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News from the Virginia Conference - Mar. 1, 2017

Bishop Lewis released statement at faith leader conference 
A press conference was held by faith leaders at the General Assembly Building in Richmond on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Its purpose was to address various immigration issues, particularly immigrants' rights, from the perspective of the various faith communities represented. Bishop Sharma Lewis was not able to attend because of a week of previously scheduled Cabinet meetings. However, she provided the following statement to be read on her behalf:

“Throughout the Bible, the people of God are called to love immigrants in our midst, treating them ‘as if they were one of your citizens and loving them as we do ourselves.’ (Leviticus 19: 33-34, New International Version).

According to our Social Principles, The United Methodist Church recognizes, embraces and affirms all persons regardless of country of origin as members of the family of God. We urge the church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all.
We oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or include detention of families with children, and we call on local churches to be in ministry with immigrant families.”  (The United Methodist Church--Social Principles 162H)

Fieldstone UMC program seeking summer interns
Project SPY (Summer Project Youth) is seeking interns for summer 2017. There are several positions available including worship and programming, food service and construction. Project SPY takes place at Fieldstone UMC in Christiansburg, Va. Summer staff members are expected to live at Fieldstone for the summer. Each intern is paid each week for a total of $3,000 for the summer. For more information or to submit an application, contact Erin Johnson at or 540-260-3402. 

Ministers' Convocation to be held May 8-10, 2017
Register now for Ministers' Convocation, "Making Space for Yourself and Others," which will be held May 8-10 at Virginia Crossings Wyndham Hotel & Conference Center.  Workshop information is now available. You are encouraged to register before Holy Week to ensure lodging availability. More ...

March readings available for 2017 Bible Challenge 
Keep up with Bishop Lewis’ Bible challenge to the conference with the updated readings for the month of March. More… 

Conference-wide Week of Prayer will be Apr. 2-8
A prayer movement in response to the Council of Bishops initiative is called Praying Our Way Forward. You are invited whether clergy or laity to pray for God’s guidance. The Virginia Conference will hold its designated Week of Prayer from Apr. 2-8. The website will host prayer resources and prayer support for the church.Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of North Alabama Conference and Bishop Al Gwinn serve as co-chairs of the Praying Our Way Forward movement. “Our prayer focus is two-fold: We are praying that God will help us to fulfill the mission of the church, and we are praying to be one in Christ,” said Bishop Wallace-Padgett. More…

Open house at Union Presbyterian Seminary for local church leaders, seminarians
The Instructional Resource Center (IRC) at Union Presbyterian Seminary's Library, Richmond, is extending an invitation to their Spring Open House for local church leaders and seminarians on Mar. 7-9 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.  A variety of short seminars (15-30 minutes) helpful to those in ministry will be available including "Creating Weekly Video Teasers," "Church Meetings in your Pajamas,"  "Church Websites 101" and "Podcasting." A full seminar list is available.Staff will be there to answer questions about curriculum, digital learning, new ideas or the resources of the entire theological library.  The IRC is located on the second floor of William Morton Smith Library on the campus on Union Presbyterian Seminary (3401 Brook Road Richmond, VA 23227). Seminars will be in the Digital Learning Lab, room 203. If you have questions please contact Jay McNeal at 804-278-4317 or

Artist works to disrupt 'cradle-to-prison' pipeline
Ndume Olatushani is one of the featured artists in the Stations of the Cross art exhibit in Washington, which begins at the United Methodist Building. Olatushani spent 28 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. More… 

Religion and Race at the border
Directors of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race dedicated a day of their Feb. 22-25 meeting to learn about the realities of immigrants, refugees and borderland communities. The trip included travel through the San Ysidro Port of Entry as well as worship and communion at the border wall between California and Mexico. More… 

Center preserves African-American Methodist history
For many years, there was a concern that the legacy of African-Americans in Methodism was being lost because heirs were not always aware that items like papers, journals or photographs were of value to the church. The African-American Methodist Heritage Center was created in 2001 to “preserve, protect and promote” that history. More… 

Church: Don’t deport 'Dreamers'
As President Trump moves forward with a more restrictive approach to immigration, some United Methodist leaders are supporting a bill in Congress that would extend protection from deportation to "Dreamers" — young people brought into the United States illegally as children. More… 

How to do video announcements 
Video announcements may seem daunting, but creating them is a great introduction to basic video editing and could really breathe new life into all areas of your ministry. What starts off as people making announcements in front of a camera could blossom into beautiful ministry spotlights. More… 

♦ 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 

♦ Bishop's Convocation on Prayer- Apr. 1, 2017
Registration is now open for The Bishop's Convocaiton 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. A workshop in Spanish is also being offered. 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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