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News from the Virginia Conference - July 23, 2019

No e-Advocate next week
There will be no e-Advocate for Tuesday, July 30, 2019. 

LAST CHANCE to share your opinion
The Conference Communications Office wants to provide you the information you need through the communications channels that are most useful to you. Please take the communications survey to share your feedback and help us prioritize our efforts to improve conference communications for you. Visit to take the survey. The survey closes July 31, so please click through to share your feedback today.

Couple fighting for surrogacy rights finds support at church
Looking back across the darkest times, Jay Timmons remembers waking up panicked in the wee hours of countless mornings, unable to escape what haunted him. Because it wasn’t a dream. It was reality, a hellish fight fought alongside Rick Olson, his husband, for parental rights of their son, Jacob, who was born via surrogacy. You can read more of this story by Forrest White, conference news associate, at the link. More…

Upcoming 5 Talent events in November
The theme for this year’s 5 Talent event is Engage 2019: Community Transformation.  There are two events: one just for clergy and one for clergy and laity.

Wednesday, Nov. 13 will be a Clergy-only Pre-event at Woodlake UMC and will feature Bishop Ken Carter, Florida Conference UMC.  He will speak about redefining the UM connection and evangelism, the role of fresh expressions, and how to shape missional relationships in the current cultural landscape.
Thursday, Nov. 14 will be the main Clergy and Laity event at Woodlake UMC and livestreamed to 11 satellite locations around the state.  Bishop Carter will be preaching and speakers will be the Rev. Michael Adam Beck, Wildwood UMC, Wildwood, Fla.; the Rev. Jaqueline Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church, New York, N.Y.; and the Rev. Andy and the Rev. Anjie Woodworth, Neighborhood Church, Atlanta, Ga.  They will address what it looks like to be a neighborhood church, what is a community partner, and what is a fresh expression.
If you plan to attend in a group from your church, every fifth person in a group registration goes free. Fees for the events are as follows: Nov. 14 event - $35; Nov. 13 & 14 events - $60; Nov. 13 event only - $50. Registration prices increase after Sept. 30.  To register, visit For questions, contact MaryKaye Cochran at

Gently used luggage needed in Richmond
Help Administrative Services Manager Sara restock luggage for young people in the UMFS Child & Family Healing Center. Sara's on a mission to ensure that no child has to pack their things into a trash bag. You may drop off new and gently-used luggage (preferably with wheels!) and duffel bags on Wednesday, July 31, from noon-2 p.m., at UMFS Charterhouse School (the building with the green roof), 3900 W. Broad Street in Richmond. For questions, contact Sara at 804.254.9668 or

Help make birthday celebrations possible at Heart Havens
Heart Havens provides residential support to adults with a developmental disability and empowers people to discover what they love and pursue their hopes and passions.They also believe that each person should be recognized and celebrated on their birthday. While typical funding does not pay for the extras, support to the organization means that Heart Havens can celebrate each person’s birthday. Thanks to your support, Marshall had a party at his house, Jasmine went out to eat and all Heart Havens residents are able to celebrate their birthday in the way they choose. Learn more about supporting Heart Havens at the link. More… 

Plan for Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer in September
The Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21 at Trinity UMC in Richmond. Both clergy and laity are invited to attend the gathering which will include Dr. Terry Tekyl as plenary speaker and breakout small groups. Deadline to register is Sept. 13. For more information contact the Rev. Ted Smith, director of Connectional Ministries, at More…

Connectional Ministries staff working with CEMCA on holy conferencing
The Virginia Conference Office of Connectional Ministries shared an update July 12 on the holy conferencing that CEMCA called for at Annual Conference 2019. "In response to the concerns expressed at Annual Conference 2019, the Virginia Conference Commission on Ethnic Minority Concerns and Advocacy (CEMCA) received numerous requests to facilitate Holy Conferencing with groups that circulated delegate voting lists regarding racial and ethnic representation on the 2020 Virginia delegations to General and Jurisdictional Conference. The Rev. Glenn Rowley, conference director of Justice and Missional Excellence, is working with CEMCA and the groups and caucuses involved to organize a gathering facilitated by an outside resource person. Coordinating this dialogue is very important, and we want to assure everyone that the Rev. Rowley and CEMCA are working to provide an appropriate and timely process to address the concerns of all representative groups. Thank you for your prayers and patience as we organize this important conversation."

