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News from the Virginia Conference - Feb. 17, 2016

March 1 is deadline to register for Bishop's Convocation on Prayer
Registration deadline is March 1 for the Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer to be held Saturday, March 5, at Trinity UMC, 903 Forest Ave., Richmond. Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt Jr., Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, will speak on Changing the Way We Do Church: Praying for Discernment. He describes the intent of discerning prayer as: "When people walk through the doors of our churches, the implicit message that many hear is, 'Welcome, it will be interesting to see how your being here changes you.' We should be saying, 'Welcome, it will be interesting to see how your participation in our community changes us.' All the former requires is an 'org chart.' The latter requires prayers of discernment, and those can change everything." In addition to Dr. Schmidt’s plenary presentation, 11 workshops will be offered on different aspects of spiritual formation. Participants may choose two workshops. Registration is limited to 450. Click here for more information and to register. Questions may be directed to Marc Brown at

April 10 to be conference-wide day to pray for General Conference
The United Methodist Council of Bishops has invited each annual conference in the denomination to designate one day to hold a 24-hour prayer vigil for General Conference. Bishop Young Jin Cho has selected Sunday, April 10, to be the day for the Virginia Conference prayer vigil. The Virginia Conference delegation committees for worship and devotional life, conference Board of Discipleship and Kindred Project are developing resources that can be used for this event as well as during days following April 10 and throughout General Conference. District offices will coordinate the scheduling of local churches that wish to participate. Organizers are asking districts to encourage all congregations on the district to sign up for half-hour or one-hour increments so there will be 24 hours of continuous prayer beginning at 12 a.m. April 10 and continuing until 12 a.m. April 11. As part of this initiative, the chapel in the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will be open for prayer. In addition, all congregations are asked to include the prayer initiative in their Sunday services on that day. More ...

14 Virginia Conference churches receive Rethink Church advertising grants
The Rethink Church program sponsored by United Methodist Communications awards three types of grants each year: Community Event Grants, Digital Advertising Grants and New Church Start Grants. Three Virginia Conference churches received Digital Advertising Grants in 2015: Madison UMC, Madison; Rose Park UMC, Wolftown; and Wrights Chapel UMC, Ruther Glen.
      In addition, 10 Virginia Conference churches were awarded 2016 Easter Digital Advertising Grants and will have customized digital ads running in local online spaces Feb. 15-March 27. These churches are: Bethany UMC, Weyers Cave; Farmville UMC, Farmville; Huntington Court UMC, Roanoke; Jamieson Memorial UMC, Clarksville; Marquis Memorial UMC, Staunton; Norfolk UMC, Norfolk; Redwood UMC, Rocky Mount; The Gathering at Scott Memorial UMC, Virginia Beach; Virginia Beach UMC, Virginia Beach; and Warwick Memorial UMC, Newport News.
      A New Church Start Grant for 2016 was awarded to Restoration Church, Charlottesville.
      Many churches have taken advantage of the free and low-cost resources available each season: 100 free customized door hangers, 100 free customized invitation cards, free worship resources and a low-cost direct mail program. The 2016 door hangers, invitation cards and direct mail can be ordered until March 1 at

Applications due Feb. 29 for Youth Service Fund grants
Are you interested in starting a program ministry or mission project for youth? Do you currently have a program in need of seed money? The conference office of Ministries with Young People is now accepting applications for Youth Service Fund Grants. Money is available for work/initiatives to be done BY young people FOR young people. Grants ranging from $200 to $1,500 are made available annually. Click here for application, and click here for application guidelines. Completed applications should be sent via e-mail to​. Deadline for all applications to be received is noon Monday,​ Feb. 29. For more information, contact the office of Ministries with Young People by e-mailing or calling (804) 521-1139.

Theme, preachers announced for 2016 Annual Conference
The theme of the 2016 Annual Conference is “Thy Will Be Done.” The logo was developed by Cathryn Huff, contract graphic designer for the conference Communications office. Annual Conference will be held June 17-19 at the Berglund Center in Roanoke. Bishop Young Jin Cho announced that the preacher for the ordination service will be Bishop Mark Webb from the Upper New York Annual Conference. Preacher for the Saturday morning mission service will be the Rev. Eun Pa Hong from Bupyeong Methodist Church in South Korea. Preacher for the Friday evening memorial service will be the Rev. Myrtle Frances Hatcher. Preacher for the retirement service will be the Rev. Jim Tongue. Annual Conference teacher will be Dr. L. Gregory Jones, Duke Divinity School.

