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To submit news items or events, email conference Director of Communications at [email protected].

July 14, 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."

  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?

Now, more than ever, it is important for people of faith to continue dialogue together. As so much of our daily lives move online, our lay and clergy leaders still need space to have rigorous academic discussions, share practical advice, and join together in thoughtful contemplation. The General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (GBHEM) helps create that space by offering regular e-panel discussions with leaders within the United Methodist Church and outside it. You are invited to peruse the existing series and check back regularly for information on new topics and speakers. All e-panels are streamed live to GBHEM’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Full recordings of each e-panel will also be shared on those platforms. More...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Singers from all over the globe joined virtually to perform a song of hope, Stefan Youngblood's “We Will Rise,” under the direction of Shenandoah University Director of Choral Activities, Matthew Oltman. This performance features the Shenandoah Conservatory Choir from Winchester, Va.; the University of Pretoria Camerata from South Africa; the Pacific Youth Choir from Portland, Ore.; and Choral Chameleon and Empire City Men's Chorus from New York, along with a host of individual vocalists. 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...

Virginia News

ordination 2020 pandemic

View pictures from 2020 Service of Ordination

Eleven clergy were ordained during a service on June 10 at Woodlake UMC in Chesterfield. These clergy were Gil Lee, John Conway, Katherine Malloy, Sean Devolites, Ashley Isernhagen, John Obeng, Monica Reynolds, Marti Rigenbach, Mary Sullivan-Trent, Randy Timmerman, and Darlene Wilkins. You can view photos from the event on the conference Flickr page (link below). In a statement, Bishop Lewis shared about the experience.

“Though ordination may have looked very different this year, it was a joy to celebrate our 2020 ordinands and their ministry journeys,” Bishop Lewis said. “You may have noticed I was wearing a face shield and a different set of gloves for each clergyperson because it was important to me to conduct the proceedings as safely as possible. I would like to thank the Center for Clergy Excellence and the Board of Ordained Ministry for their work in creating this meaningful celebration with creativity and safety in mind.”

Bishop Lewis shares on worship in conference; new TAM, health form

In a letter from June 9, 2020, Bishop Lewis shared, "The work group that I assigned to plan for our return to in-person worship and gatherings has been learning a lot as it has received feedback from churches and as it continues to study the best resources from medical and church professionals and businesses. I want to share with you some updates based on the collection of this data."

The Virginia Annual Conference will remain in Stage 2 of the conference plan, even though the Commonwealth of Virginia has moved to its own Phase 3. The Technical Assistance Manual (TAM) for local churches gives specifics for the procedures to allow churches to move with confidence into healthy and safe in-person gatherings.

Bishop Lewis also shared a new choice in how COVID-19 health information is gathered by the conference for those that attend an in-person worship service (not a drive-in service) or an in person gathering. The first choice is to use the online health form on the EVC page prior to attending any in-person gathering. This health form has now been simplified to allow everyone to review four (4) statements and affirm their health with a single button. The form is then sent to their local church clergy person.

The second choice is that churches may now choose to download a poster (available in English, Korean and Spanish) of this new health form at Churches may then reproduce and post this form at church entrances for gatherings, as many businesses are doing. As people arrive, each person reads the poster and acknowledges their health to a greeter who will record their name and contact information. All persons, including visitors, will be welcome to attend using this simplified system if they can respond positively to the statements on this poster and if they are willing to socially distance and wear face coverings.

Conference hits 100 percent for 2019 apportionment giving to Africa University

The Virginia Conference hit 100 percent of the asking to the Africa University (AU) Fund apportionment in 2019. AU Development Office Communications Directors Andra M. Stevens offered her congratulations to the conference. "The Virginia Conference has been consistently generous in helping AU to equip and deploy leaders with the appropriate skills and outlook to transform communities. Thank you for loving your neighbor as you do and for building a tremendous legacy through Africa University. AU’s transformative ministry is thriving because United Methodists continue to pray for and invest in it. Best of all, the steadfast generosity of the Virginia Conference inspires and sustains our students as they grow in faith, claim, and work towards God’s promise of abundant life."

