2022 e-Advocate logo

May 17, 2022

To submit news items, events, or corrections, email the conference Communications Office at Communications@vaumc.org.

Upcoming events

  • Thursday, May 19-Saturday, May 21 - Clergy Soul Care Retreat
  • Monday, May 30 - United Methodist Conference Center closed for Memorial Day
  • Tuesday, May 31 - 7 p.m. on Zoom Webinar: Team Jeremiah Disaffiliation and General Conference Information. Session will be recorded for later viewing.
  • Saturday, June 4 - A United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader training event will take place in person at Ebenezer UMC, 161 Embrey Mill Rd., Stafford, VA, 22554 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is a gathering time between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Lunch will be provided. An online training manual will be provided. Trainers are Tim Wells and Peter Kuebler. For more information, contact Terri Morgan at tlynmorgan@icloud.com.
  • Thursday, June 16- Saturday, June 18 - 240th Session of the Virginia Annual Conference in Hampton, VA.
  • Thursday, June 30 - Mission Encounter begins (online, every Thursday evening).

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

  • How can you be a lifelong learner?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn five ways you can overcome anxiety when you feel fearful or stressed.
  • How can you be an influencer?
Do you know how to tell your faith story? Sharing faith stories nurtures an awareness of how God is working among us. Harold Percy from Lewis Center for Church Leadership outlines two simple approaches to sharing faith stories that can encourage people to consider and share how faith has shaped their lives. Read more...
  • How can you serve?

Gifts to support humanitarian needs for those in Ukraine as well as assistance to Ukrainians fleeing to neighboring countries can be made through UMCOR international disaster response, Advance #982450.

Virginia News

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Team Jeremiah to offer webinar on disaffiliation, General Conference

With the further postponement of the General Conference session to 2024, Virginia Conference clergy and lay members have questions. What does this mean for the mission of the church and my local church? What does this mean for ongoing questions concerning full inclusion of persons who are LGBTQ+ in the church? What is “disaffiliation”?

You are invited to a conference-wide presentation of current information on topics including General Conference and disaffiliation from the denomination on Tuesday, May 31 at 7 p.m.

This Zoom webinar will feature members of Team Jeremiah: the Rev. Denise Bates, the Rev. Tom Berlin, Mrs. Martha Stokes, the Rev. Derrick Parson, and the Rev. Kyungsuk Cho. Questions will be accepted following the presentation through Zoom chat. The presentation will be recorded for later viewing as well.

Register for the meeting at this link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_O9sAlY6RQ42f9EeXh2p0EA

Similar presentations have been offered at the district level this spring by members of Team Jeremiah, a group created by Bishop Sharma D. Lewis in the fall of 2021. The group’s purpose is to develop and implement proactive strategies for the Virginia Annual Conference to help address the uncertainties surrounding the General Conference session.

You can read more about Team Jeremiah in the 2022 Book of Reports now available on the conference website. For questions about this event, please email communications@vaumc.org.

To find the latest information about churches considering UMC disaffiliation and news about General Conference 2022 and 2024, visit the conference website.
Join in prayer

AC Prayer Team invites conference to prayer for 2022 AC session

In order to cover the whole of the Annual Conference (AC) session in prayer as well as to pray for Bishop Lewis, AC leadership, AC members, worship and business session participants, and guests, an Annual Conference Prayer Team has been formed.

You are invited by the Rev. Kyungsuk Cho, Ms. Iris Smith, the Rev. Paul Oh, the Rev. Kim Barker-Brugman, and the Rev. Bob Parks, the AC Prayer Team, to join in praying for a Spirit-filled Annual Conference.

