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News from the Virginia Conference – Aug. 26, 2010

Rethink Church Bibles offered to seekers
Beginning in October, United Methodist Communications is offering free Rethink Church Bibles to people visiting the Rethink Church Web site. The Rethink Church Common English Bible (New Testament) is a special edition that features a seeker-sensitive introduction to the Bible and to The United Methodist Church. United Methodists are encouraged to make gifts of $5 — the cost to print and ship one Bible to a seeker — to help pay for this outreach. Gifts are accepted online or by texting the word “Bible” to 27722 to make a *$5 gift via cell phone billing. Churches may also order their own copies at $5 each to give away to church visitors or at Rethink Church events in their communities. More …

Virginia Conference chosen for new Scouting program
The United Methodist Office of Scouting Ministries has selected the Virginia Conference as a pilot area to test the effectiveness of “Scouting ministry specialists.” Volunteers are needed to serve as specialists who will provide churches with information about the Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY), training opportunities, resources for Scout Sunday and various awards for young people and adults. Scouting ministry specialists also will help churches enrich relationships with existing Scout units. Six United Methodists already have volunteered to serve Virginia churches, including Bill Chaffin from Richmond, Stephen Roberts from Clarksville, Thomas McKee from Midlothian, Tammy Cahoon from Midlothian, and Charles Carpenter, conference Scouting coordinator, from Grottoes. For more information about becoming a Scouting ministry specialist, contact LaNisha Sayles via e-mail to, or call 1-866-297-4312.

September is Christian Education Month in Virginia Conference
In the Virginia Conference, the month of September is observed as Christian Education Month. Annual Conference voted to encourage each local church to place an extra emphasis on Christian education for at least one Sunday during September and to receive a special Christian Education offering in September or early October. Funds will be used to provide teaching/learning opportunities for local churches throughout the conference. Half of the collected amount stays with the conference, and half is returned to the district for the ministry of education on the district. Click here for more information and for an application to request funds received from the offering on the conference level.

Conference uses ‘rule of love’ for immigration issues
Neill Caldwell, editor of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, wrote a letter to the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Aug. 17) in response to recent comments by the commonwealth’s attorney general and other elected officials who “commonly used the idea of the ‘rule of law’ in regard to immigration issues.”
     “The Virginia Annual Conference office of The United Methodist Church, which serves the 1,200 churches and more than 338,000 United Methodists in the commonwealth, is taking a different approach to the subject,” Caldwell wrote. “We’re focusing on the ‘rule of love.’”
     Caldwell said the Virginia Conference recently formed a work group to help facilitate discussion on the issues surrounding immigration. “As people of God, we are doing so from the spirit of loving our neighbors first and foremost,” he stated. Caldwell quoted Virginia Bishop Charlene Kammerer, who wrote recently: “Regardless of our political beliefs about immigration, the consistent message of Old and New Testament Scripture invites us to embrace the sojourner and stranger in our midst.”
     “What a more thoughtful and faithful environment we could live in if others approached the topic from this perspective,” Caldwell wrote.

Studies show that small groups help churches grow
Several recent studies support the idea that growing congregations tend to offer more small groups than churches that are losing members. Small groups are an effective means of helping church members develop relationships with one another, which helps drive church growth. More …

Churches urged to open doors to people with disabilities
The United Methodist Church promises "open doors," but many people with disabilities and their families perceive barriers to full life in the church. More …

Sept. 5 is ICM Labor Day Offering Sunday
On Sunday, Sept. 5, Industrial and Commercial Ministries (ICM) Labor Day Offerings will be received in United Methodist churches throughout the Virginia Conference. ICM is a mission of local churches, with volunteer ICM chaplains connecting each week to thousands of men and women, churched and unchurched, sharing God's love at their assigned places of business and providing a supportive presence and referrals. Funds given to the offering will be used by ICM to continue training new chaplains, provide help to existing local ICM chapters and expand into new areas. For brochures or offering envelopes, call 1-800-659-1928 or e-mail Visit for more information.

September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month
The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) is encouraging local churches to observe National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in September by hosting a special worship service or other educational event to highlight the realities of addiction, the benefits of treatment and the possibility of recovery. More information, including a planning toolkit, is available at or by calling 1-800-662-HELP. Visit to obtain worship resources and join the GBCS Addictions Network to be informed about other events and actions pertaining to addiction and recovery issues through The United Methodist Church.

