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To view a 2014 issue of the Virginia Conference e-Advocate, click on the date below:

Dec. 18, 2014
Dec. 10, 2014
Dec. 4, 2014

Nov. 21, 2014 - Day of Holy Conversation
Nov. 20, 2014
Nov. 13, 2014
Nov. 6, 2014

Oct. 28, 2014
Oct. 16, 2014
Oct. 10, 2014
Oct. 2, 2014

Sept. 25, 2014
Sept. 18, 2014
Sept. 11, 2014
Sept. 4, 2014

Aug. 28, 2014
Aug. 22, 2014
Aug. 15, 2014
Aug. 7, 2014

July 30, 2014
July 24, 2014
July 17, 2014
July 10, 2014
July 2, 2014

June 24, 2014
June 12, 2014
June 5, 2014

May 29, 2014 - Special Annual Conference edition
May 23, 2014
May 15, 2014
May 8, 2014

April 24, 2014
April 16, 2014
April 10, 2014
April 3, 2014

March 26, 2014
March 20, 2014
March 13, 2014
March 10, 2014
March 5, 2014

Feb. 27, 2014
Feb. 20, 2014
Feb. 17, 2014
Feb. 12, 2014
Feb. 6, 2014

Jan. 30, 2014
Jan. 23, 2014
Jan. 16, 2014
Jan. 9, 2014

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News from the Virginia Conference - Nov. 20, 2014

Bishop Cho calls for prayer for 'Day of Conversation'
Bishop Young Jin Cho has issued a letter to all Virginia Conference United Methodists calling on them to pray for this Saturday's "Day of Holy Conversation." "The issues relating to human sexuality have been very difficult for The United Methodist Church for many years," Bishop Cho wrote. "This issue has been dividing our churches, and we have been experiencing pain." Because of that, he said he believes "this is the time to listen and pray together to find a better way to deal with this issue." More ...

Watch 'Holy Conversation' live stream on website, Facebook
Live streaming of Saturday's "Day of Holy Conversation" will be available beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, from the Virginia Conference website and from the Virginia Conference Facebook page. The live streaming will show opening worship, Bishop Young Jin Cho's sermon and a presentation by three panelists in the morning. Live streaming will be stopped from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for participant conversation groups and lunch. The afternoon presentations and closing worship will be shown beginning at 1 p.m. with a break from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. for conversation groups.

Follow 'Day of Holy Conversation' on Twitter, Facebook
Follow the proceedings of Saturday's "Day of Holy Conversation" and post your own comments on Facebook and Twitter. The Virginia Conference Facebook page can be found at Follow the Virginia Conference @vaumc on Twitter at Participate in the conversation by using hashtag #holytalk.

Conference offices to close for Thanksgiving holiday
Offices in the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will close at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26, and remain closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 27-28, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Advent issue of 'Neighbors' now available to download
The Advent issue of "Neighbors" features "Sarah, a Christmas story," by the Rev. Dr. Tom Coffman, retired clergy member of the Virginia Conference and current president of the conference Retired Clergy Housing Corp. "Neighbors" is a free, customizable direct-mail piece, produced by Virginia United Methodist Communications, designed to complement a church’s outreach ministry. This latest issue is now available to download from The Neighbors web page provides simple instructions on how to download, print and mail the newsletter. More ...

United Methodist Student Day is Sunday, Nov. 30
Sunday, Nov. 30, is United Methodist Student Day. Gifts received from this special offering become an investment in the future of the church through direct scholarships for higher education. The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) Office of Loans and Scholarships administers these programs that award more than 3,500 students annually. Click here for pastor and leader kit resources. More ...

