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News from the Virginia Conference - Aug. 27, 2015

Prayers requested for families, friends of TV crew killed Wednesday
Prayers are requested for the families and friends of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward from WDBJ TV in Roanoke. The pair was shot and killed during a live broadcast Wednesday morning from Bridgewater Plaza at Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta. They were interviewing Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vicki Gardner who was also shot but is recovering after undergoing surgery. "This is a huge tragedy for this community that actually impacts three districts: Danville, Lynchburg and Roanoke," said the Rev. Larry Davies, Lynchburg District superintendent. "Please keep the community in your prayers." The WDBJ morning on-air anchor during the shooting was Kimberly McBroom, a member of Cave Spring UMC, Roanoke. The Ward family attends Saint Mark's UMC in Daleville, and the Rev. Rob Lough, Saint Mark's pastor, will preside over Adam's funeral service. No time or date has been set for the service, Lough said, but it will be coordinated with services for Alison Parker. "The family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support," Lough said, "but, at the same time, appreciate the space to grieve."

Conference lends VUMAC funds to correct water quality issues
The Virginia Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) approved a loan to the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone (VUMAC) in the amount of $11,500 to cover costs of needed repairs to VUMAC's water system. "Repairs have been done," said Sam McCracken, VUMAC executive director. “We are clean and ready to go. The water’s perfect. CFA came to our rescue, and we really appreciate it." Concerns about the water quality caused Camp Rainbow Connection to cancel the Aug. 9-14 session of the camp scheduled to be held at VUMAC.

Heaton featured in Roanoke Times for noon riverside services
The Rev. Gary Heaton, pastor of Greene Memorial UMC in Roanoke, was featured in an article in the Roanoke Times. For the past two months, Heaton has led what he calls a “Downriver Devotional” prayer service every Wednesday at noon on the rocky shore along the Roanoke River. The gatherings have been a summertime substitute for Greene Memorial’s regular Wednesday service, which takes place at the church and features guest ministers and a weekly prayer for city officials. More ...

‘Did You Know?’ videos feature facts about church
Nick Ruxton, videographer in the conference Communications office, is producing a series of very short videos (approximately one-minute each) featuring facts about The United Methodist Church – in the Virginia Conference, the United States and around the world. These videos, called “Did You Know?,” can be used to convey information about The United Methodist Church to confirmands, new member classes, youth groups, Sunday school classes, church committees or even during worship. Some of them might also be used to illustrate how apportionments are used for mission and ministry. The first video features Meredith McNabb talking about the number and types of clergy in the Virginia Conference. The videos will be posted on the Virginia Conference website at, on the conference YouTube channel at and on the conference Facebook page at Anyone with suggestions for United Methodist facts that could be featured in a one-minute “Did You Know?” video should contact Nick Ruxton at or (804) 521-1112.

Imagine No Malaria initiative to end Aug. 31; $36,440 still needed
The Virginia Conference will wrap up its Imagine No Malaria initiative on Aug. 31. Churches can still send in funds and have them counted towards our conference goal, but the major push will conclude on Aug. 31. We still have $36,440 (3,644 lives) to go in order to meet the goal of raising $1 million so we can save 100,000 lives from this preventable and treatable disease. Donate at

UMFS to participate in Amazing Raise Sept. 16-17
United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) will again 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 UMFS as the charity. UMFS is also participating in The Amazing Raise’s “Go Viral” video competition open now until Sept. 11. Watch the UMFS video, like it and share it with your friends. The organization whose video gets the most views and likes will win $1,500. UMFS won this prize in 2014. More ...

United Methodist Homes moves to new corporate offices
In 1973, the corporate office of Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc. took up residence in the Virginia Conference offices on W. Broad St. in Richmond. In 1990, the office was moved to Triangle Park at Three Chopt Road and Patterson Ave. in Richmond where it stayed for 25 years. Now, it has moved to a new location. On Aug. 3, Virginia United Methodist Homes opened its new headquarters in Innsbrook, near the intersection of I-295 and Nuckols Road in Glen Allen. New address is 5101 Cox Road, Suite 225, Glen Allen, VA 23060. If you have envelopes and materials left from the Samaritan Offering this spring, you can still use them as they have a Post Office box number which is still active. Phone numbers all remain the same: (804) 474-8700 or toll-free 1-888-673-1031.

September Advocate analyzes adult Sunday school
The September issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate analyzes adult Sunday school. While it can be argued that adult Sunday school is declining, it is still a strong part of religious education for many churches. And there’s a larger purpose: to make disciples. This is in line with the Wesleyan tradition. John Wesley manifested his theology through educational efforts: forming disciples through instruction in faith, molding people’s behaviors through classes and directing their desires towards the right ends. In recent years, some Virginia Conference churches have reinvented adult Sunday school classes either to boost attendance or to add new perspectives. It may be time for adult Sunday school to experience a revival in increased attendance and creativity. The Advocate is the official monthly magazine of the Virginia Conference. To subscribe to the Advocate – print, digital or both – call (804) 521-1110 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110; e-mail; or go to

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 AME 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 AME 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.

