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News from the Virginia Conference - August 13, 2019

Bishop Lewis set to return in September
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis has been on a six-month medical leave but she is set to return to her episcopal duties in September. More…

Charlottesville church hosts special worship over the weekend
First UMC, Charlottesville, hosted a special worship service on Aug. 11 as the second anniversary of the violent “Unite the Right” rally was observed. The church has not been able to have a service on the Aug. 12 weekend in the last two years. More…

Conference DCM shares what local churches think about unity in UMC, global church value
The Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, conference Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM), began in July 2019 and is working to establish a close connection across the conference and share the resources of the conference center. Each month, Smith will share videos from conversations he has with local churches and members focused on church unity and the global nature of The United Methodist Church. More…

Church has heart for multicultural ministry
Not unlike most faithful church members, the people of Basic UMC in Waynesboro, Va., are eager to tell you what they love about their church home. But what makes the Basic love story different is its storytellers – a 75-year-old African-American man, poor by worldly standards, who almost died in an apartment fire last year; the wife of a retired United Methodist pastor who has a heart for missionaries; the schizophrenic woman who was thrilled to be invited to have her picture in the church directory; the Hispanic mother who speaks almost no English.“At the end of time, as Christians recognize it biblically, Revelation 7 tells us all nations, races, tribes and tongues will be worshipping God together,” said the Rev. Chad Beck, Basic UMC’s pastor. “That is the kingdom right there. We’re getting a big taste of it at Basic.” More...

Shenandoah University welcomes Muslim community coordinator
Hanaa Unus has joined Shenandoah University as chaplain and Muslim community coordinator. Unus started July 29 in the Office of Spiritual Life on the university's main campus in Winchester, Va. She is the first clergy person in the school’s nearly 150-year history who does not identify as Christian. “Shenandoah is open to people of all faiths, or no faith, exploring their belief system and being leaders in this world for the greater good,” said Dean of Spiritual Life Justin Allen, D.Min. “Hanaa provides the opportunity to be what we always say we value, and that’s a place that cherishes religious diversity.” Unus will work with both Muslim and non-Muslim students to address their spiritual care and needs, creating a safe and understanding space where they can practice their faith and discuss their concerns. She will work with Rev. Dr. Allen and the Office of Spiritual Life on education through interfaith programs. Part of Unus’ job is to enable Muslim high school students to see Shenandoah University as a potential “home.” She will also educate students of other religions about Islam and the Muslim culture. Her goal is to create a peaceful environment both on campus and locally. “College is a delicate and defining period in a person’s life,” Unus said. “Hopefully, if students can learn about different faiths and different cultures, they can go out into the diverse world and be the change-makers Shenandoah hopes they will be.” More...

Submit petitions to General Conference
Updated instructions for petitions to the 2020 General Conference by clergy, laity, or organizations of The United Methodist Church can be found at the final link. Petitions can be submitted within the GC2020 website, by email to, or by fax to 615-369-2405. The final submission deadline is Wednesday, September 18, 2019. Paragraph 507 of the Discipline details the process required for General Conference Petitions. The following link gives details for the specified format for consideration of petitions. More…

Sponsored training in Norfolk addresses domestic, sexual violence
InFaith Community Foundation is sponsoring Safe & Healthy Churches Training: Ending Family Violence, a two-day training from September 27-28, 2019 in Norfolk, Va., designed to help Christian clergy and lay leaders understand the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence and the ramifications of violence on individuals, the church and our shared community. It also highlights protocols to protect victims, prevent future harm, and respond effectively and sensitively to victims/ survivors, their families and abusers. Church teams of 3-4 are encouraged to attend. The training will also address issues particular to faith communities, including break-out sessions focusing on:
• Domestic Violence Response: Trauma-Informed Pastoral Care (training for clergy, parish nurses, chaplains)
• Child Abuse Prevention & Response (training for lay leaders, congregants, Sunday school teachers, educators)
• Healthy Teen Relationships (training for youth leaders and ministers and educators).

Event will be at the DoubleTree Hotel, Norfolk Airport. Address is 1500 N. Military Hwy., Norfolk, Va. 23502. Attendee training expenses, including one night’s hotel, is made possible through a generous grant from InFaith Community Foundation as part of its Ending Family Violence Initiative. This initiative provides a means to further individual church responses to family violence, and also reinforce an ecumenical response within the region. For more information about InFaith’s programs for women, visit

The registration deadline is Friday, September 6, 2019. The training is limited to 125 participants on a first come basis; please register as soon as possible. In support of a regional, ecumenical response, church teams from Norfolk and surrounding areas, including those in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. are invited to participate. Registration is required. Register online at If you have questions or would like more information, please email or call (206) 634-1903.

Plan for Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer in September
The Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21 at Trinity UMC in Richmond. Both clergy and laity are invited to attend the gathering which will include Dr. Terry Tekyl as plenary speaker and breakout small groups. Deadline to register is Sept. 13. For more information contact the Rev. Ted Smith, director of Connectional Ministries, at More…

Volunteers needed for Danville District flooding recovery
The Rev. Jon Woodburn, Danville District disaster coordinator, recently shared a plea for volunteers as the district continues efforts to recover from flooding by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. "The biggest issue we currently have is a lack of volunteers," said Woodburn. "It has been some time since the energy of the storm left its mark on the area; our energy for being helpful may have diminished. Please help us help others in the name of Christ and show that the kingdom has come near by encouraging people to volunteer." You can contact Woodburn at You can be schedule for day trips or for a week-long period. Tasks left to accomplish include volunteers with experience placing floors, installing lower kitchen cabinets, replacing vinyl siding, placing insulation and doing drywall, prepping and painting, and doing trim work. Woodburn said the district hopes to complete this work by December this year.

