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News from the Virginia Conference - January 28, 2020

Bishop invites laity to February 2020 gathering
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis is inviting laity from around the conference for a time of connection following her return from medical leave on Feb. 8, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Woodlake UMC in Chesterfield and at five other satellite locations. "It is my deep desire to reconnect with you in a personal and special way having been away from you for six months on medical leave,” Lewis said. “Let us come together both in person and through satellite locations to have a time of worship, fellowship, anointing, sharing our hearts, and reconnecting. I want to hear from you and I want to share my journey with you." More...
  A video invitation from Bishop Lewis. 

Alignment 2020: Connection Opportunities
Virginia Conference congregations have a lot of programs. When you look at your church’s programs, how well do they perform at disciple-making? Are church leaders measuring disciple-making at all? Join Virginia Conference Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) the Rev. Dr. Ted Smith for the “Programs to Disciple-Making” webinar on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. as part of Alignment 2020: Connection Opportunities.  Join the webinar at the link:
Participants will focus on the essential steps necessary to help churches transition from doing programs to doing more intentional disciple-making. The webinar will last 45 minutes and will include time for discussion and questions.
Alignment 2020: Connection Opportunities is the way the conference Connectional Ministries office is better aligning with the conference vision and as a resource to local churches. Be on the lookout for monthly webinars with topics such as discipleship, other communications from Smith and ongoing ways you can provide your feedback to the conference office.

Join webinar to learn more about 2019 Annual Conference communication survey results
Join Madeline White, conference director of Communications, and Jill Gaynor, president of the conference Board of Communications, for a one-hour webinar on Feb. 19 as they share insights and results from the communications survey that was released at Annual Conference 2019. 
Last summer 2,147 people from across the conference took the Board of Communications survey and shared their feedback on a variety of conference communications topics. The findings have been very useful in helping the board and the conference communications team prioritize efforts to continue to improve conference communications. Some of the findings could also be helpful for communications programs in district offices, local churches, and related organizations. You are invited to join the webinar on Feb. 19 via Zoom from 2 to 3 p.m. Zoom information is as follows: Meeting ID code: 954 149 868;  Dial-in phone number: (646) 876-9923 or (877) 369-0926;

Charlottesville District to hold prayer vigils prior to General Conference
The Charlottesville District of The United Methodist Church is inviting its members and friends to pray for the work of the General Conference delegates by participating in one or more prayer vigils organized by local church laity and clergy across the district. Learn more on the district webpage. More... 

Goodson Academy of Preaching presents "Ministry in the Purple Zone"
The Goodson Academy of Preaching is offering a learning event on Feb. 19-20, 2020. The event will focus on "Ministry in the Purple Zone" which will address social issues in a divided society through deliberate dialogue. The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade will present at Discovery UMC, 13000 Gayton Road, Henrico, VA, for this two-day event. More... 

Learn about upcoming UMVIM team leader training courses
As a part of the Virginia Conference United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) policy every UMVIM team leader is required to take the Team Leader Training course. When you answer the call to lead a team into the short-term mission field, you are assuming responsibility that is much more than handling logistics and making decisions. The UMVIM Team Leader Training Course trains and equips you as the team leader to then train and equip your team. This course is intended for those who have never taken an UMVIM Leader Training Course. Those who have taken an UMVIM Leader Training Course are still welcome to come or to take the online UMVIM Leader Refresher Course offered through UMVIM SEJ.  Check for the current online Refresher Course schedule. The course is 5 hours and there is no cost. A light lunch will be provided; donations to the host church are appreciated. More...

Participate in Scout Sunday
Scout Sunday is of particular importance this year as 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the formal relationship genesis between the Boy Scouts of America and The United Methodist Church. The original agreement was signed on February 12, 1920.  Each and every church in the Virginia Conference is highly encouraged to recognize this milestone event.  Even if your church has no Scouting, you can still support the program. The United Methodist Church is the number one sponsor of Scouting BSA units with more youth and more adults than any faith denomination in the United States! The UMC generally celebrates with Scouts clearly serving in the Sunday program: Scouts can usher, present performing arts, read Scripture, sing, as well as be presented their recognition awards from their efforts in the PRAY/God & Country program. This year, celebrations occur on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Contact Virginia Annual Conference Scouting Coordinator Bill Chaffin with any questions at More...