September is National Hunger Action Month
September is “National Hunger Action Month.” Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) is offering free, ready-to-use resources to motivate church congregations to step out in faith to follow Jesus’ commands concerning the poor and hungry. These resources can be used in September or anytime during the year to raise hunger awareness and to call your congregation to action. Download at or by contacting the Rev. Jennifer Vestal Moore at SoSA at 1-800-333-4597 or

World Communion Sunday is Oct. 3
Sunday, Oct. 3, is World Communion Sunday. The World Communion Scholarship, which provides scholarships for U.S. racial- and ethnic-minority students and international students on both undergraduate and graduate levels, is funded through the special offering on World Communion Sunday, the first Sunday each October. Click here for more information.

Children’s Sabbath scheduled for Oct. 8-10
This year, the United Methodist Church will observe Children’s Sabbath Oct. 8-10. Children's Sabbath is an ecumenically celebrated weekend committed to educating the congregation about the state of today’s children and families in America. Children provide leadership through music, sharing of gifts and reading of Scripture. Click here for downloadable resources for this event available through the Children’s Defense Fund. Use an interactive map to find ideas that worked in congregations and communities in 2009 by going to

‘10-Fold’ to feature 10 Advance projects in 10 days beginning Oct. 10
For 10 days, Oct. 10-19, you will be able to go online to learn about Global Ministries' projects around the world supported through The Advance, the designated giving arm of The United Methodist Church. “10-Fold,” a new type of online event, will offer live webcasts, streaming video, online chats and other media that will enable you to see and hear about amazing projects that are changing people's lives. Every day will focus on a different project. The goal is to gain the support of 10,000 people for each of the 10 projects. During the event, $1 will be donated for every person that signs up as an advocate for a 10-Fold project, up to $10,000 per project. To get more details, visit and download the 10-Fold Participant's Guide.

SuSu Jennings runs to raise awareness for TOP
On Tuesday, Aug. 24, SuSu Jennings passed the halfway point in her quest to complete the equivalent of 15 marathons in 15 days to raise awareness and support for Teens Opposing Poverty (TOP), a Virginia Conference Advance Special. On Wednesday she arrived in Richmond and stopped by the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. She has run more than 200 miles from Winchester, Front Royal, Chantilly, Washington, D.C., and Fredericksburg. On Saturday, Aug. 28, she will be in Charlottesville and will end Aug. 31 in Lynchburg. To follow her blog and for more details, go to

Workshops on unemployment, predatory lending to be offered
The Economic Justice Work Group of the Virginia Conference Board of Church & Society is partnering with the Interfaith Center for Public Policy to present “Real Change for Real People: Moving Beyond Broke.” These workshops will deal specifically with issues surrounding unemployment insurance and predatory lending. Three regional events are scheduled: Saturday, Sept. 11, 10 a.m.-noon at Trinity UMC, 305 Mountain Ave. SW, Roanoke; Saturday, Sept. 18, 10 a.m.-noon at Parkview UMC, 912 Briarfield Road, Newport News; Saturday, Sept. 25, 10 a.m.-noon at St. Paul UMC, 1400 G. St., Woodbridge. Click here to register online for Sept. 11; click here to register online for Sept. 18; click here to register online for Sept. 25. For more information, contact Marilyn Heckstall at, Carla Sterns at, or Mike Wilson at

Eric Geiger to speak at 5 Talent Academy teaching event Sept. 23
Eric Geiger, executive pastor of Christ Fellowship in Miami, Fla., and co-author of the best-selling book Simple Church, will be featured speaker at the 5 Talent Academy teaching event on Faith Development 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, at Williamsburg Community Chapel, Williamsburg. Deadline for early registration discount is Sept. 2. More …

Kid’s Work Camp set for Sept. 24-26 at Westview on the James
Westview on the James, United Methodist camp in Goochland, will offer a weekend of outreach opportunities for 3rd- to 6th-graders at Kid's Work Camp Sept. 24-26. Students and their leaders will travel into the community for mission projects such as demolition work, raking leaves, hauling wood, turning over gardens, pulling weeds, etc. Worship and Bible Study will be led by United Methodist children's leaders. Weather permitting, students will have fun on Westview Lake and will have a chance to connect with other students from the Virginia Conference. Cost for the weekend is $75 per person. Registration deadline is Sept. 15. For more information, call the camp office at (804) 457-4210 or go to

Conference extension ministers to meet with bishop Oct. 1
Conference extension ministers and pastors appointed beyond the local church will gather with Bishop Charlene Kammerer on Friday, Oct. 1, at Richmond Hill, 2209 E. Grace St., Richmond. In addition to hearing from the bishop, several colleagues in extension ministries will share what God is doing through them, including their challenges and visions. The day will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Cost is $20 for lunch and registration. Click here for more information and to register.

