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

August 25, 2020

Conference Vision

In 2017, Bishop Sharma D. Lewis shared the vision of the conference is "to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve."

  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?

The new screen reality has introduced church leaders to many new tools. Make worship more dynamic whether in-person or via a screen with fresh storytelling ideas. Add dimension with these tips from United Methodist Communications. Learn more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Children, youth and families are facing many challenges during this time of upheaval and distance from the physical church. Explore six practical suggestions for how your congregation can meet the material, spiritual and emotional needs of your community. More...
  • How can you serve this week?

The United Methodist Church's special giving structure ensures your generosity blesses as many people as possible in sustainable, strategic ways. Through the support of you, and your church, we fund hundreds of projects each year. While worship platforms have changed in light of the recent crisis, we still come together to do more. Membership in a United Methodist church connects you with the people of your local congregation and a global denomination of more than 12 million members across four continents.

Virginia News


Northam signs Fairness in Lending Act at Wesley Memorial UMC

At a ceremonial bill signing Aug. 3 at Wesley Memorial UMC (Mechanicsville), Governor Ralph Northam celebrated the passage of the Virginia Fairness in Lending Act. The new law will reform payday and title loans while expanding access to affordable credit. The legislation championed by Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) and Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) ensures that all loans have strong consumer protections, including affordable payments, reasonable time to repay, and fair prices. It closes loopholes in Virginia law that high-cost lenders used to charge consumers unlimited rates. The bill had 55 co-patrons and passed the House of Delegates (65-33) and Senate (23-16) with bipartisan support. Read more...
commissioning ac 2019

View Service of Commissioning in September

Center for Clergy Excellence--The Service of Commissioning is scheduled for Friday, September 11 at 11 a.m. This service may be viewed only via livestream due to COVID restrictions. Find information for the livestream link and bulletin on the conference website at in the coming weeks. The Center for Clergy Excellence hopes you will join in worship as the new provisional class is celebrated. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact [email protected].
bass mitchell

Stephens City pastor excited for challenge of new assignment

THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA DAILY--Joining Stephens City United Methodist Church during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, said the Rev. Bass Mitchell. For one thing, getting around to everyone to introduce himself as the new pastor isn’t what it used to be — “To say, ‘Hey, this is me.’ … That’s a challenge in and of itself.” In addition to not being able to visit in person, he said, some people in the church don’t have phones. “I’m going to have to use carrier pigeons,” he joked, though that isn’t too far from the truth. “I sort of call it ‘operation contact,’” he said. “[It’s] finding new ways to contact people and help people stay connected.” Mitchell, 64, recently left Manor Memorial UMC in New Market when he was reassigned to Stephens City. He joked that being a United Methodist minister is a “moving” experience. UMC ministers are sent where they’re needed based on their gifts, talents and abilities, he explained. Glad for his new assignment, though, he said he’s up to the challenge of leading a church in a post-pandemic world. Read more...
transform tour

Gathering set to inspire generations of future leaders

The Rev. Dr. Michael Bowie, executive director of Strengthening the Black Church for the Twenty-First Century (SBC21) and the National Network of Young Adults, are blazing new trails by reimagining their largest gathering The Leading In Transformation (LIT) Conference into a 5-Stop virtual conference called The Transformation Virtual College Tour (September 10-25, 2020), engaging every jurisdiction within and beyond The United Methodist Church. World-renown motivational speaker Dr. Eric Thomas is partnering as The Transformation Tour’s keynote speaker. Working with leading organizations like Nike, NBA, NFL, and schools and colleges across the country, Thomas said he is committed to empowering leaders to innovate their lives and make an impact in the world.

