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News from the Virginia Conference - August 20, 2019

Bishop Lewis set to return in September
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis has been on a six-month medical leave but she is set to return to her episcopal duties in September. More…

Diverse group of United Methodists explores separation
A group of theologically diverse United Methodists met at Floris UMC in Herndon, Va., on Aug. 16-17 to continue seeking a way to resolve the impasse on the ordination of LGBTQ members and the blessing of same-gender marriages in the denomination.
Organized by bishops from Central Conferences, the meeting was attended by Tom Berlin and Junius Dotson, representing centrists; Jan Lawrence and Randall Miller, representing progressives; and Patricia Miller and Keith Boyette; representing the conservatives.
Also, in attendance were Bishop John Yambasu, Bishop Christian Alsted, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and Bishop Thomas Bickerton. Bishop Gregory Palmer and Bishop Ciriaco Francisco were invited to the meeting but were unable to attend. Joris Brombach, a layperson from Germany, was also in attendance, representing Central Conference lay and clergy. Two other persons from Mozambique and Philippines were invited to the meeting but were unable to attend. During the candid and prayerful discussions, the group agreed that it seems inevitable that there will be some form of separation of the church as a way to resolve the impasse. The participants listened to presentations from some of the plans that were being discussed, including the Indianapolis and the UMC Next plans, both which offer separation as gracious ways for the future of the church. In upcoming meetings, the group hopes to reach a consensus of what might be the future of the denomination by using a professional, non-United Methodist mediator to help in navigating the differences. More…

Bishop Weaver shares "Partners in Ministry" reflection
Bishop Pete Weaver, interim bishop of the Virginia Conference, shares weekly reflections of recent events and ministries in the conference. This week, Bishop Weaver shares about United Methodist camps and an opportunity to participate in a healing day sponsored by the National Park Service on the 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans in North America. More…

Churches urged to take part in national observance on Aug. 25
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia Bishop James B. Magness invite churches to take part in a national action to remember and honor the first enslaved Africans who landed in English North America in 1619 by tolling their bells for one minute on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, at 3 p.m. ET. They have also issued an invitation to other denominations to join in this observance. “The National Park Service is commissioning, and asking, churches and people from around this country to commemorate and remember that landing and the bringing of those first enslaved Africans to this country by ringing bells. And if possible, by tolling the bells of churches and to do so on August 25 at 3 p.m. in the afternoon,” said Curry. “I’m inviting us as The Episcopal Church to join in this commemoration as part of our continued work of racial healing and reconciliation. At 3 p.m. we can join together with people of other Christian faiths and people of all faiths to remember those who came as enslaved, who came to a country that one day would proclaim liberty. And so we remember them and pray for a new future for us all.” This national bell ringing is among the Healing Day events being held at Fort Monroe National Monument to commemorate the 400th anniversary of that landing. More...

September Advocate explores personal, prayerful motivation    
It’s “back-to-school” time and the changing of the season often makes people reflective and seeking motivation. Learn more about how you can get motivated in your ministry in the September Advocate, consider your prayer life in some activities and learn how to create a mandala. Starting in the September issue, memories are shared about the Advocate magazine from two former Advocate editors. This special “Advocate Remembered” section will run through the December issue.

As the Advocate magazine comes to an end in its print and online formats in 2019, every issue, print and online, can be purchased for $7.50/subscription. You may contact the Communications Office to place your order for any 2019 issue at or 804-521-1110.

United Methodist deacon sees theology in pop culture
A few weeks ago, Mike Friedrich stood in front of a small group gathered for a retreat. As an ordained deacon in The United Methodist Church, Friedrich’s leadership in the five-day retreat on “Ordinary People with Extraordinary People” was unsurprising. But what all of the participants didn’t know was, that at one time, Friedrich had written stories about Batman, Iron Man, and others, published on the colored pages of superhero powerhouses like Marvel and DC. Last month, Friedrich, the emerging ministries specialist for the Bay District of the California-Nevada Conference of the UMC, was recognized at Comic-Con International with the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. Friedrich’s work, on DC properties like Justice League of America, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Teen Titans, and The Phantom Stranger, and later on Marvel’s Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Captain Marvel, all began when he started writing to Julius Scwhartz, for those notes to the editor that once filled the back pages of every comic book. His love began in his upstairs attic, unpacking the stories of some of his favorite characters when he was just 12 years old.

