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News from the Virginia Conference - November 12, 2019

New conference video series to focus on ‘stories of connection’
“Stories of Connection” is a new video series produced by the Virginia Conference to share stories about individuals and ministries that showcase our strong connections as people of faith in The United Methodist Church. In this video, learn more about how one pastor’s idea led to the Roanoke District working together on a project that greatly benefited the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. More...

Virginia pastor receives ‘Faith in Action’ award
The Rev. Rodney Hunter was the 2019 recipient of the Faith in Action award at an awards luncheon at St. Bede Roman Catholic Church in Williamsburg on Nov. 7. Hunter is the pastor of Wesley UMC in Richmond.

Celebrate Heart Havens Month
Help Heart Havens share their message of inclusion and empowerment across the Virginia Conference. The organization empowers adults with developmental disabilities to live and thrive in their community. Heart Havens depends on the support of church friends during February to sustain their mission as they do not receive any funding from conference apportionments. Please contact them to learn about participating in Heart Havens month. Additional electronic resources will be available on their website in January. Contact Sara Becker at 804-237-6097 or for more information. More…

Reimbursement for Advocate magazine subscriptions available
If your subscription to the Virginia Advocate runs past 2019, you may contact the conference Communications Office to get a reimbursement or to donate your remaining balance to ongoing communications efforts or UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). Contact the Communications Office at 804-521-1110 or email expiration date can be found on the mailing label of the magazine.

Registration opening soon for UM Day 2020
Registration is opening soon for United Methodist Day at the General Assembly in 2020 presented by the Virginia Board of Church & Society, United Methodist Women and the Virginia Legislative Network Committee. The date for the event is Jan. 30, 2020. This year there will be a new location for the event at The Pace Center, 700 W. Franklin Street in Richmond.  Learn more…

Apply for a website development grant
Many people visit a church’s website before they decide if they will visit a worship service. Don’t have a website? No problem! Apply for a Website Development Grant from United Methodist Communications, which includes:
•    One year of web hosting and domain name registration
•    WordPress online training and support
•    Pre-designed templates and access to Google apps   

Abingdon Press devotions feature Virginia clergyperson
Providing daily devotions for Christians preparing to celebrate Christ's birth, this annual favorite from Abingdon Press is a great resource for members of the congregation. The seemingly simple handout is filled with opportunities for spiritual renewal and to focus on the coming Christ at the center of both the season and in your life. Beginning on the first Sunday of Advent and ending on Christmas Day, each day's devotional includes a suggested Scripture, a short devotion, and a closing prayer.This year's devotions are written by the Rev. Teer Hardy, associate pastor of Mount Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington. More...

UMCOR seeking Executive Director
Reporting to the General Secretary, the Executive Director of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)  is the leader of UMCOR’s programming and operations. In collaboration and in consultation with the General Secretary, the Chief Operation Officer, the UMCOR Treasurer and the Board of Directors, the incumbent sets the strategic direction and is responsible for the development, plans and objectives of the UMCOR organization. S/he leads a multidisciplinary team of 40+ staff members. The Executive Director is charged with creating a results oriented, healthy organizational culture. As a member of the Cabinet senior leadership team s/he must work in collaboration with the leadership team to collaborate and create an environment where the mission is at the forefront of the work of UMCOR. More...

Wesley Foundation at UVA offers an Advent devotional
LGBTQ students, alumni and friends of the Wesley Foundation at UVA are collaborating to provide a collection of daily devotions to help all persons—gay or straight, conservative or progressive, and everything in between—nurture and grow their faith. Allow this Advent season to bring light into the darkness as these silenced voices offer insight and understanding of our shared journeys of faith. The Foundation is pleased to amplify these voices and to offer the devotional to you for a small donation to support the mission and ministry of the Wesley Foundation at UVA. Perhaps you want to share this with a small group or Sunday school class in your church? "Voices from the Wilderness" will be available beginning Nov. 15. Visit Wesley’s website for full details and donation information. More...

Best practices for church finances
As with any business, churches can find themselves vulnerable to situations such as embezzlement and fraud if proper procedures are not put in place to safeguard funds. Learn more about best practices for your church in regards to church finances with this article providing information from the conference Treasurer's Office.  More...

