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

February 23, 2021

Take part in the Conference Vision this week:

"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?

The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is offering a weekly devotion during the Lenten season. Each Wednesday during Lent and every day during Holy Week, a 15-minute recorded devotion, led by a bishop and leaders from their episcopal areas will be released. Learn more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Are you a United Methodist applying to seminary or know someone who is? Register for this free virtual seminary fair with each of the 13 United Methodist theological schools. The event is March 25 at 3 p.m. (EST). Learn more...
  • How can you serve this week?

The United Methoidst Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is in prayer for the many U.S. states that are experiencing the dangerous and deadly effects and after-effects of a string of winter storms. For those enduring widespread blackouts in sub-freezing temperatures, the touching down of multiple tornadoes, and decreased water supply, we offer prayers for safety and protection. Support disaster relief in the U.S....

Virginia News

david agus

Renowned scientist and Bishop Lewis discuss importance of vaccines, safe worship practices

Bishop Sharma Lewis spoke recently with nationally renowned scientist Dr. David Agus as part of the COVID Connection video series. Agus, who advised the Trump administration about COVID-19 and is continuing to do so in the Biden administration, spoke with Lewis on the importance of vaccines, when things will get back to normal, and safe worship practices. Visit link for story and video.
texas church water damage

Assist Texas through UMCOR's Advance

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) responds to natural or civil disasters of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community’s ability to recover on its own. Through UMCOR, United Methodists extend loving care to people within the United States. When disaster strikes, it is local churches that provide the first response to their communities. This basic understanding—that disaster response is local—forms the foundation for UMCOR’s U.S. disaster training and response.

You may send a check to the Virginia Conference (PO Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA 23058) earmarked Advance #901670 to assist people in Texas and other states. Or you may make an online donation at https://advance.umcor.org/p-620-umcor-us-disaster-response-and-recovery.aspx. Specific questions about this Advance project may be directed to Lara S. Martin at [email protected].
join us cropped

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, February 23, the Rev. Nickie Moreno Howard, associate director of the conference Learning Ministries Office, 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
cu stewardship

Credit Union shares new video series on stewardship

The United Methodist Credit Union (TUMCU) is excited to introduce a new video series titled 'Three Minutes of Stewardship,' which is hosted by their Outreach & Stewardship Director, the Rev. Burt Brooks.
This series will focus on a multitude of topics related to stewardship of the church and would be a helpful tool for all pastors. More videos will be released soon on their YouTube channel, social media sites, and the Stewardship page on the TUMCU website at https://www.tumcu.org/stewardship/. The first video begins with the importance and impact of two simple words - "Thank you." Learn more...
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. Join group...
racial justice workshop wesley

Wesley Theological Seminary offering workshop on racial justice work

Mark your calendars for "To Serve This Present Age: Leading Anti-Racist Change," a three-part workshop series on March 4, April 8 & April 29, 4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. (EST) via Zoom.

Join Wesley Theological Seminary's Community Engagement Institute & the seminary's African American Church Studies Program, co-sponsors this series on:
• Naming racism/racial injustice;
• Dealing with racial trauma as a leader;
• Sustaining anti-racist work.
These workshops are open to people in any discipline, denomination, and location, and are designed to reach and speak to practitioners who must navigate spaces in which they have to lead tough conversations around race. A special invitation is made to those who are “lone-rangers” in their space/context to join.
Fee is $20 per session or $45 for all three sessions. Register at this link. For more information, contact: [email protected] .
appointments general

Projected appointments announced for January 2021

Bishop Lewis and the Cabinet has announced the January 2021 projected appointments. View list...
covid connection washing hands

New video series shares education, positivity during ongoing pandemic

The Return to In-Person and the Mission & Ministry Workgroups, two teams formed by Bishop Lewis during the pandemic to safely return United Methodists to worship and the life of the church, are now sharing a video series titled "COVID Connection." This video series will seek to educate and inform as well as share positivity as the pandemic continues. In this video, the Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor, Lynchburg District Revitalization coordinator, shares a reminder to wash your hands for 20 seconds, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taylor is joined in song by Yusang Chung, Jeongseung Lee and their daughters, Eva and Esther, as well as Maegan Mitchell and her daughter, Madilynne, to help demonstrate. Watch video...

United Methodist Men hosting upcoming Zoom event

Topic: Dismantling Racism on March 16 (Zoom information below)

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.

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/.
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 for event: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89824607164
Meeting ID: 898 2460 7164
Dial by your location
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

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.
district alignment

Update shared about District Alignment

February 8, 2021-- Bishop Lewis shared an update on District Alignment through video and a letter. This work has been formed around the question, “How can districts most effectively order themselves for the adaptive challenges of the 21st century?” Learn more about the proposed recommendations and the District Alignment Team (DAT). View link for video, letter, FAQs, feedback form, and other resources. Learn more...
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...
rmc convergence

Learn more about Convergence program at Randolph-Macon College

Excitement for Convergence: A High School Youth Theology Institute at Randolph-Macon College is heating up! Don’t let your current 9th, 10th, or 11th-grade students miss out on this phenomenal opportunity to explore the connection between Christian faith and mainstream science in a virtual classroom, laboratory, and outdoor experiences with Convergence 2021.

