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

September 29, 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?

The Two Popes movie is a delightful journey into spiritual awareness that pulls viewers in with deep questions and a light touch. In Discipleship Ministries' new film commentary, they explore the Netflix film that will resonate with the clergy of any faith. More...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Looking for new social media content? Download free graphics from the United Methodist Communications library. More...
  • How can you serve this week?

One thing in abundance along the border between Laredo, Texas, and Mexico is a hot, unforgiving sun. UMCOR has helped Holding Institute Community Center harness the sun by funding a solar project that saves money, eases the burden on the environment, and provides more food and services to Laredo’s Hispanic community. More...

Virginia News


No e-Advocate next week

There will be no e-Advocate newsletter on October 6. To submit news items or events for the October 13 edition, please email conference Director of Communications at [email protected].
2020 Annual Conference

Annual Conference vendor issues apology letter after session is invalidated

At 12 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, Bishop Lewis invalidated the 238th session of Annual Conference after voting technical issues during the session. Bishop Lewis shared further information in a letter from September 21. More...

Option Technologies, the IT vendor overseeing voting, shared a letter on Sept. 22 detailing the technical issues on Sept. 19. Read letter.

New Workgroup announced on Mission & Ministry

Last week at the September 24 Town Hall by the Virginia Conference In-person Workgroup, the ongoing work of this team was shared as well as an announcement of the formation of a new group.

The Rev. Doug Forrester, Roanoke District superintendent, will be leading the Mission & Ministry (M&M) Workgroup. The group was formed in early September by Bishop Lewis. The M&M Workgroup, as shared by Forrester in the Town Hall, will “develop policies and guidelines for congregational life in addition to corporate worship in this time of global pandemic. Building on the work of the Virginia Conference Back In-person Worship Workgroup, the group seeks to enable faith communities to gather and grow and serve in ways that promote the safety of our congregations in the communities in which God has placed them.”

As part of this, the workgroup will create a resource document that will serve in addition to the Technical Assistance Manual (TAM). In beginning their work, this group has three priorities:
1. schools and school partnerships
2. food and food events
3. ministries with the homeless population

“It is the hope and prayer of the M&M workgroup that we can build on the success of the Healthy Church Teams from all over the conference who have in so many ways developed their “sea legs” as they have written policies for returning to in-person worship,” Forrester said. “We believe that by working with excellence within the five layers of mitigation a variety of ministries can be implemented in our diverse context around the conference.”

More information about this workgroup will be available soon on the conference website. Find the latest information about the In-person Workgroup and other resources for churches during the pandemic at the conference website.

View the September Town Hall recording at:

Pastor runs as self-care practice, finds community to share with during pandemic

The Rev. Andrew Ware, Beech Grove UMC, Elizabeth River District, shares in an article how running has always been one of his self-care practices. Finding a group of clergy and lay members in the Virginia Conference to share their running stories from highs and lows together has made for an even more meaningful self-care practice in the recent pandemic months. Read more...
video kate gharib

Pastor’s granddaughter’s video spotlighting black students goes viral with powerful messages

Henrico Citizen--Glen Allen High School graduate Kate Gharib, a rising sophomore at the University of South Carolina who is a few days from her 19th birthday, was feeling troubled by the plight of black Americans, in light of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. So she created a video to highlight several black students in the Glen Allen community in an effort to voice her own support for her classmates as well as to provide a platform for their voices. “It made me think. . . it would be really impactful to do that specifically for Glen Allen,” said Gharib, who is white. “People are going to watch that video to be able to say, ‘I went to high school with that kid, or I know his family.’ Something like that, I feel like it would hit people a lot harder.“My goal from the beginning was, I don’t want my voice to be heard right now, I want my friends in the African-American community to be heard.” On that same day, Gharib reached out to former Glen Allen High School classmate Ashley Friday, who is black. She’d already contacted Friday days earlier to show support – something that struck her former classmate immediately. Kate Gharib is the granddaughter of the Rev. William Richard “Bill” Fisher who passed away April 16, 2020. Please take a moment to watch this piece produced by Kate. More...
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...

Wood chopping, delivery offer a different kind of ministry

A ministry in Bedford, Va., providing free firewood to qualifying individuals anticipates fuel needs will be more urgent this winter because of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic effects. “With the COVID-19 virus, we’re thinking we’re really going to get hit hard this year, because a lot of people are out of jobs, or have been laid off because of cutbacks. A lot of the rental properties have been delayed on people having to pay their rent for two, three, four months, then all of a sudden this fall, everything is going to start coming due,” said Roger Layne, of Bedford, a founder of the wood ministry that launched in 2001. More...

