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News from the Virginia Conference - June 29, 2016

Conference offices to close for Independence Day
Virginia Conference offices in the United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will close at 1 p.m. on Friday, July 1, and remain closed Monday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day.

$142,727.95 collected for Annual Conference offering
As of June 29, $142,727.95 has been received for this year's Annual Conference special offering, just $7,272 shy of the goal of $150,000. The offering goal includes $50,000 for continued commitment to the rapid growth and expanding influence of the Methodist Mission in Cambodia through support for training lay and clergy leadership and building of churches. Another $25,000 is to continue to support the Methodist Church of Brazil programs with at-risk children in cities and communities across Brazil. Another $25,000 is to support our long-term relationship with United Methodist churches in Mozambique, focusing primarily on the vital area of education and development of resources for training laity in two conferences in that country. In Virginia, the goal is $50,000 to fund disaster response, particularly long-term recovery work following Feb. 24 tornadoes in three districts of the conference. Contributions may still be sent to the Conference Treasurer's office, P.O. Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA 23058. Designate “Annual Conference Offering” on your check or at the bottom of your apportionment statement. If the check is from a church, indicate the church GCFA number on the check. More ...

Volunteers needed as work continues on tornado recovery
Re-building efforts continue to help survivors of the Feb. 24 tornadoes. A team from Culpeper UMC almost completed a massive home repair project earlier this month in Waverly. A volunteer team is needed to finish the roof replacement on a portion of the house where CUMC worked. Construction Supervisor Shaun Smith estimates that a very experienced team could finish the job in one day, a moderately experienced team in two days. Unfortunately, no team is scheduled until Braddock Street UMC, Winchester, arrives on July 7. If you are willing to assemble a team to complete this roof, contact Forrest White, Virginia Conference Disaster Recovery manager, at (804) 938-1026 or Please consider sending a work team this fall to help with home repairs. Contact Forrest White at any time to see which weeks are open.

Disaster Recovery t-shirts can still be ordered
Disaster Recovery t-shirts are still available to purchase in adult sizes small to XXL. T-shirt sales will help fund the conference's long-term disaster recovery ministry. To order t-shirts, mail a check in the amount of $17.50 per shirt (includes $2.50 for shipping), payable to Virginia Conference UMC, to Forrest White, 9700 Wildbriar Lane, Henrico, VA 23229. Specify color (blue or green) and size. (Note: Shirts size XXL are being reordered and will take longer to receive than other sizes.)

Missionary to Cambodia to speak in VAUMC churches July 5-17
The Virginia itineration schedule has been set for Esther Gitobu, a General Board of Global Ministries missionary currently serving in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with the Methodist Mission of Cambodia. She has been a wonderful host to many that have traveled to Cambodia from Virginia, and she uses her gift of communication in mission interpretation, grant writing, and in her role as United Methodist Volunteers in Mission coordinator. Feel free to attend any of the following programs. Contact the listed churches for more information. Gitobu will be speaking: Tuesday, July 5, 6 p.m. at Bethany UMC, Winchester District (in Purcellville); Wednesday, July 6, 6 p.m. at Welltown UMC, Winchester District; Thursday, July 7, 7 p.m. at Dayton UMC, Harrisonburg District; Sunday, July 10, worship services at First UMC, Newport News, York River District; Tuesday, July 12, 7 p.m. at High Street UMC, Franklin, James River District; Wednesday, July 13, 5:30 p.m. dinner and 7 p.m. program at Mathews Chapel UMC, York River District; Thursday, July 14, 6 p.m. at Providence UMC, Westmoreland County, Fredericksburg District; Sunday, July 17, worship services at Burke UMC, Alexandria District; and Sunday, July 17, 5 p.m. at Bruen Chapel UMC, Arlington District.