Convergence 2021 will be held June 21-22, June 28-29, July 7, and July 25 – 28. All sessions are designed as stand-alone events, and participants are encouraged to join in as many sessions as possible. Visit convergence.rmc.edu. to view this year’s schedule and topics. Thanks to a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, all participants will benefit from a reduced cost for individual sessions or $265 per camper for all four sessions. Additionally, participants who complete all four sessions and are accepted into Randolph-Macon will receive a $1,000 scholarship to the college.

Though last year’s in-person Convergence program was canceled due to COVID-19, the program brought 87 outstanding students from Virginia Conference congregations to Randolph-Macon’s virtual classroom. To nominate a participant, please click here to fill out the nomination form. When the nomination is received, the Convergence Staff will contact your nominee with further information. To apply for Convergence, please click here.

For questions or additional information about the program, please contact Rev. Kendra Grimes or Jamie Grant at [email protected] or (804) 752-7374.
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].
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.

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.

Commit to reading the Bible all the way through Genesis-Revelation in 2021. 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

Why continue wearing a mask?

In summer 2020, 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 2020 by Bishop Lewis to oversee how churches in the Virginia Conference could safely return to worship.

Even as vaccinations begin around the nation and world, the importance of wearing masks still remains a necessity.

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

General Church News

senate session virginia

Virginia lawmakers vote to abolish the death penalty

AP NEWS -- State lawmakers gave final approval Feb. 22 to legislation that will end capital punishment in Virginia, a dramatic turnaround for a state that has executed more people in its long history than any other. The legislation repealing the death penalty now heads to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he will sign it into law, making Virginia the 23rd state to stop executions. Read more...

Read press release about the news from the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, an organization that has advocated for this move with a number of faith leaders including United Methodist clergy around the state. Read more...
moore koikoi webinar

Scrutinizing the proposed hold on new bishops

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- Citing strained finances and denominational uncertainty, United Methodist bishops laid out their case for urging no U.S. bishop elections until 2024. The bishops organized a public webinar on Feb. 13 mainly with the goal of reaching U.S. General Conference and jurisdictional conference delegates — the United Methodists with final say on the number of U.S. bishops. Some delegates already are pushing back against the recommended delay in all elections — arguing such a move is more drastic than finances warrant and could have theological implications. Sixteen of 46 active U.S. bishops — more than a third — plan to retire as soon as possible or already have taken on new roles with the Council of Bishops. That 16 includes Bishops Peggy A. Johnson and Elaine J.W. Stanovsky, who recently announced retirement plans. All five jurisdictions have retiring bishops. "To choose not to elect any bishops is to affirm that God is not calling forth any new people to lead the church this quadrennium," the Northern Illinois Conference delegation said in an open letter, widely circulated before the webinar. "This is a theological statement we are not prepared to make." Read more...

The power of a song

UNITED METHODIST NEWS --Inspired songs by hymnists such as Charles Wesley and the unknown authors of many African American spirituals have helped Karen Crenshaw Swenson cope with the vicissitudes of life since she was a child. “In some ways, I think music is the language of God,” the retired journalist and librarian who lives in Suwanee, Georgia continues. “The songs came back to me, just like a familiar friend.” The songs we sing are much more than entertainment during worship services. “Hymns are a form of practical theology,” Zebulon M. Highben, director of Chapel Music at Duke University Chapel and associate professor at Duke Divinity School teaches. Highben shares some stories about favorite hymns. “People may not always remember even the most powerful sermons they hear preached,” Highben adds. “But when you take words that express faith and you combine them with a melody, that’s memorable, somehow. That sticks with us.” Read more...
henry louis gates jr

‘Black Church’ film taps United Methodist sources

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- The United Methodist Church has a supporting role in the new PBS documentary “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song,” which airs Feb. 16-17. Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host, writer and executive producer, begins and ends the film with a visit to his boyhood church, Waldon United Methodist in Piedmont, West Virginia. “The lessons I learned here, the power of faith, the importance of community, have remained with me and sustained me, the same way the Black church has sustained the African American people from the days of slavery to this day,” Gates says as he stands in front of the small, white-frame structure. The documentary also draws heavily on resources of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History, based at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Read more...

One Last Word: Servants

A photo went viral last week showing exhausted staff at a Domino's Pizza shop in San Antonio, Texas, who were open for four hours during the winter weather that ravaged the state through bitter cold, power outages, lack of food, and more.

In that time, while other restaurants were closed, the restaurant served a weekend's worth of food. The employee who posted the picture said of the picture, "This is us. Dominos. Working hard. Serving you during this crisis." Read article...

Photo Courtesy July DeLuna
dominos deluna
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