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

March 16, 2021

Take part in the Conference Vision this week:

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

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  • 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?

Easter will be here soon! Check out these books to help you share the miraculous Easter story with the special children in your life. Discover books...
  • How can you serve this week?

Are you planning for Earth Day 2021 yet? The event is April 22. Start considering how to focus your church community on caring for creation. Global Ministries has resources available at the link.

Virginia News

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Bishop, Cabinet share latest clergy appointments

Bishop Lewis and the Virginia Cabinet announced the latest round of clergy appointments starting on July 1, 2021. See appointments...
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Updates shared from In-person Worship Work Group

March 10, 2021-- The Bishop’s Work Group on the Return to In-Person Worship continues to meet regularly to consider revisions to the Technical Assistance Manual (TAM). Below are some updates on the changing environment:
  • The number of new COVID cases has been declining steadily in Virginia for 50 days.
  • Vaccination efforts continue with 18% of Virginia’s population having received at least one dose of the vaccine according to a Virginia Department of Health website on March 9, 2021.
  • Clergy and faith leaders are now considered frontline/essential workers in Virginia and are eligible to be vaccinated during Phase 1b of the commonwealth’s vaccine rollout.
  • Everyone can sign up for a free COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaccinate Virginia website.
  • On Monday the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance for those who have been fully vaccinated.
The CDC information will be reviewed by the Return to In-Person Worship Work Group for its implications for the TAM. The guidance document defines a person as fully vaccinated when two full weeks have passed since they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine) or two full weeks following a dose of a single-dose vaccine (like Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine).

The new CDC guidance is not intended for public gatherings but offers the promise of further changes as more persons are vaccinated and as case numbers continue to decline. While this new guidance is promising and points towards more loosening of restrictions in weeks to come, at this time the CDC still advises fully vaccinated persons to:

  • Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
  • Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
Though more changes are anticipated for the TAM as the Work Group receives more guidance, no further revisions have been made to the TAM beyond those made on February 24, 2021 and churches will still need to follow its requirements.
The Work Group has also collected some information and resources to help small churches adapting to the pandemic conditions. You can find that info on the Work Group’s webpage at www.vaumc.org/return.
View information on conference website...
Apply now

Apply now for conference Benevolence grants

Conference Benevolence Grants are for connectional ministries beyond the local level to cover administrative expenses. Applications for 2022 grants are now available on the conference website. Applications are due on April 15, 2021.

TONIGHT: 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
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+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C)
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Conference lay leader shares a message reflecting on hope

Conference Lay Leader Martha Stokes shared a letter reflecting on the start of a new year well as the hope of which clergy and laity in the Virginia Conference can take part. Read the full letter at the link.
wesley seminary

Register for Wesley Seminary all-online summer term course

Plan your summer with Wesley Theological Seminary. Their all-online Summer Term course will enable you to study this summer safely and from wherever you may be. A few of this summer's course offerings include:
  • Music & Social Justice - Dr. Carolyn Rosen
  • Spirituality & Ecojustice – Dr. Beth Norcross
  • The Church and the Civil Rights Movement - Dr. Tony Hunt
  • Church Finances - Dr. Lovett Weems
  • Teaching and Learning in Christian Education for a Diverse World - Dr. Jana Strukova
  • Introduction to Disability Ministries And Deaf Ministries - The Rev. Leo Yates
  • Social Justice & Cinema: Racism, Colonialism & the Rights of the MarginalIzed - Dr. Dawn Cooper Barnes
  • Biblical Storytelling - Dr. Tracy A. Radosevic
Register early as classes fill up quickly! Registration opened for degree, non-degree and certificate courses March 15 - go to https://www.wesleyseminary.edu/admissions/try-a-class-2/.
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.
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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, March 17, the Rev. Kevin Elmore, Andrew Chapel UMC, Rappahannock River District, will lead worship.

Upcoming leaders include:
  • 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
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. Deadline to fill out this form is April 2, 2021. Fill out form...
tumcu logo

Deadline is March 31 for PPP loans

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. The deadline for new applications to the
Payroll Protection Program (PPP) is March 31.

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...
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...
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.
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...
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


Join April 1 webinar on HIV & AIDS prevention tools

The United Methodist Global AIDS Committee (UMGAC) will host a free webinar online on April 1 at 2 p.m. ET titled "Prevention Tools and HIV and AIDS" sharing important information about preventing the spread of the HIV virus, a high priority for The United Methodist Church.

Thirty-eight million people in the world were living with HIV at the end of 2019, according to the World Health Organization, and 1.7 million people were newly infected that year.

Chaired by Bishop Julius Trimble, the committee provides resources and training to annual conferences and local churches, engaging them in HIV and AIDS education and advocacy. This work reduces stigma and provides a greater opportunity for welcoming all people into the church. The committee includes members from the Council of Bishops, Discipleship Ministries, General Board of Church and Society, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Communications, and United Methodist Women. Learn more...
gospel music zimbabwe

Gospel music sparks hope amid COVID-19

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- In the face of COVID-19, gospel music has brought solace to the bereaved, encouragement to the struggling and hope to pandemic survivors. The Rev. Archford Muchingami, Buhera West United Methodist Church, recovered from COVID-19. He said gospel music provided strength and comfort. “I managed my anxieties and uncertainties of coronavirus infection while in my isolation room,” he said, “by listening to good gospel music and singing along. At low volume, I could feel the soothing melody penetrating my body and touching every nerve. I felt a sense of pleasure,” Muchingami added. “It boosted my morale and brought me very close to God.” Tendekayi Kuture, retired head music lecturer and choir director at Africa University, said music informs, advises, encourages and educates — and even heals. Pandemic-induced lockdowns and suspension of in-person gatherings have proven especially difficult for those called to lead and participate in music during in-person worship. Read more...
doosoo lee

Army chaplain returns to his native South Korea to serve

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- The Rev. DooSoo Lee’s latest pastoral appointment has taken him to his motherland. Lee, a Korean-American U.S. Army chaplain, currently serves and cares for soldiers at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys — located in Pyeongtaek, along the western coast of South Korea, not far from Seoul. Lee is a full elder in the Northern Illinois Conference, but after serving several local churches, he became a chaplain to the Selected U.S. Army Reserve in 2017. He has been an active-duty chaplain since 2018. “Deployment to Korea is different from serving assignment to a military unit in the Korean garrison,” he said. “It is similar to the difference between an interim pastor and an appointed pastor. “It is a very special experience to be deployed to serve America in my motherland, where I was born and raised, as a chaplain of the U.S. Army.” Living in a U.S. garrison in Korea is different from living on a military base in the U.S. Short-term deployment is used to simulate an actual battlefield. Soldiers cannot be accompanied by family, unless there is a special reason during deployment. They cannot have their own vehicle and must carry out intensive tasks and missions in a short period of time. On top of coping with deployment away from home, Lee’s brigade had to overcome the difficulties of the COVID-19 crisis while settling in at Humphreys in October 2020. Now, he has finished about half of his deployment. Read more...
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Book revisits pastor’s reticence on civil rights

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- John Archibald was able to ask his late father an important question, thanks to a half-century of sermons stored in his basement. The question: “What were you saying from your pulpit in these really critical times?” The “critical times” were the years of the 1960s civil rights movement. “I had been thinking a lot about silence and the need to stand up and talk about things that are important to you,” said Archibald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist at The Birmingham News in Alabama and member of Highlands United Methodist Church there. “It’s not that he said anything that was bad, but the omissions were loud.” Read more...

One Last Word

We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. - Romans 5:2 CEB
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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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