UM Wesley Seminary- Seminary is affordable!
Are you or someone you know wanting to respond to God’s call to service, but not sure how to take on more student debt for theological education? Wesley recognizes this challenge, and is committed to helping our students as much as possible to graduate without additional debt that constrains their choices in ministry. Wesley has many merit scholarships that offer partial or full tuition for your Master degree! But hurry – deadline to apply is Feb. 1, 2020 for the upcoming academic year.

These scholarships include:

•    The Next Call Scholarship offers support for “second career” vocations. Available to both full- and part-time students, up to six 50 percent tuition awards will be awarded,
•    The Rising Generation Scholarship Rising Generation Ministry Awards 2020 offers 100 percent tuition-free merit scholarships for 10 Award Recipients.  To support them, this scholarship affirms Wesley's ongoing support for those daring to follow God's call and discern how they will serve at this challenging time in the life of the church – and helping those called to stay the course.
•    The 100 percent tuition Latinx Scholarship seeks to support emerging Latinx/Hispanic leaders for ministries both within and beyond the church. Available for both full and part-time students, up to six 100% tuition awards are offered each academic year. More... 

Mark your calendars for 2020 Lay Servant Academy
Lay Servant Academy will be held from Friday, July 17 to Sunday, July 19 at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Course listings and registration will be available in March. The 2020 theme is "God's Work, Our Hands." To be added to the mailing list, email

Submit nominations now for Harry Denman, One Matters awards
Is anyone in your congregation someone who goes above and beyond when it comes to discipleship?  Perhaps they are involved in youth or family ministry and have helped many people to have a relationship with God or they are involved in a local mission that has influenced lives for Christ. They can be clergy, laity and/or youth.  Each year the Board of Discipleship recognizes one person in each category who displays discipleship in their lives.  Nominations for Harry Denman awards are due no later than midnight on Mar. 2, 2020.
Are you a church that has experienced a positive turnaround in professions of faith and/or baptisms?  Has your church gone from zero Professions of Faith in the past to a positive number of Professions of Faith in 2019?  If so, you may be eligible for the One Matters Award. Applications are due no later than midnight on Mar. 2, 2020. Nominations forms may be sent to

Mentor opportunities: All God's Children Camp
All God's Children Camp, a camp for children ages 7-12 with an incarcerated parent, is looking for mentors to volunteer one week at summer camp for 2020. The children spend a week at overnight camp where, through Bible study, worship and devotions, they learn they are somebody and that God truly loves them. They also participate in all the activities camp has to offer (archery, swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing, fishing and much more). Please consider giving a week of your time this summer and come be a mentor at camp!  For more information, contact Lori Smith at or 571-245-9591.  You can also check out for forms and other information.  The weeks are below:

June 14-19 (Camp Chanco on the James)
July 26-July 31 (Occohannock on the Bay)
August 9-14 (Camp Chance on the James)

Is God calling you? Learn more about Calling 21 internships
Calling 21 is inviting college-aged young people who are discerning a call into ministry for a nine-week internship in local churches. During the internship, participants will acquire knowledge on the ins and outs of the church life from the perspective of the staff and lead volunteers. This may include leading in worship, meeting with small groups, hospital visits, working with youth in mission, or many other ways the church is actively involved in the community and world. Calling 21 is also seeking host churches for the Calling 21 summer internship. Interns spend eight weeks with the host church, learning what it means to work in the church environment. Calling 21 interns are discerning a call to ministry, which may be toward ordination or as laity. The church's role is to provide opportunities to experience church life from a staff perspective. Host churches also provide room and board for the intern. For more information, visit the link. More...

Help celebrate Heart Havens Month
February is Heart Havens month. Help Heart Havens share the message of inclusion and empowerment across the conference. Heart Havens is an organization that empowers adults with a developmental disability to live and thrive in their community. Electronic resources for Heart Havens month can be found on their website. There is still availability for speakers in February whether it's Sunday morning worship or a UMM/UMW or other small group meeting, Heart Havens would love to visit your church and share about Heart Havens. Please contact Jennifer Boyden at 804-237-6097 or to learn more or if you'd like to schedule a Heart Havens speaker visit your church. More...

Applications and nominations now open for Randolph-Macon College's Convergence
Convergence is more than just a summer camp. It's a place where the exploration of faith and science can lead to a lifetime of friendship and understanding. It's not too late to apply. Visit to apply or nominate a rising 10th, 11th, or 12th grade student.

