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News from the Virginia Conference - December 3, 2019

Conference DCM invites vision alignment input through listening sessions on Dec. 10, email
The Virginia Conference Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) the Rev. Dr. Ted Smith is asking for feedback as the conference seeks to better align itself to the conference vision that was shared by Bishop Lewis at Annual Conference 2017. Vision alignment feedback may be given via ZOOM on Dec. 10 during listening sessions with Smith at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. or emailed to More... 

New video shares sounds of the season
The Rev. Drew Willson, Boulevard UMC, shares his thoughts on music of the season in the December Advocate and shares his gift and passion for music, especially Advent and Christmas music, in this corresponding video. More... 

Join Heart Havens for #GivingTuesday
Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Get your holiday season started right by giving to Heart Havens on Dec. 3 for Giving Tuesday. The organization also announced that SIL/Towne Insurance and the Heart Havens Board of Directors are matching the first $1,000 they receive in gifts on Giving Tuesday, so your gift will go even further. There will also be a random donor drawing. Why give to Heart Havens on Giving Tuesday? Their goal is to raise at least $3,000 for the residential education and recreation budget. Heart Havens' residents - adults with a developmental disability - live on a fixed income, making it hard for many of them to afford outings in the community without your help. More...

All God's Children Camp participating in #GivingTuesday
All God's Children Camp is participating in today's #GivingTuesday. The goal is to get all 90 children sponsored for 2020 camp. All God' Children Camp is for children with an incarcerated parent where they learn self-esteem building and conflict resolution as well as enjoy and experience camp life. Each child's sponsorship costs $425. This covers a full week overnight camp where they will be involved in the activities camp has to offer (paddleboarding, boating, fishing, swimming, tubing, canoeing, archery, ropes course, rock walls, zip lines and much more). Please consider helping this year during #GivingTuesday either through Facebook, the website below, or mailing it to The Virginia United Methodist Conference Center at P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen VA, 23058, Attn: Becky Tate.  #GivingTuesday. You can donate through mail or at the website at any time. Please contact Lori Smith at 571-245-9591 or with any questions. More...

#GivingTuesday at UMFS
Today is #GivingTuesday. All donations made to United Methodist Family Services on #GivingTuesday will be used to buy Christmas presents for children and teens in foster care. Please join the organization and help make Christmas brighter for youth in foster care. You can donate online at Please contact Jill Gaynor with any questions, (804) 254-9463 or you for your support!

Support UMFS December offering
United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) is the Virginia Conference designated offering for December. UMFS deeply appreciates the support of local churches in this ministry, helping high-risk children create a brighter future. Each church in the conference was mailed a packet that included bulletin inserts and offering envelopes. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like additional materials. This year an electronic printer-friendly version of the bulletin insert, a short UMFS video, and other worship resources are available at Please contact Jill Gaynor ( or 804-254-9463) with any questions, or to place an order for additional materials.

Winchester church given community partner award
The Winchester Social Services Advisory Board presented its 14th annual Community Partner Award on Thursday to John Mann/Wesley Cooperative Parish of the United Methodist Church. According to a media release, the award presentation at the Our Health complex on North Cameron Street allows the board to publicly recognize the individuals, groups and organizations that partner with the Winchester Department of Social Services to improve the quality of life for local residents. The John Mann/Wesley Cooperative Parish gave 50 local children who were Social Services clients a merry Christmas last year by obtaining the children’s wish lists and buying them the gifts their families could not afford. More...

Final issue: Get your December Advocate now!
The final Advocate magazine is now available online and in print. Readers share their favorite Advent and Christmas hymns and the Rev. Drew Willson shares about music during the holiday seasons. As the magazine end its tenure, Advocate editor Madeline White née Pillow shares: “On a final note, it has been my great honor to edit this publication for the last four years. I am thankful for those who have come before me and the work they have done as faithful people of God. I am also grateful for our tremendous staff whose love and talent for this shone through every issue. I am grateful for you, dear readers. Thank you for joining us on this journey.” You may contact the Communications Office to place your order for any 2019 issue at or 804-521-1110.

Sign up for mindfulness workshop in Richmond
During one of the busiest seasons of the year, you're invited to carve out a quiet time on Sundays in December to learn and practice the ability to calm your mind with Koru Mindfulness, a unique, evidence-based curriculum specifically developed for teaching mindfulness, meditation and stress-management. Roger Mancastroppa will teach course the four-week course in December at 9:30 a.m. at Westhampton UMC in Richmond. More... 

