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To submit news items or events, email conference Director of Communications at [email protected].

Annual Conference 2020 is Saturday, September 19. Learn more at

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September 15, 2020

Conference Vision: "to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve."

  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?

Tune into Annual Conference on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. View live stream.
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

"What can we do to help?" We believe that this is the essential question people of faith can and should ask. At any time. Especially right now. But how? And to whom? And what do we do with the answers? Learn more with Discipleship Ministries.
  • How can you serve this week?

Support those facing a long road of recovery in the wake of Hurricane Laura by donating to UMCOR. UMCOR, in partnership with impacted annual conferences, is providing funds to meet both immediate and ongoing needs caused by devastating storm damage. More...

Virginia News


Learn how to prepare for Annual Conference

There are a number of ways that members can prepare for the Annual Conference session on September 19.

1. Annual Conference Orientation
This prerecorded video is available for district training events and conference-wide use. This video features a greeting from Bishop Lewis; instructions on how members and visitors to the session can access the event; an explanation of member participation and voting; an overview of the agenda; and reports from Pensions and the Council on Finance and Administration (CFA).

2. Practice Annual Conference session
Bryan Compton, conference IT manager, will hold one more practice sessions for Annual Conference on Friday, September 18 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Link to the practice session will be released to members’ emails either the day before or the day of the practice sessions by Option Technology, the Annual Conference IT service management vendor. Please log on early to join in. If you have technical issues during the practice sessions, please email [email protected] to get assistance so you are ready and able to participate during the September 19 session.

On the conference website, view a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to learn more about our Annual Conference 2020 session.
2020 Annual Conference

Consent Agenda form now available; check conference website for future AC 2020 updates

The Consent Agenda form and Consent Agenda Removal form are now on the conference website.

The 2020 Annual Conference will take place on Saturday, September 19, 2020, in a virtual, one-day format. Currently, you can find information about Kits, view video from the Sept. 11 commissioning service, and more on the conference website. As information is received, you will find the latest news about the event at the following link. More...
holiday church door

Reimagining creative, safe yet socially distant holiday celebrations

Resource UMC--With the number of coronavirus cases across the country, fall and winter holiday celebrations are likely to look very different this year. Adjust your church plans now for fall festivals, Halloween and Christmas. With a little creativity, you can create celebrations that are fun and safe. Here are a few ideas from Resouce UMC to get the creative juices flowing. More...

Job opportunities available at conference center

The Virginia Conference United Methodist Church, Glen Allen, Va., has the five employment vacancies. Resumes will be received until the vacancies are filled. Resumes and inquiries for additional information may be emailed to the Virginia Conference Personnel Committee at [email protected]. More...

York River District church catches fire

Old Church UMC, part of the Middlesex Charge on the York River District, suffered major fire damage to its education and fellowship hall building, and breezeway early Thursday, Sept. 3. The Historic Old Church Sanctuary was heavily damaged by smoke. A citizen passing by in the early hours of Thursday morning contacted the Sheriff’s office to report the fire. Six fire departments, Lower King and Queen, Central King and Queen, Urbanna, Walkerton, Waterview, and Gloucester, along with the County EMS responded. The Rev. Tim Earnhardt, pastor of the Middlesex Charge, said, “They are to be commended for their work in saving the sanctuary. On Sunday, Sept. 6, the church met under their Pavilion for a gathering and Holy Communion. Initial plans are to continue to hold in-person worship services under the church Pavilion until the Trustees can secure another location for services. We appreciate your prayers during this trying time.”

Updated statement on online Communion during pandemic

September 2-- In a letter released from Bishop Lewis and the Cabinet, an update was shared concerning online Communion during the pandemic. "After considerable deliberation with a diversity of theological perspectives, Bishop Sharma Lewis and the Cabinet of the Virginia Conference offer an updated list of resources and new options for clergy to use within their mission context. In this new version of the work last done April 3, 2020, we now offer the clergy and the churches of the conference an option to develop online communion. If you have questions about this document and the options for communion, please do not hesitate to contact your district superintendent." Read more...
wesley seminary class

New Methodism Doctor of Ministry program begins January 2021

Are you ready to lead in the new Methodism that will emerge following General Conference 2021? Wesley Theological Seminary invites leaders to a new kind of Doctor of Ministry program - one where congregational leaders will work with other leaders in real-time, those eager to move beyond the present debate to design and lead congregations which are:
• broadly inclusive
• incorporating the disruptive challenges wrought by the pandemic, the recession and the new civil rights movement
• seeking both personal and social holiness
• an economically viable model for this new Methodism
Respected denominational leaders -- the Rev. Tom Berlin of Floris UMC in Herndon, Va., and Wesley President David McAllister-Wilson -- using the resources of a strong Wesley faculty and the Lewis Leadership Center have fashioned this program, which will result in project/theses grounded in a Wesleyan practical theology. The program will begin in January 2021 and includes attendance at GC2021. Deadline to apply is November 15, 2020. For more information, email President David McAllister-Wilson at [email protected] or go to .
we need you

