Advocate 2022 logo

June 11, 2024

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:

  1. Quick Links
  2. 2024 Virginia Annual Conference News
  3. Virginia News
  4. UMC News

Quick Links

  • Bishop Sue's 2024 Book recommendations
  • Annual Conference Official Packet
  • Annual Conference Book of Reports
  • View Banquets & Events for Annual Conference
  • Videos for Annual Conference
  • Renfroe Grants now available
    Every year, the Conference Secretary of Global Missions (the Rev. Amanda Garber, VAUMC CSGM) of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church gathers with others to award the Renfro Trust Grant to local churches and Siedschlag award to members of the conference. The application is now open for your church, located in a less than 10,000 population, to apply for a ‘brick and mortar’ grant of up to $5,000. Also, each conference can nominate up to two members of the conference who might be the recipient of the Siedschlag award.

    Deadline: August 1, 2024
    For details on the grant and the trust, visit the SEJ site. The VAUMC contact is Rev. Amanda Garber.

2024 Virginia Annual Conference News

2024 AC Logo_Three Movements-RGB.PNG

Take part in Lunch Labs

As Annual Conference 2024 draws near, the Office of Missional Engagement is thrilled to introduce something exciting and experimental– Lunch Labs!
Lunch Labs are experiential learning opportunities that will equip and resource members and guests of the Annual Conference as they seek to connect with each other, their church, their community, and the world. Participants will engage with seasoned practitioners and hear their stories of joys, failures, and lessons learned. They’ll also have opportunities to dream, experiment and (hopefully) leave the labs feeling more inspired, equipped and encouraged to embody God’s love and hope in the world. Topics include:
  • The Heart of It All: United Methodist Theology of Mission 101
  • Who is My Neighbor? Reimagining and Transforming Community
  • Taste and See: A Lunch Church Fresh Expression
  • Follow Thee More Nearly: Advocacy as a Foundation for Faithful Living

Registration is highly encouraged, but not required! If you’re ready to sign up and join us in the laboratory, please click here.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to The Office of Missional Engagement at [email protected].
Learn more...

Part of AC Offering is Campaign on Undue Medical Debt

The Virginia Annual Conference has an offering goal to raise $390,000 to help eliminate $39 million dollars of medical debt in Virginia. This effort is inspired by the work of Haymarket UMC and Grace UMC who cleared $3 million dollars of medical debt earlier this year. Learn about both medical debt and Partnerships of Hope as this year’s conference offering: Give online:

Watch the video...

Information on Annual Conference offering

For our Annual Conference offering this year, we are excited to share that we will be supporting two important initiatives who are engaged in the work of mission and service in the world. Our first one is supporting the ongoing connectional work with our VAUMC Partnerships of Hope countries: Brazil, Mozambique, Cambodia, Haiti, Vietnam, and Native American Ministries. The other half of our offering will be given towards our conference-wide Undue Medical Debt Campaign(formerly RIP Medical Debt) to help eliminate medical debt in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is our hope that through this debt campaign, we are able to raise $390,000 that would help eliminate $39 million of medical debt that continues to hurt the most vulnerable in Virginia. This campaign will start with the Annual Conference offering and continue through the end of the calendar year.

To give to the Annual Conference offering, you can make your check out to the Virginia United Methodist Conference with AC Offering in the memo line, and mail it to:

Virginia United Methodist Conference Center
P.O. Box 5606
Glen Allen, VA 23058

Or, you can give online using this link: VAUMC Donations and then selecting “Annual Conference Offering”.

For more information about Partnerships of Hope, please visit:

For more information about Undue Medical Debt (formerly RIP Medical Debt), please visit:

Thank you for your generosity in supporting these two initiatives!

Virginia News


Apply now to Servant Sister Scholarship

Scholarships for women enrolled in an accredited seminary who are called to ministries of Word, Worship and Witness, who are certified candidates for ministry, and who indicate potential for developing creative ministries for a more just world. The application is due July 1. To apply, contact co-chairs Rev. Joanna Paysour at [email protected] and Rev. Lindsey Freeman at [email protected].

