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News from the Virginia Conference - March 4, 2016

Emergency Response Teams aid victims of tornadoes
Within hours after a deadly storm system on Feb. 24 spawned multiple tornadoes that struck homes and churches in three districts, Virginia Conference Early Response Teams were called into action under the direction of the Rev. Bob Pihlcrantz, conference Disaster Response coordinator, and the Rev. Kirk Culpepper, Early Response Team coordinator. More ...

Nearly 200 attend 38th annual Lay Servant Academy
Nearly 200 people gathered at Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone Feb. 26-28 to learn more about leadership, personal faith development and The United Methodist Church through classes offered at the 38th annual Virginia Conference Lay Servant Academy. More ...

Nick Ruxton celebrates mental breaks in his latest blog post
In his "Through the Lens" blog, conference videographer Nick Ruxton says mental breaks are sometimes necessary to keep creative juices flowing. "Having a mental break lets me recharge my mind while I think of new avenues to start or finish a video," he says. Read his blog to find out how his breaks sometimes affect other members of the conference staff. More ...

April 10 to be conference-wide day to pray for General Conference
The United Methodist Council of Bishops has invited each annual conference in the denomination to designate one day to hold a 24-hour prayer vigil for General Conference. Bishop Young Jin Cho has selected Sunday, April 10, to be the day for the Virginia Conference prayer vigil. The Virginia Conference delegation committees for worship and devotional life, conference Board of Discipleship and Kindred Project are developing resources that can be used for this event as well as during days following April 10 and throughout General Conference. District offices will coordinate the scheduling of local churches that wish to participate. Organizers are asking districts to encourage all congregations on the district to sign up for half-hour or one-hour increments so there will be 24 hours of continuous prayer beginning at 12 a.m. April 10 and continuing until 12 a.m. April 11. As part of this initiative, the chapel in the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will be open for prayer. In addition, all congregations are asked to include the prayer initiative in their Sunday services on that day. More ...

Young missionaries available to speak in churches about mission work
Two Global Mission Fellows serving in the Virginia/Washington, D.C., area are available to speak in churches about their work in mission and are anxious to share their mission stories. Global Mission Fellows is a program of the General Board of Global Ministries that takes young adults ages 20-30 out of their home environments and places them in new contexts for mission experience and service. Christina Trager is serving at Ferrum College and Henry Fork Center, working in campus ministry and with at-risk children at the Henry Fork Center. She can be reached at Amber Feezor is working as a seminar designer with the General Board of Church and Society in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at

Volunteers needed for Camp Rainbow Connection
New and returning staff volunteers are needed for Camp Rainbow Connection, which will be held at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone July 9–15 and Aug. 6–12. Camp Rainbow, 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. A limited number of 15-year-olds will be able to serve as Camp Rainbow Connection youth advocates. Click here for applications for staff and youth advocates. Deadline for new staff applications is April 15. For more information, contact the office of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence at 1-800-768-6040 or (804) 521-1100, ext. 153, or

Volunteers needed for computer-assisted note-taking at Annual Conference
Individuals are needed who can offer their time and talent in communicating the spoken word to persons who need computer-assisted note-taking in order to be fully included in our Annual Conference sessions. Tasks include typing text of reports, worship and music using Microsoft Word, at times as the speaker is presenting. Good typing speed and accuracy are important. Volunteers are needed during all sessions for shifts of one hour or longer. More information is available from the office of Inclusivity and Lay Leadership Excellence at 1-800-768-6040 or (804) 521-1100, ext. 154, or

One Great Hour of Sharing is Sunday, March 6
Sunday, March 6, is One Great Hour of Sharing. When your congregation participates in One Great Hour of Sharing, you help cover the operating budget of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). UMCOR does not receive United Methodist World Service or apportionment funds, so without your offerings, UMCOR would not exist. Your gifts on this Special Sunday allow UMCOR to respond to disasters around the world. An updated pastor and leaders kit offers new resources for observing One Great Hour of Sharing. It includes images for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as other downloadable resources. More ...

March is Women's History Month
March is designated as Women's History Month in The United Methodist Church, a month in which churches are encouraged to recognize and celebrate lives and contributions of women to their communities and The United Methodist Church. Click here to read about women in The United Methodist Church. Click here for resources from Discipleship Ministries.

