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News from the Virginia Conference - Oct. 15, 2015

October is Pastor Appreciation Month
October is traditionally designated Pastor Appreciation Month. The celebration was established in 1992 with a mission of uplifting and encouraging pastors, missionaries and religious workers. Of course, many churchgoers try to show their appreciation year-round. Click here for a list of ways several pastors said church members made them feel valued.

Pastors discover ministry styles at Church Leadership Institute
Almost 50 pastors (including four district superintendents) spent three days exploring their ministry styles during the Virginia Conference Church Leadership Institute held Oct. 12-14 at the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. More ...

'Did You Know?' video highlights new faith communities
Did you know that since 2008 the Virginia Conference has started 37 new faith communities? That's just one thing you can learn from a video featuring the Rev. Mark Ogren, director of Congregational Excellence, talking about the Virginia Conference "All Things New" strategy to start new faith communities and renew existing congregations. This very short (about one minute) video is the fourth in a series of videos featuring facts about The United Methodist Church – in the Virginia Conference, the United States and around the world. Called “Did You Know?” these videos can be used to convey information about The United Methodist Church to confirmands, new member classes, youth groups, Sunday school classes, church committees or even during worship. Produced by the Virginia Conference Communications office, the videos are posted on the conference website at, on the conference YouTube channel at and on the conference Facebook page at

Register now for Fall Youth Retreats
Now is the time to register for the Middle School Retreat Nov. 13-15, and the High School Retreat Dec. 4-6 at Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg. During these weekend retreats, youths are challenged to grow as disciples of Christ through powerful worship, Bible study and small groups while building friendships with youths from all over Virginia. Focus will be on learning to be a "Called Generation." Click here for flyer. Band will be Keith Elgin. Speaker will be Paulo Lopes, Virginia Conference director of Ministries with Young People. Click here to view promo videos. Cost is $125 per person if paid by Oct. 30, $135 per person after Oct. 30. To register and for more information go to or contact Becky Tate at or (804) 521-1139.

Open enrollment continues for conference health plan
Open enrollment for Virginia Conference Health Plan options is available now through Friday, Oct. 30. This is the time that clergy and their families, other church workers and lay employees of The United Methodist Church, its institutions, organizations and agencies within the Virginia Conference can make plan elections and/or changes to current health plan options. If you do not want to make any changes, you do not have to go online. What you have now will default for next year. However, if you want to participate in a Flexible Spending Plan in 2016, you must make that election during open enrollment. You will not be automatically enrolled in an FSA in 2016, regardless of whether you participate in an FSA plan in 2015. The Medical Flexible Spending Account maximum is $2,544 ($212 per month). Dependent Care maximum is $4,992 ($416 per month). Minimum for each is $20 per month. Click here to access open enrollment. For more information, call Judy Astrella in the Virginia United Methodist Pensions office at 1-800-768-6040, ext 131, or (804) 521-1131. Note: Retirees over 65 must call United Health Care at 1-855-322-7498.

Randolph-Macon College offers scholarships for students called to ministry
Do you know a high school senior who is considering college and sensing a call to ministry? Let them know that the A. Purnell Bailey Pre-Ministerial Program for Ordained Ministry at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, the oldest United Methodist College in the United States, offers several scholarships for high school students who think they may be experiencing a call to some form of Christian vocation. The Bailey Program offers half tuition for freshman and sophomore years and full tuition for junior and senior years. Find out more and apply at

Laity Sunday is Oct. 18
Laity Sunday, celebrated on the third Sunday of October of each year, will be Oct. 18. Laity Sunday is a time to recognize the work and mission of all laity — not only within the walls of the church but also in everyday lives. Theme and focus for each quadrennium are set by the Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders. The 2015 theme is "Disciples Called to Action: Creating Unity in Ministry." Theme for 2016 will be "Disciples Called to Action: Living Vital Worship." Click here for worship suggestions, bulletin inserts and posters for this year's theme that can be downloaded from the United Methodist Discipleship Ministries website.

