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News from the Virginia Conference - November 26, 2019

Notice: Conference center closes for Thanksgiving observance
The Virginia Conference United Methodist Center will close in observance of Thanksgiving beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27 and remain closed through Friday, Nov. 29.

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...

Conference DCM invites vision alignment input
The Virginia Conference Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) the Rev. Dr. Ted Smith is asking for feedback as the conference betters align itself to the conference vision that was shared by Bishop Lewis at Annual Conference 2017. Vision alignment feedback may be sent to More... 

Final issue: Get your December Advocate now!
The final Advocate magazine is now available online and in print. Readers share their favorite Advent and Christmas hymns and the Rev. Drew Willson shares about music during the holiday seasons. As the magazine end its tenure, Advocate editor Madeline White née Pillow shares: “On a final note, it has been my great honor to edit this publication for the last four years. I am thankful for those who have come before me and the work they have done as faithful people of God. I am also grateful for our tremendous staff whose love and talent for this shone through every issue. I am grateful for you, dear readers. Thank you for joining us on this journey.” You may contact the Communications Office to place your order for any 2019 issue at or 804-521-1110.

Sign up for mindfulness workshop in Richmond
During one of the busiest seasons of the year, you're invited to carve out a quiet time on Sundays in December to learn and practice the ability to calm your mind with Koru Mindfulness, a unique, evidence-based curriculum specifically developed for teaching mindfulness, meditation and stress-management. Roger Mancastroppa will teach course the four-week course in December at 9:30 a.m. at Westhampton UMC in Richmond. More... 

Start 2020 off right-- 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 2020 will feature 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

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.

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...

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...


US dips below majority of membership
The U.S.’s majority status in The United Methodist Church is coming to an end — and may be there already. That’s according to projections from the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration — based on the continuing decline in U.S. membership as much as growth in Africa. According to the agency’s forecast, total membership in the central conferences — church regions in Africa, the Philippines and Europe — will exceed that of the U.S. jurisdictions in 2020. “Based on trends that have occurred over the last several years, we are annually averaging a decline of 2.0 percent overall for the jurisdictional membership,” Kevin Dunn, the agency’s director of data services, told the GCFA board at its November meeting.  “We may fall below 6 million (U.S.) members by 2025.” More...

Making medical care more affordable in Congo
The United Methodist Church in Congo is helping make medical treatment more affordable for the country’s most vulnerable. The Vulnerable Association of Savings and Credit helps members pay lower costs at United Methodist hospitals and encourages self-sufficiency. A group of United Methodist hospitals started the savings and credit organization in 2018 to assist those living in poverty with medical treatment. It requires members to contribute a lump sum or agree to invest a set amount for at least six months, said Kanku Mubuto, a vice president of the Vulnerable Association of Savings and Credit in Bukavu. After six months, members start to benefit. When there is a need for hospital care, the savings and credit institution pays half of the bill. The members also begin earning interest on their money. The association will provide microloans to help members start small businesses, such as selling fish, corn flour, tomatoes, sugar or embers for cooking. There are five credit offices set up at health centers and hospitals operated by The United Methodist Church. More...

Faithful giving in a time of change
“Faithful Giving in a Time of Change,” a roundtable discussion of connectional giving in The United Methodist Church, features panelists who work with giving and budgets at all levels of the denomination. The video discussion seeks to explain the role of giving in the church, as well as shed light on what has happened with apportioned giving in the denomination since the special General Conference earlier this year. This page contains a video of the full discussion, as well as shorter videos that focus on specific discussions such as giving trends, the budget process and the apportionment system. 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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