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To view a 2011 issue of the Virginia Conference e-Advocate, click on the date below:

Dec. 16, 2011
Dec. 9, 2011
Dec. 1, 2011

Nov. 18, 2011
Nov. 11, 2011
Nov. 4, 2011

Oct. 28, 2011
Oct. 14, 2011
Oct. 7, 2011

Sept. 29, 2011
Sept. 23, 2011
Sept. 15, 2011
Sept. 9, 2011
Sept. 2, 2011

Aug. 26, 2011
Aug. 19, 2011
Aug. 11, 2011
Aug. 4, 2011

July 28, 2011
July 21, 2011
July 15, 2011
July 8, 2011

June 29, 2011
June 20, 2011
June 14, 2011
June 9, 2011
June 3, 2011 - Special Annual Conference Edition

May 27, 2011
May 20, 2011
May 11, 2011
May 6, 2011

April 26, 2011
April 18, 2011
April 8, 2011

March 31, 2011
March 25, 2011
March 17, 2011
March 9, 2011
March 2, 2011

Feb. 25, 2011
Feb. 17, 2011
Feb. 10, 2011
Feb. 3, 2011

Jan. 28, 2011
Jan. 20, 2011
Jan. 12, 2011
Jan. 6, 2011

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News from the Virginia Conference – December 16, 2011

Conference offices to close for Christmas holidays
Conference offices in the United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will close at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23, in observance of the Christmas holiday. Offices will remain closed Dec. 26-28 and will re-open on Thursday, Dec. 29. Conference offices will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 2, in observance of the New Year’s holiday.

Conference introduces four Centers for Excellence
Effective Jan. 1, the Virginia Conference will introduce four Centers for Excellence designed to resource leadership development for clergy and laity throughout the conference. The Center for Clergy Excellence will be overseen by Beth Downs, director of Clergy Excellence. The Center for Congregational Excellence will be overseen by Mark Ogren, director of Congregational Excellence. The Center for Missional Excellence will be overseen by Glenn Rowley, director of Justice and Missional Excellence. The Center for Lay Leadership Excellence will be overseen by Martha Stokes, director of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence. More …

Cambodia added to Initiatives of Hope mission emphasis
The Cambodian Methodist Church has been added to the Initiatives of Hope mission emphasis of the Virginia Conference. The Rev. Glenn Rowley, conference director of Mission and Global Justice, will be traveling to Cambodia in March to meet with Cambodian Methodist leaders and visit mission projects of the church. A portion of the 2012 Annual Conference Offering will go to supporting the Cambodian Church as it works toward the goal to be an autonomous Methodist Church by 2016.

Conference seeks two summer interns
The Virginia Conference Office of Congregational Excellence and the Office of Ministries with Young People are seeking two interns for summer 2012. Applicants should be interested in pursuing a career in a ministry setting, have experience and passion for the area in which they apply, and be familiar with The United Methodist Church. Intern salary is $250 a week (with a minimum of 10 weeks). Click here for guidelines and an application. Deadline for submission of applications is Feb. 1. Applications should be e-mailed to Becky Tate at Questions can be directed to Becky Tate in the Office of Ministries with Young People by e-mail to or by phone at (804) 521-1139 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 139.

January Advocate considers looks at church accessibility
The January issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate will look at accessibility issues surrounding our churches. Many of our facilities were built before the days of thinking about people with disabilities, so they are full of steps and stairs that impede some people. Some people may simply choose another church which is more “user-friendly.” Mobility issues are not the only things to think about, of course. Access is important to everyone who has some kind of special need. The Advocate is the official monthly newsmagazine of the Virginia Conference. To subscribe to the award-winning Advocate – print version, digital version or both – call (804) 521-1110 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110; e-mail; or click here.

Table I statistics due Jan. 15; Table II stats due Jan. 31
The 2011 statistics system is now accessible to local churches to log on and print reports in preparation for year-end reporting. You can access the statistics Web site at The Eagle statistics system has been enhanced and renamed Ezra. Logons have been reset for the 2011 year. Ezra allows for two logons per church using the 6-digit General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) church number ending with the letter “p” for pastor or “o” for office. The password for 2011 is “methodist.” Statistics for Table I are due Jan. 15. Statistics for Table II and Table III are due Jan. 31. Once you've entered data in each of the tables, you must select “Submit” from the Home menu. This indicates to your district that you are done. You will need to enter an explanation for all warnings when you submit your statistics. If you need your password reset, contact your district office administrative assistant. Direct questions to David Dommisse, conference Treasurer, at (804) 521-1109 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 109.