GBGM to match Dec. 2 #GivingTuesday gifts to Advance
The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) will match up to $1 million in gifts made online to any Advance Special project as part of UMC #GivingTuesday on Dec. 2 between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. EST. To stretch matching funds, a maximum of $2,500 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds; a project may receive a maximum of $25,000 in matching funds. UMC #GivingTuesday is part of an international movement that builds on the recent U.S. shopping traditions of Black Friday, Local Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. It offers an opportunity to start off the holiday season by giving instead of getting through supporting organizations that have been researched and approved by GBGM. And, 100% of all gifts made through The Advance are given directly to the designated project. To make a contribution, go to on UMC #GivingTuesday and donate online to any of the hundreds of projects and missionaries listed there. More ...

December is United Methodist Family Services Month
The Virginia Conference has designated December the month in which local churches are encouraged to receive special offerings to support United Methodist Family Services (UMFS). This year UMFS is sending churches its Christmas Gifts of Hope catalog in place of a bulletin insert. “Without the support of The United Methodist Church and local congregations like yours, we could not do the incredible work we do,” said the Rev. Joe Torrence, minister of Church Relations for UMFS. “For more than 100 years, UMFS has been empowering children, families and communities in Virginia to work together and realize their shared potential. Your gift is one example of how our connection works at its best and how we can offer Christmas Gifts of Hope to Virginia’s children in need.” Click here for offering materials and Advent resources.

LARCUM conference to be Dec. 5-6 in Norfolk
"The New Landscape of Post-Christian Christianity" will be the theme of the Virginia LARCUM Conference Friday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 6, in Norfolk. LARCUM is an acronym for a gathering of clergy and laity from Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Methodist traditions. John H. Armstrong, president and founder of ACT 3 Network, a mission for empowering leaders and churches toward Christian unity, will be conference speaker. Closing devotions and a blessing will be given by Bishop Young Jin Cho at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Registration fee is $35, $10 for students. For more information, contact the Rev. Don Rooney, Registrar, State LARCUM Committee, at (540) 373-6491 or Or contact Mike Nelson at More ...

Justice for Our Neighbors seeks communications/office manager
National Justice for Our Neighbors (NJFON), a United Methodist ministry that provides legal services to low-income immigrants and engages in advocacy for immigrants' rights, seeks a part-time (25 hours per week) Communications and Office Manager to lead communications of the organization and carry out its administrative operations. The position will be based at NJFON headquarters in Springfield, Va. To apply, e-mail your resume and a cover letter to Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director, at For more details, visit the Virginia Conference website at and scroll down to "Other." More ...

Cokesbury to donate 10% of all Dec. 2 sales to Red Bird Mission, UMCOR will contribute 10% of all sales made through its website on Tuesday, Dec. 2, to charity as a part of the third annual #GivingTuesday global outreach initiative. Charitable donations will benefit the Christmas Room at Red Bird Mission, a ministry and services provider to the isolated and economically depressed area of Appalachia, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) International Response to Ebola efforts to ease human suffering and stop the spread of the deadly disease. More ...

Tax break for clergy housing allowance stands
A new federal appeals court ruling means United Methodist clergy and clergy of other faiths in the United States can keep getting housing allowances tax free. In a unanimous decision released Nov. 13, three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit reversed a 2013 federal court ruling, which had found that the tax exemption amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion. More ...

Sierra Leone surgeon dies of Ebola in Nebraska hospital
Dr. Martin Salia, chief medical officer and surgeon at United Methodist Kissy Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, died Nov. 17 from advanced Ebola, said doctors at the Nebraska Medical Center where Salia was being treated after being airlifted there from Sierra Leone on Nov. 15. Click here to read earlier coverage. Click here to view video of Dr. Salia. More ...

United Methodists remember son killed by ISIS
The United Methodist parents of the latest hostage executed by the group that calls itself the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, are remembering his dedication to assisting those who have suffered during Syria's civil war. "We are heartbroken to learn that our son, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, has lost his life as a result of his love for the Syrian people and his desire to ease their suffering," said Ed and Paula Kassig, members of Epworth United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. More ...

