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

April 13, 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?

April 18, 2021--Native American Ministries Sunday (third Sunday of Easter) nurtures mission with Native Americans and provides scholarships for United Methodist Native American seminarians. Learn more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 5 to join United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) for UMFS Giving Day for Foster Care. The organization is kicking off National Foster Care Month with a special Giving Day to support children and teens in foster care at UMFS. Your donation will help provide the care and support they need to overcome obstacles and achieve a brighter future. Be an influencer in the lives of children and teens...
  • How can you serve this week?

Join fellow United Methodists who are passionate about creation care and apply by April 19 to take part in the Global Ministries EarthKeepers program. Global Ministries seeks U.S.-based United Methodists to lead grassroots environmental projects that are action-oriented, anti-racist, bold, and entrepreneurial.
Global Ministries EarthKeepers is a training program that equips US-based United Methodists to launch and grow environmental projects in their communities. Topics include eco-theology, anti-racism, community organizing, and project planning. Learn more...

Virginia News

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Virginia church contemplates racism in the ranks

UNITED METHODIST NEWSAnonymous letters criticizing the appearance of an African associate pastor have led to self-reflection for a Virginia congregation and a "Do Not Harm" campaign seeking changes in The United Methodist Church. The hairstyle, clothing and accessories of the Rev. Chenda Innis Lee became an issue at Fairlington United Methodist Church. Read more...
save the date clergy session 2021

Save the Date: 2021 Clergy Session

The Center for Clergy Excellence is preparing for the virtual Clergy Session on June 10, 2021, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, via Zoom video conference. The session will be open to participants at 9:30 a.m. The proceedings will begin promptly at 10 a.m. All clergy participating in the session will have their voice/vote taken into consideration. Clergy will receive registration information in the coming weeks. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected].
beth givens abc news

Virginia pastor featured in story on ABC News

On This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the Rev. Beth Givens, pastor at Welborne UMC in Richmond, was featured. Last year, Givens started taking part in "One Small Step" an initiative of StoryCorps with the intent to help individuals find the humanity in one another even amidst political differences.

While these conversations do bring together individuals who may think differently politically, StoryCorps emphasizes that these conversations are not about politics, rather who individuals are, what they care about, and what their dreams are. View the interview...
jae song

Roanoke pastor shares Op-ed on death penalty

THE ROANOKE TIMES--In a recent opinion piece in The Roanoke Times, the Rev. Jae Song, pastor at Red Valley UMC, shares that the death penalty takes away God's given chance. Read 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. Every week, as part of #TopicTuesday, a new discussion is started in the group. Topics so far have included video editing, streaming providers, and more. Join group...
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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, April 14, the Rev. Jonathan Fuller, Assistant Director of Residence Life at Randolph-Macon College, will lead worship.

Upcoming April leaders:
  • The Rev. Jason Stanley, Elizabeth River District Revitalization, April 21
  • The Rev. Beth Givens, Welborne UMC, April 28
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

Overnight camp cancelled for 2021 All God's Children Camp

All God's Children Camp will be canceled for overnight camp for 2021 according to Lori Smith, camp director. The leadership for the camp will still reaching out and ministering with the camp families by sending resources and care packages. If you would like to get involved in this outreach, please contact Smith at [email protected].
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 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...

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...

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!

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.
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.
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...
globe heart mission

Information about 2021 summer mission trips 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 Vacation Bible School in 2021. 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.
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...
district offices map

More district alignment information shared

April 5, 2021--Bishop Sharma Lewis and the District Alignment Team (DAT) shared an update about the ongoing work of district alignment in the Virginia Conference on Feb. 8, 2021. In 2020, this team, formed by Bishop Lewis, worked to answer the question, “How can districts most effectively order themselves for the adaptive challenges of the 21st century? In the first communication, the team shared six forward-looking recommendations that are now being considered for implementation.

Two near-term changes include the appointment of eight district superintendents to oversee the 16 districts effective July 1, 2021, as well as the creation of the District Developer position for the districts.

In the April 5 communication, the team shares updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), a video sharing more information about the District Developer position, and an updated feedback form on the conference website at www.vaumc.org/DAT.

To find all past and present communications and resources about district alignment, please visit www.vaumc.org/DAresources.

Where to find the latest Annual Conference news

As more information becomes available, clergy and lay members to Annual Conference can find resources and more at the conference website.

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

church service

Racial diversity linked to church growth

About 20 years ago, the largely white Garfield Memorial United Methodist Church faced a decision: Focus on people outside the church or accept the dwindling attendance within.

“Folks started sensing, ‘Maybe we haven’t been a church. Maybe we have been a club,’” said the Rev. Chip Freed, the church’s lead pastor since 2004.

The church was in a slump. But with a renewed focus on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, the suburban Cleveland church decided to share God’s love outside its doors — and welcome whoever responded.

In time, Garfield Memorial grew from an average attendance of about 200 middle-class white members to more than 1,000 people of varied economic backgrounds and ethnicities. Today, no one ethnic group comprises more than 52 percent of the now multi-campus congregation.

A new comprehensive study of The United Methodist Church shows Garfield Memorial Church’s experience of diversity and growth is far from unusual. Read more...

Sharing God's love and tax assistance

Preparing tax returns may not be at the top of anyone's list of spiritual gifts, but when Bruce Hiner studies the latest Internal Revenue Service tax laws, the United Methodist pastor believes he is learning new ways to preach the Gospel.

“I have discovered I can talk to someone about their taxes and be pastoral,” says Hiner, a volunteer with the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. “I do this by showing grace and kindness, expressing the love of God even when I’m speaking the language of the IRS.” Read more...

One Last Word

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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 you have issues with the formatting trying to forward (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More...
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