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News from the Virginia Conference - November 19, 2019

Delegation endorses Tom Berlin as bishop candidate
The Virginia Conference delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences voted to endorse Berlin, senior pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon, as a candidate for bishop during a delegation meeting on Saturday, Nov. 16. More...

Learn more about Doctor of Ministry degree at Wesley
A Wesley Doctor of Ministry degree enhances your leadership abilities at a time of change when the need for nimble, innovative, visionary church leaders does not change; you can be prepared to lead in changing times with a Wesley Doctor of Ministry degree. Wesley is currently accepting applications for its 2020 and 2021 D.Min. incoming classes.

2020  Focus Areas (May 2020 start) - Application deadline: Feb. 15, 2020
•    Church Leadership Excellence (in cooperation with the Lewis Center for Church Leadership)
•    NEW in 2020: "The world is my parish": Engagement with the World from a Wesleyan/Methodist Perspective  - ground your leadership in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition as you innovate and engage with a globalized and interconnected world.

2021 Focus Areas  - (January 2021 start) -Application deadline: Oct. 15, 2020
•    Art and Theology
•    Soul Care

2021 Focus Areas  -  (June 2021 start) -Application deadline: Feb. 15, 2020
•  NEW in 2021: Cambridge UK: For the Sake of the World: Church Transformation in Wesleyan Perspective (in cooperation with Wesley House, Cambridge, UK)

Curious? Need more answers? Join the school for their Doctor of Ministry Information Day on Jan. 14, 2020. More information is available at or by contacting or calling 202-885-8659.

Stay up-to-date on latest Bishop Lewis news
You can always follow up on the latest news and statements from Bishop Lewis on the conference website as well as learn about her new book and upcoming Educational Opportunities trip in 2020. More... 

Virginia church choir performs at Carnegie Hall 
The world premiere of composer/conductor Joseph Martin’s Christmas Evergreen with the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Singers as well as his festive work Christmas Dreams took place in New York City on Nov. 17 at Carnegie Hall. One of the featured choirs was from Chester UMC in Chester led by music director Josh Wortham. There were over 200 voices featured with a full orchestra. The choir and Wortham were thrilled to be a part. Typically, choirs are told to submit auditions for these types of events and only a small percentage get an audition to participate. The church choir was actually discovered on YouTube and they were invited to join. "Words cannot describe the feeling of singing on a stage where the world’s finest performers have performed," Wortham said. "I saw God on the faces of friends and strangers all weekend. I heard God whisper in quiet moments in Carnegie Hall and I watched the Spirit dance as inspired music filled the hall. In the midst of rehearsal and performance alike, I know that God’s heart smiled with delight as we declared the mystery and miracle of Christmas."

All God's Children Camp participating in #GivingTuesday
This year All God's Children Camp will be participating in #GivingTuesday again. The goal is to get all 90 kids sponsored for 2020 camp. All God' Children Camp is for children with an incarcerated parent where they learn self-esteem building and conflict resolution as well as enjoy and experience camp life. Each child's sponsorship costs $425. This covers a full week overnight camp where they will be involved in the activities camp has to offer (stand-up paddleboard, boating, fishing, swimming, tubing, canoeing, archery, ropes course, rock walls, zip lines and much more). Please consider helping this year during #GivingTuesday either through Facebook, the website below, or mailing it to The Virginia United Methodist Conference Center at P.O. Box 5606 Glen Allen VA, 23058, Attn: Becky Tate. You don't have to wait for #GivingTuesday (Nov. 26). You can donate through mail or at the website at any time. However, Facebook donations will not be available until Nov. 26. Please contact Lori Smith at 571-245-9591 or with any questions. More...

Clergy anticipating retirement at 2020 Annual Conference must review and submit information by Feb. 15
From the Center for Clergy Excellence: If you are anticipating retirement at the 2020 Annual Conference session, please review information around retirement at Letters requesting retirement are to be sent to the bishop’s office, copying your district superintendent and the Center for Clergy Excellence by Feb. 15. If you have any questions, please contact the Rev. Lindsey Baynham in the Center for Clergy Excellence at

Support UMFS December offering
United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) is the Virginia Conference designated offering for December. UMFS deeply appreciates the support of local churches in this ministry, helping high-risk children create a brighter future. In the next few days, each church in the conference should receive a packet to support you with the offering, including 25 bulletin inserts and 25 offering envelopes. If you contacted the organization earlier for a different amount, you will receive a custom order with the amount you requested. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like additional materials. This year an electronic printer-friendly version of the bulletin insert, a short UMFS video, and other worship resources are available at Please contact Jill Gaynor ( or 804-254-9463) with any questions, or to place an order for additional materials.

