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News from the Virginia Conference - September 17, 2019

Bishop Lewis returns to episcopal office    
After a six-month medical leave, Bishop Lewis returned to her episcopal office on Sept. 9. In this video, she shares her thanks for Bishop Pete Weaver's interim leadership for the Virginia Conference and more about her return. She encourages all churches to share this video widely with their congregations. The video is also available in Korean and Spanish. More….

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

Upcoming events for youth, young adults
Exploration 2019, Nov. 1-3, is an event for college students who are exploring a call into ministry. Exploration creates sacred space for young adults, ages 18-26, to be in meaningful fellowship, passionate worship,theological reflection, and practical workshops as they discern whether God’s call on their life is to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church and what faithful steps they can take in response. For more information, go to Exploration 2019 or contact Joanna Dietz in the Center for Clergy Excellence at

Valuing the Voices in Our Church is an opportunity for high school  sophomores, juniors, and seniors to come together to explore their own gifts and graces for leadership, consider what vocation God is calling them to and to hear and grow in appreciation of a diverse chorus of voices who are leading in the church today. Participants will gather at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. on Saturday, Oct. 26. The remaining meetings will be virtual throughout the year. For more information, go to Valuing the Voices in Our Church. Scholarships and Loans are available for seminarians. For more information, contact Joanna Dietz in the Center for Clergy Excellence. Or fill out the application and return it to the Center for Clergy Excellence. Due date is Oct. 13. More...

Upcoming open houses at Wesley Theological Seminary to answer questions about 'call'
While it is a challenging time in the church, there are still people called by God to ministry. Wesley Theological Seminary said it believes God's call is constant, and Wesley wants to be there to answer their questions on being formed to serve God's church and world. If you know someone struggling with a call or has questions about seminary, encourage them to attend Wesley’s upcoming open houses, "Welcome Table" event  on Sept. 26, or the "Window on Wesley" event on Oct. 15. They’ll experience a class, meet professors and students, and experience the Wesley community of faith and learning. Visit link for more information and to register. More... 

November Advocate needs your stories about having 'hearts of gratitude'
The November Advocate needs your stories! This issue will be focusing on “Hearts of Gratitude.” November is that time of year when we pause to give thanks for what we have and the people who are in our lives. For what are you grateful this year? How can we take time out of our busy schedules to be grateful? Share your stories or ideas to Madeline Pillow, Advocate editor, by Sept. 24 at

Clergy asked to attend ‘Re-Calibrate’ event with Bishop Lewis
All Virginia Conference clergy are invited to “Re-Calibrate,” a day apart experience to reconnect, celebrate and have a healing moment with Bishop Lewis. The event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Location will be the Virginia State University Multi-Purpose Center (20809 2nd Avenue, Petersburg, VA 23803). Clergy are asked to make this gathering a priority to attend whether they are active, retired, bi-vocational, extension ministers, or supply pastors. Registration for the event is available at the link. Questions may be directed to your district superintendent. More…

Missionary couple speaking at several Virginia churches
John Nday and Florence Kaying are a missionary couple serving at Cambine Mission in the South Mozambique Annual Conference. John is serving as agricultural coordinator and Florence is a nurse practitioner serving in maternity and child health at the Cambine Hospital and Clinic. They are both originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are currently visiting several churches in Virginia where you can hear them share about their ministries:
   Sunday, Oct. 6:  Heritage UMC (Lynchburg District)
   Monday, Oct. 7: Keezletown UMC (Harrisonburg District)
   Tuesday, Oct. 8: Mount Carmel UMC, Covington (Staunton District)
   Wednesday, Oct. 9: Waynesboro/Stuarts Draft location TBD (Staunton District)
   Friday, Oct. 11: Hillsboro UMC, Lovettsville (Winchester District)
   Sunday, Oct. 13: Great Falls UMC (Arlington District)

For more information, contact Ann Klotz, Missionary Itineration Coordinator for the conference Missional Ministries Board, at

Goodson Preaching Academy presenting one-day event
The Goodson Academy of Preaching presents a one-day event “Preaching Through Troubling Times,” with keynote speaker Rev. Dr. John W. Kinney.  The event will be held Monday, Oct. 14, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Providence UMC in Chesterfield. Cost for the day is $35, which includes lunch; 0.5 CEU is available. Contact the Rev. Mandy Newman at or (757) 630-6518 with questions. More... 

