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

February 2, 2021

Conference Vision

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

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Virginia News

  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?

Learn The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry(GBHEM) has curated a list of books by GBHEM authors to help you tackle new issues presented by the coronavirus. This crisis is unique, but there are enduring lessons of faith, leadership, and morality that can guide us all right now. Find a book today!
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Do you know a young adult who could serve? Share this opportunity with them this week! The United Methodist Church has been sending young adults to serve in short-term mission for 70 years, and now more than ever, our world needs young leaders who are willing to engage in issues of social justice. The application to serve as a Global Mission Fellows - Global Ministries of UMC in the United States is still open. Apply today!
  • How can you serve this week?

Interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities offered through Global Ministries?
Mark your calendars for upcoming virtual discovery events. Learn more...

Virginia News

Annual Conference 2021 (1)

Annual Conference 2021 will be virtual event from June 18-19

Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, together with the Annual Conference Planning Team, announced the 2021 Virginia Annual Conference will be a virtual event held June 18-19.

Business of the Annual Conference will be limited, due to economic constraints, only to Friday, June 18. The conference will again be using Lumi Global as the platform vendor.
Worship services and time for district-based service opportunities will be conducted on Saturday, June 19.
The theme for 2021 is “United as One” with the guiding Scripture of John 17:20-23 (NRSV). The official logo and more information coming soon. Learn more...

dismantling racism umc logo

Dismantling racism will be topic of March 16 United Methodist Men-sponsored Zoom event

The Southeastern Jurisdiction recently sponsored an online training session for over 400 elected delegates on issues affecting the United Methodist Church including funding for the episcopacy (bishops), whether a General Conference will be held this year, and Dismantling Racism.

According to Andrew Kissell, jurisdictional president of United Methodist Men (UMM) and a lay member of the Virginia Conference, “United Methodist bishops are still working hard to learn, lead and love in this regard and will not back down from confronting this virulent strain of exclusion we call racism or white supremacy.” Kissell said one of the speakers at this jurisdictional event shared with him how the UMM can help.
On the day of the violent events in the nation’s capitol January 6, the Council of Bishops endorsed a letter from Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of the Baltimore-Washington Conference condemning “…all the forces that led to the unprecedented insurrection today — forces of hate, of white supremacy, of distorted self-interest, and abuse of power.'”
As explained at the jurisdictional event, more than anyone else, it was individual United Methodist men who complained about this letter from the Council.
Kissell encourages the UMM to help "by boldly promoting dialogue on race; by becoming allies for change; and by recognizing that as lifelong learners we may be of much greater help when we actively listen to the victims’ stories of hate and exclusion.”
Join the Virginia Conference UMM for a Zoom forum on March 16 at 6:30 p.m. that will be moderated by Kissell. Learn more about the event at this link.
Guest speakers will include:
  • The Rev. Reason Chandler, Jackson St. UMC, Lynchburg;
  • The Rev. Brenda Laws, Greenbackville Charge, New Church
  • The Rev. Larry Jent, Grace UMC (Hartwood), Fredericksburg
  • The Rev. Jeff Mickle, Alexandria District Superintendent

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89824607164
Meeting ID: 898 2460 7164

Fellowships across the Commonwealth are also using a Virginia Conference video and curriculum series on Race Relations to explore the injustices of systemic, institutional racism available at https://vaumc.org/racerelationsvideos/.

Colorado Shooting

UMC clergy call for end of death penalty

A group of African American pastors from across Virginia on Thursday, Jan. 7, called for the abolition of the death penalty in the upcoming Virginia General Assembly, citing the sometimes racist application of capital punishment in the state. Included in this group was the Rev. James Page, co-chair of the conference Board of Church and Society and senior pastor of Galloway UMC. Read more of story originally published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch...

In an Op-ed from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Rev. John D. Copenhaver Jr., a retired pastor in the Virginia Conference and professor emeritus at Shenandoah University, shared "A Christian case for abolition of the death penalty." Read more...
shenandoah university

Shenandoah University forced to 'sit idle' instead of helping in COVID-19 vaccination process due to uncertain and sporadic doses

"Sometimes, good things really do come in small packages. In the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, this has come in the form of a small university partnering with a small health system and a semirural health district to get thousands of people vaccinated," Tracy Fitzsimmons, Shenandoah University president, said in the column. "We are ready and able to do 15,000 a week, but instead, our vaccinators and volunteers are sitting idle most days, waiting for doses that are sporadic and uncertain." Shenandoah University is one of the affiliated colleges with the Virginia Conference. Read more in the column that was published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch...
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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.

