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News from the Virginia Conference - November 29, 2018

Basic Early Response Team training to be held on Dec. 8
Basic Early Response Team (ERT) training will be held on Dec. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at High Street UMC in Courtland. Registration in advance is needed although payment can be made that day at 8:15 a.m. until the class starts. Church address is 31164 Camp Parkway, Courtland, VA 23851. Cost is $35 and checks should be made to the Virginia Conference. For registration, contact the Rev. Kirk Culpepper at 757-434-0078 or email

Learn more about Convergence summer program for high school students
Convergence: Where Faith and Science Meet is a nine-day program (June 22-30, 2019) that allows current 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students to come to Randolph-Macon’s campus in Ashland, Va., and learn about the intersection of science and Christian faith. They will dive deeper into their religious beliefs, deeper into the study of science, and will meet other high school students and Randolph-Macon College student leaders with those same interests. There will be time in the classroom and outdoor experiences throughout the region. The cost to participate is only $250. Upon high school graduation, if a Convergence participant chooses to attend Randolph-Macon, they will receive a $1,000 annual scholarship for each year they participated in Convergence.  If you would like to nominate a participant, you can fill out the nomination form, and the Convergence staff will contact your nominee with further information. The application form for participants is available here. Please contact the Rev. Kendra Grimes or Laura Ruxton  at with any questions about the program. More...

Learn more about Shenandoah University’s summer institute for high school students
Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute (SUYTI) is a 14-day institute (July 14-27, 2019) where high school students explore the exciting intersection of faith and justice. Upon completion of the institute, and a self-identified justice project in their local context, students receive three credits from Shenandoah University. At SUYTI students spend one week at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. and one week at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Each day includes worship, class time with world class professors, compelling afternoon immersive experiences and mentoring from undergraduate and seminary students. The cost for students in 2019 is only $200. SUYTI is open to current 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. If you would like to nominate a student, you can fill out a nomination form. You can find the 2019 student application and more information on the website at  For more information, please contact the Rev. Colleen Hallagan Preuninger ( 540-665-5453.

UMFS is official conference December offering
United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) is honored to be the official conference offering for December. Local churches have been faithful partners for over 118 years. It is because of Virginia Conference support that this ministry has continued to grow and bear good fruit. Today UMFS serves high-risk children and families across the commonwealth, providing foster care and community based services, specialized therapeutic education and residential treatment services. Support for UMFS creates brighter futures for high-risk children. UMFS thanks you for your partnership in this ministry! Bulletin inserts and offering envelopes were recently mailed to each church to assist with the offering. You can order additional printed copies or download an electronic copy of the bulletin insert at, or contact Brenda Foster at or 804-254-9450 for assistance.

Clergy invited to Florida outdoor learning event
Clergy are invited to participate in a unique outdoor learning event that will take place in southern Florida in February 2019. This event will be an opportunity to experience and learn about the changing ecosystems of the Everglades National Park and the Big Cypress National Preserve and to reflect upon possible parallels to the changes in church and other cultural systems. This active and experiential event will be based at the Florida UMC’s Riverside Camp from Monday, February 25 through Saturday, March 2. The event is being organized by two Virginia Conference clergy, Janine Howard and Steve Jones, and will be limited to 12 participants.  Previous camping, etc. is not required, but participants need to be able to take part in physical outdoor activities. CEU’s are available to participants. For further information, contact Steve Jones at

Support Una Familia ministry
Una Familia, which began in 2013, serves primarily Hispanic/Latino families on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The ministry seeks to fulfill the call to be Una Familia (One Family) by responding to the needs of the poor, marginalized and underserved community.This ministry provides after-school tutoring to elementary school children from three elementary schools in Accomack and Northampton counties on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Local churches each host a site one day a week. During summer months, Una Familia provides tutoring twice a week for a six-week period. Beginning 2019, Una Familia will initiate a high school program to assist students in the discernment of vocation, working toward vocational training, college, interview techniques, essay writing and more. Una Familia is also beginning a partnership with Just Neighbors (a nonprofit organization) in order to provide low cost/no cost immigration services to families locally. This ministry solely depends on individuals, churches and occasional grants to complete its work. If you would like to support this ministry, donations can be mailed to:Una Familia (payable), PO Box 317, Parksley, VA 23421. You can also donate on their website at