New churches rise, but overall vitality dips
The Congregational Vitality Report presented to the Council of Bishops earlier this month showed that U.S. church starts are on the rise — from 116 in 2012, to 145 last year. But the same period saw a drop in what the denomination defines as “highly vital congregations.” Such congregations in the U.S. dipped 7% from 34% in 2012 to 27% in 2013. More ...

GCFA approves GBGM move from New York City to Atlanta
A planned move by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) from its New York City headquarters to a primary location in Atlanta was approved by directors of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), the denomination's finance agency, during a Nov. 14 called meeting. Click here to read press release. More ...

Discipleship offers grants to grow vital congregations
Grants totaling $200,000 are now available from Discipleship Ministries (General Board of Discipleship) to encourage local churches, annual conferences and central conferences to experiment with innovative and creative approaches to growing vital congregations. The grants seek to spur quantifiable growth in worship attendance, professions of faith, small groups, mission engagement and missional giving. Underwritten by the Connectional Table’s World Service Contingency Fund, the grants are part of a churchwide effort to increase the number of highly vital congregations 15% by 2016. The experimental funds are being offered to help any local church, annual conference or central conference develop new projects or events to inspire vital congregation growth. To obtain a grant application, contact Jeffrey Campbell, director of Annual Conference Relationships at Discipleship Ministries, at Grant application deadline is Jan. 30, 2015.

Summit offers ways to support clergy families
The United Methodist Church gathered experts to discuss issues facing clergy and their families and to suggest ways the church can help improve their lives. The 23-member task force made recommendations on how bishops, annual conferences, district superintendents and others can help support clergy families. The summit was convened by the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women. More ...

GBCS calls for end to institutional racism in U.S.
As the citizens of Ferguson, Mo. await a grand jury decision on the shooting death of Michael Brown, the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) issued a statement calling for prayer and the need "to confess the ways our systems of government, law and education perpetuate the sin of institutional racism in the United States." The statement said, "We pray for Michael Brown's family as it undergoes this trying situation. And, we also pray for police officer Darren Wilson and his family." More ...

Bishop asks for prayers while waiting for grand jury ruling
A number of United Methodist churches in St. Louis and across the Missouri Conference are planning prayer vigils on the day the grand jury decision is announced in the case of a highly-publicized fatal shooting by police in nearby Ferguson, Mo., writes Bishop Robert Schnase. He urges United Methodists to pray, call upon officials to let people voice their frustrations peacefully and support churches working to be available to the community as places of respite. Read statement

Advent resources now available
Various United Methodist-related groups are offering free Advent resources to celebrate the start of the Christian year and prepare for Christ's birth. They include:

♦ Fall High School Youth Retreat - Dec. 5-7
This Friday, Nov. 21,  is deadline to register for the Virginia Conference Fall High School Retreat Dec. 5-7 at Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg. Theme for the retreat is "Identity." Click here for flyer. Speaker will be Dugan Sherbondy. Band will be Keith Elgin. Click here to view promotional video. Young adults to serve as small group leaders and youths to serve as staff are needed. To volunteer, contact Alison Malloy at To register and for more information, go to or contact Becky Tate at or (804) 521-1139.

♦ 'Wounded Hearts, Healing Love' Retreat - Dec. 5-7
"Wounded Hearts, Healing Love" retreat for those who have found themselves single again due to separation, divorce or death will be held 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at Blessings Lodge at Overlook Retreat and Camp Ministries in Keezletown. Participants will explore the trials, hurts, loneliness of being single again and search for the road leading to healing and wholeness. Participants stay in semi-private rooms with private baths. All linens are provided. Three meals on Saturday and two on Sunday will be served. Cost is $105 per person (some financial assistance available). Register at

♦ Westview on James Winter Camp - Dec. 5-7
Children and youths ages 7-15 are invited to Westview on the James in Goochland County Dec. 5-7 for Winter Camp. Celebrate the Advent season with tree decorations, gingerbread men, interactive worship, fun camp activities and lots of Westview counselors. Cost is $115 per person. Click here for flyer or go to for details.

