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News from the Virginia Conference - Jan. 22, 2015

Post your comments on conference 'Holy Conversation' blog
As part of the response to Bishop Young Jin Cho's request that the Virginia Conference Common Table for Church Vitality facilitate conversation around the conference on the subject of human sexuality, the conference Communications office set up a blog page on the conference website to allow Virginia United Methodists to post their opinions and continue the "Holy Conversation" begun on the Nov. 22 "Day of Holy Conversation." The guiding question for the panelists and presenters in the Nov. 22 "Day of Holy Conversation" was: “In light of concerns being expressed in different areas of the connection of The United Methodist Church and in society as a whole regarding human sexuality, how can we move forward in mission and ministry together?” You are invited to post your thoughts and responses to that question. More ...

Ministers' Convocation participants told to listen to 'least of these'
Stop. Look. Listen. Dr. David Evans, assistant professor of Missions, Intercultural and Interfaith Studies at Eastern Mennonite University, challenged participants at the 2015 Ministers' Convocation to listen to the voices of "the least of these," people those in the church often neglect. More ...

Crawford has seen many changes in 40 years on conference staff
Carol Crawford, who currently handles church receipts in the conference Treasurer’s office, has served on conference staff since 1974. She's seen a lot of changes in her more than 40 years of service to the Virginia Conference. More ...

Robinsons featured in SEJ UMVIM newsletter
Kip and Nancy Robinson, United Methodist missionaries from the Virginia Conference who are now serving in Sierra Leone, were highlighted in the recent newsletter from the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM). More ...

Feb. 1 is Disability Awareness Sunday
Sunday, Feb. 1, 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 was e-mailed to each church. Materials included a menu of Heart Havens mission ideas, bulletin insert featuring the Bishop's Prayer for Heart Havens, a reading statement, a video with a message from the Bishop, and more. If you did not receive the materials, or for more information, call (804) 237-6097 or toll-free 1-877-442-8368; or e-mail Sara Becker, development assistant, at

February is Black History Month
February is Black History Month. The General Board of Discipleship has music and worship resources.

February Advocate celebrates short-term mission trips
The February issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate celebrates short-term mission trips by recognizing the dedication of the Rev. Sam NeSmith. Short-term mission trips are one of the pillars of The United Methodist Church, and perhaps no one has done more of them than NeSmith, a retired elder who keeps his passport handy. He’s made more than 100 United Methodist Volunteer-In-Mission (UMVIM) trips, with stops in Cambodia, Haiti, Russia and beyond. The UMVIM movement “is one of the most dynamic mission outreach programs in the denomination today,” according to our Social Principles, and something that helps the average United Methodist directly connect with Christ’s mission in the world. 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

Westview on James seeks summer camp counselors
Westview on the James Camp and Retreat Center, a United Methodist ministry of the Richmond, Charlottesville and Fredericksburg Districts, is now accepting applications for summer camp counselors. The camp seeks people that are excited about being positive Christian role models for young people in an outdoor environment. Westview on the James is a traditional-style, overnight camp in Goochland County. Click here for more information and to apply.

UMCOR celebrates 75th anniversary this year
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) began 75 years ago in the midst of very turbulent times. The world was being engulfed in a war — in 1940, German troops were already advancing across Europe and into North Africa, and Japanese troops were advancing in China. The Methodist Church was celebrating a merger — the 1939 reunification of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church — to form the new Methodist Church. The 1940 General Conference was its first official legislative gathering. More ...

Changes planned for pension board investments
The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits plans to exclude certain investments in thermal coal and companies that operate in countries with a pattern of human rights abuses. The key element the board is looking at: Are these investments sustainable? More ...

Judicial Council sets docket for April meeting
The United Methodist Judicial Council, the denomination's top court, has posted a seven-item docket for its April 15-18 spring meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio. The council's meetings are closed except for oral hearings. No decisions have been announced yet regarding possible hearings in April. Click here to see docket

Third human sexuality panel discussion to be in Mozambique
The Connectional Table's Human Sexuality Task Force will host its third and final panel on human sexuality Tuesday, Feb. 10, in Maputo, Mozambique. This panel will highlight the Central Conference perspective on our Wesleyan identity, the life of the church and human sexuality. While this panel will not be live-streamed, there is an opportunity for those who wish to participate to pose questions to the panel beforehand via Twitter. On Jan. 26, at 9 p.m. EST, DreamUMC will host a Twitter chat where participants will get a glimpse of the types of questions and topics for the panel, an opportunity to answer or comment on those questions and topics, and an opportunity to pose questions of their own, which will be presented to the panel. Any submitted questions will be asked of the panel during the last 20 minutes on Feb 10. The discussion will be available online Feb. 15. More ...

