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2014 Virginia Conference News

On cold day, bike giveaway warms children's hearts
Dec. 20, 2014 - “Wow!” That was the comment made by many youngsters as they were handed a new bicycle Saturday afternoon, Dec. 20, at the fourth annual “Bikes for Christ” event at Worship and Praise United Methodist Church in East Richmond. More ...

4th grade student and her classmates save three lives
Dec. 18, 2014 - Isabella Landon, granddaughter of the Rev. Darren and Mrs. Chris Landon, showed how much adults can learn from children. Isabella’s grandfather serves Floyd Parish, a four-point charge in the Roanoke District. He has been speaking to his congregations about the Virginia Conference Imagine No Malaria initiative, and Isabella was really listening. She organized her 4th grade class at Check Elementary School in the small rural village of Check in Floyd County. They began a drive for Imagine No Malaria. Isabella took a small bucket to school last Tuesday and the class filled it with $18.98. Isabella asked if she could give her birthday money to save one life and she added $10 more. Pastor Darren added $1.02 to bring the total to $30. Three lives were saved by a little girl and her 4th grade class. Isabella added the $30 from her class to the offering from Floyd Parish bringing their contribution to $470.55.

Video of Nov. 22 'Holy Conversation' available to view online
Dec. 4, 2014 - Videos of the Nov. 22 "Day of Holy Conversation” are available to view at The morning session is just under two hours long. The afternoon session is one hour and 20 minutes, and the concluding service of Holy Communion is about 22 minutes. There was a large crowd at Woodlake and many people watched at the remote sites and at home on their computers. Voices from both sides of the human sexuality issue and the majority in the middle spoke during the day-long event.

December Advocate focuses on keeping Christ in Christmas
Dec. 4, 2014 - The December issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate focuses keeping Christ in Christmas. All too often we let the Advent season become a whirl of shopping and parties. But there are many ways to help keep the birth of our Savior in the forefront. After all, Christmas should not be about the number of gifts you receive, but about what you give to others. The Advocate is the official monthly magazine of the Virginia Conference. To subscribe to the Advocate – print, digital or both – call (804) 521-1110 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110; e-mail; or go to

Board of Church and Society officers issue statement about Ferguson
Dec. 4, 2014 - Following the announcement that a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer, for firing six shots in an August confrontation that killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, the executive committee of the Virginia Conference Board of Church and Society issued the following statement:

"We urge prayer for the family of Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, Missouri. We give thanks for the witness of the United Methodist churches in Ferguson, where black and white churches are working together for a better community. Regardless of differing views of the grand jury's decision on Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, we certainly understand the pain of Michael Brown's family. We must also acknowledge the painful reality that African Americans suffer disproportionately in our legal system. We express our support for Michael Brown's family and their call to channel frustration 'in ways that will make for positive change.' We commend the Brown family and others working non-violently to correct inequities in our system of justice. Their efforts put into practice the words of the United Methodist Book of Discipline which states: 'Therefore, we recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons. We rejoice in the gifts that particular ethnic histories and cultures bring to our total life. We commend and encourage the self-awareness of all racial and ethnic groups and oppressed people that leads them to demand their just and equal rights as members of society.'"

The statement was signed by Jaydee Hanson, co-chair, Virginia Conference Board of Church of Society; the Rev. John Copenhaver, chair, Peace and Non-violence Work Area; the Rev. Scott Hopkins, Peace with Justice Coordinator; the Rev. Marilyn Heckstall, chair, Ending Poverty Work Area; Jim Templeton, chair, Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries; Monica Sprague, chair, Caretakers of God’s Creation Work Area; and Suzanne Shrader, Secretary.

Youngest 'Holy Conversation' panelist shares words of wisdom
Nov. 24, 2014 - There was plenty of talking during the Nov. 22 “Day of Holy Conversation” — hosted by Woodlake UMC in the Richmond District and webcast across the conference at multiple sites — but it was generally agreed that the youngest panelist shared a lot of wisdom in her brief comments. More ...

Bishop Cho calls for prayers for Nov. 22 'Holy Conversation'
Nov. 18, 2014 - Bishop Young Jin Cho has issued a letter to all Virginia Conference United Methodists calling on them to pray for the Nov. 22 "Day of Holy Conversation." "The issues relating to human sexuality have been very difficult for The United Methodist Church for many years," Bishop Cho wrote. "This issue has been dividing our churches, and we have been experiencing pain." Because of that, he said he believes "this is the time to listen and pray together to find a better way to deal with this issue." More ...

Watch 'Holy Conversation' live stream on website, Facebook
Nov. 14, 2014 - Live streaming of the Nov. 22 "Day of Holy Conversation" will be available beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, from the Virginia Conference website and from the Virginia Conference Facebook page. The live streaming will show opening worship, Bishop Young Jin Cho's sermon and a presentation by three panelists in the morning. Live streaming will be stopped from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for participant conversation groups and lunch. The afternoon presentation by four panelists and closing worship will be shown beginning at 1 p.m. with a break from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. for conversation groups. Click here to watch live stream.

Follow 'Day of Holy Conversation' on Twitter, Facebook

Nov. 14, 2014 - Follow the proceedings of the Nov. 22 "Day of Holy Conversation" and post your own comments on Facebook and Twitter. The Virginia Conference Facebook page can be found at Follow the Virginia Conference @vaumc on Twitter at Participate in the conversation by using hashtag #holytalk.