Volunteers needed for Danville District flooding recovery
The Rev. Jon Woodburn, Danville District disaster coordinator, recently shared a plea for volunteers as the district continues efforts to recover from flooding by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. "The biggest issue we currently have is a lack of volunteers," said Woodburn. "It has been some time since the energy of the storm left its mark on the area; our energy for being helpful may have diminished. Please help us help others in the name of Christ and show that the kingdom has come near by encouraging people to volunteer." You can contact Woodburn at You can be schedule for day trips or for a week-long period. Tasks left to accomplish include volunteers with experience placing floors, installing lower kitchen cabinets, replacing vinyl siding, placing insulation and doing drywall, prepping and painting, and doing trim work. Woodburn said the district hopes to complete this work by December this year.

Connect students to campus ministries
All across Virginia, the Virginia Conference has the opportunity to connect college students with campus ministries. The Virginia Conference is blessed to have so many amazing campus ministries for students, but the conference Next Gen Office needs your help.
The start of a new school year can be overwhelming, and many students don't know where to look to find a Christian community. With your help, the Virginia Conference can provide the names of incoming students to campus ministers so they can reach out to new students. Please fill out as much information as you can on the form linked to help connect any and all college students you know to campus ministries! More…

Back-to-school is great time to assemble UMCOR School Kits
This is the perfect time of year with back-to-school sales beginning to assemble The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) School Kits. Learn more about assembly and required items at the link. More...

Basic Early Response Team training on July 27 in Chester
Basic Early Response Team Training will be held on July 27, 2019 at Chester UMC in Chester from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration in advance is needed but payment for training can be made that day at 8:15 a.m. until class starts. Training will be held in the Davis Fellowship Hall. Church address is 12132 Percival St., Chester, VA 23831. Cost is $35; checks should be made to the Virginia Conference. For registration and other questions, contact the Rev. Kirk Culpepper at 757-434-0078 or email

Duke Divinity 2019 Convocation & Pastors’ School to be held in October
Christian leaders are invited to attend Convocation & Pastors’ School, Oct. 7-8, 2019 at Duke Divinity School. This intensive two-day conference features nationally renowned speakers, powerful lectures, inspiring worship, and thought-provoking seminars. Register by Aug. 31 to take advantage of early bird pricing. More…

July Advocate issue dives into campus ministries
The local church, according to the mission of the UM denomination, provides “the most significant arena through which disciple making occurs.” These disciples then go off to college where campus ministry can help better form them as they grow socially and emotionally. What is campus ministry like in this arena? How can churches help support disciples in campus ministries around the conference? The clergy appointments are featured in this issue. Also in the July issue are moving day memories, planning new directions for the church, impact of General Conference 2019, and the top five ways to get involved in campus ministries.

As the Advocate magazine comes to an end in its print and online formats in 2019, every issue, print and online, can be purchased for $7.50/subscription. Contact the Communications Office to place an order at or 804-521-1110.