Camp Rainbow to be July 9-15, Aug. 6-12; volunteers needed
As a result of the sudden May closing of the Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center, this year's Camp Rainbow sessions will be held July 9-15 at Longwood University and Aug. 6-12 in Colonial Heights at the Holiday Inn Petersburg North—Fort Lee. New and returning staff volunteers are still needed for the Aug. 6-12 session. Camp Rainbow Connection, in operation since 1985, provides a week of Christian fellowship and learning for youths and adults with intellectual disabilities. Staff members must be at least 16 years of age by July 1, agree to a criminal background check, attend a training session in the spring, and commit to attending the full week of camp. There is opportunity for a limited number of 15 year-olds to serve as Camp Rainbow Connection Youth Advocates. Applications for staff and Youth Advocates are available on the conference website. For more information, contact the Center for Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence at 1-800-768-6060, (804) 521-1100, ext. 153, or

Send comments on Annual Conference to Marc Brown by July 1
Email your concerns, questions or suggestions about the 2016 Annual Conference to the Rev. Marc Brown, director of Connectional Ministries, at by July 1 so they may be shared with the Annual Conference Planning Committee at its review meeting. Your feedback on this year's conference will help as plans are made for the 2017 Annual Conference.

Communications office selling DVDs of Annual Conference
The conference Communications office is selling DVDs of the 2016 Annual Conference session. Volume 1 will include the Friday evening memorial service with the Rev. Myrtle Frances Hatcher preaching and Bible study led by Dr. L. Gregory Jones, Duke University Vice President and Vice Provost for Global Strategy and Programs. Volume 2 will include the Saturday evening ordination service with preaching by Bishop Mark Webb of the Upper New York Area, the Sunday morning General Conference report in which Tom Berlin discusses the United Methodist conversation on human sexuality (including video of Tom speaking and his "sugar packs" slide show) and a short overview video of the 2016 Annual Conference (suitable for use in making a report on Annual Conference to your local church). Cost is $20 for Volume 1, $20 for Volume 2 and $30 for both volumes. Deadline to order has been extended to June 30. The overview video is also available to view on the conference Facebook page or on the conference YouTube channel, free of charge. To order DVDs, go to to order online, or call Pam Culler in the Communications office at (804) 521-1110 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110.

Advocate subscription rates to increase Sept. 1
The Virginia Conference Board of Communications voted to increase subscription rates for the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, the official monthly magazine of the Virginia Conference, effective Sept. 1. This will be the first rate increase in more than 16 years. (The last subscription increase was in March 2000.) A one-year subscription to the print version of the magazine will increase from $15 to $20. A two-year subscription will go from $25 to $30. A three-year subscription will go from $36 to $40. A one-year subscription to the online digital version of the magazine will remain $10, and multiple-year subscriptions to the online version will be offered for the first time: two-year subscription will be $15, and a three-year subscription will be $20. To receive both print and digital versions of the magazine for one year will cost $25, for two years will cost $35 and for three years will cost $45. Readers who want to lock in the current subscription rate for up to three years, should subscribe or renew prior to Sept. 1. To subscribe to the Advocate – print, digital or both – call (804) 521-1110 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110; email; or go to

Lost and found items from Annual Conference now at UM Center in Glen Allen
Several items were found in the Berglund Center in Roanoke after the close of Annual Conference. These items were brought back to the United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. Retrieved items include: Steamtown NHS baseball cap, Vera Bradley coin purse, three pairs of sunglasses, one pair of readers, three jackets and a Cokesbury bag filled with purchases. To claim any of these items, contact the conference center at (804) 521-1100 or 1-800-768-6040 and speak with Marian Loving, receptionist.

Clergy, lay employees can qualify for wellness-based insurance premium discount
Clergy and lay employees enrolled in the active Virginia Conference-sponsored health insurance plans are eligible to earn a wellness-based premium incentive. Deadline to qualify for the premium discount, $180/individual or $360/family, is Oct. 31. You can check your wellness incentive status by logging into your Health Advocate account at Only two steps must be completed by Oct. 31 in order to qualify: 1. Complete and submit your Physician Screening Form. 2. Complete the online Personal Health Profile. The screening form must be received by Health Advocate by Oct. 31. If you have not established an account, go to For more information, call Health Advocate at (866) 799-2731.

GBGM head survives terrorist attack in Istanbul airport
Thomas Kemper, general secretary for the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), was in the Turkish Airlines lounge at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday when three terrorists armed with bombs and guns killed at least 41 people at the busy airport. "Everybody started running and went in all directions," Kemper said. He ended up in a back room off the kitchen, where he hid behind some boxes with another man. "You have all these images of the terrorist coming and trying to kill you," he said. "You have these stories with Orlando and Paris and you think now they're coming for you." Kemper was interviewed about his experience on CNN. Click here to watch video of his interview. More ...

