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

October 28, 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?

Learn how to 'See All the People' and develop a discipleship system with Discipleship Ministries. Learn more...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

"When organizations focus on the right things, the possibilities are endless. The more we connect and support our students, the stronger our communities become." Learn more in this article by the Huffington Post titled: "How Can ‘Digital Inclusion’ Help Students Overcome The Equity Gap In U.S. Education?" 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

action needed

Local church action needed: Bishop Lewis shares more information about BSA bankruptcy

On October 26, 2020, the Conference sent out an email and a number of documents associated with the Boy Scouts of America (“BSA”) bankruptcy process. Today, Bishop Lewis is providing additional guidance in a letter with the advice of the Conference Chancellor and various forms have been revised. Importantly, on October 27, 2020, CFA voted to approve the funds necessary to cover the legal expenses associated with the filing of the initial Proof of Claim by every local church if that local church has now or has ever had a charter with the BSA. Remember, if the local church wants to work with the Bradley Firm, the local church needs to complete the documents mentioned in Bishop Lewis’ letter and return those documents, via email, to [email protected] no later than November 2, 2020.
The necessary documents were sent to all clergy and are available on the Virginia Conference website at or at the bottom of the page at
2020 Annual Conference

Annual Conference 2020 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. The new conference IT vendor with be Lumi Global. Please note that through this new vendor only the web browsers of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox are supported for the virtual platform. Safari and Microsoft Internet Explorer are not fully supported at this time. Mobile devices including iPhones and Androids, as well as tablets such as iPads will only allow you to vote but not fully participate in the session.

There are two additional periods to help your prepare for Saturday:
  • Oct. 29 @ 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. – Additional device testing for Annual Conference members on AC platform
In this additional session, test your device on the virtual platform for Annual Conference with technicians available to answer your questions and assist you as needed. Join from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. with login information and a link provided in the October 19 email sent out to all members.
  • Oct. 29 @7 p.m.– Annual Conference Practice session
All Annual Conference members should attend this session to test their devices one last time and practice voting, speaking, and making a motion. Use login information and a link provided in October 19 email sent out to all members.
You can view a tutorial video about the new virtual platform for the event at the link. More...
fasting and prayer

Bishop Lewis encourages conference to pray, fast prior to presidential election

Bishop Lewis is encouraging the Virginia Conference to use October 31- November 2 as a time to both pray and fast prior to the presidential election for healing across the country. Korean translation is now available. Both a letter from Bishop Lewis and a resource document are provided at the link. Learn more...
Hunter Bryn edit

Digital Media Specialist joins conference staff

Hunter Bryn joined the conference Communications Office as Digital Media Specialist on October 26, 2020. In his role, Bryn will be overseeing video production for the conference office as well as sharing the stories of the conference and local churches through other digital avenues. Learn more...

David Hindman Receives the 2020 Francis Asbury Award

The Rev. Dr. David M. Hindman is the 2020 Virginia Conference recipient of the Francis Asbury Award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. The award was presented to Hindman Oct. 24 at the Wesley House at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. He previously received the Virginia Conference’s John Wesley Distinguished Education Award, the Algernon Sydney-Sullivan Award from The College of William and Mary, and the GNOME (Gaining Notoriety for Outstanding Ministry in Education) Award from the National Campus Ministry Association, an ecumenical association of professionals engaged in ministry in higher education. Learn more...

Director of Connectional Ministries Ted Smith requests Voluntary Leave of Absence

Effective Saturday, October 24, 2020, the Rev. Dr. Theodore (Ted) Smith is no longer the Director of Connectional Ministries. The Rev. Smith is requesting Voluntary Leave of Absence. The Connectional Ministries staff will report to Bishop Sharma D. Lewis until further notice. Bishop Lewis and the Cabinet are prayerfully considering the next steps in filling this appointment. Bishop Lewis shared, “I want to thank Ted for his work and ministry while serving as the Director of Connectional Ministries.”
video editing

Board of Communications awards local church technology grants

Through the 2020 Board of Communications Technology grant, with additional financial resources shared through the Council on Finance and Administration (CFA), 87 churches were awarded a total of $77,613.50. The board recognized that as churches will continue to offer worship, Sunday school, and other ministries online during this pandemic that these local churches would need resources to help them purchase the equipment they need to maintain or improve these online ministries.
The board received 316 applications for the grant between July and August 31 and members were excited to see so many churches apply for the grant and believe that this response shows that even more resourcing is needed. Many churches who applied asked for technical consultations so the board will start working with these churches to provide assistance. Future resources including webinars and a Communications Bootcamp are in process with more information coming soon. The Board of Communications sincerely thanks all the churches who applied for this grant as well as CFA for their work and generous aid.
return to worship icon