Central Conference bishops convene diverse group to address impasse in The United Methodist Church
A group of prominent United Methodists met in Chicago on Friday, July 19, 2019, to seek new ways to address the impasse regarding full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in The United Methodist Church. This meeting was called by Central Conference bishops for the purpose of creating space for open and frank conversation where all parties could  dialogue and work together to find a new pathway for the denomination. Those in attendance included Tom Berlin, Keith Boyette, Junius Dotson, Maxie Dunnam, Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, Adam Hamilton, Mark Holland, Jan Lawrence, Patricia L. Miller, Randall Miller, Karen Prudente, Rob Renfroe, Kimberly Scott, Jasmine Smothers, and Mark Tooley. The discussions were guided by Bishop John Yambasu, Bishop Christian Alsted and Bishop Mande Muyombo.The group began its work centered in worship, focused on Ephesians 4:1-6, which urges Christians to make “every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Engaging in candid conversations, striving for consensus, the participants grappled with the painful realities of the aftermath of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference held in St. Louis in February. The participants agreed to form a group comprising two persons each from centrists, conservatives, progressives; and two central conference bishops. The purpose of the smaller group is to recommend a framework for the future of global United Methodism. As the  participants departed, there was consensus that regardless of differing convictions, the Holy Spirit is still at work in our Church.

Apportionment collection rates down after GC2019
The United Methodist Church continues to face a financial hangover from the 2019 General Conference in St. Louis, where passage of the Traditional Plan led unhappy churches and individuals to a range of resistance actions, including withholding money. Board members of the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration, meeting July 18-19, learned that this year’s January-to-June annual conference apportionment remittances to the seven general church funds were $4.9 million behind the first half of 2018. The lag comes despite a strong U.S. economy. Churches in the U.S. provide the bulk of funding for general church ministries. More…

Bishops call for new ways of embodying unity through mission, relationships
The bishops of The United Methodist Church will seek to strengthen annual conferences in 2019 through the ministries of sending and missional strategy, Bishop Kenneth Carter, president of the Council of Bishops, has said. In a statement released at the end of the Executive Committee meeting outside Chicago on July 17, 2019,  Bishop Carter said: “Our primary work is not legislative or legalistic.  In this season, our primary calling is to discover new ways of embodying unity through structure, mission and relationships.” More…

Lay Servant Academy- Aug. 2-4
The 40th anniversary Lay Servant Academy will be held at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland from August 2-4. Featuring 11 different 10-hour courses for lay servant certification, recertification and/or enrichment, including Spiritual Care/Pastoral Care by the Rev. Bert Cloud; and Conflicts in Church Transformation by the Rev. Teresa Keezel and Mr. Gerry Fuss. Register today and encourage your laity to register. The deadline to register is July 19. For a brochure, course descriptions and registration, visit For questions regarding the academy, contact David Bailey, , 804-338-3168.  For help with registration, contact MaryKaye Cochran,, 804-521-1155.

Fresh Expressions Roundtables- Aug. dates
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to dig into a fresh expression for your church or community! Fresh Expressions Roundtables are being hosted at three locations in August. This FREE event is for any clergy or laity in the VA Annual Conference interested in pursuing a fresh expression.
•    Winchester Roundtable, August 13, 1-4 p.m., Leesburg UMC, Leesburg
•    Roanoke Roundtable, August 14, 6-9 p.m., Cave Spring UMC, Roanoke
•    Elizabeth River Roundtable, August 15, 2-5 p.m., Ghent UMC, Norfolk
•    Eastern Shore Roundtable, August 15, 6:30- 9 p.m., Hampton Inn, Exmore

Reserve your spot at Contact Mark Ogren, conference director of Congregational Excellence, at 804.521.1155 or for questions.

United Methodist Men Spiritual Advance- Sept. 27-28
Registration is now open for the 2019 UMMen’s Spiritual Advance at Baylake UMC in Virginia Beach on Sept. 27-28. Featured speaker is the Rev. Dr. Kevin Watson, author of The Class Meeting and Bible study teacher at the 2019 Virginia Annual Conference. The theme is Transforming Grace. Special rates are available for pastors, early birds, spouses, and, if you attended last year, Bring One Get One (BOGO) for first timers.  New this year, church sponsorships are targeted for churches who have never attended the event or those currently with no formal UMMen organization. Open to all churches, the challenge is to line up 12 men to come and receive both a discounted rate and a free event themed T-shirt.  A box lunch option is available on Saturday to allow for more fellowship on site with brothers in Christ. 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 email For information about the Virginia Conference and resources for ministry, visit the Virginia Conference website at

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