2016 annual conference reports available online
United Methodist News Service is posting reports from all the annual conference sessions. Click here to read reports.

Discipleship Ministries offers new Safe Sanctuaries® videos
Discipleship Ministries offers a new series of Safe Sanctuaries® videos that can help your church ensure that all spaces of worship and gathering are places of trust. These videos may be used as a series to introduce the more difficult aspects of Safe Sanctuaries®, individually to open up conversations in small groups or during training, and as a way to share information with the congregation as a reminder or in the midst of a crisis. More ...

Discount offered on 2017 United Methodist program calendars
The Official United Methodist 2017 Program Calendar will help you design your worship services, plan church events, order resources, find church contacts and more. Order before July 31 using promo code CAL17EP and you’ll get 10% off the price. Whether you're a pastor, church administrator or a lay leader serving in your local church, this calendar is an organizational must-have. The 2017 United Methodist Program Calendar is a proven time-management tool used by church leaders who need quick access to information and details. It is available in different formats to suit your lifestyle. More ...

Lesbian pastor to face church trial
The case against the Rev. Cynthia Meyer, pastor of Edgerton United Methodist Church, a semi-rural church about 40 miles from Kansas City, Kan., (click here to read previous UMNS story) has been referred to a church trial that likely would take place later this summer, a committee on investigation for the Great Plains Conference announced June 24. More ...

Two more conferences vow to defy church law
The Pacific-Northwest Conference and the California-Nevada Conference passed legislation resolving not to follow church laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people. Click here to read the Pacific-Northwest resolution. Click here to read the California-Nevada resolution.

Bishop talks about LGBTQ inclusion resolution
Bishop Bob Hoshibata, who leads the Desert Southwest Conference, has issued a letter addressing questions related to the conference’s recently adopted resolution for full inclusivity. The resolution calls for nondiscrimination and says the conference will not participate in judicial procedures related to the denomination’s prohibitions against the practice of homosexuality. Read UMNS coverage

Dallas church votes to perform same-sex marriages
Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Tex., has voted 270-5 to perform same-sex marriages. “The Northaven vote empowers the church to extend pastoral care to all of its members in the important area of marriage,” representatives of the church wrote in a public statement. Click here to read church statement. Announcement of the vote came a day after the death of Jack Evans, who married George Harris in a religious ceremony after a 53-year engagement at a service held at Midway Hills Christian Church. (Read previous UMNS story on first same-sex marriage in Dallas County.) Both Evans and Harris were active Northaven members. Read Dallas Voice story.

N.J. district superintendent suspended
A district superintendent in the Greater New Jersey Conference has been suspended while under complaint, the conference announced June 24. The conference’s cabinet filed the complaint against the Rev. Jisun Kwak in June. The Greater New Jersey Conference and National Federation of Asian American United Methodists have each endorsed Rev. Kwak as a candidate for bishop. If elected, she would be the denomination's first Asian woman bishop. More ...

Court rules on New Jersey church ownership
United Methodist Bishop John Schol, Greater New Jersey Area, met this week with a small group of worshipers from the Alpine Community Church to explore ways that the church can move forward in the wake of a court ruling over property rights. On June 16, Judge Robert C. Wilson, Superior Court of New Jersey, ruled that “the express language of the controlling religious and statutory texts requires that all real and personal property of the local Alpine Church must be held in trust for the United Methodist Church.” Read press release and court ruling.

West Virginia churches join flood relief efforts
The West Virginia Conference has created a special relief fund and is gearing up for other efforts as West Virginia copes with flooding that claimed at least 23 lives and damaged hundreds of homes. United Methodist churches in West Virginia are coping with flood damage to their buildings and members' homes even as they join relief efforts. Church leaders say the recovery will be prolonged. More ...

♦ Lay Servant Ministries on-demand courses - July 9, Aug. 27, Sept. 24
Lay Servant Ministries is offering a series of six on-demand learning courses in 2016. You may attend the live events 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen for free, or pay $30 to watch online from your own computer during a 90-day period to receive your certification. The next courses to be offered are: Saturday, July 9, "Spiritual Gifts" led by MaryKaye Cochran; Saturday, Aug. 27,"Preaching" led by Doug Forrester; and Saturday, Sept. 24, "UMC Heritage" led by Martha Stokes. For more information, contact Marge Sharp, on-demand learning registrar, at or (757) 871-2809. David Bailey, conference director of Lay Servant Ministries, said offering the online courses “supports (the planning team’s) initial belief that students would use the opportunity to come back and review the material or complete it over time. That is the prime motivator for on demand learning: Any time anywhere, on their schedule.” More ...