South Carolina remains in emergency stage of disaster
The Rev. Kathy James, director of Connectional Ministries in the South Carolina Conference, said the conference is being inundated with requests from outside the state to come in and work. She issued the following information about flood relief needs:
   1. South Carolina is still in the emergency stage of this disaster. Roads are closed, bridges are down and flooding is still unpredictable. Access is limited in affected areas. At the present time, needs are adequately being met through South Carolina's excellent Early Response Teams.
   2. The conference is in the process of establishing systems for volunteer management and coordination. This includes identifying host churches for teams and determining how teams coming in can most efficiently be deployed. "We need your patience," James said.
   3. If you want to volunteer, call the South Carolina Conference Disaster Response Hotline at 1-800-390-4911 or e-mail Teams that want to volunteer will be logged into the system and contacted when they are needed. Watch the Disaster Recovery page on the South Carolina Conference website for updates.
   4. Please do not go to South Carolina until invited, do not call churches in Columbia to try to get in, and do not bring donations that have not been requested.
   "Gregg Forrester with UMCOR estimates that our recovery period could last as long as three years," James said. "There will be much work to do in the coming weeks, months and years and ample opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people after the cameras have shifted their focus elsewhere. We need every single team that wants to come. We just don't need them this weekend!"

Beware of scams asking for flood relief donations
A warning on the South Carolina conference website said a scam e-mail from someone claiming to be South Carolina Bishop Jonathan Holston is requesting funds for flood relief. The warning urged United Methodists not to send funds or give out personal information without first verifying the authenticity of the request. In doubt? Call the conference center at (803) 786-9486. The conference is currently collecting flood relief funds through the conference website and the treasurer. Click here to donate to the conference disaster fund. More ...

UMC #GivingTuesday on Dec. 1 to support Advance projects, missionaries
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, United Methodists will once again come together to support the work of Advance projects and missionaries on UMC #GivingTuesday. And once again, every gift made online through The Advance at on Dec. 1 will be matched up to $1 million. This year consider creating your own team to support a project that is working in an area you care about, such as Hunger and Poverty, Education or Social Justice. For a complete list of projects you and your team can support, visit The Advance at Note: Donations made online starting at 12:01 a.m. CENTRAL TIME (1:01 a.m. Eastern Time) on Dec. 1 will be matched until the $1 million limit is reached. More ...

'Hope in Action' reports on UMCOR's work in 2014
You can learn about the work of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) this past year by reading the hope-filled stories in UMCOR’s 2014 annual report, “Hope in Action.” For 75 years and counting, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has lived up to its mandate to alleviate human suffering around the world. UMCOR is present in humanitarian aid; walking alongside survivors of disaster, conflict or war; and working with local partners to bring needed relief during events that overwhelm a community’s ability to recover on their own. More ...

United Methodists seek climate justice in Paris
When world leaders gather in Paris at the end of November to broker an accord on climate change, representatives of the faith community — including a delegation of United Methodists — will be there to urge them to act. The goal of the U.N. climate summit Nov. 30-Dec 11 is to adopt a new international agreement to keep global warming under control. The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society is offering resources through its "Warm Hearts, Cool Climate" campaign. More ...

Chuck Knows Church: From Saul to Paul
The conversion of Saul the Persecutor was, according to the New Testament, an event that led him to cease persecuting early Christians. Then how did he come to be known as Paul? Chuck tries to straighten out the confusion (or add to it) on this episode of "Chuck Knows Church," an online series that explains the meaning behind some of the objects, symbols, terms and rituals in church. Episodes can be downloaded for free at and used in worship, youth groups, fellowship groups, confirmation classes, worship teams, new member classes and late-night snack viewing. Chuck is on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. "Chuck Knows Church" is produced by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. More ...

Online course teaches why United Methodists do things the way they do is offering an online course, "Life Together in the United Methodist Tradition," Monday, Oct. 19, through Friday, Nov. 6. Why does The United Methodist Church do things the way it does? What are the rules and why are there rules? And what does this have to do with the kingdom of God? This course will help new United Methodists get their bearings and longtime members consider the specific structural challenges the church faces in the 21st century. This course has been approved by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries as an advanced course in lay servant ministries and is the "polity" class required for lay speaker certification. Therefore, the course provides 1 CEU for clergy, and CLMs also are available. Cost is $65. More ...

Virginia delegates huddle to discuss possible next steps after the Judicial Council ruled "Plan UMC" unconstitutional. UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.Top court to review restructuring proposal
The Judicial Council will meet Oct. 21-24 and review a revised proposal to restructure The United Methodist Church. In 2012, the council voided a similar plan just after it was approved by the 2012 General Conference. More ...

Commission relaunches church sexual ethics website
The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women has launched a redesigned website,, that offers resources to address sexual ethics and misconduct. The site includes materials for victims and those accused of sexual misconduct, as well as individuals in conference leadership charged with handling cases of sexual misconduct in a congregation. More ...

