Advocate 2022 logo

December 19, 2023

To submit news items, stories, or corrections for inclusion in the newsletter, email the conference Communications Office at [email protected].

In this week's edition of the Advocate, you will find:

  • Advocate e-newsletter, Conference Center Holiday Schedule
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Events
  • Resources
  • Grants/Applications
  • Virginia News
  • General Church News
  • One Last Word

Mark your calendars: Advocate newsletter, Conference center holiday schedule

The Advocate newsletter will not send out an edition for Tuesday, December 26. The newsletter will return Tuesday, January 2.

The Conference Center in Glen Allen, VA will be closed will close for Christmas observance Friday, December 22 through Tuesday, December 26.

The Conference Center will also be closed Monday, January 1 in observance of New Year's Day.
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Join the Journeys of Paul Cruise: Sept. 21- Oct. 1, 2024

Join Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and the VAUMC on a Educational Opportunities Tours Journeys of Paul Cruise from September 21- October 1, 2024 (9 nights abroad the Odyssey of the Seas, a round trip from Rome, Italy). Guest Speaker with be Rev. Magrey deVega. The $500 deposit is due at the time of registration. For questions, please contact Rev. Justin White at [email protected] or 703-973-1606. To learn more and register...

Introducing: The United Methodist Heritage and Fresh Expressions Journey

Presented by Fresh Expressions United Methodist in partnership with Fresh Expressions Florida, The Fresh Expressions House of Study at United Theological Seminary introduces The United Methodist and Fresh Expressions Journey from September 1-13, 2024. The Teaching Guide will be Rev. Dr. Michael Adam Beck
and the Teaching Bishop will be Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson.
On this journey, embark on a profound 12-night pilgrimage through the historic lands of England, immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of the extraordinary spiritual movements: the Methodist Movement and the Fresh Expressions Movement. Find detailed itinerary...

This transformative journey, tailored for both laity and clergy of The United Methodist Church, offers a deep exploration of these influential movements, equipping participants with wisdom and inspiration for present and future application in their faith journeys. Register now...

Please direct your questions to the travel agent, Kenya Ellis at [email protected] or (352) 872-3451.

Lay Servant Academy Training will take place February 23rd & 24th

This training will be virtual only. Registration will begin in early January! Included in the course list are:
  • Virginia UMC Roots, Racism, and Discipleship Advanced Course
  • Basic Course
  • Children and Youth Discipleship–Ministry with Parents/Guardians
  • Spiritual Gifts
  • Called to Preach
Save the dates! Contact Tianna Durbin [email protected], Director of Lay Servant Academy with questions!
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To view conference and local church events, visit the Virginia Conference website at

To submit an local church event for inclusion, submit this form.
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Conference resource available for Christmas Eve Lessons & Carols

The conference Office of Connectional Ministries and the Center for Clergy Excellence will be partnering together to share a Service of Lessons and Carols for Christmas Eve. Please use and share this resource if it will be helpful for your ministry context. The service will be shared on the conference Facebook page and on the conference website.

New online Clergy Directory now available

The Conference has developed a new Online Clergy Directory that will receive daily updates from UnityWeb. This new powerful tool provides a more efficient way to search. For example, you can search for all of the Elders in Full Connection in any specific district. Learn more...

Note: Only office phone number and VAUMC emails are listed. This format also allowed VAUMC to better protect certain clergy information from phishing, bots, and scraping information.
You may send questions to [email protected].

Multiethnic Ministries Grants applications are now open

The 2024 Racial/Ethnic Local Church(RELC) Grant and the Annual Conference Multiethnic Ministries Grant applications are now available! RELC Grant and Multiethnic Ministries Grant applications will be accepted January 2 – March 1, 2024. Application forms can be found here:

RELC Grants are provided to assist local racial/ethnic congregations with projects and programs on one of three areas: 1) Leadership Development; 2) Church Growth and Development; and 3) Pastoral Salary Support. The maximum RELC programmatic grant is $15,000 and the maximum pastoral salary support grant is $12,000. The church’s membership must be at least 51% majority racial/ethnic.

Multiethnic Ministries Grants are provided to annual conferences to assist with programs focusing on racial-ethnic leadership development and racial/ethnic church growth and development. Learn more...

Young adults can explore call to ministry at Exploration 2024

Are you interested in exploring a call to ministry? The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) is hosting Exploration 2024 from February 16-18, 2024 in Orlando, Fla., for young adults, ages 18-26. The event creates sacred space for young adults to be in meaningful fellowship, passionate worship, theological reflection, and practical workshops as they discern whether God’s call on their life is to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church and what faithful steps they can take in response.

Registration details with GBHEM can be found here...