Virginia Conference saves 20,073 lives from malaria
Nov. 11, 2014 - As of Nov. 11, 2014, Virginia Conference United Methodists have raised $200,730 and saved 20,073 lives for Imagine No Malaria since Annual Conference voted to save 100,000+ lives in the next year. Read the stories posted on the conference Imagine No Malaria Facebook page and the conference website about how churches and individuals are raising money to save lives. Only $10 will save a life. Every Life can Save a Life. For more information, contact Maria Maxwell, Virginia Conference Imagine No Malaria field coordinator, at (804) 521-1160 or

Virginia Conference saves 17,986 lives from malaria
Nov. 6, 2014 - As of Oct. 31, Virginia Conference United Methodists have raised $179,860 (and saved 17,986 lives) for Imagine No Malaria since Annual Conference voted to save 100,000+ lives in the next year. And more funds continue to come in from churches and districts across the conference. Read the stories posted on the conference Imagine No Malaria Facebook page and the conference website about how churches and individuals are raising money to save lives. Only $10 will save a life. Every Life can Save a Life. For more information, contact Maria Maxwell, Virginia Conference Imagine No Malaria field coordinator, at (804) 521-1160 or

Eastern Shore District saves 460 lives by playing basketball
Nov. 6, 2014 - At the conclusion of worship and business, participants in the Nov. 2 Eastern Shore District Conference headed to the gym for the finals of the first Eastern Shore District Basketball Tournament, held to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria through team sponsorships and fees. After 12 hard-fought minutes, Team Arcadia from St. John’s UMC in Atlantic emerged with an 11-8 victory over Gang Green from Hallwood UMC in Onancock. Eastern Shore churches have raised more than $4,600 so far, saving 460 lives from the deadly disease of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. More ...

'Holy Conversation' presenters announced
Nov. 3, 2014 - The planning team for the "Day of Holy Conversation" announced the names of presenters for the Nov. 22 event designed to facilitate conversation on the subject of human sexuality. Convener will be Dr. David Anderson Hooker, Senior Fellow for Community Engagement Strategies at the J. W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia. Morning presenters will be the Rev. Rob Vaughn, representing Virginia Reconciling United Methodists and the Virginia Conference chapter of Methodist Federation for Social Action; the Rev. Greg West, representing the Virginia Conference Evangelical Fellowship; and the Rev. Tom Berlin, selected by the Common Table to represent a “centrist position” regarding human sexuality. Afternoon presenters will be Vaughn, West, Berlin and Virginia Greer, senior at Shenandoah University chosen by the Virginia Conference Young Adult Council leadership to represent a young adult perspective. More ...

VAUMC Communications staff wins 7 awards at annual UMAC meeting
Oct. 27, 2014 - The Virginia Conference Communications office won seven awards at the denomination-wide communications/media awards contest held during the annual meeting of United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC), Oct. 22-25 in Savannah. The Virginia United Methodist Advocate was selected "best magazine" in the Print Publications category. Designer Cathryn Huff won a first place honor for her layout and design of the Virginia United Methodist Foundation 2013 annual report. Linda Rhodes, director of Communications, won a first place award for the animated Discipleship Circles video. More ...

Open enrollment for conference health plan continues
Oct. 16, 2014 - Open enrollment for Virginia Conference Health Plan options is available through Friday, Oct. 31. Clergy and their families, other church workers and lay employees of The United Methodist Church, its institutions, organizations and agencies within the Virginia Conference, can make plan elections and/or changes to current health plan options. Click here to access open enrollment. For more information, call Judy Astrella in the Virginia United Methodist Pensions office at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 131, or (804) 521-1131.

Imagine No Malaria district representatives available to help you
Oct. 16, 2014 - Each district now has a trained representative to assist your church with finding resources to help with your Imagine No Malaria initiative. Our conference firmly believes that we can reach our goal of saving 100,000+ lives this conference year. With the help of every person in our churches, Every Life Can Save A Life! Contact your district representative today for more information about how your church can get involved in saving lives: Alexandria District: Linda Heller,, and Wyley Neal, or (703) 786-3161; Arlington District: Ken Speicher, or (703) 534-2124; Charlottesville District: Rachel Miller, or (434) 973-5806; Danville District: the Rev. Faith Weedling, or (434) 685-3140; Eastern Shore District: Michelle Surran, or (757) 710-2865; Elizabeth River District: David Chaudoin, or (757) 635-1747: Farmville District: Martha Reed, or (434) 294-3002; Fredericksburg District: Lynn Manley, or (804) 448-8326; Harrisonburg District: Rodney Bussard, or (540) 457-1417; James River District: Gene Mims, or (804) 733-8632; Lynchburg District: the Rev. Charlie Johnson Jr., or (434) 385-7016; Richmond District: Maria Maxwell, or (804) 521-1160, and Courtney Layman, or (804) 475-1613; Roanoke District: the Rev. Morris Fleischer, or (540) 544-7183; Staunton District: Brenda Decker, or (757) 334-2919; Winchester District: the Rev. Linda Lowe, or (540) 869-4549; York River District: district office, or (757) 596-346.

Wesley UMC preschoolers sell art to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria
Oct. 16, 2014 - Under the direction of Darlene Spurlock, preschool children at Wesley UMC in Alexandria, Alexandria District, made and sold art items and led Sunday morning worship at the church to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria. The church sanctuary was overrun with "mosquitoes" made by Wesley preschool and kindergarten children. Worshippers were encouraged to donate to Imagine No Malaria and take a "mosquito" home.

13 sites announced for Nov. 22 Day of Holy Conversation
Oct. 10, 2014 - Registration is now open for "A Day of Holy Conversation on Sexuality and The United Methodist Church" to be held Saturday, Nov. 22, at Woodlake UMC, 15640 Hampton Park Drive, Chesterfield. The day of conversation will be live streamed to 12 additional sites across the conference: Burke UMC (Alexandria District), Korean UMC of Greater Washington (Arlington District), Fairview UMC (Danville District), Blacksburg UMC (Roanoke District), Braddock Street UMC (Winchester District), Ebenezer UMC (Fredericksburg District), Franktown UMC (Eastern Shore District), St. Luke’s UMC (York River District), St. Paul’s UMC (Staunton District), Thalia UMC (Elizabeth River District), Timberlake UMC (Lynchburg District) and High Street UMC (James River District). In addition, live streaming of the event can be watched through the Virginia Conference website. All Virginia Conference clergy and laity are invited to participate at one of the sites. More ...

