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To submit news items or events, email conference Director of Communications at MadelineWhite@vaumc.org.

June 16, 2020

Conference Vision

In 2017, Bishop Sharma D. Lewis shared the vision of the conference "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?

As United Methodists are being urged to take action against the sin of racism, one place to begin is to educate ourselves by reading books from a variety of perspectives. No shortage of books exists, so United Methodist Publishing House, Abingdon Press, and the General Commission on Religion and Race shared recommendations. More...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

ASK THE UMC: In our baptismal vows, United Methodists commit to "renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world" and "resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves." Since the earliest times, the vows of Christian baptism have begun with the renunciation of evil and then the profession of faith and loyalty to Christ. What does it mean to 'resist evil, injustice and oppression'? More...
  • How can you serve this week?

The simple act of handwashing can stop the spread of COVID-19. Clean water, though, is not available in all communities—even in the United States. In many places around the world, hand-washing stations are the first line of defense in communities without clean water. United Methodists can show love of their neighbors and relieve suffering by supporting the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s “Sheltering in Love” COVID-19 response fund. More...

Virginia News

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District hosts webinar on race relations, Church

The Elizabeth River District hosted a webinar on Sunday, June 14 for a conversation on race relations and the Church. Panelists included M. Garlinda Burton from the General Commission on Religion and Race, and the Rev. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth from the California-Pacific Conference and the lead consultant with VAFOCUS 2020, an innovative process for African-American congregations in the Virginia Conference to be the catalyst in the communities where they serve. Barbara Hamm Lee, television and radio personality in the Norfolk area and host of “Another View,” acted as moderator of the conversation. Also taking part were the Rev. Dr. Sherry Daniels, Norfolk UMC; the Rev. Wayne Snead, Elizabeth River district superintendent; and the Rev. Jason Stanley, coordinator of Church Revitalization in the Elizabeth River District. Questions were sent in prior to the start of the conversation, and participants could also send in live questions. Topics of conversation ranged from whether racism exists, exploring what institutional racism is, how to start race conversations in local churches, how pastors can have a prophetic edge, and next steps for churches and individuals related to race relations.

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Northern Virginia church acts as COVID-19 outdoor testing site

Grace UMC in Manassas, Va., was open all day on Thursday, May 28, performing an important task—acting as an outdoor testing site for COVID-19 for Manassas citizens who are under-served and uninsured. To make this a reality, it all started with a conversation and a solid relationship between the church and the city government.

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Bishop Lewis talks about Stage 2 of return to in-person worship

In a letter from June 16, Bishop Lewis thanked clergy, laity, and the Healthy Church Teams for all of the hard work in planning and executing worship from in-person, to online, to drive-in, to telephonic and shared next steps as the conference enters Stage 2. Beginning Sunday, June 21, the conference will expand in-person worship and other church gatherings. A new resource has been created, the Technical Assistance Manual (TAM), for Healthy Church Teams to use which will replace the Handbook for Local Churches. The TAM is considerably reduced in size and easier to use and includes all the requirements for in-person worship and gatherings.

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Pastors share reflections on protests, marches addressing systemic racism

The United Methodist Church is calling on all United Methodists to address the pervasive pandemic of racism and acknowledge that racism is a sin and antithetical to the gospel. United Methodists around the connection have been answering this call through conversation with their spheres of influence and joining in marches and protests. Several pastors shared their perspectives and spoke to the recent call for action against systemic racism.

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Update about 'spoofing' to clergy emails, phone numbers

In recent weeks, the conference IT Department has been alerted to a large number of our clergy having their email and phone numbers targeted by scammers. It is important to note the “@vaumc” email system has not been compromised. This particular scam is happening in other conferences and faith organizations by well-run criminal enterprises to target vulnerable individuals who may not be well versed in computers and impersonation making church member especially susceptible. The most requested items in this type of scam are for the person to reply (which opens them up to future targeted campaigns) or to purchase prepaid gift cards. The practice is called “spoofing” where an email or text is sent to make it look like the message is coming from a trusted source rather than a scammer. Spoofing is not related to the hacking of emails. These spammers impersonate their targets through phone numbers (calling and text) as well as email by gathering data quickly from a basic search online.
This practice is now happening through phone calls as well.
It is good practice to always inspect the actual email address and not just the name that appears when you receive ANY requests for money or assistance. Trust your instincts if it doesn’t sound legitimate via email or phone call. Follow up with an in-person phone call to the person requesting assistance. In your context, if this has happened, church leaders should clearly communicate to their churches that pastors and/or conference leadership such as Bishop Lewis will not ask your congregation members for money, in any form, through email, text message, or phone call. You are asked to delete any forms of communications that ask for these kinds of requests.
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Bishop Lewis calls for action on systemic racism

In a letter from May 29, Bishop Lewis reflects and calls for action following the death of George Floyd. "When do we, as children of God, decide that God is calling us into action? When do we decide that mere words or social media interactions for a few days are just not enough? When do we, as children of God, decide that the systemic racism in our society, whether manifested overtly or covertly, is a sin that hinders our relationship with Jesus Christ and is antithetical to the gospel?"

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Bi-District Communications Office shares tips for FM radio, Drive-In Churches

For churches who need tips on FM radio, an important tool for churches holding drive-in worship services, the Bi-District Communications Office of Alexandria and Arlington has shared a helpful guide.

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website

Apply for website grant from United Methodist Communications

Church websites are a vital part of digital ministry. If your church doesn’t have a website, United Methodist Communications wants to help! Apply for a Website Development Package, which includes:
• One year of web hosting and domain name registration
• WordPress online training and support
• Predesigned templates
• Email accounts and storage

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General Church News

IT heroes kept church going during COVID-19

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, churches around the nation and world were in varied positions to make a shift to online worship. In this article from United Methodist News, learn more about how clergy and laity responded to the need for increased technology in the last several months.

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Filipinos speak out against anti-terrorism bill

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--Filipino United Methodists’ outcries against human rights violations have intensified during the coronavirus pandemic, including expressing outrage over the passage of a new anti-terrorism bill that one bishop said “will suppress our rights to protest and speak against evils of the society.” The bill, which is awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature, has ignited strong protests around the country. It expands the definition of terrorism and boosts police powers of surveillance, arrest and detention, according to Reuters.

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11 Provocative Thoughts and Questions About What’s Next

LEWIS CENTER FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP - Bill Wilson shares 11 provocative thoughts and questions regarding how the future of the church will be shaped by the implications of the cornonavirus pandemic. He says this crisis catapulted the church forward and we cannot ignore the lessons learned.

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One Last Word: Turn words into action

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Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a loyal spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10
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Learn more about three-stage return to in-person worship at Virginia Conference churches: https://vaumc.org/return/

Please send any issues or concerns to communications@vaumc.org. If the formatting gives you trouble in forwarding (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More...
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