new e-Advocate logo (1)
To submit news items or events, email conference Director of Communications at [email protected].

October 13, 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?

Yesterday was Indigenous People's Day. Did you know there are 574 tribes, nations, and villages in the United States? In this article, the Rev. David M. Wilson of Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference reflects on the meaning of the day. More...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

In 1774, Wesley advised Methodist Society members to “vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy.” Make sure you are registered to vote and understand how you will be able to cast your vote in this COVID-19 season. The deadline to register to vote in Virginia is today, Tuesday, Oct. 13. More...
  • How can you serve this week?

Local churches and laity are invited to join in giving love, joy, hope and peace through the mission and disaster response agency’s end-of-year campaign. Between November 1 and December 31, churches will have the opportunity to share stories of the transformational work of The Advance and discover how financial gifts made through The Advance impact lives with their congregations. More...

Virginia News

2020 Annual Conference

Annual Conference 2020 is scheduled for Oct. 31

The rescheduled Annual Conference session will take place Saturday, October 31, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. More...

Pastors discuss white supremacy as part of blog

October 6, 2020--The Rev. Jason Stanley, coordinator of Church Revitalization in the Elizabeth River District, talked with the Rev. Lindsey Baynham, conference director of the Center for Congregational Excellence, on the topic “White Supremacy is Sin.” This was part of Stanley's "Tuesday Talks," a series of conversations offering practical help for your church and your ministry. Learn more...
Crisis of Younger Clergy Webinar

Join 'The Crisis of Younger Clergy in the UMC' webinar

The number of ordained clergy age 35 and under in The United Methodist Church has fallen nearly to the record low recorded 15 years ago, erasing a decade of progress, according to the findings of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership's 2020 Clergy Age Trends report.

Wesley Theological Seminary and its Lewis Center for Church Leadership invite you to a free webinar panel discussion on October 21, 2020, from noon until 1 p.m. EDT where young clergy and candidates will explore the motivations, challenges, and needs of younger people pursuing a call to ministry. Register now...

Openings for Scouting district coordinators

The Virginia Conference Ministry of Scouting team needs you. There are openings for District Coordinators in a number of districts. The Scouting program supports Boy Scouts of America (BSA), Girl Scout, and BigBrother/BigSister programs through Virginia Conference churches. If you have the passion, if you have the time, if you care about youth, contact Bill Chaffin, conference Scouting coordinator, at 804-356-6075 or [email protected]. For more information about Scouting Ministries in the Virginia Conference, visit .
larcum covenant

LARCUM event to be held Dec. 4-5

Imagine what it might have been like if the best things Luther had to say—about the centrality of the Gospel and its power to give us Christ—could have been heard as a proposal for the church catholic rather than an attack on the pope that split the church (for which Luther bears plenty of responsibility). How might the church catholic hear that proposal today, when most of us do not have quite the same anxieties as the 16th century—the vivid fear of hell and “terror of conscience,” as Luther called it? How might such a hearing of Luther’s proposal about the Gospel help us think about being church in a post-Christian and post-modern context?

Bishop Sharma D. Lewis will be participating in the Friday evening worship of "Being Formed by the Gospel in a Post-Christian Age." Dr. Phillip Cary is the presenter. Learn more...
foundation logo

Foundation now accepting 2021 grant applications

The Virginia United Methodist Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2021 Grant Awards. To apply and be considered for a grant, please visit their website ( to learn more about the process and qualifying criteria. Deadline to apply is October 30, 2020 at 5 p.m.
Please contact them at [email protected] if you have any questions about Foundation grants or the grant application process.

New Workgroup announced on Mission & Ministry

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 to 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...
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

Ask The UMC: Is The United Methodist Church involved in politics?

Ask The UMC--The people called Methodists have been actively involved in social and political matters from their founding in 18th century England. Methodists were among the primary advocates for the abolition of slavery across the British Empire, the organization of labor unions to protect workers from dangerous working conditions, the ending of the debtors prison system, and the creation of new systems of care for poor children. Given this heritage, Methodists have continued to advocate for other social or political issues since that time -- women’s suffrage, temperance, civil rights, health care and care for the environment, to name a few. Learn more...

Conferences persevere under financial strain

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--For most United Methodists, these are hardscrabble days — bringing to mind biblical images of scorched grain and skinny cows. But just as Joseph did in the Book of Genesis, United Methodist conferences are dipping into their stores to help local churches and other ministries respond to COVID-19’s devastation and make it through the lean times. Read more...

Stories from the front lines of the coronavirus

UNITED METHODIST NEWS --There were more than 35 million coronavirus cases worldwide and 1,003,800 deaths as of Oct. 5, according to the Coronavirus Research Center at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The U.S. is the most afflicted nation in the world, with more than 209,000 deaths and 7.4 million cases, including U.S. President Donald Trump. United Methodists have their share of coronavirus victims, and some didn’t get the happy ending that some survivors are working toward. Learn their stories...

Zimbabwe orphan pays it forward during pandemic

UNITED METHODIST NEWS --College student Winnet Mandikisi, who spent her teenage years at The United Methodist Church’s Home of Hope orphanage, is using her skills to help children like her during the coronavirus pandemic. Mandikisi, who is attending Tabudirira Training Center on a Sister Rut Lindgren scholarship — named for the late missionary nurse from Finland who helped start Home of Hope — has been leading efforts to teach fellow orphans how to make masks to fight against COVID-19. “I spend most of my time teaching both boys and girls from 9 years and above, and some of the teachers at Nyadire Primary School, to make their own masks,” said 19-year-old Mandikisi, who is studying textile technology design with a focus on garment construction and patternmaking. Read more...

Evangelism award winner slept outside church

UNITED METHODIST NEWS--Billie Jean Baker knows Oak Lawn United Methodist Church inside and out. She’s a member, but she also spent many nights bedded down in the sanctuary shadows as a homeless person. “I went to sleep on God’s property and woke up on God’s property,” she said. Baker’s role in spurring the Dallas church to expand its welcome to the homeless recently prompted the North Texas Conference to give her a Harry Denman Evangelism Award. The conference’s livestreamed annual meeting featured a short video about her and a presentation from Bishop Michael McKee. “I keep telling people I’m not deserving,” said Baker, 48. “I’m just trying to do the next right thing to keep God happy.” Read more...

One Last Word: Share your appreciation

clergy appreciation
The month of October is Clergy Appreciation Month. Let your pastor know this month what they mean to you. #thankaclergyperson #prayforyourclergy
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...
facebook twitter youtube instagram linkedin