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

January 5, 2021

Conference Vision: "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?

Epiphany is the day Christians remember the coming of the Magi to visit Jesus, bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It occurs on January 6 every year, the 13th day of the Christmas season. Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, has more on the ancient celebration. Learn more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Have you registered for the Association of Ministers with Disabilities Virtual Annual Gathering? It's happening January 14-16. This year's theme will be "Prophesying to Power: The Intersections of Ableism and Racism." Join to hear a keynote address from Kendrick Kemp and his work on Liberation Theology of Disability. Learn more...
  • How can you serve this week?

Your support to Global Ministries supports the training of pastors to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and cultivate communities of faith. Learn how to help...

Virginia News

dr fauci

Join in virtual discussion with Dr. Fauci about COVID-19 vaccine

In partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health, and the VCU Massey Cancer Center, faith leaders and all Virginians are invited to a virtual discussion on the COVID-19 vaccine with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci on Friday, January, 8, 2021 from 2:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. as part of “Facts & Faith Friday."

Participants must register. Register at https://redcap.link/itntraru. (This link was provided to the conference from the partnered organizations above. We have been notified that you may receive a pop-up telling you the link is not secure. Ignore this notification and proceed to the website. It is a secure link, and once at the website, you can register and pose a question to Dr. Fauci.)

For questions about the event, you may contact the Virginia Health Department on their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VDHgov.

Facts & Faith Friday's began in March 2020 as a weekly call led by Robert Winn, M.D., director of VCU Massey Cancer Center, with African American clergy in Virginia to address the disparate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community. The call has evolved to address high rates of cancer and other health issues in diverse communities.
join us cropped

Take part in conference Chapel service each Wednesday

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, January 6, the Rev. Jonathan Fuller will lead. He is a provisional deacon in ministry at Randolph-Macon College and Boulevard United Methodist Church on the Richmond District.

The Rev. Drew Ensz, Director of Arise, United College Ministries in Northern Virginia, will lead chapel on January 13.

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
um day

Mostly virtual United Methodist Day 2021 is Jan. 18-Jan. 22

United Methodist Day at the General Assembly will look a little different this year. Some changes are required by the safety protocols employed by the state due to COVID-19. Other changes are in order to best use and share the resources with participants.

This year, United Methodists will learn to expand United Methodist Day to advocate more than just one day to protect the vulnerable of our state and nation from January 18, 2021, 12 p.m. through January 22, 2021, 5 p.m.

The Conference Legislative Network (CLN) is partnering with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP) and their “Day for All People 2021 Advocacy Week” for a week of workshops, services opportunities, prayer vigils, and so much more.

In early January, various resources including videos, book and movie suggestions, websites, and other resources will be shared.

Join on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, Martin Luther King Day, for time with Bishop Sharma Lewis as the guest speaker, and then spend part of the afternoon in service. Tuesday through Thursday will include workshops, meeting with state senators and delegates.

Tuesday will feature Governor Ralph Northam as the guest speaker. Friday, January 22, is United Methodist Day at the General Assembly with planning opportunities for sharing and reflection, an opportunity to take part in a Prayer Vigil (both in-person and virtual opportunities), and more.

For more information contact the Rev. Barbara Lewis at [email protected].
umfs autism story

UMFS Kinship Care family featured in the Washington Post

United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) kinship care parents Chris and Naomi Sicks were featured in the recent Washington Post article, “An Autistic teen found a forever family because of a persistent aunt. But too few children in Virginia get that chance, a report finds.” Kinship care is a powerful approach in which youth in foster care are paired with relatives or close family friends. Click here to read the article and learn more about their journey. A wide body of research supports the notion that children do best with kin and that family connections are vital to healthy child development, a sense of belonging, and to preserving a child’s cultural identity and relationship to their community. Unfortunately, Virginia ranks last in the nation for kinship care. UMFS is advocating for the expansion of kinship care in Virginia and is working hard to support kinship placements and families like the Sicks family. Click here to learn more about kinship care at UMFS. Read story...
wesley seminary

Wesley Doctor of Ministry in Soul Care for Pastors, Chaplains and Clinicians; New Track Begins this May

2020 may be over, but it has taken a toll on everyone, particularly for those called to care for the souls of persons and congregations: pastors, chaplains, and clinicians. Why not commit to self-care in 2021 and renew, refresh, and support your essential ministry in care and counseling by starting your Doctor of Ministry in Soul Care for Pastors, Chaplains, and Clinicians at Wesley?