Former Virginian wins World Methodist Peace Award
Oct. 10, 2014 - Former Virginia Conference member Dr. Hugh G. Johnson, a retired missionary, pastor and former superintendent of the North African District of The United Methodist Church, and his wife, Shirliann “Fritzi” Johnson, have been named co-recipients of the 2014 World Methodist Peace Award. More ...

Steve Jones saves 1,000 lives this weekend by running marathon
Oct. 10, 2014 - The Rev. Steve Jones, Richmond District superintendent, raised more than $10,000 for Imagine No Malaria from Richmond District churches and other groups supporting his 26.2-mile run this Sunday in the Chicago Marathon. Jones easily surpassed his original goal to raise $7,500 to help end this deadly disease. Maria Maxwell, Virginia Conference Imagine No Malaria field coordinator, provided Steve with an "Every Life Save a Life" t-shirt and faux Imagine No Malaria tattoos to wear during his run. Funds raised will save more than 1,000 lives.

Brian Siegle shaves head after church raises $1,820
Oct. 10, 2014 - The Rev. Brian Siegle, pastor of New Hope UMC in Glenns, York River District, had his head shaved last Sunday after church members raised $1,820 for Imagine No Malaria, saving 182 lives. Siegle had agreed to shave his head if his congregation raised $1,500 during the month of September for the initiative to eradicate the deadly disease of malaria from the continent of Africa.

Tangier Island church raises $1,100 for Imagine No Malaria
Oct. 10, 2014 - Swain Memorial UMC on Tangier Island, Eastern Shore District, raised $1,100 for Imagine No Malaria by selling hot dogs to tourists and others walking on the street in front of the church on Sept. 20 and Labor Day weekend, according to Nancy Creedle, church secretary. The funds will save 110 lives. "We can hardly wait for April," Creedle said, "so we can do it again."

Wesley Chapel, Rock Springs save 200 lives, turn pastor's hair pink
Oct. 10, 2014 - The Wesley Chapel-Rock Springs Charge in the Danville District will hold an Imagine No Malaria celebration cookout Saturday, Oct. 18, from noon to 3 p.m. "We are celebrating meeting our goal of saving 100 lives in both churches — for a total of 200 lives (so far)," said the Rev. Steve Weedling, pastor. Weedling had promised to let youths in the churches choose the color he will dye his hair if the churches reached their fundraising goals. "So far, the leading choice seems to be neon pink," Weedling said. His new hairdo will be on display at the cookout.

Bishop Cho issues statement on Supreme Court ruling
Oct. 7, 2014 - On Monday, Oct. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would not hear appeals to keep bans on same-sex marriage in place. The ruling immediately made same-sex marriage legal in Virginia and four other states. In response to that ruling, Bishop Young Jin Cho sent a letter to pastors and congregations in the Virginia Conference, reminding them that even though the law has changed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, The United Methodist Church does not allow clergy to conduct same-sex wedding services. More ...

Korean UMC of Greater Washington saves 1,700+ lives from malaria
Oct. 2, 2014 - The Rev. Young Bong Kim, pastor of Korean UMC of Greater Washington, reports that the church has almost doubled its goal of saving 1,000 lives in support of Imagine No Malaria. Church members have saved 1,700 lives and hope to save more than 2,000 lives.

St. Luke's UMC, Yorktown, saves 103 lives with dunk tank fundraiser
Oct. 2, 2014 - St. Luke's UMC in Yorktown had a dunk tank fundraiser for Imagine No Malaria at the church's annual Community Carnival on Sunday, Sept. 28. The church raised $1,030 to save 103 lives. Pastor Douglas Gestwick and Associate Pastor Clara Gestwick, along with two other staff members, took turns being dunked. Megan Collins, director of Communication Ministries, reported that fun was had by all.

VAUMC saves 14,318 lives for Imagine No Malaria
Oct. 1, 2014 - Virginia Conference United Methodists have raised $143,182.94 (and saved 14,318 lives) for Imagine No Malaria since Annual Conference voted to save 100,000+ lives in the next year. For more information, contact Maria Maxwell, Virginia Conference Imagine No Malaria field coordinator, at (804) 521-1160 or

Nov. 22 to be Day of Holy Conversation
Sept. 23, 2014 - In response to Bishop Young Jin Cho's request that the Virginia Conference Common Table for Church Vitality facilitate discussions around the conference on the subject of human sexuality, the Common Table announced that it will hold "A Day of Holy Conversation on Sexuality and The United Methodist Church" on Saturday, Nov. 22, at Woodlake UMC, 15640 Hampton Park Drive, Chesterfield. The day of conversation will also be live streamed to a number of regional sites across the conference. All Virginia Conference clergy and laity are invited to participate at one of the sites. More ...

Conference staff gives $680 to fight malaria for Bishop Cho's birthday
Sept. 17, 2014 - On Sept. 17, Bishop Young Jin Cho celebrated his 68th birthday. Virginia Conference staff provided a birthday cake and contributed a total of $680 (saving 68 lives) to Imagine No Malaria in Bishop Cho's honor. More ...

Fall issue of Neighbors now available to download
Sept. 17, 2014 - The fall issue of Neighbors features the essay “The most wonderful time of the year” by the Rev. Jennifer Vestal Moore, pastor of the South Brunswick Charge – Rock and Olive Branch UMCs – in the Farmville District. Neighbors is a free, customizable direct-mail piece, produced by Virginia United Methodist Communications, designed to complement a church’s outreach ministry. This latest issue is now available online at The Neighbors web page provides simple instructions on how to download, print and mail the newsletter.

Good Shepherd UMC to give Lenten offering to Imagine No Malaria
Sept. 18, 2014 - Good Shepherd UMC in Glen Allen will support Imagine No Malaria through its 2015 Lent "Change for Change" offering. This year, they raised $20,000 for a new community playground, according to the Rev. Lisa McGehee, Minister of Adult Discipleship and Communications.

