2022 e-Advocate logo

February 22, 2022

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

Upcoming events

  • Tuesday, February 22- Heart Havens virtual event at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 22- What's up next at the General Assembly? Zoom event from 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, February 23- Annual Conference members can book hotel rooms for June meeting
  • Wednesday, February 23- Zoom Chapel Service- 10 a.m. Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Adam Sowder, Lead Pastor, Discovery United Methodist Church, Richmond, VA. Liturgist: The Rev. Hannah Bryn, Ministry of Community Discipleship and Youth, Discovery UMC, Richmond, VA
  • Wednesday, March 2- Zoom Chapel Service- 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, March 5- Digital Ministry Virtual event with Phil Bowdle- 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 8 -Open invitation meeting to inform new conference position by Zoom at 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 9- Open invitation meeting to inform new conference position by Zoom at 4:45 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 9 -Open invitation meeting to inform new conference position by Zoom at 6 p.m.
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Let us pray...

Periodically a prayer focus will be shared in the e-Advocate. As you see fit, lift up these ministries and churches in your prayers and share in your contexts, including your Sunday worship services.

February 27: Impact Church SoNo
Impact is a new faith community in South Norfolk, whose vision is "impacting lives, impacting the community, impacting the world."


"God of all Creation, We give you thanks for the opportunity for ministry in the community surrounding Impact Church SoNo. You delight, O’ Lord, in new beginnings. Continue to equip your people for the love and service exemplified by Christ. We pray for spiritual wisdom and knowledge; we pray that you would continue to speak into the vision so that it aligns with your will. Open hearts and doors as the church seeks to engage and collaborate with community residents, leaders, businesses and friends. We pray to you, Lord of the Harvest, that laborers will rise up and that the light of Christ will manifest throughout each endeavor. We pray that every attack of the enemy will be thwarted and that there will be hope in every heart. We pray, Ever Present God, that the ears of Impact will remain attentive to your voice and its heart open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. We believe, God of the Ages that it is not by accident that Impact has been called to this community during this season. Before the foundation of the world you knew that this time would come - we pray that every challenge will be met with the knowledge and in the strength of your call. Increase our faith; guide us in prayer and in our weakness may we be made strong. In the name of the one who is our example of love, and service, and obedience, and faithfulness: Jesus the Christ. Amen."
-The Rev. Tracy Bass, Impact Church SoNo

How can you take part in learning, influencing, and serving this week?

  • How can you be a lifelong learner?

Have you attended the monthly "Raise Up Your Voice Against Racism" webinars co-hosted by the Asian American Language Ministry Plan, the General Board of Church and Society, and the New Federation of Asian American United Methodists? Join February’s webinar tonight, Tuesday, the 22nd, at 8 p.m. EST on the topic of "Voting Rights and Voter Suppression." Learn more and register...
  • How can you be an influencer?
The General Board of Church and Society is recruiting interns for the summer of 2022. Do you know a young self-identified person of color interested in vocation, advocacy, and justice? Encourage them to become an Ethnic Young Adult intern. Applications are needed by March 1, 2022. Use your influence...

  • How can you serve?

The Virginia Annual Conference Refugee Response Team compiled a list of resources for churches that are interested in supporting the resettlement effort. A list of questions and answers offers some practical information on how to start this journey. How to serve...

Virginia News

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Help celebrate Heart Havens Month in February

The Virginia Conference has designated February as Heart Havens Month, one of six special offerings throughout the year. There are six Heart Havens homes across the conference, where men and women with a developmental disability are empowered to be full members of the body of Christ, and active participants in their communities.

The theme for Heart Havens Month this year is "A New World." Online donations can be made and donors can choose monthly under the frequency drop-down menu or click here to learn other ways to give.
Additional Heart Havens month resources are also available for download. If you would like a virtual speaker for Sunday morning worship or a UMM/UMW or other small group meeting, please contact Heart Havens.

Join the organization for a virtual event tonight, Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. to know the residents and Heart Havens better. The event will include an overview of Heart Havens, a chance to meet residents, and a time for Q&A. Contact [email protected] if you have questions. Access Zoom meeting:
Meeting ID: 840 9611 8391
Passcode: 525876
+13126266799,,84096118391#,,,,*525876# US (Chicago)
+19292056099,,84096118391#,,,,*525876# US (New York)

Zoom event: What's up next at the General Assembly?

Join the Conference Legislative Network for an evening for People of Faith to come together after United Methodist Day at the General Assembly and VICPP’s (Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy) Days for All People.
Hosted by the Virginia Conference Legislative Network of the United Methodist Church and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, join, tonight, Tuesday, February 22 from 7-8:30 p.m. via Zoom.
This is an opportunity for:
• Feedback from our legislative calls and visits
• Update on the status of bills after Crossover Day
• How to continue the work of Advocacy all year and engage our fellow congregants
• Hear from congregations with year-round Advocacy
Register now...