Follow the guides below to pray for Annual Conference:
  • Pray AC members will allow God to instill in us an attitude and discipline of prayer in all conversations.
  • Pray for God’s guidance and blessings on the Laity and Clergy Sessions, worship celebrations, business sessions, mission opportunities, and social gatherings of AC.
  • Pray for AC members to be witnesses of Jesus with thoughts, words, and actions.
  • Pray for AC decisions to align with God’s will.
  • Pray for churches to become more vital and effective at making disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve.
korea team

Team exploring missional partnership with Korea

Starting on May 16, 2022, six members of the Virginia Conference United Methodist Church are visiting Korea to explore a missional partnership with the Korean Methodist Church for the mission in Vietnam.
They will journal the journey, along with pictures of the trip. Follow along the journey...
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Conference podcast shares about "Art as Prayer"

In the May episode of the Audio Advocate, the Rev. Sarah Payne talks about "Art as Prayer." This is one of the sessions that will be featured during the Clergy Soul Care Retreat May 19-21 in Richmond. The Audio Advocate is a monthly podcast hosted by conference Director of Communications Madeline Pillow White sharing headlines from around the conference and denomination and going in depth on one topic each month. Listen now...
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2022 Book of Reports now available

The 2022 Book of Reports and Introductory Letter are now available on the conference website at the main Annual Conference page: https://vaumc.org/ac2022/. The deadline has passed to order a print Book of Reports. Should you wish to have a printed copy, you can either print out the PDF as a whole or in sections or there will be a limited number of print copies available at the Annual Conference session in Hampton, Va. The hard copies will be put in the mail by Wednesday, May 18.
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Webinar: Online/Hybrid Pathways for Study at Wesley Theological Seminary

Trying to figure out how to fit new studies into a life already filled with work, church, family and more? Let Wesley help! Find out all the new ways you can customize your path to your Master of Divinity or Master of Arts degree at Wesley. Join on Monday, May 23, 2022 at 7 p.m. Eastern for a special Zoom webinar outlining the Online/Hybrid Pathways for Master-level Study at Wesley.

Find out how you can design your Masters degree through a variety of formats:
  • Online (in real time with Zoom sessions and/or on your own time)
  • Hybrid (three Friday-Saturdays per semester with the remainder of the coursework completed online on your own)
  • Classroom (traditional, in-person teaching)
  • Field (opportunities offered through the Practice of Mission and Ministry)
Sign up today for Zoom access...
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Sign up for Annual Conference 2022 5k run/walk

Registration for VAUMC 5K Run/walk is now open! Go to www.vaumc.org/beingtogether or find the race at Runsignup.com! Join us at the Annual Conference to run and walk together. (There is a virtual option for anyone who might not be at Hampton, VA.)
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Clergy Retreat Directory now available

The United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries (UMCRM) Association, made up of United Methodist camps and retreat centers across the country, continually strive to provide intentional, sacred spaces where the faithful can find rest and rejuvenation. The leaders of these ministries see the heavy weight that local church leaders have been carrying, especially over these past two years. In response, they have come together to create the Clergy Retreat Directory, a list of UM sites across the connection that offer free or reduced cost retreat space for United Methodist clergy. As clergy navigate their ministry year, may they find comfort knowing that there are "sacred places apart" prepared for them in all U.S. jurisdictions. View directory...
youth 2023

Make plans now for Youth 2023

Every four years, youth from throughout The United Methodist Church have gathered for four days of discipleship, fun, and fellowship at the YOUTH event. The event is filled with interactive learning, worship, Bible study, service opportunities, and fellowship time. Adult leaders who bring youth to the event can expect inspiration, support, and chances to authentically experience what it means to be part of the United Methodist and Wesleyan family.

YOUTH 2023 will be an especially important year for you and your youth to be a part of this gathering. COVID-19 restrictions have limited youth ministry opportunities over the last two-plus years. YOUTH 2023 is a chance for your church to again experience cutting-edge speakers, amazing artists, and broaden your youth’s understanding of what they and their church are capable of! Learn more...
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United Methodist Men to host Annual Conference breakfast

The United Methodist Men (UMMen) Annual Conference Breakfast will be held on Friday, June 17, 7 a.m., at Bethany UMC, 1509 Todd’s Lane, in Hampton. Men, spouses, and guests will gather to enjoy a hearty breakfast, install Cabinet officers, and conduct the annual business of the Virginia Conference United Methodist Men. The cost of breakfast is $12 payable at the door. Please email David Collins by June 5 to share your attendance at djcoll@icloud.com.

