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News from the Virginia Conference - Aug. 14, 2015

Bishop Cho calls on all churches to join Sept. 6 'Day to End Racism'
Bishop Young Jin Cho is issuing a call for all churches and pastors of the Virginia Conference to join our brothers and sisters in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in observing Sunday, Sept. 6, as a “Day of Confession, Repentance, Prayer and Commitment to End Racism.” In the wake of the murders of The Emanuel Nine (the senior pastor and eight members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.), the Council of Bishops of the A.M.E. Church has asked every church, temple, synagogue, mosque and place of worship to designate Sept. 6 as a Sunday “to focus on race ... and be reminded that out of one blood, God created all of us to dwell together in unity.” Click here to read the A.M.E. Council of Bishops' statement. More ...

100 children of incarcerated parents encouraged at All God's Children Camp
Almost 100 campers were encouraged and uplifted during the second session of All God’s Children Camp Aug. 9-14 at Westview on the James in Goochland. The campers, ages 7-12, who come to the camp because they have an incarcerated parent, enjoyed swimming, hiking, archery, music, crafts and Bible study. The first session of All God’s Children Camp was held Aug. 2-7 at Occohannock on the Bay in Eastern Virginia. More ...

August session of Camp Rainbow cancelled due to water safety concerns
This summer's second session of Camp Rainbow Connection, scheduled for Aug. 9-14, was cancelled due to concerns about the water quality at Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) in Blackstone. Sam McCracken, VUMAC executive director, said the water is 100 percent safe. Camp leaders are exploring the possiblity of holding an alternative event, such as a dance, in Richmond in September or October to provide an opportunity for campers and staff to fellowship together. More ...

Virginia Conference nears Imagine No Malaria goal
As of Aug. 13, the Virginia Conference has raised $963,563.75 for Imagine No Malaria, saving 96,356 lives from the deadly disease. This is just 3,644 lives short of the conference goal of saving 100,000+ lives by raising $1 million. Maria Maxwell, Virginia Conference field coordinator for Imagine No Malaria, encouraged all those who made pledges at Annual Conference to send in their funds as soon as possible. More ...

August issue of To ARMS! now available for download
The August 2015 issue of To ARMS!, newsletter of the Virginia Conference Association of Retired Ministers and Spouses, is now available and can be downloaded by going to For a direct link, click here.

September is Hunger Action Month
September is Hunger Action Month. Nearly 50 million people in the United States today are hungry or food insecure. Plan now to make September a time for your congregation to stand against hunger to see that each person in this country has healthful, nourishing food to eat. Society of St. Andrew offers Hunger Action Month resources, including a Daily Calendar for Prayer and Action. The calendar has a Scripture reading and related activity for each day of September. More ...

Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15
Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration of people in the United States who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking countries of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Worship and other church events provide settings for Hispanic/Latino United Methodists to celebrate their heritage and cultures and for others to learn more about them. Click here for worship resources suggested by Discipleship Ministries (General Board of Discipleship).

Heart Havens to participate in Amazing Raise Sept. 16-17
Again this year, Heart Havens will participate in The Amazing Raise, a 36-hour online giving challenge for central Virginia nonprofits that provides incentive prizes for participating groups. The event runs from 6 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, to 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17. Supporters are asked to donate during that time online at and select Heart Havens as the charity. Heart Havens is also participating in The Amazing Raise video prizes. Watch the Heart Havens video and share it with all your friends. The organization whose video gets the most views and likes will win an extra $1,500.

Oct. 4 is World Communion Sunday
Oct. 4 is World Communion Sunday. World Communion Sunday calls the church to reach out to all people and model diversity among God’s children. United Methodists relate to World Communion Sunday by celebrating communion with other Christians around the world on this special Sunday. Churches are also encouraged to receive an offering to support scholarships for ethnic minority undergraduate and graduate students. Our gifts often enable first-generation students to attend college. To make it easier for you to change the world Oct. 4, download a free eBook and World Communion Sunday pastor’s kit. Order leaflet offering envelopes and posters at or call 1-888-346-3862. To hear World Communion Sunday in action, listen to these podcasts.

