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 Dec. 15, 2016
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News from 2016 General Conference (May 10-20)
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April 7, 2016

March 30, 2016
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March 21, 2016 - Annual Conference Special Offering
March 17, 2016
March 10, 2016
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News from the Virginia Conference - April 7, 2016

This Sunday, conference to pray 24 hours for General Conference
The United Methodist Council of Bishops has invited each annual conference in the denomination to designate one day to hold a 24-hour prayer vigil for General Conference. Bishop Young Jin Cho has selected Sunday, April 10, to be the day for the Virginia Conference prayer vigil. The Virginia Conference delegation committees for worship and devotional life, conference Board of Discipleship and Kindred Project are developing resources that can be used for this event as well as during days following April 10 and throughout General Conference. District offices are coordinating the scheduling of local churches that wish to participate. Congregations are signing up for half-hour or one-hour increments so there will be 24 hours of continuous prayer beginning at 12 a.m. April 10 and continuing until 12 a.m. April 11. Click here to see what districts are doing. As part of this initiative, the chapel in the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will be open for prayer. In addition, all congregations are asked to include the prayer initiative in Sunday's services. More ...

Forrest White to oversee long-term recovery from Feb. 24 tornadoes
Forrest White has been hired by the Virginia Conference as Disaster Recovery manager to handle the long-term recovery effort required after tornadoes struck the state on Feb. 24. He will begin work on Monday, April 11. White has served as United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) coordinator for the conference since June 1, 2013. He began training UMVIM team leaders in 2011 and has led more than three dozen training events around the conference. In addition, he is a certified Early Response Team (ERT) trainer and has led six ERT trainings around the conference. White has led 50 short-term mission teams, including a dozen in areas around the United States affected by disaster. He will work under the direction of the Rev. Bob Pihlcrantz, coordinator of Virginia Conference Disaster Response which is a ministry of the office of Justice and Missional Excellence.

Video previews 2016 General Conference
Nick Ruxton, videographer in the conference Communications office, produced a short video preview of 2016 General Conference. Important decisions will be made for the denomination when 864 delegates from around the world gather in Portland, Ore., to consider revisions to church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. Watch this video to learn from some of the Virginia delegates about General Conference, how they are preparing and the importance of this event. The video, along with other videos highlighting ministries of the Virginia Conference, can be found on the conference YouTube channel at and the conference Facebook page at

Volunteers needed for June 17-19 Annual Conference
Volunteers are needed for this year's Annual Conference which will be held June 17-19 at the Berglund Center in Roanoke. You can sign up to help as an usher/greeter, with registration, to collect UMCOR Kits, with set-up or pack-up, assist in the parking lot, with the Potato Drop with the Society of St. Andrews or collect for CANS 4 Conference. To volunteer, register online at

Bulletin insert available for 2016 Annual Conference special offering
Click here to download a bulletin insert that promotes the 2016 Annual Conference special offering. The bulletin insert includes a letter from Bishop Young Jin Cho and is a pdf file that can be downloaded and printed and used in your congregation. This year's offering goal will be $150,000 and again focuses on both international and Virginia-based mission needs. The offering goal includes $50,000 for Methodist Mission in Cambodia; $25,000 for Methodist Church of Brazil Shade and Fresh Water programs with at-risk children; $25,000 for training laity in United Methodist churches in Mozambique; and $50,000 to help fund disaster response in the Virginia Conference. More ...

Annual Conference members urged to bring '4 Cans 4 Conference' to Roanoke
Each clergy and laity member attending 2016 Annual Conference is encouraged to bring at least four cans of food or boxes of dry food to the session in Roanoke for “4 Cans 4 Conference.” Requested are cans of vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, soup, stew and at least one can with a pop-top. You "can" also bring dry or staple goods, like peanut butter, jelly, cereal, rice or juice boxes. All gifts will benefit local services for the hungry in the Roanoke/Salem area. Goal is 10,000 pounds of canned and dry/staple foods. Do not bring glass jars, home-canned items, damaged or expired date cans or exotic foods. For more information, contact Jim Earley at (571) 239-3529 or

Kits for UMCOR to be collected at Annual Conference
Various types of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Supply Kits will be collected at the 2016 Virginia Annual Conference session. Kit collection is being conducted to replenish the UMCOR supply. Local churches are encouraged to collect items for any of the most requested UMCOR kits — Bedding, Birthing, Cleaning, Health, Layette, School and Sewing Kits — and bring them to Annual Conference. (Bring kits in boxes (not bags), labeled and with a count of the items.) For kit assembly instructions, go to Kits should be taken to the two tractor-trailers at the far end of the Roanoke Civic Center Parking lot A, near the intersection of Williamson Road and Orange Ave. (across from the Sheetz Gas Station). Kits will be received 12-5 p.m. Thursday, June 16; 8-5 p.m. Friday, June 17; and 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday, June 18.

