Advocate 2022 logo

October 3, 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:

  • Grant opportunity highlight
  • Ministry highlight: Treasurer's Office
  • Event calendar
  • Conference & Denomination Resources
  • Local Church Highlights
  • Virginia News
  • General Church News
  • One Last Word

Foundation grants open through October 31

The Foundation awards a limited number of grants to Virginia United Methodist churches and affiliated agencies of the Virginia United Methodist Conference. Grants are made only for programs and activities (including operating expenses and supplies) necessary for those programs or activities. They are not made for building repair, replacement, or expansion. Foundation grant awards are reviewed by the Foundation’s Grants Committee. The Committee makes a recommendation to the full Board of Directors to be voted on at the December Board Meeting. Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions about Foundation grants or the grant application process. Learn more...
treasurers office
Find the latest from the conference Treasurer's Office related to 2024 apportionments and more in the monthly Dollars & Sense newsletter. Learn more...
Events (1)
To view conference and local church events, visit the Virginia Conference website at

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

Special Called Annual Conference on Saturday, October 7

A Special Annual Conference will be held via Zoom Webinar on Saturday, October 7, 2023, to consider local church disaffiliation under Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline. A Disaffiliation Reporting Guide and more was shared at:

Blacksburg UMC Edges to host workshop on rethinking church culture

In partnership with the Virginia Conference, Blacksburg UMC Edges is hosting an event to rethink Church culture from November 3-4. Registration is now open. Learn more...

Author Diana Butler Bass to join two October events at Reveille UMC

Reveille UMC, Richmond, will have author Diana Butler Bass as a guest at two events in October:

Thursday, October 12, An Evening with Diana Butler Bass, Community Program on Gratitude
7 p.m. in Reveille’s Sanctuary
You are invited to a program with Diana in person at Reveille on Thursday, October 12 beginning at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary. Diana will focus on the transformative power of gratitude. All are invited to the welcome center following the program for a reception and book signing with the author. Register to attend...

Saturday, October 14, Spiritual Life Retreat for Women
9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Reveille
All women are invited to a morning of activities focused on spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. Diana will further explore the theme of grace, gifts, and gratitude in virtual conversation with retreat attendees. Register to attend...
resources ac

6 Tools for holy work with children

LEWIS CENTER FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP-- A recent article from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership offers six tools to help children process their experiences and discoveries about God. Through story, liturgy and ritual, relational awareness, memory markers, wonder, and work, children experience and respond to God’s presence and love. Learn more...

Get equipped for Laity Sunday 2023

DISCIPLESHIP MINISTRIES-- Laity Sunday celebrates the ministry of all Christians as they love God and neighbor. As God’s people grow in grace to become “all-love” disciples in community, we gather with others and connect all to God’s saving love in Jesus Christ. So, on Laity Sunday (this year, October 15, 2023), we continue to lift up the vocation of all (all means all) to follow the way of Jesus and lead others to him – particularly as we consider what it means to hold fast to the pattern of healthy, sound words that bring life to all our relationships. Learn more...

Find your Advent 2023 resources now

UNITED METHODIST COMMUNICATIONS-- It is never too early to start planning your congregation’s Advent services. Discipleship Ministries has you covered with sermon notes, suggested hymns, prayers and social media graphics. This year’s theme is “Our Spirit Waits.” It encourages congregations to carry hope, peace, joy and love as they live as disciples who anticipate the coming of Christ into the world. Learn more...

Register now for holding sacred space mental health seminar

UNITED METHODIST COMMUNICATIONS-- Creating space in which to break the stigma of mental illness, this webinar series with special guests emphasizes the intersectionalities of mental health, faith and social action. The series, hosted by Church and Society, is comprised of six webinars that will take place throughout October. Registration is required for each webinar. Learn more...