This week, Feb. 3, will feature the Rev. Steve Summers for a time of worship. Steve is the Director of Connectional Ministries for the Virginia Conference.

February 10 will feature the Rev. Debra Lucas, pastor of Harmony (Hamilton) in the Winchester District.

February 17, Ash Wednesday, the Rev. Lindsey Baynham, director of the conference Center for Clergy Excellence, will lead worship.

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
unite the rigth rally clergy march

Charlottesville faith leaders share lessons for President Biden

WBUR (NPR affiliate)--In 2017, former President Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” when a group of protesters — including white nationalists — marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and clashed with counter-protesters. The event was a brazen display of racism and anti-Semitism, and it claimed the life of a young woman named Heather Heyer. When President Biden launched his campaign a year and a half later, the first two words of his announcement were "Charlottesville, Virginia."

The ugliness of the “Unite the Right” rally and Trump's response helped inspire Biden's bid for the presidency. But as Biden called for unity in his inaugural address last week, many in Charlottesville are still healing from what they call the "summer of hate.”

The people of Charlottesville want to be more than the events of that summer, said the Rev. Phil Woodson, associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in the city and one of the counter-protesters at the rally. He said he believes that bringing justice and equity to the forefront can lead to unity. Read more of WBUR article...
intentional growth center

Apply for grant funding education programs increasing pastoral and congregational effectiveness

The Intentional Growth Center (IGC) exists to provide funds for educational programs that increase pastoral and congregational effectiveness in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

The purpose of IGC is to provide grants that make possible programs for increasing Christian Discipleship and Church Leader Development for clergy and laity of all denominations, but with primary attention to persons of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church. The deadline to apply for a grant from the Intentional Growth Center is February 15, 2021, midnight ET. Grants are expected to be awarded in May of 2021. Don't miss this great opportunity to further your organization's mission and ministry.

For more information and the online application, visit:
su youth theology institute

Nominations and applications open for Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute

Is there high schooler in your life who is ready to learn about how their faith in Jesus Christ calls them to live and be in the world in a way that seeks justice, all while earning college credit that they can carry with them wherever they go after high school? Nominate and encourage them to apply for the Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute (SUYTI). SUYTI is a two-week, credit-bearing program for any young person who is currently in high school (that is, any student who will be a rising sophomore through recent high school graduate this summer). Through a daily rhythm of worship, academic study, experiential and service learning, and (of course) sabbath rest, students will learn to become stronger Christian leaders and return home equipped to be change-agents for the reign of God. The 2021 Institute will run from July 18-31, 2021 on Shenandoah University’s main campus in Winchester. Thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment, students will have all that SUYTI has to offer (room and board, program expenses, and three college credits) at a cost of only $200 per student. However, 2021 will be the final session, so now is the perfect time to apply! To nominate a student or to apply, visit www.su.edu/youththeology. For more information, contact Ian Urriola, Director of the SUYTI, by calling (540) 665-5453 or emailing [email protected].
heart havens logo big

February is Heart Havens month

The Virginia Conference has designated February as Heart Havens Month, one of six special offerings throughout the year. There are seven Heart Havens homes across the conference, where men and women with a developmental disability are empowered to be full members of the body of Christ, and active participants in their communities.

The theme for Heart Havens Month this year is "A Different Perspective." Heart Havens' goal is 100 monthly Heart Havens donors. Please help out the organization by sharing their video, graphic, or Bishop’s prayer for Heart Havens during a worship service this month?
If you would like a virtual speaker for Sunday morning worship or a UMM/UMW or another small group meeting, please contact Jennifer Boyden at 804-506-8667 or [email protected].
Access worship resources for the month here.
va roots

New videos added to Cabinet race relations curriculum

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.

Videos 4-6 have now been added to the curriculum. Learn more and access curriculum and videos at www.vaumc.org/racerelations.
gbhem aid

GBHEM offering financial assistance to qualified students

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) is offering financial assistance through their spring loan application. The application is open to qualified students through May 5. Learn more...

GBHEM also offers a general application for all GBHEM scholarships.