March Advocate to feature United Methodist focus on global health
The March issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate will analyze how The United Methodist Church is addressing improvement of global health, one of the denomination's Four Areas of Ministry Focus. As the Imagine No Malaria initiative nears its end and approaches its goal of raising $75 million to provide education and preventative measures against malaria in Africa, the denomination is gearing up for its next efforts in fighting diseases of poverty. Learn more about what the next initiative will be, as well as how local churches can join in the effort. 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

Churches in South Africa ask to partner with churches in Virginia
The Virginia Conference office of Justice and Missional Excellence received a request from the provisional conference of The United Methodist Church in South Africa asking for churches/faith communities in the Virginia Conference who would like to explore being part of new partnerships with churches and districts in the growing UMC movement in South Africa. The need is for lay leadership training, especially for young adults. Also, United Methodist Women are requesting help in establishing pre-schools in rural areas and support for programs for the elderly. The most important request they made is for churches to enter into long-term relationships that would first focus on praying for one another so the partnerships may grow and be blessed in serving God’s mission. If your church is interested in this new mission opportunity, contact the Rev. Glenn Rowley, conference director of Justice and Missional Excellence, at or (804) 521-1143.

Alta Mons seeks summer camp counselors
Alta Mons, a rustic camp located in Shawsville and owned by the Roanoke District, is looking for summer camp counselors. Counselors need to be at camp June 15-July 23, with food and lodging provided the entire time. Many different paid positions are available. For job descriptions and staff applications, go to For more information, contact Meredith Simmons at or (540) 268-2409.

February is Black History Month
February is Black History Month. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers worship resources. The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History offers resources for African-American history. United Methodist Women provide an online flipbook charting a racial justice timeline and other resources for Black History Month. Dorothy Ravenhorst also recalls adopting the organization’s Charter for Racial Justice in Virginia in 1965. More ...

February is Heart Havens Month
February is Heart Havens Month in the Virginia Conference, a time when churches are asked to make financial contributions to this agency that provides residential services for men and women with intellectual disabilities by operating 11 group homes throughout Virginia. A packet of promotional materials to assist with this special offering has been mailed to each church. Bulletin inserts, worship resources and more are available at For more information or to arrange for a Heart Havens speaker in your church, contact Sarah Wilkinson, Heart Havens Communications and Volunteer Manager, at (804) 237-6097 or

One Great Hour of Sharing is Sunday, March 6
Sunday, March 6, is One Great Hour of Sharing. You are invited to join with thousands of other congregations across the connection in a special offering to support United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). When our congregations participate in One Great Hour of Sharing, we help cover the operating budget of UMCOR. More ...

Monthly podcast offers ways to 'Get Your Spirit in Shape'
“Get Your Spirit in Shape” is a free, 30-minute, monthly podcast from United Methodist Communications featuring conversations with leaders, authors and others who offer spiritual nutrition and exercises for our everyday lives. In the first episode, J. Brent Bill, author of Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker, discusses how we strive to deepen our spiritual lives. Listen to podcast.

Religion and Race offers Lenten study
The United Methodist General Commission on Religion and Race has released the Lenten resource “Roll Down, Justice!” ─ a six-part series based on Scripture and social-justice hymns. Click here to get resource.

Pre-General Conference briefing videos available online
Videos from the pre-General Conference briefing are now available online. The briefings provide information for delegates preparing for The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking body when it meets May 10-20 in Portland. Click here to see videos. Click here for related materials.

Pre-GC2016 video on divestment gets pushback
Some United Methodists believe the denomination’s Board of Pension and Health Benefits went too far in telling delegates from outside the United States how to vote on General Conference petitions. The board says it was trying to convey its message in a way easily understood in multiple languages. More ...

Coalition responds to statement from African bishops about gay rights
The Love Your Neighbor Coalition responded to a letter from the African bishops about the discussion of gay rights at the upcoming 2016 United Methodist General Conference. The coalition, which includes the five ethnic caucuses of the denomination as well as other official and unofficial organizations, said they hoped to work together. More ...

Board recommends married lesbian as deacon
The Baltimore-Washington Conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry has recommended Tara “T.C.” Morrow for commissioning as a provisional deacon. Morrow is a woman married to another woman. More ...

Bread for the World announces plans for 2016 Offering of Letters
Bread for the World’s 2016 Offering of Letters: Survive and Thrive, which focuses on the nutrition and health of mothers and children, debuts this month. This year’s Offering of Letters urges Congress to affirm and provide additional resources for our federal government to accelerate global progress against malnutrition. Toolkits to help congregations and other faith communities participate in the 2016 Offering of Letters will be available later in February (English and Spanish versions). You can pre-order a print kit now. Congregations that want to access the materials before the print toolkits are available can get them on the Bread for the World website at More ...

Tax preparation tips for clergy offered in Feb. 22 webinar
A webinar, “Financial Tips for Clergy: Take the Bite Out of Income Taxes,” will be offered by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries at 11:30 a.m. EST Monday, Feb. 22. Clergy face some unique challenges when it comes to things like Social Security payments, estimated tax payments and housing allowances or exclusions. It is important to know the rules, but also the way to minimize the impact of your tax liability. The Rev. Don Joiner, a certified financial planner, will offer tips to clergy who are navigating the preparation of taxes and planning for a sound financial future. More ...