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:

United Methodist churches invited to Unwrap Christmas in communities around the globe
When it comes to what matters most at Christmas, people say that it’s spending time with family and friends. United Methodist Communications’ 2019 Unwrap Christmas event campaign is designed to help local churches offer meaningful places for people to connect with one another throughout the Advent season. United Methodist Communications is supporting these outreach efforts by offering event grants and other resources to local United Methodist churches. Congregations are encouraged to plan events, such as free cocoa stands in busy shopping areas, toy giveaway or food packaging experiences, holiday music concerts in parks or live Nativity scenes, as a way to connect people with faith communities. Grant recipients will receive promotional items and resources for the events. Congregations that are interested in hosting an Unwrap Christmas event may apply for a limited number of event grants while they are still available. Even without an event grant, churches can host an Unwrap Christmas event using a planning guide developed by United Methodist Communications to make organizing for Advent outreach simple. In addition to the Unwrap Christmas events, United Methodist Communications is offering customizable Advent resources to all churches. A limited number of $300 grants to offset the costs of the invitational items are available. Learn more at

Kindred Project invites you to pray
The Kindred Project invites all clergy and lay persons to join them in deepening awareness to God’s presence. The Kindred Project ( is a group of clergy and laity who gather together for the practice of spiritual disciplines, contemplative prayer, fellowship and communion. The group started convening at a new location at Madison UMC (505 S. Main Street, Madison, Virginia 22727) on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The event features Scripture and silent time (Centering Prayer), conversation and fellowship and Holy Communion. All are welcome to these gatherings. For more information please contact the Rev. Bruce Lugn at or the Rev Dan Albrant at

Learn more about 5 Talent Academy fall event
The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis will be one of the presenters at the 5 Talent Academy event on Thursday,  Nov. 14. This event will be livestreamed 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. from Woodlake UMC and 11 satellite locations around the state. Lewis is senior minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 1,100-member multiethnic, welcoming, and inclusive congregation in New York City.  To register, visit For more information, contact the Center for Congregational Excellence at 804.521.1155 or

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... 

Register now for The Big Silence Retreat
Register now for The Big Silence Retreat, a four-day, mostly silent retreat offering a deeper experience of solitude, silence, and prayer at the beautiful St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, N.C., from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 19-22, 2020. Start the new year off right by setting an inner course of connection with God to support your life and ministry in the months to come. Praying the hours in community is complemented by a variety of silent prayer practices and wonderful spaces just to be present with the Spirit. More... 

Learn more about Convergence 2020
The Convergence High School Youth Theology Institute on faith and science brought 37 high school students to Randolph-Macon College this past June to discover where their Christian beliefs and scientific principles intersect. Convergence 2020 will be held June 20-28, 2020. Applications and nominations for current 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade students interested in participating in Convergence 2020 are open now on the website. The cost to participate is only $400 for this 9-day program. 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.  Please contact the Rev. Kendra Grimes or Laura Ruxton ( with any questions about the program. More...

Laity Sunday is Oct. 20
This year, Laity Sunday will be Oct. 20, 2019. Contact your district lay leader and directors of Lay Servant Ministries for assistance. More... 

Educational opportunity for high school students, parents at Randolph-Macon College
For the 2019-20 academic year, Randolph-Macon College (R-MC) in Ashland, Va., will host on Saturday, Oct. 26, “Valuing the Voices in Our Church,” an opportunity for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to
     •  explore God’s call in their lives,
     •  grow in leadership skills,
     •  and develop an awareness and appreciation for diversity within the church.
There will be activities and programming for high school participants, parents/guardians, and younger siblings. Participants will explore their own leadership style, hear stories of call/leadership from a variety of speakers, and be part of a workshop focused on valuing their own unique voice and discerning God's call in their own lives. Parents who attend will enjoy two workshops: "How to tell your story to your children" and "How to listen and allow your child to tell his/her own story" along with a presentation by the R-MC Admissions Office to assist families in navigating the college application process. Childcare and activities are also provided for younger siblings who register to attend with Valuing the Voices participants. From November through May, the school will create an online video conference-style format to keep the high school participants connected. Applications are open to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors (2019-20 academic year).  The application deadline is Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.  If accepted, participants are asked to submit a $20 registration fee to hold their place.  There are no other expenses for the program, though participants will need to travel to R-MC for the Oct. 26 event and have access to computer/phone and Internet for the ongoing video community. More…

September Advocate explores personal, prayerful motivation    
It’s “back-to-school” time and the changing of the season often makes people reflective and seeking motivation. Learn more about how you can get motivated in your ministry in the September Advocate, consider your prayer life in some activities and learn how to create a mandala. Starting in the September issue, memories are shared about the Advocate magazine from two former Advocate editors. This special “Advocate Remembered” section will run through the December issue.