Register for the Safer Sanctuaries: Train the Trainer Event

DISCIPLESHIP MINISTRIES-- Since the release of Safe Sanctuaries in 1998, churches have changed the way they attempt to prevent abuse of the vulnerable and protect staff and volunteers. Discipleship Ministries is offering a Safer Sanctuaries Train the Trainer gathering, November 28 – December 1, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri. The event is designed to train and update leaders who have training responsibilities for district, conference, or episcopal areas of The United Methodist Church. By attending this training, attendees will leave prepared to train others in the use of the Safer Sanctuaries material. Learn more...

United Methodist Communications offers week-long training

UNITED METHODIST COMMUNICATIONS-- United Methodist Communication (UMCom) has announced the return of its week-long ecumenical training opportunity launching this fall for anyone in ministry seeking to enhance their communications skills. Communications Learning Week: Communications that Transform will be held October 16-20, 2023 and is designed with busy schedules in mind. All of the learning week content will be recorded and stored in a learning portal that participants will have access to for six months following the event. Registration is open September 12 – October 12, 2023, with an early bird 20% discount available for people signing up by Sept. 30th.
During the learning week, church leaders and communicators will get access to a vast library of on-demand resources including recorded videos, tutorials and podcast episodes and self-guided eLearning modules curated by the UMCom training team. Workshops led by experts on a variety of topics will be presented followed by Q&A sessions with each facilitator. Opportunities for discussion and networking round out the week’s activities.
Sessions will include:
• Tik Tok for Churches
• Personal Branding
• Things I Wish I'd Known About Communications as a Senior Pastor
• Disaster Communications
• Content for Digital Congregations
• Next Level Canva Tools
• Combatting Disinformation

Learn more...
local church highlights

From around the VAUMC:

  • The Kingstowne Communion, Northern Virginia District, celebrated their seventh birthday on Sunday, October 1.
  • On Saturday, September 16 the Lara Teague Curry Memorial 5 was held in Richmond, Va. River Road Baptist, Third Church, Trinity UMC, St. Stephen’s Episcopal, Douglas Freeman High School, and the Henrico Education Foundation developed the 5K with the blessing of the Curry and Teague families in honor of Mrs. Curry who was an outstanding social studies teacher at Douglas Freeman High School and passed unexpectedly last October.
    The 5K had two goals said Bill Pike, Trinity UMC Director of Operations, " [To] raise funds for a memorial scholarship that has been established in Mrs. Curry’s honor at Douglas Freeman, and to gently remind everyone how important mental health is to our daily living."
    There was a compassionate presence from Comfort Zone Camp, Children’s Hospital of Richmond, Henrico Mental Health and Developmental Services, American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, Pet Partners of Richmond, and Full Circle Grief Center. These agencies and their personnel provided valuable information about mental health services available in the community.

Virginia News

Open Enrollment will begin Monday, Oct. 9

Open Enrollment is the annual period when all benefits eligible Virginia Conference clergy and lay employees have the ability to enroll in or make changes to their benefit plan elections for 2024. Open enrollment for the Virginia Conference health plans will begin on Monday, October 9 and run through Tuesday, October 31.

The health plans are not changing, however there is a 5% increase to participant medical contributions in 2024. Dental and vision contributions will remain the same in 2024. If you do not want to change your current plan elections, no action is needed. We will keep you enrolled in the same plans at the same enrollment tier in 2024. Please note, however, that if you want to make contributions to a Flexible Spending Account or a Dependent Care Spending Account, you must indicate your desired monthly contributions in the open enrollment system, as IRS rules prohibit enrollment in those plans by default.

During this year’s open enrollment period, Unity Web online benefits enrollment system will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The system is accessible at In addition, there will be a link to Unity Web on the Virginia Conference website at Additional details and instructions on how to log in and enroll/make changes to your benefits or dependents will also be on the Conference website.
Please email Melissa Wahlberg at [email protected] or call 804-521-1131 with any questions.