Kip Robinson, a retired United Methodist missionary having served with his wife Nancy in Sierra Leone in West Africa will speak on "This Just In: Was Jesus a Boy Scout?" Kip’s role as a missionary was two-fold: serving as the mission team coordinator for the Sierra Leone Annual Conference and also serving as the Conference Engineer. While there he helped design and build a primary school which became a model for future primary schools. The Ebola crisis occurred during their tenure.
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Ferrum College receives $143,000 Jessie Ball duPont Fund Grant

Ferrum College was recently awarded $143,000 in grant funding by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to support the Carter Center for Academic Success (CCAS) in expanding and initiating programs intended to ensure equity in student outcomes, student academic success, and persistence.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is a charitable foundation based in Jacksonville, FL, that strives to lift up members of society who have historically been prevented from accessing basic opportunities, and operates within communities with which Jessie Ball duPont had a personal connection. The duPont Fund is committed to eliminating structural and systemic barriers that stand in the way of their vision of “a world in which every member of those communities feels they belong.”

For educational institutions, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund focuses on increasing retention and/or graduation rates of first-generation, low-income, and underserved students at private and public universities. The $143,000 grant award will support Ferrum College’s academic support services to increase the academic performance, persistence, and graduation of first-generation students, low income students, and students with disabilities who demonstrate an academic need for support.

Ferrum College President David Johns, who worked collaboratively with campus partners in preparing the grant request, was honored to learn Ferrum College received the grant award. "Our goal is to provide the support necessary for students to succeed, and we are grateful to the Jessie Ball duPont Fund for their commitment to help us do just that," stated Johns.

Ferrum College is one of the five affiliated schools with the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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Eight mentors still needed for All God's Children Camp

All God's Children Camp is underway in planning and registering campers. Eight mentors are still needed to volunteer a week of their time. Mentors help make it possible for kids to enjoy a week of camp and engage in all that camp life has to offer. This is a great way for Sunday school groups, senior high youth groups or other small groups to be in mission together. Grab a group of your friends and join! For more information, contact Lori Smith at lttlelori@gmail.com or 571-245-9591. Click the link for more camp details and to register as a mentor.

All God's Children Camp schedule:
  • June 19-June 24 Camp Chanco on the James (Richmond area)
  • July 24-July 29 Occohannock on the Bay (Eastern Shore)
  • August 14-August 19 Camp Chanco on the James (Richmond area)
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Volunteers needed for Annual Conference 2022

The York River District is hosting the Annual Conference in Hampton, June 16-28. Hosting the Annual Conference requires a large number of volunteers, and the district is in need of support.
The Rev. Charles Ledlum-Bates, district superintendent, is asking pastors and laity in leadership positions to solicit volunteers from congregations to help the annual conference sessions run smoothly.
Lisa Jones, the York River District Administrator, has put together a Sign-up Genius to help facilitate the process. The Sign-up Genius will also help volunteers see where to share their gifts.
Registration: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60B054CAFA923A5F94-2022
Ushers: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60B054CAFA923A5F94-20221
Platform: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60B054CAFA923A5F94-20222

Questions may be directed to Lisa at YorkRiverDistrict@vaumc.org.
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Register now for Mission Encounter (Virtual Event)

Mission Encounter is an opportunity to study current issues impacting society based on current social justice and mission-related topics. Participants grow in understanding the mission of the church in the current world context; conference events are open to all. This is a cooperative event sponsored by the Virginia Conference Missional Ministries Board and the Virginia Conference United Women in Faith, formerly the United Methodist Women.

