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News from the Virginia Conference - October 22, 2019

UMCOR seeking Executive Director
Reporting to the General Secretary, the Executive Director of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)  is the leader of UMCOR’s programming and operations. In collaboration and in consultation with the General Secretary, the Chief Operation Officer, the UMCOR Treasurer and the Board of Directors, the incumbent sets the strategic direction and is responsible for the development, plans and objectives of the UMCOR organization. S/he leads a multidisciplinary team of 40+ staff members. The Executive Director is charged with creating a results oriented, healthy organizational culture. As a member of the Cabinet senior leadership team s/he must work in collaboration with the leadership team to collaborate and create an environment where the mission is at the forefront of the work of UMCOR. More...

Changes coming to UMFS Richmond campus
The United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) Richmond campus will soon begin transforming for the future. The front of the property has been leased to Spy Rock Real Estate Group, which will develop the land into two mixed-use buildings. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has the scoop on this project and how it provided a portion of the funds needed to help UMFS build a new Child & Family Healing Center and an addition to Charterhouse School. 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? "Voices from the Wilderness" will be available beginning Nov. 15. 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

Discipleship Ministries: How to start small groups online teaching series to open Oct. 28
One of the gifts the church offers is community - specifically, small groups where participants can gather to experience acceptance, belonging, and nurture as well as challenge and encouragement for the journey of faith. You and your church are invited to be part of this online course, along with other churches, to enhance your small group ministry. To preregister for this free course from Discipleship Ministries, visit the link. More...

Register now for Wounded Hearts-Healing Love Retreat
From Dec. 6-8, 2019 there will be the Wounded Hearts-Healing Love Spiritual Retreat for the single again from divorce, separation, or death at Overlook Retreat in Keezletown, Va. Participants will eat together, study together, discuss and delve into hurts and pains in a weekend girded in prayer. Register online for the event at

Richmond Youth choir JAM turns 25
Richmond Youth Choir JAM is celebrating 25 years of singing God’s praises. This ecumenical youth choir festival is open to singers in grades 6-12 and draws participants from several different denominations in the Richmond area as well as from Northern Virginia, the Tidewater area, southwest Virginia, and North Carolina. Youth choirs of all sizes as well as individual singers are welcome to join. This year’s festival will be Nov. 22-23 at Reveille UMC, 4200 Cary Street Road, Richmond, VA 23221. Mark Miller of Drew University will be the guest director. The festival chorus will be performing several of Miller’s compositions as well as other selections. The final concert will be at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23 at Reveille UMC. It is free and open to the public. A love offering will be taken. As an encore following the program, all Youth Choir JAM “alumni” singers and directors in the audience are invited to join the chorus in singing “Creation of Peace” by Mark Miller. For more information or to get the link for this piece, contact Ruth Lewandowski at or 804-837-7541.

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. 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...

Sign up now for conference fall youth retreat
In divided times it's easier to stick with our tribe, our comfort. Jesus offers another way that seems harder but could change the world! The conference Center for Next Generation Ministries can't wait to see the youth for the conference youth retreat on Nov. 15. Join hundreds of middle and high school youth exploring what it takes and what it looks like to be ONE! Spots are limited this year, so move quickly. Find updates, speaker bios, and videos at For questions, email or call 804-521-1135.

2020 Initiatives of Hope pilgrimage heads to Cambodia
Travel with the Rev. Glenn Rowley, director of the conference Center for Justice and Missional Excellence, to visit the rapidly-growing Methodist Church of Cambodia (MCC) from Jan. 25- Feb. 8, 2020. You will experience the energetic faith of Cambodian Christians while visiting several churches, schools, dormitories, and mission projects of the MCC. You will have opportunities to share your faith, learn about the strength of a mission partnership and experience the beauty of this ancient culture tempered by a history affected by war and genocide. Cost is $1,850 which includes airfare, hotel rooms, ground transportation, meals and emergency health/accident insurance. There are only 10 spots available. For details and to apply to go, contact Rowley at or 804-521-1143. 

2020 dates announced for All God's Children Camp
All God's Children Camp 2020 dates are set!  At camp, children, ages 7 to 12, with an incarcerated mother or father, spend a week at camp, participating in activities such as boating, swimming, hiking, archery, music, crafts, Bible study, and conflict resolution.  Partnering with Virginia United Methodist camps, All God’s Children Camp provides a week of sanctuary for children who face so many challenges in their lives: economic poverty; temporary living conditions; loneliness; low self-esteem; violence; and drugs.
Check out the dates below and then pray about becoming one of the 90 mentors needed to make this summer possible. After that, download the mentor application and send it to the address on the application form.
June 14-19 @ Camp Chanco on the James (Richmond area)
July 26-31 @ Occohannock on the Bay (Eastern Shore)
August 9-14 @Camp Chanco on the James (Richmond area)

For more information, contact Lori Smith at or 571-245-9591.  Visit the website at for more information and to download applications.

Common Table offering local church ministry grants
The Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, Virginia Conference Director of Connectional Ministries, is pleased to announce the availability of grant funds specifically for new local church ministries. The grant is a Special Ministries Grant for the 2020 calendar year. Fund eligibility includes: ministries that are specifically through local churches, ministries that began in the 2019 calendar year or proposed 2020 ministries, ministries that have not previously been funded by any conference funding organizations. Funds are also limited below the normal $10,000 grant level. Applications are available at and should be submitted by Nov. 1 to be considered.