Stevens also shared that despite the current public health and economic challenges, this shared ministry remains vibrant:
  • Preparations are underway for both in-person and online delivery of instruction (2020-2021 academic year), beginning in August.
  • Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province where AU is located have been relatively few—29 to date with no deaths. Zimbabwe as a whole had 734 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of July 6, with nine deaths. One hundred and ninety-seven persons have fully recovered, 528 individuals—most of whom are returnees from other countries where caseloads are much higher—are receiving treatment. AU’s ongoing contributions to stemming the spread of COVID-19 include the manufacture of hand sanitizer and PPEs. The university has also developed its own disposable mask prototype for commercial production and some of the students are making reusable cloth masks.
  • AU students are also doing their part to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable families—launching successful appeals and giving up meals in order to supply food, medicine, and other essentials to their neighbors.
  • The current beneficiaries of the Virginia Conference’s endowed scholarships—Varaidzo Matika and Berly Mataruka—are doing well in their programs. They’re expected to progress to 4th and 3rd year respectively in August.

Take part in Mentor Palooza, clergy training event

Mentor Palooza, an event for the training of Candidacy, Provisional and Licensed Local Pastor mentors, will take place on Tuesday, August 18, from 9:30 to 3:30 via Zoom. There will be time for a plenary conversation around what it means to mentor, participating in breakout groups according to mentoring roles and opportunities to share resources with one another. If you have attended the training in 2018, you are not required to attend but are welcome to do so. DCOM Chairs, Registrars, and Mentor Coordinators are also welcome to attend. You may register via the link below.


Catch up on United Methodist Men webinars

The Virginia Conference United Methodist Men are inviting you to a series of scheduled Zoom meetings. The series started in May and will run through Aug. 5. These webinars last one hour each and are recorded if you are unable to make one. Along with the chat questions and answers, the recorded webinars are posted on the Virginia Conference website at

The webinar originally scheduled for July 22 has been moved to Wednesday, July 29. The topic for this event is “Communications – Beacon newsletter and Web Page” with Jon Simons, Beacon editor; and Brenda Capen, Virginia Conference webmaster.

The final scheduled webinar will be August 5 on the topic “Heart Havens and Camp Rainbow.” The Zoom link is with Meeting ID: 898 2460 7164.

All God's Children Camp hosts virtual 5k fundraiser

Join All God's Children Camp (AGC) for a virtual 5k fundraiser on August 15. You can run/walk this race anytime on August 15 or any date and time that suits you! Don't forget to take a picture of yourself and share it on the All God's Children Camp Facebook page with the hashtag #agcc5k. Lori Smith, AGC director, said, "We hope you will take this opportunity to support camp as we help break the cycle of incarceration." Click the link below to register:


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 [email protected] by August 15.

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Send in information for Clergy Directory

Edits are now being accepted for the 2020 Clergy Directory. If you have had a change in information for the Virginia Conference Clergy Directory, please share those edits with Brenda Capen at [email protected].
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High school-aged leadership program available starting in August 2020

Randolph-Macon College's 2020-21 "Valuing The Voices in our Church" experience for 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students is now open for registration. This program is designed to help youth
• Discern God's Call
• Value Their Own Voice
• Value the Voice of Others
Valuing the Voices in Our Church is an opportunity for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to explore their own gifts and graces for leadership, to consider what vocation God is calling them to, and to hear and grow in appreciation of a diverse chorus of voices who are leading in the church today. Randolph-Macon faculty, staff, alumni, and friends will be guest speakers throughout the year, sharing new ideas, sparking your imagination, and helping you sense God's call in a deeper way.
From August 2020 through April 2021, Randolph-Macon College will host bi-weekly online video conferences via Zoom. In May (if health & safety policies allow), eligible participants will be invited to campus for a Certificate Ceremony. In order to achieve a certificate for the program, you must attend the first meeting and at least three additional sessions of each unit: Leadership, Diversity, and Call.
Expect to learn about yourself in an environment that encourages you to cultivate new and lasting friendships with other high school students who are committed to faith and leadership. The cost of this yearlong program is $20. To apply or to nominate a youth, please visit the link below. Please register by August 5.. The event begins August 19. Contact the Rev. Kendra Grimes ([email protected]) or Ms. Jamie Grant ([email protected]) for questions.

