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News from the Virginia Conference - July 2, 2019

Virginia Conference delegation takes a progressive turn
In the house divided that is The United Methodist Church, denomination members agree on at least one thing – at some point, in the days following the 2019 special General Conference, hurt and anger gave way to immense resolve among those who opposed passage of the Traditional Plan and its strengthened bans on same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBTQ clergy. Opponents didn’t simply voice outrage, they organized, determined to repeal the legislation at 2020 General Conference and create an inclusive way forward for the denomination. Learn more about the recent election of delegates at the Virginia Annual Conference 2019 in this article by conference news associate Forrest White. More...

Crossing language barriers for sanctuary in Charlottesville
Wesley Memorial UMC in Charlottesville, Va., had less than a day to decide to offer sanctuary to Maria Chavalan Sut. On Sept. 29, 2018, the Charlottesville-area Immigration Resource and Advocacy Coalition approached Wesley’s pastor, the Rev. Isaac Collins, to ask if the church would accept a Kaqchikel Guatemalan native for sanctuary. After the Sept. 30 worship service, Collins and members of the congregation sat down with community leaders to discuss her case. Then, the church council voted unanimously to accept her as their first sanctuary guest and opened their doors that day. More…

Wrap-up from AC 2019
You can find a written report about Annual Conference 2019 and a summary video at the conference page which are perfect if preparing a local church report. To order a conference Journal, Directory of Ministry, or Flash Drive, follow this link. More...

Share your voice – Participate in the conference Communications survey
The mission of the conference Communications Office is to provide you with the Virginia Conference information you need, including conference news and events, updates from the bishop, information on training opportunities, and local ministry stories. Our goal is to provide you with the information you want to see through the communications channels that are most useful to you. We have created a short communications survey to get your feedback so we can learn how to serve you better. Please visit to take the survey, and please share this link with others in your congregation. The survey will remain open until July 31, 2019.

July Advocate issue dives into campus ministries
The local church, according to the mission of our denomination, provides “the most significant arena through which disciple making occurs.” These disciples then go off to college where campus ministry can help better form them as they grow socially and emotionally. What is campus ministry like in this arena? How can we help support our disciples in campus ministries around the conference? The clergy appointments are featured in this issue. Also in the July issue are moving day memories, planning new directions for the church, impact of General Conference 2019, and the top five ways to get involved in campus ministries.

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 at or 804-521-1110.

Mentors needed for All God’s Children
All God’s Children Camp is still in need of 7 male mentors for August 11-16 at Chanco on the James. For more information, contact Lori Smith, camp director,  at 571-245-9591 or You can also visit the website at

2019 United Methodist Men’s Spiritual Advance to be held in September
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 so you may have more fellowship on site with your brothers in Christ. More...

Renfro Trust Grants now available
The Renfro Trust Fund awards annual bricks-and-mortar grants to small rural United Methodist congregations in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Renfro Trust Funds are available for award with a deadline for application of August 12, 2019. The grants are available through the conference Office of Justice and Missional Excellence. To apply go to the Virginia Conference website, click on the menu for Office of Justice and Missional Excellence then scroll down to Renfro Grants. You will find the application and guidelines for applying. Churches may complete the online application and mail it or complete it online and send it electronically. More...

Learn more about Fresh Expressions at free event
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to dig into a fresh expression for your church or community! Fresh Expressions Roundtables are being hosted at three locations in August. This FREE event is for any clergy or laity in the VA Annual Conference interested in pursuing a fresh expression.
•    Winchester Roundtable, August 13, 1-4 p.m., Leesburg UMC, Leesburg
•    Roanoke Roundtable, August 14, 6-9 p.m., Cave Spring UMC, Roanoke
•    Elizabeth River Roundtable, August 15, 2-5 p.m., Ghent UMC, Norfolk
Reserve your spot at Contact Mark Ogren, conference director of Congregational Excellence, at 804.521.1155 or for questions.

Advocate editor looking for submissions related to Advocate magazine memories
Do you have memories of the Advocate magazine? After almost 200 years, the print and online publication will come to an end with the December 2019 issue. In upcoming issues and on the conference website, memories from around the conference will be shared. Email Madeline Pillow at or mail to the conference office: ATTN: Madeline Pillow, P.O Box 5606 Glen Allen, VA 23058.


Neglected children spark outcry for immigration reform
Cindy Johnson, a United Methodist deaconess in the Rio Texas Conference, said the process for immigrants waiting in line to present their asylum appeal to border control agents has become so difficult that people are jumping into the Rio Grande in desperation. The world got a horrible look at the consequences of that decision in an Associated Press photo of a 23-month-old baby girl and her father who drowned and were found washed up on the banks of the river after attempting to cross to the United States. Johnson has worked long and hard for immigrants at the Texas border. She is not alone, as United Methodists in the border towns are volunteering to help feed, clothe and comfort the thousands who are fleeing violence in their home countries. United Methodist agencies and organizations are calling for prayer, providing legal help and asking people to write or call elected representatives. More…

Seven Mississippi churches exit denomination
The Mississippi Annual Conference voted to approve the departure of seven churches that asked to leave the denomination. The bishop and one of the pastors involved agree the connection had been fraying for some time. Sexuality is an issue, but it goes deeper than that, said Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., resident bishop of the Mississippi Conference. More…

UMC Bishops pose five questions to Judicial Council on Traditional Plan
The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church (COB) has asked the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision as to the constitutionality, meaning, application and effect of certain petitions adopted as the Traditional Plan by the 2019 General Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri, in February. Although the Judicial Council addressed the constitutionality of all of the petitions adopted at the 2019 General Conference in Decision 1378, the COB has identified numerous issues regarding the Traditional Plan that need to be addressed for the benefit of The United Methodist Church. However, rather than submit all of those issues, the COB has determined that many of the questions identified are best addressed in the context of specific factual situations in which they arise within an annual conference. More…

Zimbabwe church using social media to spread the Gospel
United Methodists in Zimbabwe are using social media to follow church programs and attend Sunday services even if they are physically unable to attend church. Churches are using social media to reach a larger audience as increased access to the internet has transformed the way people communicate in Zimbabwe. More...

General Conference 2020 Deadline Extended for Worship Groups and Liturgists
The Rev. Meredith McNabb, VAUMC clergy delegate, second from left, is one of the worship leaders for May 11 worship at General Conference. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.United Methodist choirs, worship ensembles and liturgists from around the world have an opportunity to be part of the worship experience of the 2020 General Conference. Creatives may apply to share their talents while leading the church body during The United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly meeting May 5 -15, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn. The deadline for submission has been extended to September 15, 2019. Individuals interested in writing original liturgy for General Conference may submit a letter of application that includes a sample liturgy with five-minute devotional, call to worship and prayer of confession inspired by Philippians 3:14. Submissions must include the applicant’s name, email, phone number and local church information. Applications should be emailed to 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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