Advocate 2022 logo

October 17, 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:

  • Ministry Highlights
  • Event calendar
  • Conference & Denomination Resources
  • Virginia News
  • General Church News
  • One Last Word
ministry highlight

The Struggle Bus invites JMU students to take part in play

At a recent event on James Madison University (JMU) campus in Harrisonburg, The Struggle Bus nonprofit set up a table on the university's Quad and invited the students to play complete with bubbles, silly string, mini basketball, and more.
The mission of the Struggle Bus is to create resilience through play and connection. The Struggle Bus serves as a (literal) vehicle for college students and young adults to play with purpose, create resilience, and live authentically in trauma-informed community.
The Struggle Bus Initiative understands that the mental health crisis in the nation is complex, and its leadership believe that in their corner of creation, people can live together in a way that is countercultural. As shared on their website, "We can hold space for play, for absurdity, and laughter, and over time, we can journey with young adults as they create resilience and discover that they are not alone. Play heals. Play transforms. Play creates resilience. When we laugh, play, cry, and share life together, we will be changed." See pictures on Facebook...

VAUMC Relationship Partner: Help Wesley Housing in their Holiday Help campaign

There are several ways you can help Wesley Housing in their Holiday Help campaign. As the holidays draw near, anticipation and excitement starts to creep in. Many of us are busy planning, shopping, and looking forward to a joy-filled season. But, this isn’t the case for everyone.

For for the low-income families, older adults, and individuals with disabilities and chronic illness living in our affordable housing communities, even providing the most basic necessities can be a struggle. They don't have the resources to share in the joy of giving and receiving gifts.

How you can help:
  • Adopt a Family: Adopt-a-family by purchasing two "wish gift" items for each family
    member and one household grocery gift card. The deadline for this giving option is October 27.
  • Provide a gift of warmth: Provide a Gift of Warmth for adult residents by
    purchasing "wish gift" items such as a coat, blanket, or gloves. The deadline for this giving option is October 27.
  • Send a teen shopping: Give a donation towards a gift card that Wesley Housing will purchase.
    Give teens a chance to treat themselves this holiday season.
Find out more...
Relationship Partners of the Virginia Annual Conference are organizations that started as a ministry of the Conference. The partners operate independently but continue to be supported by the local churches. The partnership is essential for all to continue to serve the world together! Every year Relationship Agreements are presented to the Missional Connections Team of the Conference Missional Ministries Board between the Virginia Conference and Heart Havens Inc.; UMFS; Pinnacle Living; Virginia United Methodist Housing Development Corporation; and Wesley Housing Development Corporation.
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.

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...

Mark your calendar for UM Day on February 1, 2024

UM Day at the General Assembly is happening in 2024! Join us on February 1, 2024 in Richmond with Bishop Sue to advocate together! You can register here.

Faithful Virginia United Methodists from across the Commonwealth have gathered in Richmond for over 30 years to advocate for their neighbors. As United Methodists gather at this event, individuals arrange visits with their Senators to discuss issues that are relevant to the United Methodist faith with direction from friends and partners at Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy and other advocacy groups. If you are interested in putting your faith into action, register today.

Registration is $25 for early registration and $10 for students. You can learn more about the event and our schedule on the VAUMC website. Or if you want to learn more about the event before you register, you can sign up for our Preview Meeting on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. Learn more...

General Conference- April 23 to May 3, 2024

The United Methodist General Conference is set take place April 23 to May 3, 2024 in Charlotte, N.C.
resources ac

Free webinar shares about beliefs, resources for United Methodists

Register now for a free webinar on Thurs., Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. CDT through Amplify Media: Being United Methodist Christians with Andy Langford, Sally Langford, and Ann Duncan Langford.
Ann Langford Duncan followed in the footsteps of her parents, Sally and Andy Langford, when she joined them as clergy in The United Methodist Church.
For the Langfords, being United Methodist is a part of their identity, a family tradition that goes back for generations. Together, they authored Being United Methodist Christians: Living a Life of Grace and Hope, which provides readers with an understanding of the history, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the denomination and what it means, individually and collectively, to live day by day as a United Methodist Christian.
In this webinar, you will:
• Explore the beliefs and practices that are unique to The United Methodist Church.
• Discover resources to help you reintroduce the tradition to your congregation.
• Define, for yourself, what it means to be a United Methodist Christian.
Be invited to celebrate and stay United Methodist in this webinar with Sally, Andy, and Ann and explore what it means to be the people of grace and hope that form The United Methodist Church.
Register now...

Agency aims to help delegates with useful data

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--The General Council on Finance and Administration launched a new campaign, "Data-Driven Discernment: Charting Hope at General Conference." Through the campaign, the denomination’s finance agency hopes to help delegates and members make data-informed decisions. The first educational video is “Strengthening the Episcopal Fund.” The fund supports the work of bishops. Learn more...

Five things United Methodists can do about poverty

For #EradicatePovertyDay, here are five things we can do about poverty. #BeUMC

Become a Climate Just Congregation

VAUMC-- Learn more from the VAUMC Board of Church and Society.

