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News from the Virginia Conference - Feb. 1, 2017 

Appointment and Itineracy Process video published
 A newly-created video now offers for local church Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC), and all clergy and laity,  information about the appointment process of the Virginia Annual Conference. If you have additional questions about the appointment process, please feel free to contact your district superintendent. More... 

Virginia Conference Board of Church and Society VIM team currently in Holy Land
Twenty-three members of the Virginia Conference Board of Church and Society Volunteers in Mission team left Jan. 30 for a 12 day trip to the Holy Land. These 23 team members are 17 laity and six clergy; most of whom are from Virginia UMC churches (there are three UMC laity from outside Virginia). During this mission, the team members will visit and serve in projects supported by the UMC and World Methodist Council, visit and meet with Israelis and Palestinians to learn their perspectives and see holy sites in both Israel and the West Bank. The team is led by the Rev. John Copenhaver and the Rev. Steve Jones, retired clergy in the Virginia Conference. 

February 2017 Bible challenge readings on website 
The readings for the 2017 Bible reading challenge can be found on the conference website. For more information about the challenge from Bishop Lewis or to register your participation visit her page. To see the readings for the whole year, visit this link. 

Richmond-area UMC church hosting race relations discussion 
Belmont UMC is hosting Church and Community Conversation on Race and Reconciliation through discussion, worship and idea exploration on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.The event will examine the role of churches, political bodies and community organizations in the quest to improve race relations.  This gathering of minds will search for solutions and develop plans of action to improve race relations in communities and will also explore the Ava DuVernay documentary film “13th,” an in-depth look at the prison system, mass incarceration and racial inequality.Detailed information regarding the agenda, the facilitators and the invited speakers is forthcoming.  For now, mark your calendars for February 25, 2017.  Belmont UMC is located at 3510 Broad Rock Blvd., Richmond, VA  23234.

Mentors needed for 2017 summer All God’s Children camps 
All God's Children Camp is in need of mentors for camp this summer. There are three opportunities this year to serve: June 18-23 at Camp Chanco on the James, June 25-30 at Camp Overlook and July 30-Aug. 4 at Occohannock on the Bay. Visit All God’s Children page on the conference website for more information including a mentor and camper flyer. Email Lori Smith, camp director, at with any questions.  

Urgent need for UMVIM work teams
The Virginia Conference Disaster Recovery ministry currently has ongoing operations in Evergreen (Farmville District), Tappahannock (Fredericksburg District), Virginia Beach (Elizabeth River District) and Waverly (James River District). There are open dates available from now until April that need to be filled as well as summer slots. Email Forrest White for any questions and to schedule at  

Hunger-relief agency offers Lent devotions
“With Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed” is a daily Scripture reading, reflection and prayer for the 40 days plus seven Sundays leading up to Easter offered by The Society of St. Andrew, a national nonprofit hunger-relief ministry. More…

Disability Awareness Sunday is Feb. 5
According to the Book of Discipline, Disability Awareness Sunday is oberserved annually and the date is determined by each annual conference. The Virginia Annual Conference has designated the first Sunday in February (Feb. 5) as Disability Awareness Sunday. Disability Awareness Sunday calls the church to celebrate the gifts and graces of persons with disabilities and calls the church and society to full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community.  Resources from Heart Havens may be used and adapted to fit your situation. The general conference has also provided resources. More... 

Registration open for Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer
Registration is now open for The Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer on Apr. 1, 2017. The event will take place at Trinity UMC in Richmond with the Rev. Juanita Rasmus acting as plenary speaker. Fee is $10 and participants will get to choose two workshops to attend. More… 

Cuban Methodists are packing the pews
The growing Methodist Church in Cuba has made its presence known across the island. And what was once a carbon copy of the U.S. order of worship has transformed into music-filled calls to prayer with a Pentecostal vibe. More… 

Commentary: Alternative facts and Christian truth 
Christians are necessarily committed to the idea of truth, writes the Rev. David Watson, academic dean of United Methodist United Theological Seminary. “As Christians, we seek truth because we believe that truth is inherently good. All truth is ultimately the product of God’s creative divine Word, who was made flesh in Jesus Christ,” Watson writes. More… 

Commission takes on church unity from multiple fronts 
The United Methodist commission charged with bridging division around homosexuality spent its first meeting mainly getting to know and trust each other. The group also took first steps toward possible outcomes. More…

United Methodist Scouting surges
The number of youth involved in Scouting packs, troops and crews chartered by United Methodist churches is on the rise, reports the Commission on United Methodist Men. At the end of 2016,327,405 were involved in Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops and Venturing crews. That’s an increase of about 2,700 youth. More… 

Norway church honored for indigenous people work 
An 1881 church, the home of a secret synagogue during the Nazi occupation of Norway, has been named a United Methodist historic site for the congregation’s work with indigenous and marginalized people. More…

♦ Clergy Spouse Retreat- Mar. 3-4, 2017
The Clergy Family Enrichment Committee invites you to a brief time of personal renewal, networking with other clergy spouses and reflection on Friday, Mar. 3 to Mar. 4 at Richmond Hill Retreat Center. The keynote speaker, Martha Stokes, will lead participants through "Reflections of General Conference & Supporting the Future." The breakout times will include making and learning to pray with prayer beads and exploring creative devotional writing. The event begins at 3 p.m. on March 3 and concludes after lunch at 12:30 p.m. on March 4. The registration fee of $100 includes meals and lodging at Richmond Hill Retreat Center as well as supplies for the breakouts.For more information and to register, visit this link. For more information, contact Judy Hall at

♦ Faithful Aging Conference- Mar. 14, 2017
Faithful Aging on Mar. 14, 2017, will be the first statewide, faith-based conference on aging addressing opportunities related to an aging congregation and meeting the needs of older members. Presented by the Beard Center on Aging at Lynchburg College and Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc. (VUMH), this conference developed following listening sessions across the Virginia Conference to hear directly from clergy and laity about the needs of older adults in their congregations and communities. The Virginia Conference Older Adult Council is a Gold Sponsor for the event. A .5 CEU has been approved for Virginia Conference clergy and certified professionals as well as five hours of credit toward recertification for Lay Servants. Contact Martha Stokes directly by phone at (804) 474-8718 or email her at for more information. There is a registration form on the event under the conference calendar or you may register online at More...  

♦ Lay Servant Academy- Mar. 31- Apr. 2, 2017
The Lay Servant Academy is about equipping laity to carry out the mission of the church of making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. All courses are open to everyone. Each course is designed to help those serving the local church to learn more about leadership, personal faith development and a deeper understanding of the UMC. Many courses offered this year will support those seeking to become Certified Lay Servants and Lay Speakers. To register and for more information on the Academy, visit the website. Registration questions may be directed to Sandy Kelley at and other questions to Beth Christian 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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