Credit Union to offer tax seminar for clergy Oct. 6
The Virginia United Methodist Credit Union will offer a Tax Seminar For Clergy Wednesday, Oct. 6, from 1-3 p.m. at the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. The seminar will address the special employment status of clergy and the self-employment tax along with other tax issues related to clergy. There is no cost to attend, but space is limited and registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Janie Hightower at or 1-866-672-0004.

Older Adult retreat set for Oct. 5-7 at VUMAC
“Seasoned Adults Spice Up the Church,” a retreat sponsored by the Older Adult Council and Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc., will be held Oct. 5-7 at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC), Blackstone. Cost for each participant is $150. Scholarship assistance is available. Registration deadline is Sept. 24. Click here for more information.

Women in ministry invited to Oct. 21 gathering
All women in ministry — licensed, ordained, consecrated, candidates for ministry and other women — are invited to the Clergywomen’s Collective gathering 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 21, at the Virginia Conference United Methodist Center, 10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen. Bring a bag lunch or run to the deli at Martin’s across the way. For more information, contact the Rev. ReNe'e Teague at or (804) 357-4435.

New Church Leadership Institute to be Nov. 9-11
New Church Leadership Institute 2010 will be held Nov. 9-11 at the Virginia Conference United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. Participants will learn how to gain clarity in discerning ministry competencies, spiritual gifts, personal mission field or affinity group, leadership style and its implications and place on the apostolic/pastoral continuum. Registration deadline is Oct. 15. Click here for more information and online registration. Or go to or contact Pat Hickman at (804) 521-1155, 1-800-768-6040, ext. 155, or

Donors respond slowly to Pakistan floods
The outpouring of donations following the Jan. 12 earthquake that rocked Haiti is not being repeated for the people of Pakistan fighting for survival in the wake of massive floods. The United Nations blames donor fatigue and the fact the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis is unfolding slowly. Yet a massive financial response is necessary because the devastation is many times worse, said David Sadoo, an executive with United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). More …

United Methodists address mosque conflicts
A proposal to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero is one of many controversies that have broken out around the country over the construction or expansion of mosques. Addressing the mosque disputes and other issues in United Methodist-Muslim relations is going to take more than a press release of solidarity or conference resolution, interfaith advocates said. More …

Edelman to keynote Peace Conference Sept. 19-21
“Peace for The World's Children” is the theme for the 2010 Peace Conference to be held Sept. 19-21 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, N.C. Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, will be featured speaker. Dr. Jeni Stepanek will keynote a pre-conference event for children and youth Sept. 19-20. For more information, go to

Online Lay Speaking Ministries course begins Sept. 20
Several times a year, hosts online courses approved by the General Board of Discipleship as an advanced course in Lay Speaking Ministries. The next scheduled GBOD approved course, “Biblical Storytelling I,” will be Sept. 20-Oct. 3. Information is available at

African-American Clergy Health Summit set for Sept. 27-28
Lake Junaluska and the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (GBPHB) of The United Methodist Church are hosting the “African-American Clergy Health Summit: A Self-Care Covenant” Sept. 27-28. Participants will participate in a self-care covenant workshop designed specifically for African-American clergy. Deadline for early registration discount is Aug. 31. For more information, go to

Third international AIDS conference to be held Oct. 14-16 in Dallas
“Lighten the Burden III,” the third international AIDS conference sponsored by the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee, will be Oct. 14-16 at the Radisson Central Hotel in Dallas, Texas. The conference will feature national and international speakers, each bringing his or her own unique perspective to the AIDS pandemic. To register, go to by Sept. 20. Registration fee is $100 (includes meals and resources). More …

Deacons’ gathering to be Oct. 24-26 at Lake Junaluska
The Rev. Gary Gunderson, deacon in the Memphis Conference and director of Methodist Healthcare in Memphis, will be featured speaker for the 2010 Deacon/Diakonate Gathering to be held Oct. 24-26 at Lake Junaluska. Focus of the gathering, “The Diakonate – Bridging Brokenness, Toward Healing and Wholeness,” will center on health, spirituality and wholeness for those in full-time ministry and for those they serve in ministry. For more information and to register online, visit or call (828) 454-6656.

Lake Junaluska Multicultural Conference to be held Dec. 2-4
Lake Junaluska’s second Multicultural Conference will be Dec. 2-4. Theme is “Embracing Christ’s Multi-Ethnic Body: Breaking Down Barriers and Building Bridges.” Early registration ends Oct. 16. One CEU credit available. Call (828) 454-6656 or visit to register or for more information.

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


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