As the Advocate magazine comes to an end in its print and online formats in 2019, every issue, print and online, can be purchased for $7.50/subscription. You may contact the Communications Office to place your order for any 2019 issue at or 804-521-1110.


Connectional Table’s U.S. Regional Conference legislation now available
The Connectional Table (CT) is publishing its legislative petition to create a U.S. Regional Conference, as well as a one-page frequently asked questions sheet and a narrative booklet. The CT, who collaborated closely with Wespath on this legislation, shares the legislation and educational materials in advance of the 2020 General Conference as a reflection of the value it places in transparency and open communication. The CT also hopes that it will be helpful to delegations and other groups as they prepare for GC2020. The legislation to create a U.S. Regional Conference (USRC) aims to ease the burden of U.S. legislation on General Conference and give U.S. churches parity with those in central conferences. This will also shorten the duration of General Conference and save the church millions of dollars. More...

To fight racism, three churches reckon with past
Foundry United Methodist Church has gained renown as a place where U.S. leaders, including Congress members and presidents, come to worship. However, the prominent Washington congregation has another side to its 205-year history — a source not of reminiscence but of repentance. In the 19th century, Foundry’s sin of white supremacy drove out African American churchgoers. The racial discrimination ultimately led two congregations — Asbury United Methodist Church and John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church — to strike out on their own. But just as the Bible does not end with the first chapters of Genesis, human sin is not the end of this story. In the past year, members of all three churches have been getting together each month to learn about each other’s congregations and discuss ways to undo the impact of racism. “As three congregations, we are not only trying to renew our relationships but reimagine ministry together,” said the Rev. Ianther Mills, Asbury’s senior pastor. “In some ways, we hope to be a model for other churches — and the world — in crossing the divide of race.” More... 

Celebrating women’s movement at historic prayer hill
Hundreds of United Methodist clergy and church members parked their vehicles at the foot of the hill as they ascended to witness the historic dedication of the Chin’ando prayer monument. The prayer shrine reveals a significant and historic narrative of The United Methodist Church in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area. Founding mother Mbuya Lydia Chimonyo discovered the spot, named after the Chin’ando tree at the site, in the early 1920s. A pastor’s wife, she was looking for a quiet place to encounter God. Soon, other pastors’ wives joined her. “Lydia Chimonyo died at the age of 41, but she had already ignited the fire (at Chin’ando) of a unique brand of women’s ministry in The United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, who dedicated the monument and improvements to the site on Sept. 6. The women’s organization Rukwadzano Rwe Wadzimai, which has become one of the pillars of the church's growth in Zimbabwe, owes its strong spiritual foundations to Chin'ando. Following years of struggle for recognition of their efforts by the church, the women went up to Chin’ando to pray for the women’s organization to be approved at the 1938 Rhodesia Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. “Their radical prayers in 1938 at this hill gave birth to the organization that (United Methodist) women in Zimbabwe love to identify with,” said Nhiwatiwa. More...

United Methodist Men Spiritual Advance- Sept. 27-28
Registration is now open for the 2019 UMMen’s Spiritual Advance at Baylake UMC in Virginia Beach on Sept. 27-28. Featured speaker is the Rev. Dr. Kevin Watson, author of The Class Meeting and Bible study teacher at the 2019 Virginia Annual Conference. The theme is Transforming Grace. Special rates are available for pastors, early birds, spouses, and, if you attended last year, Bring One Get One (BOGO) for first timers.  New this year, church sponsorships are targeted for churches who have never attended the event or those currently with no formal UMMen organization. Open to all churches, the challenge is to line up 12 men to come and receive both a discounted rate and a free event themed T-shirt.  A box lunch option is available on Saturday to allow for more fellowship on site with brothers in Christ. 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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