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To submit news items or events, email conference Director of Communications at MadelineWhite@vaumc.org.

November 17, 2020

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

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  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued and more churches shifted to or increase their digital ministry, United Methodist Communications began developing a series of Local Church Learning Sessions. All have been developed specifically to support local United Methodist churches during this extraordinary time. New sessions will be added as they are produced. Start learning...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Discipleship begins with relationships. Consider this week what relationships have most influenced your faith journey. Then visit Visit SeeAllThePeople.org to learn more about the #SeeAllThePeople movement.
  • How can you serve this week?

Become an agent of transformation; Empower racial justice voices to speak boldly until racism is eradicated. Support the General Commission on Religion & Race (GCORR) on December 1, GivingTuesday, at www.gcorr.org/donate.

Virginia News

Coronavirus virus under the microscope

Governor issues 25-person limit to public gatherings

November 14, 2020--The 25-person limit effective November 16, 2020 does not apply to places of worship. EO-63 requires wearing face coverings and this applies to religious services. EO-67 does not restrict the numbers that can attend religious services to the 25-person limit if a number of requirements are met (the ones already in the TAM). However, the 25-person limit does apply to things related to churches that are not religious services. That means Mission and Ministry programs and anything else that is not a service is limited to 25 or less. Learn more here...
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Virginia publication features Virginia Conference

The Dogwood, a publication that provides statewide and local news for Virginians, has an in-depth story that focuses on the conference’s return to worship as well as how churches have responded to the recent restrictions announced by Governor Northam on Friday, November 13. More...
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Bishop Lewis shares November 9 letter on in-person worship

Bishop Lewis shared a letter on November 9 sharing the continued importance of safety and best health practices as churches resume in-person worship services. She also shared updated information related to outdoor congregational singing which has also been updated in the Technical Assistance Manual (TAM). Read more...
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Unmarked graves to be honored at local church cemetery

In an open letter released on November 16, it was announced that construction will begin on a memorial to 73 people in unmarked graves at the Arnold Grove East Cemetery, established in 1847, and is now part of Hillsboro United Methodist Church in the Winchester District. The remains of Freed African Americans and Slaves, Mulattos, Native Americans and Europeans, Brothers and Sisters in our Christian faith, are buried in this cemetery. Learn more...
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New Conference Director of Connectional Ministries announced

Effective November 16, 2020, the Rev. Dr. Steven Summers, most recently the Winchester District superintendent, began serving as the conference Director of Connectional Ministries. As Summers assumes this new role, the Winchester District will be divided in regions and covered by the Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert, Arlington District superintendent; the Rev. Dr. Victor Gomez, Harrisonburg District superintendent; and the Rev. Dr. Charles Bates, Rappahannock River District superintendent. “I am very thankful to the Rev. Dr. Summers for his leadership in the Winchester District,” Bishop Sharma Lewis said. “Please join me in welcoming him in his new role in the conference.”
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College scholarships for students preparing for Christian ministry

Whether one feels called to be a pastor, a youth minister, a music minister, a religious studies professor, a faith-based nonprofit leader, military or hospital chaplain Randolph-Macon College’s Bailey Scholars Program could help individuals afford college and find a supportive community for vocational discernment as they grow in college and prepare for seminary. Application deadline is Feb. 8, 2021. If you have questions, email kendragrimes@rmc.edu. Learn more at: www.rmc.edu/academics/pre-ministerial.
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New resources available for UMFS December offering

United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) is the Virginia Conference designated offering for December. UMFS deeply appreciates the support of local churches in this ministry, helping high-risk children create a brighter future. They have created a variety of digital assets to support the offering this year, and help you share the work of the ministry with your congregation. You can find the following resources at www.UMFS.org/church: four short videos, an electronic bulletin insert, church offering scripts, and images for newsletters, emails, social media, and websites. Please contact Jill Gaynor (jgaynor@umfs.org or 804-254-9463) with any questions. UMFS thanks you for your support!
wesley seminary

Register now for 2021 J-Term and Spring online courses at Wesley

As we look forward to the end of 2020...why not launch 2021 by taking an online class at Wesley Theological Seminary? Whether it's your first class ever, continuing a degree or certificate program, or taking a class for continuing education, Wesley has a wide range of online courses that will explore your areas of interest, deepen your understanding with the latest scholarship, and will reveal God's workings in the important social and political concerns of our day.

