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News from the Virginia Conference - August 6, 2019

Bishop Weaver responds to mass shootings in Texas, Ohio
Bishop Weaver shared a letter following the weekend's mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. "Following the shootings in Virginia Beach two months ago, I called for us, even us, as United Methodists (1) to “mourn with those who mourn” and share the Good News that, in Christ, death does not have the final word, and (2) to join our witness and actions with those committed to ending hatred, bigotry, racism, violence and recognizing, today, “the things that make for peace.” It is needed today, not tomorrow.  It is for you and I, not others. It is about Jesus, not just politics. Let the weeping stop, and the peace of Christ begin." More...

A call for resonance: anniversary of violent Charlottesville rally approaching
For years, the coming of August in Charlottesville meant the start of a new season of learning for students from preschool through college, the promise of young lives blossoming anew amid the dog days of summer. But the events of Aug. 12, 2017 changed that forever. There is still promise and hope among the young and old, but there are also memories of that day two years ago, when violence erupted at a so-called “Unite the Right” rally of white supremacists. “The events of August 12, 2017, uncovered the implicitly sustained racial injustice in our community,” said Bill Clarke, lay leader at First United Methodist Church of Charlottesville. “We had hidden our heads in the sand. It is a problem that extends back for generations and we have much work to do on reconciliation.”
Charlottesville’s “Unity Days 2019” began in May, but events ramp up this week. More…

Course of study begins in Burundi
In the United States, we don’t often see The United Methodist Church in the news these days without accompanying talk of division and turmoil and the potential of a denominational split looming on the horizon. But in the East African nation of Burundi, there is much joy and celebration within The United Methodist Church – it is reunited after 12 years of division. “When I was asked to share a greeting from the United States United Methodists, I talked about the Spirit in the room,” said the Rev. Alex Joyner, who spent 10 days in June teaching pastors in Burundi, “the way that it was bringing new life to the Burundi church, the way we longed to share in that Spirit of unity in the U.S. church.” Joyner was the first of a number of instructors bound for Burundi over two years as part of a course of study program for 200 pastors.  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, September 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…

Sponsored training in Norfolk addresses domestic,sexual violence
InFaith Community Foundation is sponsoring Safe & Healthy Churches Training: Ending Family Violence, a two-day training from September 27-28, 2019 in Norfolk, Va., designed to help Christian clergy and lay leaders understand the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence and the ramifications of violence on individuals, the church and our shared community. It also highlights protocols to protect victims, prevent future harm, and respond effectively and sensitively to victims/ survivors, their families and abusers. Church teams of 3-4 are encouraged to attend. The training will also address issues particular to faith communities, including break-out sessions focusing on:
• Domestic Violence Response: Trauma-Informed Pastoral Care (training for clergy, parish nurses, chaplains)
• Child Abuse Prevention & Response (training for lay leaders, congregants, Sunday school teachers, educators)
• Healthy Teen Relationships (training for youth leaders and ministers and educators) .

Event will be at the DoubleTree Hotel, Norfolk Airport. Address is 1500 N. Military Hwy., Norfolk, Va. 23502. Attendee training expenses, including one night’s hotel, is made possible through a generous grant from InFaith Community Foundation as part of its Ending Family Violence Initiative. This initiative provides a means to further individual church responses to family violence, and also reinforce an ecumenical response within the region. For more information about InFaith’s programs for women, visit

The registration deadline is Friday, September 6, 2019. The training is limited to 125 participants on a first come basis; please register as soon as possible. In support of a regional, ecumenical response, church teams from Norfolk and surrounding areas, including those in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. are invited to participate. Registration is required. Register online at If you have questions or would like more information, please email or call (206) 634-1903.

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.

Connect students to campus ministries
All across Virginia, the Virginia Conference has the opportunity to connect college students with campus ministries. The Virginia Conference is blessed to have so many amazing campus ministries for students, but the conference Next Gen Office needs your help.
The start of a new school year can be overwhelming, and many students don't know where to look to find a Christian community. With your help, the Virginia Conference can provide the names of incoming students to campus ministers so they can reach out to new students. Please fill out as much information as you can on the form linked to help connect any and all college students you know to campus ministries! More…

Back-to-school is great time to assemble UMCOR School Kits
This is the perfect time of year with back-to-school sales beginning to assemble The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) School Kits. Learn more about assembly and required items at the link. More...


Mass shootings prompt prayer, action
After two U.S. mass shootings that killed at least 31 people, United Methodists are responding with both prayers and plans of action to address gun violence and hate. Mid-morning Aug. 3, a gunman attacked the shoppers at a popular El Paso, Texas, retail area — claiming the lives of at least 22 people, including at least eight Mexican citizens. Less than 14 hours later, another gunman opened fire into a crowd in the Dayton, Ohio, entertainment district — killing nine and injuring 27 in less than a minute. The suspected shooter, Connor Betts, 24, is also dead. No United Methodists were known to be among the victims.Nevertheless, many United Methodists across the country used Sunday worship for the now-familiar ritual of praying for those brutalized by violence. Pastors also took on the task of ministering to the traumatized. More…

Connectional Table Approves Legislation Creating New U.S. Structure
The Connectional Table approved sending legislation to General Conference 2020 that will create a new structure for churches in the United States, called a regional conference, during an online meeting July 18, 2019. The proposed legislation stipulates that the U.S. Regional Conference will have geographic boundaries congruent with the territory of the U.S. annual conferences. Jurisdictions will continue to function with their current powers and duties, including their process to elect bishops. “The current proposal will help the General Conference to focus its work on matters truly global,” says Bishop Christian Alsted, chair of the board, “and offers the church in the United States a connectional structure to deal with matters pertaining specifically to the U.S. context, including the development of strategies and priorities, pension and healthcare issues and, not least, adaptations to the Book of Discipline.” During the Connectional Table’s meeting in April 2019, the body approved bringing a legislative proposal to GC2020 to create a U.S. Central Conference and sent the proposal back to the U.S. Contextual Ministries Advisory Group for further work. Concerns surfaced at this meeting and in the Council of Bishops about calling the U.S. structure a central conference. Calling it a regional conference instead acknowledges the painful, racist history and still-existing wounds associated with the former Central Jurisdiction in the U.S. Creating the U.S. Regional Conference will be done in two stages:
•    Stage I will form a committee of the General Conference, with legislative function, to deal with U.S. Region – Adaptable disciplinary provisions, U.S.-related resolutions, and non-disciplinary petitions concerning U.S. matters.
•    Stage II will form the U.S. Regional Conference, and the Stage I committee will end its work. More…

Hospital changes debt-collection policies
A United Methodist-affiliated hospital system is making changes after making headlines for suing its own employees for unpaid medical bills.Calls to follow the United Methodist Social Principles played a role in the new policies aimed at helping low-income patients, said hospital leaders. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tenn., announced July 30 it would raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next 17 months and no longer sue its employees or garnish their wages for unpaid medical bills. More…

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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