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

March 30, 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?

Are you interested in enriching your personal faith practice? Or looking for additional resources to offer your congregation? Read through a set of devotions written by global missionaries on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Read more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

The natural world is our first way of knowing God, says Beth Norcross, the founder and director of The Center for Spirituality in Nature. Finding God in nature can reconnect people with faith and the biblical tradition, especially the growing percentage of younger people who are less attracted by the trappings of the institutional church. Read 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

Reigniting Our Call (1) (1)

Clergy encouraged to reignite the call

For the past year, there has been a relentless pace to ministry. Despite the extraordinary amount of work that needed to be done, Jesus taught his disciples to find a sustainable pace of work and time apart. When his energy was depleted, Jesus would find time to go apart, to rest, to sleep, to pray, to relax with friends and family, and this is what he modeled and taught his disciples.

In this joint letter from Bishop Lewis, the Virginia Cabinet, and the Center for Clergy Excellence, learn more about the three distinct ways these entities want to help clergy to survive and even thrive during these days which includes a specific Day Apart for Renewal on May 24. Learn more...
umc singing

Bishop, In-person Work Group share update on singing during COVID-19

You may be asking, "When will we sing again?" The Bishop’s Work Group on Return to In-Person Worship has been steadily and frequently reviewing the latest studies and guidance around singing and wind instruments. As they have learned more, they have shared opportunities to move slowly back toward the rich musical life we associate with the full praise of God. To learn more, read the letter from March 25, 2021.

Watch prayer vigil from Call to Action Work Group

On March 29, the VAUMC Call to Action Work Group remembered the victims of the Atlanta & Colorado shootings as well as other recent violence in a prayer vigil. Watch vigil...
vwu logo

DS to be given honorary doctorate degree at university commencement

Elizabeth River District Superintendent Wayne Snead will be given an honorary doctorate degree from Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) during their spring commencement ceremony. Learn more...
Ralph Northam, Harold Clarke, George Hinkle

Conference applauds the abolition of the death penalty in Virginia

Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in the Commonwealth on March 24, 2021, making Virginia the first state in the south to do so. The Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church celebrates this action, remembering our Social Principles, which note that “the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore, and transform all human beings.” As Wesleyans, we believe that God‘s grace is ever reaching out to restore our relationship with God and with each other. We know that the death penalty denies the possibility of new life and reconciliation. Read more in the letter from the conference Board of Church and Society...
wesley merit scholarship

Wesley Merit Scholarships make seminary affordable; application deadline June 1

It’s not too late to apply to Wesley Theological Seminary. It’s been a difficult year – but now, more than ever, Wesley believes God is calling people to lead change in the world and the church. Wesley is there to journey with and equip students to accept that call, with classes and community in the format they need.

Move to their residential campus in Washington, DC, or remain in your own context with online and hybrid courses. In either format, you can engage the unique context of faith and life in Washington, DC as well as Wesley’s diverse community and worship through weekly in-person and online activities as well as during Wesley Community Days, community-wide celebrations two to three times per semester. Get the education you want in the format you need. To be considered for merit scholarships, apply by June 1. More information and to apply...
park view mission

Lynchburg mission starts a new clothing program

Park View Community Mission has launched its sixth program, The Clothing Connection. Free clothing was originally a part of the Food for Families program with just a few racks of clothes off to the side in the basement of the old church building. By the end of 2019, it had outgrown the space and was relocated to a larger facility. In one year's time, in the midst of the pandemic, 40,000 pounds of clothes and shoes for adults and children were distributed, reflecting both the increased need and the generous donations from friends in the community. The organization got its start in the basement of Park View UMC which disbanded in 2007. Park View Community Mission's Food for Families food pantry was featured as a "Glory Sighting" video at the 2018 Virginia Annual Conference. 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 & 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...
clergy taxes

Important tax information for clergy

Clergy face some unique challenges when it comes to things like Social Security payments, estimated tax payments, housing allowances or exclusions, and reimbursed expenses. There are questions you may have about the implications of the pandemic on your 2020 tax situation. Your tax preparer may not understand the unique situation of clergy and finding a preparer who does can save you substantially in money and aggravation. Discipleship Ministries shared this webinar with the Rev. Don Joiner, a certified financial planner, to help clergy navigate the preparation of taxes and planning for a sound financial future. Learn more...

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...
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 31, the Rev. Seungsoo 'RJ' Jun, Conference Associate Director of Serving Ministries, 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
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 for PPP loans extended until May 31, 2021

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) has now been extended until May 31, 2021.

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.

wesley seminary

Wesley Theological Seminary All-Online Summer Term Course Registration Is Now Open!

Plan your summer with Wesley. Their all-online Summer Term course will enable you to study this summer safely and from wherever you may be! Just a few of this summer's course offerings:
  • Biblical Storytelling - Dr. Tracy Radosevic
  • The Church and the Civil Rights Movement - Dr. C. Anthony Hunt
  • Spirituality and Ecojustice - Dr. Beth Norcross
  • Church Finances - Dr. Lovett Weems
  • Music and the Civil Rights Movement - Dr. Carolyn Rosen
  • Social Justice in Cinema - Dr. Dawn Cooper Barnes
  • Introduction to Disability & Deaf Ministry - The Rev. Leo Yates
Register early to avoid disappointment - classes fill up quickly! Registration closes for degree, non-degree and certificate courses May 21 . 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

easter worship

Lingering pandemic enlivens Easter creativity

UNITED METHODIST NEWS — Near a place associated with death, Concord United Methodist Church is sharing the story of Resurrection — while also keeping people safe from a deadly virus.

On the perimeter of its cemetery, the 239-year-old country church in Lewisville, North Carolina, has erected its first outdoor Stations of the Cross. Here, the congregation has invited its community to stop by and meditate on Christ’s love.

Most of the 14 worship stations have a wooden cross with a Bible passage, prayer and symbol attached, each marking a step in Christ’s path from the night of his arrest to his crucifixion. The walk concludes not with a cross but the empty tomb — a reminder that death is not the end of the story.

“There are no set hours. You walk through it on your own,” said the Rev. Eddie Evans, Concord’s pastor. “It’s just a beautiful experience to be alone in the power of the Resurrection in any way you choose to do it.”
Last year as Holy Week approached, the COVID-19 pandemic had just caused shutdowns worldwide. That left churches scrambling to introduce online worship and improvise very different services for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. 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...
gc bishop dyck

New budget must wait for General Conference

UNITED METHODIST NEWS — General Conference is the only body that can set the denominational budget and apportionment guidelines for The United Methodist Church.

That legal requirement, found in Paragraph 806 of the Book of Discipline, applies even when extraordinary circumstances — like a pandemic — delay a planned meeting of the top legislative body, the United Methodist Judicial Council has ruled.

In Decision 1409, released on March 25, the council said the 2017-2020 budget adopted in 2016 remains in effect and that a new base percentage proposed by the General Council on Finance and Administration “cannot be used for calculating 2021 apportionments without prior authorization.”

“Absent General Conference action, the 2017-2020 budget, including approved apportionment formulas, continues to be legally binding and operative until replaced by a new quadrennial budget,” the decision stated. Read 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...

One Last Word: Centering Moment for Holy Week

This post was shared from the Mindful Christianity Facebook page.
fb mindful christianity
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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