Pick the online format that fits with your schedule: J-term classes (short, intense courses that run 1-2 weeks in January 2021 and can earn full credit) or full-term Spring Term classes (January 21- May 8, 2021) Here are just a few of the upcoming courses:
J-Term Classes:
• Race, Religion + Resistance - Dr. Asa J. M Lee
• Prayer in the Early Church - Dr. Anna Adams Petrin
• Pastoral Care LGBTQIA+ Persons - Rev. Leo Allen Yates
• Planting New Faith Communities - Dr. Paul Nixon
Spring Term 2021 Classes:
• Exploring Digital Worship - Dr. Timothy Snyder
• Faith, Politics & The Public Square - Dr. Sondra Ely Wheeler, and Prof. Michael D McCurry
• James Baldwin AS Social Critic and Theologian - Dr. Josiah U. Young
• Theological conversations for Dismantling Racism - Audrey Coretta Price
Registration is now open - apply early to save your space! To register or for more information, go to https://www.wesleyseminary.edu/admissions/try-a-class-2/ or contact Admissions at admissions@wesleyseminary.edu or call (202) 885-8659.
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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...
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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: vaumc.org/return/. Learn more...

General Church News

Can General Conference be virtual? An Interview with Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton

CONNECTIONAL TABLE --The Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai of The Connectional Table talks with Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the New York Annual Conference about whether it's prudent or fair to hold the in-person General Conference planned for 2021. Also hear Bishop Bickerton discuss church polity and about the power of the United Methodist connection. More...

Protocol legislation tops agenda of top court

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- The United Methodist Judicial Council expects to decide soon whether it has the jurisdiction to consider the constitutionality of legislation for a proposed plan for separating the denomination. A March 11 request from the Council of Bishops for a ruling on the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation has been added to the docket for the top court’s first judicial session since the coronavirus pandemic began. The court will also revisit a request concerning improper voting at the 2019 General Conference. Both requests are now part of a revised docket held over from last spring. The pandemic and subsequent postponement of the 2020 United Methodist General Conference forced the cancellation of the court’s April 29-May 2 meeting in Minneapolis. General Conference is the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly. Normally, the Judicial Council’s nine members — who live in the U.S., the Philippines, Liberia, Mozambique and Norway — meet together at different locations around the U.S. But it became clear the Fall 2020 session could not proceed in the usual way. Instead, members of the court will “conduct its deliberations through a series of video conferences throughout the coming weeks and months,” the council announced on its website. Read more...

Church cares for the Deaf amid pandemic

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- The United Methodist Church has ensured that Deaf members in Zimbabwe and Liberia have adequate resources and information to fight the coronavirus. A $5,000 Sheltering in Love grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief enabled Hilltop United Methodist Church in Mutare, Zimbabwe, to provide protective materials such as washable face masks, handwashing buckets and liquid soap to more than 60 households with Deaf members. Over 200 people benefitted from the donation. UMCOR’s Sheltering in Love Rapid Response program for COVID-19 relief has provided over $2.3 million in grants in 54 episcopal areas, 43 countries and 43 U.S. states and territories. In Zimbabwe, the grant also purchased Internet bundles to ensure that the Deaf community was well informed about COVID-19 and able to follow worship services that were streamed on the church Facebook page. Every service at the church has a sign language interpreter. “Part of the grant was used for skills training, and six Deaf members together with eight hearing members attended training on how to make petroleum jelly and liquid soap,” said Raymond Makuwaza, the Hilltop Deaf Ministry outreach program director. He said the program was aimed at equipping the Deaf with skills they can use to sustain their families. Read more...

For UMCOR, 2020 is one long emergency

COUNCIL OF BISHOPS-- In a year when one disaster seemed to follow another, the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s longtime investment into the training and support of church members who respond — both in the U.S. and globally — is paying off. As directors of UMCOR and its parent agency, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, learned during their annual meetings, UMCOR currently is working 38 active grants of $19 million in the U.S. and has supported responses to 99 unique emergencies so far in 2020. “If that sounds like a large number, it is,” said Lara Martin, interim director of U.S. disaster response for UMCOR. The pandemic was both a complicating factor and “a silver lining” as online presentations were perfected for disaster response training events at the conference level. In the end, UMCOR was able to conduct 72 mostly remote trainings that reached 1,287 individuals, Martin told the relief agency’s directors during their Oct. 28 virtual meeting. Two other significant milestones were announced Oct. 28, then celebrated at the Nov. 12 meeting of Global Ministries’ board of directors. The denomination’s Abundant Health campaign, led by the Global Health unit of Global Ministries, exceeded its goal of reaching 1 million children with lifesaving interventions between 2016 and 2020. “Through the support of our donors, partners, and board members, we reached 1,075,732 children by the end of September 2020,” the Global Health report said. Read more...

One Last Word: Give thanks

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Scripture, prayer, and some questions will help get your family talking about adopting an attitude of gratitude. Read more at www.umc.org/en/content/get-them-talking-gratitude.
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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: https://vaumc.org/return/

Please send any issues or concerns to communications@vaumc.org. If the formatting gives you trouble in forwarding (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More...
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