Learn about collaboration taking place in 16 districts

District Initiative is the collaboration currently taking place in the 16 districts. In this first article of a series, the Rev. Denise Bates, Dean of the Cabinet and District Superintendent for the Danville and Lynchburg Districts, shares more about District Initiative and next steps. Read more...
VAUMC-2-color-logo (1)

Upcoming meetings will help form new conference ministry position

The Virginia Conference leadership is continuing to work toward the development of a potential new staff position serving within the conference. This position was first announced at the 2021 Virginia Annual Conference as part of the Common Table report.
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis and other VAUMC leadership envision this new position to be one that embodies, facilitates, coordinates, and prophetically calls forth with accountability the needs of the Annual Conference in the areas of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI).
The actual title and ministry description of this new full-time position are currently being shaped with the anticipation of a search beginning by June 1, 2022.
As a result, on behalf of Bishop Lewis, the Rev. Dr. Steve Summers, Director of Connectional Ministries and Assistant to the Bishop, and Ms. Kimberly Young, Chair of the Common Table Personnel Committee, are heading up a Listening Team to hold a series of conversations between conference leadership and 16 groups across Virginia.
There will also be three open invitation meetings by Zoom for anyone in the conference to take part in helping shape this ministry position.
“We discern this position to be missionally driven and a strategic necessity for the future vitality of our Annual Conference,” the Rev. Dr. Steve Summers said. “If you feel called to share your input, please join us in one of these open conversation dates to help us form this ministry position as well as the desired outcomes of such a position within our conference.”
The dates for the open invitation meetings are:
Tuesday, March 8 at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, March 9 at 4:45 p.m.
Wednesday, March 9 at 6 p.m.

The Zoom information for these meetings is:
Meeting ID: 921 4691 2931
Passcode: jedi
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,92146912931# US (Washington DC)

For questions, please email the Rev. Dr. Steve Summers at [email protected].

Session topics shared for free March 5 Zoom webinar on digital ministry

When COVID-19 hit, many churches and leaders found themselves stuck in a chaos cycle. Our systems, rhythms, and communication got infinitely more complicated, and what worked before isn’t necessarily working anymore. It’s time to rethink communication and leverage the greatest opportunities we’ve ever had to communicate in the church.
Join Phil Bowdle, a leading national voice in the area of church communications and author of Rethink Communication: A Playbook to Clarify and Communicate Everything in Your Church, on Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for this practical conversation on one of the most important issues facing the church today. You’ll walk away with a playbook of practical ideas, strategies, and resources that will spark engagement and more effective communication in your church.

Here is an overview of what Phil will share:
Session 1: Moving From Reactive to Proactive Communications
In this session, we’ll hit on some simple systems, rhythms, and tools to help you move from
reactive to proactive with your communications.

Session 2: Building A Social Media Plan
Discover what’s changed in social media, and walk through a step-by-step playbook to build a social media plan for your church.

Sponsored by the conference Board of Communications, this is a free event. Event will not be recorded for later viewing due to presentation copyright. Registration is available at this link: www.vaumc.org/rethink-communication.

Latest news for Annual Conference 2022

The Annual Conference (AC) Planning Team and conference leadership are planning for the 240th session of the Virginia Annual Conference to be in-person in Hampton, Virginia, June 16-18, 2022.
Amidst the ongoing pandemic, the AC Planning Team, in consultation with Bishop Lewis and the conference planner, will be monitoring the COVID surge around the state to host this annual meeting as safely as possible. Annual Conference members will be notified should the AC Planning Team deem a necessary change to this format because of the pandemic. Questions may be directed to the Rev. Dr. Steve Summers, Assistant to the Bishop and Conference Director of Connectional Ministries, at [email protected].

Hotel Reservations for Annual Conference will be made again this year with an online reservation system. Reservations will open Wednesday, February 23. Annual Conference members received an email on February 21 with the link, and it will also be available on the AC 2022 website on February 23.

Find all AC 2022 news at www.vaumc.org/ac2022.
harry denman awards

Nominations, applications due Mar. 4 for Harry Denman Award & One Matters Award

The two awards given out at the Annual Conference meeting each year are now accepting nominations and applications through March 4.