Plan to study at Wesley Theological Seminary
Start 2020 off right – plan to study at Wesley Theological Seminary! Need a time of refreshment following the busy Advent/Christmas season? Why not take a retreat week and come to J-Term at Wesley? Exciting courses will be taught over an intensive one- or two-week period in January 2020 – take the course for credit or audit (Attention, Wesley graduates: all alumni may audit one of these J-Term classes for free).
Some of our J-Term courses:
•    A Black Theological Critique of Spike Lee  -  Dr. Asa Lee
•    Worship in Popular Culture – Dr. Anna Petrin
•    Faith on Film – Dr. Deryl Davis
•    Bodies, Books and God – Dr.  Katherine Brown

Wesley’s spring term class selections have just been announced. Choose from a wide range of challenging topics in a format that fits with your busy life – days, evenings, weekends, online, and hybrid. Choose from courses like:

•   BioEthics and Pastoral Care – Dr. Sondra Wheeler (daytime/afternoon)
•   Caring for Community Through Non-Profit  Organizations – Dr. Jana Strukova (Hybrid -online/weekend)
•   The Holy in Washington, D.C. Art: Art as Embodiment – Dr. Aaron Rosen (daytime/afternoon)
•   Swords, Spaceships and Salvation – Dr. Rick Elgendy (online)
•   Ecology and Moral Community - Dr. Joe Bush (daytime/afternoon)
•   When does life begin and end? - Rabbi Fred Reiner (daytime/morning)
•   The Art of Toni Morrison and the Problem of Theodicy – Dr. Josiah Young (evenings)

Deadline to register is Dec. 15, 2019. For more information about Wesley’s J-Term or spring courses in 2020, contact Wesley Admissions today at or call 202-885-8659 or go to

Register now for Wounded Hearts-Healing Love Retreat
From Dec. 6-8, 2019 there will be the Wounded Hearts-Healing Love Spiritual Retreat for the single again from divorce, separation, or death at Overlook Retreat in Keezletown, Va. Participants will eat together, study together, discuss and delve into hurts and pains in a weekend girded in prayer. Register online for the event at

Special Sunday: United Methodist Student Day is Nov. 24
Celebrate United Methodist Student Day Sunday on a date that is convenient for your congregation. Official date: Nov. 24, 2019 but you can pick a date of your choosing as well. Across the country, the people of The United Methodist Church are serving the people God loves in Jesus’ name. We’re doing it at home, but so often we’d like to do more.

-We want to serve those in other places who are suffering.
-We want to offer spiritual words of hope and life.
-And we want to be well-equipped to do both!
But the reality for most of us is that our responsibilities—home, family, work—don’t allow us to engage with every need we’d like to meet. Right now there are UMC young people—who might not have had the resources to attend a school of their choice, or, for some, any school at all—who’ve been sent by you into the world God loves because of your giving to United Methodist Student Day. When you give generously you are support these students as they prepare for a life that unites faith with knowledge. What no one person or congregation can do alone, we’re doing together. More...

2020 dates announced for All God's Children Camp
All God's Children Camp 2020 dates are set!  At camp, children, ages 7 to 12, with an incarcerated mother or father, spend a week at camp, participating in activities such as boating, swimming, hiking, archery, music, crafts, Bible study, and conflict resolution.  Partnering with Virginia United Methodist camps, All God’s Children Camp provides a week of sanctuary for children who face so many challenges in their lives: economic poverty; temporary living conditions; loneliness; low self-esteem; violence; and drugs.
Check out the dates below and then pray about becoming one of the 90 mentors needed to make this summer possible. After that, download the mentor application and send it to the address on the application form.
June 14-19 @ Camp Chanco on the James (Richmond area)
July 26-31 @ Occohannock on the Bay (Eastern Shore)
August 9-14 @Camp Chanco on the James (Richmond area)

For more information, contact Lori Smith at or 571-245-9591.  Visit the website at for more information and to download applications.

Help provide aid to Bahamas through UMCOR
As Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc on the Bahamas, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) awarded a solidarity grant to Bahamas Methodist Habitat, the Disaster Ministry of the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church. This grant provides immediate, emergency short-term funding to address the basic human needs of those affected by this catastrophic storm. You can join with UMCOR by donating to our disaster response and recovery funds. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
Give to International Disaster Response and Recovery (Advance # 982450)
Give to United States Disaster Response and Recovery (Advance # 901670

Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation event to be held in 2020
"Songs for the Journey" will be the theme for the Virginia Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation event from Mar. 15-20, 2020. The event will be held at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond and will be a week of renewal, worship, prayer and learning with faculty, Dr. Don E. Saliers and Rabbi Rachel Barenblat. More...