Applications for ‘Calling 21’ internships due Feb. 1
"Calling 21" is a conference-wide, grass roots, congregation-based, youth-focused approach to the Virginia Conference's culture of call. During the summer, college students are placed in church internships and spend the summer immersed in the life of a local church, not their own, discerning God's call into church leadership. Calling 21 interns will both learn and lead. Calling 21 is looking for college students to apply. Application deadline is Feb. 1. Applicants shall be college students and interested in exploring their call to church leadership. More ...

Human Relations Day is Sunday, Jan. 15
Human Relations Day is Sunday, Jan. 15. This day of social action and raising awareness aims to heal social ills at the national level. It supports Community Developers, United Methodist Voluntary Service, and the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program. In The United Methodist Church calendar, Human Relations Day is the Sunday immediately following the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. However, you can observe Human Relations Day anytime of the year. Be sure to order your free offering resources for this offering that supports ministries that advocate for those often on the margins of society. Click here for a list of video resources. More …

Montgomery named Minister Director for UCMNV
The Rev. Mark Montgomery will be the new Minister Director for United College Ministries in Northern Virginia (UCMNV), United Methodist and ecumenical campus ministry at George Mason University. Montgomery, a United Methodist elder in the Southwest Texas Conference, will begin his ministry with UCMNV on Jan. 1. He is a graduate of McMurry University and Duke Divinity School. He previously served as a campus ministry intern at McMurry University and as associate pastor at Grace UMC in Corpus Christi. Montgomery chairs the Southwest Texas Young Adult Council. His wife, Melissa, is a native of Virginia and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. Montgomery can be reached at

Ministers’ Convocation to encourage time of renewal
Theme of the 2012 Ministers’ Convocation is "Bread for the Journey: A time for personal renewal and fellowship to regain joy and vitality in our lives and our vocation." Keynote presenter will be Wayne Muller, a therapist, minister, community advocate, public speaker and best-selling author of Sabbath; A Life of Being, Having and Doing Enough and Legacy of the Heart: the Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood. The convocation is set for Jan. 17-19 at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center. Click here for more information or to register.

ERT training scheduled Jan. 21 in Prince George
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Early Response Team (ERT) certification training is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at Sycamore United Methodist Church, 9710 Old Stage Rd., Prince George. Course will be taught by Michael Morris. Early Response Teams respond during the first phase of disaster relief, providing a Christian presence. Your church and your community could also be faced with a disaster. Train to be ready to respond and know the first steps to help. Registration fee is $55, which includes training manual, UMCOR ERT badge, lunch, T-shirt and background check fee (forms will be handed out at training). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. Deadline to register is Jan. 16. To register, contact Nancy Chesser at or (804) 541-1181; or Becky Paxton at or (804) 732-2538.

Discussion, visioning about strengthening Black church set for Feb. 18
A day of discussion and visioning with Dr. Fred A. Allen, national director of Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC21) will be held 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Conference Center in Glen Allen. SBC21 is a program designed to help United Methodist churches with predominantly black congregations become more fruitful in mission and ministry. The goal of the time with Dr. Allen will be to begin a process of developing a strategic plan to better support and nurture leadership and congregational development in existing predominantly African-American churches as well as to explore new church development possibilities in the Virginia Conference. For more information, contact the Office of Leadership and Inclusivity at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 153, or (804)-521-1153 or e-mail

Lay Servants Academy to be Feb. 24-26 at Blackstone
All laity are invited to the Lay Servants Academy to be held at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center Feb. 24-26. The Academy will include the 35th Annual Conference Lay Speakers Training; however, you do not need to be on track to become a Local Lay Speaker or Certified Lay Speaker to attend. Every chairperson, committee member, teacher or congregational leader is encouraged to take the introductory Lay Speaking course and overview of United Methodism. The information and skills you will be introduced to will serve you well within your local congregations. A variety of 10-hour courses will be offered for Advanced Lay Speaking. New in 2012 will be the offering of introductory 2-hour classes. Click here for more information and brochure. Registration deadline is Feb. 10.