Proposals aim to increase bishops' accountability
Legislation is coming to the 2016 General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body, with the goal of increasing bishops’ accountability. Bishops themselves also are discussing how to hold each other accountable. More ...

Pastors offer differing responses to Texas jail death
The Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, a United Methodist elder, continues her vigil at the Waller County, Texas, jail where Sandra Bland died. Bonner said she's keeping faith with Bland's family, who doubt her death was a suicide, as authorities have declared. Other pastors have responded differently to the high-profile case. The Rev. Katy Ware, pastor of First United Methodist Church in nearby Hempstead, Texas, says she's working for "long haul" racial reconciliation in the area. More ...

United Methodists join Ferguson protest
About 75 United Methodists gathered at sundown Aug. 12 in Ferguson, Mo., to offer peace and hope amid renewed unrest. With his community now in an official state of emergency, the Rev. F. Willis Johnson Jr., a United Methodist pastor, urged his colleagues to join him in nonviolent protest.More ...

Church tracks Ebola orphans to stop human trafficking
Children orphaned because of Ebola are at risk for human trafficking, so The United Methodist Church has announced a campaign to track these orphans. The campaign is a response to the growing risk of child trafficking in Liberia, said Jefferson Knight, director of The United Methodist Church Human Rights Monitor. More ...

Conference sues breakaway church over assets
The Illinois Great Rivers Conference filed a lawsuit seeking to keep property being used by a breakaway congregation. The Aug. 6 lawsuit comes on the heels of a highly-publicized property settlement between the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and a fast-growing church that left the denomination. More ...

Commentary: Small groups can be life-changing
“I know what to do. I just have to do it.” Discipleship growth, like staying healthy, only works when we put our knowledge into practice, writes Joe Iovino of He explains how Wesleyan small groups help. More ...

Chuck Knows Church The Committee: 'Small Groups'
Small Groups in any size congregation tend to create deeper relationships and a stronger commitment to the Christian faith. In this episode, Chuck decides to help Park Grove Community Church become healthier by inviting the committee to discuss the importance of small groups. "The Committee" is a spinoff of the "Chuck Knows Church" video series produced by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries (General Board of Discipleship). In "The Committee," Chuck is attempting to help the fictitious Park Grove Community Church that has lost its way, lost its pastor and is closing its doors ... unless, despite itself, it finds a new way of doing church. Each month this series invites congregations to look at the issues and barriers that block them from growing deeper and becoming more vital. "The Committee" uses humor and real-life issues to invite you into a conversation about the future of your congregation. Each episode of "The Committee" has an accompanying downloadable one-page study guide (PDF). Following the release of each episode, Discipleship Ministries will host a one-hour webinar where you’ll learn more and have an opportunity to share your own experiences. Go to Facebook ( for the latest news and the website ( to watch and download all episodes and register for the webinar. More ...

Ministry Matters offers 5 secrets of church revitalization
United Methodist leaders generally agree: Making disciples requires not just planting new churches but also reviving existing ones. Ministry Matters, part of the United Methodist Publishing House, offers these tips for congregational revitalization from the Rev. Ron Edmondson, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky. Read commentary ...

United Methodism 101 online to be offered Sept. 2-Oct. 14
Get to know The United Methodist Church through a six-week online course, "United Methodism 101," to be offered Sept. 2-Oct. 14. New and old members alike can dive into the church's history, structure, beliefs and more. Registration is open until Sept. 1. Seating is limited. More ...

Registration open for online classes
Registration is now open for online courses to be offered by United Methodist Communications Sept. 9-21. Courses include Communicating Faith in the 21st Century, Welcoming 100, Moodle 100 and Connectional Giving. These self-paced courses include six weeks of instruction. A facilitator will respond to your work and answer questions. Registration is open until Sept. 8. Seating is limited.

