Advocate 2022 logo

October 24, 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 Highlight
  • Update from Connectional Ministries: Discipleship & Congregational Vitality
  • Grant opportunity
  • Conference & Denomination Resources
  • Virginia News
  • General Church News
  • One Last Word
ministry highlight

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.
discipleship & congregational vitality

Updates from Discipleship and Congregational Vitality in Connectional Ministries

Director of Connectional Ministries for Discipleship and Congregational Vitality, Dwayne Stinson, is guiding the vision for Discipleship and Congregational Vitality Ministries to focus more directly on equipping and empowering local churches and their leaders.

With Rev. Hannah Bryn, Assistant Director of Discipleship and Congregational Vitality, the DCV office will emphasize leadership development, sharing of resources, and collaborative ministries that encourage local churches to partner together and generations to learn and serve together.

This visioning includes reimagining children, youth, young adult, family, college, and older adult ministry at the Virginia Annual Conference, always with an emphasis on how we support and equip local church ministry.

Of note, the Safer Sanctuaries webpage now includes the updated trainers who can lead church teams through the updated policies and procedures from Safer Sanctuaries. Safer Sanctuaries is an expression of a faith that makes a congregation a safe place for children, youths, seniors and vulnerable adults to experience the abiding love of God. God calls us to make our churches safe places, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from abuse. Learn more...

Virginia Council of Churches offers youth ministry grants

The Virginia Council of Churches (VCC) 2023-2024 Congregational Youth Ministry Grant applications are now open and will remain open through November 15, 2023.

Grants of $2,000.00, will be given to 11 congregations whose youth ministries were greatly impacted by COVID; these grants are supporting funds for restart, startup or enhancing congregational youth ministries. All completed applications are to be received in the VCC office by November 15, 2023. If you have questions, please contact Mrs. Crystal Greenerl at [email protected]. Access grant application...
resources ac

A simple step-by-step process for creating a narrative budget

LEWIS CENTER FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP--Church finance expert Bonnie Ives Marden says presenting your budget in narrative form provides a powerful tool for stewardship, evangelism, and marketing. She outlines a step-by-step process for converting a standard line item budget to an inspiring document that highlights your mission. Learn more...

What Is AI and why should my congregation care?

DISCIPLESHIP MINISTRIES--"To understand AI and how it has grown recently, we must move beyond thinking of AI as something that stands still and operates like an automated car wash." Learn more...

Virginia News

Bishop Sue shares webinar conversations on future of UMC

Starting Sunday, October 22, and continuing for the next several weeks, Bishop Sue talks with leaders around our connection about the future of The United Methodist Church. This series will be available through video and podcast. Be sure to look out for "Strength For Today. A Bright Hope For Tomorrow. God's Vision For the Next Chapter of the United Methodist Church." First conversation out now! Watch video...
Listen to podcast on conference website...
Listen on Spotify...
Listen on Apple...

Bishop Sue visits missionaries, ministry sites in Cambodia

Bishop Sue is currently in Cambodia for 10 days meeting as a director of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. This entails meeting with missionaries in Asia, visiting ministry sites, and getting acquainted with some of the denomination's new bishops.

As an update of her visit, Bishop Sue shared that she preached on Sunday, October 22 at a Methodist Church in Phnom Penh. "I am humbled and inspired by the work going on in the region. These have been rich and blessed days," she said.

Bishop Stockton passes away

Please join the Virginia Conference in remembering and honoring the life, ministry, and witness of retired Bishop Thomas B. Stockton who passed away October 18, 2023 in Winston-Salem, NC. Bishop Stockton served as Resident Bishop of the Virginia Conference from 1988 until his retirement in 1996. The funeral service is planned for Centenary UMC, 646 W 5th Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101 on Saturday, October 28 at 2 p.m. with a reception to follow. A livestreaming link will be forwarded prior to the service date.
Memorial gifts may be sent to the following:
Resident Assistance Fund at Arbor Acres, 1240 Arbor Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27104, or to
Lake Junaluska, Annual Fund, PO Box 67, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745

You can send condolences and other expressions of love to:
Daughter, Lisa Stockton Howell
2032 Tippah Avenue Charlotte, NC 28205
[email protected]
Phone: 704-641-1851

VAUMC shares local church status following last Special Called Annual Conference related to disaffiliation, Paragraph 2553

The Virginia Annual Conference held four Special Called sessions from 2022 to 2023 for churches who followed the disaffiliation process outlined in Paragraph 2553 from the Book of Discipline to be considered for ratification by the Annual Conference body. As a result, 227 local churches disaffiliated from the conference during this time. Learn more...

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

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...
umc news

General Church News

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.

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...

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...

One Last Word

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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