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News from the Virginia Conference - October 29, 2019

No e-Advocate for Nov. 5
There will be no e-Advocate for Nov. 5. The newsletter will be back on Nov. 12.

Apply for a website development grant
Many people visit a church’s website before they decide if they will visit a worship service. Don’t have a website? No problem! Apply for a Website Development Grant from United Methodist Communications, which includes:
•    One year of web hosting and domain name registration
•    WordPress online training and support
•    Pre-designed templates and access to Google apps   

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...

Deadline for 5 Talent Academy event is Nov. 3
Bishop Ken Carter is the keynote speaker at the clergy-only pre-event Wed. Nov. 13, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at Woodlake UMC in Chesterfield. Following this event, clergy will gather for bowling, billiards, dinner and fellowship at Uptown Alley, 6101 Brad McNeer Parkway, Midlothian, Va. The Center for Clergy Excellence is paying for lane and table fees; individuals pay meal and beverage costs.
Bishop Carter will also preach at the Five Talent Academy Event on Thurs. Nov. 14, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.The event will be livestreamed from Woodlake UMC and from 11 satellite locations around the state. Also presenting are: the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church, New York, N.Y.; the Rev. Dr. Michael Adam Beck, Wildwood UMC, Wildwood, Fla.; and the Revs. Andy and Anjie Woodworth, Neighborhood Church, Atlanta, Ga.

 DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS NOVEMBER 3! For satellite sites and to register, visit For more info, contact the Office of Congregational Excellence at 804-521-1155 or

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...

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

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

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...

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...


 Give Love: Global Ministries year-end giving campaign
Global Ministries invites you to give love, joy, hope and peace through the agency's year-end giving campaign. Between November 1 and December 31, the organization will be sharing stories of the ways gifts to Global Ministries and UMCOR have transformed the lives of people around the world. Take time to browse the digital Advance catalog and take advantage of the opportunity to become a champion for your favorite Global Ministries cause through the peer-to-peer fundraising program. By leveraging the power of social media and email you can share your passion for mission with family and friends and extend your support of a particular missionary or mission project. Starting November 1, you will be able to make a year-end gift to your favorite mission project at

Top court to look at church disaffiliation rules
The United Methodist Judicial Council is likely to consider the effects of improper voting on legislation that allows churches to leave the denomination. An amended request from the Council of Bishops now asks the denomination’s top court to consider the implications of the General Conference Commission’s finding that four ineligible voters cast a ballot during votes on that disaffiliation legislation. That request is part of the 18-item docket when the Judicial Council meets Oct. 29-Nov.1 in Evanston, Illinois. More...

United Methodists building church in Dolný Kubína
United Methodists were confused by a 2011 census that showed 33 people in the Slovakian town of Dolný Kubín who listed their religion as United Methodist. Nobody knew who they were and there had never been a Methodist congregation in the town near Poland. But these days, the Rev. Patrick Hipp is building a congregation in the town. And one day, with God’s help, there will be 33 United Methodists in Dolný Kubín. Dolný Kubín is a two-hour drive from Senec, where Hipp was minister to a new congregation. Through his work in Senec, he made contact with people from Dolný Kubín. Hipp said he looked out the window one day in Senec and saw a mother with children on the playground. “I thought: We need such families to come to our congregation. And when I asked myself why we didn’t have such families, it became clear to me that someone should talk to this woman about God’s love,” he said. 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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