong meeting in which bishops will discuss the work the denomination is already doing to address injustice — starting with its anti-racism efforts. Read more...

One Last Word

It’s not enough just to listen to and read God’s word. We have to live it.
doers of word

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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