Start 2020 off right-- study at Wesley Theological Seminary
Need a time of refreshment following the busy Advent/Christmas season? Why not take a retreat week and come to J-Term at Wesley. Exciting courses will be taught over an intensive one- or two-week period in January 2020 – take the course for credit or audit Attention, Wesley graduates: all alumni may audit one of these J-Term classes for free! Some of our J-Term courses:

•    A Black Theological Critique of Spike Lee Dr. Asa Lee
•    Worship in Popular Culture – Dr. Anna Petrin
•    Faith on Film – Dr. Deryl Davis
•    Bodies, Books and God – Dr.  Katherine Brown

Wesley’s Spring term 2020 will feature a wide range of challenging topics in a format that fits with your busy life – days, evenings, weekends, online, and hybrid. Choose from courses like:
  •  BioEthics and Pastoral Care – Dr. Sondra Wheeler (Daytime/Afternoon)
  •  Caring for Community Through Non-Profit  Organizations – Dr. Jana Strukova (Hybrid -Online/Weekend)
  •  The Holy in Washington, D.C. Art: Art as Embodiment – Dr. Aaron Rosen (Daytime/Afternoon)
  •  Swords, Spaceships and Salvation – Dr. Rick Elgendy (Online)
  •  Ecology and Moral Community Dr. Joe Bush (Daytime/afternoon)
  •  When does life begin and end? Rabbi Fred Reiner (Daytime/morning)
  •  The Art of Toni Morrison and the Problem of Theodicy – Dr. Josiah Young (Evenings)

Deadline to register is Dec. 15, 2019. For more information about Wesley’s J-Term or Spring courses in 2020, contact Wesley Admissions today at or call 202-885-8659 or go to

Celebrate Heart Havens Month
Help Heart Havens share their message of inclusion and empowerment across the Virginia Conference. The organization empowers adults with developmental disabilities to live and thrive in their community. Heart Havens depends on the support of church friends during February to sustain their mission as they do not receive any funding from conference apportionments. Please contact them to learn about participating in Heart Havens month. Additional electronic resources will be available on their website in January. Contact Sara Becker at 804-237-6097 or for more information. More…

Reimbursement for Advocate magazine subscriptions available
If your subscription to the Virginia Advocate runs past 2019, you may contact the conference Communications Office to get a reimbursement or to donate your remaining balance to ongoing communications efforts or UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). Contact the Communications Office at 804-521-1110 or email expiration date can be found on the mailing label of the magazine.

Registration open for UM Day 2020
Registration is now open for United Methodist Day at the General Assembly in 2020 presented by the Virginia Board of Church & Society, United Methodist Women and the Virginia Legislative Network Committee. The date for the event is Jan. 30, 2020. This year there will be a new location for the event at The Pace Center, 700 W. Franklin Street in Richmond.  Learn more…

Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation event to be held in 2020
"Songs for the Journey" will be the theme for the Virginia Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation event from Mar. 15-20, 2020. The event will be held at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond and will be a week of renewal, worship, prayer and learning with faculty, Dr. Don E. Saliers and Rabbi Rachel Barenblat. More...


Filipino United Methodists focus on HIV epidemic
United Methodist leaders and youth are among those collaborating on ways to stop the “ugly and alarming” rise in HIV cases in the Philippines. HIV and AIDS is a national emergency in the country, said Wilfredo C. Ramos, a United Methodist and dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Medical Sciences at United Methodist-related Wesleyan University-Philippines. “HIV cases in the Philippines have increased by 174% in the past eight years and (the number) is still growing,” Ramos said. “The numbers and are quite ugly and very alarming.” Ramos was among the speakers at an Oct. 30 HIV and AIDS education and prevention forum held at the university. More...

Join Rethink Church on 2019 Advent Photo-a-day
Pause. Reflect. Prepare. Repeat. Advent is the season leading up to Christmas. It is 24 days of preparation. This year, Rethink Church is inviting you to prepare by hitting the "pause" button... daily in their Advent Photo-a-Day Challenge. Each day during the season of Advent, Rethink Church will post a word for reflection. Take a moment (or several moments) of pause and reflection, then share a response to that word through a picture. Post your picture on social media with #RethinkChurch. Don't worry if you miss a day or two--there's no failing this challenge. More...


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