Webinar on live streaming to be offered Feb. 23
A webinar, “Quick and Dirty Intro to Live Streaming Worship,” will be offered 7 to 8 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 23. This session will provide an overview of how to live stream church services and events. Topics include: necessary hardware, hospitality issues (including chat rooms) and whether to upload print content. Practical Resources for Churches, an ecumenical group, presents this webinar. More ...

♦ Lay Servant Academy - Feb. 26-28
The Virginia Conference Lay Servant Academy will be held at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) in Blackstone Feb. 26-28. The academy is designed to equip laity to carry out the mission of the church. All of the courses offered are open to anyone who would like to take one. Each course is designed to help those serving the local church learn more about leadership, personal faith development and The United Methodist Church. Many of the courses offered this year will support those who are seeking to become Certified Lay Servants and Lay Speakers. Registration deadline is Feb. 19. Registration fee is $200. More ...

♦ Clergy Spouse Retreat - March 3-5
Clergy spouses from around the Virginia Conference will retreat with keynote speaker Lee Anne Orndorff, wife of the Rev. Randy Orndorff, March 3-5 at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) in Blackstone. On Aug. 29, 2008, the Orndorffs’ daughter, Kelsey, was killed in a car accident while heading to a Chris Sligh Christian concert. Subsequently, Lee Anne suffered overwhelming grief that led her to the depths of despair but, with God's help, she began to make a turn around. Out of her experience with a parent’s worst nightmare, she began speaking at engagements at churches and other groups encouraging others battling despair and grief. More ...

♦ Early Response Team basic training - March 4-5
Early Response Teams respond during the first phase of disaster relief, providing Christian presence. Your church and community could also be faced with a disaster. Train to be ready to respond and know the first steps to help. Early Response Team (ERT) certification training will be held 6-10 p.m. Friday, March 4, and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Nimmo UMC, 2200 Princess Anne Rd., Virginia Beach. Cost is $55 (includes background check, t-shirt, manual and lunch). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. To register, e-mail Michele Michaelian at More ...

♦ 5 Talent Academy - March 8
Registration is now open for the 5 Talent Academy event Tuesday, March 8, on “POWRful Worship: Transforming Worship Planning and Leadership.” The event will begin with worship, and then the Rev. Barbara Day Miller, associate dean for Worship and Music at Candler School of Theology, will lead a reflection on worship using the POWR model, a conversational model of worship planning and leadership. Miller will be speaking live from Floris UMC in Herndon. The event will also be live streamed to nine satellite locations throughout the conference in order to bring this event close to your church home. Registration closes on Feb. 26. More ...

♦ Early Response Team basic training - March 12
The Conference Disaster Response Team invites you to participate in a training event for anyone interested in disaster relief ministries. Early Response Team (ERT) certification training will be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at Burke UMC, 6200 Burke Centre Parkway, Burke. Cost is $55 (includes background check, t-shirt, manual and lunch). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. To register, e-mail Michele Michaelian at More ...

♦ Overlook Confirmation Camp - March 18-19
Join other confirmands and their pastors/mentors at Confirmation Camp at Camp Overlook in Keezletown March 18-19 to discover what it means to be part of The United Methodist Church and what it means to be Christ’s disciples. Campers will meet a circuit-riding contemporary of John Wesley, explore a commitment to living United Methodist style, examine Lent and experience Easter through the help of a dramatic presentation by Overlook staff. Campers will also examine the Means of Grace and what it means to commit one’s life in service and explore the connectional nature of our church and what it means when we say the world is our parish. This weekend is intended to supplement studies in your local church and does not suffice as a complete confirmation experience on its own. Registration information can be found at Or call 540-2MY-CAMP or e-mail

♦ Dementia ministry training - March 22, 23
The Hermitage in Richmond and Hermitage in Northern Virginia, two of the communities of Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc. (VUMH), will offer one-day learning opportunities for clergy and laity. "Building a Circle of Support: The Role of the Church in Supporting Individuals with Dementia and Their Care Partners" will be held Tuesday, March 22, at The Hermitage in Richmond, 1600 Westwood Ave. and on Wednesday, March 23, at Hermitage in Northern Virginia, 5000 Fairbanks Ave., Alexandria. Registration will start at 9:30 a.m. followed by learning and sharing sessions from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Keynote presenter for the day is Gary H. Oberlender, MD, consultant in geriatric medicine from Roanoke. Sessions will focus on "The ABC’s of Dementia” and "End of Life Care, Decision-Making Capacity, and the Role of Clergy." This event has been approved by the conference Board of Ordained Ministry for a 0.5 CEU credit. Cost is $25, which includes lunch, to be paid by cash or check upon arrival. Space is limited. Registration deadline is March 15. To register for Richmond event, contact Susan Cantrell at (804) 474-1850 or To register for Northern Virginia event, contact Lynette Mitchell at (703) 797-3814 or

♦ Ministers' Convocation - April 18-20
Registration is now open for the 2016 Ministers' Convocation, "Come to the Table: Bringing Food and Faith Together," which will be held April 18-20 at Virginia Crossings Wyndham Hotel & Conference Center, 1000 Virginia Center Parkway, Glen Allen. 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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