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

March 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?

What gives Christian leaders the courage to persist in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges? Ann A. Michel interviews the Rev.Tom Berlin on his new book, Courage: Jesus and the Call to Brave Faith. He shares how courage emerges through faith, hope, and God-inspired convictions as we deepen our commitment to walk with Christ. Learn more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

A July 2020 survey published by the Pew Research Center found that 31 percent of Asian adults say they have been subjected to slurs or jokes because of their race or ethnicity since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Moreover, more than a quarter (26 percent) of Asian Americans said they feared someone might threaten or physically attack them because of their race.
Wondering how you can be an influencer in the wake of the March 16 Atlanta, Ga. shootings? Learn more...

  • How can you serve this week?

Are you interested in leading creation care work within your congregation or community? The next EarthKeepers online training is May 7-22. Learn more and apply...

Virginia News


Guidance for COVID vaccinations for clergy, church staff

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) released a guideline defining ‘Clergy/ Faith Leaders’ as Frontline Essential Workers on Feb. 23, 2021. With the new guideline, clergy are available to schedule a vaccination appointment as phase 1b. However, the document doesn’t clarify if church staff members are included in this categorization.

The Virginia Annual Conference verified with VDH, which is consistent with the guidelines, and encourages clergy and church staff to schedule vaccinations under the following guidelines. Learn more...

Bishops cancel May 8 General Conference

UNITED METHODIST NEWS — At a March 22 meeting, the Council of Bishops decided it was not in the best interest of The United Methodist Church to hold the one-day special virtual conference at this time. Heather Hahn reports. Read more...
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 18- XXX on Thursday, March 18, 2021 in Atla

Bishop Lewis writes letter about violence against Asian Americans

On March 19, 2021, Bishop Lewis shared a letter with the conference encouraging all members to pray for the families of the victims and to continue the important work of dismantling racism at the conference level and at the local church level. Read letter...
joshua king ac 2020

Message shared from acting Conference Secretary

March 22--"Dear Members of the 239th (2021) Session of the Virginia Annual Conference,

This letter is to inform you of a change in Conference Secretary and to remind you of your attendance at Annual Conference. First and foremost, I would like to inform you the Rev. Susan Reaves has stepped down from the Virginia Conference Secretary role. According to ¶603.7 in the Book of Discipline, Bishop Sharma Lewis, along with support from the Cabinet, has appointed me (the Rev. Joshua King) as the acting Secretary of the Virginia Annual Conference. At the next Annual Conference, there will be an opportunity for elections to this position in accordance with the Discipline.

This is also a reminder that, according to ¶602.8[1], any active clergy member of the Annual Conference who will not be attending will need to send me a letter with a reason as to your absence from Annual Conference. You may do so by emailing me at [email protected] or if you are giving a written letter, please address it to:
Rev. Joshua King
P.O. Box 487
Purcellville, VA 20134

I look forward to serving this great conference again and will do my best to learn this role as quickly as I can."

Take survey to share your local church technology, communication needs

The Virginia Conference Board of Communications offered technology grants in 2020 to support local churches as they moved their worship services online last year. The grant program also included technology consultations.

The board would like to expand on this initiative and identify other ways to assist local churches with their communications ministry. To help identify areas of greatest need, the board is asking local churches to complete a survey on their communications needs.

The information gathered in the survey will help the Board of Communications create a system for churches to obtain communications advice and expertise. Please take a few minutes to share your feedback by completing this survey Thank you for your help!

Worship Service from Older Adult Council for Older Adult Recognition

In the United States, we honor older adults, through Older Americans Month each May. To spread the news and to provide pastors with a Sunday "off," the Older Adult Council will be making available a recorded worship service for churches to use for Sunday, May 2, which is Older Adult Recognition Sunday in The United Methodist Church. All churches within the Virginia Conference are invited to support older adult ministries by sending prayers and taking an offering to support ministries with older adults. This year's offering will go to support Pinnacle Living's Samaritan Offering. The Samaritan Offering is from Mother's Day-Father's Day annually and your gifts go to ensure the personal security and peace of mind of Pinnacle Living's most vulnerable residents. Learn more...
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 24, the Rev. Lynda Moore, Asbury UMC, Richmond District, will lead worship.

Upcoming leaders include:
  • 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
return to worship icon

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.
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.

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...
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

umc judicial council

Court clarifies decision on clergy session voting

UNITED METHODIST NEWS — With the United Methodist General Conference postponed twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Judicial Council has clarified a 2019 ruling related to the administrative process for clergy ahead of annual conference sessions. Linda Bloom reports. Read more...
2021 virtual easter choir

Video of virtual Easter choir available to view and use in Easter services

Watch as hundreds of United Methodists from across the globe join together to sing "Thine Be The Glory" as the 2021 virtual Easter choir. You can view and download this video to use in your Easter services. View choir...

One Last Word: I'll have one glazed

Yesterday it was reported that Krispy Kreme will give you a free glazed doughnut every day in 2021 if you've been fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Another sweet reason to get scheduled for your vaccine today!
krispy kreme
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