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

May 11, 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?

Learn more about transnational communities during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Learn more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

The National Justice for Our Neighbors Network (NJFON) is launching its first network-wide advocacy initiative: the All of Us campaign. Its purpose is to push for a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented folks in this country. Organizers are calling this goal the “north star” in the legalization advocacy fight. NJFON is a hospitality ministry of The United Methodist Church that provides free or low-cost immigration legal services to low-income immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and advocacy for immigrant justice. The General Board of Church and Society has joined with NJFON for this initiative. Learn more...

  • How can you serve this week?

Global Ministries and UMCOR continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through health and humanitarian efforts. United Methodists are supporting communities around the world with information campaigns, medical equipment, hygiene kits, and supplies to meet basic human needs. As cases surge in places like India and Brazil, the response and commitment to alleviate the suffering brought on by COVID-19 remains. Make a gift today to the UMCOR COVID-19 Response Fund...

Virginia News


Online Book of Reports is now available

The electronic version of the Book of Reports is now available on the conference website. Annual Conference clergy and lay members who opted in for a mailed copy will be receiving this shortly.

As more information becomes available, clergy and lay members to Annual Conference can find resources and more at the conference website.
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Listen to "The Audio Advocate" podcast

Listen to "The Audio Advocate," a new podcast from the Connectional Ministries Office which will share conference news on a monthly basis. The featured interview of the May 3 episode is district alignment. Listen on Spotify, Apple, or through the audio player on the conference website.

Find other podcasts from the Connectional Ministries Office including 1,000 Question Christian at: https://vaumc.org/digitalhub/

VOY travels to Africa in 2022; interest meeting on May 12 Zoom

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. 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...

Learn more about Africa University and Voices of Youth 2022 for an interest meeting on Wednesday, May 12 at 10 a.m. Contact [email protected] to get Zoom info.

Apply now for financial aid through the VA Conference

The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church Grants & Loans application for certified candidates and licensed local pastors is now open. This financial aid is for students enrolled in seminary working toward the first professional degree. Application deadlines are July 1 for fall and spring semester grants and October 1 for spring or summer semester grants. Learn more...

Submit application now for the first Servant Sister Scholarship award

Applications are now open for the first Servant Sister Scholarship Award, an award offered in partnership with The Clergywomen's Collective. This scholarship is for women who are certified candidates for ministry and called to the ministry of Word, Order, Sacrament, Service or Word, Service, Compassion & Justice; women who have the potential for creating ministries for a more just world. Applications are due July 1. For more information or to receive an application, contact Jan Rivero at [email protected].
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Bishop Lewis announces new direction for Virginia FOCUS Initiative

In a video shared at the beginning of May, Bishop Lewis announced a new direction of Virginia FOCUS Initiative's efforts to strengthen churches of the Virginia Conference through the lens of Black Church leaders. The group was previously known as Virginia FOCUS 2020. View video...

The group also has an upcoming event, "Minding your Spiritual Business and Sacred Duties," a virtual event on May 22, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Virginia FOCUS Initiative 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/vfi/) or contact Dwayne Stinson at [email protected]. To register, click here.
loans and scholarships

GBHEM offers student loans

Need a student loan? The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) offers loans for United Methodist students. GBHEM will walk beside you through every step of the application, payment, and loan management process. The UM Student Fall 2021 Loan application opens on May 13, 2021, and closes on October 14, 2021. For more information...

Register for May 17 listening post 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.

A listening session will be held Monday, May 17 from 6:30-8 p.m. The session will be held through Zoom with registration. Visit this link to register.

Once you register, you will receive both a Zoom link as well as a conference call number, giving participants a choice on how they want/need to interact in the session.

The 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 (the other session was offered May 3) will be shared following the May 17 listening session. To view current district alignment information and resources, visit www.vaumc.org/dat.
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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
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...
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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/.
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].
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...

