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

August 4, 2020

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A Daily Prayer for Racial Justice and Reconciliation


(The following prayer is offered by the Bishop’s "Call to Action" Work Group on Racial Justice and Reconciliation. You are encouraged to pray the prayer daily.)

O loving God,
We give you thanks for creating the world which is full of diversity
and for making one human family of all the peoples of the earth.
You reign over all the nations and are seated on your holy throne.
You rule over all the peoples without partiality in respect to nations or races
because righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.
Forgive us for the times when we put walls around us with false pride and racial prejudice.
Forgive us for the times when we were silent in the face of racism, private or institutional.
Open our eyes to see Christ who is in people of every nation and every culture.
Break down the walls that separate us. Set us free from fear, hatred, and racism.
Bind us together with the unity of God’s love. Restore oneness to the family of God.
We pray in the name of Jesus who came, lived, and died for all humanity.
Amen.
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Conference Vision

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

Churches must find effective ways to communicate about giving if they wish to have fruitful ministries that make a difference. This online training from United Methodist Communications will give you the tools you need to show why we give and how to give to the ongoing work of the church through online platforms. More...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

"You Are Here: First Steps for White Christians on Race and Racism" is an online course with the General Commission on Religion and Race and for Christians who want to acquire a fundamental understanding of race and racism from a biblical perspective. This four-part self-directed course offers videos featuring Robin DiAngelo and the Rev. Dr. Anderson Hooker, reflections, and activities to help people of faith to recognize racism and begin to challenge it in their lives. Learn more...
  • How can you serve this week?

Mission is: Resiliency. Discover how the work of mission enables people, places, and communities to meet challenges with creativity, strength, and hope. Global Ministries connects The United Methodist Church, its people, and congregations to partner with others engaged in God’s global work, which takes place in a variety of settings, countries, and cultures. More...
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Virginia News

virginians-speak

Bishop Lewis, Attorney General to dialogue on policing reform

“Virginians Speak: A Dialogue on Policing Reform, Community, & Law Enforcement in Virginia” is a jointly sponsored event that will feature a panel of prominent Virginians in the fields of law enforcement, community engagement, and faith communities for 60 minutes of dialogue and a Q& A session led by a moderator. Attendees can view through a webinar broadcast on August 11, 2020, from 7-8 p.m. Questions may be submitted to the panelists during the live proceedings via email at vaspeak@vaumc.org or by texting 804-205-0774. Join the webinar by visiting: https://livestream.com/vaumc/vaspeak.

Panelists include: Attorney General Mark Herring; Bishop Sharma D. Lewis; Sheriff David Decatur, Stafford County; Sheriff Gabriel Morgan, Newport News; Chief Kenneth Miller, Petersburg Police Department; and moderator Cynthia Hudson, Richmond attorney.

This event is co-sponsored by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Both Attorney General Mark Herring and Resident Bishop of the Virginia Conference Bishop Sharma D. Lewis are committed to addressing law enforcement issues that are sensitive to public perspectives as well as speaking with a diverse group of voices in the fields of law enforcement, community engagement and faith in this first of several possible events. More...


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Updated TAM, modest changes made to in-person worship

August 3-- Bishop Lewis announced in a letter on August 3 some modest changes that have been made to in-person worship. These include an increase in the number of people for outdoor worship and information about communion elements in an outdoor setting. Learn more...


st lukes richmond

Richmond church celebrates return to Communion

St. Luke’s UMC, Richmond District, celebrated Communion in a COVID-19-conscious way on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. On a normal summer Sunday, the church typically has 80 in attendance and the Rev. Lisa Sykes, pastor, said she was thrilled to see almost 60 participate in this event.

Sykes shared that this size church made distribution manageable. The elements were consecrated during the morning livestream service and then, from noon to 1:30 p.m., the congregation was invited to participate in drive-thru Communion.

“Four months without Communion has made us feel like we are in the wilderness,” Sykes said. “Folks are so eager just to be on the premises and our winding parking lot is tailor-made for this.”

The whole process was socially distant and no one had to get out of their cars. The elements were distributed at the carport entrance and the offering was received outside the sanctuary. Baskets with long handles were used to share prepackaged Communion bread/juice and another to receive the church offering.

