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

January 19, 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?

Bishop Lewis recorded a sermon entitled "Walking by Faith" that traces Hebrews 11 alongside the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch the sermon...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Look for 'Bright Spots'! '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 church helping their members make their home sacred places, a 'Hope tree' that is an uplifting spot for the entire community, and a long-term care facility that just received its first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Email [email protected] if you have a 'Bright Spot' we should feature. View the video series...
  • 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


Join conference in prayer on January 20

Join Bishop Lewis, the Virginia Conference Cabinet, and the Connectional Ministries office staff in a time of prayer for our nation and our leaders on January 20, 2021, as President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are inaugurated.

The event, “Inaugural Prayer and Healing Service,” will start at 9 a.m. with the Rev. Sylvia Meadows, James River District superintendent, and members of the Connectional Ministries staff in a time of centering.

Join the event at this link: https://vimeo.com/500180032.
meet new employees

Meet new Connectional Ministries staff through video

While we have introduced the conference to the new Connectional Ministries staff, the Communications Office would like you to see more of their personalities as well as know their faces. Please reach out to our new staff to welcome them to the conference office. On our YouTube page, the first video is a short intro video for all our staff. The individual introduction videos get to the hard questions such as, "What is your go to karaoke song?" or "What would your superpower be?" View videos...
wesley seminary

Learn about upcoming events at Wesley Theological Seminary

  • “Better Together - Moving Forward As One: The 59th Inauguration Wesley Watch Party, Celebrating the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris," January 20, 2021 on Zoom, 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. Eastern
The Community Engagement Institute and the Center for Public Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary are excited to announce this historic virtual watch party and the very special guests that will be joining the watch party on January 20:
- Mr. Shaun Casey, Director, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Professor of the Practice, School of Foreign Service;
- Dr. Sabrina Dent, Senior Faith Adviser, Americans United for Separation of Church and State;
- Mr. Kent Roberson, At-Large Member, Democratic Central Committee in Maryland. Student, Wesley Theological Seminary;
- Mr. Paul Monteiro, Chief of Staff and Assistant Vice President of External Affairs, Howard University. Member, Wesley Board of Governors.
The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Lorena M. Parrish, Wesley's Associate Professor of Urban Ministry and Director of the Community Engagement Institute and Center for Public Theology. Register for the event at http://bit.ly/WTSWatchParty2021. For more information, email [email protected].
  • Wesley Virtual Career Exploration, January 21, 2021 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. Eastern
What can you do with a seminary degree from Wesley? A wide range of ministries, both inside the local church and beyond. Wesley graduates have started their own non-profits, expressed their call to ministry through social advocacy, immigration law, the arts, academia, and so many other ways.
If the New Year brings thoughts of new ministry directions for you, learn more from the panel of Wesley graduates in unexpected ministries at the upcoming Virtual Career Exploration, January 21, 2021, 7 - 8 p.m. Eastern. Be sure to register to gain Zoom access to the event at this link.
  • 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/.
rmc logo

Bailey Scholar application is Feb. 8, 2021

Do you know a high school senior discerning a call to ministry? Whether they feel called to be a pastor, a youth minister, a music minister, a religious studies professor, a faith-based nonprofit leader, military or hospital chaplain, Randolph-Macon College’s Bailey Scholars Program could help them (a) afford college and (b) find a supportive community for vocational discernment as they grow in college and prepare for seminary.

At the link are two fliers in the right column to share with your youth group, in your church newsletter, on social media, etc. Randolph-Macon College is the oldest continuously operating Methodist college in the United States, and we're committed to nurturing a new generation of leaders both in the UMC and across denominational lines too. Application deadline is Feb. 8, 2021. If you have questions, email [email protected].