Epworth UMC community breakfast raises $600 for Imagine No Malaria
Sept. 17, 2014 - Epworth UMC in Moneta near Smith Mountain Lake (Danville District) received $600 in offerings for "Imagine No Malaria: Every Life Save a Life" at its September community breakfast. The offering will save 60 lives. Pastor is the Rev. Josh Munnikhuysen.

Heart Havens to close Taylor Home in Norfolk
Sept. 15, 2014 - Heart Havens, a United Methodist-affiliated non-profit which offers group home residences to adults with intellectual disabilities, will close its Taylor Home in Norfolk as of Oct. 10. More ...

Old Brunswick Circuit celebrates anniversary at Dromgoole House
Sept. 15, 2014 - The Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Edward Dromgoole house, the only remaining Virginia Conference circuit rider home (built circa 1790). More ...

Virginia Conference saves 12,000 lives for Imagine No Malaria
Sept. 11, 2014 - Virginia Conference United Methodists have raised $120,000 (and saved 12,000 lives) for Imagine No Malaria in the two months since Annual Conference voted to save 100,000+ lives in the next year. For more information, contact Maria Maxwell, Virginia Conference Imagine No Malaria field coordinator, at (804) 521-1160 or

Faith on the roof: Pastor finds unique way to raise money to fight malaria
Sept. 8, 2014 - The Rev. Faith Weedling spent 38 hours on the roof of Brosville UMC, Danville District, after her church and members of Wesley Chapel and Rock Springs UMC raised $3,800 for Imagine No Malaria. More ...

Pastor to shave head if congregation raises $1,500 this month
Sept. 4, 2014 - The Rev. Brian Siegle, pastor of New Hope UMC in Saluda, York River District, is challenging his congregation to raise $1,500 during the month of September for Imagine No Malaria. If the challenge is met he has agreed to shave his head! More ...

Westover Hills UMC to run marathons to help fight malaria
Sept. 3, 2014 - Westover Hills UMC, Richmond, will raise funds to fight malaria by sending teams to run in the Nov. 15 Richmond Marathon, Half Marathon and 8k, and the Oct. 25 children’s ½ mile- and 1 mile-run. The church has set up a Facebook page and a crowd funding website to facilitate and promote their team effort. Goal is to raise $7,500 through sponsorships.

Eastern Shore to hold basketball tourney, free-throw competition
Sept. 3, 2014 - The Eastern Shore District is holding a 3-on-3 basketball tournament (for adults and youths) and free-throw competition (for children and youths) to raise money for Imagine No Malaria. The Rev. Gary Miller, pastor of St. John's UMC, is organizing preliminary rounds throughout the district. Sixteen teams will compete in play-offs. Final round will be at the District Conference at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, at St. John's UMC, Atlantic. More ...

K-2nd grade Sunday school joins fight against malaria
Sept. 2, 2014 - The K-2nd grade Sunday school class of First UMC Fox Hill, York River District, learned about mission by joining the Virginia Conference Imagine No Malaria initiative. During the month of August the class heard about the lives they are saving. On Aug. 2 they covered a baby’s crib with a net and in the next four Sundays they collected money for nets, made pipe cleaner mosquitoes, shared bracelets, and sat under a net during class sessions. On the fifth Sunday they received and wore their "Every Life Save A Life" t-shirts for the whole congregation to see.

Edley-Worford named director of Inclusivity, Lay Leadership Excellence
Aug. 28, 2014 - The Personnel Committee for the Common Table for Church Vitality announced that Cheryl E. Edley-Worford has been selected as the new director of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence of the Virginia Conference effective Sept. 2. More...

Cranford UMC ice cream social benefits Imagine No Malaria
Aug. 22, 2014 - Linda Heller, Lay Leader for Cranford UMC in Lorton, reported that the congregation (which averages 60-70 people in worship and has 250 members) raised $630 by holding an ice cream social after church. "I said the goal was to raise $10 for each person on our rolls by Annual Conference," Heller said. "The first thing that we did — since the bishop did ask to get the children and youth involved — was an ice cream social after church. During the church service, I showed the kids parts of 'Killer in the Dark,' to explain how malaria is transmitted, why we don't have it, etc." Children and youths dipped and served ice cream and gave out Imagine No Malaria bracelets provided by United Methodist Communications.

New Facebook page focuses on 'Imagine No Malaria: Every Life Save a Life'
Aug. 15, 2014 - The Virginia Conference now has a special Facebook page for "Imagine No Malaria: Every Life Save a Life." Go to and "Like" the page so you can keep up to date with all the information and stories about how United Methodists in the Virginia Conference are saving 100,000 lives or more this year. More ...

Blue Grass UMC raises $4,000+ for Imagine No Malaria
Aug. 15, 2014 - Blue Grass UMC, a small, rural church in the Staunton District, is 3/8 of a mile south of the village of Blue Grass on State Route 640. It's so far out in Highland County that it almost touches West Virginia. In a few short weeks the congregation has raised more than $4,000 for Imagine No Malaria. Pastor is the Rev. Andre Crummett.

Brosville UMC pastor to sit on church roof for Imagine No Malaria
Aug. 15, 2014 - The Rev. Faith Weedling, pastor of Brosville UMC in the Danville District, has issued a challenge to the members of her congregation. She will sit on the roof of the church one hour for every $100 raised for Imagine No Malaria. At the rate contributions are coming in, she expects to be on the roof overnight Saturday, Sept. 6, and preach from the rooftop for Sunday, Sept. 7, worship which will be held in the parking lot. The Rev. Janine Howard, Danville District superintendent, will officiate at Holy Communion during the service. Some members of the church are planning to have a cookout the evening of Sept. 6 and camp on the church grounds to continue the celebration throughout the evening. Rumor has it that Rev. Weedling will be accompanied on the roof by a life-size cutout of Bishop Young Jin Cho.