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

Applications now open for Foundation grants
Now is the time for churches, districts and ministries across the conference to consider how they may apply for available grants from the Foundation. The deadline for completed applications is Oct. 31, 2019.  Distributions will be made in January 2020. To learn more about Foundation grants, you may visit:

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...


Volunteers needed for General Conference
Volunteers are needed for a variety of roles during the 2020 General Conference, The United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly, which will meet in Minneapolis, Minnesota from May 5-15, 2020. At this time, volunteers are needed for the following positions: recorders, channel “B” identifiers and verbatim transcribers/copy editors. Recorders will serve as members of the staff of the secretary of the General Conference and work in direct support of their assigned legislative committee. Recorders are responsible for entering data such as the time, date, and results of committee votes, as well as making changes to pre-entered petition text to reflect the amendments approved by the committee. This information is prepared for the recorder by the legislative committee secretary, who manually tracks this information as it happens. The recorder is not responsible for taking minutes or tracking the discussion of the legislative committee. Channel “B” identifiers will serve as members of the staff of the editor of the Daily Christian Advocate (DCA), the official record of the activity of the General Conference. Channel “B” identifiers will follow action of the plenary, repeating delegates’ names, annual conferences and vote tallies into a microphone. Verbatim transcribers/copy editors also serve as members of the staff of the editor of the DCA. They are responsible for using Microsoft Word to create transcriptions of the plenary session. They will listen to audio files and transcribe the recordings. Travel, double occupancy housing, and food per diem provisions will be provided. Those interested can apply now through Nov. 21, 2019. More...

2020 General Conference logo unveiled
The Commission on the General Conference has unveiled the logo for the 2020 General Conference to accompany the theme, “…and know that I am God,” based on an excerpt from Psalm 46:10. The entire verse reads: “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations. I am exalted in the earth.” (NRSV), although the verse number may vary in non-English translations. United Methodist Communications designed the logo, which is used to maintain a consistent visual identity for the 2020 General Conference. More...

Ebony Bishops Demand a Voice in Discussions on UMC Future
The Ebony Bishops of The United Methodists Church (African-American bishops serving in the United States) have called on the denomination to include African-American clergy and laity in the ongoing discussions on the future of the church, as they provide the unique voice of hope for the future, not only for the Black church, but also for the unity of the entire denomination. In a statement released Oct. 21, 2019 by co-chairs Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling of Baltimore-Washington Conference and Bishop Leonard Fairley of Kentucky Conference, the Ebony Bishops said the voice of the Black church has, within its spiritual, historical, and theological DNA, a word that needs to be spoken into the current conversations being held throughout The United Methodist Church. More... 

United Methodist works on amphibious rescue vehicle
An amphibious vehicle being developed by a United Methodist could help rescue and relief operations during frequent floods in the Philippines. Severe Weather Amphibious Navigator, or SWAN, is a research initiative by Ryan John de Lara, a layman from United Methodist City Temple in Cabanatuan City. The Philippines tops the list of countries at highest risk of climate change hazards, according to a report this summer by the Global Peace Index. The seamless movement from land to water and water to land will speed up rescue and relief operations, De Lara said. “Because the lesser the time of response, the higher the chances of rescue and survival of flood/typhoon victims.” SWAN is a prototype of an amphibious navigator made of abaca fiber composites woven into fabrics. Molded with a fiberglass-reinforced composite hull, SWAN is lighter than steel and just as strong. The vehicle is a conversion of an existing truck, with the under chassis and engine mounted to the hull to form the new vehicle. “Abaca composites will be used for the canopy of the amphibious vehicle,” De Lara said.  He said using natural fiber instead of synthetic makes it more environmentally friendly. The vehicle is designed to enhance disaster relief and response to flooding with its on-road, off-road and amphibious capabilities. It can carry up to 20 people and 200 packs of relief goods in response to the needs of communities in disaster management, particularly during rescue operations. More...

5 Talent Academy fall event- Nov. 13,14
The theme for this year’s 5 Talent event is Engage 2019: Community Transformation.  There are two events: one just for clergy and one for clergy and laity.
Wednesday, Nov. 13 will be a Clergy-only Pre-event at Woodlake UMC and will feature Bishop Ken Carter, Florida Conference UMC.  He will speak about redefining the UM connection and evangelism, the role of fresh expressions, and how to shape missional relationships in the current cultural landscape.
Thursday, Nov. 14 will be the main Clergy and Laity event at Woodlake UMC and livestreamed to 11 satellite locations around the state.  Bishop Carter will be preaching and speakers will be the Rev. Michael Adam Beck, Wildwood UMC, Wildwood, Fla.; the Rev. Jaqueline Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church, New York, N.Y.; and the Rev. Andy and the Rev. Anjie Woodworth, Neighborhood Church, Atlanta, Ga.  They will address what it looks like to be a neighborhood church, what is a community partner, and what is a fresh expression. If you plan to attend in a group from your church, every fifth person in a group registration goes free. Fees for the events are as follows: Nov. 14 event - $35; Nov. 13 & 14 events - $60; Nov. 13 event only - $50. Registration prices increase after Sept. 30.  To register, visit For questions, contact MaryKaye Cochran at

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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