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

March 9, 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?

For Women's History Month, learn about some amazing women who helped shape the history of the church. Read more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Candid conversations take courage. But they also require kindness and compassion. In an article with the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, the Rev. Tom Berlin suggests five practices for approaching difficult conversations with openness, honesty, sensitivity, and grace. Read article...
  • How can you serve this week?

Support UMCOR's vital work: Help someone in need today by supporting UMCOR's humanitarian relief efforts around the world. A donation to the "Where Most Needed" fund will provide assistance to programs that fight hunger and poverty, assist the displaced, and respond to disasters. Learn more...

Virginia News

book of reports cover 2020

Option available to opt-out of 2021 Book of Reports mailed copy

In an effort to save money, the conference is asking clergy and lay members to the virtual 2021 Annual Conference session if they would like to opt-out of receiving a mailed, hard copy of the Book of Reports. It will be placed on the conference website in PDF format to view/download and/or print.

If you still want to receive a hard copy by mail, you don’t need to do anything. Please fill out the form at the link only if you DO NOT want to have a Book of Reports mailed to you. Fill out form...
learning opportunity

Opportunity to learn about UMC loans, scholarships

Join the Rev. Nickie Moreno Howard, conference associate director of Learning Ministries, and Marci Bigord, the assistant director of Loans and Scholarships for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, on March 11 at 7 p.m. to learn about UMC Loans and Scholarships. They will share about the upcoming deadline for scholarships (March 24), the application process, give scholarship tips, and provide time for questions.
This conversation is for anyone currently applying for scholarships or anyone who works with students (parents, campus ministers, youth ministers, and pastors are welcome!). To get the Zoom information for the event contact [email protected].
Virtual Town Hall umfs

You’re invited: UMFS Virtual Town Hall

Join United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) on Thursday, March 18 from 5-6 p.m. for the UMFS Virtual Town Hall. Learn more about the changes in progress on the Richmond campus, and how UMFS is building infrastructure and upgrading programs so that high-risk children and families across Virginia can receive the care and resources they deserve well into the future. Speakers will include UMFS President and CEO Greg Peters, who will be retiring in early April, and incoming President and CEO Nancy Toscano. The event will also feature adoptive parent Sarah Hoyle. The Town Hall will be broadcast on Facebook Live, but you don't need to have a Facebook account to join. Visit the UMFS Facebook page to watch the event live: www.Facebook.com/UMFS.org. You can also learn more on the UMFS website at www.UMFS.org/news.

Join virtual Lay Servant training this spring

The Rappahannock River District is pleased to offer another virtual training session this May open to all districts. The following classes will be available: Basic, UM Polity, and Leading Worship.

The classes will be held on Zoom on May 1,8, and 15 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Participants must attend all three sessions to receive credit for the class.

If you have any questions, please contact the district Director of Lay Servant Ministries, Pastor Kevin Elmore at [email protected].

Learn more information with the district flyer.

Lay Servant Training is a leadership development program for our laity in the UMC. It can help anyone who is interested in learning more in their pursuit of being a better leader and servant for Christ’s church. These classes can be used as tools in discerning God’s call for your personal walk and ministry. If you are a Lay Servant, you must attend the ENTIRE course in order to receive credit for certification or recertification. Recertification is required every three years for both Certified Lay Servants and Certified Lay Speakers.

um seminaries

Join online fair planned for all U.S. seminaries

An online seminary fair is planned March 25 with all 13 U.S. United Methodist seminaries and theological schools at 3 p.m. U.S. (EST) March 25. The online event is an opportunity to hear what each school has to offer. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry also plans to offer information on scholarships and financing a degree. Learn more...

Conference director featured in article

Navigating the ordination process is not always easy. The Rev. Nickie Moreno Howard, associate director of Learning Ministries in the conference Connectional Ministries Office, helps others on the journey in a General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) article. Learn more...
easter egg hunt

Information about 2021 summer mission trips, Easter Egg guidance released

For the spring and summer of 2021, the Bishop and Cabinet are permitting and encouraging congregations to engage in mission work in their local communities. It is the hope of both the Mission and Ministry workgroup and the Cabinet that this local mission work in 2021 will enable churches to strengthen relations with neighbors and organizations in their local area, and even foster new relationships in their local communities.