A new Soul Care cohort begins in May 2021. Deadline to apply is February 15. For more information, contact the Rev. Chip Aldridge at [email protected] or call 703-736-1549. View the course schedule at www.wesleyseminary.edu/doctorofministry/soul-care/. To apply, visit www.wesleyseminary.edu/apply/.

Also, save the date for the Wesley Doctor of Ministry Info Day Webinar, Tuesday, January 12, from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Learn about Wesley’s many Doctor of Ministry degree areas of focus at the upcoming webinar. Tour the Wesley campus virtually, explore 2021 tracks, Q & A, and more. Register to receive Zoom access to the webinar at http://ow.ly/A0r150CYvfC.
sprin training

2021 Cross-racial/Cross-Cultural Ministry Spring Training

Pastors with brand new cross-racial/ cross-cultural (CR/CC) appointments, pastors with continuing CR/CC appointments, SPRC chairs, and lay leaders of CR/CC churches, bishops, district superintendents, conference staff – any and everyone who will be impacted by the new/continuing CR/CC appointment should attend this virtual event hosted by the North Texas Conference. The webinar dates are April 30-May 1, 2021. Learn more...

Take Annual Conference 2020 survey

Whether you were a clergy person, an elected lay member, or an observer, please use this survey to describe your experience of the October 31, 2020, virtual Annual Conference session. It will assist Bishop Sharma Lewis, the Cabinet, Director of Connectional Ministries, the Annual Conference Planning Committee, and others in planning future Annual Conference sessions. Please take the survey by January 10, 2021. Take survey...

Two of the questions asked for multiple choice answers, but only one answer could be marked. Please use the following link to properly answer those two questions. Click here for the two-question survey.

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.
  • 2017- read the Bible straight through
  • 2018- read the Bible chronologically
  • 2019- read the Bible in a blended style; a mixture of Old Testament readings and New Testament each day.
  • 2020-read the Bible with a thematic reading plan
  • 2021- read the Bible straight through from Genesis –Revelation
Join in 2021 and commit to reading the Bible all the way through Genesis-Revelation in one year. You can access the daily readings by visiting the conference website or BibleGateway.com.
Reminder: the 2020 Bible Challenge will finish up on January 13, 2021. You can still access the readings at the conference website.

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.
free training

GCFA hosting free training event in January 2021

The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) will be hosting a free three-day training event for several annual conference leadership positions Jan. 26-28, 2021. The virtual sessions are intended for newly elected and returning office holders. Chairpersons and members of conference committees are encouraged to attend. If you are interested in attending to learn more about a specific position’s responsibilities, you can view the agendas for each track and then select one of the eight tracks to register.
Available training tracks:
• Board of Trustees
• Committee on the Episcopacy
• Committee on Equitable Compensation
• Committee on Finance & Administration
• Conference Secretary
• Personnel Committee
• Statistician
• Treasurer

The training will begin Tuesday, Jan. 26, 10 am CT with an opening plenary session with Bishop Cynthia Harvey as the keynote speaker. Here is the link to the registration site where you can view the agendas: https://na.eventscloud.com/annualconferenceleadershiptraining. Please feel free to contact Kellie Schmeal ([email protected] ) of the Connectional Relations team for additional questions about this event.

bright spots

Look out for 'Bright Spots' video series

'Bright Spots' is a video series that highlights where God is working in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can view the videos on the conference Facebook page or on the conference YouTube page. So far, the video has covered a childcare facility, a church helping their members make their home sacred places, and a 'Hope tree' that is an uplifting spot for the entire community. Email [email protected] if you have a 'Bright Spot' we should feature. View the video series...
va roots