The church had to be even more creative as an initial idea to have baskets with arms of several feet on the commercial market were back-ordered. A couple in the church made the equivalent out of a mop, basket, and a homemade cloth liner.

Sykes also shared an unexpected joy was that some congregation members who struggle with mobility planned very quickly to share in this Communion distribution.

Sykes was appreciative to the Rev. Dr. Hyo Lee, Richmond District superintendent, in his support as well as the support of her lay team who made this possible which included: Andrew Russell who “extended” the elements to participants; Cody Russell who received the offering; Bob Ford who played his keyboard as members communed; and Stephanie Burnett who welcomed and screened all participants using the health acknowledgment poster.


crucial crisis livestream

Resource Learning: Learn how to improve your church's livestream

Does your church have a livestream? Want to know how to improve upon it? Learn more by viewing the "Crucial Crisis Conversations" webinar featuring conference Digital Media Manager Nick Ruxton for the next steps of livestreaming. His guests were Brian Bachrach and Andrew King from Christ Church in Fairfax, Va. More...

View more webinars in the "Crucial Crisis Conversations" series...
paper plane

Clergy: Review information in Clergy Directory

The second draft of the 2020-2021 Clergy Directory has been posted on the conference website (see link below). After many requests, the directory this year is being published using “nickname” and last name. Submit any corrections to your information by contacting Brenda Capen at BrendaCapen@vaumc.org. As well, there is a form on the page that allows clergy to opt-out of receiving a mailed hard copy of the directory. More...
2020 Annual Conference

Check conference website for AC 2020 updates

The 2020 Annual Conference will take place on Saturday, September 19, 2020, in a virtual, one-day format. Currently, you can find information about Kits, view photos and video from the ordination service, and more on the conference website. As information is received, you will find the latest news about the event at the following link. More...
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Information about Kits for Annual Conference

Local churches are encouraged to continue the collection of Kits for Conference. Specific collection details still underway, but will very likely include the organization of regional, or district-wide, drop-off locations. More information will be forthcoming as the new plan is created and finalized.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is currently focusing efforts on Cleaning Kits (aka Flood Buckets), Hygiene Kits, and School Kits. Cleaning kits provide supplies to help individuals and families clean up after flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. Hygiene kits replace basic necessity items lost in a disaster such as toothbrushes, hand towels, and soap to help people stay clean and healthy. School kits include school supplies for children as they return to the classroom.

If you prefer to make a financial contribution to enable UMCOR to purchase relief kits, you can contribute $75 for each cleaning kit; $12 for each health kit; and $11 for each school kit. Additionally, UMCOR asks for $1 per kit ($3 for cleaning buckets) to cover processing and shipping and $1 for toothpaste for each health kit. Please do NOT bring checks to Annual Conference. All checks (for processing and shipping, for toothpaste, and in lieu of providing kits) should be made payable to “Virginia Conference UMC,” earmarked for “kits” and mailed to Treasurer, Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA, 23058 any time prior to Annual Conference. More...
wesley seminary

Online courses available this fall at Wesley Theological Seminary

Fall registration is now open at Wesley!

Below is a sampling of the online courses offered this Fall at Wesley, all which can be taken for CEU credit:
  • Reviving Dying Churches + Community
  • Pastoral Practice and The Hebrew Bible
  • Teaching + Learning in Ch Ed
  • Cultivating Mental Health
  • The Methodist Response to Disease
  • Old Testament Exegesis: Isaiah
  • New Testament Exegesis: John
  • The Rest of the Story: Parables + Parallels
  • Jewish Art
Learn more about all their fall courses or apply at https://www.wesleyseminary.edu/admissions/try-a-class-2/. Contact Admissions for questions at (202)885-8659 or admissions@wesleyseminary.edu.
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Send gift in honor of current Conference Lay Leader

Virginia Conference Lay Leader Warren Harper is ending his term after eight years on September 19. A gift in his honor is very appropriate. A presentation will be made during the virtual Annual Conference session on Saturday, September 19. It is customary that two gifts are presented -- a monetary gift to an organization of his choice, and a gift for Warren and his wife, Sandy. If you would like to take part, please send a check to:

