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News from the Virginia Conference – Oct. 28, 2010

Conference invited
to fast, pray

Bishop Charlene Kammerer invites Virginia Conference United Methodists to join her in weekly fasting and prayer, through Dec. 31, to ask God to work within us for the future of the church. More …

Make food bank donations part of weekly fast
Bishop Charlene Kammerer is encouraging those who are participating in the weekly time of fasting and prayer to donate either food or the money saved by not purchasing food, to a local food bank or other food collecting agency. The suggestion for a way to "expand the fast" came from Bruce Dove, a lay member of Caplinger’s United Methodist Church in Criders, VA. “It's a good reminder,” said Bishop Kammerer, “even though some might already be responding in this way.”

AC offering to benefit four ministries
The 2011 Annual Conference offering goal is $200,000 to be shared equally between the two Initiatives of Hope mission efforts in Mozambique and Brazil and two Virginia-based missions: Agape Christian Children’s Community Center Inc. on the Eastern Shore and The Shalom Project in Roanoke. For more information, contact Glenn Rowley, conference director of Mission and Global Justice, at (804) 521-1143, toll-free at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 143, or e-mail to mission@vaumc.org. Promotional materials will be provided for local churches in the near future.

Virginia Advocate wins two awards in UMAC contest
The Virginia United Methodist Advocate won two awards in the United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC) annual contest, announced last week at the professional organization’s gathering in San Francisco. Editor Neill Caldwell won Best Op-Ed writing for his column, “United Methodists will be in Haiti for years to come.” Caldwell and freelance artist Ron Hill won for Best Artwork for the January 2010 Advocate cover, a “comic book” illustration of John Wesley and John Calvin. Emily Miller, an Annandale native who is a graduate of the University of Virginia, won several awards for her work with the Women’s Division in New York.

Staunton District’s Casa De Amistad given GCORR grant
The Staunton District’s Casa De Amistad program in Waynesboro received one of nine grants awarded by The United Methodist General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) to support projects aimed at services that advocate for the rights, human dignity and inclusion of racial/ethnic groups, immigrants and refugees. Awardees were selected out of 135 applications received from organizations across the nation. Applications were approved for funding by the GCORR Board of Directors during its Fall board meeting in Scranton, Penn. The grants are awarded through the CORR Action Fund's Action & Advocacy funding priority and will assist seven church-based and two community-based organizations in nine different states.

October is Clergy Appreciation Month
Want to show your pastor some appreciation? October is the perfect time to do it. Under His Wing Ministries Inc., a nonprofit, nondenominational group in Williamsport, Pa., established October as Clergy Appreciation Month in 1992. Ideas for honoring United Methodism's more than 45,000 clergy range from praying for them, being alert to signs of fatigue or distress to raking leaves or providing childcare for them. For more suggestions, go to http://www.pastor-appreciation.net/ and http://www.christianitytoday.com/holidays/clergy/.

Health Plan participants can change benefits through Nov. 5
Participants in the Virginia Conference Health Plan can make plan elections or changes to current Health Plan options now through Nov. 5. Health Care Reform has initiated several changes in our Health Plan for 2011 such as the ability to cover dependents until they turn age 26. You will have the option to add eligible dependents that may have been cancelled in the past. The dependent will be covered as of Jan. 1, 2011, but you must enroll them online through Open Enrollment before the deadline of Nov. 5, 2010. You do not have to participate in Open Enrollment if you do not have a Flexible Spending Account and you do not want to change anything about your Health Plan Elections. Go to the Web site and review the “changes” section to get a quick update on what changes will be occurring in 2011. Click here for Open Enrollment, or go to the Conference Web site, www.vaumc.org, and click on the 2011 Open Enrollment link. If you have questions, call Nancy Blair at (804) 521-1130 or toll-free 1-800-768-6040, ext 130.

Change your clocks back on Sunday, Nov. 7
Remember to set your clocks back one hour (you gain an hour!) when Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 7. The U.S. begins Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. local time on the second Sunday in March and reverts to Standard Time at 2 a.m. local time on the first Sunday in November. Dean McIntyre, director of Music Resources at the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) has written a song to help choir members and others remember to change their clocks and get to church on time on Sunday, Nov. 7. For a free download of the music, go to http://bit.ly/cFzysV.

