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News from the Virginia Conference - Jan. 28, 2016

Virginia Conference Communications staff wins six UMAC awards
The Virginia Conference Communications office brought home six awards at the denomination-wide communications/media awards contest held during the annual meeting of United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC), Jan. 19-20 in Portland, Ore. More ...

Ferrum College president to retire this summer
Jennifer Braaten, the 10th president of Ferrum College and its first woman president, announced she will retire in the summer of 2016. Sam Lionberger, Board of Trustees' chair, said Braaten's family was experiencing serious health issues and that she felt her obligation was to now be with family. “The college has grown in stature and reputation from her strong leadership during her tenure as president, and our prayers of love and support are with her as she now enters a new phase of her life,” he said. A search committee is being formed to seek a successor. More ...

Arlington, Alexandria Districts seek business manager
The Arlington/Alexandria District office, located in Fairfax, is searching for a full-time business manager. Duties include budget preparation and execution, fiscal management, payroll accounting and general financial guidance for the office and related ministries. Total budgetary responsibility is in the $3 million range, spread over multiple budgets. Proficiency in Quick Books Pro and Microsoft Office Suite is required. The role includes office manager duties for an eight-person centralized office. Teamwork and a capacity to take initiative are valued. For details, visit the Virginia Conference website at and scroll down to “Other.”

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

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.

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 ...

Feb. 7 is Transfiguration Sunday
On Sunday, Feb. 7, we remember the Transfiguration of the Lord. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries has worship resources.

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 ...

Michigan United Methodists respond to Flint water crisis
This week, Michigan Area Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey issued an appeal calling on all Michigan United Methodists to respond to the water crisis in Flint. She reported on all the work Michigan United Methodists have been doing since last fall when it became public that lead levels were dangerously high in Flint’s water and among Flint’s children. Calling it "good and important work," Kiesey said it is only a short-term response. "We must deal with the systemic issues of racism and poverty that have been part of this complex issue," she wrote. She asked United Methodists to pray for the people of Flint and elected officials; volunteer to help; and make financial contributions. More ...

Briefing previews 2016 General Conference debates
In a gathering that repeatedly stressed church unity despite passionately held differences, United Methodists attending the Pre-General Conference News Briefing in Portland, Ore., received a preview of some of the issues General Conference will debate when the denomination’s top lawmaking body meets this spring. More ...

Debate on sexuality previewed at briefing
Many United Methodists expect the most intense debates at General Conference to be around how the denomination includes people of different sexual orientations. Participants at the recent Pre-General Conference News Briefing got a preview to the debate and a proposed alternative process for considering legislation. More ...

General Conference worship leader hopes to provide balance
The Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett, worship and music director for General Conference 2016, hopes to provide balance during 10 days of debate and voting at the denomination's top legislative assembly. "I do believe that worship shapes the flavor, the atmosphere, the very foundation of how we work together as a denomination in General Conference," she said. View UMTV video.

Judicial Council releases May docket
The United Methodist Judicial Council will hold its spring meeting May 6-9 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, just before the 2016 General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body. A docket for the May meeting is available online. Briefs are due March 6. Click here to see May 2016 docket.

Society of St. Andrew offers Lenten devotions
Lent begins this year with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 10. The Society of St. Andrew offers Lenten daily devotions, written by pastors and lay people from all walks of life. The booklets are titled "While Still Far Off." The society asks for orders by Jan. 29 for timely delivery. Click here to order.

Follow United Methodist news on Facebook and Twitter
Want to follow developments as the 2016 General Conference approaches? You can find the latest news on the United Methodist News Service (UMNS)
Facebook page and Twitter feed. Click here to follow on Facebook. Click here to follow on Twitter.

GBGM breaks ground for new offices in Atlanta
As part of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) preparation to move to its new home in Atlanta, a groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Grace United Methodist Church. In a press release, Thomas Kemper, the mission agency's top executive, called the ceremony an opportunity for "breaking open new spaces for innovation and collaboration, deepening relationships with the church in Atlanta and embarking in new partnerships with our neighbors and local communities." The move from New York is planned for this fall. Read press release. The groundbreaking ceremony attracted local media coverage as well as attendance by Atlanta city officials, who touted the 150 jobs that come with the move. Read Saporta Report story. Read Associated Press story. Watch WSB-TV report.

Bishops Task Force on Human Sexuality issues report on core values
The Council of Bishops Task Force on Human Sexuality, Gender and Race has issued a report for members of the Council of Bishops outlining a list of seven core values formulated by the task force for Episcopal leaders and for the denomination. Task force members committed to live with these core values and encouraged their colleagues in the Council of Bishops to join them. More ...

Michigan pastor pitches protest tent in Indiana
Pitching his tent at the entrance of the Indiana United Methodist Conference Center, a West Michigan pastor has taken his plea for the equality of those with different sexual orientations within The United Methodist Church beyond Michigan. “I’m sleeping outside because The United Methodist Church’s doors aren’t open to everyone,” the Rev. Mike Tupper proclaimed in words and a sign next to his small tent. More ...

Kansas pastor who came out faces complaint
A Kansas pastor who came out as a lesbian now faces a complaint for being a "self-avowed practicing" gay clergy member. The Rev. Cynthia Meyer met with Great Plains Area Bishop Scott Jones about the complaint. Click here to read Great Plains Conference report. 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 who received their first appointment prior to this quadrennium (2012-2016) and all 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.The final training event this quadrennium will be April 21 at Thrasher Memorial UMC on the Roanoke District. 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 ...

♦ 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

♦ 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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