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...

Virginia News

Have you considered being a mentor?

All God's Children, a ministry of the VAUMC, is a weeklong overnight camp for children ages 7 to 12 with an incarcerated parent. Campers have an opportunity to participate in all the physical activities the camp has to offer such as boating, swimming, hiking, archery, music, crafts, and Bible study, along with a conflict resolution/self-esteem-building class. AGCC is built on the basis of a one-to-one mentoring program where campers have an adult who walks alongside them for the week cheering them on, building them up, and encouraging them daily. Partnering with Virginia United Methodist camps and other ACA camps across the state, All God’s Children Camp provides a week of sanctuary for children who face so many challenges in their lives such as economic poverty, temporary living conditions, loneliness, low self-esteem, violence and drugs while working to break the cycle of incarceration. All God’s Children Camp is a place where children learn they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and they are truly ‘somebody’!

Mentors for these children are always needed and three campers are already signed up for 2024! Learn more about the camp and find 2024 camp dates below:
Week 1-June 9-14 at Westview on the James
Week 2-June 16-21 at Camp Chanco on the James
Week 3-August 11-16 and Camp Chanco on the James

Two VAUMC members to be commissioned as EarthKeepers

Global Ministries will commission 57 new EarthKeepers in an online service on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. ET. This service will affirm the EarthKeepers in their call to the ministry of creation care and bless their work in their communities. The service will be livestreamed at Two individuals in the VAUMC will be commissioned: Benjamin Blevins and Rev. Gary Heaton.

Global Ministries EarthKeepers is a training program to equip United Methodists in the United States for environmental stewardship. Participants discuss theology, United Methodist resources, community organizing and anti-racism, and then use what they learn to develop an environmental project for their churches and communities. The program is both a launchpad for people looking to turn an idea into action and an incubator for people who want to deepen an existing ministry. Participants develop plans in conversation with their peers, troubleshooting ideas and sharing strategies. Learn more...

Open Enrollment began 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 began on Monday, October 9 and will 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.

‘Next Steps’ in VAUMC disaffiliations result in creation of Bridge Churches

For those whose congregations have voted to disaffiliate, but who wish to remain United Methodist, the Virginia Annual Conference and the Cabinet offer Next Steps, a website with resources to remain connected as they discern where God is calling them. At Next Steps, individuals and churches may
  • access resources for small group gathering and other means of discipleship;
  • learn about Bridge Churches, which offer a safe haven for persons while they discern their next faithful step;
  • transfer their membership to the General Roll of the United Methodist Church, held by the annual conference, as a temporary holding space until they connect with a new congregation;
  • reach out for additional support from their District Superintendent and District staff.
Learn more...

120 churches disaffiliate at final Special Called Annual Conference in VAUMC

A Special Called Annual Conference session was held on October 7, 2023 for the Virginia Annual Conference membership to consider the ratification of 120 local churches seeking to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church over matters of human sexuality using Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline.

By an Annual Conference vote, 92% of members voted “yes” and 8% of members voted “no” to ratify the disaffiliation of 120 churches. These churches(with their disaffiliation amounts in article below) disaffiliated under Paragraph 2553 in the October 7 session as a block. Read more...

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.
umc news

General Church News

Doing church after a disaffiliation vote

UNITED METHODIST NEWS-- After losing a chunk of the congregation because of a painful disaffiliation vote, it was time to discern a new future for Memorial United Methodist Church in Gladstone, Michigan. A workshop with three United Methodist authors helped make it happen. Read more...

Women lead way in expanding church scholarship

UNITED METHODIST NEWS-- Through its groundbreaking Women of Color Scholars program, the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry is transforming theological education. So far, the program has 55 graduates who now serve as United Methodist pastors, professors and university administrators around the globe. Graduates of the program are now helping current and future pastors serve increasingly diverse communities. The program came out of collaboration by United Methodist women. Read more...

Fill out UMC Communications survey

UNITED METHODIST COMMUNICATIONS-- Do you have 10 minutes? Your input is needed!
Complete a questionnaire about your attitudes, behavior and beliefs about your faith.
Your feedback can help United Methodist Communications' important work of communications ministry on behalf of the UMC.

UMC Bishops condemn violence in the Middle East, call for prayer and action

COUNCIL OF BISHOPS-- The United Methodist Church call for prayer and action amidst the ongoing violence in the Middle East. Bishop Bickerton reminds the UMC be mindful of the Book of Resolutions (2016) statement that, “We seek for all people in the Middle East region an end to military occupation, freedom from violence, and full respect for the human rights of all under international law.” Read more...

Church leaders in Holy Land call for de-escalation, respect for human rights

UNITED METHODIST NEWS-- Christian leaders in the Holy Land calling for an end to all violent and military activities that bring harm to both Palestinian and Israeli civilians. The violence began Oct. 7 when the militant group Hamas attacked southern Israel. Israel has now declared war on Hamas. Read article...

One Last Word

wonderful things
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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