January 2023 * Volume 24, Issue 1

President's Message by Albert Weal, Jr.

Goals for the New Year

Good Morning,

Each new year, I like to review and remind myself of goals for the upcoming year. The Virginia Conference UMM Cabinet has established goals for 2022-2023 to:
  • prepare (disciple) men for service and leadership;
  • align succession management with church demographics;
  • reach new men and their families and mentor new Christians;
  • connect with other Conference agencies and boards;
  • prevent domestic violence jointly with United Women in Faith; and
  • develop Holy Spirit led Christian fellowship through Wesleyan transformational small groups (class meetings) at all fellowships.
As key initiatives during 2022, the Virginia Conference UMM have continued to encourage the formation of Younger Men’s Ministry and to offer webinars on various UMM ministries and men’s health.

Our ministry partnerships have a new look. We have included The Black Methodist Church Renewal, Asian American Ministry Association, the Latino/Hispanic Caucus, and the Native American Caucus as ministries that the Virginia Conference UMM now support.

We need the help of every man in every Methodist Church in the Virginia Conference to meet these goals. We have set a goal of $10 per man with a minimum goal of 10,000 men annually. Keep reading for more details about how to contribute and our adopted 2023 budget.

New District Leadership Teams
Because of district realignment approved at the 2022 Virginia Annual Conference, the Cabinet appointed temporary District Team Leaders for the new districts. Each new district needs to elect a new district officer. Why is this important? This is required if we, the United Methodist Men, will have a say or become a part of the new District Leadership Teams. In most cases, the UMM Team Leader (President) is automatically a member of the District Leadership Team. If the District UMM are not organized, then we have no participation in the district leadership.

Racial Healing Circles
The leadership of the SEJ UMM, which includes elected officers and Conference Presidents, embraces Racial Healing Circles (RHC) as a vital element in our commitment to dismantling racism and in our Great Commission to make disciples of all nations for the transformation of the world. We exhort all of our men to speak out and stand up for unity, justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion and to employ Healing Circles to begin the dialog necessary to address the inhumanity of racism.

Every new year brings a fresh start and opportunities to serve and make new disciples. Please continue reading for information on open Cabinet positions and our partner ministries Heart Havens and GraceInside.

Please continue to pray for the Cabinet and men’s ministry in Virginia.

Albert Weal, Jr., President
[email protected]

The Power of "WE" in 2023

$10 Supports VA Conference United Methodist Men

The focus of the Virginia Conference United Methodist Men is to share the love of Christ with all men in the Virginia Conference. We can do more together as men than we can apart.

We are asking every man in the Virginia Conference, whether or not you are participating in a local UMM fellowship, to contribute $10 to the Virginia Conference UMM.

The Virginia Conference UMM operating expenses include dues and travel to annual meetings of the National Association of Conference Presidents and the Southeast Jurisdictional UMM. In addition, we support partner organizations including Heart Havens, All God’s Children, Scouting, Camp Rainbow, GraceInside, and others.

Your support for the Virginia Conference UMM therefore matters! We rely on private gifts to meet our operating expenses and to support our partner organizations. We are self-funded and receive no funds from the Virginia Conference.

Please send a check payable to the Virginia Conference UMM to:

Virginia Conference UMM
c/o Albert Weal, Jr.
407 Knells Ridge Dr.
Chesapeake, VA 23320

Your gift will ensure the future of ministry to men throughout the Virginia Conference and guarantee support for our partner organizations. We appreciate gifts of any amount because every gift affirms the value of men’s ministry. Through your gifts, men’s ministry will grow in the Virginia Conference.

Thanks for your interest and support!

Albert Weal, Jr., President
[email protected]

Open Positions for VA UMM Cabinet

Serving Men of the Virginia Conference

Looking for an opportunity to serve the men of the Virginia Conference and be nourished spiritually at the same time? There are opportunities!

The Virginia Conference United Methodist Men Cabinet has open positions for Chaplain and Treasurer for the 2023-2024 term that begins July 1, 2023. Please prayerfully consider these two positions as a way of serving the men of the Virginia Conference.
The Chaplain is the Cabinet’s spiritual leader and ensures that a devotional is presented at the opening of each Cabinet meeting and Annual Meeting; offers prayers and spiritual messages upon request; and assists the Prayer Advocate in receiving and uplifting prayer requests. Please click here for the full job description.

The Treasurer is responsible for the funds and securities of the Virginia Conference UMM and provides full and accurate accounting of receipts and disbursements; makes a full written report of the financial condition and all income and expense transactions; and provides financial advice to the Finance Committee and Cabinet in order to keep Conference UMM on sound financial footing. Please click here for the full job description.

If you have questions or are interested in serving as the Chaplain or the Treasurer, please contact Andrew Kissell at [email protected] or 757-839-0790.

VA UMM 2023 Calendar

Upcoming Dates for Your Calendar


Looking Forward

Celebrate Heart Havens Month

Heart Havens Month 2023
February is Heart Havens month in the Virginia Conference. In 2023, the Heart Havens theme is "Looking Forward”.

Heart Havens empowers adults with developmental disabilities to live and thrive in their community and depends on the support of churches during February to sustain its mission as they do not receive any funding from conference apportionments. The Virginia Conference UMM is glad to partner with Heart Havens.