New video series curriculum focuses on race relations

On May 29, 2020, Bishop Sharma Lewis asked the question, “When do we as children of God in the second largest annual conference in The United Methodist connection decide to have the crucial conversations and examine our own experiential and inherited stories of race and racism?” The Race and Race Relations Subgroup of the Bishop’s Cabinet began work to help answer that question.
The Virginia Roots, Race, and Discipleship curriculum is a first step to address racism in the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. This series includes videos and interviews that acknowledge and document Virginia’s role in forming and continuing race prejudice and racial discrimination embedded in laws, customs, and institutions, including the church.
This resource is a work in progress with three sessions currently with more to come in the next few months. The resource includes a participant’s guide, facilitator’s notes, a one-minute introductory video for each episode, and 12-14 videos when completed.
The small group study encourages participants to listen, learn, and engage in healthy dialogue about history, race, and discipleship. The goal is for all clergy and laity to acknowledge racism as a sin and take action to dismantle racism in our families, houses of worship, our community, and the workplace.
Learn more and access curriculum and videos at www.vaumc.org/racerelations.

Apportionments will be prioritized for 2021

The Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) recognizes the continued impact of the pandemic on Virginia Conference churches going into 2021. In response, the 2021 Apportionments will be prioritized similarly to the 2020 Apportionments. This will allow churches to pay the critical and essential amounts to support the Virginia Conference clergy and connection. Local churches are asked to first pay all of Priority 1 and they will be considered having paid 100 percent of the 2021 Apportionments. Churches are encouraged to pay Priority 2 after Priority 1 is satisfied, as their financial situation allows. The overall Conference Apportionments for 2021 have not changed, they have just been strategically prioritized. Read more...

New staff announced in Connectional Ministries

Three new associate directors and one administrative assistant began in the conference Connectional Ministries office effective Jan. 1, 2021. A more in-depth description of each of these ministries will be shared on the conference website soon.

Mr. Dwayne Stinson will be Associate Director of Influence. Stinson, prior to the conference office, served as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Shady Grove UMC in Mechanicsville, Va. The Influencing Ministries office will deal primarily with congregational development.

The Rev. Nickie Moreno Howard will be Associate Director of Learning. She most recently served as associate pastor at St. Matthew’s UMC in Annandale, Va. The Learning Ministries office will focus primarily on discipleship.

The Rev. Seungsoo “RJ” Jun will be Associate Director of Serving. Jun most recently served as lead pastor at Raleigh Court UMC in Roanoke, Va. The Serving Ministries office will focus primarily on mission and justice opportunities.

Ms. Glenda Blackwell will be an administrative assistant in Connectional Ministries. She recently served with the Virginia State Police.

“We welcome these four new staff members to our Connectional Ministries Team,” the Director of Connectional Ministries The Rev. Dr. Steve Summers said. “We know that they will bring many gifts and talents to help us realize the vision of the Annual Conference which is to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve. We ask that the Virginia Conference hold the entire staff of Connectional Ministries in prayer during this season of challenge and opportunity.”
umcor kits

Information shared about Kit Collection

Although a postponed Annual Conference session affected the yearly collection of kits in 2020, work is continuing to create a regional kit collection plan for 2021 and moving forward. For kits created in 2020, churches can either drop off their completed kits in their district (once a location has been identified for pickup by a conference kit coordinator) or transport kits on their own to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) depot in Mechanicsburg, PA. For more information visit the website at https://missioncentral.org/. At this time, points of contact have been identified for nine districts. These persons will work with the conference kit coordinators and questions may be directed to them by individuals in their respective district. Learn more...
lewis moxley masks

Pandemic update: Why continue wearing a mask?

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released a document, a resource shared with the conference by Dr. George Moxley of the conference's In-person workgroup, which is a consensus statement designed to provide national guidance for the public on wearing face coverings to decrease the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It was developed by the AAMC Research and Action Institute in conjunction with leading experts in public health as part of The Way Forward on COVID-19: A Road Map to Reset the Nation’s Approach to the Pandemic released by the AAMC on July 29, 2020. View the document.