VAUMC Imagine No Malaria field coordinator shares views on video
Aug. 15, 2014 - Maria Maxwell, Virginia Conference field coordinator for Imagine No Malaria, was one of three field coordinators interviewed by United Methodist Communications in the video, "View from the Field: How Conferences Can Imagine No Malaria." Click hereto view the video.

Seonyoung Kim installed as VAUMC's first Korean woman DS
Aug. 14, 2014 - An upbeat processional to “We Are Marching in the Light of God” set the tone for the Aug. 10 installation service of the Rev. Seonyoung Kim as superintendent of the York River District. Kim is the first Korean-American woman to serve as district superintendent in the Virginia Conference. More ...

2014-2015 Mission Opportunities guide available
Aug. 7, 2014 - "Imagine" is the theme of the 2014-2015 Mission Opportunities booklet which is included as an insert in the August issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate and was distributed to participants of Mission Encounter July 25–27 and July 28-30. All clergy and local church lay leaders will also receive copies. The booklet includes information about first- and second-mile giving, apportionments, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Advance specials, missionaries and a variety of other mission opportunities. Extra copies are available from the conference office of Justice and Missional Excellence at (804) 521-1139 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 139.

Richmond DS to run Chicago Marathon to support Imagine No Malaria
Aug. 7, 2014 - The Rev. Steve Jones, Richmond District superintendent, is supporting Imagine No Malaria by asking all Richmond District churches (or groups within those churches) to support his 26.2-mile run in the Oct. 12 Chicago Marathon. His goal is to raise $7,500 to help end this deadly disease. Fairmount UMC in Richmond, Bethel UMC in Oilville and Bethel United Methodist Women, Centenary UMC in Richmond and Shady Grove UMC in Henrico are among the first to pledge support.

Virginia Conference to elect 22 delegates to General Conference
Aug. 7, 2014 - The Virginia Conference will elect 22 delegates to the 2016 General Conference (11 clergy and 11 laity) and an additional 11 clergy and 11 laity to join the General Conference delegates for the 2016 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. Elections will be conducted during the 2015 session of the Virginia Annual Conference, to be held June 19-21, 2015, at the Roanoke Civic Center in Roanoke. More ...

United Methodists offer aid after tornado hits Eastern Shore
Aug. 7, 2014 - On July 24, a tornado struck the Eastern Shore, killing two people at Cherrystone Family Campground in Cheriton, injuring 34 others and destroying campers, cabins, homes and boats. Between 150 and 175 people at the campground lost housing and were transported from the campground to an emergency shelter set up at the high school. A number of United Methodist churches responded to an urgent appeal for water at the temporary shelter by providing water or monetary donations. Two pastors in the area, the Rev. Janet Allen on the Cheriton Charge and the Rev. Elizabeth Lutz of the Cape Charles-Capeville Charge, were active throughout the day checking on members and neighbors. "The way the Shore came together helped folks know a little light on a dark, dark day," said the Rev. Alex Joyner, Eastern Shore District superintendent. "And, as always, the prayers of the United Methodist people of the Virginia Conference are a mighty thing, and we solicit those for the families and communities affected."

Northern Virginia United Methodist churches help Afghan interpreter
Aug. 7, 2014 - Eight United Methodist churches in northern Virginia — Centreville, Messiah and Sydenstricker in Springfield; Grace and Buckhall in Manassas; Pender and St. George’s in Fairfax; and Christ in Fairfax Station — are part of a coalition of faith communities helping support a former Afghan interpreter who spent seven years translating for the U.S. military in his homeland of Afghanistan. Threatened by the Taliban with death for him and his family, Hameed brought his wife and two small children to the U.S. in February with little in the way of belongings, money or future plans. More ...

Mission Encounter participants study, grow spiritually
July 29, 2014 - This week, Mission Encounter (formerly known as School of Christian Mission) offered participants opportunities to learn about being partners in God’s global mission and to grow spiritually through study and worship. Held at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center, the event included studies on "Roma of Europe," "How is it with Your Soul?" and "The Church and People with Disabilities." Click here to view pictures.

Conference seeks part-time videographer
July 24, 2014 - The Virginia Conference office of Communications is seeking a part-time videographer to create and produce videos to be used by the conference as effective communications tools to describe its mission, vision and ministry. The position reports to the director of Communications. To apply, send resume to Linda Rhodes, director of Communications, at or P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058. Applications will be received through Sept. 1. Click here for job description.

Bishop Cho on renewal leave July 21-Aug. 31
July 24, 2014 - Bishop Young Jin Cho, who is halfway through his four-year tenure as Bishop of the Virginia Conference, is taking July 21–Aug. 31 as renewal leave. During this time, he will read, reflect, travel with his wife, Kiok, and prepare for the second half of his ministry with us. Bishop Cho asks that you keep him and Kiok in your prayers during this time. He will return to his office on Tuesday, Sept. 2. If you need the assistance of the office of the Bishop during Bishop Cho’s absence, contact the Rev. Tom Joyce, Assistant to the Bishop, at or (804) 521-1103, or Terri Biggins, the Bishop’s Administrative Assistant, at or (804) 521-1102.

Open house tour of 1790 circuit rider home to be Sept. 13
July 24, 2014 - In celebration of its 10th anniversary, The Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation will hold an open house tour of the Edward Dromgoole House, the only remaining Virginia Conference circuit rider home (built circa 1790), 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13. The home is located at 2722 Christanna Highway in Valentines. More ...

Voices of Youth work in Bahamas, tour conference
July 22, 2014 - After spending a week in the Bahamas doing home repairs with the Bahamas Methodist Habitat organization, the Voices of Youth choir, composed of students from congregations across the Virginia Conference, performed a week of concerts, singing and telling their mission stories in churches across the conference. More...

Cabinet, conference staff meet together for first time
July 21, 2014 - The Cabinet of the Virginia Conference and the conference Connectional Ministries staff sat down together for the first time last week at Roslyn Conference Center in Richmond to explore how the two groups might work together to better serve the mission and ministry of the annual conference, and to strengthen relationships. More...