Sunday, Nov. 28, is United Methodist Student Day
Nearly every one of us can recall a song that made us stop for a minute and listen with a smile. United Methodist Student Day scholarship recipient Maria Payne considers it her calling to create those moments for the people who need them the most. Growing up in Aberdeen, Md., Maria was active in Grace United Methodist Church. Her interest in music began as she played guitar and piano for her church. That early interest in music followed Maria to college. She did not want to play solely for entertainment; she sought to use her music to serve others. Then she learned about Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. A United Methodist-affiliated school, Shenandoah offers a music therapy program. “Music therapy,” Maria noted, “is using music to inspire a positive response from persons with a particular need. Most therapists specialize in helping the elderly, the sick, and the physically or developmentally handicapped. Music can lower stress, raise spirits or encourage action.” When Maria was applying to college, her mother told her to apply for a scholarship through the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Sure enough, Maria received support from The United Methodist Church to help her pay for college, something for which she is grateful. “College is really expensive. It’s wonderful that the church supports good kids who want to do well in life,” said Maria. When we United Methodists support United Methodist Student day, we open the door for persons like Maria and minister to the people she will touch. Call (888) 346-3862 to order envelopes and other resources so your congregation can participate in this churchwide offering. They will be sent at no cost to your church. You can also place an order for 2011 Special Sunday materials. Find more at www.umcgiving.org/specialsundays.

Church mission stories needed for Annual Conference
The Virginia Conference Board of Global Ministries is currently seeking stories from local churches explaining how the church is involved in hands-on mission at local, national and international levels. Selected stories will be shared at the 2011 Annual Conference which will focus on missions. Submit this information to Terri Biggins in the conference Office of Mission and Global Justice no later than Nov. 30. For a submission form, contact Terri at (804) 521-1144, toll-free at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 144 or e-mail to mission@vaumc.org. For more information, contact Donna Mott at (804) 863-1304 or donnamott8@gmail.com.

SoSA offers two Christmas programs
Society of St. Andrew (SoSA), a national hunger-relief ministry, offers two Christmas-related programs that support the ministry of gleaning fields and supplying fresh food to the hungry. An Advent devotional booklet, Preparing the Way, is designed for individual and family use and may be distributed by local congregations. SoSA’s Alternative Gift Christmas Card program sends exclusively designed cards to friends and loved ones when you honor them with a donation to support the gleaning ministry. For more details about these programs, go to www.EndHunger.org/AdventOffers.htm.

Middle School, High School Retreats offer spiritual formation
The Middle School Fall Retreat will be Nov. 12-14. The High School Retreat will be Dec. 3-5. Both offer weekends of spiritual formation through worship, Bible study, small groups and group building at Eagle Eyrie Retreat Center in Lynchburg. Join 1600 youth (800 at each retreat) from around Virginia for this spiritual growth experience. For detailed information and brochures or to register, click here for the Middle School Retreat; click here for the High School Retreat. (Or go to www.vaumc.org/youth and click on “events”.)

School for Children’s Ministry will be Nov. 19-20
The School for Children’s Ministry will be 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center, Blackstone. It will be an opportunity for training, networking, and fellowship. A focus on Special Needs Ministry for Children will be featured, as well as crucial workshops addressing children’s ministry 101, mission, recruiting and retaining volunteers, event planning, children’s messages, and nursery ministry. Click here for an information flier and registration. Registration deadline is Nov. 12.

African-American Roundtable scheduled for Nov. 19-20
Teams from churches are invited to attend an African-American Roundtable on Friday, Nov. 19, and Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. The event will begin with worship Friday evening. The Rev. Alex Duncan, pastor of Jackson Street-Trinity in the Lynchburg District, will preach. On Saturday, Jennifer Davis, director of Connectional Ministries for the Western North Carolina Conference, will offer the keynote address. Breakout sessions will focus on expanding the use of technology in the church, ministry with young adults, and the church discernment process. Laity and clergy who have a vision and passion for ministry in the African-American church are encouraged to attend. Cost is $25 per person which covers lunch, refreshments and materials. A .5 CEU has been requested for clergy. Click here for more information or to register.