Global Ministries to commission New United Methodist EarthKeepers for Environmental Stewardship
Global Ministries will commission 67 new EarthKeepers from 23 conferences in an online service today at 8 p.m. ET at This service will affirm the EarthKeepers in their call to the ministry of creation care and will bless their work in their communities. Virginia Conference's Rosina Snow will be commissioned at the service. EarthKeepers is a training program to equip United Methodists in the United States for environmental stewardship. Participants spend three and a half days immersed in discussions on theology, United Methodist resources, community organizing, and anti-racism, and then use what they learn to develop an environmental project for their churches and communities. It serves as both a launchpad for people looking to turn an idea into action, and an incubator for people who want to deepen an existing ministry. Participants develop plans in conversation with their peers, troubleshooting ideas and sharing strategies.This year’s participants range in age from 13 to 83 and are from annual conferences in every United States Jurisdiction.

Help struggling people this Christmas season
Not all Christmases are white – some are blue, especially for those who are grieving or experiencing other struggles. Prepare to offer hope and healing through a “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night” worship service this holiday season. Lift up any darkness to the God of Light by sharing an online Blue Christmas video prayer service from The Upper Room with members of your congregation. More...

Celebrate Heart Havens Month
Help Heart Havens share their message of inclusion and empowerment across the Virginia Conference. The organization empowers adults with developmental disabilities to live and thrive in their community. Heart Havens depends on the support of church friends during February to sustain their mission as they do not receive any funding from conference apportionments. Please contact them to learn about participating in Heart Havens month. Additional electronic resources will be available on their website in January. Contact Sara Becker at 804-237-6097 or for more information. More…

Reimbursement for Advocate magazine subscriptions available
If your subscription to the Virginia Advocate runs past 2019, you may contact the conference Communications Office to get a reimbursement or to donate your remaining balance to ongoing communications efforts or UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). Contact the Communications Office at 804-521-1110 or email expiration date can be found on the mailing label of the magazine.

Registration open for UM Day 2020
Registration is now open for United Methodist Day at the General Assembly in 2020 presented by the Virginia Board of Church & Society, United Methodist Women and the Virginia Legislative Network Committee. The date for the event is Jan. 30, 2020. This year there will be a new location for the event at The Pace Center, 700 W. Franklin Street in Richmond.  Learn more…

Abingdon Press devotions feature Virginia clergyperson
Providing daily devotions for Christians preparing to celebrate Christ's birth, this annual favorite from Abingdon Press is a great resource for members of the congregation. The seemingly simple handout is filled with opportunities for spiritual renewal and to focus on the coming Christ at the center of both the season and in your life. Beginning on the first Sunday of Advent and ending on Christmas Day, each day's devotional includes a suggested Scripture, a short devotion, and a closing prayer.This year's devotions are written by the Rev. Teer Hardy, associate pastor of Mount Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington. More...

Wesley Foundation at UVA offers an Advent devotional
LGBTQ students, alumni and friends of the Wesley Foundation at UVA are collaborating to provide a collection of daily devotions to help all persons—gay or straight, conservative or progressive, and everything in between—nurture and grow their faith. Allow this Advent season to bring light into the darkness as these silenced voices offer insight and understanding of our shared journeys of faith. The Foundation is pleased to amplify these voices and to offer the devotional to you for a small donation to support the mission and ministry of the Wesley Foundation at UVA. Perhaps you want to share this with a small group or Sunday school class in your church? Visit Wesley’s website for full details and donation information. More...

Best practices for church finances
As with any business, churches can find themselves vulnerable to situations such as embezzlement and fraud if proper procedures are not put in place to safeguard funds. Learn more about best practices for your church in regards to church finances with this article providing information from the conference Treasurer's Office.  More...

Plan to study at Wesley Theological Seminary
Start 2020 off right – plan to study at Wesley Theological Seminary! Need a time of refreshment following the busy Advent/Christmas season? Why not take a retreat week and come to J-Term at Wesley? Exciting courses will be taught over an intensive one- or two-week period in January 2020 – take the course for credit or audit (Attention, Wesley graduates: all alumni may audit one of these J-Term classes for free).
Some of our J-Term courses:
•    A Black Theological Critique of Spike Lee  -  Dr. Asa Lee
•    Worship in Popular Culture – Dr. Anna Petrin
•    Faith on Film – Dr. Deryl Davis
•    Bodies, Books and God – Dr.  Katherine Brown

Wesley’s spring term class selections have just been announced. Choose from a wide range of challenging topics in a format that fits with your busy life – days, evenings, weekends, online, and hybrid. Choose from courses like:

•   BioEthics and Pastoral Care – Dr. Sondra Wheeler (daytime/afternoon)
•   Caring for Community Through Non-Profit  Organizations – Dr. Jana Strukova (Hybrid -online/weekend)
•   The Holy in Washington, D.C. Art: Art as Embodiment – Dr. Aaron Rosen (daytime/afternoon)
•   Swords, Spaceships and Salvation – Dr. Rick Elgendy (online)
•   Ecology and Moral Community - Dr. Joe Bush (daytime/afternoon)
•   When does life begin and end? - Rabbi Fred Reiner (daytime/morning)
•   The Art of Toni Morrison and the Problem of Theodicy – Dr. Josiah Young (evenings)

Deadline to register is Dec. 15, 2019. For more information about Wesley’s J-Term or spring courses in 2020, contact Wesley Admissions today at or call 202-885-8659 or go to

Special Sunday: United Methodist Student Day is Nov. 24
Celebrate United Methodist Student Day Sunday on a date that is convenient for your congregation. Official date: Nov. 24, 2019 but you can pick a date of your choosing as well. Across the country, the people of The United Methodist Church are serving the people God loves in Jesus’ name. We’re doing it at home, but so often we’d like to do more.