Author challenges audience to look for grace where not expected
July 21, 2014 - Challenged to write a book about grace, Christian author Cathleen Falsani said she began looking for the places where grace had touched her own life. The writer of Sin Boldly, The Dude Abides, and The God Factor came to Courthouse Community United Methodist Church on July 18 to talk about grace, her writing and the amazing story of a little boy named Vasco. More...

Common Table begins planning holy conferencing on human sexuality
July 21, 2014 - The Virginia Conference Common Table met on July 14 to discern the best way to respond to Bishop Young Jin Cho’s request that the Common Table organize times of holy conferencing related to human sexuality during the 2014-2015 conference year.  More...

Conference seeks director of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence
July 17, 2014 - The Virginia Conference office of Connectional Ministries is seeking a lay person to serve as director of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence. To apply, send cover letter, resume and three references to by Aug. 15. Selected interviews will be held Aug. 27. Complete job description is available at

Martha Stokes announces resignation
July 10, 2014 - Martha Stokes, conference director of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence, announced her resignation, effective Aug. 8, in order to accept a position as director of Church and Community Relations with Virginia United Methodist Homes. "While I rejoice with Martha in her new journey," said the Rev. Marc Brown, conference director of Connectional Ministries, "I also grieve because, along with so many others, I depend upon Martha as a trusted and discerning voice of experience and objectivity. Martha has had a great spiritual impact upon our Virginia Conference during her 14-plus years as a member of the Connectional Ministries staff. To appreciate the depth of her faith, I invite you to read her blog, “Walking Martha Home.” Brown said he and Shirley Cauffman, Common Table Personnel Committee chair, will be in communication with the Common Table Personnel Committee regarding the search process for a new director of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence.

Virginia Annual Conference votes to support Imagine No Malaria
June 23, 2014 - Annual Conference members voted to support The United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria initiative. Conference leaders hope to raise enough money in the next year to save at least 100,000 lives. Every church and every United Methodist in the Virginia Conference are urged to take part. Theme is "Every Life Save a Life." To celebrate the vote to participate in the Imagine No Malaria initiative, Bishop Young Jin Cho broke into a "Happy" dance and was joined on stage by youths, District Lay Leaders and District Superintendents. Bishop Cho and his wife, Kiok, kicked off the initiative by contributing $3,000 to save 300 lives. More ...

232nd Annual Conference held June 20-22 in Hampton
June 23, 2014 - Virginia United Methodists were water-washed and spirit-born at the 232nd session of Virginia Annual Conference, held June 20-22 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center. Presentations centered on the theme of “Lord, Renew Us With Your Spirit.” During closing worship, the 3,000 attendees remembered their baptism by touching water in small basins throughout the hall. More ...

Melton outlines six steps for churches to become 'Safe Sanctuaries'
June 23, 2014 - The Rev. Dr. Joy Thornburg Melton outlined six steps for churches to follow to become "Safe Sanctuaries" for vulnerable children, youths and older adults. Melton, an attorney and ordained United Methodist deacon who wrote "Safe Sanctuaries" resources, spoke to 104 participants in Safe Sanctuaries training held June 18-19 at Hampton Roads Convention Center prior to Annual Conference. More...

United Methodist is speaker at conference on aging
June 4, 2014 - The Older Adult Ministries Committee of the Lynchburg District of the Virginia Conference was one of the sponsors of a  conference on aging held at Lynchburg College Tuesday, June 3. United Methodist Missy Buchanan was keynote speaker for “Aging Well in Mind, Body and Spirit.” More ...

New GBGM missionary talks about her homeland, Vietnam
May 23, 2014 - Even Vietnam, with its hard-line Communist government, is ripe for progress in the area of human rights, new General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) missionary Dr. Quynh-Hoa Nguyen told seminary students Thursday night. More...

Preachers learn new ways to share ancient message
May 15, 2014 - Christine Parton Burkett, visiting professor of Speech at Duke Divinity School, shared creative ways to craft the ancient message for today's environment at the recent Associate Members and Local Pastors Fellowship continuing education event at River Road UMC in Richmond. More ...

Bishop Cho declares May 25 conference-wide 'Day of Prayer'
May 13, 2014 - Bishop Young Jin Cho has declared Sunday, May 25, a conference-wide “Day of Prayer” and is asking all churches in the Virginia Conference to pray for renewal and revival of our churches during worship services that day. More ...

Foundation elects Stephen Clark president
May 12, 2014 - At their May 8 meeting, Virginia United Methodist Foundation (VAUMF) board of directors elected Stephen Clark to serve as president, effective June 1. Clark will replace Dave Thompson who will retire June 1. Clark has served as the Foundation’s Planned Giving Officer since June 1, 2013. The Foundation also hired Bryan Carper as vice president for Stewardship Ministries. More ...

Cambodia Consultation hears updates on ministry
May 5, 2014 - Representatives from around the world gathered May 1-3 at Aldersgate UMC in Alexandria to talk about the growing Methodist mission in Cambodia.The United Methodist Church is one of five denominations working in the Southeast Asia nation of 16 million that is still recovering from the 1977-79 genocide that wiped out millions, mostly the educated and professional. More...

Peace with Justice grants awarded to three churches
April 16, 2014 - The Virginia Conference Board of Church and Society awarded three Peace with Justice Grants totalling $13,060 to three churches: Resurrection UMC in Chesapeake received $4,400 for its Creation Care Ministry; Eastland UMC in Fredericksburg received $3,660 for its Just Faith Study Program; Rising Hope UMC in Alexandria received $5,000 for its Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) program. Funds for Peace with Justice grants are generated from Peace With Justice Sunday offerings which are divided between the General Board of Church & Society and the conference board.

