Advocate 2022 logo

April 2, 2024

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:

  • Virginia News
  • 2024 Annual Conference News
  • 2024 General Conference News
  • Resources for Understanding 2024 General Conference
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Events
  • Resources
  • One Last Word

Virginia News


Bishop Sue, Kammerer offer reflection following passing of Bishop Timothy Whitaker

Bishop Timothy Whitaker, retired, passed away on Thursday, March 28, 2024. Bishop Whitaker was assigned as Resident Bishop of The Florida Conference in 2001 and served for three four-year terms in Florida until his retirement in 2012. Funeral services will be held on April 8 at 1:30 p.m. at Johnson's UMC in Machipongo, Va., Northampton County.

Bishop Whitaker was ordained a deacon in the Mississippi Conference and transferred to Virginia, serving in rural, town, suburban and center city congregations. He also served as Chair of Evangelism, President of the Board of Discipleship, Vice-President of the Board of Global Ministries and Chair of the Division of Elders on the Board of ordained Ministry. As Norfolk District superintendent, he became the only person elected to the episcopacy in the February 2001 special session of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. He was then assigned to the Florida Area. He retired in 2012.

Bishop Sue said of his passing, “I was sorry to hear that Bishop Tim Whitaker has died. I worked with Bishop Whitaker when he served as bishop of the Florida Annual Conference from 2001-2012. He was a man of great intellect and integrity. I never knew him to make a decision without deep reflection and intentionality. I rejoice that he has joined the communion of the saints, and I know that he will recognize a great many of them because he dedicated his life to studying them. I know he had a great impact on many Virginia United Methodists, and I’m grateful for his legacy and leadership. We hold his wife Melba and their entire family in prayer.”

Bishop Charlene Kammerer, resident bishop of Virginia from 2004-2012, worked alongside Bishop Whitaker in many capacities shared a written reflection. She said in part, “I will miss Tim, his wisdom, his understated humor, his perspectives on all issues, and his good heart. May God’s loving and strong arms embrace Melba and their family as they celebrate his life and his entrance into Eternal Life.” Read full reflection here…

Those wishing to share condolences with Bishop Timothy Whitaker’s family may direct them to:
Mrs. Melba Whitaker
18194 Second Street
Keller, VA 23401
[email protected]

VAUMC Creation Justice team urges support for GC petition

The VAUMC Creation Justice Team would like to encourage support of the call for the UMC to divest from fossil fuels at the 2024 General Conference by signing this petition. Learn more...

You can also view this article from Fossil Free UMC about divesting from fossil fuels. Read article.

Information related to 2024 Clergy Appointments

Bishop Sue would like to share Sunday, April 21, 2024 will be Announcement Sunday for the 2024 Clergy Appointments. This is following the precedent set last year of sharing all appointments in one announcement.
She and the Appointive Cabinet recognize that some dates related to the appointment process will also be helpful to clergy and local churches for awareness and planning.

Dates related to Appointment Process:
  • Sunday, June 23, 2024: Last Sunday for pastors moving appointments in 2024 (This date may be earlier depending on terms with SPRC).
  • Wednesday, June 26, 2024: Clergy Moving Day
  • Sunday, June 30, 2024: The Sunday in between current pastor leaving and new pastor arriving at appointment. This Sunday’s worship will be led by local church laity.
  • Monday, July 1, 2024: First Day for clergy in new appointments
  • Sunday, July 7, 2024: First Sunday in pulpits for clergy
Note: It is acceptable for local church staff to receive appointment information the week before the public conference announcement on April 21, 2024.

Green Church awards due April 15

Applications for the 2024 Virginia Annual Conference Green Church and Sustaining Green Church Awards are due by April 15, 2024.
Both awards, given out by the VAUMC Creation Justice Team, recognize congregations with an active Earth Advocacy/Green Church Team or similar ministers for their dedication to affirming the importance of healing, defending God's creation, and supporting the most vulnerable among us. Recipients will engage in this ministry through worship, learning and teaching, individual and congregational lifestyle, and community, national, and global advocacy/involvement. Previous Green Church Award recipients are eligible to apply for the Sustaining Green Church Award.

To apply for an award, please click on the appropriate link below:
VAUMC Green Church Award Application Form
VAUMC Sustaining Green Church Award Application Form

For any inquiries, please contact Brian Christoffersen at [email protected] and the Creation Justice Team at [email protected].

2024 Annual Conference News

2024 AC Logo_Three Movements-COLOR.FIN

April 15 is last day to order print Book of Reports

Annual Conference members who wish to receive a printed Book or Reports prior to their arrival for the June session need to fill out this hyperlinked online form. Printed copies will cost $15 and will be shipped out directly from a Richmond, Va. printer.

The last day to order a printed copy is April 15.

The Book of Reports publication will be available for free online by May 13, 2024. Please note, this date is an updated change from the date listed in the March 12 Advocate newsletter.

Banquet registration now open

Banquet registration for the June session is now open until April 15. Please register here...