Heart Havens is excited and Looking Forward to 2023 - with your help Heart Havens will open a new West End Richmond Heart Havens home to further its mission around Virginia. Donations will go toward replacing appliances, purchasing furniture, making repairs recommended by the home inspection, and installing health and safety additions such as AEDs. Heart Havens is also building an addition onto the home to create a 4th bedroom and additional bathroom to better serve clients.

Heart Havens looks forward to celebrating Heart Havens month with you. Heart Havens will provide speakers to share the message of Heart Havens either virtually or in-person. If you're interested in scheduling a program, please contact Heart Havens using this form.

Heart Havens
7501 Boulders View Dr, Suite 205
Richmond, VA 23225
Phone: 804-237-6097
Fax: 804-237-6098

In the Bleak Mid-Winter | What Can I Give Him?

GraceInside | Celebrating 100 Years

Mary with Baby Jesus2023
As a new year begins, let me briefly tell you the story of a beautiful old Christmas carol. It is not as well-known as many of the “standard” carols and songs sung during the Christmas season. The title of the song is actually somewhat depressing, but the message it conveys is incredibly powerful and hopeful. I want to focus on the last verse of this old Christmas carol as it gives us hope for a new year.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) was an English writer of romantic, devotional and children’s poems. She was a sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a popular artist of the Victorian era that many call the father/founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement. In January 1872, Christina’s poem (that she originally titled simply “A Christmas Carol”) was published in Scribner’s Monthly. It would later appear in her own book in 1875 – a collection of her early poems. The poem eventually came to be known by its first line: In the Bleak Mid-Winter.” In 1906, composer Gustav Holst composed a musical setting of Rossetti’s poem. It appeared in that year’s The English Hymnal, and it quickly became a popular Christmas carol all over the world. In 1909, a choral anthem setting was composed by Harold Darke. It has been widely performed by choirs around the world for over a century.

The words of the poem/hymn are very meaningful and theologically “deep” (with wonder and awe expressed over the miracle of Christ’s incarnation). It is somewhat surprising to me that this Christmas carol is not as well known or beloved in America. One can only speculate that it may possibly be due to its (quite literally) “bleak” title! But let’s take a look at that beautiful and moving final verse of the song. I would dare say that many of you have heard.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
  • Inflation, supply chain issues, rising grocery and gas prices and roller coaster stock market numbers that impact our retirement funds (along with a possible looming recession) – All of these things are stretching my budget thin, Lord. I have to admit that giving is hard right now.
  • Lord, there are so many good churches, wonderful ministries, excellent causes and charities, so much need – but I don’t have a lot left over to give! And will the small amount I can actually give really even make a difference? [Yes! It absolutely WILL!]

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb
  • Lord, thanks for reminding me that Virginia’s state prisons are a mission field– one that is “ripe unto harvest.” Thank you for reminding me that the state prison Chaplains are my missionaries. Day in and day out, those 33 chaplains labor at all 42 Virginia state prisons, sharing God’s amazing grace and life-changing love with the 24,000 incarcerated men and women that they serve.
  • And Lord, thank you for reminding me that Virginia’s state prison chaplains are NOT state employees and that they are NOT compensated with taxpayer monies. Chaplaincy only happens in Virginia’s state prisons because folks like ME make it happen! For OVER 100 YEARS, caring individuals, churches, denominations and foundations have joined together to give the gift of chaplaincy to Virginia’s state prisons. Wow!
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part
  • Wait a minute, Lord. I’m smart enough to know that most GraceInside Chaplains are still only able to serve part-time. And many of them serve at large facilities that house 1,000 or more men or women – while others serve at multiple prison facilities and yet are still part-time. Lord, our prison Chaplains need more ministry hours, and so many more of them absolutely need to be full-time! What part can I play in making that happen?
  • Lord, perhaps you want me to be an ambassadorfor GraceInside. Maybe I could tell my friends, family members, neighbors and fellow church members about this amazing work that is going on behind prison walls. Maybe God is calling MY church to add GraceInside to its annual budget or to do fundraising or to “adopt” a chaplain and prison facility. Lord, maybe you are even calling me to use my spiritual gifts and talents to go in as a religious volunteer – to help the Chaplains in their work and to be on the “front lines” of changing hearts and lives!

Yet what I can I give Him, give my heart
  • Hold on, Lord. I think you just gave me the answer! Jesus, in Matthew 25:36, you clearly identified yourself with “the least of these”– including prisoners! You plainly said, “I was in prison and you came to me.” So, Lord, that means that if I am sharing the Good News of your love and grace with inmates, I am sharing love with You!
  • So, Lord, I am “giving my heart” when I give sacrificially and faithfully to provide chaplains, more chaplaincy ministry hours, and more full-time chaplains to love on and care for the inmates and staff at our state prisons. Okay, Lord, I’m ready to “give you my heart” by giving as generously and sacrificially to the ministry of GraceInside as you lead me to give and enable me to give.
Thank you so much, dear friend, for your kind, loving and sacrificial heart.

Happy New Year,

Rev. J. Randy Myers

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Words to Live By

Journey of the Magi_James Tissot1894
Journey of the Magi by James Tissot, (1894)

Following the Star

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and sacrifice
Alleluia alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies

John Henry Hopkins, 1857
United Methodist Hymnal, Copyright 1989, #254

Recommended Reading: Matthew: 2:9-12
In continued efforts to fulfill the Virginia Conference goal of having Connectional Ministries become a greater resource to districts, laity and clergy, United Methodist Men are now partnered with Virginia UM clergy. Clergy, you are receiving the Beacon newsletter as part of your Virginia Conference connection.