UMVIM Team Leader Training is Nov. 20
United Methodist Volunteer In Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader Training will be held 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Lakeside UMC, 2333 Hilliard Rd., Richmond. Registration deadline is noon, Monday, Nov. 15. Click here to register or for more information.

Evening at Blackstone set for Dec. 5
Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) at Blackstone will host the annual Evening at Blackstone on Sunday, Dec. 5. It will be a night of Christian music with lots of familiar Christmas songs. This year, entertainment will be provided by Mercy's Well, a multi-talented trio from North Carolina. Open house starts at 4:30 p.m. Banquet is at 6 p.m. followed by the concert at 7 p.m. Call Cyndi at (434) 292-5308 to make a reservation.

Ashland District Heart Havens home consecration is Dec. 12
Date of the Consecration and Open House celebration for the new Ashland District Heart Havens Home has been changed to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12. The house is located at 320 North Snead Street, Ashland 23005.

2011 Ministers’ Convocation registration is open
Register now for the Jan. 18-20, 2011, Ministers’ Convocation. Theme is “Shaping God’s People: A Study of Exodus,” addressing the question “How does the story of Exodus help us to live into a future that is different from the past?” Keynote presenters will be Dr. Gil Rendle, senior consultant for the Texas Methodist Foundation for Clergy and Congregational Excellence, and Dr. Joel LeMon, assistant professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Preaching during the week will be Bishop Charlene Kammerer and the Rev. Lisa Yebuah, newly ordained elder in the North Carolina Conference and Minister of Community Witness at Edenton Street UMC, Raleigh, N.C. A variety of workshops will be held on Wednesday, and district reflection groups will be led by younger clergy in the conference. Click here to register online or to download registration form.

Rethink Church offers sermon, outreach series for Advent
United Methodist Communications (UMCom) is offering "A Life-Giving Christmas," a lectionary-based sermon series with accompanying resources for the four Sundays of Advent. Each component echoes the focus of the denomination's Rethink Church advertising and welcoming campaign. Included are ideas for engaging congregants via a church's social media channels and an optional media bundle that features five videos for use in worship or study, print and slide graphics, and templates for invitation cards, door hangers and direct mail. The bundle is available for $25 from the UMCom e-store or by calling toll-free (888) 346-3862. To learn more about Rethink Church resources and products, visit www.umcom.org/rethinkchurch.

Wesley Seminary offers lay, clergy continuing education classes
During the month of November, Wesley Seminary at Mount Vernon Square is offering several opportunities for lay and clergy to continue their education for ministry. Events include: Saturday, Nov. 6, 9 a.m. to noon: “Reaching the Unchurched: Urban Evangelism”; Thursday, Nov. 11, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.: “Racial Reconciliation Training”; and Saturday, Nov. 13, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.: “Joining God’s Mission,” part one of two-part Advanced Lay Speaking Course. (Part Two, for receipt of advanced lay speaking credit, is to complete any two sessions of the “Who is My Neighbor?” series.) For more information, go to http://www.wesleyseminary.edu/mvs/events.aspx or contact Frenika Mudd, Program Administrator, at fmudd@wesleyseminary.edu or (202) 403-0960.

Call to Action report urges commitment to congregational vitality
The first priority of The United Methodist Church must be a commitment to fostering and sustaining congregational vitality if the denomination is to be effective in its mission, states the final report of the Call to Action steering team. The Call to Action steering team will present recommendations to the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table. The report proposes establishment of a five-member interim operations team to work with the Council of Bishops, Connectional Table and general agencies to develop and implement work plans in stages leading up to and beyond the 2012 General Conference. The steering team’s final report, operational assessment report and congregational vitality report are available in their entirety at umc.org/calltoaction.