Arlington D.S. to be featured in CBS documentary
April 10, 2014 - Arlington District superintendent the Rev. Cathy Abbott will be featured on CBS this weekend talking about her shift from the corporate world to the life of a minister. More...

‘Look Who’s Calling’ event challenges youth to consider life of ministry
April 7, 2014 - A “Look Who’s Calling” event at the Pace campus ministry center at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on Saturday, April 5, was the largest gathering of youths of color at a conference event in memory. More...

Prayer convocation leaders provide handouts
April 7, 2014 - Some of the speakers and workshop leaders at the March 29, 2014, Bishop's Convocation on Prayer have provided handouts and PowerPoint displays that were used in their presentations. More ...

'Lord Teach Me to Pray' to be offered May 17, Aug. 23, Oct. 25
April 3, 2014 - A follow-up to the Bishop's Convocation on Prayer will be sponsored by the conference Board of Discipleship. "Lord, Teach Me to Pray — Practical Applications for Prayer" will be offered three separate times at three different locations: Saturday, May 17, at Timberlake UMC, Lynchburg (Click here to register); Saturday, Aug. 23, at Williamsburg UMC, Williamsburg (Click here to register); and Saturday, Oct. 25, at St. Thomas UMC, Manassas (Click here to register). Main speaker will be Dr. Wendy Miller, professor emeritus of Spiritual Formation at Eastern Mennonite Seminary and adjunct faculty at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. Click here to download a flyer.

Convocation leader says prayer should be natural as breathing
March 31, 2014 - Dr. Tom Albin had folks doing some deep breathing exercises as he explained to Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer participants that praying should be as natural as breathing. More...

Conference to provide e-mail addresses to active clergy
March 25, 2014 - The Virginia Conference will soon begin providing every active clergy person in the conference with an e-mail address ending in, an address which will remain with the clergy person throughout his or her ministry in the conference. The e-mail addresses will be provided through Google Apps. More ...

Spring issue of Neighbors newsletter available to download
March 17, 2014 - The Spring/Easter issue of Neighbors features the essay “A Giving Tree God” by the Rev. Sarah Wastella, associate pastor at Larchmont UMC, Elizabeth River District. The Rev. Wastella writes about the classic book for children The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and how the story is a metaphor for God constantly pouring out blessings and grace. Neighbors is a free, customizable direct-mail piece, produced by Virginia United Methodist Communications, designed to complement a church’s outreach ministry. This latest issue is now available online at More ...

Services for Ken Jackson to be March 22
March 11, 2014 - The Rev. Kenneth Jackson, Alexandria District superintendent, died Monday, March 10, surrounded by close friends and family. Memorial service (Celebration of Life) will be 11 a.m. Saturday, March 22, at St. Matthew's UMC, Annandale. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to St. Matthew's Joy Fund and Food Basket Ministry. Messages of condolence may be sent to Ken's wife, Gail Jackson, 8318 Chapel Lake Ct., Annandale, VA 22003-4401.

Thompson to retire as Foundation president June 1
March 11, 2014 - Dave Thompson, president of the Virginia United Methodist Foundation, has announced his plans to retire June 1. Thompson joined the Foundation staff March 1, 2012, as Planned Giving and Investment Officer. He was named president Dec. 1, 2012, after Deal Tompkins became ill and retired. "As I reached the age of 75 this past December, I needed to reflect on my staying power and whether or not it is time to turn the reigns over to someone who could guide the Foundation for many more years into the future," Thompson told the Foundation board at its last meeting. "As a result of prayers and discussions with my wife and family, I have decided to retire June 1, 2014. It has been an exciting and fulfilling journey, and I will miss the people and the associations that I have had here in the center, the board and the churches that I have worked with over the past two years.”

Mickle, Kim named new district superintendents
March 10, 2014 - Effective July 1, the Rev. Jeffrey P. Mickle, pastor of St. Stephen’s UMC in Burke on the Alexandria District, will be the new Alexandria District superintendent, and the Rev. Seonyoung Kim, pastor of the Northumberland Charge (Afton UMC in Ophelia and Fairfields UMC in Burgess) in the Fredericksburg District, will be the York River District superintendent. More ...

5 Talent Academy speaker: We must show impact on investment
March 10, 2014 - In a folksy, plainspoken style, the Rev. Clif Christopher told participants at the latest 5 Talent Academy teaching session that the biggest sin in our churches is that people love their money more than they love their God. More...

2014 Annual Conference offering to help eight ministries
March 7, 2014 - This year the Annual Conference special offering goal is $200,000. Bishop Young Jin Cho is requesting contributions to support eight different ministries in Africa,  Cambodia, Mozambique, Brazil, Virginia and Haiti. More ...

Your conference ministries at work
Feb. 28, 2014 - The mission of the Virginia Conference is to equip local churches for ministry and provide connections for ministry beyond the local church. The Rev. Marc Brown, director of Connectional Ministries, reports on some of the ways conference staff and boards and agencies did that this past month. More ...

Virginia Conference hosts Global Mission Fellows applicants
Feb. 27, 2014 - About 30 young adults from around the world are meeting at the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen this week as part of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) “Interview and Discernment Days” event, which allows applicants to get to know each other and interview with GBGM program staff before making a decision about joining GBGM's Global Mission Fellows missionary program. More...

Bishop urges lay participation, surrounded by prayer
Feb. 24, 2014 - A large and enthusiastic crowd of lay people gathered at Blackstone Feb. 21-23 to be a part of the annual Lay Servant Academy. A late surge of registrations pushed participation numbers to 177, a total which was higher than the 2013 event by about 40, with 68 reporting that they had not been to the event in at least 10 years. Bishop Young Jin Cho attended the event on Saturday and stressed the importance of lay participation in the life of the church. More...

Joyner, Snead named district superintendents
Feb. 17, 2014 - Bishop Young Jin Cho announced that, effective July 1, the Rev. Alex Joyner, currently serving as pastor of Franktown UMC, Eastern Shore District, will be the Eastern Shore District superintendent, and the Rev. Wayne Snead, current pastor of Galilee UMC in Sterling, Arlington District, will be the Elizabeth River District superintendent. More...

