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To view a 2009 issue of the Virginia Conference e-Advocate, click on the date below:

December 16, 2009
December 8, 2009

November 17, 2009
November 10, 2009
November 4, 2009

October 27, 2009
October 20, 2009
October 13, 2009
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August 31, 2009
August 24, 2009
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News from the Virginia Conference – December 8, 2009

Three Virginia United Methodists at Climate Change convention
Three Virginia United Methodists are now attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Rev. Pat Watkins, the Rev. Denise Honeycutt and Meghan Roth, all of Richmond, are members of official observer delegations representing The United Methodist Church. Watkins, director of Caretakers of God’s Creation for the Virginia Conference, a Green Team member of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and a GBGM Church and Community Worker, and Honeycutt, conference director of Mission and Global Justice, are part of the delegation sponsored by United Methodist Women. Roth, a student at Wesley Theological Seminary and a member of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), is on the GBCS delegation. Representatives of 192 nations are attending the meeting in Copenhagen to seek a consensus on an international strategy for fighting global warming. The convention opened Dec. 7 and continues through Dec. 18.

Bishop urges pastors to read ‘God’s Renewed Creation’ Letter in worship
Bishop Charlene Kammerer has issued the following announcement: “The Council of Bishops has adopted a major document addressing ‘God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action.’ A trio of issues has been identified as being current threats to God's good creation. The issues are pandemic poverty, environmental degradation, and weapons/violence. There is a Pastoral Letter, a Foundation Document, and an upcoming Study Guide which will be available for all local churches. All the bishops are asking their pastors to read the Pastoral Letter in a main service of worship during a Sunday in Advent, or very early in the year 2010. Sunday school classes, campus ministries, youth groups, United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, seminary classes, etc. are all appropriate places where the Foundation Document studying these issues can be addressed. We are particularly promoting the material to youth and young adults who care deeply about these issues. The Study Guide, published by United Methodist Publishing House, will be available for use in Lent 2010. You will find the documents available on www.hopeandaction.org. I invite and expect each pastor of our local churches in the Virginia Conference to share the Pastoral Letter in the weeks ahead from your pulpits. You will find two versions of the Letter, one with a liturgical component, should you choose to expand the service of worship in this way. May God bless you as you join as partners in the urgent work of God’s Renewed Creation!”

Bishop Kammerer signs open letter to Gov.-elect McDonnell
Bishop Charlene Kammerer was one of three faith leaders who signed an open letter to Governor-elect Bob McDonnell that was printed on the Op-Ed page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Nov. 25 urging McDonnell to distance himself from recent remarks by the Rev. Pat Robertson. Robertson, the Virginia Beach-based founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, asserted that Islam “is not a religion” but a “violent political system” after the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Robertson is a longtime supporter and associate of McDonnell.
   “We strongly disagree with Robertson’s words of intolerance and hate because we believe that our religious traditions are built upon love and compassion,” the letter says. “Robertson’s words are more than a simple ‘disagreement.’ For those who listen to him, they are a call to action, a call to hate your neighbor. They are against our tradition of religious tolerance and diversity, central to the character of our nation. Words of hate such as those spoken by Robertson will create in America and Virginia new room for bigotry and intolerance. Our shared traditions call upon us to create local spaces for mutual appreciation and understanding.”
   Bishop Kammerer, Dr. M. Imad Damaj of the Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs and Rabbi Martin Beifield Jr. of Congregation Beth Ahabah, Richmond, signed the letter on behalf of leaders of the Episcopal, Baptist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches, United Church of Christ, Church of the Brethren, Jewish and Muslim congregations, Virginia Council of Churches and Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.
   The Times-Dispatch followed up three days later with an editorial voicing support for the faith leaders’ letter. “If Robertson’s ill-tempered remarks were an isolated incident they might be written off,” the newspaper’s Editorial Board wrote. “But they are not.” The editorial also said that McDonnell’s relationship with Robertson deserved the same kind of scrutiny that Barack Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright received during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Survey to help decide Annual Conference agenda
The Virginia Conference is considering the possibility of shortening its Annual Conference schedule by one day beginning in 2012. This would result in cost savings for the conference, its districts and congregations. Since this decision will also result in an abbreviated agenda, your assistance is being sought in helping to determine the primary values of the Annual Conference. Your response to a brief questionnaire will help in determining the 2012 Annual Conference agenda. To open the survey, go to the conference Web site, www.vaumc.org, and click on the Annual Conference Survey link on the left side of the home page. Completed surveys should be returned to the Rev. Marc Brown, director of Connectional Ministries, at MarcBrown@vaumc.org.

