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

November 3, 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?

Fresh Expressions of church have been the fastest growing and most popular type of new church start in The United Methodist Church in recent years. Some annual conferences have trained as many as 900 lay people in this new mode of doing church. The Fresh Expressions movement began in the United Kingdom and then spread to the United States, and now we have an embedded theology of this in The United Methodist Church called, “New People New Places.” New People New Places will allow us to contextualize the foundational principles of Fresh Expressions in the United Methodist polity and practice throughout the United States. Three FREE webinars where we explain what the New People New Places movement is all about and how it will help you connect with people outside of the church and help them birth a new faith community. More...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

Take a look at how Westminster UMC, Texas Annual Conference, invited its community to create art as a pandemic coping method. How has your church creatively managed during the recent months? 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


New Conference Lay Leader elected at Annual Conference session

Mrs. Martha Stokes was elected Virginia Conference Lay Leader during Annual Conference on Saturday, Oct. 31. Please join the conference office in welcoming Martha to this important position. She may be contacted directly at [email protected]. You may also read the remarks she gave during conference session at the link. More...
2020 Annual Conference

Annual Conference 2020 recap now available

The rescheduled Annual Conference session took place Saturday, October 31, 2020. A conference offering was taken and churches may still mail Annual Conference Offerings to the Treasurer’s Office at PO Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA 23058 or make donations online at Visit the conference website to view the write-up of the day's events, a short summary video, pictures, and more. More...

Video series: Share what you are thankful for

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, the conference Communications office wants to know what you are thankful for this year. To participate, please submit a short video (no more than five to10 seconds long) or a photo (with a sign) sharing what you are thankful for. Pictures should be taken straight on, looking at the camera, and not a profile view. If the video is recorded with a cellphone, please hold the phone horizontally so you will have a larger image and no black lines on the side. Submissions should be sent to [email protected] by Wednesday, November 18.
umfs logo 120 years

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 four short videos, an electronic bulletin insert, church offering scripts, and images for newsletters, emails, social media, and websites. Please contact Jill Gaynor ([email protected] or 804-254-9463) with any questions. UMFS thanks you for your support!
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...

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.”
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...
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. 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

Bishops called to bring stability in chaos

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- United Methodist bishops opened their online meeting in a season of turmoil. Around the globe, people are contending with the pandemic, struggling economies, natural disasters and a reckoning with racial injustice. In the U.S., United Methodists also face political polarization on the eve of Election Day on Nov. 3. “Any one of these would be enough of a disruption — enough to make us lose our way,” Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey told her colleagues in her first opening address as Council of Bishops president. “Altogether, they cause us not only to lose our way but forget our destination — where we are going and why.” Harvey, who also leads the Louisiana Conference, attested to the way this year’s raging hurricanes have uprooted lives along the U.S. Gulf Coast. “Sometimes, I catch myself sounding like the Israelites: ‘Egypt would have been better than this,’” she confessed. “The journey is truly a wilderness one.” Even in this time of disaster and division, she reminded her fellow bishops that God’s compassion is steadfast. Learn more...

Connectional Table affirms the Christmas Covenant Legislation

RESOURCEUMC -- In a virtual board meeting on October 29, 2020, the Connectional Table (CT) voted to affirm the Christmas Covenant legislation as a vehicle for providing global regionalism in The United Methodist Church, including the creation of the U.S. as a regional conference. This decision affirms the CT’s continuing support of its own U.S. Regional Conference legislation as a contextual U.S. expression of the need for regionalism. The decision brings institutional partnership to the efforts of the Christmas Covenant Central Conference Outreach Team to create a U.S. regional conference with equal legislative authority and adaptability that the Christmas Covenant seeks to give central conferences. “There is an obvious need for more equity and ability to adapt governance and polity in a global church present in the highly diverse contexts of the US, Africa, Asia and Europe - I believe the CT’s US Regional Conference legislation and the Christmas Covenant legislation can help the denomination to move in that direction,” said Bishop Christian Alsted, chair of the Connectional Table and bishop of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal area. More...

Pastors reveal emotional toll of COVID-19

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- More than seven months after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Zimbabwe, United Methodist leaders are reflecting on the emotional toll of the pandemic. Nesbert Mhembere, a counselor and evangelism chairperson of Eastview United Methodist Church, said the dangers of the virus, subsequent lockdowns, and the country’s economic turmoil have distressed and traumatized families. “In the homes, we are faced with people who are emotionally drained due to the effects of COVID-19,” he said. Mhembere noted that many workplaces have closed, making it difficult for some families to afford food and other basic household items. Many United Methodists, including pastors, also have had relatives affected by the virus, with some losing family members and facing restrictions at their funerals. Read more...

New group explores General Conference options

UNITED METHODIST NEWS -- With COVID-19 still menacing the globe, organizers are exploring various options for holding what many expect to be a pivotal General Conference. Among the possibilities is for The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking assembly to convene online in late summer of 2021. The Commission on the General Conference has named a technology study team to look at ways to accommodate full participation of nearly 900 voting delegates and other church leaders who come from four continents and 13 time zones. The stakes are high for those planning the legislative session. General Conference delegates face multiple proposals to resolve longtime debate over homosexuality by splitting the denomination along theological lines. Read more...

North Carolina Pentecostal church ordered to close after coronavirus outbreak

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE (RNS) -- A Charlotte, NC, 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...

One Last Word

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"Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord, or declare all his praise?" Psalm 106:2 NRSV
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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