60 Days of Prayer for General Conference to begin March 31
The Upper Room has created resources for 60 Days of Prayer to help every local congregation pray with the delegates and church leaders for the 2016 General Conference. The 60 Days of Prayer begin March 31 and extend through May 29. The denomination’s legislative assembly is May 10-20 in Portland, Ore. The prayer guide is available online, as a PDF download and a daily email service. Prayer-bead kits with a commemorative medallion are also available. Click here to get resources.

Monthly podcasts can help 'Get your spirit in shape'
“Get Your Spirit in Shape” is a free, 30-minute, monthly podcast from United Methodist Communications featuring conversations with leaders, authors and others who offer spiritual nutrition and exercises for our everyday lives. In the second episode, authors Jenny Youngman and Kara Oliver share ideas about how we can celebrate our faith as a family — even a busy family. Listen to the podcast.

UMW offers new resources on climate, sexuality
New resources on climate justice and human sexuality are available from United Methodist Women to help people of faith engage in discussion on complex issues. The four books will be featured for group study and discussion at Mission u events, United Methodist Women’s education programs that will convene in various locations across the country throughout 2016. One of the four books is Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action, edited by the Rev. Pat Watkins, a clergy member of the Virginia Conference. More ...

New resource helps teens explore dating relationships
A new resource to help high school teenagers learn about developing healthy dating relationships is now available from Young People’s Ministries, a unit of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. More ...

New chapel built at Gulfside to honor Bishop Leontine Kelly
The Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly Open Air Chapel, honoring the first African-American female bishop of The United Methodist Church, was consecrated at historic Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Miss., on Feb. 27. It’s the first structure built at Gulfside since Hurricane Katrina washed away the denominational retreat center’s buildings in 2005. Before she was elected a bishop in the UMC, Kelly was a clergy member of the Virginia Annual Conference. More ...

Higher Ed and Ministry board re-elects Cape as head of agency
The directors of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry re-elected the Rev. Kim Cape as the agency’s top executive, approved matching funds for a new scholarship and affirmed an internal publishing office. More ...

New York Conference welcomes gay clergy candidates
The New York Conference board of ordained ministry announced March 1 that it would not consider sexual orientation in evaluating a clergy candidate, even if that individual is married to someone of the same gender. The announcement comes just weeks after the Baltimore-Washington Conference’s board of ordained ministry announced it was recommending a married lesbian as a provisional deacon. More ...

Zeal lacking for restructuring proposals at 2016 General Conference
A determined group of United Methodists is bringing to 2016 General Conference a slightly revised version of the agency restructuring that 2012 General Conference passed but the denomination’s top court overturned. However, they are doing so without the advocacy of some major players in denominational leadership. More ...

Lake Junaluska offers Easter weekend activities
All are invited to attend Easter weekend events at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in the mountains of western North Carolina. Events include a number of family-friendly activities, including a children’s Easter egg hunt, a sunrise service overlooking the lake and a 5K road race and walk. Easter weekend lodging is also available at The Terrace, a hotel at Lake Junaluska. More ...

Julia Wilke, Bible study co-author, dies at 83
Julia Wilke, who with her husband, United Methodist Bishop Richard Wilke, wrote the popular Disciple Bible Study series, died Feb. 25 at age 83. She had suffered a stroke during major surgery. Read Great Plains Conference obituary.

Eunice Jones Mathews dies at 101
Eunice Jones Mathews died Feb. 27 at 101. She was the wife of the late United Methodist Bishop James K. Mathews and the only daughter of E. Stanley and Mabel Lossing Jones, renowned Methodist missionaries. But she left her own mark on the denomination. More ...

Harry Denman Award nominations sought
Nominations are open for the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards. The awards honor United Methodists in each conference whose exceptional evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Each year, annual conferences join the Foundation for Evangelism in recognizing one youth, one clergy member and one layperson in their conference. More ...

