new e-Advocate logo (1)
April 7, 2020
To submit news items, email conference Director of Communications at [email protected].

Conference Vision

In 2017, Bishop Sharma D. Lewis shared the vision of the conference "to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve."

  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?
    Check out the new "Crucial Crisis Conversations" webinar. Topics so far include small church engagement. More...
  • How can you be an influencer this week?
    If you need to leave home, make sure you are wearing a mask!
  • How can you serve this week?
    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared this week that the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny are ‘essential workers.' How can you provide some joy and care to those in your community this Easter week even in the midst of the pandemic? More...
Welcome to the new e-Advocate
Even in the midst of a pandemic, our conference Communications Office is working to roll out long-awaited updates including this format update to the weekly newsletter. Please send any issues or concerns to [email protected].
2020 Annual Conference
June Session of Virginia Annual Conference postponed until September
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the June 2020 session of the Virginia Annual Conference has been postponed until September 18 -19, 2020. Information regarding the location of the September 2020 Annual Conference is forthcoming.
Meeting Max, the company managing the conference’s hotel reservation system, will make cancellations for all participants who reserved through the Annual Conference housing process. If you do not receive your email confirmation of this cancellation by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, please call Bev Myers at 804-521-1134 or email [email protected].
The Annual Conference session postponement will not impact the clergy appointment process. The Bishop and the Appointive Cabinet still anticipate a summer move date. Any announcement about a change in the move date will be forthcoming.
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All 2020 U.S. Jurisdictional Conferences scheduled for July postponed
The Southeastern Jurisdictional of The United Methodist Church announced on April 6 that the decision has been made to postpone all 2020 U.S. Jurisdictional Conferences scheduled for July. According to the Book of Discipline, all Jurisdictional Conferences occur simultaneously on a date set by the Council of Bishops. As soon as the dates for the rescheduled General Conference are released, the Council of Bishops will set a new date for the opening of the Jurisdictional Conferences. More...
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Join Bishop Lewis for Easter message
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis will share an Easter message on Sunday, April 12, 2020 at 3:45 p.m. More...
crucial crisis conversations
Join in for 'Crucial Crisis Conversations'
“Crucial Crisis Conversations” is a new webinar series that will share information pertinent to clergy, laity and local churches during the current pandemic from leaders at the Virginia Conference Center.
Conversation #2 focuses on Next Gen ministries. Dwayne Stinson and Gabe Higgins will be presenting on strategies and tools to engage with parents. Join at 10 a.m. via this link:
You can view Conversation #1 about "Engaging your Small Church" at the link. More...
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Conference Treasurer’s Office providing CARES Act Help Desk
The conference Treasurer’s Office is staffing a “help desk” this week to assist churches with applying for loans under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) created by the CARES Act. Learn more about this and CARES Act at link. More...
choose your words
Bishop asks conference to be mindful of words during COVID-19 pandemic
Bishop Lewis issued a letter April 1 asking the conference to be mindful of the words they use during the pandemic. More...
Bishop, Cabinet, Clergy Excellence Office release information about communion
Bishop Lewis, the Cabinet, and The Center for Clergy Excellence released information about communion during the current pandemic, April 3. In a letter they wrote, "In this extraordinary season of suspended corporate worship, clergy are challenged to examine how to live out our calling to sacramental ministry. As clergy have heard and felt the sincere expression of our laity for communion with one another, this naturally has led to conversations about the use and possible adaptation of the Service of Word and Table for our present, scattered context. We view these conversations to be a faithful and healthy expression of our Wesleyan character. How may we offer a nimble, pastoral approach to this crisis, and
at the same time honor our sacred traditions of sacramental ministry?" More...
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Future Burundi instruction partnership set to continue
The Rev. Dr. Clarence Brown, senior pastor at St. Luke’s UMC, Yorktown, returned from the East African nation of Burundi in early March with the perfect word to describe the pastors he taught there for much of February.
“They were hungry,” Brown said. “They took notes intently, asked questions constantly.”
That the pastors were hungry came as no surprise.
The Burundi United Methodist Church was divided for 12 years, meaning most of the pastors went without any formal training during the divide.
Since reuniting, its pastors have had a number of instructors visit them over the past couple of years, including three from the Virginia Conference – Brown; the Rev. Alex Joyner, district superintendent of the Eastern Shore District; and the Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, conference director of Connectional Ministries. More...
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All God’s Children camp raises $10,000 thanks to 16-year-old Jackson Smith
If you ask Lori Smith, Director of All God’s Children camp (AGC) for the Virginia Conference, what a March 7, $10,000 fundraising event means for the camp ministry, she will crunch the numbers for you quickly.
“It sends 24 children to camp!” she said. “We send 90 every summer. So this essentially pays for a third of our campers for the entire summer.”
If you ask, Lori the mom what it means, she will beam with pride. “I’m still in awe about the whole event,” she said. You see, the big fundraiser was the brainchild of Lori’s son, Jackson, 16, a sophomore at Glen Allen High School. He initially set a goal of raising $1,500. But the event – featuring music, food and a silent auction at Good Shepherd UMC in Henrico – far exceeded those expectations. More...
Coronavirus virus under the microscope
Bishop extends in-person worship cancellation for entire month of April
Following Governor Northam's March 30 executive order, Bishop Lewis has cancelled in-person worship for Virginia Conference churches for the whole month of April. On April 30, further closures will be evaluated as Bishop Lewis and conference leaders continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation. These recent changes are reflected in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document are the conference website. More...
Conference Treasurer's Office unveils new donation site
The Virginia Conference Treasurer’s Office is pleased to announce the launch of a donation website. The Virginia Conference recognizes this is a period of hardship for many and in an effort to assist and facilitate giving for those churches that may not be able to do so on their own, this website has been created for online giving as well as offering the option to support the Pandemic Relief Fund. This is a collection of funds on behalf of the conference in an effort to support those organizations who are affected by or providing assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More...
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Resources available to clergy, local churches during pandemic
Learn more about how churches are currently staying connected, information about rural church communications, information about livestreaming and copyright and digital media resources on the conference website. More...
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Conference Center Chapel services return April 8
Though the conference center remains closed until further notice, weekly Wednesday services will start back up on Wednesday, April 8. You can find the services starting at 9 a.m. on the conference Facebook page.
Bishop Lewis encourages daily noon prayer during pandemic
Bishop Lewis is inviting the Virginia Conference to daily prayer at noon during the pandemic. Last week she shared in a letter, "I would like to thank several of you that have suggested a corporate prayer time for the Virginia Annual Conference. I am very blessed to lead an annual conference that believes in the power of the petitioned prayer! Please join me at 12 noon every day and pray the printed prayer listed on the website. Let us invoke the power of the Great Physician to do a mighty work in eradicating this disease all over the world." More...
FAQ document shared concerning recent Virginia Conference response, precautions to COVID-19
A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document was shared March 16 in order to share important dates for the Virginia Conference to know in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of note, The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America: 15 Days to Slow the Spread document was shared March 16 on the CDC website. Please refer to this document going forward as all changes in precautions and important dates will be noted here. As more information is released by Bishop Lewis in the coming days and weeks, the conference website and this document will be updated accordingly. More...
Nominations period extended for Virginia Conference lay leader
Warren R. Harper will conclude service as Virginia Conference Lay Leader in June 2020. The search process for the next Conference Lay Leader is underway. The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church states that the Conference Lay Leader is “the elected leader of the conference laity” who has “responsibility for fostering awareness of the role of the laity both within the congregation and through their ministries in the home, workplace, community, and world in achieving the mission of the Church and enabling and supporting lay participation in the planning and decision-making processes of the annual conference, district, and local church in cooperation with the bishop, district superintendents, and pastors” (¶607, 2016 Book of Discipline). The Conference Lay Leader shall be elected for a term of not less than four years by the annual conference as the annual conference may determine. The application for service as the Conference Lay Leader is available in the link below. Interested persons should contact John Meeuwissen, Search Committee chair, with any questions at 7900 Bressingham Dr, Fairfax Station, VA 22039-3156; [email protected]. The submission deadline for nominations profiles has been extended until April 15, 2020. The Search Committee seeks your prayers as they move through this process. More...