Comparing plans headed to GC
UM News has put together a comparison of the plans that are headed to General Conference 2020. Click the link to learn more. More…

WCA looks toward new, traditionalist church
The United Methodist Wesleyan Covenant Association leaders say a breakup of The United Methodist Church is necessary and inevitable, and they want to be ready. “We are preparing for the launch of a new Methodist church in the aftermath of General Conference 2020. We see the Wesleyan Covenant Association as a bridge to this new church,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, WCA president. Boyette was among those speaking at the WCA’s fourth Global Gathering, held Nov. 9 under the title “Transformed.” The event drew about 1,000 people to Tulsa’s Asbury United Methodist Church, with another 2,000 watching via simulcast at 86 locations around the U.S. and in other countries. Looking toward the future, the WCA released the draft of a Book of Doctrines and Discipline that could be used by a new, traditionalist denomination. The global legislative assembly approved “receiving and commending” the document, but Boyette stressed it’s a work in progress and invited WCA members and others to offer comments as revision continues.WCA leaders also announced that the legislative assembly approved the formation of six ministry task forces to help flesh out priorities of a new church.  More…

Five bishops pledge LGBTQ ‘safe harbor’
The United Methodist The Western Jurisdiction’s five active bishops promised to provide “a safe harbor” for LGBTQ clergy, despite new church restrictions set to take effect Jan. 1. “We intend to provide safe harbor for clergy under our care who may be at risk under the new provisions, prohibitions and punishments,” the bishops jointly announced at the conclusion of the Council of Bishops meeting Nov. 6. The bishops also invited their episcopal colleagues and other United Methodists to add their names to the declaration. They also released a video to support it. The Western Jurisdiction, which encompasses seven conferences in the westernmost United States, has long stood in opposition to denominational restrictions related to LGBTQ individuals. More…

Church exit plan already in effect, court says
Legislation setting special provisions for United Methodist churches deciding to leave the denomination took effect immediately at the end of the special General Conference last February, the church’s top court has ruled. In making that determination, the United Methodist Judicial Council at least temporarily bypassed the assertion from a Commission on General Conference investigation that improper voting meant the vote to substitute parts of Petition 90066, the disaffiliation petition, was null and void. The court decided to hold the request submitted by the Council of Bishops on the question of improper voting to its next session. In Decision 1386, the Judicial Council noted that “because of our inability to get the information requested during oral argument” it would be best to re-schedule the case. On a related matter, the Judicial Council issued no opinion on the “constitutionality, meaning, application or effect” of certain petitions of the Traditional Plan, also adopted in February. “The votes of the council members were insufficient to declare unconstitutional any of the provisions before us,” the court said in Memorandum 1390. At least six of the nine members of Judicial Council must agree in a vote on constitutional issues. More...

Bishops warned their funding imperiled
United Methodist bishops received a sobering message during their autumn meeting. Without any changes, the fund that supports their work will run out of money in five years. “Something else is going to have to happen for us to be able to balance the budget,” said Rick King, chief financial officer of the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration. “The reserves, at the current collection rate, are essentially gone by the end of 2024.” The United Methodist Church currently has 66 active bishops supported by the denomination’s Episcopal Fund. King gave an overview of general church finances at the end of the Nov. 3-6 meeting of the Council of Bishops at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in North Carolina. Giving to the general church, King said, is down across the board. The denomination’s annual conferences — church regional bodies — are each asked to pay apportionments that support the ministries of the general church. The conferences in turn ask for apportionments from their local churches. More…

Church ratifies women's equality amendment
After a revote, United Methodists around the globe have amended the denomination’s constitution to proclaim “men and women are of equal value in the eyes of God.” The newly adopted measure also commits United Methodists to work toward ending discrimination against women and girls. “While we still have much progress to make, this is an indication that we as a church do acknowledge and embrace women at every level of the church,” said Bishop Tracy Smith Malone, president of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. She also leads the East Ohio Conference. The amendment now has received 92.2% of the annual conference votes submitted to the Council of Bishops, the council’s secretary Bishop Mande Muyombo announced Nov. 6. Muyombo leads conferences in the North Katanga area of Congo. The revote took place after the Ask the UMC and UM News teams reported incorrect wording in what was initially sent to annual conference voters. The amendment that went before annual conference voters in 2017-2018 inadvertently included a sentence from the original legislation that a 2016 General Conference legislative committee had deleted. More...


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