Theme: Building Communities of Hope and Joy (Luke 13)
Date: Every Thursday evening, starting on June 30, 2022
Time: 7 p.m.
Registration fee: $10

For registration and details, visit https://vaumc.org/me.
Scholarship opportunity

Sister Scholarship application now available

The Sister Scholarship application is now available to be filled out by any female candidate in the Virginia Conference for educational support. The deadline for electronic applications is July 1. This award is given in memory of clergy women who have served in ministry in the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church. The purpose of the award is to support women who are duly enrolled in a seminary or school of theology approved by the University Senate of the United Methodist Church, or an Advanced Course of Study program approved by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Eligibility is extended to all women committed to ministries of Word, Worship and Witness who are candidates for ministry in the Virginia Conference, and who indicate potential for developing creative ministries for a more just world. For more information, contact Dr. Jan Rivero, janrivero@vaumc.org. Apply now...
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AC Worship Team requesting artistic expressions of worship

The 2022 AC Worship Team is inviting all Sunday Schools and Preschools and Children’s Programs to respond to “What does worship look like to you?” through artistic expressions. These expressions will be shared throughout the gathering days and during closing worship. Please send a digital file to the Rev. Gretchen Nelson by May 16 for inclusion at GretchenNelson@vaumc.org.
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Clergy invited to Clergy Soul Care Retreat May 19-21 in Richmond

The Spiritual Vitality Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry is inviting clergy to a Clergy Soul Care Retreat at Richmond Hill from May 19-21, 2022. Spiritual Vitality Committee Chair the Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor said in the invitation to clergy, "We want you to know that a small group of folks who serve with the Board of Ordained Ministry have been praying for you every morning at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday for over a year. We see you. We know you’re tired. We know how hard you’ve been working." The group is also working on a similar event in November for those who can't attend in May. Learn more...
wesley seminary

Summer Term Course Registration now open at Wesley Seminary

Plan your summer with Wesley! Study your way - online or on-campus - there is a wide range of thought-provoking courses available to you to capture CEU credit, enrich your ministry, support your spiritual journey or start that degree at last at Wesley! Just a few of this summer's course offerings:
  • Biblical Storytelling - Dr. Tracy Radosevic
  • T.S. Eliot & the Search for God -Dr. Deryl Davis
  • Howard Thurman, Mystic, Prophetic, Theologian - Dr. Anthony C. Hunt
  • Teaching and Learning in Christian Education for a Diverse World – Dr. Jana Strukova
  • Ecojustice & Spirituality Along The Anacostia River - Dr. Beth Norcross
  • Ministry in a Rural Context - Dr. Jonathan Lemaster-Smith
Register early to avoid disappointment - classes fill up quickly! Registration open for degree, non-degree and certificate qualifying classes - learn more and apply at the link...
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District Initiative: Learn about collaboration taking place in 16 districts

District Initiative is the collaboration currently taking place in the 16 districts. In a the last article of a series, the district superintendents of the Virginia Conference share in a joint letter more about District Initiative and next steps.
They said in part:
"Each of your district superintendents has been working with a local team to help develop new district structures for our district-level work, projected to be starting July 1, 2022. It is anticipated that once the Annual Conference votes on the final number of districts, we will see new districts doing new things all across our conference [...] We don’t know what the future holds, and that is probably the biggest challenge of this season. How will our denomination change in the next season of ministry? Who will come with us on a journey to focus our attention on making disciples and transforming the world? We don’t know, and yet in that space between now and the unknown future, we will innovate and experiment and learn new things.
As your district superintendents, we are enthusiastically optimistic that with God’s help, we will help further the mission of Christ in the Virginia Conference. We ask for your approval of eight districts at Annual Conference so this work can move forward." View all current articles here...
news update

Special Annual Conference announced

On Saturday, October 29, 2022, 9:30 a.m., a Special Annual Conference will be held virtually. The sole purpose of this Special Session Called Annual Conference is to ratify the disaffiliation of local churches seeking to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church over matters of human sexuality. Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline governs this process. All approvals and agreements under this process must be completed by September 30, 2022, to be considered at the October 29, 2022 Special Session Called Annual Conference. Dates of additional Called Annual Conferences for this purpose will be available in the near future.
Additional material about the session will be forthcoming. More information about disaffiliation is on the conference website. Questions may be directed to the Rev. Dr. Steve Summers at SteveSummers@vaumc.org.
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Afghan Refugee Response Team continues ministry with new dreams

The Afghan Refugee Response team meets every month to discuss what the greatest needs are for Afghan neighbors resettling in the Virginia Conference. Conference Associate Director of Serving Ministries the Rev. Seungsoo "RJ" Jun shares the new dreams the team has to assist new neighbors. Read more...
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Latest news for Annual Conference 2022


The Mission Opportunities during Annual Conference have been a highlight of the connectional system as 1,300 churches, their clergy, and annual conference members gathered, served, and shared gifts with the world. In the coming 2022 annual conference, the Serving Office is excited to announce three opportunities for us to come and serve this world together united as one. “United as One in Worship” is the overarching theme of the 2022 annual conference session. Learn more...