Applications and nominations for Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute now open
Do you have a current high schooler in your life who is ready to learn about how their faith in Jesus Christ calls them to live and be in the world in a way that seeks justice? Nominate and encourage them to apply for the Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute (SUYTI). SUYTI is a two-week, credit-bearing program for any young person who is currently in high school (that is, any student who will be a rising sophomore through recent high school graduate this summer). Students spend one week on SU’s campus in Winchester, Va., and one week on the campus of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, and through a daily rhythm of worship, academic study, experiential and service learning, and (of course) sabbath rest, learn to become stronger Christian leaders in their local communities. The 2020 Institute will run from July 19-August 1, 2020, and thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment, students will have all that SUYTI has to offer (room and board, program expenses, and three college credits) at a cost of only $200 per student. To nominate a student or to apply, visit For more information, contact Ian Urriola, Director of the SUYTI, by calling (540) 665-5453 or emailing

Bailey Scholar application deadline Feb. 3
Do you know a young person who is sensing a call to ministry? The A. Purnell Bailey Pre-Ministerial Program at Randolph-Macon College (R-MC) in Ashland is a scholarship that offers half-tuition during a student’s freshman and sophomore years at R-MC and full-tuition during the junior and senior years. The Bailey Program includes weekly meetings for vocational discernment, creating a strong, supportive peer group. During a student’s tenure in the program, there are many opportunities to visit with theology school representatives, spend time with persons in a variety of professional ministry roles, and reflect on a personal sense of call.  There are two internship opportunities, one for academic credit and one with a financial stipend. Randolph-Macon College enrolls over 1,500 undergraduate students who pursue their academic paths in 54 areas of study.  The oldest United Methodist college in continuous operation, the college is proud to be home to the Bailey Scholars program helping to prepare a new generation of leaders in the Church. Online Bailey Scholar applications are being accepted now, with a deadline of Feb. 3, 2020.  The program is open to Christian students of any denomination or Christian tradition.  Learn more at or by contacting the Rev. Kendra Grimes, director of the Bailey Scholars Program, at or (804)752-7374.

Reimbursement for Advocate magazine subscriptions available
If your subscription to the Virginia Advocate runs past 2019, you may contact the conference Communications Office to get a reimbursement or to donate your remaining balance to ongoing communications efforts or UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). Contact the Communications Office at 804-521-1110 or email expiration date can be found on the mailing label of the magazine. Reimbursements will be accepted until Feb. 1, 2020. 

Register now for 2020 Faithful Aging Conference
The 2020 Faithful Aging Conference will be held on Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2020, at Bonsack UMC in Roanoke. The Rev. Dr. Richard (Rick) H. Gentzler Jr., Tennessee Conference director of Encore Ministry of The United Methodist Church, will be the opening keynote presenter. Gentzler, a much sought after speaker, teacher, and writer, is an internationally recognized leader in the field of aging and older adult ministries. He is author of numerous books and hundreds of articles on aging and older adult ministry. His latest book, An Age of Opportunity: Intentional Older Adult Ministry, was published in 2018. Other books and resources written by him include: Aging & Ministry in the 21st Century: An Inquiry Approach; The Graying of the Church; Designing an Older Adult Ministry; Aging: God’s Challenge to Church and Synagogue; Forty-Sixty: A Guide for Midlife Adults Who Want to Make a Difference; and, Rock of Ages (a large print worship and song book). For additional information or questions, contact Martha Stokes, director of Church and Community Relations with Pinnacle Living, by phone at 804-474-8718 or by email at More...


Comparing plans headed to GC2020
This summary from United Methodist News compares proposals from various groups, in alphabetical order, about the structure of The UMC. It does not include proposals from individuals. Further details are in the documents and legislation. All proposals will be open for amendments at General Conference and may be subject to Judicial Council review. This chart has been updated to include the "Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation." More...

Lewis Center: Leading when you don't know the way
Church consultant Susan Beaumont writes that church leaders need a different set of skills in ambiguous, disorienting periods of transition. She points to Moses as an example of leadership in a time of anxiety and uncertainty. More...

Advance Daily Christian Advocate now available
The Advance Daily Christian Advocate, which contains the agenda, rules, delegate listings, and already submitted legislation for General Conference, is now out. You can download the material in English, French, Portuguese and Kiswahili. More...

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