Virginia giving to Advance currently outpacing last year
Shawn Bakker, associate General Secretary for The Advance at the General Board of Global Ministries, reported that overall missionary support received through The Advance from the Virginia Conference was $422,530 as of Sept. 30, more than $20,000 ahead of the same time last year. “With conferences like yours supporting our United Methodist missionaries,” Bakker wrote to the Virginia Conference, “Global Ministries was able to commission and send forth 32 new missionaries in October.”

Credit Union offers loan, financial counseling program
The Jubilee Assistance Fund is a loan program where a local church establishes an account at the Virginia United Methodist Credit Union to provide collateralized small, short-term loans for individuals who would not qualify for loans otherwise. To qualify for funds, the borrower agrees to receive financial counseling, loan monitoring and payroll deduction. The program is a way to provide church members short-term help during a financial crisis and financial management tools to assist them with long-term financial stability. For more information on establishing a fund at your church, call 1-866-657-0004 or e-mail creditunion@vumcu.org

Feb. 4 will be United Methodist Day at General Assembly
The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church 2009-2012 state that: “The church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs that are unjust.” Join Bishop Kammerer and hundreds of United Methodists from across Virginia on Thursday, Feb. 4, as a witness to our faith by visiting legislators to urge them to support just policies and programs and oppose those that are unjust. The event is sponsored by the Virginia Conference Board of Church and Society and United Methodist Women. Click here for a brochure and registration form. For more information, contact Natalie May at (804) 320-8524 or nbmay@verizon.net.

Bishop’s Convocation on Creation Care to be Feb. 27 in Richmond
A Creation Care Convocation for the Virginia Conference will be held Saturday, Feb. 27, at River Road United Methodist Church, 8800 River Road, Richmond. This event is designed to equip and train local congregations on how to incorporate caring for God's creation into all areas of their church and personal life. The convocation will include a variety of speakers and workshops, information about the Green Church Initiative, panel discussions and tree planting. Click here for more information and promotional flyer. 

‘God's Renewed Creation’ to be topic at Clergy Spouse Retreat
“God's Renewed Creation” will be the topic of Bishop Charlene Kammerer’s keynote address at the 2010 Clergy Spouse Retreat March 4 - 6, at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) in Blackstone. Her address will be based on the updated initiative of the Council of Bishops — "God's Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action" — that explores the problems of and solutions to nuclear weapons, environmental degradation, global warming, pandemic poverty and disease. The retreat will also offer a variety of interest groups including Ed and Libby Wright leading a group for clergy couples titled "Two Ministers in a Parsonage," and Leigh Kammerer leading a group for male clergy spouses. Dress is casual. Come for an opportunity to make new friends, renew friendships, relax and have fun. Registration information will be out in early January. Retreat planning committee is chaired by  Margaret Sisson and is sponsored by the Clergy Family Enrichment Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry.

Advent, Lenten resources encourage congregations to ‘Rethink Church’
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, CNN Headline News began airing “Rethink Church this Christmas” – a 30-second spot encouraging viewers to help those who are searching for hope, acceptance and love. This and other resources are available online for use in worship and in reaching out to those without a church home this Christmas. On Jan. 2, 2010, United Methodist Communications will release Lenten worship resources to help congregations Rethink Church as we move toward the cross and beyond with Christ. A Journey to Hope provides an invitation to journey through real-life circumstances like job loss, low self-esteem, relationship issues, money problems and even death to see how, in this life and the next, you can be resurrected. Television, worship graphics and more will be available to help congregations connect especially with visitors and young adults. For more information, contact Rethink Church at 1-877-281-6535 or e-mail rethinkchurch@umcom.org.