Send cash for kits directly to conference treasurer
If you prefer to contribute cash to enable United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to purchase relief kits, you can contribute $50 for each bedding, kit; $8 for each birthing kit; $65 for each cleaning kit; $12 for each health kit;  $45 for each layette kit; $11 for each school kit; and $28 for each sewing kit. In addition, UMCOR asks for $1 per kit ($1.50 per cleaning bucket) to cover processing and shipping and $1 for toothpaste for each health kit. Do NOT bring checks to Annual Conference. ALL checks (for processing and shipping, for toothpaste and in lieu of providing kits) should be made payable to “Virginia Conference UMC,” earmarked for “kits” and mailed to Treasurer, Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA 23058 any time prior to Annual Conference, and no later than Aug. 31.

Volunteers needed to collect kits at Annual Conference
Volunteers are needed for this year’s “Kits for Conference” collection at Annual Conference. You can help (1) write information on a clipboard; (2) sort kits; (3) seal boxes; or (4) load boxes onto the tractor-trailers. Kit collection will take place Thursday, June 16, from 12-5 p.m.; Friday, June 17, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday, June 18, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. If you can volunteer to help, e-mail Virgil Decker at or contact Jeff Wilson at Huntington Court UMC, (540) 366-3465, to indicate what time you would be available. You may also sign up on-line at

Items for Annual Conference virtual promo packet due May 20
In an effort to be good stewards of the environment and financial resources of the conference, the Annual Conference “promo packets” will again this year be virtual. Electronic copies of materials previously submitted in hard copy for the tote bag will be accepted – at no cost to the organizations submitting them – for inclusion in the Virtual Promo Packet, which will be posted on the conference website,, under Resources > 2016 Annual Conference. The Virtual Packet will be available for viewing on the website beginning June 1. Those organizations still wishing to disseminate information in a hard-copy format may arrange for a display table at the Berglund Center by contacting Joanna Paysour at (540) 989-3673 or Joanna; display guidelines and a Display Request form are also available on the 2016 Annual Conference Information page of the conference website. Information for the Virtual Promo Packet must be submitted in pdf format to the Office of Connectional Ministries ( for approval by Friday, May 20.

Denise Honeycutt to speak at Ferrum College
Ferrum College will welcome the Rev. Dr. J. Denise Honeycutt to campus as theologian in residence on Friday, April 8. Honeycutt, whose appearance is part of the College’s Wright Christian Ministry Lecture Series, will deliver a keynote address and presentation at 11:15 a.m. in Vaughn Chapel followed by a 12:30 p.m. luncheon and additional dialogue in the Blue Ridge Mountain Room in Franklin Hall. Both events are open to the general public. Honeycutt, head of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), has also served as director of Mission and Global Justice for the Virginia Conference and senior pastor of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Fairfax. For more information or to RSVP, contact Sara Jamison at or (540) 365-4221. More ...

April 10 is Native American Ministries Sunday
United Methodist congregations will celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday on Sunday, April 10. When United Methodists give to the special offering taken on this day, it allows Native Americans to encounter, worship and serve Jesus. When you support Native American Ministries Sunday, you equip seminary students who will honor and celebrate Native American culture in their ministries. And you empower congregations that are finding fresh new ways to minister to their communities with the love of Christ. The NAMS Pastor and Leader's Kit makes it incredibly easy for pastors to promote this Special Sunday of healing to their local congregations.

Denman Award nominations due April 15
The Virginia Conference is now accepting nominations for The Harry Denman Evangelism Award for clergy, laity and youth. The Harry Denman Evangelism Award recognizes a person whose life and ministry exemplifies the teaching of Christ and the Great Commission. Recipients of these awards, nominated by individuals, churches or districts and selected by the Annual Conference, live their call to “Offer Them Christ” daily as modeled by Dr. Harry Denman, founder of The Foundation for Evangelism that sponsors these awards. To learn more about the award or to download nomination forms, go to Nominations must be received by April 15.

Resources offered for Earth Day on April 22
Earth Day is Friday, April 22. Creation Justice Ministries released a free Christian education resource. Click here to download it. Creation Justice Ministries also offers many invitations to take action, including:

United Methodist Women is sharing resources in hopes all United Methodists will be motivated every day, not just on Earth Day, to become better stewards of the earth and her people:

Make a prayer lantern for General Conference climate vigil
United Methodists are invited to celebrate Earth Sunday by making or decorating a prayer lantern for use at the climate vigil to be held before General Conference 2016. The Pacific Northwest Conference is hosting the vigil on Thursday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Oregon Convention Center Plaza in Portland, Ore. Click here to learn more about the vigil. Click here to RSVP on Facebook. The Rev. Jenny Phillips writes about how churches can make the lanterns to celebrate Earth Sunday. More ...