McNabb named director of Center for Clergy Excellence
Feb. 17, 2014 - The Rev. Meredith L. McNabb, who now serves as associate pastor at Grace UMC, Manassas, in the Alexandria District, has been appointed director of the Virginia Conference Center for Clergy Excellence, effective July 1. More...

Youngsters visit Morrison Home for Heart Havens Month
Feb. 14, 2014 - To celebrate Heart Havens Month, youngsters of Trinity United Methodist Church in Smithfield recently visited with residents of the Morrison Home. John Brannis has been a member of Trinity for more than 12 years and is a dedicated supporter of Heart Havens. More...

Bishop Cho issues letter to clergy about spiritual disciplines
Feb. 14, 2014 - In a letter to all Virginia Conference clergy, Bishop Young Jin Cho urges them to give attention to their personal spiritual disciplines, encourages churches to become prayer covenant congregations, recommends books about spiritual disciplines and invites all to attend the March 29 Bishop's Convocation on Prayer at Trinity UMC in Richmond. More ...

First group begins new clergy leadership program
Feb. 11, 2014 - A group of Virginia Conference clergy is meeting at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond this week as the first class of a new leadership program begins its work together. More...

Church promises to bounce back after major fire
Feb. 11, 2014 - Members of Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Shenandoah were able to worship at a sister church last Sunday after a fire devastated their sanctuary on Feb. 5. More...

Large church training event offers 'transformational' material
Feb. 11, 2014 - Woodlake UMC in Chesterfield recently hosted a Large Church Training Day, where pastors, staff and lay leaders from some of the conference’s bigger congregations gathered for resources especially designed for them. More...

'Kingdom Sightings' blog tells of God's grace in small churches
Feb. 11, 2014 - The Rev. John Choi, pastor of Saint John's UMC in Buena Vista, writes the first article in "Kingdom Sightings," a new blog on the conference website that is a small church spiritual journal where people can share stories of God's grace and people's faith from Virginia United Methodist churches with attendance under 150. More ...

Randolph College sells painting for $25.5 million
Feb. 7, 2014 - Randolph College President Bradley Bateman today announced an historic agreement with the National Gallery in London, through which the museum purchased the painting Men of the Docks (1912) by George Bellows for $25.5 million. More...

Bishop Cho’s invocation opens House of Delegates
Feb. 7, 2014 - Bishop Young Jin Cho was already slated to open the Virginia House of Delegates with prayer on United Methodist Day, the annual day when hundreds of United Methodists descend on the General Assembly to talk about key issues. As it turned out, it also happened to be a very important day for Korean-Americans in the Commonwealth of Virginia. More...

Stacy Roberts hired as Camp Rainbow Connection coordinator
Feb. 6, 2014 - Stacy Roberts has been hired as camp coordinator for Camp Rainbow Connection, effective Feb. 3. She will coordinate administrative tasks leading up to camp and oversee the two camp sessions held at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center each summer, working under the supervision of the Center for Lay Leadership Excellence. More ...

Fire destroys Oak Grove UMC, Shenandoah
Feb. 6, 2014 - Fire destroyed Oak Grove UMC in Shenandoah on Wednesday morning. "No one was hurt but our building is a total loss," said the Rev. Ellen Martin, pastor. "We will not know the cause until the smoldering subsides and the investigators can do their work. The congregation is devastated, but they are strong and have deeply rooted faith. With God's grace we will rebuild. What a blessing to be fully insured!" More ...

5 Talent Academy on March 8 features expert on stewardship
Feb. 3, 2014 - The next 5 Talent Academy teaching session will focus on stewardship. Organizers invite participants to learn how to convince potential givers about the real significance and impact of their gifts. The Saturday, March 8, program will be ideal for clergy looking to reinvigorate their stewardship campaigns and lay persons eager to cultivate ways to help increase church giving in a meaningful way. More...

Upper Room’s Albin to lead Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer
Feb. 3, 2014 - The second annual Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer will be Saturday, March 29, at Trinity UMC in Richmond. Bishop Young Jin Cho will be the host, and keynote speaker will be Dr. Tom Albin, dean of the Upper Room Ministries and Ecumenical Relations. More...

Candidacy summit offers answers about a call to ministry
Feb. 3, 2014 - Knowing that the journey into ordained ministry in the Virginia Conference can be daunting, the Center for Clergy Excellence and the Board of Ordained Ministry have introduced a new step in the process: the Candidacy Summit. More...

Apportionment giving percentage up for third straight year
Jan. 27, 2014 - Virginia Conference United Methodists paid a higher percentage of their apportionment askings again in 2013, according to the conference Treasurer’s office. But the conference took in about $50,000 less than it did in 2012 because it asked for fewer apportionment dollars from the churches. More...

SEJ lay leaders, bishops agree to focus on mission, 'bright spots'
Jan. 16, 2014 - Frigid temperatures did not stop 55 people from gathering in Pensacola, Fla., to kick off the New Year by strategically planning for the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ). Three groups met Jan. 7-9 to handle various items of jurisdictional business, including SEJ conference lay leaders and active and retired bishops. More...

Conference clergy gather to learn about reconciliation
Jan. 15, 2014 - How do you find points of agreement in our adversarial culture where everyone – from people in the government to people in the church – seems always at odds? There has to be a better way, speaker Tom Porter told Virginia Conference clergy on the opening day of the 2014 Ministers’ Convocation at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center the evening of Jan. 14. More...

Estelle Pruden to retire from bishop's office after 31 years of service
Jan. 8, 2014 - Bishop Young Jin Cho announced that Estelle Pruden, Bishop’s administrative assistant for the past 31 years, will retire as of March 1. Terri Biggins, who currently serves as administrative assistant for the conference Center for Justice and Missional Excellence, will fill the position. More...



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