New documents from Return to In-Person Worship Work Group posted

October 15, 2020--Three new documents have been shared by the Return to In-person Worship Work Group, including a modest revision to the Technical Assistance Manual (TAM). This is now the third revision since the TAM’s initial release in June. The three significant changes in this version include:
1) a provision for the use of paper bulletins when they are placed by masked and gloved volunteers 24 hours before the service,
2) guidance for Sunday school classes that want to meet at times adjacent to worship, and
3) a clarification on distancing seating in pews to ensure 6 feet of separation.
In addition, the Work Group has posted guidelines for recording and streaming sessions to encourage best practices in these settings. Also, there are some new ventilation recommendations. The Work Group continues to meet regularly to review and consider revisions based on the feedback of United Methodists from all across Virginia. Learn more...
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 or contact Admissions at [email protected] or call (202) 885-8659.
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.
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

Should General Conference go virtual?

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- With no end in sight to the deadly pandemic, a number of United Methodist leaders are urging that General Conference be virtual — if it’s to be held at all next year. Others worry such an option is impractical and possibly unjust for an international meeting that typically lasts 10 days and draws nearly 900 delegates from across four continents and 13 time zones. The stakes are high. The coming General Conference faces multiple proposals to resolve longtime debate over homosexuality by splitting the denomination along theological lines. Read more...

On Oct. 27, it was announced that the General Conference Commission named a study team to explore the implications of options for accommodating full participation at General Conference including, but not limited to, the possibility of utilizing technology and online voting. Read more...

North Carolina Pentecostal church ordered to close after coronavirus outbreak

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE (RNS) -- A Charlotte, North Carolina, church was declared an “imminent hazard” and ordered closed until Nov. 6 after an outbreak of COVID-19 led to more than 121 cases and at least three deaths. The closure took effect Saturday (Oct. 24). The abatement order from the state’s health director, Gibbie Harris, was issued for the United House of Prayer for All People, which hosted more than 1,000 people at a weeklong event held Oct. 4 through Oct. 11. The event, described as a convocation, led to the largest community-based outbreak in Mecklenburg County, according to Harris. Based in Charlotte, the Pentecostal church meets in several locations, but its leadership has refused to comply with recommendations for social distancing and wearing masks. Harris said the church has also refused to provide information for contact tracing of those infected. The closure was implemented in part because the church was planning a “Whirlwind Revival,” Oct. 26 to Oct. 31. Read more...

White Christian America built a faith-based safety net. What happens when it’s gone?

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE (RNS) -- Major, mostly white denominations — United Methodist, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian and Lutheran — have lost millions of members. And those who remain are aging. As organized religion shrinks, replaced by a spiritually unaffiliated and unorganized demographic known as the nones, how will faith-based charities respond? And who will take their place if they collapse? Those are questions that worry Ryan Burge, assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University. Burge, who has studied the rise of the unaffiliated, said that the benefits of organized religion are often overlooked. “The average American doesn’t realize all the things that churches do to make society less awful,” he said. Churches and other religious groups tutor kids, feed hungry people, shelter the homeless and do a great deal of good, often under the radar, he said. As religious groups shrink, those services could be lost. Read more...

Helping children during the COVID-19 crisis

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- It’s important to address the anxiety of children over the coronavirus, church leaders agree. Small children miss personal contact with their friends, while some teenagers wonder about more existential issues. “Multiple of the youth have brought up about, ‘Is this the end of days?’” said Matt Vollmar, contemporary worship coordinator and youth minister at Saint Matthew United Methodist Church in Belleville, Illinois. “I didn’t assume this was where they would go. … So we clearly need to talk about it.” Vollmar said he tells the teens to read about the signs of the end times in Luke 21 in the Bible. He additionally advises them to “work on your relationship with God so if God comes back tomorrow, you’re ready to go. But work for him as if he’s coming back in a thousand years. So there’s still work to be done.” Younger children also have a lot of anxiety around COVID-19, said the Rev. Kathy Pittenger, children’s initiative coordinator for the Michigan Conference. “For elementary-age school kids (it’s important to) explain what’s happening and why social distancing is important, because that’s a hard thing for kids to understand,” Pittenger said. 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...
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