new e-Advocate logo (1)
April 14, 2020
To submit news items, email conference Director of Communications at [email protected].

Conference Vision

In 2017, Bishop Sharma D. Lewis shared the vision of the conference "to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve."

  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?
    Joy is the next theme for Bishop Lewis' Bible Reading Challenge. Join in! More...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?
    Use social media for good during this time! Talk with an old friend, share an uplifting word with someone and don't get discouraged if how you are handling this pandemic and time of social distancing looks different than your friends.
  • How can you serve this week?
    What local businesses could use your patronage during this time? What local shelters or food pantries could use your donations?
Welcome to the new e-Advocate
Even in the midst of a pandemic, our conference Communications Office is working to roll out long-awaited updates including this format update to the weekly newsletter. Please send any issues or concerns to [email protected].
winding road (2)
Stay the Course, Stay Strong: A Word from Bishop Lewis
Bishop Lewis shared a letter on April 14 encouraging the conference to maintain standards of a stay-at-home order for the foreseeable future. "I ask that our Virginia Conference clergy and laity stay the course by continuing to observe social distancing, proper hygiene and follow the stay-at-home directive.
This is not an easy time for any of us, but in Christian love we need to look out for our vulnerable communities and do our utmost to decrease the strain on our healthcare system and emergency services. It is hard not to be able to meet in-person as a community of faith, but we know God is not the church building. God is so much more than a building." More...
2020 Clergy Move Date will be June 30
After review, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Bishop Sharma Lewis and the Appointive Cabinet have adjusted the “Clergy Move Date” from June 24 to June 30. The first Sunday in the new appointment will be July 5, 2020. More...
covid season conversations
New webinar series focuses on intersection of faith and COVID-19
Examine our Wesleyan theology and faith in light of the current pandemic with "COVID Season Conversations” from the Director of Connectional Ministries. New conversations will be posted at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays every two weeks featuring a theologian or other faith specialist on issues related to staying connected in the COVID-19 pandemic with a brief presentation and time for discussion and questions.
On April 15 at 10 a.m., Dr. Kendall Soulen, Professor of Systematic Theology at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, will speak on “The Presence of Christ in the Social Distance Season." Join Zoom Meeting at or dial 1-301-715-8592 with meeting ID 430 912 095. More...
2020 Annual Conference
June Session of Virginia Annual Conference postponed until September
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the June 2020 session of the Virginia Annual Conference has been postponed until September 18 -19, 2020. Information regarding the location of the September 2020 Annual Conference is forthcoming.
Meeting Max, the company managing the conference’s hotel reservation system, will make cancellations for all participants who reserved through the Annual Conference housing process. If you have not received your notice of cancellation, please call Bev Myers at 804-521-1134 or email [email protected].
The Annual Conference session postponement will not impact the clergy appointment process. The clergy move date will be June 30.
crucial crisis conversations
Join in for 'Crucial Crisis Conversations'
“Crucial Crisis Conversations” is a new webinar series that will share information pertinent to clergy, laity and local churches during the current pandemic from leaders at the Virginia Conference Center.
You can view Conversation #1 about "Engaging your Small Church" and Conversation #2 about Next Gen Ministries at the link. More...
sej umc
All 2020 U.S. Jurisdictional Conferences scheduled for July postponed
The Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church announced on April 6 that the decision has been made to postpone all 2020 U.S. Jurisdictional Conferences scheduled for July. According to the Book of Discipline, all Jurisdictional Conferences occur simultaneously on a date set by the Council of Bishops. As soon as the dates for the rescheduled General Conference are released, the Council of Bishops will set a new date for the opening of the Jurisdictional Conferences. More...
burundi clarence brown
Future Burundi instruction partnership set to continue
The Rev. Dr. Clarence Brown, senior pastor at St. Luke’s UMC, Yorktown, returned from the East African nation of Burundi in early March with the perfect word to describe the pastors he taught there for much of February.
“They were hungry,” Brown said. “They took notes intently, asked questions constantly.”
That the pastors were hungry came as no surprise.
The Burundi United Methodist Church was divided for 12 years, meaning most of the pastors went without any formal training during the divide.
Since reuniting, its pastors have had a number of instructors visit them over the past couple of years, including three from the Virginia Conference – Brown; the Rev. Alex Joyner, district superintendent of the Eastern Shore District; and the Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, conference director of Connectional Ministries. More...
jackson smith agc
All God’s Children camp raises $10,000 thanks to 16-year-old Jackson Smith
If you ask Lori Smith, Director of All God’s Children camp (AGC) for the Virginia Conference, what a March 7, $10,000 fundraising event means for the camp ministry, she will crunch the numbers for you quickly.
“It sends 24 children to camp!” she said. “We send 90 every summer. So this essentially pays for a third of our campers for the entire summer.”
If you ask, Lori the mom what it means, she will beam with pride. “I’m still in awe about the whole event,” she said. You see, the big fundraiser was the brainchild of Lori’s son, Jackson, 16, a sophomore at Glen Allen High School. He initially set a goal of raising $1,500. But the event – featuring music, food and a silent auction at Good Shepherd UMC in Henrico – far exceeded those expectations. More...
Bishop, Cabinet, Clergy Excellence Office release information about communion
Bishop Lewis, the Cabinet, and The Center for Clergy Excellence released information about communion during the current pandemic, April 3. In a letter they wrote, "In this extraordinary season of suspended corporate worship, clergy are challenged to examine how to live out our calling to sacramental ministry. As clergy have heard and felt the sincere expression of our laity for communion with one another, this naturally has led to conversations about the use and possible adaptation of the Service of Word and Table for our present, scattered context. We view these conversations to be a faithful and healthy expression of our Wesleyan character. How may we offer a nimble, pastoral approach to this crisis, and
at the same time honor our sacred traditions of sacramental ministry?" More...
final Resources during COVID-19 (1)
Resources available to clergy, local churches during pandemic
Learn more about how churches are currently staying connected, information about rural church communications, information about livestreaming and copyright and digital media resources on the conference website. More...
umc hymnals
Join Conference Center Chapel services on April 15
Though the conference center remains closed until further notice, weekly Wednesday services will start back up on Wednesday, April 8. You can find the services starting at 9 a.m. on the conference Facebook page.
Bishop Lewis encourages daily noon prayer during pandemic
Bishop Lewis is inviting the Virginia Conference to daily prayer at noon during the pandemic. Last week she shared in a letter, "I would like to thank several of you that have suggested a corporate prayer time for the Virginia Annual Conference. I am very blessed to lead an annual conference that believes in the power of the petitioned prayer! Please join me at 12 noon every day and pray the printed prayer listed on the website. Let us invoke the power of the Great Physician to do a mighty work in eradicating this disease all over the world." More...
FAQ document shared concerning recent Virginia Conference response, precautions to COVID-19
A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document was shared March 16 in order to share important dates for the Virginia Conference to know in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of note, The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America: 15 Days to Slow the Spread document was shared March 16 on the CDC website. Please refer to this document going forward as all changes in precautions and important dates will be noted here. As more information is released by Bishop Lewis in the coming days and weeks, the conference website and this document will be updated accordingly. More...