Chuck Knows Church: Ecumenical Sunday
Sunday, Jan. 25, is Ecumenical Sunday. This day gives Christians an annual opportunity to continue their quest for the unity they already share in Christ. But, do you even know what it means? Chuck will tell you on this episode of "Chuck Knows Church," a weekly online series that explains the meaning behind some of the objects, symbols, terms and rituals in church. Episodes can be downloaded for free at and used in worship, youth groups, fellowship groups, confirmation classes, worship teams, new member classes and late-night snack viewing. Chuck is on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. "Chuck Knows Church" is produced by the General Board of Discipleship. More ...

Chuck Knows Church SUB-Committee: The List
Glenda, Park Grove's choir director, has a plan! SUB-committee videos are just for fun, but with a tiny teaching element thrown in. They are part of "The Committee," a new series from the producers of Chuck Knows Church. Park Grove Community Church has lost its pastor and is closing its doors, unless it reinvents itself, despite itself ... with the help of Chuck. A free webinar on "The Committee - Hospitality" will be 2 p.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 5. Click here to register for this free webinar. Go to Facebook ( for the latest news and the website ( to watch and download all episodes.

Duke cancels Muslim call to prayer from chapel tower
Duke University reconsidered a previously announced plan to present a traditional Muslim call-to-prayer from the Duke Chapel bell tower, campus officials announced last week. Read press release or read CNN coverage

Creation Justice Ministries seeks executive director
Creation Justice Ministries (CJM), headquartered in the United Methodist building in Washington, D.C., is looking for an executive director. CJM is an ecumenical organization representing the creation care policies of 38 Christian denominations, including mainline Protestant, Orthodox, Baptist and peace churches. Based on the priorities of its members, CJM educates, equips and mobilizes Christian communions/denominations to protect God’s creation. Click here for more information.

UMCOR has two job openings at Sager-Brown depot in Louisiana
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is currently seeking applicants to fill two 2-year positions at its Sager-Brown location in Louisiana: director of Volunteer Services and Volunteer Program manager. For more information, visit the career page on the General Board of Global Ministries website, or click here.

♦ United Methodist Day at General Assembly - Feb. 5
The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, will be the lead speaker at United Methodist Day at the General Assembly on Thursday, Feb. 5. This event, sponsored by the conference Board of Church and Society and conference United Methodist Women, is a unique opportunity for Virginia United Methodists to exercise their calling to witness to their faith by advocating for justice on behalf of the voiceless in our society. Registration deadline is Friday, Jan. 30. More ...

♦ Lay Servant Academy - Feb. 20-22
Lay Servant Academy will be Feb. 20-22 at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone. This year’s Academy will offer 11 of the courses required for becoming or re-certifying as a Lay Servant. (One is required every three years from a list of 22.) Also offered will be five required courses for Lay Speaker qualification, plus 10 exploratory classes that are two or four hours in length and are designed for those interested in a topic and looking for information about the ministry or the full course of study. Theme is “From Members to Disciples.” More ...

♦ 5 Talent Academy - Feb. 21
The 5 Talent Academy teaching event on Saturday, Feb. 21, at Ebenezer UMC in Stafford, will focus on ministry with the poor. Speaker will be Shane Claiborne, author and leader of The Simple Way faith community in inner city Philadelphia. This event will be live streamed from Stafford to nine additional locations across the conference. Individual tickets cost $25 and include lunch. Group discount for team of five is $100. Feb. 5 is registration deadline. Registration is open to all Virginia Conference churches regardless of previous membership or affiliation with the 5 Talent Academy. A .5 CEU is available upon attending. More ...

♦ Bishop's Convocation on Prayer - March 21
The Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer will be held Saturday, March 21, at Trinity UMC (Richmond District) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Rev. Sue Nilson-Kibbey will be the plenary speaker, and 13 workshops will be offered to participants. 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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