♦ Nutzy's Rotary FUNN Run to benefit UMFS - Dec. 6
The annual Nutzy’s Rotary FUNN Run 5k on Saturday, Dec. 6, will benefit United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) for the second year in a row. The Rotary Club of West Richmond, in partnership with the Dominion Christmas Parade and the Richmond Flying Squirrels, created this event to offer a festive, family-friendly competition while fulfilling the club's philanthropic mission to improve the lives of local children. Runners, walkers, families, children and strollers are welcome to participate. Students from UMFS will participate again this year. Visit to register.

♦ 'Walk to the Manger' - Dec. 19
"Walk to the Manger," a free, live, interactive nativity experience will be offered at Overlook Retreat and Camp Ministries, Keezletown, Friday, Dec. 19. Meet the shepherds, hear the angels announce the good news, visit a young couple and their holy child, and help point a few kings toward the treasure they seek. Tours will begin continuously from 6 to 8 p.m. The experience will last about 30 minutes. Dress warmly, wear sturdy shoes, and keep children with a responsible adult at all times. More ...

♦ 'Walk to the Manger' Bed and Breakfast - Dec. 19-20
Come for the live, interactive nativity experience and extend your stay in a private room at Blessings Lodge at Overlook Retreat and Camp Ministries in Keezletown. There will be hot beverages, a time of reflection on the nativity experience, Christmas activities, Saturday morning devotions and a pancake breakfast. Cost is $99 per room (four twin beds, add more on the floor). More ...

♦ Winter Camp at Overlook - Dec. 19-20
Children and youths (grades 4-10) can extend their "Walk to the Manger" experience and attend Winter Camp Friday night, Dec. 19, to Saturday afternoon, Dec. 20, at Overlook Retreat and Camp Ministries in Keezletown. Campers will reflect on the nativity experience, play games, have a sugar cookie decorating contest and more. More ...

♦ Winter Camp at Alta Mons - Dec. 19-21
Alta Mons outdoor retreat and learning center in Shawsville (Roanoke District) will hold Winter Camp for 3rd-12th graders Dec. 19-21 with many of the same activities as summer camp (hiking to the falls, having s'mores, going to worship), as well as a few different ones such as decorating Christmas cookies, making candles and other surprises. Cost is $90. Register online at More ...

♦ Ministers' Convocation - Jan. 13-15
Ministers' Convocation, an annual continuing education event for clergy and church professionals in the Virginia Conference, will be Tuesday, Jan. 13, through Thursday, Jan 15, at Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center (also known as Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center). Theme is "The Future of Christianity in America: Fresh Voices." Keynote speakers will be Dr. David E. Evans, assistant professor of Missions, Intercultural and Interfaith Studies at Eastern Mennonite University, and Dr. Asa J. Lee, associate dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary. Preacher for convocation will be the Rev. D. J. del Rosario, senior pastor of Bothell UMC in Bothell, Wash. Bishop Young Jin Cho will preach at the opening service of Word and Table. Registration is required prior to the event and registration will close on Jan. 5. Click here to register online and pay by credit card. Click here to download a flyer that includes a schedule and mail-in registration form to pay by check. For more information, contact the Center for Clergy Excellence at (804) 521-1127 or 1-800-768-6040, ext. 127. More ...

Nearly 300 United Methodists assemble outside the new entrance to the State Capitol during the Feb. 3 United Methodist Day at the General Assembly.♦ United Methodist Day at General Assembly - Feb. 5
The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, will be the lead speaker at United Methodist Day at the General Assembly on Thursday, Feb. 5. This event, sponsored by the conference Board of Church and Society and conference United Methodist Women, is a unique opportunity for Virginia United Methodists to exercise their calling to witness to their faith by advocating for justice on behalf of the voiceless in our society. 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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