Older Adult retreat set for April 20-21
“ReFirement: A Creative Spark,” a retreat sponsored by the conference Older Adult Council, will be held April 20-21 at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center. The retreat will focus on fostering the spark of creativity to enrich the lives of older adults and enhance the ministries of the church. A variety of workshop sessions including watercolor and acrylic painting, music, liturgical movement and knitting/crocheting as well as fellowship opportunities will be available. More …

Conference clergy urged to attend Festival of Homiletics May 14-18
The Virginia Conference Order of Elders is encouraging all clergy across the conference to attend the Festival of Homiletics May 14-18 in Atlanta. More …

Register now for June 25-29 United Nations Seminar
Reservations are being accepted for the June 25-29, 2012, United Nations Seminar for young people ages 16-22. This is an opportunity to go deeper in living your faith and learning how to be a generation for change. An exploration of social justice issues and systemic causes (locally and globally), this trip to New York City will help young people ages 16-22 years old discover a passion to change the world. This seminar is sponsored by the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. Seminars are presented for a minimum of 15 people. The goal is to register at least 15 participants by January. Exact cost has not yet been determined as final details are being set, but it is estimated to be approximately $800 per person. If you are interested in participating, contact Becky Tate at as soon as possible. More …

Staff volunteers needed for 2012 Camp Rainbow Connection
Camp Rainbow Connection will be held at the Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center July 8-13 and Aug. 12-17. Campers must be at least 16 years of age, have an intellectual disability as their primary disability, and be able to independently complete activities of daily living. Contact the Office of Leadership and Inclusivity to receive an application packet. New and returning staff volunteers are also needed. Staff members must be at least 16 years of age by July 1, agree to a criminal background check, attend a training session in the spring, and commit to attending the full week of camp. For the first time in 2012, there will be the opportunity for a limited number of 15-year-olds to serve as Camp Rainbow Connection Youth Advocates. Click here for applications for staff and Youth Advocates. For more information, contact the Office of Leadership and Inclusivity at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 153, or (804) 521-1153 or e-mail

Jan. 15 America’s Sunday Supper can help make the world better
America’s Sunday Supper on Jan. 15 offers a means to make the world better … through a shared meal, meaningful conversation and community service. It’s a great way to get youth groups, small groups and the broader congregation to reflect on what it means to live the faith and take on risk for mission and service. By signing up to host a supper, participating churches will receive marketing support to share an invitation with their communities, and a film to share at the event. Films come with discussion guides to stimulate conversation about education, food security, children of prison inmates and more. United Methodist Communications has teamed up with HandsOn Network and Points of Light Institute to offer America’s Sunday Supper as a Rethink Church Event – providing a model to honor both Human Relations Day and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. Through this partnership, local churches participate in a nationwide event, which last year recorded over 4,000 projects and over 240,000 volunteers. For more information, go to or e-mail More …

Sam Wells to leave Duke Chapel
The Rev. Dr. Samuel Wells, who has served as the dean of Duke Chapel since 2005, announced he will leave United Methodist-related Duke University early next summer to become the vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London. Wells was guest preacher at the 2011 Virginia Annual Conference session. He grew up in Bristol, England, and will be leading a prominent parish in the Church of England. More …

Buchanan to receive honorary doctorate
The Rev. Ray Buchanan will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from North Carolina State University during the Dec. 17 fall commencement ceremony. Buchanan, an ordained elder in the Virginia Conference, is founder and international president of Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief agency that has provided more than $70 million of direct aid and 56 million meals to people in 76 countries. More …

Baseball’s elimination of smokeless tobacco applauded
Faith United Against Tobacco and the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids hailed the new Major League Baseball contract as a “historic first step” toward getting smokeless tobacco out of the game to protect the health of big-league players and millions of young fans who look up to them. More …

Congress on Evangelism set for Jan. 3-6
The 2012 Congress on Evangelism is scheduled Jan. 3-6 at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center in Nashville. The gathering, sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and Foundation for Evangelism, offers a slate of speakers and workshops that will present tools for drawing more people into the church. More …

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 — now available in both print and digital formats. Click here to subscribe. Or call Peggy Cribbs at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110, or (804) 521-1110. Or e-mail



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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
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