Fill out survey for Scouting Ministries

2020 is the 100th year of Scouting in the United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church is the #1 Scouting sponsor for both Scouts and units in the United States. In the faith world, the United Methodist Church represents a full 25 percent of charters.You are encouraged to take a Scouting survey and listen to a message from Virginia Conference Scouting Coordinator Bill Chaffin. 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 .
lay servant ministries

Date announced for 2020 Lay Servant Academy

The 2020 Lay Servant Academy will be held via Zoom on Saturday, November 14. Four courses are being offered: I Love to Tell the Story, Older Adult Ministries, Online Worship, and the Spanish language class Formacion Spiritual/Spiritual Formation." 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...
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...

General Church News

New statistics provide snapshot of Korean United Methodists

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--On Dec. 22, 1902, 102 immigrants from Korea were allowed to enter Honolulu, marking a very important day not only for Korean immigrants, but also in church history. They were mainly members of Incheon Nae-ri Methodist Church and represented the beginning of Korean churches in Hawaii. Incheon Nae-ri Methodist Church commissioned Pastor Seung-ha Hong to go to Hawaii in 1903 and Pastor Soon Hyun was sent in 1905 to establish a Methodist church there to care for the immigrant congregation. They were the first Korean clergy to serve the Methodist Church in the United States. More than a century later, a retired Korean American pastor is sharing a project that he began compiling 10 years ago: a comprehensive report of statistics on the Korean United Methodist community as well as a directory of Korean clergy members in the denomination. Read more...

Webinar to focus on global AIDS

The United Methodist Global AIDS Committee has announced the panelists for their “COVID-19 and HIV & AIDS” webinar on October 1, 2020 at 1:00 PM CT. This will serve as the first in a series of webinars planned for the coming months to educate, support and advocate for those affected by HIV/AIDS. The complimentary session will be made available online through and archived on their website. The inaugural webinar will explore how COVID-19 is impacting the global effort to reduce HIV infections and AIDS deaths. Learn more...

Sheltering in Love grant alleviates hunger

UNITED METHODIST NEWS --Many elderly and other vulnerable people in the Nigeria Episcopal Area won’t go to bed hungry thanks to food relief distributed by United Methodists. The church in Nigeria received a Sheltering in Love grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Through that fund and additional support from its parent agency, the Board of Global Ministries, some $2.3 million was distributed through 230 Sheltering in Love grants. The program was created to help United Methodists and denominational partners support local communities during the pandemic. More than 350 people benefited from the COVID-19 food assistance in the four conferences of the Nigeria Episcopal Area, which is led by Bishop John Wesley Yohanna. Read more...

Conference backs replacing Cross and Flame logo

UNITED METHODIST NEWS --A pastor’s call to replace the Cross and Flame as the official insignia of The United Methodist Church has picked up the backing of the North Texas Conference. The Rev. Edlen Cowley wrote a column this summer urging that the denomination move away from the Cross and Flame, saying the emblem conjures for him and other African Americans the terror of Ku Klux Klan cross burnings. The North Texas Conference voted 558-176 on Sept. 19, at its annual meeting, to submit to the 2021 General Conference legislation drafted by Cowley that would begin the process of changing the insignia. Cowley said in an interview that a rebranding of The United Methodist Church is in order, given that the denomination faces a possible split and has begun an anti-racism campaign. “This would be a monumental change in a monumental moment,” Cowley said of replacing the Cross and Flame. Read more...

Fix broken migration policy, religious leaders say

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--A recent fire that destroyed an overcrowded camp for asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos once again exposed “the fundamentally broken state of European migration and asylum policy and the suffering it has created,” says a statement from religious leaders in Europe. Released Sept. 22 by the World Council of Churches, the advocacy statement noted the frustrations all around, including the desperation of those forced to live for years in inhumane conditions and the anger and frustration of locals dealing with the challenge of reception and care of those individuals. However, the reaction by the European Union, the statement said, “expresses sympathy but shows no real commitment” to either refugees or their local hosts.That lack of commitment by European nations is the problem. “Migrants and refugees are human beings, loved by God, and not a threat,” said retired Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of The United Methodist Church of Germany. Read more...

One Last Word: Reflection

do all the good quote
How can we do all the good we can today, this month, or the rest of the year? This quote has often been attributed to John Wesley. You can learn more from Resource UMC.
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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