Servant Sister Scholarship Fund reaches endowment goal

The deaths in recent years of clergywomen in the Virginia Conference inspired a conversation about how to best honor these women and their many years of faithful service. This conversation gave birth to the Servant Sister Scholarship Fund, an endowment that will provide seminary scholarships for women seeking ordination in the Virginia Conference. The initial goal was to raise $10,000. The Rev. Dr. Jan Rivero, chair of the board for the scholarship, is pleased to announce that the endowment goal has been reached.

Rivero shared thanks to the 67 individuals, churches, and districts who have contributed. Reaching this goal positions the Scholarship Board to receive applications in the summer of 2021, with the intention to award the first scholarship for the following fall semester. More donations are needed to enable both grant scholarship(s) while maintaining the minimum $10,000 endowment principal.

It is not too late to make your gift. Checks can be written to The Virginia United Methodist Foundation, with the notation “Servant Sister Scholarship” and mailed to the Foundation office at 10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060. No gift is too small.
lay servant ministries

Date announced for 2020 Lay Servant Academy

The 2020 Lay Servant Academy will be held via Zoom on Saturday, November 14. Three courses are being offered: I Love to Tell the Story, Older Adult Ministries, and Online Worship. Each course costs $30. Registration may be found at

The schedule is as follows:
8:45-9:00 Sign into Zoom
9:00-9:20 Opening worship
9:30-12:30 Part One of Course
12:30-1:00 Lunch Break
1:00-4:00 Part Two of Course

Each course will have a reading and written assignment due prior to the Academy. There will also be a post-assignment that will be due by Nov. 28. Zoom links and assignments will be sent in October. Questions? Please contact Tianna Durbin, Lay Servant Academy Director, [email protected]. Learn more...
wesley seminary

Save the date: virtual book panel about white supremacy

Save the date for "White Supremacy and American Christianity," a virtual book panel on September 17, 2020. Wesley Theological Seminary's Center for Public Theology will hold a virtual book panel and discussion on White Supremacy and American Christianity featuring:
• Dr. Robert Jones, author of "White Too Long:The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity" and Founder, PRRI
• Dr. Obery Hendricks, Scholar, Adjunct Professor of Religion, Columbia University
• Dr. Kris Norris, author of "Witnessing Whiteness" and Professor at Virginia Theological Seminary and Consultant, Center for Public Theology
• The moderator for the panel discussion will be Dr. Lorena M. Parrish, Director of Wesley's Community Engagement Institute and Wesley Associate Professor of Urban Ministries.
The Zoom conversation will take place Thursday, September 17, 2020, 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Registration details coming soon. For information or questions, contact: [email protected].
staunton ert

Update on disaster recovery efforts in districts

In a recent meeting of the Virginia Conference Disaster Response Committee, an update was provided about the Staunton flood damage and property damage to homes in the region of Lancaster County, Westmoreland County, and other areas in the Upper and Lower Northern Neck after the severe flooding on August 8.
The primary early response ministry in Staunton continues to involve assessment of residential property damage and assisting homeowners in cleaning up the flood damage. Early response assistance in the Upper Northern Neck area also involves ongoing assessment working with local authorities and other early response organizations. Early reports of the Upper Northern Neck damage indicate significant damage to residential homes that will require both the short-term earlier response and long-term recovery assistance.
Looking to help?
1. Pray for the communities impacted by the storms
2. Contact the Rappahannock River and Staunton District offices to confirm their readiness to receive volunteers, or
3. Consider making a donation to the VAUMC Advance Special #5037 Disaster Response to assist in these efforts. Remittances for the Treasurer’s Office should be mailed to P.O. Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA 23058.

Learn more about conference disaster response at You can also follow Virginia Conference Disaster Response on Facebook for the latest updates.
lewis moxley masks

Pandemic update: Why continue wearing a mask?

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released a document, a resource shared with the conference by Dr. George Moxley of the conference's In-person workgroup, which is a consensus statement designed to provide national guidance for the public on wearing face coverings to decrease the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It was developed by the AAMC Research and Action Institute in conjunction with leading experts in public health as part of The Way Forward on COVID-19: A Road Map to Reset the Nation’s Approach to the Pandemic released by the AAMC on July 29, 2020. View the document.

Bishop Sharma D. Lewis talked with Dr. George Moxley, VCU Health, about the continuing work Virginia United Methodists must do, such as wearing face masks, as the nation and world continue to manage the effects of COVID-19. Dr. Moxley is one of the medical professionals on the In-person workgroup which was formed in April by Bishop Lewis to oversee how churches in the Virginia Conference could safely return to worship.