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

General Church News

look before you leap

United Methodist Association of Retired Clergy webinar looks at choices between denominations

UM NEWS-- United Methodist Association of Retired Clergy, a group that intends to stay in The United Methodist Church, plans to have a webinar at 6 p.m. U.S. Mountain time May 17. The webinar will look at the differences between The United Methodist Church and the breakaway Global Methodist Church. The webinar is titled: “Look Before You Leap: Examining the Choices Between The UMC and The GMC.” Read more...
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Churches condemn hate, urge action after shootings

UM NEWS-- After what officials quickly identified as a racist attack, United Methodists are responding with prayers, counseling and condemnations of hate. Many church members in Buffalo are also grieving after the mass shooting at a grocery store claimed the lives of friends and loved ones. United Methodists also are responding after a gunman opened fire at a Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods, California. Read more...
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GCORR responds and resources the church around Buffalo shooting

GCORR is horrified and devastated by the recent shooting in Buffalo, NY. The white supremacist shooter acted with a violent and racist agenda against the Black community. This act of terrorism is a direct result of white supremacy and is unfortunately all too common in America. We grieve the victims of this senseless killing and stand in solidarity with the Black community of Buffalo and the United States. All our church and community leaders must act to undo the work of racism that’s deeply rooted in our society. We must take responsibility for this ongoing work. Every anti-racist action and conversation is a step in the right direction. For those looking to act, we offer resources for faith communities and individuals working towards racial justice, below are some resources to consider:
Racial Justice Prayer & Action Challenge
Racial Justice Conversation Guide
Anti-Racism Starts: Do’s and Don’ts
8 Ways Church Leaders Can Move the Conversation Forward
Overt and Covert Racism
How to Share Video Evidence of Racial Trauma Honorably
More resources centered on prayer and racial justice
For additional resources, explore our resource website: www.r2hub.org.

umc judicial council

Church court: Conferences can’t exit unilaterally

UM NEWS-- The Judicial Council, The United Methodist Church’s top court, ruled that current church law doesn’t allow U.S. annual conferences to leave the denomination. The church court said that annual conferences have a right to vote on disaffiliation, but only General Conference can set the process for doing so. The ruling answers questions from the United Methodist bishops, who are dealing with the ramifications of a splintering in the denomination. Read more...
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COB welcomes court’s decision that annual conferences may not vote to leave UMC

COUNCIL OF BISHOPS-- The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is expressing gratitude following the declaratory decision from the Judicial Council which stated that an annual conference may not vote to separate from the denomination. The denomination’s top court agreed with the Council of Bishops that while an annual conference has the reserved right to vote on disaffiliation, the General Conference must first enact enabling legislation to establish the right to withdraw but has not done so for conferences in the United States. Read more...
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Association of Korean Churches discerns its uncertain future

UM NEWS-- In the first in-person annual gathering of the Association of Korean Churches in The United Methodist Church, several panelists questioned whether the church’s membership decline could be attributed to a lack of spiritual renewal and its long-standing conflict over homosexuality. Read more...
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Shift in relief efforts for Ukraine

UM NEWS-- A move from emergency aid to long-term support sums up the current phase of United Methodist efforts for Ukrainian refugees as faith communities continue to send supplies into Ukraine. Read more...

One Last Word

You can trust your undefeated God to fight for you.

"The battle is not yours, but God’s."
– 2 Chronicles 20:15

battle
Please send any issues or concerns to communications@vaumc.org. If you have issues with the formatting trying to forward (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More...
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