church planting path 1

Path 1 offers new church planting training

With the outbreak of COVID-19, churches were forced to adapt rapidly to offering online worship. But many still aren’t sure if they have the right equipment or are using social media in the most effective way. Many church leaders are also realizing the importance of physically gathering, even in small groups, for fellowship and discipleship, and most of us aren’t sure what to do next. Path 1 is excited to offer a new training that will equip you to offer an online worship service combined with a house-church network so that you can continue to offer transformative ministry during this season of coronavirus and beyond. This training will walk you through digital planting, from how to create a budget and social media plan to how to host engaging online worship and structure a house-church network. Speakers include Nona Jones, Global Head of Faith-Based and Diverse Partnerships at Facebook, along with Elaine Heath, co-founder of the Missional Wisdom Foundation and Neighborhood Seminary, and Mark DeYmaz, co-founder of the Mosaix network. The cost is $200 per planter. Zoom webinars with speakers will be held every Tuesday from August 4 to September 8 from 1-3 p.m., CDT. Each webinar will include a time for Q&A and cohort discussion groups following the webinars.

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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 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.

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Pinnacle Living has long history, and a place for you to serve

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, wrote about many factors he attributed to his own successful aging into his 80s including the importance of a good diet, feeling useful, and being active. Wesley lived to be a very old man in the 18th century! As Methodism spread to the American Colonies, this emphasis on health and wholeness led to the establishment of the first “home for aged persons” in New York City in 1850. The story of ministry with older adults that was to become Pinnacle Living goes back to the 1930s. After several years of study, a report was submitted to the Annual Conference in Lynchburg in 1944, asking that Bishop William Walter Peele appoint a committee with authority to incorporate a board for the “Home for the Aged” and what would eventually become Pinnacle Living was born. As the needs and expectations of seniors have evolved and shifted, Pinnacle Living communities have grown and changed, too. The mission of Enriching Life’s Journey lives out in five distinctive senior living communities across the Virginia Conference. From opportunities to serve as friendly visitors to Music Ministry group performances, they have volunteer opportunities for missional discipleship for persons of all ages. Pastors, Lay Servants and small group leaders are encouraged to contact Pinnacle Living chaplains to find ways to engage in the spiritual formation of residents. If you want to put your passion and call to support older adults into action, Pinnacle Living has a place for you to serve!

Contact Pinnacle Living to learn how to connect their talented, mission-oriented residents to your ministries. From sewing face masks to providing meals for those who are homeless, their residents love to give back to the community. The organization can also provide experts for a specific topics for a ministry presentation among their residents and team members.

For more information about the communities of Pinnacle Living, visit the link below or contact Martha Stokes, Director of Church and Community Relations, at (804) 474-8718 or [email protected].
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Talk to United Methodist Credit Union: PPP program extended to August

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.


2020 Apportionment update shared in Treasurer's Office newsletter

Learn about update on 2020 apportionments and more from the conference Treasurer's Office in their Dollars & Sense newsletter.


Job opportunity available in Clergy Excellence office

The Advisory Team of the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Appointive Cabinet are pleased to announce that applications will be received through August 9 for the Associate Director of Call & Candidacy in the Center for Clergy Excellence. This part-time (28 hours per week) position, beginning September 15, 2020, will focus on missional areas of call, candidacy mentoring, and District Committee on Ordained Ministry support. A detailed job description is available on the conference website.

2020 Annual Conference

Annual Conference 2020 will be virtual one-day event

June 29, 2020--The Bishop, Appointive Cabinet and the Annual Conference Planning team have continued to evaluate options while conducting extensive logistical work of planning for the 2020 Virginia Annual Conference. In a statement from June 29, the groups shares that the 2020 Annual Conference will take place on Saturday, September 19, 2020, in a virtual format.

local church historians school

Local Church Historian School offered to any UMC church

Are you, or someone you know, interested in caring for or improving your church's program of history? The General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church will be offering a Local Church Historian School in 2020 for church historians---or anyone interested in the story of their church. The Local Church Historian School curriculum will cover a wide range of skills necessary to become a "complete" church historian. Participating congregations will benefit from a new consciousness of their heritage and legacy and be motivated to study their unique stories and proclaim it to those around them. The online school will begin on September, 14, 2020. Plan now to use this opportunity to ensure that the heritage of each of our churches will be celebrated and that each church can receive the full benefit of its own amazing story. The only prerequisite for the Local Church Historian School is access to dependable email service. (Minimal computer skills are required.)

Register now...