Share your stories in February 2019 Advocate issue
The Advocate office would welcome your submissions for the February 2019 issue. The issue will be focused on "Relationship Heartbreak" with the deadline of Dec. 10. We have all been there. We have all felt loneliness and pain that comes from heartbreak, no matter the source. Share your reflections on how you grew from heartache or heartbreak whether romantic, familial or involving a friendship. How can we best be an aid to those around us dealing with this pain? How has your faith journey been shaped by these feelings? How did your faith help you through these feelings? Submit all stories, contacts for stories or ideas to Advocate editor at

Advocate magazine 2019 media kit now available 
The 2019 Advocate magazine media kit, which includes deadlines and issue feature topics, is now available on the conference website. Please email Advocate editor Madeline Pillow at with any corresponding story ideas or contacts or any other stories throughout the year.  More…

Clergy Spouses Retreat to be held in March
Are you anticipating some kind of major transition in 2019? Maybe a new appointment or the results of February's denominational vote? This session is designed exclusively for you – the clergy spouse! Retreat on Mar. 8-9, 2019 will include small group discussions and time to connect with other clergy spouses. Theme is "Healthy Transitions for Clergy Spouses" by Julie Anderman of Artos Retreats. Anderman, a clergy spouse in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference for 20 years, co-founded Artos Retreats two years ago out of a calling to improve the well-being of clergy spouses through connection and learning. Before starting Artos, Anderman provided independent instructional design and communications consulting for over 20 years. She has facilitated small group learning in both corporate and church environments for 25 years. Location will be Blessings Lodge at Camp Overlook, near Harrisonburg. Cost is $100 with accommodations and meals. Registration will be available soon. Contact Judy Hall at 804-264-0524 with any questions. More…

United Methodist Day at General Assembly is Jan. 31
ow that the election is over. . . Would you like to continue to make an impact in having your voice heard? Then register today for United Methodist Day at the General Assembly! Register by December 28 and pay $30 early registration. After December 28, pay $40 until January 11 when registration closes. Hotel reservations can be made for January 30 at the Hyatt Place, 201 Arboretum Place, Richmond, 23236, near Bon Air UMC. Call 804-560-1566 to make your reservation and mention “Virginia United Methodist Conference” to receive a special room rate of $109/night (single or double). Hotel reservation deadline is Dec. 31, 2018. Contact the Rev. Barbara Lewis, registrar, with questions at More… 

Africa University pilots HIV self-testing
An HIV self-testing project has allowed Africa University to measure and to promote the use of the self-test kits by students. The program also strengthened the university's network of peer educators and their outreach to other young people from the surrounding area. The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries provided funding through the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area's health board. More…

Congregation's children, youth create bulletin art
At Ellendale United Methodist Church, worshippers can't wait to see the bulletin. That's because it's illustrated with drawings by children and youth that reflect on the Scripture passages, sermon subjects and worship themes. The Rev. Jeff Rudy writes about a project that allowed children to share their gifts weekly. More…

Still ushering after all these years
At Hennepin Avenue UMC in Minneapolis, the "star usher," according to the Rev. Judy Zabel, is Bill Pilgrim. The 101-year-old is still at it after 79 years, ushering at the 10 a.m. Sunday service and meeting with the "recyclers" repair group on Wednesday afternoons. More…

♦ Conference center closed for Christmas observance- Dec. 21-26, 2018
The Virginia United Methodist Conference Center will be closed for Christmas observance starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21 and will remain closed through Wednesday, Dec. 26

♦ Conference center closed for New Year's Day observance- Jan. 1, 2019
The Virginia United Methodist Conference Center will be closed for New Year's Day observance on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. 

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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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
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PO Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
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