U.S. church leaders ask Congress to support Iran agreement
More than 50 U.S. Christian leaders distributed a letter to members of Congress Aug. 25, speaking out “for the possibility of peace” and urging them “to vote in support of the negotiated settlement over Iran's nuclear program.” United Methodist signers were Bishop Warner H. Brown, president, Council of Bishops; Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, ecumenical officer; the Rev. Stephen J. Sidorak, ecumenical staff officer; the Rev. John L. McCullough, president, Church World Service; and Jim Winkler, president, National Council of Churches. Read letter

Dixon-Rabb Hall nears completion at Sager Brown Depot
The Dixon-Rabb Hall to house volunteers at UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La., is almost complete. This week, workers poured new concrete for the parking lot. When the dorm opens around Christmastime this year, it will be fully integrated into the existing campus at Sager Brown, where United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) runs a relief-supply depot and houses thousands of volunteers each year to help pack and ship relief supplies. Dixon-Rabb Hall will accommodate 24 guests at a time, increasing UMCOR Sager Brown’s housing capacity for volunteers from 60 to 84 guests. The new building is named for the Rev. Dr. Sam Dixon and the Rev. Clinton Rabb. Dixon was the former head of UMCOR, and Rabb was assistant general secretary for Mission Volunteers. Both died of injuries they sustained in the collapse of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during the earthquake in 2010. They had gone there for conversations about how Global Ministries might support the development of health programming in Haiti. Click here to view video about Sager Brown Depot.

Two fallen firefighters were United Methodists
Two of three firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service who died battling a 30-acre blaze in the state of Washington were United Methodists. Richard “Rick” Wheeler, 31, had moved to Wenatchee, Wash., with his wife about a year ago, and both were members of First UMC of Wenatchee, said the Rev. Joanne Coleman Campbell, church pastor. Read Wenatchee World story. Andrew Zajac, 26, was the son of the Rev. Mary Zajac, senior pastor at Baker Memorial UMC in St. Charles, Ill., and her husband, Jim Zajac, reports the Chicago Tribune. Read Chicago Tribune story. Wheeler, Zajac and Tom Zbyszewski, 20, were killed and four others injured when flames overtook their crew last week.

Agency wants leeway to fight gay teen suicide
The United Methodist Discipleship Ministries board is proposing General Conference legislation that would lift church funding restrictions related to homosexuality. The proposal’s main rationale is to enable Discipleship Ministries to provide resources aimed at preventing teen suicide, particularly among youth who feel marginalized by their sexual identity. More ...

Commentary: AME pastor salutes two United Methodists
The Rev. Sharon Grant, an African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) pastor and church historian, sees a Wesleyan influence in Gov. Nikki Haley and state Rep. Jenny Horne of South Carolina. Both are United Methodists, and Grant lauds their work in helping remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state Capitol grounds. More ...

Children's Ministry Forum to be Nov. 17-19 in Little Rock
Leaders of children’s ministries will find opportunities for worship, spiritual renewal, continuing education, fellowship, networking and support Nov. 17-19 at the Children’s Ministry Forum hosted by First UMC in Little Rock, Ark. The forum, Rock On! Renew, Discover, Respond, is sponsored by Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church. It is designed for children’s ministry leaders in large membership congregations with at least 300 in worship, although leaders from congregations of all sizes are welcome to attend. More ...

Free video to help churches engage newcomers
The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary offers congregations the free video “The New Realities of Engaging Newcomers.” Presented by Lewis Center Director Lovett H. Weems Jr., the five-minute video provides an overview of how new people are coming into church communities in different ways than previously, what it means for congregations and what churches can do to engage these newcomers today. Weems says, “It used to be that new people started coming to a church because they moved to the community or married and started a family. Today, there is no one pattern for the way that people enter, engage and join congregations.” The video is available to watch online or download at

United Methodist Communications seeks website manager
United Methodist Communications, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., is looking for a creative and skilled candidate to produce and oversee the acquisition, development, usability and tracking of content for, the official website of The United Methodist Church. A bachelor’s degree in Communications or Journalism and at least two years’ experience in website management and production are required. More ...

♦ 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 will sponsor a 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.

♦ TEE-ology golf retreat - Sept. 29-30
Tee-ology golf retreat at Camp Overlook in Keezletown is inspired by the book Tee-ology by John Freeman. The Rev. Dan Garrett, pastor, seminary professor and golf enthusiast, will share insights that use the joy and challenge of golf to help us better understand our faith. Check-in is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29. Roast beef dinner served at 6:30 p.m. followed by fellowship and devotion. Wednesday morning, a country ham and eggs breakfast will be followed by a meditation. Golf begins with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. at Packsaddle Ridge Golf Course. Box lunch provided. Individual registration is $99. Days-only registration is $65. Discounts available for registering as a foursome. More ...

♦ 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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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
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