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 Dec. 15, 2016
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News from the Virginia Conference - Jan. 14, 2016

Monday, Jan. 18, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Monday, Jan. 18, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers resources for celebrating the life of the famed civil rights leader and minister. Virginia Conference offices in the United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will be closed Jan. 18 in observance of the holiday.

Conference Communications intern is guest blogger for 'Through the Lens'
Susan Pullin, a Randolph-Macon College senior who is serving as an intern in the conference Communications office during the month of January, is guest blogger for "Through the Lens," Conference Videographer Nick Ruxton's new blog that appears on the Virginia Conference website. Pullin writes about human trafficking and what she learned from her assignment to post information about Human Trafficking Awareness Day (Jan. 11) on conference social media sites. More ...

Warrenton church asks for help with computer outreach ministry in Haiti
Bethel UMC in Warrenton has a computer outreach ministry to help schools and medical facilities in Haiti with computer access for education and medical assistance. They work through local churches who have begun ministries there and are interested in helping expand computer access by delivering computers to those facilities that are in need and prepared to use the assets they provide. They provide laptop computers to these ministries and are interested in expanding this ministry by asking members of mission teams to Haiti to each take a laptop into country to be designated for different schools or medical facilities. This is a much more efficient way of sending them into the country because of the difficulties of international customs, etc. They also need help in trying to find out who goes to Haiti so an organized effort can be developed in the Virginia Conference. Finally, if you have laptop computers that you want to get rid of, they will take them. They refurbish them after safely and securely erasing the current hard drives of personal information. And the ones they can’t repair are used for parts to fix others. For more information about how your church can participate in this vital ministry, contact Marty Martin at

February issue of Advocate focuses on self-care for clergy, laity
The February issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate focuses on self-care for both clergy and laity. With the hectic schedules that require American adults to create a careful balance between work and personal life, this issue examines why self-care is integral to those in ministry and other work positions. Readers can also see how clergy and laity around the Virginia Conference manage their personal health. 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

Sunday, Jan. 17, is Human Relations Day
Sunday, Jan. 17, is Human Relations Day, one of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings for The United Methodist Church. Human Relations Day strengthens United Methodist outreach to communities in the United States and Puerto Rico, encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youths. More ...

Applications due Feb. 1 for Calling 21 internships
If you know a college student who may be discerning a call to ministry, now is the time to encourage them to apply for a Calling 21 summer ministry internship. Applications are due Feb. 1. For more information, go to or e-mail

Feb. 7 is Disability Awareness Sunday
Sunday, Feb. 7, is Disability Awareness Sunday. The 1996 General Conference of The United Methodist Church voted to create Disability Awareness Sunday to be observed annually on a date to be determined by the annual conference. In the Virginia Conference, Disability Awareness Sunday is the first Sunday in February. This special Sunday calls the church to celebrate the gifts and graces of persons with disabilities and calls the church and society to full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community. 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 will be 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

Scouting Sunday to be observed Feb. 14
Scouting Sunday (formerly Boy Scout Sunday) is observed on the second Sunday in February (this year, Feb. 14). An alternative Scouting Sunday (formerly Girl Scout Sunday) is observed on the second Sunday in March. The Commission on United Methodist Men, which officially sponsors all scouting programs in The United Methodist Church, suggests observing this day during February to avoid conflict with Lent. Scouting Sunday offers an excellent opportunity for the local congregation to recognize the Scouting program, Scouts, and their leaders as an integral and intentional part of the church's ministry. Use Scout members as ushers, acolytes, worship leaders and musicians. More ...

Use app to mark Christian Unity week
Material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, observed Jan. 18-25, is available for the first time on smartphones, computers and tablets. The World Council of Churches is collaborating with YouVersion, developer of the "Bible App," on the free, digital format available in English, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese. More ...

Agency launches blog series, 'All My Relations"
The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race this week has launched a blog series, "All My Relations." The series, featuring a blog a day by United Methodists from around the globe, is aimed at cultivating unity in the midst of diversity. It honors Human Relations Day on Jan. 17 and the U.S. observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King's Jr.'s birthday on Jan. 18. Read blog posts

Discipleship Ministries seeks new top executive
The search to fill the position of chief executive of Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church is underway. (Click here to read about former executive's departure.) "The ideal candidate will be a true disciple and committed Christian, either lay or clergy, with experience with the local and general church and working knowledge of the Book of Discipline, as well as understanding the needs of local churches throughout the connection," said Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky, the agency board's president. More ...

Bill Mefford leaves General Board of Church and Society
Bill Mefford is leaving the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society after nine years with the agency. Mefford, a member of Culmore UMC in Falls Church, was serving as the agency's director of human and civil rights. John Hill will serve as acting director until the position is filled. More ...

Laity will benefit from addition of new Wesley Pilgrimage sponsor
The addition of the General Commission on Archives and History as a sponsor of the annual Wesley Pilgrimage in England will result in financial help for United Methodist lay leaders who want to immerse themselves in the Christ-centered leadership of John and Charles Wesley. Steve Manskar, director of Wesleyan Leadership at Discipleship Ministries and pilgrimage co-leader, said Archives and History will co-sponsor the pilgrimage July 11-21 along with Discipleship Ministries and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. More ...

Church court convicts pastor of sexual misconduct
A church court in Florida removed a pastor's credentials in The United Methodist Church after he was found guilty of sexual misconduct with a laywoman. More ...