♦ UMVIM Team Leader and Recertification Training - July 16, Sept. 24
Some confusion remains regarding training necessary to serve in tornado-affected areas now that the Recovery (rebuilding) phase has begun. Volunteers do not need Early Response Team (ERT) training. Each volunteer team does need a trained United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) team leader. To that end, Forrest White, Virginia Conference Long-term Recovery Manager and UMVIM coordinator, will lead UMVIM team leader training on Saturday, July 16, in Fredericksburg; and Saturday, Sept. 24, in Newport News. Recertification training will be offered Saturday, July 16, in Fredericksburg; and Saturday, Sept. 24, in Newport News. Click here to register for Team Leader Training and click here to register for UMVIM Recertification.

♦ 2 Days 2 Serve for high school youths - July 22-23
"2 Days 2 Serve" will be held July 22-23 at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland to help high school youths examine God's call, whether they are feeling called to be teachers, scientists, artists, pastors, social workers, public servants or something entirely new and different. This event offers four hands-on experiences requiring different skills and gifts, each experience followed by a time of reflection and discernment. This is an opportunity to stretch, to try new things, and to learn a new way of listening for God's call. Cost is $20, including meals and one night lodging at R-MC. Sign up with the conference office of Clergy Excellence at More ...

♦ Small Church Pastor Training - July 23
All VAUMC pastors of small congregations (149 or fewer in worship) are invited to a day of training and conversation 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at Chamberlayne Heights UMC in Richmond. “From Strength to Strength: Asset-based Ministry” is designed to help encourage and equip small church pastors to lead their congregations. The Rev. Dr. Lynne Caldwell, pastor of Brookland UMC, Richmond, and member of the faculty for Practical Theology at The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, will be keynote speaker and facilitator. More ...

♦ Mission Encounter - July 29-31
Mission Encounter, the only conference-wide mission education and interpretation event, will be July 29-31 at Randolph-Macon College, Ashland. Mission Encounter is an opportunity for clergy and laity to learn about being partners in God’s global mission and to grow spiritually through study and worship. It is open to men, women and youths. Participants may attend one of three workshops: spiritual growth study on "The Bible and Human Sexuality" led by the Rev. Dr. Rob Vaughn, the Rev. Myrtle Frances Hatcher and Prof. Esther Barkat; issue study on "Climate Justice" led by the Rev. Pat Watkins and the Rev. Dottie Yunger; or geographic study on "Latin America-People and Faith" led by Don Edwards. For more information, contact Dennis Lipke, dean of the Mission Encounter Committee, at or (804) 262-8651. More ...

♦ 5 Talent Academy - Oct. 4
Registration is now open for the 5 Talent Academy Equipping People for Ministry Outside the Walls of the Church event to be held 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, at Ebenezer UMC in Stafford. The event will be live streamed to 10 additional locations across the conference (Danville, Eastern Shore, Farmville, Lynchburg, Richmond, Roanoke, Shenandoah Valley, Tidewater, Winchester and York River). Featured speaker is Andy Crouch, executive editor of Christianity Today and author of several books, including Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power and Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Cost is $35 per person. Those who register prior to Aug. 31 will receive an early-bird discount and pay only $25. Group pricing is available for teams. Registration closes on Sept. 19. Visit to register.

♦ UMVIM Trip to Israel/Palestine - Jan. 30-Feb. 11
The Virginia Conference Board of Church and Society is sponsoring a United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) trip to Israel and Palestine Jan. 30 to Feb. 11, 2017. The trip will provide opportunities for learning, serving and seeing. Team members will visit religious sites and United Methodist missions projects. There will be opportunities to serve at some of those mission projects. Team members will also visit and meet with Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, as well as Israeli Jews. The team will learn more about the struggles of life in Palestine and efforts to create a just and hopeful future. Team leaders are the Rev. John Copenhaver and the Rev. Steve Jones, both certified VIM team leaders. For more information, contact either leader at or

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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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
PO Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center