Annual Dillard Forum to be held in September
The annual Dillard Forum held at Trinity UMC, 903 Forest Avenue, Henrico, VA 23229, will welcome Dr. James Howell, senior pastor at Myers Park UMC in Charlotte, N.C. to speak on The Mystery and Miracle of Birth. The Forum is free and open to the public.  Childcare will be provided; please call 804-288-6056 if you will need this service. The schedule for the Dillard Forum:
     ●  Sunday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.—Being Born:  Jesus and the Rest of Us
     ●  Monday, Sept. 30, noon—Can a Person Really Be Born Again?  This is an interactive session with Q & A.  If you would like to join for lunch ($7) call 804-288-6056  by Wednesday, Sept. 25.
     ●  Monday, Sept. 30, 7 p.m.—Giving Birth: Mary and the Rest of Us. More…

Movie event in Hopewell to provide resources for churches, individuals working to stop opioid epidemic
Shooting Heroin will be shown by the director Spencer Folmar in Hopewell prior to its theatrical release. The fictional film is based on true stories as an Army vet seeks vengeance for his sister’s overdose, but ultimately finds himself faced with choices about judgment, grace and faith. Several groups will be present with resources for those dealing with addition themselves or others seeking to help stop the opioid epidemic. The movie will be shown on Sept. 15 at Hopewell High School. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. and the film begins at 2 p.m. Register at The movie is R-rated for language and violence; must be 16+ to attend.

Get latest information from Global Ministries, UMCOR
It’s easy to get the latest information about interesting and relevant issues related to your work and the needs of those you serve. Global Ministries has two e-newsletters which are intended to make it easy to connect the church in mission. ENGAGE, a bi-weekly newsletter, delivers important mission-related news and information for general audiences. SHARE is a monthly e-newsletter delivering resources for leaders within the church. More…

Conference DCM shares what local churches think about unity in UMC, global church value
The Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, conference Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM), began in July 2019 and is working to establish a close connection across the conference and share the resources of the conference center. Each month, Smith will share videos from conversations he has with local churches and members focused on church unity and the global nature of The United Methodist Church. More…

Submit petitions to General Conference
Updated instructions for petitions to the 2020 General Conference by clergy, laity, or organizations of The United Methodist Church can be found at the final link. Petitions can be submitted within the GC2020 website, by email to, or by fax to 615-369-2405. The final submission deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Paragraph 507 of the Discipline details the process required for General Conference Petitions. The following link gives details for the specified format for consideration of petitions. More…

Plan for Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer in September
The Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21 at Trinity UMC in Richmond. Both clergy and laity are invited to attend the gathering which will include Dr. Terry Tekyl as plenary speaker and breakout small groups. Deadline to register is Sept. 13. For more information contact the Rev. Ted Smith, director of Connectional Ministries, at More…

Volunteers needed for Danville District flooding recovery
The Rev. Jon Woodburn, Danville District disaster coordinator, recently shared a plea for volunteers as the district continues efforts to recover from flooding by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. "The biggest issue we currently have is a lack of volunteers," said Woodburn. "It has been some time since the energy of the storm left its mark on the area; our energy for being helpful may have diminished. Please help us help others in the name of Christ and show that the kingdom has come near by encouraging people to volunteer." You can contact Woodburn at You can be schedule for day trips or for a week-long period. Tasks left to accomplish include volunteers with experience placing floors, installing lower kitchen cabinets, replacing vinyl siding, placing insulation and doing drywall, prepping and painting, and doing trim work. Woodburn said the district hopes to complete this work by December this year.