General Conference delegates are being blanketed in prayer
When the 864 delegates arrive in Portland, Ore., for the 2016 General Conference, each one of them will come blanketed in prayer, thanks to a prayer community created for the quadrennial event. More ...

60 days of prayer now underway for General Conference
The Rev. Tom Albin, dean of The Upper Room, explains why all United Methodists should join the 60-day effort to pray for General Conference 2016. Watch video. “Our denomination will only be as healthy as the prayer life of all of our people,” Albin says. More ...

Slashed church budget heads to 2016 General Conference
The United Methodist Church’s lowest general church budget proposal in 16 years is now heading for a vote at the 2016 General Conference. Two denominational leadership bodies in the past week have agreed to propose a bottom-line budget of $599 million for general church funds in 2017-20. More ...

General Conference to consider term limits for bishops
Multiple proposals heading to General Conference would limit how long bishops can serve and, in some cases, require them to face re-election. The bishops themselves also have been studying bishop tenure. More ...

Women by the numbers at General Conference 2016
A total of 864 delegates will meet for General Conference on May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. Their task will be to revise church laws, adopt new ones and approve plans and budgets for churchwide programs. Of those delegates, 311 are women. As part of its monitoring responsibilities, the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women digs into the numbers. Click here to read story about central conferences. Click here to read story about U.S. jurisdictions.

Junius Dotson named new chief executive of Discipleship Ministries
The Discipleship Ministries board of directors elected the Rev. Junius Boyd Dotson, a well-known preacher, speaker, trainer, consultant and coach promoting vital ministries, as the agency’s new General Secretary (chief executive). Dotson, an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference, is senior pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church, a 3,500-member, multi-campus church in Wichita. His election came at the board’s meeting last week in Overland Park, Kansas. Click here to read news release. More ...

Lesbian pastor moves closer to church trial
The Rev. Cynthia Meyer, pastor of Edgerton United Methodist Church just outside of Kansas City, moved a step closer to a church trial after she and Bishop Scott Jones failed to agree on a just resolution to the complaint that she is a “self-avowed, practicing” homosexual. One option the Great Plains Conference bishop offered Meyer was that her church could withdraw from the denomination and retain Meyer as pastor in a new denomination. More ...

Students occupy Duke president's office suite
Nine students have occupied the waiting room outside the president’s office at United Methodist-related Duke University, demanding the firing of three administrators and a $15 an hour minimum wage for all campus workers. Read the university update on the protests. reports. More ...

Ecumenical staff officer to retire
The Rev. Stephen J. Sidorak Jr., ecumenical staff officer for the Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships of the Council of Bishops, is retiring effective July 1. He is taking an immediate leave of absence to address medical issues. More ...

United Methodist Communications seeks experienced editor
United Methodist Communications, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., is seeking an experienced editor to work with United Methodist Communications’ Global Voices, News and Information team, serving as editor for content focused on United Methodist Church member audiences. Primary responsibilities will be editing copy, writing features, coordinating assignments, overseeing online content and providing editing input and support to agency teams as well as external partners. The editor will work with research, marketing, annual conference relations and other teams to build effective engagement with target audiences. He/She will edit marketing materials and other content for various agency-wide platforms, including Interpreter magazine. The editor must understand the needs and trends in annual conferences and local churches and be able to engage constituents through social media. More ...

♦ Early Response Team basic training - April 9
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, April 9, at Susanna Wesley UMC, Gloucester. 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 ...

♦ 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 ...

♦ Financial Wellness for Mid-Career Clergy - April 25, 26, 27, 28
Financial Wellness for Mid-Career Clergy workshops, sponsored by The Virginia United Methodist Foundation, Virginia United Methodist Pensions and Virginia United Methodist Credit Union, will be offered four times at four different locations. Topics will include Risk Management, Money Management, Investment Management, Tax Planning, Retirement Planning and Estate Planning. Cost of $25 per person includes lunch. Workshops will be offered 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, at Christ Church UMC, Fairfax Station; Tuesday, April 26, at Fishersville UMC, Fishersville; Wednesday, April 27, at Community UMC, Virginia Beach; and Thursday, April 28, at Good Shepherd UMC, Henrico. For more information and to register, go to the "Calender of Events" on the conference website at and click on the preferred date. Deadline to register is April 18.

♦ Early Response Team Recertification Class - April 30
Early Response Team Recertification training 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 is payable when you register and includes background check, badge and manual. To 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 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 ...

♦ 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

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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