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News from the Virginia Conference - May 18, 2017

Conference offices to close for Memorial Day holiday
Virginia Conference offices in Glen Allen will close at 1 p.m. Friday, May 26, and remain closed all day Monday, May 29, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. Offices will reopen at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 30.

AC 2017 discussion about Commission on the Way Forward, called General Conference
The Rev. Tom Berlin, a Virginia Conference elder who is serving on the Commission on a Way Forward, will provide a report on the work of the Commission on June 16, in Ballroom B of the Hampton Roads Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.His report will include what to anticipate as we move toward the called General Conference in 2019. Tom will discuss why marriage and ordination of LGBTQ persons is such an important and challenging matter in the life of the UMC. He will provide ways for pastors and laity to begin to prepare for the General Conference in their churches. This will be an opportunity to ask questions and consider the work of the Commission.

Samaritan Offering 2017 from VUMH 
Seventy years ago at the 1947 Virginia Annual Conference, a report of the Board of Hospitals and Homes was adopted which requested a sacrificial offering of thanksgiving and expression of gratitude for the legacies of faith of the older adults in our lives and congregations. The Samaritan Offering was the first offering to support the mission and ministry of the Virginia Conference Home for the Aged. The Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church continues to dedicate a special offering time period for the Samaritan Program of Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc. (VUMH). Over the years, the name and time frame of the special offering have changed, but the focus has remained the same: to ensure the personal security and peace of mind of the most vulnerable residents. VUMH does not receive funds through apportionments from local churches or from Virginia Conference grants. This opportunity from Mother’s Day through Father’s Day allows them to highlight their mission, the need for benevolent care and vibrant communities for older adults. The support of this special offering is crucial not only to inform the congregation of the opportunity to give, but also to help tell the story of Conference ministries with older adults and their senior living communities. Bulletin inserts are available for each Sunday as well as other resources at the VUMH webpage.  

Study guide available to help churches discuss human sexuality
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools, in support of the Commission on a Way Forward, has released  a new study guide, “The Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness.” The study guide offers United Methodists an opportunity to facilitate constructive conversations around a cultural and ecclesial flashpoint—human sexuality. The concept for the study guide originates from an Academic Theological Colloquy that shares its name and was held at Candler School of Theology in March 2017. More… 

UMVIM training available over summer months
Forrest White, Long-term Recovery Manager and UMVIM Coordinator for the Virginia Conference, typically does not schedule training events (UMVIM team leader training, recertification training) over the summer months, but if you can guarantee the required number of persons for these trainings, eight for UMVIM team leader and five for recertification, you can contact White for his availability. White is available to speak at your church on Sunday mornings and throughout the week about long-term recovery, the process and the conference’s current recovery efforts. His open Sundays include: Jun. 4, Jun. 18, Jul. 2, Jul. 16, Jul. 23, Aug. 6, Aug. 20 and Sept. 3. Contact him at 

Cokesbury unveils new Ministry Resource Center at Annual Conferences
Cokesbury announced that it is bringing a new consultative retail experience to Annual Conferences this year with the new Cokesbury Ministry Resource Center. Focused on equipping leaders to build disciples, the Ministry Resource Center will offer the opportunity for more personalized consultations with church leaders in order to match products with their specific ministry needs. More…

Register for one of Wesley Theological Seminary’s variety of courses
Check out the variety of exciting learning opportunities this summer at Wesley Theological Seminary including courses: "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness: The Role of Scripture and Tradition in Presidential Politics," "Spirituality in Nature," "T.S. Eliot and the Search for God," and "Liturgical Dance as Spiritual Practice." Learn more and register for a class today! More...

Pray to end famine and reach 'the forgotten'
Worsening global inequality is borne out as more people face famine now than any other time in modern history, says the national coordinator of the Association of Franciscan Families of India. The Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on May 21, adds the Rev. Nithiya Sagayam, is a way of getting in touch with what he describes as “the forgotten people.” More… 

Taking church to the community
St. James United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Pa., spends more time being a church in the community than it does inside church. The church had an average of six members attending when the Rev. John Brice arrived in July 2016. Now there are 79 members and ministries include free English classes, an after-school program with free music classes, food programs, a computer lab and free wireless access for community internet use, to mention a few. More… 

Art links Christ with Syrian refugees
Wesley Theological Seminary is inviting the public to encounter the sacred through Michael Takeo Magruder’s “Lamentation for the Forsaken,” a real-time new media installation juxtaposing Christ’s journey to the cross with the plight of refugees fleeing the Syrian Civil War. The installation is laid out on the tomb of Bishop Bromley Oxnam in the chapel of the United Methodist seminary through May 19. More…

♦ United Methodist Men's Spiritual Advance- Jun. 9-11, 2017
Register now for United Methodist men's Spiritual Advance. For more information, contact Andrew Kissell, president, at or 757-839-0790. It will be held at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. More...

♦ Mission Encounter- Jul. 28-29, 2017
Mission Encounter is a cooperative event sponsored by the Virginia Conference Missional Ministries Board and the Virginia Conference United Methodist Women. This event offers a wonderful opportunity for your whole congregation to come alive to mission, by participating in an weekend mision education experience. There are classes for men, women, clergy and laity alike. This year from Jul. 28-29, the classes offered will be climate justice, living as a covenant community and the missionary conference of The UMC in the United States (Red Bird, Oklahoma and Alaska). Contact Gail Sutcliffe with questions at 703-490-3381. Event will be held at Bon Air UMC in Chesterfield. 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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