Connectional Table launches Emerging, an online anthology on our church
The Connectional Table is proud to announce the launch of Emerging, a digital collection of essays, articles and other content discussing what may be taking shape in the life of our connection as a result of the outcome of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. The purpose of the website,, is to be a venue of conversation including voices from a multiplicity of viewpoints. The hope is that it will help lead us to forge a compelling consensus toward what to teach, how we teach, who we are, and how we will continue to live together in ministry. It is not a forum for debate or for proposals about structure, but a space to invite critical thinking and reflection on what is emerging in Methodism. The project draws inspiration from Isaiah 43:18-19: “Don’t remember the prior things; don’t ponder ancient history. Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness.”
Content will reflect on at least one of the following topics:
●    Leadership: Our Call
●    Ecclesiology: Our Church
●    Theology: Our Beliefs
●    Missiology: Our Mission
●    Polity: Our Structure
●    History: Our Story

Plans for 2020 General Conference Nearing Completion
In their final meeting before the 2020 General Conference, the Commission on the General Conference came together on August 7-9, 2019, in Lexington, Ky., to complete plans for the quadrennial legislative event. Kim Simpson, who has been serving as secretary of the Commission, was elected chairperson to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former chairperson Duncan McMillan. Vice-chair Mujinga Kashala was not able to attend the meeting and declined to assume the office of chair by succession. The Rev. Gary George was elected as the new secretary of the Commission. The 2020 General Conference will see changes in the Daily Christian Advocate, which will be fully digital and available through a Daily Christian Advocate website. The Advance Daily Christian Advocate will still be printed as well as items in the daily editions that need to be voted on, but the proceedings of the General Conference, delegate lists and news articles will be on the website only. Improvements to the website include highlighting items that are currently being discussed so they are easy to find.The theme selected for the 2020 General Conference will be “…and know that I am God,” based on Psalm 46:10. A logo to accompany the theme is being designed by United Methodist Communications.
The Dakotas-Minnesota Area host team reported that a website with volunteer opportunities and information about the local area has been created at To show hospitality, the local host committee intends to greet every delegate, invited guest, bishop and spouse with a handmade purple scarf. United Methodists in Minnesota and the Dakotas were invited to help knit or crochet the scarves. Support for the project far exceeded the goal, with between 13,000 and 14,000 scarves made for the occasion.

United Methodist Men Spiritual Advance- Sept. 27-28
Registration is now open for the 2019 UMMen’s Spiritual Advance at Baylake UMC in Virginia Beach on Sept. 27-28. Featured speaker is the Rev. Dr. Kevin Watson, author of The Class Meeting and Bible study teacher at the 2019 Virginia Annual Conference. The theme is Transforming Grace. Special rates are available for pastors, early birds, spouses, and, if you attended last year, Bring One Get One (BOGO) for first timers.  New this year, church sponsorships are targeted for churches who have never attended the event or those currently with no formal UMMen organization. Open to all churches, the challenge is to line up 12 men to come and receive both a discounted rate and a free event themed T-shirt.  A box lunch option is available on Saturday to allow for more fellowship on site with brothers in Christ. More...

5 Talent Academy fall event- Nov. 13,14
The theme for this year’s 5 Talent event is Engage 2019: Community Transformation.  There are two events: one just for clergy and one for clergy and laity.
Wednesday, Nov. 13 will be a Clergy-only Pre-event at Woodlake UMC and will feature Bishop Ken Carter, Florida Conference UMC.  He will speak about redefining the UM connection and evangelism, the role of fresh expressions, and how to shape missional relationships in the current cultural landscape.
Thursday, Nov. 14 will be the main Clergy and Laity event at Woodlake UMC and livestreamed to 11 satellite locations around the state.  Bishop Carter will be preaching and speakers will be the Rev. Michael Adam Beck, Wildwood UMC, Wildwood, Fla.; the Rev. Jaqueline Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church, New York, N.Y.; and the Rev. Andy and the Rev. Anjie Woodworth, Neighborhood Church, Atlanta, Ga.  They will address what it looks like to be a neighborhood church, what is a community partner, and what is a fresh expression.
If you plan to attend in a group from your church, every fifth person in a group registration goes free. Fees for the events are as follows: Nov. 14 event - $35; Nov. 13 & 14 events - $60; Nov. 13 event only - $50. Registration prices increase after Sept. 30.  To register, visit For questions, contact MaryKaye Cochran at

For in-depth news and features about United Methodist mission and ministry, subscribe to the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, the Virginia Conference’s award-winning monthly magazine — now available in both print and digital formats. Click here to subscribe. Or call the Communications office at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110, or (804) 521-1110. Or email For information about the Virginia Conference and resources for ministry, visit the Virginia Conference website at

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