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News from the Virginia Conference - April 22, 2016

Contributions honoring Bishop Cho will fund 'Spiritual Leadership' training
Bishop Young Jin Cho will retire from active ministry on Aug. 31 of this year, after having served four years as the episcopal leader of the Virginia Conference. To honor his service, the conference Committee on Episcopacy is inviting Virginia United Methodists to make contributions to the Bishops Foundation endowment to fund training and leadership development for clergy and laity in the area of “Spiritual Leadership.”
     “In the four years he has been leading our conference, Bishop Cho has consistently emphasized the need for increased prayer and a commitment to spiritual disciplines,” said Shirley Cauffman, Committee on Episcopacy chair, “so it seems appropriate to honor him by continuing an emphasis on spiritual disciplines through the work of the Bishops Foundation.”
     To make a donation to honor Bishop Cho, send a check payable to “Virginia United Methodist Conference,” earmarked for “Bishop Cho donation,” to Treasurer, Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA 23058.

VAUMC prepares for long-term recovery to help victims of Feb. 24 tornadoes
Organizational preparations are underway to begin the long-term recovery and re-building efforts needed to help survivors of the Feb. 24 tornadoes. Forrest White began serving as Virginia Conference Disaster Recovery Manager on April 11. Stephanie Hunt, who has disaster recovery work experience with the North Carolina and South Carolina conferences, joined the team on April 14 as Case Management Supervisor/Volunteer Coordinator. The biggest challenge will be raising funds to help with the recovery. Congregations are asked to consider taking special offerings on an ongoing basis. Checks payable to “Virginia United Methodist Conference” can be mailed to the Virginia Conference Treasurer, P.O. Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA 23058. Donors should designate “Conference Advance #5037 – Disaster Response” on the check. Click here to make online contributions. Additionally, the following are needed:
• Donated trucks for use by construction workers, particularly three-quarter ton trucks with towing capabilities (preferably with four-wheel drive). Trucks do not have to be brand new. Possible connections for truck donations are car dealerships, contractors, companies like Dominion Power that replace trucks frequently, etc.
• Free (or greatly reduced-cost) housing for staff people in Richmond, Appomattox, Waverly and Tappahannock.
• Storage facility in the Richmond area where supplies and equipment can be stored until they are deployed in affected areas.
If you have leads for securing any of these items, contact Forrest White at

Robinsons available to speak in local churches
Kip and Nancy Robinson, missionaries from the Virginia Conference, are back home in Richmond following a three-year assignment in Sierra Leone. They are now are available to visit churches, to preach or speak on mission, or provide an update and say "thank you for your faithful support." If you would like them to visit your church or group, contact them at (Nancy) or (Kip).

Missionary to Cambodia available to visit VAUMC churches in July
Esther Gitobu, General Board of Global Ministries missionary currently serving as United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) coordinator in Phnom Penh with the Methodist Mission of Cambodia, will be in Virginia July 5-18. Proposed schedule for Esther's Virginia visit is: Wednesday, July 6, Dayton UMC; Sunday, July 10, First UMC in Newport News; Tuesday, July 12, High Street UMC (Franklin); Wednesday, July 13, Mathews Chapel (Cobbs Creek); Thursday, July 14, Providence UMC (Montross); and Sunday, July 17, Burke UMC. Some dates are still available (or not confirmed). If you would like to invite Esther to come to your congregation, contact Ann Klotz at

May 1 is Older Adult Recognition Sunday
Older Adult Recognition Sunday is May 1. The 2008 General Conference adopted legislation inviting congregations to celebrate Older Adult Recognition Day each year during the Month of May. The Virginia Conference was well ahead of the legislation when, in 2006, the first Sunday in May of each year was designated as Older Adult Recognition Sunday. Through an Older Adult Recognition Sunday, United Methodists are invited to show appreciation and support for older adults who continue to enrich and strengthen our faith communities. This special Sunday also calls the church to action in addressing the needs of older adults in the congregation and community. Your congregation can choose the first Sunday in May or another date that best fits your needs. Click here for worship resources from United Methodist Discipleship Ministries focused on this year's theme, "Evergreen — Counting the Rings of Faithfulness." Click here for worship resources from the Virginia Conference Older Adult Council and Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc.

Churches asked to take Samaritan Offering May 8-June 19
Churches in the Virginia Conference are asked to receive a special offering between Mother’s Day on May 8 and Father’s Day on June 19 for the 2016 Samaritan Offering to support the Samaritan Program of Virginia United Methodist Homes (VUMH), a benevolent fund which provides financial assistance to residents who have outlived their monetary resources and, through no fault of their own, can no longer afford the full cost of their care. VUMH mailed each charge a packet of promotional materials and giving envelopes. With the exception of the envelopes, all of the materials are available on the VUMH website at under the “Samaritan Program” section. The website also includes bulletin inserts for each Sunday during the offering emphasis. For help in telling the VUMH story within your congregation or extra copies of promotional materials, contact Martha Stokes, director of Church and Community Relations at Virginia United Methodist Homes, at or (804) 474-8718. More....

