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News from the Virginia Conference - December 14, 2017

Conference office holiday observance
Conference offices in the United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will close at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22, and remain closed through Wednesday, Dec. 27, in observance of the Christmas holiday. Offices will re-open on Thursday, Dec. 28. Conference offices will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 1, in observance of the New Year’s holiday.

Last e-Advocate before Christmas holiday
The Dec. 14 issue of the e-Advocate will be the last prior to the Christmas holiday. The newsletter will be back on Jan. 4, 2018.

2018 Bible Reading challenge released
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis shared that her 2018 Bible reading challenge will be read chronologically (in the order of events). Bishop Lewis will be sharing a video about the challenge soon. Information about the challenge and monthly readings are now on the conference website. More... 

Commission on Way Forward booklet released
In the Nov. 9 press release from the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops, there was a promise to provide a booklet that listed some of the resources that the Commission has been using as part of its preparation for an interim report to the Council of Bishops. More...

Start planning for Heart Havens month
In 2018, the Heart Havens Month theme is "Life of the Party," after Luke 14:12-14. This represents the celebration that everyone has a place at God's party, and when we include everyone in our churches and communities, everyone is blessed! Pastors should have received an email with resources to help plan their church's involvement, including worship and communication resources. If you or your pastor did not get this email, you can download at the link below. Churches will still receive materials in hard copy in January, right after the first of the year. More...

Dates announced for 2018 Faithful Aging Conference
The theme for the Faithful Aging Conference will be “Always a Place at the Table” on Tuesday. Apr. 24, 2018, at Williamsburg UMC in Williamsburg. At the event you can network with other faith communities, share ideas and talk about how to address opportunities and changes as society ages alongside local church congregations. Consider being an exhibitor or sponsor to share ministry and service providers on hand to share information and help others understand the different levels of services and resources available, as well as the needs and issues older adults face. Additional information and questions can be directed to

Ministers’ Convocation 2018 dates announced
This spring, The Center for Clergy Excellence invites you for a time of Sabbath retreat, learning and fellowship together as ministry leaders at Ministers’ Convocation – Apr. 23-25, 2018. Come be engaged in theological and academic conversation while experiencing rejuvenation for ministry. Theme is “The Paradox of Perfection: Our Wesleyan Heritage” with an emphasis on Christian Perfection. Dr. Rex Matthews, Professor in the Practice of Historical Theology and Wesleyan Studies at Candler School of Theology will be teacher for the event. Bishop Sharma D. Lewis and the Rev. William Lamar, pastor of Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C., will lead in worship. For event details and to register visit: Worship, keynote and workshop sessions, lodging and meals will be held at Virginia Crossings Conference Center in Glen Allen. You are encouraged to register before Holy Week to ensure lodging availability. The deadline for in-residence registration is Monday, Apr. 2, 2018. All clergy, diaconal ministers, and professional/paraprofessional certified ministers in the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church are invited.

2018 Lay Servant Academy registration now open
Registration for the 2018 Lay Servant Academy, Mar. 2-4, is now open. Event will take place at the 4H Educational Conference Center in Wirtz. The Lay Servant Academy is about equipping laity (those who are not clergy) to carry out the mission of the church. All of the courses are open to anyone who would like to take one. Each course is designed to help those serving the local church learn more about leadership, personal faith development and a deeper understanding of The United Methodist Church. The courses are also designed to support those seeking to become Certified Lay Servants and Certified Lay Speakers. More…

December Advocate shares ministry of licensed local pastors
The December issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate shares the varied ministries of licensed local pastors in the Virginia Conference. From highs and lows, the feature will share the unique ministry of these pastors and their call stories. To subscribe to the Advocate—print, digital or both—call (804) 521-1110 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110; email; or go to

Seminary course to be offered at Floris UMC in Herndon
A new course on “Ethical Dilemmas in Everyday Life” will be offered by Wesley Theological Seminary at Floris UMC, Herndon, on Monday evenings beginning in January. Designed especially for Christians who are interested in going deeper in study and discipleship through a first master’s-level theology course, the course is designed to bring questions of faith, ethics, morality, discipleship and Christian practice to life in light of Scripture, Christian tradition, reason and experience. The course will be taught by Christian ethicist Dr. Sondra Wheeler on Monday evenings, 7 to 9 p.m., Jan. 22 – Apr. 30, 2018. Session titles include: “Is it Ever OK to Lie?”,  “Until We Are Parted by Death?” and “Should Every Law be Followed?”.  Registration is open through Jan. 3, 2018. Find out more about how to try a course here, or register directly as a non-degree student for the single course using this form. The course listing is ES-249, Ethical Dilemmas in Everyday Life, for two master’s credits. Tuition is $624/credit hour. The course is not available for audit or continuing education units. For more information, contact Admissions at or call 202-885-8659.

Start your Doctor of Ministry at Wesley
Take your ministry to the next level with a D.Min. from Wesley. Applications are still being accepted for the following specializations: “Soul Care for Pastors, Chaplains and Clinicians” and “Arts and Theology”. Deadline for applications is Feb. 15, 2018. For more information, contact Doctor of Ministry Program Director Dr. Lew Parks at Spend the day with Wesley and learn more about the Doctor of Ministry program on Jan. 8, 2018, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To register, go to Contact Admissions for questions and information at or call 202-885-8659.

How an immigrant family found room at the inn
Las Posadas is the Mexican tradition of re-enacting Joseph and Mary’s search for safe lodging for Christ’s birth. For at least one immigrant family, the tradition has special resonance. Heather Hahn reports how the family found safety with the help of the United Methodist ministry Justice for Our Neighbors. More…

Joseph: A model of faith and fatherhood
He is pivotal to the Christmas story, yet the Bible doesn’t tell us much about the quiet man who parented Jesus. The Rev. Joe Iovino talks to the Rev. Adam Hamilton of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas about what Joseph teaches us. More…

United Methodists bond with Muslim neighbors
In 2010, tensions were mounting in the U.S. in places with growing Muslim populations. A pastor in Florida was threatening to burn Qurans, and protesters were fighting the construction of mosques in some communities. Despite these stories in national headlines, two faith communities near Memphis decided to give love a chance. Their friendship lasts to this day. More…

♦ United Methodist Day at General Assembly- Feb. 1, 2018
Ever wanted to know how to create real change in our state government? Or wanted to know more about real issues facing our legislature? United Methodist Day at the General Assembly is the place for you! This is our opportunity to help faith communities become empowered to serve as missionaries of justice, as well as the more traditional missionaries of mercy. This yearly event will be held Thursday, Feb. 1 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Due to construction at capitol square this year and the relocation of the General Assembly Building, space will be more LIMITED this year. Registration for event is now open. A briefing will be held Wednesday, Jan. 31 at Bon Air UMC in North Chesterfield at 7:30 p.m. Questions may be directed to the Rev. Barbara Lewis at or (434) 594-6241. Find more information at link. More… 

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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