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News from the Virginia Conference - July 9, 2019

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…

Lay Servant Academy event will be held Aug. 2-4
The 40th anniversary Lay Servant Academy will be held at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland from August 2-4. Featuring 11 different 10-hour courses for lay servant certification, recertification and/or enrichment, including Spiritual Care/Pastoral Care by the Rev. Bert Cloud; and Conflicts in Church Transformation by the Rev. Teresa Keezel and Mr. Gerry Fuss. Register today and encourage your laity to register. The deadline to register is July 19. For a brochure, course descriptions and registration, visit For questions regarding the academy, contact David Bailey, , 804-338-3168.  For help with registration, contact MaryKaye Cochran,, 804-521-1155.

Basic Early Response Team training on July 27 in Chester
Basic Early Response Team Training will be held on July 27, 2019 at Chester UMC in Chester from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration in advance is needed but payment for training can be made that day at 8:15 a.m. until class starts. Training will be held in the Davis Fellowship Hall. Church address is 12132 Percival St., Chester, VA 23831. Cost is $35; checks should be made to the Virginia Conference. For registration and other questions, contact the Rev. Kirk Culpepper at 757-434-0078 or email

Duke Divinity 2019 Convocation & Pastors’ School to be held in Oct.
Christian leaders are invited to attend Convocation & Pastors’ School, Oct. 7-8, 2019 at Duke Divinity School. This intensive two-day conference features nationally renowned speakers, powerful lectures, inspiring worship, and thought-provoking seminars. Register by Aug. 31 to take advantage of early bird pricing. More…

Join national YOUTH 2019 event in sessions online
If you can’t attend the national gathering for United Methodist youth and their leaders in Kansas City July 10-14, share the experience online. Look for links to large portions of the morning Bible studies and evening worship services at or on social media feeds from Facebook or Twitter @youth2019.

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...

Wrap-up from Annual Conference 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 the Virginia Conference information clergy and laity need, including conference news and events, updates from the bishop, information on training opportunities, and local ministry stories. The goal is to provide information through the communications channels that are most useful. The Communications Office and the Board of Communications have created a short communications survey to get feedback 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 the UM 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 churches help support 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. Contact the Communications Office to place an order at or 804-521-1110.

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 to allow for more fellowship on site with 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.


Slavery anniversary leads to new discussions
In August 1619, about 50 people from Angola arrived in Jamestown, Va. — the first African slaves in what is now the U.S. Four hundred years later, African Americans still struggle with the onerous remains of that legacy. “In 2019, after centuries of structural change, protests and policy reforms most often led by Africans and people of African descent, why do these groups still experience such disproportionately high percentages of hunger and poverty today?” wrote the Rev. Angelique Walker-Smith in the introduction to “Lament and Hope: A Pan-African Devotional Guide.” The guide, by United Methodist partner Bread for the World, was produced to help people reflect on the quad-centennial. “And why is there still such a wide wealth and income gap between these groups and individuals of European and Asian descent?” she asked. The devotional guide is among resources and events endorsed by three United Methodist agencies to help Christians study and commemorate the beginning of slavery in the U.S. More…

California-Nevada says no to withholding funds, disaffiliation
Citing Romans 12:1-5 and John Wesley’s view “On Schism,” the California-Nevada Conference Cabinet said disaffiliation of the Western Jurisdiction from The United Methodist Church is not the answer and that withholding apportionments is an expression of white privilege that could lead to lives being lost. The Cabinet issued a statement after a retreat in which the leaders reviewed the actions and discussions of the annual conference session. During the California-Nevada Annual Conference, a recommendation for redirecting general apportionment dollars was discussed and defeated. Inflicting financial punishment on United Methodists in Africa and the Philippines because they support the Traditional Plan is a clear violation of the first General Rule to “Do no harm,” the statement reads. More…

Clergy embrace becoming foster parents
Rachael Porter and the Rev. David Johnston seemed destined to be foster parents. The couple met while on staff at a United Methodist summer camp, and there were always a few foster children in attendance. One 9-year-old in particular, Johnston said, “would pick his scabs off just for the few moments of love and attention” he would get from a counselor. “It just struck something in me,” he said. “As a way of expressing God’s love of us, needing to show that to kids who wonder, ‘Is there enough love for me?’”
Porter said she’d felt a desire to adopt since middle school after reading “A Child Called It,” which documented the author’s upbringing in an abusive home. More…

Zimbabwe United Methodists focus on sports and recreation
Although most people realize that regular exercise is essential to good health, many are reluctant to take the necessary, often life-changing steps. That’s why Zimbabwe Episcopal Area Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa and his Cabinet launched a program that focuses on sports and recreation one year and choral music the next.
This year’s focus on sports and recreation involves multiple events, starting in circuits, followed by clusters of four circuits, districts, annual conferences and, finally, the entire episcopal area.
“Self-care is very important,” Nhiwatiwa said, “I always encourage my Cabinet members to exercise daily so that they keep healthy. A connection of a healthy mind and a healthy body is the key to a much happier life.” 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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