'Living Our United Methodist Beliefs' offered for lay servants will offer an online course, "Living Our United Methodist Beliefs," for lay servants Monday, Aug. 24, to Friday, Sept. 11. This course will cover the history, heritage, beliefs, mission and culture of The United Methodist Church for anyone - newcomer or longtime member - who wants to know what’s distinctive about being a United Methodist Christian. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries has approved this course as an advanced course in lay servant ministries, and the course is the “heritage” class required for lay speaker certification. One CEU for clergy and CLMs also available. Cost is $65. More ...

SEJ offers Heritage Preservation workshop Nov. 20-21
The Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) Commission on Archives and History will present its bi-annual Heritage Preservation workshop Nov. 20-21 at the newly renovated Terrace Hotel at Lake Junaluska, N.C. Practical hands-on sessions will address the issue of disaster response as it relates to care of historic records and artifacts in the local church. Keynote speaker is the Rev. Alfred T. Day III, general secretary of the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History. For registration information, contact Nancy Watkins at or (828) 454-6781. Due to the hands-on nature of the sessions, registration is limited to 30 participants.

United Methodist Communications seeks Rethink Church project coordinator
United Methodist Communications, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., is seeking a project coordinator for Rethink Church Grants and Resources to provide project oversight and planning assistance to Rethink Church grant recipients, build customer engagement by marketing grants and resources to local churches, equip local churches with Rethink Church resources, coordinate reporting for team metrics and increase relationship with Spanish speaking local churches through marketing and training. This position requires a bachelor’s degree in mass media, marketing or advertising. Must be bi-lingual in Spanish written and verbal communication. To apply or for more information, contact UMCom/Human Resources, P.O. Box 320 (810-12th Ave. S., Nash. 37203), Nashville, TN 37202-0320, (615) 742-5137 or

♦ Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation Annual Meeting - Sept. 12
The Old Brunswick Circuit Foundation will hold its Annual meeting Saturday, Sept. 12, at Main St. UMC in Emporia. A portrayal of Joshua Thomas (1776-1853), itinerant minister on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, will be done by Dr. Gary Ziegler. Thomas conducted services for Americans and British occupation forces on Tangier Island during the War of 1812, famously foretelling the British defeat at Fort McHenry. He tended the Chesapeake islands by canoe and was known as “The Parson of the Islands.” The meeting will be followed by lunch. Guests are welcome. Cost of lunch is $10. For more information, call Jim Mott at (804) 301-0734. More ...

♦ School for Children’s Ministries - Sept. 12
The School for Children’s Ministries is on the road again offering the same school at four different locations on four different dates. The second event of this year will be 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at Timberlake UMC, 21649 Timberlake Rd., Lynchburg. Learn "Extraordinary Lessons from Ordinary Objects" plus three more workshops. A .5 CEU offered. Only $20 per person. More ...

♦ Discipleship Circles facilitator training - Sept. 18
Discipleship Circles facilitator training will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. Church Leaders (clergy and laity) willing to lead Discipleship Circles in order to help increase church vitality are invited to this training session. Topics will include spiritual disciplines, group facilitation, Vital Signs and communication techniques. There is no charge for training. Lunch and a training manual will be provided. Registration deadline is Tuesday, Sept. 15. Click here to register and for more details. For more information about Discipleship Circles, contact Cheryl Edley-Worford, conference director of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence, at or (804) 521-1154.

♦ Goodson Preaching Academy - Sept. 21-24
The Bishops’ Foundation will sponsor the 2015 Goodson Preaching Academy, “Craft and Creativity: Preaching in the Context of a Rapidly Evolving World,” Sept. 21-24 at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone. Presenter will be Dr. Paul Scott Wilson, professor of Homiletics at Emmanuel College, Toronto, author of many books on preaching and past president of the Academy of Homiletics. This ministry venture for clergy seeking excellence in the craft of weekly preaching was modeled after the former Goodson Academy for Preaching and approved by the Bishops’ Foundation which is assuming most of the costs of the event. The event is designed to energize your preaching and help you find creative ways to build disciples in your church. 1 CEU will be awarded. More ...