2024 General Conference News


Pray for VAUMC delegates leading up to General Conference

Later this month, the postponed 2020 General Conference begins. For the next few weeks, there will be an opportunity to pray for each of the Virginia clergy and lay delegates and to send them to Charlotte , N.C. with our prayers for them, their work, and the General Conference session. These individuals have shown up, worked hard, stayed engaged, and remained prayerful and hopeful UMs over the course of many years as our delegates.

Today, April 2, we lift up Head of the Delegation Rev. Lindsey Baynham Freeman and Warren Harper.
Please join the conference in prayer for Lindsey and Warren. Visit the conference website to read their bios as well.

Visit the conference Facebook page every other day to pray for more delegates each day.

Local churches can donate prayer shawls to delegates

In a show of hospitality, the Virginia Conference delegation is collecting prayer shawls to be handed to other delegates as a gift at the global denomination meeting at the end of April. Attached to each shawl will be a note saying ‘May the warmth of God’s love surround you here’, with the message repeated in French, Portuguese, and Swahili.

If you and or your church would like to participate by donating prayer shawls, please get the shawls to Maureen McKay Riley (1500 Westbrook Ct #2123, Richmond, VA 23227) by April 12. Alternatively, you may take your shawls to your District Office by Wednesday, April 3. Please contact your District Office to find out if there may be alternative drop off points around your district. Questions may be sent to [email protected].

Resources: Understanding 2024 General Conference



infographic snippet
Kim Johnson, GC delegate and NOVA District Director of Communications, has created a helpful infographic for individual and church use to explain the purpose of General Conference and more.
Full infographic (in PDF and .png form) and a print friendly version are available at the General Conference website (


jill gaynor jp gc 2024 podcast
Join Rev. Dr. Jonathan Page and Jill Gaynor as they discuss the Legislative Committee on Global Ministries.
In the months leading up to General Conference, Virginia delegates engage in conversation about each Legislative Committee and what they expect and hope for with the upcoming conference.

Watch video:
You can listen to the podcast version here -


Disaffiliation and the Social Principles are the topics of the two new videos in the VAUMC Before Conference Conversations series. The Rev. Doug Forrester, Valley Ridge District Superintendent, talks about the history of disaffiliation and the disaffiliation legislation coming before General Conference. In the second video, Virginia General Conference delegate and General Board of Church and Society board member Alison Malloy discusses the proposed revision to the Social Principles.

Other video topics include: Intro to General Conference, General Themes, Regionalization, Wespath Retirement Changes, and Human Sexuality. Additional resources and information about General Conference can be found at
Disaffiliation Next Steps
Social Principles
alison and jp
educational opp (1)

Certified Lay Minister training for Module One beginning in April

What is a CLM? This is a lay person who deepens their ability to serve in their local church and district as lay leaders, preachers, connecting the church with mission in their community, parish nurses, children’s or youth ministers, administrators, or congregational care ministers to name just a few! These lay people are dedicated to working beside the clergy as they answer the call to serve their churches and communities.

To become a CLM, the lay person must complete the BASIC and Spiritual Gifts courses through LSA. The individual then takes four modules of training, meets before dCOM for recommendation to the Board of Laity, and is approved by the Board of Laity. They require the support of their local church and the district as they work through the modules.

Courses will be taught by Rev. Dr. Joanna Dietz and Mrs. Jenn Robinson O’Brien. For more information, contact Joanna Dietz [email protected].
To view conference and local church events, visit the Virginia Conference website at

To submit an local church event for inclusion, submit this form.

Coming up:

The Shenandoah River District United Women in Faith Social Action Committee presents "Creating Conversations and Communication: Journeying to Racial Justice." The first in a series of justice conversations scheduled for 2024-2025 Event will be Saturday, April 27, 2024 from 9 a.m. – 12 Noon.
Please register for one of the following options by April 24 by emailing [email protected]: Event is in-person at Front Royal UMC (1 West Main Street, Front Royal, VA) or via Zoom.

Retreat Outline:
Gathering, Light Refreshments and Opening Worship
Reflections by Panelists Costella Forney, Marquetta Mitchell,
Lillian Sloan, and Felicia Thomas with Moderator, Heather Gomez
Responses, Reflections, Questions by Participants
Break Out for Small Group Conversations
Sharing and Visioning with Large Group
Closing Worship and Benediction

• It has been said that Sunday church hours are the most segregated hours in the USA. Is this true today, and if so, should there be a change? How do United Women in Faith engage in kin-dom building conversations where they live and worship?
• What racial injustices exist in our communities and how might we, as United Women in Faith, address them?
• In 1758 John Wesley records baptizing two “Negro slaves.” In 1790 Methodist records indicate 20% of Black people (slave and free) numbered around 57,000 American Methodists. In 1968 the Central Jurisdiction abolished formal segregation in the Methodist Churches that were among the first to allow Black people to worship and take leadership roles in their congregations. This growth has not come without a struggle that continues today. Currently the Shenandoah River District is home not only to Black and White Women, but also other Women of Color from around the world. How do United Women in Faith practice authentic conversations that address these present and evolving racial justice struggles and opportunities?
resources ac
hollywood cemetery cross light

One Last Word

We are Easter People!

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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