Bishop Sharma D. Lewis talked with Dr. George Moxley, VCU Health, about the continuing work Virginia United Methodists must do, such as wearing face masks, as the nation and world continue to manage the effects of COVID-19. Dr. Moxley is one of the medical professionals on the In-person workgroup which was formed in April by Bishop Lewis to oversee how churches in the Virginia Conference could safely return to worship.

This video has English, Spanish, and Korean subtitles. Part 2 is also now available. Stay updated on how the Virginia Conference churches are going back to worship by visiting: vaumc.org/return/. Learn more...

General Church News

Ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Day under COVID

RESOURCE UMC --The COVID-19 pandemic continues and though the new vaccine offers new hope, it will take time to administer it to enough people before it is safe to stop following protective guidelines. We can safely assume that Americans will need to continue to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing well into 2021, which means congregations need to plan their events for the coming year with these guidelines in mind.

Martin Luther King Day is on Monday, January 18, 2021. Americans have set aside this day to honor the memory of this great civil rights icon and social prophet. For many congregations the weekend before MLK Day is a time of celebration, community outreach, and continued advocacy for justice. Many churches may not be able to observe the holiday in all the same ways they might have pre-COVID. There are, however, still many ways they can honor Dr. King’s memory and witness in 2021 while still keeping their community members safe. Read more...

Migrants looking to Biden for immigration reform

UNITED METHODIST NEWS --Thousands of migrants are pinning their hopes on the incoming Biden administration to help move them forward in their quest for lives of dignity and safety in the United States. They are writing the president-elect to remind him of his promises.

President-elect Joe Biden has said he will set the annual refugee cap at 125,000. He has pledged to raise it over time.

Cindy Andrade Johnson, a United Methodist deaconess in Brownsville, Texas, has been the “bridge” linking hundreds of migrants to generous United Methodists around the country while they live in deplorable conditions under the Matamoros Bridge in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Read more...

2020: Remembering notable United Methodists

UNITED METHODIST NEWS --United Methodists this past year mourned the passing of groundbreaking bishops, founders of Africa University, giants of the U.S. civil rights movement, and a mathematician who charted the way for astronauts.

Here are 34 remembrances, listed in order of date of death or memorial service. See remembrances...

Church puts love into action amid pandemic

UNITED METHODIST NEWS --As the coronavirus pandemic, prolonged droughts and economic deterioration leave millions facing unprecedented hunger on the African continent, members of The United Methodist Church are stepping in to care for children, seniors and other vulnerable communities.

In Kinshasa, Congo, Innocent Phrytoil Afful, a Ghanaian serving as a Global Ministries missionary, faces the uphill task of caring and providing for 475 orphans in 15 homes run by the Churches of Christ in the Congo, an ecumenical council comprised of 74 member denominations, including The United Methodist Church.
The homes shelter vulnerable children between the ages of 1 and 20.

“Things have been very difficult for us, especially during the lockdown when no visitors were allowed in the homes. We had to ask individuals, local churches and community leaders to come to our aid with foodstuffs, personal protective equipment and first aid supplies to keep the homes operational,” Afful said. Read more...

Keeping water flowing at church missions

UNITED METHODIST NEWS --At a time when clean water is scarce in many parts of the world, The United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe is keeping the precious liquid flowing at its three missions.

“Water is life and everyone needs it,” said the Rev. Alan Masimba Gurupira, administrative assistant to Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa. “Humans and all programs of agriculture are pinned on the availability of adequate water supply.”

He said September through November were the hottest months of the year, drying up water bodies. “The economic meltdown worsened the situation,” he said, noting that the country has long faced food insecurity due to drought.

The World Food Program reported in April that the number of people facing acute food insecurity could rise to 265 million in 2020 as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, nearly double the number in 2019. That number includes 7.7 million people in Zimbabwe, half of the country’s population. Read more...

One Last Word

"O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works."
Psalm 105:1-2 NRSV
sing praise
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 the formatting gives you trouble in forwarding (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More...
facebook twitter youtube instagram linkedin