VWU students dream big at campus ministries retreat

Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) Campus Ministries kicked off the new semester with a spiritual wellness retreat at Camp Occohannock on the Bay on the Eastern Shore. The theme this year was based on Bob Goff’s series Dream Big. Each student was encouraged to share a large dream and develop a plan to achieve it. The purpose of the retreat was to bring new and old students together in a quiet, comfortable setting away from campus where they could engage in activities that would build relationships with each other and God.
“It helped me a lot,” said freshman McKenna Howenstine. “I went initially for peace and quiet. But I found a community that was struggling with similar things as me. Older students genuinely cared about the younger students, and everyone shared how they were working on their own issues. It was a guiding light for me after the retreat and returning back to campus.”
Senior Henry Handley, had similar thoughts and experiences. “It was a good way to start the semester, and a good way for freshmen to get rooted into campus life early,” said Handley.

Support UMCOR disaster relief efforts in Libya

Please join us in prayer for the people of Libya impacted greatly by the recent severe flooding. More than 2,000 people are feared dead as whole neighborhoods were swept into the sea by flash floods. Pray also for the safety of first responders and medical personnel working on the front lines of this crisis. UMCOR is coordinating with regional contacts to determine how best to support them. To help those impacted by this and other disasters around the world, donate here.

New Skunk on the Table episode talks disaffiliation, future of the VAUMC

September 15-- Skunk on the Table is a video, podcast and article series focused on simple and clear conversations about topics of interest to the conference and denomination. In this episode, David Dommisse, Conference Treasurer, answers questions related to disaffiliation in the Virginia Conference and the financial impacts. David shared that “we are still very stable financially, we are going to lose roughly 11% of the financial capacity of the conference through disaffiliations…that’s a significant number, but one we can handle…we’ve done a good job managing, we will have to make significant changes, but we’re coming from a place of relative strength and I believe we will continue to be strong into the future.”
Also joining the conversation is Dwayne Stinson, Director of Connectional Ministries for Discipleship and Congregational Vitality, who shares that “the future of the conference is on mission and ministry…I’m hoping we can renew our focus on how we share the Gospel with people in a way that shows them Jesus loves them and invites them to follow the call that God has for them and has equipped [them for]…that’s my hope that we can get back to our actual mission as a denomination and [as] Christians.”

A Special Annual Conference will be held via Zoom Webinar on Saturday, October 7, 2023, to consider local church disaffiliation under Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline. A Disaffiliation Reporting Guide and more was shared at:
umc news

General Church News

Faith leaders advocate for peace and reunification of Koreas

UNITED METHODIST NEWS—The Fourth Roundtable for Peace on the Korean Peninsula, hosted by the Korean Methodist Church, The United Methodist Church and the World Methodist Council, was held Aug. 28-29 in Seoul, South Korea. Participants heard special lectures and peace ministry reports on the status of reunification and how other global events affect the political environment on the Korean Peninsula.
The Roundtable adopted a statement pledging to seek lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Learn more...

Filipino lay leaders call for autonomy

UNITED METHODIST NEWS—The Board of the Laity in the Philippines held a forum to seek clarity on compounding church issues and called for autonomy without going through the process laid out in the church’s Book of Discipline. The three newly elected bishops in the country, who attended the forum, emphasized their commitment to preserving the unity of the church. Bishop Ruby-Nell Estrella of the Manila Area said, “We will study together the regionalization petition to be brought to the 2024 General Conference and seriously revisit the clamor for autonomy from all annual conferences.” Learn more...

Rural churches fuel economies

UNITED METHODIST NEWS—A study of 87 rural churches in North Carolina suggests that each rural church contributes between $488,598 to $735,000 of value to its local economy each year. Rural churches support local businesses and provide community meeting space, early childhood education and more. The economic contributions of rural churches suggest they should be measured by more than the length of their membership rolls. Learn more...

One Last Word

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Be sure to pray for, build up, and celebrate your pastor this month.
pastor appreciation month
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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