General Church News


Saddleback ordains three women, leading to another Mother’s Day dust-up over women pastors

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE--Saddleback Church, one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention and home to influential pastor Rick Warren, ordained three women as staff pastors this past weekend, a move that critics say violates the denomination’s statement of faith. “Yesterday was a historic night for Saddleback Church in many ways!” the Southern California megachurch’s Facebook page announced on May 8. “We ordained our first three women pastors, Liz Puffer, Cynthia Petty, and Katie Edwards!” The three newly ordained pastors are long-time Saddleback staffers. Calling them — or any woman — a pastor is, “at best, unwise and confusing,” wrote Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. A ban on women pastors was added to the Baptist Faith and Message, the SBC’s doctrinal statement, in 2000, stating that “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” Read more...
women ordination

When did the church first ordain women?

ASK THE UMC--When did the church first ordain women? Women served as preachers from the beginnings of the Methodist movement. Learn more...
georgia umc laity ad

Georgia laity question bishop in full-page ad

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--People across Georgia opened the Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 9 to see a full-page advertisement from a group of North Georgia laity seeking answers from their bishop. “An Open Letter to Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson” is from a group identifying as United Methodist Laity for Openness and Transparency. The paid ad includes 18 pointed questions for the bishop dealing with the disputes over a pastoral appointment, LGBTQ inclusion and the future of the church. “The laity of the NGUMC [North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church] are frustrated that, for the most part, our clergy have not been communicating with us on vital issues,” the advertisement said in its introduction. “People of the Light should not be left in darkness.” On its Facebook page that launched May 5, the group describes itself as “a grassroots movement of lay folks in the North Georgia Conference.” It also calls for more transparency in discussions with church leaders. Neither the newspaper ad nor Facebook page identify any members by name nor indicate the size of the group. However, both the ad and page make clear the group supports the traditionalist view of Scripture and that the group worries “theologically traditional/conservative pastors” face reprisals simply because of their views. Sybil Davidson, the North Georgia Conference director of communications, said, “We are unfamiliar with this group and have not been contacted by them.” Read more...
phillipines covid response

Church leaders urge stronger pandemic response

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--Amid increasing COVID-19-related cases and deaths, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society in the Philippines is urging government action and coherent direction. The board issued a statement accompanied by a reminder to the church to focus on hope. “As a faith community, it is incumbent of us to be the voice of Filipinos who go through severe devastations brought by the pandemic,” said the Rev. Aniceto R. Villalon Jr., executive director of the board. “The government, through its power and authority, is mandated to manage and distribute all available resources to protect and serve peoples’ right to health and life.

While we collectively pray for complete healing of the sick and adhere to the strict protocols of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolutions,” he added, “we should make noise in calling the attention of our government leaders. Let us raise our voices for them to faithfully fulfill that mandate.” Read more...
church propoerty

Leveraging church property can sustain your mission

LEWIS CENTER FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP--Churches give great attention to how they spend their money to support their mission. Likewise, churches should consider their land and buildings as shared assets of the community of faith to be used to the maximum for the mission. The most obvious use of a church’s property is for worship, education, fellowship, and community service. However, even active congregations have relatively low space usage compared to how other organizations use their space. So, exploring additional uses — whether to expand the church’s ministry, support other groups, or generate revenue — is an exercise in prudent stewardship. Read more...
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GCORR to release podcast on practicing anti-racism

“Expanding the Table,” a new video podcast series from the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR), will debut on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Series guests will focus on how individual Christians and church-based entities can and should engage the work of racial justice-making and anti-racism. Guests for the first podcast—titled “Racism, Police Reform and Faith”—are the Rev. Kirk Lyons of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Rev. Jeremy Wicks of Traverse City, Michigan. Both United Methodist pastors are leading community-wide conversations and demonstrations that call attention to implicit and explicit racial bias experienced by Black and Brown people at the hands of police officers. Both are bringing together church, community, and law-enforcement members to seek solutions. The Commission’s interim General Secretary & CEO, M. Garlinda Burton, says the new podcast series will offer a deeper understanding of how racism harms both the church and society at large and how anti-racism and racial justice function as an expression of Christian discipleship. Read more...

One Last Word

ALL things are possible with God.
all things are possible

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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