Harry Denman Award for Discipleship
Is anyone in your congregation a deeply formed spiritual leader who has the ability to assist others in their discipleship? Perhaps they are involved in youth, family, or senior ministry and have helped people to become a disciple or encouraged their growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ. They may be involved in local mission and/or ministries that have influenced lives in the name of Christ. They can be clergy, laity and/or youth. The Board of Discipleship each year recognizes one person in each category who displays fruitful discipleship in their lives. The deadline for nominations is March 4, 2022. Information and nominations may be obtained at https://vaumc.org/denmanawards/. Nominations should be sent to Kathy Gochenour at [email protected] or Becky Tate at [email protected].
One Matters Award
Has your church gone from zero Professions of Faith in the past to a positive number of Professions of Faith in 2021? If so, you may be eligible for the One Matters Award. Churches are chosen by a process that looks at the past four years and the most current year for positive changes in Professions of Faith, Confirmations, and/or Baptisms. The church that is chosen will receive a One Matters plaque and $1,000 to continue their ministries of intentional discipleship. The intent of this award is to lift up churches that have moved from zeros in Professions of Faith and/or baptisms to positive numbers in recent years due to their renewed focus on intentional discipleship. The church’s story of renewed transformation will be shared during the annual conference session, and we will share their story across the connection through the Discipleship Ministries website and publications. The deadline for applications is March 4, 2022. Applications may be obtained at https://vaumc.org/board-of-discipleship-one-matters-award/. They should be sent to Kathy Gochenour at [email protected] or Becky Tate at [email protected].

rio texas umvim

Information about UMVIM Online Team Leader Recertification training, Basic Team Leader Training

The United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) of the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) will be hosting an Online Team Leader Recertification Training on Sunday, February 27 starting at 10 a.m. ET.
This is a two-hour recertification course only. Participants will need to have taken the full five-hour Team Leader Training Course at least once within the past three years. Click here for the link to the registration and info. Any questions should be directed to the Rev. Matt Lacey at [email protected].

Those seeking Basic Team Leader Training can find multiple classes and registration opportunities at https://vaumc.org/umvim/. Any questions can be directed to Terri Morgan at [email protected].
mask magnifying glass

4 Truths about ministry revealed by the pandemic

In a Lewis Center for Church Leadership article, the Rev. Tom Berlin, lead pastor at Floris UMC in Herndon, Va., wrote that two years of global pandemic have revealed some key truths about the nature of ministry. Serving in this difficult time has raised the challenge of embracing new skill sets, forced a renewed reliance on the Spirit’s sustenance, brought the centrality of Christ-filled relationships to the fore, and magnified the importance of our foundational callings. Read more...
higehr ed scholar

Scholarships available for United Methodist students

The GBHEM Office of Loans and Scholarships offers financial aid to United Methodist students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. Every year, they award an average of $5.5 million to help students in the United States and abroad to pursue their dreams through higher education. With this financial aid, GBHEM is opening pathways for students of all backgrounds to earn their degrees and serve as the next generation of leaders for the church and the world.For complete eligibility criteria and to apply click here.
wesley hybrid calss

Wesley Theological Seminary announces its new Wesley Hybrid MDiv Experience, a non-residential Master of Divinity program

No need to relocate to Washington D.C. to do your Wesley Master of Divinity degree! WTS is now offering a new degree pathway that provides short, immersive, Washington, D.C.-based experiences coupled with online learning in Wesley’s first non-residential degree program. It's called the Wesley Hybrid MDiv. Experience.
The Wesley Hybrid MDiv Experience will enable students to complete a 4-year Master of Divinity degree via eight total hybrid intensive weeks on campus (2 weeks per year, one per semester) alongside online courses taken throughout the academic year (one class each fall and spring term, as well as online J-term and summer courses).
The Hybrid MDiv Experience will be offered alongside Wesley’s signature residential MDiv pathway, which engages on-campus and regionally based students in community-based learning, worship, and ministry. Learn more...

Position open for Assistant Secretary of the Annual Conference

Secretary of Annual Conference the Rev. Joshua King is seeking a new Assistant Secretary to help the Annual Conference with its work. This role needs someone gifted in both technology and detail-oriented. The three main components of this role include:
1. The primary role of this Assistant Secretary is to capture the wording of the motions/amendments and mirror your screen (with the help of the Tech Desk) for the Annual Conference to understand what is currently being discussed. As motions/amendments are made, you may also be asked to go and collect the form that should be handed in as this form would have the exact wording to be used for the motion/amendment.
2. This Assistant Secretary writes the minutes of the worship services.
3. This Assistant Secretary would attend the 6 a.m. Breakfast Minutes Committee meetings to assist the Secretary in finalizing the minutes with this committee.
Email [email protected] if you would like to be considered for the position. Annual Conference traditionally has covered housing and breakfast. In addition, there is an honorarium of $500 for this position.