Sunday, Jan. 17, is Human Relations Day
Sunday, Jan. 17, is Human Relations Day, one of the six church-wide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church. Human Relations Day is celebrated on the Sunday before the national observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The day is intended to strengthen United Methodist outreach to communities in the United States and Puerto Rico, encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youth. Click here for more information.

Dec. 15 is deadline to apply for Ethnic Young Adult Summer Internship
Deadline is Dec. 15 to apply for a 2010 Ethnic Young Adult Summer Internship with the General Board of Church and Society. The program is for young people, ages 18–22, with an interest in exploring issues of public policy, social justice advocacy and social change. Interns will work in social justice placements in the U.S. Capitol from May 30 to July 31. Click here for more information or contact the Rev. Neal Christie, General Board of Church and Society, 100 Maryland Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call (202) 488-5611; or e-mail nchristie@umc-gbcs.org.

UMCOR gift catalog offers ideas for Christmas giving
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) publishes a Gift Catalog each year that provides ideas for gift giving for the holiday season. Each item is an example of what a gift can accomplish, and 100% of all gifts will go to the listed Advance project. You could purchase a beekeeping kit for a farmer completing UMCOR training, provide anti-malaria medication for 25 pregnant women with malaria, or provide clean water for 300 people in Sudan. To learn more, visit http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/give/gift-catalog

InfoServ to become exclusively e-mail, online on April 1
InfoServ, the official information service of The United Methodist Church, will become exclusively an e-mail and online information service effective April 1, 2010. At that time, telephone support services will be discontinued. InfoServ is a ministry of United Methodist Communications (UMCom), which announced in August other program and staff reductions in response to a growing budget deficit and a restructuring plan.
   “In these challenging economic times, we must find ways to continue providing high-quality service in a more cost effective manner,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, UMCom chief executive. “Telephone calls to InfoServ have been decreasing over the past couple of years as more people take advantage of the Web or use e-mail to request information. We’re committed to continuing to provide answers quickly and accurately, but technology allows us to do so more economically.”
   Customers will be able to submit questions via e-mail at infoserv@umcom.org. Answers to the most frequently asked questions are also available online at www.infoserv.umc.org. In addition, other customer-friendly options such as live chat and leaving a callback number will be explored during the transition period. Depending on the demand, some limited hours for telephone availability may be offered after April 1.

Help seekers find info about your church on Find-a-church.org
Millions of unchurched seekers are out there. How will they find your church? At www.Find-A-Church.org, Web surfers can search – by location, ministry offerings and more – for opportunities to engage with your church. (e.g., Maybe a parent is thrilled to find a congregation that offers a day care program. Or parenting classes.) But they won’t find your church ministries unless YOU put them on your church’s profile on Find-A-Church. Use your church’s easily updatable Find-A-Church profile to put a personal welcome, ministry opportunities, contact information, details about worship schedule, a link to your church Web site and more at the fingertips of people actively searching for it. There are two ways to update your church information: 1) Visit www.find-a-church.org, enter your zip code, select your church name ... then scroll down to “Update your church information.” Or, complete the online short form at www.rethinkchurch.org/churchupdate and submit.
     Almost 300,000 people a month already go to http://www.Find-A-Church.org to learn more about local churches just like yours. And even more visitors are on the way. Find-a-Church.org is a key component of the “Rethink Church” initiative – the next evolution of The United Methodist Church’s Open Hearts national advertising and welcoming campaign. The ad campaign sends visitors to www.10thousanddoors.org. When they get there, they’ll discover many “doors” they can walk through to search for a church that matches their own interests and preferences. But if your information isn’t updated on Find-a-Church, they won't learn much about you, or the “doors” that can lead them into your church. And they could be missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime. For assistance in updating your church information, e-mail FAC@umcom.org or call toll-free 1-800-251-8140.


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 newsmagazine. Click here to subscribe online. Or call Peggy Cribbs at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110, or (804) 521-1110. Or e-mail Advocate@vaumc.org


      

 

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