The Mission & Ministry group is also sharing tools for planning an Easter Egg Hunt and Vacation Bible School in 2021. Learn more...
return to worship icon

TAM update released

The work group created by Bishop Sharma D. Lewis to help move back to in-person worship safely has issued its first update to its Technical Assistance Manual (TAM) since December 11. The new update from the Return to In-Person Worship Work Group takes into account new research and best practices and provides new guidance in a number of areas. Specific requirements are in the latest TAM found on the conference webpage at www.vaumc.org/return. Churches that update their plans as a result of these changes should resubmit their plans to the District Superintendent. Learn more...
CM podcasts

Two podcasts released from Connectional Ministries Office

Introducing two new podcasts from the conference Connectional Ministries Office. Both are available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
"The VAUMC Connection" is a series of standalone projects that will include news from the conference center and a collection of resources shared by the Connectional Ministries Office. Available on Spotify and Apple.
"1000 Question Christian" is a weekly podcast where we ask clergy off-the-wall questions -- anything from weird stories in the Bible to pastoral advice. The first episode is live now "Dinos, Donkeys, & Doubts." Available on Spotify and Apple.
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, March 10, the Rev. Linda Ray, Chamberlayne Heights UMC, Richmond District, will lead worship.

Upcoming leaders include:
  • March 17 - the Rev. Kevin Elmore, Andrew Chapel UMC, Rappahannock River District
  • March 24 - the Rev. Lynda Moore, Asbury UMC, Richmond District
  • March 31 - the Rev. Seungsoo 'RJ' Jun, Conference Associate Director of Serving Ministries
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
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...
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].

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.
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].

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.

General Church News

bishop carcano

‘Girls, Jesus is calling YOU!’

In a video message on March 3, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño of the California-Nevada Conference shared some of the lessons she has learned about the value of women in helping heal the world and the plan that God has for all of us. Read more...

Dotson remembered for seeing all the people

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- The Rev. Junius B. Dotson liked to say, “Discipleship begins with relationship.” At a livestreamed “homegoing service” March 6, United Methodists celebrated Dotson’s life of building relationships and strengthening faith around the globe. Dotson — the top executive of Discipleship Ministries since 2016 — died Feb. 25 at age 55. It was less than a month after announcing his battle with pancreatic cancer. “We can celebrate his life this morning because Junius was a dedicated father; he was a devoted friend; he was a diehard Cowboys fan. But most of all he was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Michael L. Bowie Jr., a friend who served as a sort of emcee for the service. Bowie is the denomination’s executive director of Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st century. The service took place at Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, which Dotson grew up attending with his grandmother. The congregation is also among the denomination’s largest. Bishops, prominent pastors and other United Methodist leaders joined with Dotson’s family members and close friends in the service. Taking precautions against COVID-19, they sat socially distanced from each other and wore masks. Friends and family also wore purple ribbons, an effort to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer as Dotson tried to do in his last days. Read more...
stanovsky general conference

Planned General Conference postponed until 2022, special one-day session announced

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- General Conference organizers announced that the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly — long postponed by pandemic — must wait to meet another year. The global gathering is now scheduled Aug. 29-Sept. 6, 2022, in Minneapolis. At the same time, the Council of Bishops has announced a special one-day General Conference on May 8. The special global gathering has only 12 pieces of legislation before it — all basically intended to help the church function until the full General Conference meets. The virtual gathering is to form a quorum to suspend the rules and allow paper balloting. The vote on suspending the rules will be online. But after the online meeting's adjournment, the delegates will have an extended period in which to vote by paper ballot on the 12 legislative items. Those ballots will be mailed in, with results to be announced by July 13. Read more...

Information, as it is shared, concerning General Conference 2022 will be shared on the conference website.
global methodist church

Planned denomination gets name

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- Traditionalists committed to leaving The United Methodist Church have chosen “Global Methodist Church” as the name for the denomination they plan to launch. The group also unveiled on March 1 a logo and website. The work toward a new denomination is guided by a transitional leadership council, which includes some retired United Methodist bishops. “The primary mission of the Global Methodist Church will be to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly and witness boldly,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, chair of the transitional leadership council. But the official start and legal organization of the Global Methodist Church may well be more than a year and a half away. Read more...

One Last Word

“Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily._
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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