Team of bishops to serve Rio Texas Conference
A team of bishops will provide episcopal leadership and supervision for the Rio Texas Conference until a new bishop is assigned, Bishop Michael McKee announced. (Bishop James Dorff admitted to violating his marriage and ordination vows and voluntarily resigned as episcopal leader of the Rio Texas Conference, effective Jan. 1.) "Bishop Janice Huie of the Texas Conference, Bishop Michael Lowry of the Central Texas Conference, Bishop Joel Martinez, who is retired, and Bishop Robert Schnase of the Missouri Conference have agreed to come home to serve in the conference and area they love," McKee, president of the South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops, wrote in an e-mail to the conference. Bishops Huie, Lowry and Schnase will continue to serve in their respective conferences. More ...

5 Israeli banks on ineligible list for pension agency investments
A recent decision by The United Methodist Church’s pension fund regarding investments in five Israeli banks is in keeping with its plan to use a human rights guideline for investments, announced a year ago. The banks are Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot. United Methodist Kairos Response, an advocacy group, said in a press release distributed widely Jan. 12 that it was pleased with the pension agency’s action to declare “the five largest Israeli banks off limits for investment.” The group called the move “the first time a major church pension fund has acted to preclude investment in Israeli banks that sustain Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land.” More ...

♦ Resource Center Teaching Excellence Colleague Forum - Jan. 23
The Resource Center will hold its second annual Teaching Excellence Colleague Forum 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, on the campus of Virginia Union University in Richmond. This event will bring together the region’s most capable and thoughtful Christian educators for a one-day forum based in evocative scholarship to wrestle with its implications for our work in faith formation across generations. Presenter will be Dr. Leah Gunning Francis, assistant professor of Christian Education and associate dean for Contextual Education at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. Participants are expected to be experienced Christian educators, lay teachers or pastors who will bring their insight and experience to be shared during the forum. Cost for the day is $60 with lunch and breaks included. Early bird discount registration is $50 until Dec. 31. The Resource Center, an ecumenical agency headquartered in Richmond, has been designated by the Virginia Conference Common Table as the official media center to help Virginia Conference congregations find and use audiovisual and other resources. More ...

♦ UMVIM Team Leader Training - Jan. 30
United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader Training, required for all first-time UMVIM team leaders, will be held 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, at Burke UMC, 6200 Burke Centre Pkwy., Burke, Alexandria District. A $55 registration fee, payable when you register, covers mandatory background check, team leader handbook from the Southeastern Jurisdiction and lunch. Continuing Education Units (0.5) will be provided for those needing CEU certification. Pre-registration is required by noon Monday, Jan. 25. More ...

♦ UMVIM Team Leader Recertification - Jan. 30
United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader Recertification training will be offered 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, at Burke UMC, 6200 Burke Centre Pkwy., Burke, Alexandria District. This training is required for all UMVIM team leaders who completed basic team leader training five years ago or longer. Focus of this training is to update leaders on Virginia Conference UMVIM policies and guidelines, to share best practices, and to answer any questions. At least five participants are needed to offer this training. A $25 registration fee is payable when you register. Note: This fee does not cover an optional team leader handbook, which will be available for purchase ($20) at the training, or the new A Mission Journey book, which is available through Cokesbury. A meal will not be provided. All registrations must be in the office of Justice and Missional Excellence by noon Monday, Jan. 25. More ...

♦ United Methodist Day at the General Assembly - Feb. 4
United Methodist Day at the General Assembly, an annual event sponsored by the conference Board of Church and Society and Virginia Conference United Methodist Women, is an opportunity for faith communities to serve as missionaries of justice as well as the more traditional missionaries of mercy. Participants will gather Thursday, Feb. 4, at 7 a.m. at Bon Air UMC, 1645 Buford Rd., Richmond, for registration and breakfast and then travel together on buses to the General Assembly and Capitol Square where they will attend committee hearings and meet with legislators in order to advocate for social justice. At 12:30 p.m. participants will return to Bon Air UMC for lunch followed by speakers and discussion. The $25 early bird price is available until Jan. 15. Registration increases to $35 on Jan. 16. Final registration deadline is Jan. 29. Space is limited to 300 persons. More ...

♦ Clergy Ethics II Training - Feb. 18
All clergy and certified church professionals are required to attend an Ethics II training during this quadrennium (2012-2016). The next training will be 9:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at Dayton UMC, 215 Ashby St., Dayton, on the Harrisonburg District. Registration fee of $12 includes lunch and training materials and is payable by credit card. Registration is required 48 hours prior to the event in order to ensure sufficient materials are available for all participants. More ...

♦ UMVIM Team Leader Training - Feb. 20
United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader Training, required for all first-time UMVIM team leaders, will be held Saturday, Feb. 20, at Braddock St. UMC, 115 Wolfe St., Winchester, Winchester District. Training will begin promptly at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. A $55 registration fee, payable when you register, covers mandatory background check, team leader handbook from the Southeastern Jurisdiction and lunch. Continuing Education Units (0.5) will be provided for those needing CEU certification. Pre-registration is required by noon Monday, Feb. 15. 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. 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 ...

♦ Bishop's Convocation on Prayer - March 5
The Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer will be held Saturday, March 5, at Trinity UMC, 903 Forest Ave., Richmond. Theme is "Deepening Discipleship: Piety and Mercy through Prayer." Plenary speaker will be Dr. Frederick Schmidt, Reuben P. Job Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. 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. More ...

♦ 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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