Virginia Conference Center
Attn: Bev Myers
P.O. Box 5606
Glen Allen, VA 23058

Please make the check payable to VA Conference UMC and mark "CLL Gift" in the memo line. All gifts must be received by September 1.
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Submit your mask photos, video to Communications Office

Since March, United Methodists in the Virginia Conference have been taking precautions and looking out for their neighbors by wearing masks. Now into the summer months, these precautions will most likely continue for some time.
The conference Communications Office is putting together a project to showcase this care and love of neighbor. To be a part, please share a photo of yourself wearing a mask. You can also submit a short video, sharing why you wear a mask or why you will continue to wear a mask.
Submissions should be sent to communications@vaumc.org.
Pictures should be taken straight on looking at the camera and not a profile view of a person. If the video is recorded with a cellphone, please turn your phone horizontal prior to recording so that you will have a larger image and no black lines on the side. Learn more about self-filming video tips here.
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Learn more about college admissions process

College Admissions 101: Randolph-Macon College invites high school students and their parents to join in a one-hour session (followed by 30 minutes of open Questions & Answers) to learn more about how the college admissions process works. Join Erin Slater, Director of Admissions, and Kendra Grimes, Chaplain and Director of Church Relations, at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. online via Zoom on Monday, August 10 beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The event content is designed to be helpful whether you are considering in-state or out-of-state schools, public or private institutions, etc. Take this opportunity to ask an expert the unique questions that you have regarding college admissions. Register each family member who plans to join using this link.
Randolph-Macon College hopes to share valuable information that will help you in the college application and admission process. If you have questions about the event, contact the Rev. Kendra Grimes at kendragrimes@rmc.edu.

apply now for grant

Local churches encouraged to apply for technology grant

While the Virginia Annual Conference is starting to expand in-person worship, many of our churches will continue to offer worship, Sunday school, and other ministries online. The Board of Communications has allocated funding to provide grants to local churches to help purchase the item(s) they need to maintain or improve their online ministry. The grant can help fund equipment, software licenses, and more.
In addition to grants, the board is also offering free technical consultations to assist local churches with their online ministry. All local churches in the Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church are encouraged to apply. Applications must be submitted by Aug. 31, 2020 for consideration. For more information, email the conference Communications Office at communications@vaumc.org. Click following link to access grant form. More...
application

Learn more about applying to the Board of Ordained Ministry

Applying for the first time to the Board of Ordained Ministry for provisional, full, or associate membership? Find some helpful videos with tips and information on applying at the link below. All application request forms are due to clergyexcellence@vaumc.org by August 15. More...
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Share prayers related to racial justice

In response to Bishop Sharma Lewis' Call to Action letter on May 29 to stop systemic racism, a task force was assembled by Bishop Lewis to begin work that will stem from her initial action steps. One of the first action steps is a Facebook group on the conference Facebook page titled "Prayer Wall for Racial Justice." On this wall, clergy and laity of the Virginia Conference can visit and pray for racial justice and reconciliation and share your written or video prayers or other creative avenues to be prayerful in this space. The group emphasized that prayer and action must go hand in hand to stop systemic racism. This virtual prayer wall can serve as a means of igniting prayer movements toward stopping systemic racism. To learn more about the next steps in the conference on racial justice, visit https://vaumc.org/reconciliation/. At the link below, visit the Facebook group, join, share your prayer for racial justice, and share this group as a prayerful space with your Facebook community. More...
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United Methodist Credit Union: PPP program extended to August 7

If your church or UMC-affiliated organization wants to participate in the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but hasn't applied yet or hasn't found an institution willing or able to assist you, please contact The United Methodist Credit Union (TUMCU). The SBA's PPP Loan Program deadline to apply has been extended to August 7, 2020. If you're not already a member, you can quickly become one and apply for this program using a convenient online application. Please call Jomin Mujar at (804) 672-0200 for more details or visit their website. More...

General Church News

Virus spikes close doors again at some churches

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--Laurel Heights UMC went about three months with online worship only, then gathered again in its lovely old Gothic sanctuary, with everyone wearing masks and keeping their distance. But it was one and done for the San Antonio church. COVID-19 cases locally began to spike just ahead of the June 14 reopening.