General Church News

Easter celebrated amid storms, pandemic
Dangerous storms, tornadoes and the coronavirus could not overcome the spirit of Easter as United Methodists found ways to respond as “resurrection people.”
Storms devastated several Southern states leaving more than 30 dead, according to news reports.
Catherine G. Earl, director for disaster response and U.S. partner relations, United Methodist Committee on Relief, pointed out that COVID-19 had created “a disaster on top of a disaster” and said a “health first” attitude was important. More...
United Methodists fight COVID-19 around the globe
United Methodists in Africa and the Philippines are fighting COVID-19 by making personal protective gear, raising awareness in rural areas and busy cities and breaking down myths. And they are using experiences with Ebola to stop the spread of the virus.
While Africa has had fewer cases so far, the number has now topped 10,000 in 52 countries, the World Health Organization reported on April 8. In the Philippines, WHO reported more than 3,700 confirmed cases. More...
Chaplains comfort and share grief during COVID-19
The sound of “Taps,” played by a lone trumpeter, echoed in the courtyard of the Dallas retirement community in tribute to a recently deceased resident.
John Gould plays a hymn on his trumpet for Joan Jackson in the courtyard of the CC Young Senior Living community in Dallas after Jackson’s husband Robert passed away Sunday, March 22, 2020. When social distancing prevented a typical memorial service, Gould offered to play a few hymns outside in the common area. Social distancing because of COVID-19 meant grieving widow Joan Jackson kept her distance from 94-year-old musician John Gould. So did other residents of the CC Young Senior Living community, who nonetheless viewed the March 22 tribute to Bob Jackson from their balconies and other parts of the community. “I am moved beyond words at John’s offer to do this in memory of Bob and for CC Young to allow it,” Joan Jackson said to a CC Young representative, who shared it with United Methodist News. “It seemed like a fitting memorial for Bob since we could not hold the usual traditional memorial service.” Flexibility is key for United Methodist chaplains as they cope with families who can’t see their loved ones — sometimes even dying loved ones — because of the coronavirus that has killed thousands as it spreads around the world.