GBCS, Confessing Movement urge Prayer for Persecuted Church
The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) and the Confessing Movement, unofficial caucus group in The United Methodist Church, have issued a joint letter urging participation in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, Sunday, Nov. 14. The letter is signed by Bill Mefford, GBCS director of Civil & Human Rights, and Dr. Bill Bouknight, associate director of The Confessing Movement. In the letter, Mefford and Bouknight acknowledge that they have disagreements concerning some social issues facing The United Methodist Church, but say they want to “urge the Church to prayerfully and publicly stand with the members of the Body of Christ who are suffering right now.” More …

Simple-living guide challenges holiday consumerism
For those looking for an escape from Christmas consumerism, the 2010 edition of "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? Ideas for a Christ-Centered Holiday" is now available. The guide contains reflections, activities and how-to ideas for a more sacred Advent and Christmas season. It is published by the ecumenical Alternatives for Simple Living, a partner of the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The group aims to equip people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and create meaningful celebrations. The guide costs $4. To order, visit www.simpleliving.org.

UMCOR plans new food project for Sudan
The food shortage in South Sudan is so severe that more than half of the residents in two counties say they regularly skip meals. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is planning an ambitious food-security project to assist the people there. But political unrest could cause delays. More …

UMCOR changes contents of cleaning (flood) buckets
Cleaning buckets, previously called “flood buckets,” are one of the first signs of hope a family receives after a hurricane, flood, tornado or fire. United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) collaborates with Church World Service (CWS) in the popular kit ministry of The United Methodist Church. Recently, CWS removed bleach from its list of contents for cleaning buckets, and UMCOR is following their lead. Kathy Kraiza, executive director of UMCOR Relief Supplies, said transporting buckets containing bleach has been an issue in some regions of the U.S. Bleach is often used as a mold inhibitor when cleaning after a flood or hurricane, but the one bottle that had been provided was often only a starting point for homeowners. For future disaster response, Kraiza said, "we'll address the need for bleach on a case-by-case basis." Click here for instructions on packing and shipping kits.

Jack Ewing named Lake Junaluska executive director
Dr. John “Jack” L. Ewing, Jr. has been named new executive director of Lake Junaluska Assembly Inc., the body that oversees the United Methodist conference and retreat center in North Carolina. Ewing will begin his new duties on Jan. 1 and fills a position being vacated by the retirement of the Rev. Jimmy L. Carr. Ewing currently serves as executive director of the Foundation for Evangelism, which is also based at Lake Junaluska, N.C.

2010 Multicultural Conference to be Dec. 2-4 at Lake Junaluska
The Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops is partnering with Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center for the 2010 Multicultural Conference Dec. 2-4. Theme is “Embracing the Multi-Ethnic Body of Christ: Breaking Down Barriers and Building Bridges.” Virginia’s the Rev. Myrtle Frances Hatcher is a member of the design team led by Bishop William Morris (retired). A goal has been established for each annual conference to have 20–30 participants. Click here for more information or to register.

GBCS organizes Feb. 23-March 5 trip to Holy Land for young clergy
The General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) is organizing a Feb. 23-March 5 pilgrimage to the Holy Land designed for, but not limited to, young clergy. The Rev. Neal Christie, GBCS assistant general secretary for Education & Leadership Formation, and the Rev. Clayton Childers, GBCS director of Annual Conference Relations, are working with Dr. Peter Miano of the Society for Biblical Studies, Boston, to design the Holy Land pilgrimage. The trip will be limited to 15-20 persons. Balance will be maintained between learning about the Holy Land’s historic-biblical significance and seeing the complexity of its current social context. Three Continuing Education credits will be awarded for full participation. Cost, including airfare from New York and a double-occupancy room, will be $2,786. Deposit of $200 is due Nov. 24 with balance due Dec. 14. Register with Society for Biblical Studies (www.sbsedu.org/), 1 Mass. Ave., Suite 40, Arlington, MA 02476, (781) 641-4453. For more information, contact Christie at (202) 488-5611 or nchristie@umc-gbcs.org or Childers at (202) 488-5642 or cchilders@umc-gbcs.org.

2011 Caring for Creation Conference to be March 31-April 3
The 2011 Caring for Creation experience will be held at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center March 31 – April 3, 2011. Reduced registration fee is available for those registering before Jan. 1. The General Board of Church and Society, Ethnic Minority Local Church, is offering scholarships for participants of ethnic heritage. Scholarships include registration fee, double-occupancy housing, and meals. Scholarships are being offered to a maximum of two persons per church. For registration, scholarship request forms and more information, visit www.lakejunaluska.com/caring-for-creation or call (828) 454-6656.


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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