Hear from missionaries around the world with Global Ministries

Join Global Ministries as they explore the transforming work of United Methodist missionaries serving around the world. During this Zoom call, you will be able to meet in a small group to hear a presentation from a single missionary during the call. Find out more about these missionaries below, or at www.umcmission.org.
  • Ho Yan Lee is serving as a Peace Process Accompanier with the Centre for peace & Conflict Studies in Cambodia.
  • Juarez Goncalves is serving as the Conference Coordinator for Latino Ministries & Church Developer for Brazilian Ministries with Igreja Metodista in the United States.
  • Clara Biswas is serving as the Director for Street Children Ministry in Cambodia.
  • Brenda Nguwa is serving as the Coordinator for Youth Ministry & Social Outreach Programs with Gereja Methodist in Indonesia.
Registration is limited. You will get a confirmation email once your registration is accepted. If the limit is reached, you will get priority for future events. Register now...
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...

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.

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.
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.
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

31 United Methodists serve in 117th Congress

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- A near-equal number of United Methodists serve on each side of the aisle in the 117th U.S. Congress, which faces the work of responding to a wounded nation and breached Capitol building. The newly started Congress has 31 United Methodists — 16 Republicans and 15 Democrats. Six of the denomination’ members serve in the Senate and 25 in the House. However, the total marks a decrease of seven from the 116th Congress, largely because of retirements. Retiring United Methodists include former Sens. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, and Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican. Other retirees are former Reps. Rob Woodall, a Georgia Republican; Phil Roe, a Tennessee Republican; David Loebsack, an Iowa Democrat; and Texas Republican Pete Olson. Read more...

Gen Z is lukewarm about religion, but open to relationships, study shows

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE (RNS) --More than half of teens and young adults who say they are affiliated with an organized religion also say they have little or no trust in organized religion. In other words, they are involved in religious institutions on paper but are disengaged at some level because they don’t trust religious institutions — even the ones they belong to. And that’s just the roughly 6 in 10 who are still affiliated. That lack of trust among religiously affiliated teens and young adults is one of many surprises in the “State of Religion and Young People” study released by Springtide Research Institute, which was founded in August 2019. The study surveyed more than 10,000 Americans ages 13 to 25 — the so-called Gen Z generation — about their involvement in, and feelings about, religion. Read more...

2021 might be unpredictable, but don’t ditch your datebook. Planning can be a spiritual exercise

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE (RNS) -- “I’m not buying a 2021 planner until I see a trailer,” read one meme that circulated late last year. Other people laughed at what a waste of money their 2020 planner had been, or how young and naïve they were when they bought it. However, the beginning of another pandemic year largely locked down at home, the future still uncertain, may be the perfect time to flip the page in a new planner. Not just so you can keep track of hectic virtual school schedules or see the blank spaces in a non-existent social calendar — but to help you stay grounded. Keeping in turn with the wheel of the year or creating a personal rule to guide your days and give them meaning is more than just jotting down appointment times and travel dates — it’s a spiritual practice. At least that’s the case for Casper ter Kuile, a ministry innovation fellow at Harvard Divinity School and the co-founder of startup Sacred Design Lab. Read more...

One Last Word: 'Togetherness' at the border wall

"Teeter-Totter Wall," a temporary interactive installation designed by California-based architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, has won the 2020 Beazley Design of the Year, an annual award and exhibition run by London's Design Museum.
The installation, which took place in July 2019, consisted of three bright pink teeter-totters -- or seesaws -- slotted into the gaps of the steel border wall that separates the United States and Mexico. It allowed children from El Paso, Texas, and the Anapra community in Juárez, Mexico, to play together in spite of the 20-foot wall, which stands on the most-crossed border in the world and is a continual site of political fracture.
"Teeter-Totter Wall" was designed to illustrate the intrinsic connection between the two lands, and was a collaboration with Juárez artist collective Colectivo Chopeke. "What you do on one side has an impact on the other," Rael told CNN back in 2019, "and that's what a seesaw is." Read article...

Luis Torres/AFP/Getty Images
see saw installation
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...
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