Join Mar. 15 United Methodist Men Webinar

Join The United Methodist Men (UMM) on Tuesday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. for a Love, Learn, and Lead webinar on Chris Folmsbee's book, "The Wesley Challenge: 21 Days to a More Authentic Faith" with David Bean. Reading and discussing each chapter from The Wesley Challenge will deepen your faith and lead you and those you mentor to a closer relationship with Jesus. Bean will lead the discussion about The Wesley Challenge and share best practices and training materials for preparing mentors and helping new Christians become disciples.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 898 2460 7164
Webinar recordings from previous Love, Learn, and Lead webinars are posted on the conference website https://vaumc.org/UMM.
rmc convergence

Students can apply now for Convergence

Don’t let your rising 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students miss out on this phenomenal opportunity to explore the connection between Christian faith and mainstream science in classroom, laboratory, and outdoor experiences with Convergence. Convergence 2022 will be held July 15–17. With a grant from the Lilly Endowment, all participants will benefit in a reduced cost of $75 per camper. Additionally, Convergence participants who are accepted into Randolph-Macon will receive a $1,000 scholarship to the college. Though the 2020 in-person Convergence program was cancelled due to COVID-19 and the 2021 program was held virtually, the program brought 92 outstanding students from Virginia Conference congregations to Randolph-Macon’s virtual classroom. Convergence leaders said they are excited return to an in-person camp for 2022. Parents and youth, to apply for Convergence, please click here. Or 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. For questions or additional information about the program, please contact the Rev. Kendra Grimes or Jamie Grant at [email protected] or (804) 752-7374.
bsa logo

Several updates on the Boy Scouts Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

There have been several notable recent developments on the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) child sexual abuse bankruptcy case.
  • The BSA has reached an agreement with the Torts Claim Committee, an organization which represents 16,000 survivors. Related to this, the judge presiding over the case has delayed the start of a court proceeding to determine whether a settlement should proceed to March 9, 2022 from February 22, 2022. These are both positive developments.
  • The UMC BSA Leadership Team has entered into an agreement with the BSA that will extend existing charter agreements and facilities use agreements until June 30, 2022. Although no local church should sign any document that has charter or facilities use language right now, it is appropriate for local churches to proceed with the annual membership renewal process for Scouting activities at this time. The membership renewal process should be a simple document without obligating the local church to anything associated with training or liability issues.
A joint letter explaining these matters from Bishop John Schol, the UMC Leadership Team Chair, and Roger Mosby, Chief Scout Executive with the BSA, and a related news release from United Methodist Communications, shared on February 14, can be found at the link below.

Pastors with questions on these matters should contact their District Superintendent, or the Rev. Dr. Steve Summers, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries. Read more...

General Church News

umc shelter

Small church transforms lives with day shelter

UM NEWS-- When Trinity United Methodist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho, underwent a big renovation in 2019 — installing showers and a washer and dryer and updating its kitchen — the Rev. Ruth Marsh figured they would be used sparingly by Scout troops and other church groups. Little did she know that those upgrades would become a vital part of the church’s ministry. Amid the pandemic, Trinity’s pastor realized that the church now could meet some of the needs of the area homeless, offering them opportunities to eat, shower and do laundry.“Many coming here are the working poor; many of them live in their cars,” Marsh said. “If you’re going to work, you need to have had a meal, taken a shower and have clean clothes.“People have come here and said, ‘I feel human again because I can get cleaned up, have a meal with other people and have someone listen to my story.’” Read more...
bishop yambasu argiculture

Bishop Yambasu Agriculture Initiative harvests first crops

UM NEWS-- A financial gift last year from United Methodist Global Ministries will purchase machinery to ease and speed cultivating, harrowing and harvesting rice in Sierra Leone. Recently, the initiative cultivated more than 150 acres of rice farms in the Moyamba and Pujehun districts. That may significantly increase when the necessary equipment is available at the beginning of the season. The pilot project is named in memory of Bishop John K. Yambasu of Sierra Leone, who was instrumental in starting the effort to improve food security and strengthen farm communities across the continent. Read more...
umcom communication

Learn to navigate change with communication training course

United Methodist Communications is re-launching its Communicating During Seasons of Change four-week facilitated online course. The training will run March 7 through April 1, 2022, with webinar sessions each Tuesday and Thursday from 1-2 p.m. CT. Supplemental resources and discussions will be provided each week. Registration for the limited space course is open through March 2 at 5 p.m. CT at UMCTraining.org.
umc language

Official United Methodist website expands language options

UMC.org, the website of The United Methodist Church, has now expanded its available language options to better meet the needs of a diverse, global and multilingual church with members around the world. The official site is now available in five languages: English, French, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.
With this expansion of language options, UMC.org seeks to communicate in the languages and cultural contexts of the church and provide easily accessible content in those languages. Throughout 2021, the Member Communications Team increased production of content in Spanish, French, Korean and Portuguese. The team also developed processes to insure that homepages across the languages are relevant and present consistent messaging, no matter the language. Read more...
umc giving

Denominational giving drops for third year

UM NEWS-- Giving to the United Methodist general-church funds overall dropped in 2021. However, giving significantly increased to the fund that supports the bishops. The variation in giving comes as COVID-19 continues its menace and a possible denominational separation is on the horizon. Read more...

One Last Word

fruit of teh spirit
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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