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News from the Virginia Conference - Mar. 30, 2017

Bishop Lewis encourages participation in week of prayer, praying for Judicial Council
Bishop Lewis is encouraging the conference's participation in Praying Our Way Forward, the prayer ministry for the work of the Commission on The Way Forward. The Virginia Conference's week is Apr. 2-8.  Access resources for this week of prayer at the conference website. As well Bishop Lewis asks for prayer for the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church's meeting on Apr. 25-28. One of the items of discussion will be the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto. A question and answer document has been produced by the Southeastern Jurisdiction's College of Bishops in preparation for the upcoming meeting. More... 

Communications staff wins six awards at annual communicators' meeting 
The Virginia Conference Communications staff returned from the United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC) annual meeting with six awards. This included first place for Nick Ruxton, conference videographer, for his video about 2016 tornado recovery, and first place in the magazine category for The Virginia United Methodist Advocate. The annual meeting took place in New Orleans Mar. 22-24. A look at all of the Communications office's award-winning work is on display on the conference Facebook page this week. 

Deadline for early bird rate for Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation is Mar. 31
The Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation is a program of Upper Room Ministries, providing an opportunity for clergy and laity to deepen their relationship with God through a rhythm of prayer, worship, learning and reflection.  Each day will include teaching by Dr. Elaine Heath, dean of Duke Divinity School and Dr. Roger Owens of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The focus of this Academy is "Guided by Grace:  A Journey of Growth in Prayer and Community." More… 

New award to be given at Annual Conference 2017
The Virginia Annual Conference Board of Discipleship has announced a new award to be given at Annual Conference. The award, “One Matters,” recognizes significant improvement of baptisms and professions of faith. The award, which includes $1,000 and a One Matters Discipleship Award plaque, will be presented to the pastor and lay leaders of a congregation that has done significant work to make its zeros from previous years become positive numbers.Criteria for the award is a church that has a history of zero baptisms and zero professions of faith for a minimum of three to five years and has significant increases in these two areas in 2016. Applications are due no later than Friday, Apr. 21, 2017. More…

Mentors for All God’s Children Camp needed
All God's Children Camp is in need of mentors this summer for all three locations.  The camp has been expanded to three weeks and 30 mentors are needed for each location (Richmond, Jun. 18-24; Harrisonburg, Jun. 25-30; and Eastern Shore, Jul. 31-Aug. 4). Please prayerfully consider giving a week of your time to love some at risk children this summer.  It could turn out to be the best week of your summer. Please contact Lori Smith, or 571-245-9591 for more information.  More…

Newest 3-minute stir video shares about being ‘people of the book’
The Rev. Rachel May shares about being ‘people of the book’ in an age where supposedly no one is reading books anymore. May is pastor of Boulevard UMC in Richmond. 3 Minute Stir, a concept created by Paulo Lopes, conference director of Ministries with Young People, and Nick Ruxton, conference videographer, is a new VAUMC resource developing from Bishop Lewis’ charge to Virginia to “stir up the gifts” at her Welcoming Service in September. Each of these 3-minute videos is a reengagement with Scripture-based and relatable messages to be shared with small groups or youth groups. More…

UM Communications offering local church grants 
United Methodist Communications has established a series of grants and resources to support local church communications. All grants are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Grants include website development, new church starts and demographic data. More… 

Faith and Order Committee wants feedback

Knowing that the nature of The United Methodist Church is a hot topic, the Committee on Faith and Order has developed a resource to facilitate that conversation. The document is titled “Wonder, Love, and Praise: Sharing a Vision of the Church.” Bishop Scott Jones, who leads the committee, encourages United Methodists to engage in a new small-group study on the document and complete feedback forms. More…

'Middle' churches could feel pain if schism comes
United Methodist churches with diverse views on homosexuality are, their pastors say, particularly vulnerable if a denominational breakup occurs and they have to decide between aligning with a traditionalist or progressive group. “I think a choice of two options, if our church had to vote, would be a horrible strain," said the Rev. Cathy Johns, co-pastor of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in Cincinnati. More…

Commentary: Nine things preachers should never say
Many preachers hurt their message when they start off with hackneyed or formulaic phrases that fail to capture the fleeting attention of those in the pew, writes the Rev. Charley Reeb, a Florida United Methodist pastor. The Lewis Center for Church Leadership offers his suggestions. More… 

Harkness: Methodist trailblazer in theology
Georgia Harkness (1891-1974) was a theologian who broke ground for women in Methodism when the pulpits and seminaries were closed to females. Harkness was a voice for racial and gender equality, a prolific author, and her hymns and prayers are still known today. More…

Africa University turns 25
Hundreds gathered at United Methodist Africa University on March 25 to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Many supporters brought gifts and memories as they looked forward to the pan-African institution’s future. More…

Podcast on church marketing debuts
Marketing isn’t a bad word for churches; it’s merely how people tell the story of their church to the local and global community. MyCom, a newsletter of United Methodist Communications, debuts a podcast to help congregations tell their story. More…

♦ Conference-wide Week of Prayer- Apr. 2-8, 2017
A prayer movement in response to the Council of Bishops initiative is called Praying Our Way Forward. You are invited whether clery 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. Virginia Conference resources are available at 

♦ Caretakers of God's Creation Climate Justice Conference- Apr. 28
The 10th Annual Methodist Caretakers of God's Creation Conference will be held in the Washington, D.C area this year to complement the National People's Climate Justice March on Apr. 28. Mt. Olivet UMC in Arlington will act as host for the event. Please contact Jaydee Hanson at or 703-231-5956 with questions. More... 

♦ Ministers' Convocation- 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. You are encouraged to register before Holy Week to ensure lodging availability. 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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