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News from the Virginia Conference - December 13, 2018

Notice: Conference office holiday observance
Conference offices in the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will close at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, and remain closed through Wednesday, Dec. 26, in observance of the Christmas holiday. Offices will re-open on Thursday, Dec. 27. Conference offices will also be closed on Tuesday, Jan. 1, in observance of the New Year’s holiday.

Upcoming schedule for e-Advocate, Sunday Advocate
The Dec. 13 issue of the e-Advocate will be the last prior to the Christmas holiday. It will return on a new day of the week, on Tuesdays, starting on Tuesday, Jan. 1. The last Sunday Advocate will be released Monday, Dec. 17 for use on Sunday, Dec. 23. The Sunday Advocate will return to its regular schedule the week of Dec. 31.

2019 Bible Reading Challenge released
Bishop Sharma D. Lewis shared that her 2019 Bible Reading Challenge will be read in a blended style with readings from the Old and New Testament each day. Bishop Lewis will be sharing a video about the challenge soon. Information about the challenge and monthly readings are now on the conference website. More…

Pose questions to General Conference 2019 delegation
A reminder that you can share your thoughts, prayers and questions with members of the Virginia delegation to General Conference 2019. All information about the upcoming denominational gathering and ways to contact the delegation can be found on the conference website. More…

Watch conference center chapel services each Wednesday    
The Rev. Meredith McNabb, VAUMC clergy delegate to General Conference, leads the call to worship in a May 11 worship service during General Conference in Portland, Ore. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.The conference Communications office has started showing the sermons of the chapel services held each Wednesday on Facebook Live at the Virginia United Methodist Center located in Glen Allen. There will be no service on Dec. 26, but coverage will start back on Jan. 2. Tune in by going to the conference Facebook page. More…

Church member seeks to help survivors of California wildfires
The Rev. Alex Joyner, Eastern Shore district superintendent, shared that Robert Bridges, a church member on the Eastern Shore, has created a design for a safe, secure shelter that can be setup in 30 minutes. Due to the recent California wildfires, Bridges wondered if his design might be of help to those affected. More…

More resources available for UMFS December offering
More resources are available to help you bring the ministry of United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) to life for your congregation during the December offering. Visit to download the new one-minute video, the new script you can use to introduce the offering during worship, the bulletin insert and other resources. Your support of the UMFS December offering helps provide foster care and community based services, specialized therapeutic education and residential treatment services for high-risk children and families across the conference. Your support creates brighter futures for high-risk children. Contact Brenda Foster for additional assistance, or 804-254-9450.

Weathering winter with virtual worship (including the offering!)
When weather makes it unsafe to have services or Bible study at your church, you don't have to forgo the fellowship, worship and opportunity for your people to give. Think through four questions to take your worship online — with options for every budget and technical ability. More…

Learn more about Convergence summer program for high school students
Convergence: Where Faith and Science Meet is a nine-day program (June 22-30, 2019) that allows current 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students to come to Randolph-Macon’s campus in Ashland, Va., and learn about the intersection of science and Christian faith. They will dive deeper into their religious beliefs, deeper into the study of science, and will meet other high school students and Randolph-Macon College student leaders with those same interests. There will be time in the classroom and outdoor experiences throughout the region. The cost to participate is only $250. Upon high school graduation, if a Convergence participant chooses to attend Randolph-Macon, they will receive a $1,000 annual scholarship for each year they participated in Convergence.  If you would like to nominate a participant, you can fill out the nomination form, and the Convergence staff will contact your nominee with further information. The application form for participants is available. Please contact the Rev. Kendra Grimes or Laura Ruxton  at with any questions about the program. More...

Learn more about Shenandoah University’s summer institute for high school students
Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute (SUYTI) is a 14-day institute (July 14-27, 2019) where high school students explore the exciting intersection of faith and justice. Upon completion of the institute, and a self-identified justice project in their local context, students receive three credits from Shenandoah University. At SUYTI students spend one week at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. and one week at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Each day includes worship, class time with world class professors, compelling afternoon immersive experiences and mentoring from undergraduate and seminary students. The cost for students in 2019 is only $200. SUYTI is open to current 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. If you would like to nominate a student, you can fill out a nomination form. You can find the 2019 student application and more information on the website at  For more information, please contact the Rev. Colleen Hallagan Preuninger ( 540-665-5453.