-We want to serve those in other places who are suffering.
-We want to offer spiritual words of hope and life.
-And we want to be well-equipped to do both!
But the reality for most of us is that our responsibilities—home, family, work—don’t allow us to engage with every need we’d like to meet. Right now there are UMC young people—who might not have had the resources to attend a school of their choice, or, for some, any school at all—who’ve been sent by you into the world God loves because of your giving to United Methodist Student Day. When you give generously you are support these students as they prepare for a life that unites faith with knowledge. What no one person or congregation can do alone, we’re doing together. More...

Help provide aid to Bahamas through UMCOR
As Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc on the Bahamas, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) awarded a solidarity grant to Bahamas Methodist Habitat, the Disaster Ministry of the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church. This grant provides immediate, emergency short-term funding to address the basic human needs of those affected by this catastrophic storm. You can join with UMCOR by donating to our disaster response and recovery funds. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
Give to International Disaster Response and Recovery (Advance # 982450)
Give to United States Disaster Response and Recovery (Advance # 901670

Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation event to be held in 2020
"Songs for the Journey" will be the theme for the Virginia Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation event from Mar. 15-20, 2020. The event will be held at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond and will be a week of renewal, worship, prayer and learning with faculty, Dr. Don E. Saliers and Rabbi Rachel Barenblat. More...


Group of bishops calling for ‘deeper conversations’
Bishops process off the stage during the May 3 worship service at General Conference. Bishop Kammerer is in pink blazer. UMNS photo by Kathleen Barry.Eight United Methodist bishops are calling for a new form of unity amid differences over human sexuality that seem to be pushing The United Methodist Church toward a split. Bishops Scott J. Jones, Eduard Khegay, Michael Lowry and Mark J. Webb, along with retired Bishops Lindsey Davis, Alfred W. Gwinn Jr., Robert E. Hayes Jr. and Young Jin Cho, signed a statement and offered it to the church calling for “deeper conversations regarding new expressions of Methodist witness.” They asked United Methodists who agree with the statement to sign it. “It is time to be honest about our current reality,” reads the statement. “The events since the adjournment of the Special Session of General Conference illustrate how deep our division is. Sadly, even greater discord, chaos and fighting loom on the horizon at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis.” More...

Central Conference Bishops wholeheartedly support proposal for a U.S. Regional Conference
At last week's Council of Bishops Meeting, the United Methodist Central Conference College of Bishops stated that they will promote and solidly support the Connectional Table's (CT’s) legislation to General Conference 2020 that will create a new structure for churches in the United States.  This structure will be called the United States Regional Conference. The central conference bishops made this decision at their meeting on November 1, then shared the decision with the entire Council of Bishops on November 6 following the CT's presentation to the full council.  The full council had previously affirmed the CT proposal.  In addition, the central conference bishops asked their steering committee to invite representatives of the CT to present their proposal to central conference delegates to General Conference. "I am grateful for the strong support of the Central Conference bishops for the proposal for the U.S. as a regional conference," said Bishop Christian Alsted, Chair of the Connectional Table and bishop of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal area.  "I believe this proposal will enable us to live more fully as a worldwide church. It will give the U.S. church a structure to deal with its unique missional challenges and to do its visionary, strategic and administrative work. The Central Conference bishops know the value of being able to make adaptations and to supplement the general Book of Discipline, and I believe they wish to extend this privilege to the entire church. Furthermore, this will free the general conference to focus its work on worldwide concerns and to become a forum that leads the church forward in God's mission." More...

Help sought to save historic church, cemeteries
Ramiro Ramirez traveled with his wife and family from southwest Texas just to tell the story of how the border wall threatens Jackson Chapel United Methodist Church and two cemeteries. They told the story for anyone who would listen, but especially for members of the U.S. Congress. The Ramirez family stood in front of the U.S. Capitol during an early cold spell Nov. 14, and again told their story — this time with help. Four members of Congress spoke, as did members of grassroots advocacy organizations and a district superintendent from The United Methodist Church. Ramirez, a longtime United Methodist, holds the deed of two cemeteries and a building – Jackson Chapel United Methodist Church in San Juan, Texas, just east of McAllen. The church is right on the Mexico/United States border. Ramirez’s great-grandfather, Martin Jackson, built the chapel on the property in 1874. Ramirez has relatives buried in the cemeteries going back generations and he and his wife plan to be buried there, too. But he’s unsure, now, if he’ll be able to visit those relatives in the future, or if his descendants will be able to visit his grave. That’s because the proposed border wall between Mexico and the United States would split the cemeteries in two. 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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