Register now for Duke Divinity Study Leave

Duke Divinity School is offering Study Leave for Lay & Ministry Professionals for these dates:
  • September 16-20, 2024
  • September 30-October 4, 2024
  • October 21-25, 2024
  • November 11-15, 2024
View link for details.

Register now for Mission Encounter

Mission Encounter is an opportunity to study current issues impacting society based on current social justice and mission-related topics. Participants grow in understanding the mission of the church in the current world context; conference events are open to all.

Dates: July 26-28, 2024 (Friday-Sunday)
Location: Good Shepherd UMC
9155 Hungary Rd, Henrico, VA 23294
VA United Methodist Center
10330 Staples Mill Rd, Glen Allen, VA 23060

Plenary: Rev. Audrey Smith

Class Leaders:
Rev. Dr. JaeHaeng Choi (Korean)
Rev. Brenda Laws (English)
Rev. Evelyn Penn (English)

The detailed schedule, curriculum description, and online event registration can be found here.

ClergyNet, other email groups to shut down July 1

Effective July 1, 2024, all the conference email groups will be shut down permanently. The conference currently has 10 email groups and the full list is below. The largest conference email groups are ClergyNet and LaityNet.

In place of this, in July, members will be invited to opt in to a number of specialized topics that will be sent to emails. Members should not experience a change in receiving information from the conference. Ultimately the new format to be released will still have the same content members have come to expect: news, local church events, resources, giveaway items, obituaries, etc., it will simply allow members to decide what content they want to opt in to rather than receiving everything regardless of individual preferences.

This change comes as a result of years of assessing conference communications effectiveness and, most recently, a February 2024 survey in which all clergy and lay members as well other lay leadership were invited to take part in feedback on conference communications.

It is clear that over the years, the email groups, at their best, have provided an arena for community and sharing and, at their worst, have added to stress on members with too much information, too many emails, and often varied content that is not of interest to portions of our audience. This change also recognizes that the email groups were formed more than a decade ago - long before other platforms such as social media provided a space for conversation and resource-sharing.

Later this summer, the conference Communications Office will share overall findings from the February 2024 survey and how it is helping to inform the office’s goal in streamlining and improving conference communications and resources throughout 2024 and beyond.

Please share any questions or concerns with Director of Communications Madeline White at [email protected].

Email groups affected:
VAUMC Fresh Expressions

Connect students to campus ministries

As high school seniors graduate this season, you can help connect those planning to attend college with a ministry home away from home. The Virginia Annual Conference supports 13 campus ministries and 4 United Methodist colleges/universities across Virginia. Our chaplains and campus ministers are excited to connect with students from your congregation as they head off to school.

Please take a moment to provide us with contact information for every student who will be enrolled in a college or university this fall (Para. 232 and 256.3d in the Book of Discipline). Our VAUMC campus ministers and chaplains reach out to incoming students over the summer, and welcome freshmen as they arrive on campus in the fall. You can find the form to submit information here.

Here's a video featuring our campus ministries, and more information about contacting our ministries is available here.

Please contact Dwayne Stinson ([email protected]) if you have questions or would like to learn more about connecting with a campus ministry.

UMC News

umc news

UMC bishops mourning the death of Rev. James Lawson

The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is joining the world in mourning the death of Rev. James Morris Lawson Jr, a civil rights icon and United Methodist preacher, who passed away suddenly on Sunday, June 9, from cardiac arrest. He was 95.

Rev. Lawson was also a university professor, a leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence within the Civil Rights Movement. During the 1960s, he served as a mentor to the Nashville Student Movement and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was a close adviser to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who called him “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.” Read more...

Donate to UMCOR US Disaster Response and Recovery

Multiple U.S. states were hit by deadly storms over Memorial Day weekend. UMCOR is coordinating relief efforts with annual conferences and local church leaders in Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. To support those affected by this and other disasters throughout the U.S., donate to the UMCOR US Disaster Response and Recovery Fund. Donate now...
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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