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News from the Virginia Conference - Aug. 20, 2015

Video shows highlights of this year's All God's Children Camp
Nick Ruxton, videographer in the conference Communications office, has produced a short video on All God's Children Camp held recently at Westview on the James in Goochland. The camp offers children, ages 7-12, who have an incarcerated parent, a week of sanctuary to enjoy swimming, hiking, archery, music, crafts and Bible study. This new 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

Virginia Conference Disaster Response now has Facebook page
The Virginia Conference UMC Disaster Response Facebook page is up and running. It will be used as a portal for information gathering and distributing information concerning conference disaster response efforts as well as preparedness, training opportunities and relief and recovery efforts across the Southeastern Jurisdiction and in neighboring conferences. URL for the page is For more information, contact the Rev. Robert M Pihlcrantz, Virginia Conference Disaster Response coordinator, at (757) 408-6653 or

Bishop Cho calls on all churches to join Sept. 6 'Day to End Racism'
Bishop Young Jin Cho has issued 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 ...

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).

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 Holy 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.

Commentary: Modern class meetings can help spiritual life
When asked at church how we're doing, many of us say, "Fine." But to grow, Christians need to go deeper, writes Joe Iovino in a commentary for about the importance of small groups in the growth of the Wesleyan movement. This is the second in a series of four articles on Wesleyan small groups. More ...

Storytellers offer tips for effective preaching
Want to be an effective storyteller or share sermons that will make people sit up and listen? On Aug. 14, Henderson Settlement hosted its second “MountainTalk” ministry conversation series, bringing three authors and speakers together for a storytelling and preaching workshop on its mountain campus. Between the Appalachian stories and anecdotes that had participants splitting their sides and ROLFing, five take-away lessons emerged from the day-long event. More ...

Christians under threat in Syria, Iraq
The Middle East Council of Churches is in constant communication with churches in Syria and Iraq, where active threats remain against Christians and other minority religious groups, causing many to flee. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has committed more than $2 million in response to the region’s refugee crisis. More ...

Church program calendar gets mobile update
The 2016 United Methodist Program Calendar App is now available for Apple and Android devices. The app is free to download and includes a 14-day trial and all of the information in the Official Program Calendar of The United Methodist Church. After the trial period concludes, you can continue viewing 2015 and 2016 calendar data via quarterly subscriptions for $3.99 each or an annual subscription for $10.99. The app also includes United Methodist News Service stories, which are free. More ...

'Living Grace' contest seeks videos from young adults
Sept. 14 is the deadline for "Living Grace," a video competition designed to show God's work in the world through the eyes of young adults. The goal is to get Christians to tell gospel-centered stories of journey, reconciliation or community in 3-minute videos. Partners in the project, which is funded through A Foundation for Theological Education, include the United Methodist Publishing House and Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School. Winners in each category will receive $3,000. More ...

United Methodist Children's Fund calls for applications
The United Methodist Children’s Fund for Christian Mission helps children learn about, and make contributions to, a select group of mission projects. Each year, four projects are identified for their value in helping children understand what it means to “be in mission.” Educational materials on these projects are developed for use in local United Methodist churches to teach children about the projects and raise funds for the identified projects. Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 award. Four projects will be selected: two from outside of the United States and two from within the United States. The project must be an existing program for children under 12 years of age. In the past, the fund raised $8,000-$15,000 per project. Previous winners include United Methodist Community Outreach Program in Roanoke and Henry Fork Service Center in Rocky Mount. Application deadline is Sept. 1. More ...

UMW to sell Alma Mathews House
The United Methodist Women board has voted to authorize the sale of Alma Mathews House, a guest house in New York City's Greenwich Village for United Methodist Church agencies and other nonprofits. (Click here to read about Alma Mathews.) Board members said the high maintenance costs and rising property values created an opportune time to sell the facility and reinvest the funds into mission addressing the needs of women, children and youths today. More ...

United Methodist Publishing House continues search for new CEO
At its recent meeting in Nashville, Tenn., the board of United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) announced that it is continuing the active search for a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who will assume oversight of publishing and retail operations in conjunction with the retirement of current president and publisher, Neil Alexander. Scheduling of overlap with Alexander and assumption of duties for the elected candidate will be determined based on timing of the selection process, availability of the new executive and assuring a smooth transition. The next CEO could begin as early as this fall, or sometime in 2016 as circumstances require. Until the process is complete, Alexander will continue as president and publisher. Recommendations, referrals and nominations are encouraged. For information about the position and to make inquiries or referrals of potential candidates, contact Diversified Search, One Commerce Square 2005 Market St., Suite 3300, Philadelphia, Penn. 19103,, (215) 656-3578, or (215) 656-3546.

♦ 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.

♦ Resource Center Teachers' Toolbox - Sept. 26
Teachers and educational leaders in the local congregation need both a love of God and a "toolbox" of teaching tools. Without either, the important work of making disciples can fall short. A partner in strengthening ministries, The Resource Center announces its fall event for teachers and others to help build that toolbox. Teachers' Toolbox will be 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, at Laurel Presbyterian Church (corner of Staples Mill and Hungary Roads) in Richmond. Dr. Adam Bond from the School of Theology at Virginia Union University will share insights from his new book, Church on Purpose: Reinventing Discipleship, Community, and Justice, a collection of big ideas from emerging Christian leaders passionately committed to the local church. In addition, participants will choose from four workshops full of practical strategies for teaching and learning that transforms. Cost is $25 per person or $20 per person for four or more from same congregation. Register online at E-mail with questions.

♦ 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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