Deadline nears for communications ministry scholarship and fellowship

Persons interested in pursuing a career in religious communications are encouraged to explore education support offered by United Methodist Communications. Eligible parties have until March 15 to submit their applications for scholarship and fellowship consideration.For 80 years, United Methodist Communications and its predecessors have led the church in telling inspirational stories of God's work in the world through The United Methodist Church, reaching new people, supporting local churches in vibrant communications ministry, equipping leaders and delivering messages of hope and healing. Assisting the next generation of communicators is an important way that the agency fulfills their mission. Learn more...

Back to In-person Worship Work Group provides Ash Wednesday resources

Given the continuing pandemic restrictions, churches and worship leaders are exploring different methods for observing Ash Wednesday on February 17 this year. The work group noted that the Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments is recommending that “no gatherings in any indoor venue take place for either Shrove Tuesday or Ash Wednesday in the United States.” Find resources...
rmc logo

Bailey Scholar application deadline 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 is 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 on February 4 at 7 p.m. 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...
tumcu logo

TUMCU offering PPP loans again

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.
wesley seminary

New Track begins May 2021 at Wesley Theological Seminary

      The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on us all, 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: February 15, 2021. For more information, contact Rev. Dr. Chip Aldridge at [email protected] or call 703-736-1549. View the course schedule: https://www.wesleyseminary.edu/doctorofministry/soul-care/. To apply: https://www.wesleyseminary.edu/apply/.
      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.
      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

      offering basket

      Church sees surge in giving at year's end

      UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- An outpouring in end-of-year giving left United Methodist finances in better shape than projected in the early months of the pandemic. However, between the ongoing COVID-19 menace and the possibility of a denominational split, The United Methodist Church still faces financial uncertainty. Altogether, preliminary figures show that the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration collected about 79.3% of 2020 U.S. apportionments — requested shares of giving that support denomination-wide ministries. That’s the denomination’s lowest collection rate in at least 15 years, but it’s significantly better than the 70% collection rate that GCFA staff were projecting in the fall.
      “We had almost $40 million in collections in December of 2020,” said Rick King, the finance agency’s chief financial officer. “As far as I can go back, that is the most dollars we have received in any month ever.” Apportionments to the general church come from annual conferences, which in turn apportion giving from local churches. The U.S. supports the bulk of general church ministries. Read more...
      junius dotson

      Discipleship’s top executive battles cancer

      UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- The Rev. Junius B. Dotson, the top executive of Discipleship Ministries, told his staff and board Jan. 28 that he is battling pancreatic cancer. However, he also stressed that he plans to keep serving The United Methodist Church as he combats the disease. “Despite the low percentage of survivors, I am determined to fight,” he said in a statement. “I intend to beat the odds. I also plan on working as long as the Lord allows.” Dotson, 55, holds multiple denominational leadership roles in addition to helming Discipleship Ministries since July 2016. He also is one of 16 church leaders who negotiated the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, the widely endorsed proposal that seeks to resolve the longtime United Methodist debate over homosexuality through a denominational split. As part of the negotiations, Dotson represented multiple centrist advocacy groups that seek greater freedom in church policies related to same-sex weddings and gay ordination. The protocol needs the approval of General Conference to go forward. However, plans for the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly remain uncertain because of the pandemic. Dotson told staff he wants to be transparent about his own health challenges even as the work continues. Read more...
      liberians wheelchairs

      Wheelchairs provide freedom for 50 Liberians

      UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- “This wheelchair is my Mercedes-Benz,” said 55-year-old Alice M. Nyankolor. She said her movement is no longer restricted, adding, “All I have to do is go to the bus station check-in and upload my wheelchair and off I go.” Nyankolor was among 50 people who received a new wheelchair shipped by Asbury United Methodist Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, through its Barrels of Love ministry. The program provides semiannual shipments of clothing, medical supplies, textbooks, and more. To distribute the goods, the church collaborates with Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia — a United Methodist Global Ministries Advance program — founded by former Global Ministries missionary Dr. Christiana Hena, who returned to her native Liberia in 2012. Nyankolor said the gift of the wheelchair is a blessing to her and other individuals in her situation. Residing in the hilly community of Kakata, in Margibi County, she said it is a painful experience not to be able to go where she wants. Read more...

      One Last Word

      We like to make our plans. But we can’t control what life throws at us. We can only trust that God is greater than our struggles.
      lord determines our steps
      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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