GBHEM Scholarship application for $300 is at this link...

The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church still has a few openings for young adults (18-26) looking to go on an adventure of discernment. The Center for Clergy Excellence and the Board of Ordained Ministry is organizing a cohort to attend EXPO 2024 in Orlando, FL, February 16-18. Registration and application (deadline is 12noon this Friday, December 22) for scholarship funding can be found here:
Airfare is provided by the VAUMC. You register, we'll get you there! Contact [email protected] for more information.

Help prepare students for higher education opportunities

Students who are members of a United Methodist Church can receive financial support for higher education. The General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (GBHEM) scholarship application opened December 15. Learn more...

The United Methodist Higher Education Foundation (UMHEF) scholarship application opens January 1. Learn more...

Virginia News

New children's book by a VAUMC pastor

Barbara L. Parker, a semi-retired minister with The United Methodist Church felt called to begin writing children's books. Her first children's book is out now and she is in the process of completing her second book which will be continuing the journey of the same children. "She is grateful that God has given her the opportunity to share he thoughts about everyday life with children from real experiences in her own life as a Mom and a Pastor." (source: Find this book and other VAUMC clergy books on the conference website...

Unity update: GCFA adds additional question to statistics

December 18, 2023--Very recently, GCFA added a question to Table I: Line 2g - Members received from other closed and disaffiliated UMC churches

As the description indicates, it's primarily designed to track persons migrating from disaffiliated churches, to avoid clouding up line 2e during this unusual event for the next year or two.

Unity Database Manager Chris Malak is currently in the process of updating UnityWeb so that Annual Statistics will reflect this change. This necessitates me also adding it to weekly statistics and the charge conference pastoral statistics functionality/reporting. You may contact him for any questions at [email protected].

Would you sponsor a Heart Havens home, resident for Christmas?

Would you or your church group sponsor a resident or Heart Havens home for Christmas? Heart Havens takes pride in providing a joyful holiday for all our residents. There are people in the homes who would not otherwise receive gifts. Your donation of $125 will sponsor a resident and $500 will sponsor a home. Donations allow the staff closest to the resident to shop for items they will love, giving joy to both the residents and staff. You can note "Resident Christmas Gifts" on your check or donate online and select “Apply My Donation to – Resident Christmas Gifts.”

Want to hear why folks like attending UM Day at the General Assembly?

Read below and register here for UM Day on February 1:

"I get a chance to meet with my legislatures and advocate for things that I'm passionate about! That's why I love UM Day!" - Pat

"I like that there is a strong history of advocacy within the church that is on display in this one day. I enjoy that we can tell each other and relive the stories of past efforts and success." - Joe

"I like the opportunity to bring other people from my church and district to meet with our delegate and meet with our senator. I like the opportunity I have to thank them for the work they have done and to tell them what we are asking them to do now." - Jaydee

"What I like most is letting new people know what this day is all about and explaining why we do this advocacy. I like sharing how as a whole united group we can make a difference!" - Sue

"Every January I look forward to joining with United Methodists from around the Virginia Conference, for fellowship and networking, to learn together about important social justice issues, and to raise our collective voices for justice for people in need. It’s an opportunity for me to put my faith into action. I always leave United Methodist Day at the General Assembly feeling excited and energized for the continued work of social holiness." - Karen

Already know you want to join the event? Register for UM Day here...
umc news

Looking ahead to General Conference next year

UM News--After a four-year delay, the next General Conference is rapidly approaching in just over four months. The coming General Conference is now set to take place April 23-May 3 in that city’s convention center — bringing together United Methodists from four continents who will make decisions that will shape the global denomination for years to come. Learn more...

Invitation to stand with Palestinian Christians this Advent, Christmas

GLOBAL MINISTRIES--Our Christian colleagues in Bethlehem tell us that this Advent and Christmas in Bethlehem the lights that normally adorn the birthplace of Jesus will remain unlit in memory of those who have been killed in the current conflict. The patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem have noted that the traditional festive services in the Holy Land will be somber in nature due to the ongoing war.

On Christmas Day we invite you to take a photo of your Advent wreath with the second candle unlit and send to [email protected]. The staff at the Methodist Liaison Office will forward your pictures to local church communities in the Holy Land so our sisters and brothers in Christ can see that we stand in solidarity with them over the festive season. For further information, contact Rev. David Hardman, Methodist Liaison Officer, Jerusalem, at [email protected].
Learn more...

One Last Word

In all your celebration with friends and family, don’t forget to find those who feel alone. Christmas is about good news for all, especially those that feel forgotten.
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Please send any issues or concerns to [email protected]. If you have issues with the formatting trying to forward (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More...
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