Connect students to campus ministries
All across Virginia, the Virginia Conference has the opportunity to connect college students with campus ministries. The Virginia Conference is blessed to have so many amazing campus ministries for students, but the conference Next Gen Office needs your help.
The start of a new school year can be overwhelming, and many students don't know where to look to find a Christian community. With your help, the Virginia Conference can provide the names of incoming students to campus ministers so they can reach out to new students. Please fill out as much information as you can on the form linked to help connect any and all college students you know to campus ministries! More…

Back-to-school is great time to assemble UMCOR School Kits
This is the perfect time of year with back-to-school sales beginning to assemble The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) School Kits. Learn more about assembly and required items at the link. More...


Plans canceled for GC2024 in Philippines
Organizers have called off, for now, plans to hold The United Methodist Church’s first General Conference outside the United States. Behind closed doors, the Commission on General Conference decided to cancel heading to Manila, Philippines, for the 2024 gathering of the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly.“The decision was based solely on the lack of availability,” said the Rev. Gary George, the commission’s secretary, in reporting the group’s decision. “Financial implications and the current climate in the church were not factors in the decision,” he added. More…

ELCA Churchwide Assembly calls sexism and patriarchy sins, condemns white supremacy
Organizers have new social statement from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America labels patriarchy and sexism as sins and acknowledges the church’s complicity in them. The social statement — titled “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action” — was approved by the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly with 97 percent of the vote Friday morning (Aug. 9) on the last full day of the denomination’s triennial meeting at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. The Rev. April Larson, the first woman bishop in the ELCA, spoke about the changes she has seen in the church in the 50 years since Lutherans began ordaining women in the United States. “What a time. What a day for me to be here with you, and I’m so thankful to God and to our wonderful church,” Larson said. “We are changing. We are being made new. God is busy with us.” The social statement, which focuses on issues related to justice for women, is seven years in the making. More from Religion News...

Improper voting at GC2019 voids key vote
General Conference organizers have determined enough improper voting likely took place at the 2019 special session to nullify a key vote on how congregations can leave The United Methodist Church.
The Commission on General Conference — meeting behind closed doors during its Aug. 7-9 meeting — reviewed an investigation that found “credible objective evidence” of four ineligible people casting votes using the credentials of delegates who were not present.
The commission did not speak in public about its investigation’s findings and did not provide the names of the accused ineligible voters or the conferences they represented. More…

Wespath using financial clout for climate change
The church agency that administers United Methodist pension funds and benefits programs is making progress toward improving the effects of church investments on the environment, but some believe changes are coming too slowly.
Investment in fossil fuel companies is the main issue, says a United Methodist advocacy group. Wespath holds shares of oil companies including Chevron, ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum.
Wespath, based in Glenview, Illinois, is a nonprofit agency that has been serving The United Methodist Church for more than a century. Together with its subsidiaries, Wespath invests more than $24 billion in assets on behalf of more than 100,000 participants and more than 130 United Methodist-affiliated institutions. More…

United Methodist Men Spiritual Advance- Sept. 27-28
Registration is now open for the 2019 UMMen’s Spiritual Advance at Baylake UMC in Virginia Beach on Sept. 27-28. Featured speaker is the Rev. Dr. Kevin Watson, author of The Class Meeting and Bible study teacher at the 2019 Virginia Annual Conference. The theme is Transforming Grace. Special rates are available for pastors, early birds, spouses, and, if you attended last year, Bring One Get One (BOGO) for first timers.  New this year, church sponsorships are targeted for churches who have never attended the event or those currently with no formal UMMen organization. Open to all churches, the challenge is to line up 12 men to come and receive both a discounted rate and a free event themed T-shirt.  A box lunch option is available on Saturday to allow for more fellowship on site with brothers in Christ. More...

5 Talent Academy fall event- Nov. 13,14
The theme for this year’s 5 Talent event is Engage 2019: Community Transformation.  There are two events: one just for clergy and one for clergy and laity.
Wednesday, Nov. 13 will be a Clergy-only Pre-event at Woodlake UMC and will feature Bishop Ken Carter, Florida Conference UMC.  He will speak about redefining the UM connection and evangelism, the role of fresh expressions, and how to shape missional relationships in the current cultural landscape.
Thursday, Nov. 14 will be the main Clergy and Laity event at Woodlake UMC and livestreamed to 11 satellite locations around the state.  Bishop Carter will be preaching and speakers will be the Rev. Michael Adam Beck, Wildwood UMC, Wildwood, Fla.; the Rev. Jaqueline Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church, New York, N.Y.; and the Rev. Andy and the Rev. Anjie Woodworth, Neighborhood Church, Atlanta, Ga.  They will address what it looks like to be a neighborhood church, what is a community partner, and what is a fresh expression.
If you plan to attend in a group from your church, every fifth person in a group registration goes free. Fees for the events are as follows: Nov. 14 event - $35; Nov. 13 & 14 events - $60; Nov. 13 event only - $50. Registration prices increase after Sept. 30.  To register, visit For questions, contact MaryKaye Cochran 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 email For information about the Virginia Conference and resources for ministry, visit the Virginia Conference website at

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