General Church News

Churches improvise as different Holy Week looms
Foot washing played a big part in last year’s Maundy Thursday service at Buda (Texas) United Methodist Church. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Buda United Methodist can’t gather as a congregation to reenact Jesus’ tender care for his disciples. But the church will have an online Maundy Thursday service, and the Rev. Lisa Straus, pastor, plans to livestream herself bathing the feet of a family member. She’ll ask those watching to do the same.
“If you’re by yourself, you can wash your own feet, in that holy way of Jesus,” she said. A different Holy Week looms, and United Methodist churches are scrambling to figure out how to observe Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and especially Easter as COVID-19 restrictions keep them physically apart. More...
Being the church at epicenter of US pandemic
United Methodists in New York and New Jersey are grappling with the unwanted distinction of living at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.
Once the crisis has passed, their episcopal leaders believe, life in the region will never quite be the same.
“This is our new 9/11 in New York,” declared New York Area Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton. “What we discovered from 9/11 is we didn’t go back to the way it was before.”
Greater New Jersey Area Bishop John R. Schol calls this time “a defining moment for the church and who the church is and who the church will be in the future.” He also believes the impact of the COVID-19 crisis will help shape the future of The United Methodist Church. As of April 3, there were 245,573 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The New York Times was reporting 92,770 cases and 2,635 deaths in New York State. New Jersey has the second-highest number of cases, at 25,590, with 539 deaths. More...