UMW offers climate justice study
Today is Earth Day, a time to reflect on how to become better stewards of God's earth and God's people. United Methodist Women collaborated with environmental advocates to create three resource books, part of the 2016 Mission Studies line-up that will be featured at upcoming Mission u events, opportunities to study current issues impacting society based on current mission study topics with particular attention to the responsibilities of women in fulfilling the mission work of the church. View resources

Pat Watkins recruits 'Earthkeepers' for creation care
Almost every time the Rev. Pat Watkins introduces himself as a missionary for the care of God’s creation — an official designation through the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries — it piques people’s interest. Now Watkins, an elder in the Virginia Conference; the Rev. Susan Mullin, a Minnesota Conference deacon; and Dan Joranko, a professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School, have conceived a program called “Earthkeepers” that aims to commission 500 people for creation care work within the next seven years. More ...

General Conference to consider impact of climate change
For many United Methodists, taking care of the planet is not just a matter of “going green.” As reflected in petitions to General Conference, the church is moving beyond the still-needed practices of recycling and household energy conservation to larger public policy issues related to global climate change. More ...

What does General Conference mean to my local church?
What happens at General Conference and what does that mean to your local congregation? Joe Iovino reports on how action at the denomination’s top legislative body affects local churches. More ...

A new, cloud-based hymnal will be considered at General Conference
Delegates to General Conference 2016 will be asked to approve the first steps to develop a new hymnal for The United Methodist Church. Church leaders want it to be Internet cloud-based and print on demand, with the contents customizable by congregations. More ...

United Methodist new church starts stand out in national survey
United Methodist new church starts outpaced new church starts by other protestant denominations in three of five key benchmarks – average worship attendance, new decisions for Christ and reaching previously unchurched people – according to a survey of 17 U.S. evangelical denominations and church planting network organizations. The survey, conducted in 2015 by LifeWay Research, received responses from 1,200 pastors and new church leaders and focused on 843 church plants started since 2008. LifeWay said the church planting survey was the most thorough in almost a decade. More ...

Texas flooding prompts relief work, prayers
United Methodists in Houston and elsewhere in southeast Texas are joining fellow residents in coping with still more rain. Eight flood-related deaths in the greater Houston area have been reported in recent days, and many homes and other buildings, including some churches, have sustained damage. The Texas Conference has created a relief fund and is preparing for more long-haul relief work. More ...

Bishop calls for prayer, help after Ecuador earthquake
Bishop Silvio Cevallos called for prayer for Ecuador in the wake of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the country on April 16. The Evangelical United Methodist Church bishop said there is damage and injuries in several places where the church has congregations. He said the church will be seeking help both nationally and internationally. More ...

Pensions agency reports on results from shareholder engagements
Recent shareholder engagements have successfully influenced the increase of female directors on the corporate boards of Comcast and Simon Property Group and expanded the discussion on human rights policy with Caterpillar and other companies, the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits has announced. More ...

United Methodist Church makes major contribution to fight malaria
The United Methodist Church’s contribution to the Global Fund has reached $20 million, strongly supporting malaria programs in most-affected countries in Africa. “We thank the United Methodist Church for their relentless efforts in the fight against malaria,” said Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund. “This is the largest contribution ever received from a faith-based organization and it’s extremely encouraging to see partners of all sectors coming together to eliminate malaria.” More ...

Harriet Tubman has deep ties to Methodism
The U.S. Treasury Department announced April 20 that Harriet Tubman — known as the Moses of her people — will replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Most American schoolchildren know Tubman as the African-American abolitionist who led thousands of slaves to freedom. But did you know she had deep ties to the African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion? To this day, the AME Zion Church — a full-communion partner of The United Methodist Church — owns and maintains her home in Auburn, N.Y. More ...

Festival of Wisdom and Grace to be Aug. 1-4 at Lake Junaluska
Adults in the second half of life are invited to attend the Festival of Wisdom and Grace at Lake Junaluska, N.C., Aug. 1-4. The conference will provide renewal and inspiration through worship, Bible studies, workshops, professional training and fellowship. Dr. Tony Campolo, Dr. Mickey Efird and Dr. James H. Pace will lead the conference. This year’s theme is “come to the water,” in reference to a Bible verse from the book of Isaiah. To register, or for more information, call 1-800-222-4930 or e-mail More ...