This video has English, Spanish, and Korean subtitles. Part 2 is also now available. Stay updated on how the Virginia Conference churches are going back to worship by visiting: Learn more...

Share stories of racial justice on conference website

Bishop Sharma Lewis issued a call to action against systemic racism on May 29, 2020. As part of this communication, Lewis formed the Call to Action Workgroup which helped in planning the August 11 paneled discussion with Attorney General Mark Herring. You can view the upcoming work from this group as well as stories and testimonies related to racial justice by clergy and laity in the conference on this page. Stories can be submitted to [email protected] for posting. Learn more...

General Church News

Fires, coronavirus complicate Western disaster relief

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--The wildfire crisis ravaging California for weeks took a dramatic turn and spread into the Pacific Northwest, feeding off dry conditions and strong winds. The fires have led to at least 35 reported deaths, consumed more than 3 million acres in California, almost 1 million acres in Oregon and destroyed entire towns in Washington. Following a hurricane or tornado, the natural response for church disaster relief teams and volunteers is to spring into action immediately, descending on the affected area with whatever is needed — chainsaws, generators, bottled water and food. Such a response isn’t possible in a wildfire. Many are expected to burn for several more weeks before containment. Once the fires are extinguished, the Environmental Protection Agency must inspect the area for toxins before declaring it safe for homeowners or work crews, since many older homes could have lead paint or asbestos. “That’s the big difference between fire and tornadoes or hurricanes: You can’t move in immediately,” said Judy Lewis, disaster relief coordinator for the California-Pacific Conference. “For a fire that’s going today, we may be able to get into those neighborhoods by November.” That’s one reason Sonja Edd-Bennett, disaster relief coordinator for the California-Nevada Conference, said she’s not ready to receive non-local volunteers right now. More...

The pandemic at six months: Welcome to the disillusionment phase

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE--Sunday (Sept. 13) marked six months since the U.S. declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency. The reality that this pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint, has started to take a toll on people's emotional and spiritual well-being, with more than half of adults reporting a decline in mental health due to worry and stress this year. In other words, you're not alone, and your feelings aren't even restricted to fellow sufferers of this pandemic: Emotional and spiritual struggles are a common feature of major disasters, several of our studies have found. So much so that emergency managers have a name for the phenomenon: the disillusionment phase. Read...

Rev. Gil Caldwell, civil rights pioneer, dies

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell called himself a “foot soldier” in the U.S. civil rights movement. But many across his beloved United Methodist Church remember him as a general for justice. He died Sept. 4 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in hospice care. He was 86. Caldwell, who went by Gil, pushed to end discrimination throughout a ministry that spanned more than 60 years and churches in at least five conferences. He tirelessly and nonviolently advocated for both racial and LGBTQ equality — even when doing so put him at odds with prevailing state and church laws. As Caldwell saw it, he was following the call of Jesus to be inclusive. “He was gentle but strong, wise but humble,” said retired Bishop Woodie White, who considered Caldwell a mentor, model and friend. “His commitment to racial justice and inclusiveness was unyielding, whether in the church or nation.” Caldwell participated in many of the civil rights movement’s landmark events — the March on Washington in 1963, the Mississippi Freedom Summer voter drives in 1964, the March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. More...

Finding strength in the worldwide church family

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--When Thomas Kemper became the first non-U.S. chief executive of The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries he said he wanted the mission agency to help local churches everywhere “to feel and see themselves as part of a worldwide family.” Now, a decade later, the German native has left that position after overseeing an expansion of the agency’s international presence and collaboration with global mission partners. On Sept. 1, he was succeeded in that office by Roland Fernandes, chief operating officer and general treasurer of Global Ministries. Kemper remained a missionary at heart long after his own service in Brazil from 1985-94 and 11-year tenure in the German United Methodist Church’s mission office. Maintaining a solid core of missionaries — who witness and serve in different locales and cultures and engage in a range of professions and activities — also continued to be a priority for the agency. Global Ministries has some 350 missionaries in international and U.S. domestic service at any given time. “The missionary kind of incorporates the global nature of the church,” he told UM News in an interview in August. “They represent that the gospel is more than one culture, one language, one nation. This is so essential for the church.” More...

One Last Word: Take a breath

The use of face masks is one way that United Methodists can continue to show their care and concern for all of their neighbors as the nation and world continue to grapple with COVID-19. Thank you, Virginia Conference, for showing your ‘Faces of Care.’

Learn more from a two-part series in which Bishop Lewis talked with Dr. George Moxley, VCU Health, about the importance of wearing masks.

Learn more about the three-stage return to in-person worship at Virginia Conference churches:

Please send any issues or concerns to [email protected]. If the formatting gives you trouble in forwarding (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More...
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