♦ RE3 intercollegiate conference - Sept. 25-26
RE3 (Rethink, Reclaim, Renew), overnight retreat open to students from colleges and universities across Virginia, will be held at Shenandoah University Sept. 25-26. What do you need to rethink? What does the Church need to rethink? What ancient spiritual practices can be reclaimed for renewing the church today? Worship and TED-style talks led by students will explore ancient prayer practices. Guest speaker is Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, Out of Sorts and My Practices of Mothering. Bessey is also an award-winning blogger at Cost is $10 per student. All money goes to Imagine No Malaria. Click here to register online. For more information, go to or follow RE3 on Twitter at @rethreeva.

♦ Mid-Size Church Training - Oct. 3
Teams of clergy and laity from mid-size congregations with an average worship attendance between 150-349 are invited to a training event Saturday, Oct. 3, at Providence UMC in Richmond. Keynote speaker will be Phil Maynard, author of Shift: Helping Congregations Back Into the Game of Effective Ministry. The event will also be live-streamed to five other locations across the conference. Cost is $25, and .5 CEU will be offered. Group discounts are available. More ...

♦ Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation - Oct. 4-9
Registration is now closed for the Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation Oct. 4-9 at the Roslyn Retreat Center, Richmond. There are no spaces left. If you would like to be placed on a reserve list in case of cancellations, e-mail Dot Ivey at More ...

♦ Conference UMW annual meeting - Oct. 23-25
Virginia Conference United Methodist Women (UMW) will celebrate the 40th anniversary of "Dimes and Dollars for Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center" (VUMAC) at VUMAC in Blackstone during the UMW annual meeting Oct. 23-25. The Wicker Room (beside the Dining Room) is being renovated to become the official UMW room and will be dedicated during the annual meeting.

♦ 'Tearing Down the Walls: Ways of Doing Justice' - Oct. 24
The Roanoke, Danville, Lynchburg and Staunton districts are co-sponsoring 'Tearing Down the Walls: Ways of Doing Justice' 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at First UMC, 125 W. Main St., Salem. Leader will be Shane Clariborne, nationally-known speaker and founder of The Simple Way Christian community in Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. This event will focus on the meaning of Christian social justice; how we can break down contemporary walls of injustice such as economic inequalities, educational disparities and racial divisions; and how we can build hope and empower persons to overcome walls of separation and engage others on social justice issues. Youths, young adults and older adults are invited to attend this intergenerational event. Early bird registration fee of $25 for adults is available until Sept. 17, after which adult registration will be $30. Student registration is $10. Registration deadline is Oct. 17. More ...

♦ UMFS golf tournament - Oct. 26
Registration is now open for the annual United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) Fore the Kids Golf Tournament to be held Monday, Oct. 26, at Stonehenge Country Club, 1000 Farnham Dr., Richmond. Cost is $400 per team or $100 per individual and includes a light breakfast, lunch and BBQ dinner as well as prizes and golf. Four-man Captain’s Choice format will tee off at 10 a.m. Register at A pre-tournament party 6-8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at Golfsmith in Short Pump will offer free food, contests, giveaways and a 15% discount to Golfsmith for in-store purchases. UMFS is seeking sponsors for the golf tournament. An organization providing a $1,000 sponsorship will be able to enter a team in the tournament and will receive signage and visibility throughout the tournament. If interested in being a sponsor, go to For more information, contact Joe Torrence at or (804) 239-1042, ext. 1941.

♦ Small Congregation Training - Oct. 31
Teams of clergy and laity from small congregations with an average worship attendance between 1-149 are invited to a training event 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at Belmont UMC, Richmond. The Rev. Dr. Lewis Parks, Wesley Theological Seminary professor who has specific interest in the small congregation, will be featured speaker focusing on practical tools needed to bring new vitality to small churches. The event will be live-streamed to five other locations around the conference. Cost is $25, and .5 CEU will be offered. Group discounts are available. More ...

♦ United Methodist Men Spiritual Advance - Nov. 6-8
The Virginia Conference United Methodist Men 2015 Spiritual Advance will be Friday-Sunday, Nov. 6-8, at Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone. The annual event will feature the Rev. Dr. Clarence R. Brown, senior pastor of Annandale UMC (Alexandria District), who will preach a series of four messages on Men Making a Difference. 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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