Dr. Thomas stated to a group of NNYA leaders, “This is the time for creativity; this is the time for leaders to be more creative than we ever been before; this is the time for the church to be the church, and this is the time for a change.” VIP registration for SBC21 Partners for a limited time is just $35 to attend all virtual stops. Register today at
military chaplain

Wesley Theological Seminary offers tuition-free Military Chaplain Doctor of Ministry degree

Wesley is once again offering a tuition-free Doctor of Ministry Program for military chaplains. The program is highly regarded across the military community and prepares mid-career military chaplains for effective ministry at the next level in a changing and challenging world. Top caliber faculty, including Wesley's President, Dr. David McAllister-Wilson, will lead the courses. The first cohort meets on Wesley's Washington, DC campus the first week of March 2021 (subject to COVID-19 policies in effect at that time) and includes a second on-campus week the following March. All other coursework will be completed online.

Wesley invites chaplains from all branches and components to apply. Please share this information with chaplains you know who might be interested in being a part of this dynamic, life-changing opportunity.
Apply today at:
For more information, contact Special Assistant to the President, Dr. James Driscoll, CH (COL-Ret), US Army, at [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...
2020 Annual Conference

Book of Reports now available; check conference website for future AC 2020 updates

The 2020 Book of Reports is now available for online viewing. Printed copies are currently in the mail to clergy and lay members.

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 photos and video from the ordination 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...

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...
Thank you!

Staffing changes announced in conference Connectional Ministries

Effective August 28, 2020, Nick Ruxton, videographer/digital media specialist, will be resigning from his conference position. The Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, conference director of Connectional Ministries, shared that the annual conference and the conference staff greatly thank Ruxton for his five years of service and talents.
“Please join me in thanking Nick for his important ministry and wishing him well in all his future endeavors,” Smith said.

Starting September 8, 2020, MaryKaye Cochran will shift from interim conference director of Congregational Excellence to executive administrator for the Richmond District. Smith shared appreciation for Cochran’s ministry in the Center for Congregational Excellence and her willingness to step into the interim director position this summer. “MaryKaye will be missed on the Connectional Ministries staff, but we know she will be a great addition to the Richmond District staff,” Smith said. To direct questions to this office after September 8, please contact the Rev. Dr. Ted Smith at [email protected].

After assessing the Connectional Ministries budget, conference staff and ministry needs, and Annual Conference preparation needs, Common Table has confirmed that staff funding is available to enable a renewed hiring search process after the conference hiring freeze ends on September 1, 2020.
This hiring process will be a multi-position search and will include the position of digital media specialist as well as associate director of Influence Ministries, associate director of Serve Ministries, assistant director of Learning Ministries, and an administrative position in Connectional Ministries. Descriptions for available positions are in process and will be released soon.

Watch recorded dialogue on policing reform

“Virginians Speak: A Dialogue on Policing Reform, Community, & Law Enforcement in Virginia” was a jointly sponsored event that featured a panel of prominent Virginians in the fields of law enforcement, community engagement, and faith communities. This event was co-sponsored by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church.View the recorded webinar broadcast from August 11, 2020 at You can also view an overview at the conference website.
apply now for grant

Local churches encouraged to apply for technology grant

While the Virginia Annual Conference is starting to expand in-person worship, many of our churches will continue to offer worship, Sunday school, and other ministries online. The Board of Communications has allocated funding to provide grants to local churches to help purchase the item(s) they need to maintain or improve their online ministry. The grant can help fund equipment, software licenses, and more.
In addition to grants, the board is also offering free technical consultations to assist local churches with their online ministry. All local churches in the Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church are encouraged to apply. Applications must be submitted by Aug. 31, 2020 for consideration. For more information, email the conference Communications Office at [email protected]. Click following link to access grant form. More...

General Church News

Colleges, seminaries reopen amid COVID-19

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--As president of United Methodist-related McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, Sandra Harper is used to worrying about big stuff, such as finances, enrollment, personnel and buildings. Last week, she was also having to make sure students were wearing masks and getting their temperatures taken before checking into dorm rooms. Harper’s concerns include the looming West Texas Fair & Rodeo, an opportunity for the coronavirus to spread through Abilene and surrounding Taylor County.
“That’s a big event, and it hasn’t been canceled,” Harper said, noting that her school has no known COVID-19 cases and has a contact-tracing team ready in case trouble emerges. Across United Methodist-related higher education — including 13 seminaries and 112 colleges and universities in the U.S. alone — there’s a scramble on to reopen safely for fall semester amid the ongoing pandemic. Many schools are resuming classes this week. Read more...