Clergy invited to Florida outdoor learning event
Clergy are invited to participate in a unique outdoor learning event that will take place in southern Florida in February 2019. This event will be an opportunity to experience and learn about the changing ecosystems of the Everglades National Park and the Big Cypress National Preserve and to reflect upon possible parallels to the changes in church and other cultural systems. This active and experiential event will be based at the Florida UMC’s Riverside Camp from Monday, February 25 through Saturday, March 2. The event is being organized by two Virginia Conference clergy, Janine Howard and Steve Jones, and will be limited to 12 participants.  Previous camping, etc. is not required, but participants need to be able to take part in physical outdoor activities. CEU’s are available to participants. For further information, contact Steve Jones at

Support Una Familia ministry
Una Familia, which began in 2013, serves primarily Hispanic/Latino families on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The ministry seeks to fulfill the call to be Una Familia (One Family) by responding to the needs of the poor, marginalized and underserved community.This ministry provides after-school tutoring to elementary school children from three elementary schools in Accomack and Northampton counties on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Local churches each host a site one day a week. During summer months, Una Familia provides tutoring twice a week for a six-week period. Beginning 2019, Una Familia will initiate a high school program to assist students in the discernment of vocation, working toward vocational training, college, interview techniques, essay writing and more. Una Familia is also beginning a partnership with Just Neighbors (a nonprofit organization) in order to provide low cost/no cost immigration services to families locally. This ministry solely depends on individuals, churches and occasional grants to complete its work. If you would like to support this ministry, donations can be mailed to:Una Familia (payable), PO Box 317, Parksley, VA 23421. You can also donate on their website at

Faith leaders struggle to bring message of hope to migrants
A small group of United Methodists waded into the cold Pacific Ocean to kneel and pray that the border wall separating the United States and Mexico would topple. They were part of a group of more than 300 faith leaders who marched to the wall on International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, in a “moral call for migrant justice.” Dozens of protesters, including two United Methodist pastors, were arrested and charged with civil disobedience when they stepped across the barrier set up by the U.S. Border Patrol. More…

'Little interest' for Connectional Conference Plan
Patricia L. Miller, executive director of the unofficial advocacy group The Confessing Movement and member of the Commission on a Way Forward, submitted the legislation for the Connectional Conference Plan to General Conference. Though Miller thinks the plan has many merits, she says it likely has the least support of the three plans submitted by the commission. Miller spoke with UM News as part of "Seeing a Way Forward," a video series featuring different perspectives of church leaders on the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. More…

Conference, bishop sue for control of Glide UMC
The California-Nevada Conference and Bishop Minerva Carcaño have filed a lawsuit against the Glide Foundation's board of trustees, escalating the battle for control of San Francisco's famed Glide Memorial United Methodist Church. More…

Bishops' website spotlights One Church Plan
A group of bishops has debuted a website to provide information on the One Church Plan, one of multiple proposals heading to the special General Conference. The new site is getting pushback but also support. More…

Does Christmas have roots in pagan beliefs?
The assertion that Christmas is merely a "Christianized" pagan holiday simply isn't true. Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, looks at the history of the celebration. More…

Addressing online hate speech against refugees
The World Association for Christian Communication — Europe Region is embarking on a one-year project to identify and promote strategies to counter online hate speech focused on refugees and migrants. More…

♦ Conference center closed for Christmas observance- Dec. 21-26, 2018
The Virginia United Methodist Conference Center will be closed for Christmas observance starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21 and will remain closed through Wednesday, Dec. 26

♦ Conference center closed for New Year's Day observance- Jan. 1, 2019
The Virginia United Methodist Conference Center will be closed for New Year's Day observance on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. 

♦ United Methodist Day at General Assembly- Jan. 31, 2019
Now that the election is over. . . Would you like to continue to make an impact in having your voice heard? Then register today for United Methodist Day at the General Assembly! Register by December 28 and pay $30 early registration. After December 28, pay $40 until January 11 when registration closes. Hotel reservations can be made for January 30 at the Hyatt Place, 201 Arboretum Place, Richmond, 23236, near Bon Air UMC. Call 804-560-1566 to make your reservation and mention “Virginia United Methodist Conference” to receive a special room rate of $109/night (single or double). Hotel reservation deadline is Dec. 31, 2018. Contact the Rev. Barbara Lewis, registrar, with questions at More…

♦ Clergy Spouses Retreat- Mar. 8-9, 2019
Are you anticipating some kind of major transition in 2019? Maybe a new appointment or the results of February's denominational vote? This session is designed exclusively for you – the clergy spouse! Retreat on Mar. 8-9, 2019 will include small group discussions and time to connect with other clergy spouses. Theme is "Healthy Transitions for Clergy Spouses" by Julie Anderman of Artos Retreats. Anderman, a clergy spouse in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference for 20 years, co-founded Artos Retreats two years ago out of a calling to improve the well-being of clergy spouses through connection and learning. Before starting Artos, Anderman provided independent instructional design and communications consulting for over 20 years. She has facilitated small group learning in both corporate and church environments for 25 years. Location will be Blessings Lodge at Camp Overlook, near Harrisonburg. Cost is $100 with accommodations and meals. Registration is available. Contact Judy Hall at 804-264-0524 with any questions. 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 email 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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