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

Read more

General Church News

Smaller communities affected by protests

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--Civil rights movement veteran the Rev. Gilbert Caldwell made his way to the podium with the help of a walker at a Black Lives Matter rally in the New Jersey township of Willingboro. More than 1,000 marched through the streets of the town of about 30,000 to protest the violent death of George Floyd in police custody. The protest in Willingboro was one of many around the U.S. taking place away from large cities and involving United Methodists. Caldwell, 86, a retired United Methodist pastor and veteran of the civil rights movement, has survived two operations for a brain tumor and has paralysis in his right leg and foot. He came anyway and was introduced by Greater New Jersey Conference Bishop John Schol. Caldwell was moved that the crowd at this protest in suburbia included all races. “The white persons (attending the rally) among black persons suggested to me that this is a turning point,” Caldwell said. The “multiracial response” was “very, very encouraging to me.”

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Delegates: Use GC2020 delay for new vision

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--The Methodist movement first grew through small groups where people met to talk about their faith. An informal group of 15 current and former General Conference delegates hopes a similar approach will help foster a less contentious and more fruitful legislative gathering next year. The group is urging fellow delegates and other United Methodists to use the unprecedented pandemic-caused postponement of the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly to hold prayerful conversations in their churches about the denomination’s future. The group has released a statement “Out of Chaos, Creation: Seeds of a Vision for a Renewed United Methodism.” At two webinars July 7, group members discussed their statement and invited others to seek a “Spirit-inspired vision” for The United Methodist Church.

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Court ruling temporarily halts Dakota pipeline

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--A new court ruling gives a boost to continuing efforts by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, say United Methodist supporters. “People often think this has been over for some time, but it hasn’t been,” said the Rev. David Wilson, conference superintendent of the United Methodist Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, about the fight over the pipeline. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled July 6 that the Dakota Access Pipeline must shut down by Aug. 5 while an in-depth environmental review of the project is conducted. Since 2016, there have been several court rulings regarding the pipeline’s route and its environmental impact. An executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Jan. 24, 2017, just after he took office, had allowed construction of the pipeline to proceed. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which includes members of the Lakota and Dakota nations, has fought against the $3.8 billion pipeline for years over concerns about polluted drinking water and the disturbance of sacred Native American sites.

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Opinion: Time for Cross and Flame to go

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--"I saw my first burning cross in 1979 when I was 10 years old. It was night. My family and I were on our way to Shreveport, La., from the parsonage of Miles Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Marshall, TX, where my dad was pastor. We were comfortably talking and riding along when to our right, my mother pointed out a large burning cross just off the freeway. My mother told my brother, sister and me that the burning cross was a powerful image devised to evoke fear in black people. Yet in this deafeningly quiet moment, that simple, terrifying and horrific image of the burning cross made the struggle personal for me. I have never forgotten it. It was years later, after I left the CME Church and joined the United Methodist Church with my wife in January 1992, that I saw The United Methodist Church Cross and Flame insignia and thought to myself, “That is interesting.” When I saw the United Methodist Cross and Flame, I didn’t think of John Wesley’s heart being strangely warmed, I didn’t think of the flaming tongues of fire resting on the Apostles in Acts 2. I didn’t think of how each tongue of the flame represents the former denominations that came together to form The United Methodist Church — The Evangelical United Brethren and The Methodist Church. My mind went back to that burning cross I saw on the side of the freeway — a symbol my mother told me was devised to cause fear in black people."

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In trying times, churches extend their reach

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--When the pandemic threatened their predominantly African American community in North Nashville, Tennessee, members of Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church knew what they had to do: Re-tool for the new reality and increase capacity. That meant finding a different way to feed and spiritually nurture the 50 older adults active in the church’s weekly Best Years program and the 150 homeless persons brought to the building for the same reason every Saturday, said the Rev. Paula Smith, Gordon’s pastor. It also means responding to the increased need as the pandemic’s economic impact grows. A Sheltering in Love grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s COVID-19 Response Fund is helping the members of Gordon Memorial accomplish that goal. While the church building has been closed, Smith said, “we continue to strive to go forward in mission and to stay connected.”

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One Last Word

Everyone smiles in the same language.
return to worship (1)
Learn more about three-stage return to in-person worship at Virginia Conference churches:

Please send any issues or concerns to [email protected]. If the formatting gives you trouble in forwarding (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More...
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