General Board of Global Ministries seeks senior director of Finance
The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) is seeking a full-time senior director of Finance. GBGM is moving its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta after nearly 200 years in New York City. Given its worldwide scope, which includes missionaries and other personnel, all focusing on some of the world's major social and global health challenges, plus an international humanitarian aid organization providing relief from hunger and disasters, known as UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief), Global Ministries offers an exciting opportunity for a senior finance professional to manage, direct and implement performance excellence strategies and objectives to ensure the achievement of Global Ministries goals in the areas of financial services. More ...

♦ Early Response Team basic training - April 23
United Methodist Early Response Teams (ERT) provide a caring Christian presence to storm and disaster victims. Training does not commit you to being on a team, but provides the opportunity to respond if your schedule allows. Teams provide many types of help: listening to residents, needs assessment, debris removal, sanitizing, flood “mucking out,” etc. Response is local or regional for three days. Training is beneficial even if you do not participate on a team. ERT certification training will be held 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Fieldstone UMC, 3385 N. Franklin St., Christiansburg. Cost is $55 (includes background check, t-shirt, manual, morning refreshments and lunch). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. To register or for more information, e-mail Steve Cass, trainer, at More ...

♦ Early Response Team Recertification Class - April 30
If you are a Certified Early Response Team member (ERT) and your ERT badge is expired or in need of renewal, there is still time to enroll in Early Response Team Recertification training that will be offered 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at Sterling United Methodist Church, Sterling. A $40 registration fee includes background check, badge and manual. Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. In addition to recertification, a specialist in the field will conduct a session on mold remediation and potential hazards to disaster survivors and responders. To register, e-mail Michele Michaelian at as soon as possible, and copy Steve Barham at Sterling UMC at so enough materials can be prepared. More ...

♦ Early Response Team basic training - May 21
The Conference Disaster Response Team invites you to participate in a training event for anyone interested in disaster relief ministries. Early Response Team (ERT) certification training will be held 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Centerville UMC, Centreville. Cost is $55 (includes background check, t-shirt, manual and lunch). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. For more information, contact Linda Cooper at register, e-mail Michele Michaelian at More ...

♦ Early Response Team basic training - May 21
The Conference Disaster Response Team invites you to participate in a training event for anyone interested in disaster relief ministries. Early Response Team (ERT) certification training will be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Braddock Street United Methodist Church, Winchester. Cost is $55 (includes background check, t-shirt, manual and lunch). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. To register, e-mail Michele Michaelian at More ...

♦ Historical Society day trip to Tangier Island - May 21
The Virginia Conference Historical Society is sponsoring a spring travel experience to Tangier Island Saturday, May 21, to celebrate the ministry of the Rev. Joshua Thomas, known as “Parson to the Islands.” Day trip includes embarkation from Reedville at 9:45 a.m., one-and-a-half-hour cruise to the island, historical portrayal of Thomas and a walk to Swain Memorial UMC where a recently-erected marker honors Thomas. Tour of significant sites will be guided by the Rev. Kirk Mariner. Return at 4:15 p.m. Cost for the cruise is $27 per person. Lunch may be purchased or bring your own lunch basket and drinks. Registration deadline is April 30. To register, send check for $27 per person, payable to Catherine Morgan, to Morgan at 14016 Redhills Rd., Beaverdam, VA 23015. On check memo line, indicate “Tangier Cruise” along with your phone number. Cancellation refunds cannot be made after May 10. For those traveling a long distance, overnight accommodations can be found in Warsaw and other surrounding communities.

♦ Helping Hands mission experience for children - June 22-23, July 21-22
Helping Hands, an exciting two-day mission experience for rising 4th-6th graders, parents and adult leaders, will be June 22-23 at St. Paul’s UMC in Staunton and July 21-22 at Woodlake UMC in Midlothian. Come and learn about mission opportunities and the importance of being a caring Christian. Cost is $36 per person and includes a t-shirt, meals, snacks and overnight stay. The event will include worship, fellowship and mission experiences in the community. Registration forms for each site can be found at

♦ Mission Encounter - July 29-31
Mission Encounter, the only conference-wide mission education and interpretation event, will be July 29-31 at Randolph-Macon College, Ashland. Mission Encounter is an opportunity for clergy and laity to learn about being partners in God’s global mission and to grow spiritually through study and worship. It is open to men, women and youths. Participants may attend one of three workshops: spiritual growth study on "The Bible and Human Sexuality" led by the Rev. Dr. Rob Vaughn, the Rev. Myrtle Frances Hatcher and Prof. Esther Barkat; issue study on "Climate Justice" led by the Rev. Pat Watkins and the Rev. Dottie Yunger; or geographic study on "Latin America-People and Faith" led by Don Edwards. For more information, contact Dennis Lipke, dean of the Mission Encounter Committee, at or (804) 262-8651. 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 magazine — now available in both print and digital formats. Click here to subscribe. Or call the Communications office at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110, or (804) 521-1110. Or e-mail For information about the Virginia Conference and resources for ministry, visit the Virginia Conference website at





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