Methodists crucial in fight for women’s vote

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--Last week, people across the United States marked the centennial of a historic vote on Aug. 18, 1920. However, achieving this victory took more than one mother’s letter, and the fight for ballot access continues even now. “The right to vote is the one expression of our shared civic life which has the ability to level the playing field in real time and for the future,” said the Rev. Sharon Austin, director of connectional and justice ministries with the Florida Conference. Austin is working for the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated. She can attest that women weren’t given the right to vote. They took it and won many male allies along the way. The 19th Amendment followed more than 70 years of persistence through setbacks and sacrifice. The people called Methodist were part of the struggle from almost the beginning. “Methodists have a long history of strong, leading women,” writes the Rev. Susan Lyn Moudry, a historian, in an article for the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. John Wesley accepted women lay preachers and class leaders from his movement’s earliest days. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the first Woman’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York, found a welcoming host in the Wesleyan Chapel, part of the Wesleyan Methodist denomination. Historians typically identify the 1848 gathering as the start of the organized women’s suffrage movement. Back then, advocates for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery worked closely together. Sojourner Truth, a former slave who began her public ministry as an itinerant Methodist preacher, was an activist for both causes. Read more...

Learn more about the story of American Methodist women’s efforts to fight for women’s rights, beginning with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and ending with the #MeToo movement. Just released from GBHEM Publishing, "Nevertheless: American Methodists and Women's Rights" documents particular Methodist women and provides the reader with a basic historic context of the time or situation as it shows how Methodist women engaged and fought for women’s equality and women’s rights in American society and American Methodism. View book.

New bishop elected president of Africa College of Bishops

COUNCIL OF BISHOPS--Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, Resident Bishop of the Zimbabwe Area of The United Methodist Church, was elected as interim president of the Africa College of Bishops. He follows Bishop John K. Yambasu, the Resident Bishop of the Sierra Leone Area who died in a road accident. In electronic balloting, the active bishops in Africa selected Bishop Nhiwatiwa as their new leader. He serves the Zimbabwe East and Zimbabwe West conferences in the Africa Central Conference. There are 66 active bishops in The United Methodist Church throughout the world.
Bishop Nhiwatiwa has served the church in various capacities from local, district and conference levels. He was elected a bishop of the church in August 2004. He currently serves as the Board member and Chair of the Finance Committee of the Africa University Board of Directors.
Bishop Yambasu, who was also the newly elected Chancellor of Africa University, died in an accident while he was on his way to attend a funeral service for one of his pastors. Bishop Nhiwatiwa and other bishops in Africa will make a recommendation to the Council of Bishops on which bishop would serve ad interim as resident bishop of Sierra Leone Area. Read more...

Churches embrace outdoor worship during pandemic

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requires social distancing and vigorous cleaning, churches must weigh whether to continue only worshipping online or reopening buildings in limited capacities. Others have begun to move outside. At Foley United Methodist Church in Foley, Alabama, outdoor worship has been the norm for decades. Since 1951, the church has hosted a Galilean Beach Service for members and vacationing guests every Sunday morning from Mother’s Day to Labor Day. The Rev. Nolan Donald, lead pastor, calls the beach setting “God’s greatest sanctuary.” “This is one of the most evangelistic things we get to do. You get people who aren’t regulars or who have moved away from church and you get a chance to help them hear a message,” he said. Read more...

One Last Word: A Prayer for Justice

The Asian American Ministers Association (AAMA) in the Virginia Conference offered a prayer for racial justice and reconciliation. You can view the video at the conference website or by clicking the image above.

You are encouraged to join the "Prayer Wall for Racial Justice" where clergy and laity of the Virginia Conference can visit and pray for racial justice and reconciliation and share written or video prayers or other creative avenues to be prayerful in this space. At the link below, visit the Facebook group, join, share your prayer for racial justice, and share this group as a prayerful space with your Facebook community. More...
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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