GraceInside seeks part-time chaplain for Buckingham prison
GraceInside, Virginia's inter-denominational prison chaplain service, seeks a part-time prison chaplain for Buckingham Correctional Center in Central Virginia. A chaplain serves as the Christian "pastor" for the facility, and also functions as the overall religious program coordinator for all faith groups. Requirements: undergraduate degree from accredited college or university; Master of Divinity (or equivalent) degree from accredited seminary; and ordained and in good standing with ordaining judicatory or church. Some Clinical Pastoral Education credits preferable but not required. Pastoral experience a plus; work in jails, prisons or the criminal justice system a plus. Contact Kate Shelton at or (804) 358-7650 to request electronic application. Completed application and an attached resume are required. Deadline to apply is March 10. Position becomes effective April 1. Training will be provided.

Lake Junaluska seeks marketing assistant
Lake Junaluska is seeking a full-time marketing assistant to implement marketing programs, including social media, online advertising, website, photography, content writing, public relations and other communication projects. Marketing or related experience and/or internship is required. Located in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina, Lake Junaluska is a conference center owned by the United Methodist Church that has 400 lodging rooms, a campground, meeting space for up to 2,000 people and a 200-acre lake. To apply or see the full job description, go to For more information, contact Mary Bates at

Henderson Settlement seeks Operations Director
Henderson Settlement, a non-profit mission agency of the United Methodist Church located in Frakes, Ky., is seeking an Operations Director to manage day-to-day operations, work with program directors and report to the Executive Director. Must be highly organized and have at least five years management experience, excellent verbal and written communication skills and be able to work with people of varying age, education and cultural backgrounds. For more information, contact (606) 337-3613 or or go to and scroll down to “Other.”

♦ Early Response Team basic training - March 12
The Conference Disaster Response Team invites you to participate in a training event for anyone interested in disaster relief ministries. Early Response Team (ERT) certification training will be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at Burke UMC, 6200 Burke Centre Parkway, Burke. Cost is $55 (includes background check, t-shirt, manual and lunch). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. To register, e-mail Michele Michaelian at 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

♦ 'Laity Lead in Worship' training - March 19
Lay Servant Ministries is offering a course, "Laity Lead in Worship," taught by the Rev. Nathan Decker. The class will be offered live 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. It will also be live streamed to an audience at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone and can be viewed online on your own computer. The class will focus on basic worship leadership skills for lay persons (“liturgists” or “lay readers”) who assist the pastor in leading Christian worship. Particular emphasis will be given to basic skills: understanding your leadership role in relation to other leaders and the congregation, reading Scripture, leading prayer, distribution of the elements at the Lord’s Supper, and basic do’s and don’ts of effective worship leadership. Click here to register online and pay by credit card. More ...

♦ Dementia ministry training - March 22, 23
The Hermitage in Richmond and Hermitage in Northern Virginia, two of the communities of Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc. (VUMH), will offer one-day learning opportunities for clergy and laity. "Building a Circle of Support: The Role of the Church in Supporting Individuals with Dementia and Their Care Partners" will be held Tuesday, March 22, at The Hermitage in Richmond, 1600 Westwood Ave. and on Wednesday, March 23, at Hermitage in Northern Virginia, 5000 Fairbanks Ave., Alexandria. Registration will start at 9:30 a.m. followed by learning and sharing sessions from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Keynote presenter for the day is Gary H. Oberlender, MD, consultant in geriatric medicine from Roanoke. Sessions will focus on "The ABC’s of Dementia” and "End of Life Care, Decision-Making Capacity, and the Role of Clergy." This event has been approved by the conference Board of Ordained Ministry for a 0.5 CEU credit. Cost is $25, which includes lunch, to be paid by cash or check upon arrival. Space is limited. Registration deadline is March 15. To register for Richmond event, contact Susan Cantrell at (804) 474-1850 or To register for Northern Virginia event, contact Lynette Mitchell at (703) 797-3814 or

♦ 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 ...

♦ Early Response Team basic training - April 23
United Methodist Early Response Teams (ERT) provide a caring Christian presence to storm and disaster victims. Training does not commit you to being on a team, but provides the opportunity to respond if your schedule allows. Teams provide many types of help: listening to residents, needs assessment, debris removal, sanitizing, flood “mucking out,” etc. Response is local or regional for three days. Training is beneficial even if you do not participate on a team. ERT certification training will be held 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Fieldstone UMC, 3385 N. Franklin St., Christiansburg. Cost is $55 (includes background check, t-shirt, manual, morning refreshments and lunch). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. To register or for more information, e-mail Steve Cass, trainer, at

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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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
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