“We had sticker shock. We saw all these COVID numbers,” said the Rev. Paul Escamilla, Laurel Heights’ pastor. “We knew even when we gathered we wouldn’t be back the following Sunday, and we haven’t been back since.”

Thousands of United Methodist churches — including entire conferences — have dealt with the challenge of being unable to meet in person since the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the U.S. and other parts of the world before Easter. Read more...

Turning to Wesley’s class model amid pandemic

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--The founder of Methodism died on March 2, 1791, but his teachings remain relevant today amid a global pandemic. In his ministry, John Wesley established the concept of class meetings for fellowship and the development of a disciplined spiritual life. During the weekly classes, small groups discussed how souls were prospering and provided opportunities for counsel and comfort. They also offered an avenue for collecting alms to aid the poor. Wesley’s class concept has become especially relevant during and after lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus as churches in Zimbabwe embrace small sessions to keep church attendance lower and encourage spiritual growth at home. The United Methodists in Zimbabwe join United Methodist seminary students in Russia who also have used Wesley’s small-group approach amid quarantine. Read More...

Korean hospital sends 10,000 masks for missionaries

UNITED METHODIST NEWS-- A top hospital in Seoul, Korea — founded by a missionary doctor — has donated 10,000 face masks to the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries for distribution to retired Methodist missionaries.

Yonsei University and Severance Hospital, a prestigious university and hospital, was founded on April 10, 1885, by a Methodist medical doctor, Horace Newton Allen, and a Presbyterian missionary, Horace Grant Underwood. This was the first modern and westernized hospital in Korea.

“During the days when our country didn't even have a concept of hygiene, missionaries built our hospitals to offer medicine,” said Dr. Do-Heum Yoon, president and CEO, Yonsei University Health System. "We can't repay the love with this shipment of masks, but we still remember the love of missionaries.”
The KF94 masks from Severance Hospital arrived at the mission agency’s Atlanta headquarters on July 7 and staff were working to distribute them in late July and August to retired Methodist missionaries living in the United States and worldwide.

"This very generous gift from the people of South Korea is a moving testimony to their heartfelt love for those who have served The United Methodist Church over the years in roles such as evangelists, church planters, doctors, nurses, social workers, and teachers,” said Thomas Kemper, top executive for Global Ministries, in a press release. Read More...

Pastors with a badge advance police reforms

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--The Rev. Jeremy Wicks has served as a police chaplain, a reserve police officer and a Black Lives Matter organizer. He sees no contradiction in any of these roles. “In my heart, I honestly believe and my experience tells me that everyone is working toward the same goal,” the Michigan pastor said. “We want communities to be safe. We want people to flourish.” Wicks is among dozens of United Methodist clergy in the U.S. who have experience carrying a badge as police chaplains or as officers themselves. Many, like Wicks, are licensed local pastors. These pastors provide pastoral care to people who confront crime and disaster, and who frequently interact with people on their worst days. They have prayed with police in distress and buried officers killed in the line of duty. However, many chaplains and police also say reforms must happen for the safety of both officers and the communities they serve. These clergy want to help dismantle racism, and they see no conflict in declaring that both blue lives and Black lives matter. Read More...

AU students skip meals to feed struggling families

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--International students at Africa University (AU) are sacrificing their own meals to put food on the table in vulnerable communities. Four theology students at the United Methodist university started the Feed a Family campaign to help families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The students are among those who remained on campus after AU shifted to online learning in late March. Some of the school’s international students could not afford to return home or their home countries enforced lockdowns and closed their borders and airports. “Being a student in a foreign country is not easy, but Zimbabwean communities have impacted my life on campus through showing love and care toward me personally,” said Cesar Lodiha Akoka, a Congolese divinity student who helped start the program. “Giving back to the community as students is a way to appreciate the kindheartedness they have presented to us.” Read More...

One Last Word: The importance of prayer

ebenezer umc prayer shawls
When Stafford Hospital Chaplain Beth Riddick saw that her supply of prayer shawls had dwindled during the COVID-19 pandemic, she reached out to the community for help. The Phoebe Circle at Ebenezer UMC in Stafford stepped up to the challenge and started knitting and crocheting prayer shawls, pouring themselves into each one, praying for the recipient with every stitch. View video.
return to worship (1)
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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