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August 2020 * Volume 21, Issue 6

President’s Message by Albert Weal, Jr.

Moving Forward as Men of Faith

AlbertWeal
Good Morning,
I pray you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the way we connect with each other. It established a new norm, one where we must practice social distancing from our friends and families to keep each other safe.
We are currently living in unprecedented and confusing times. But as Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, once said, “We face neither East nor West; We face forward.” We must face our current reality and march on forward together.

As a brotherhood of conscious men actively serving our communities while making disciples for Jesus Christ, we must move forward with steadfast dedication to serve people who are in need, and that includes our brothers in either jail or prison.
“Sing a song, full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.”
Lift Every Voice and Sing
Brother James Weldon Johnson
United Methodist Hymnal, Copyright 1989, #519.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngFDy52eCZY
These are indeed dark times. And yet, there is one truth I know with great confidence: the men of the Virginia Conference are men of faith! We must faithfully continue to empower our communities. Most importantly, we must be faithful as our brothers’ keepers. I have faith that together, we will move forward and continue to speed our cause on its way!

The great American writer and activist James Baldwin once said, “There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.” These past few weeks have been traumatic for many of us, both personally and professionally. It is our responsibility to raise awareness and to move forward.

Thank you to all who presented and participated in the Love, Learn, and Lead webinars that the Virginia Conference UMM sponsored this summer. I encourage you to watch the recordings of these webinars found on our website vaumc.org/UMM. A recent webinar focused on prison ministry. Below you will find a thoughtful letter that I received from Rev. J. Randy Myers of GraceInside as well as ways that you can support All God’s Children this summer.

Keep moving forward,

Albert Weal, Jr., President
757-677-6096
mastercook3@cox.net

A Letter from GraceInside

Full Circle | An Ongoing Partnership

GraceInside
GraceInside chaplains bring faith, hope, and love to the more than 30,000 incarcerated men and women of Virginia's prisons. After being a panelist during a Love, Learn, and Lead webinar on prison ministries, Rev. J. Randy Myers of GraceInside sent the following letter to President Albert Weal, Jr. which we have permission to share with you.

Dear Brother Albert,

Greetings to you and to all of our faithful, committed Brothers in Christ in the United Methodist Men (UMM) from GraceInside (Virginia's State Prison Chaplain Ministry). First of all, I wanted to congratulate you, Mr. President, on your new position with the UMM-Virginia Conference! The background info that you shared was amazing, and your education, your secular business background, and your many years of dedicated service in United Methodist life have certainly prepared you well for this position! You have my prayers and support, and I wish you and all UMM every rich blessing from above! I pray for a fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit upon each of you as you assume your new roles/responsibilities.

I also want to thank the United Methodist Men (and also the Virginia Conference UMC as a whole) for your continued support of ministries like GraceInside and for continuing to love, care for, and reach out to "the least of these." As many of you know, this is GraceInside's Centennial Year (1920-2020). We were originally formed 100 years ago by seven Protestant Christian denominations in Virginia, one of which was Virginia Methodists. I am SO pleased to say that Methodists (and then United Methodists) NEVER lost interest in prison chaplaincy/prison ministry - and that over the years the Virginia Conference has grown to be our largest denominational/judicatory supporter and funder! I want to thank the Virginia Conference and Bishop Sharma Lewis for the unfailing support! How you have blessed our 30 chaplains at 30 state prisons across the Commonwealth and the 30,000 incarcerated men and women that they serve! We are SO grateful for your partnership.

I have to say that the UMM in particular have displayed an undying interest in what GraceInside does and in prison ministry/chaplaincy. These wonderful men have been "ambassadors" for us in their churches, and oh how we appreciate that! Many of your men are also involved in the Kairos of Virginia Prison Ministry. Kairos is our largest volunteer ministry group, and they absolutely pour their lives into ministering in a very real and personal way in the state prisons. UMM members, Kairos members (and the churches of both) tend to be very "on fire" for prison ministry, and thus these individuals and churches are some of our most faithful donors/supporters. They have provided untold additional chaplaincy hours to the many prisons that we serve. In short, we at GraceInside are SO very grateful for the "hand-in-hand" ongoing partnership we have with UMM and with Kairos as we seek to share God's amazing grace in Christ with incarcerated men and women across Virginia. "Thank you" is simply insufficient for all that you have done and continue to do to support this vital ministry.

Most recently, the Virginia Conference UMM invited me to be a panelist/presenter on one of your "Love, Learn and Lead" webinars (the one in which you spotlighted GraceInside's work in the state prisons, Good News Jail & Prison Ministry's work in local and regional jails and around the world, Kairos's life-changing ministry in our state prisons, and the wonderful and much needed work of the "All God's Children" Camps - that create special camp experiences for the children of incarcerated parents). What a wonderful experience and awesome opportunity that was for me - to get to highlight and remind folks of our vital ministry - especially during the COVID-19 crisis when we're simply unable to do much outreach in the churches. I thank UMM again for that opportunity/experience. Thanks also for putting links to the webinars in your e-newsletter so folks that missed them can go back and view them and learn more about these important ministries. So once again things came full circle: You allowed me to share about GraceInside on your webinar, and the participants/viewers then became ambassadors for us in their churches, reminding folks of who we are, what we do, and why the UMM, the Virginia Conference and its churches/members continue to support us. Many THANKS!!!

I look forward to our continued partnership in doing prison ministry. Know that I and all of the staff of GraceInside are always here and available to you if you need our assistance in any way regarding prison ministry. Don't ever hesitate to call on us. When the world returns to "normal", we can certainly provide Chaplains as speakers at services and events at which you wish to highlight prison ministry. Please continue to invite folks to visit our website at www.graceinside.org and/or to "like" and follow "GraceInside" on Facebook. We share and highlight all kinds of wonderful "success stories", many of which feature Methodist (UMM, Kairos and local church) volunteers and their efforts in the prisons!

May God grant His continued blessings to each of you, to UMM, and to The Virginia Conference UMC as together we strive to continue the work of the Kingdom!

Yours in Christ,

Rev. J. Randy Myers
President

Editor’s Note: To watch the recording of the Love, Learn, and Lead webinar focusing on Prison and Jail Ministries, click here to view the recording. The access password is 6k$71m=8

The New BEACON

Virginia Conference Communications Office
Publishes The BEACON

Moved
Welcome to The (New) BEACON! The BEACON just completed a transition to the Virginia Conference Communications Office from Constant Contact. We hope you like the changes that you see. Please let us know if you noticed the changes by replying to this email.

You will see significant improvements if you read The BEACON on your mobile device. While a significant number of our readers read The BEACON on their desktops, the use of mobile devices has grown substantially over the last year.

We thank the Virginia Office of Communications for the opportunity to publish The BEACON and distribute announcements. Cost savings to the Virginia Conference UMM’s budget are significant and help to distribute more resources to men’s ministry across the Virginia Conference.

All God's Children Camp Hosts Virtual 5k Fundraiser

Opportunity to Provide Support Before August 15

AGCLogo2019_500px
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."

AGC was featured during the Love, Learn, and Lead webinar that focused on Prison and Jail Ministries on June 24. Click here to watch the recording. The access password is 6k$71m=8

Offer your support during a summer when camps cannot be held. Click the link https://runsignup.com/Race/VA/GlenAllen/AGCC5K to register.

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Words to Live By …

JohnLewis

We Shall Overcome

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression, and war.”

The Honorable John Lewis

Rest in Peace

Recommended Reading: Romans 12: 14-18 (NRSV)