GCORR to introduce interactive video series on racism Oct. 28
The General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) will introduce "Vital Conversations," an interactive video series on today's realities of race and racism, at 9 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 28, on the GCORR website, Through these conversations, you are invited to engage in relevant and real conversations about the things that divide and challenge us to live authentically in relationship with one another among our differences. The series begins with anti-racist educator Dr. Robin DiAngelo's "Misunderstanding of Racism." DiAngelo is associate professor of education at Westfield State University; director of Equity for Senior Services, Seattle/King County; and author of What Does it Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy. In the coming months, GCORR will host more live videos with speakers like Dr. Miguel De La Torre, Dr. David Anderson Hooker, Dr. Pamela Lightsey and more.

♦ PAUMCS fall training event - Oct. 21
Virginia chapter of the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries (PAUMCS) will hold its fall training event, "Experience Your Conference Connection 2015," 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Virginia United Methodist Conference Center in Glen Allen. Wayne Rhodes, director of Communications for the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, will talk about the United Methodist Social Principles. Linda Rhodes, Virginia Conference director of Communications, will lead "I Love to Tell the Story," a session on church communications for today. This event is open to all church administrative staff (full-time, part-time, paid and volunteer), including but not limited to administrative assistants, financial secretaries, office managers and newsletter editors. Pastors and Communication chairs are invited to attend. For more information or to register, click here or call Sandra Fulcher, chapter president, in the Danville District office at (276) 638-2688.

♦ Conference UMW annual meeting - Oct. 23-25
Virginia Conference United Methodist Women (UMW) will celebrate the 40th anniversary of "Dimes and Dollars for Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center" (VUMAC) at VUMAC in Blackstone during the UMW annual meeting Oct. 23-25. The Wicker Room (beside the Dining Room) is being renovated to become the official UMW room and will be dedicated during the annual meeting.

♦ 'Tearing Down the Walls: Ways of Doing Justice' - Oct. 24
The Roanoke, Danville, Lynchburg and Staunton districts are co-sponsoring 'Tearing Down the Walls: Ways of Doing Justice' 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at First UMC, 125 W. Main St., Salem. Leader will be Shane Claiborne, nationally-known speaker and founder of The Simple Way Christian community in Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. This event will focus on the meaning of Christian social justice; how we can break down contemporary walls of injustice such as economic inequalities, educational disparities and racial divisions; and how we can build hope and empower persons to overcome walls of separation and engage others on social justice issues. Youths, young adults and older adults are invited to attend this intergenerational event. Early bird registration fee of $25 for adults is available until Sept. 17, after which adult registration will be $30. Student registration is $10. Registration deadline is Oct. 17. More ...

♦ UMFS golf tournament - Oct. 26
The annual United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) Fore the Kids Golf Tournament will be held Monday, Oct. 26, at Stonehenge Country Club, 1000 Farnham Dr., Richmond. Cost is $400 per team or $100 per individual and includes a light breakfast, lunch and BBQ dinner as well as prizes and golf. Four-man Captain’s Choice format will tee off at 10 a.m. Register at A pre-tournament party, 6-8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at Golfsmith in Short Pump, will offer free food, contests, giveaways and a 15% discount to Golfsmith for in-store purchases. UMFS is seeking sponsors for the golf tournament. If interested in being a sponsor, go to For more information, contact Joe Torrence at or (804) 239-1042, ext. 1941.

♦ Social Action 101: Effective Advocacy - Nov. 7, Nov. 14
Bishop Cho hands off a copy of a conference resolution on raising the minimum wage to Delegate Jackson Miller from Manassas.The Virginia Conference Legislative Network, the organizing group for United Methodist Day at the General Assembly each year, in cooperation with the conference Board of Church & Society, United Methodist Women and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, is offering educational opportunities to learn about faithful advocacy and help participants prepare for 2016 United Methodist Day at General Assembly on Thursday, Feb. 4. The training, “Social Action 101: Effective Advocacy at Home and at the General Assembly,” will be offered at three locations 10 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, Nov. 7:
  ♦ Farmville UMC, 115 S. Main St., Farmville, for the Danville and Farmville districts;
  ♦ Highland UMC, 125 E. Westover Ave., Colonial Heights, for the Elizabeth River, James River, York River and Eastern Shore districts;
  ♦ Wright’s Chapel UMC, 8063 Ladysmith Rd., Ruther Glen, for the Fredericksburg and Richmond districts. Registration deadline is Oct. 26. More ...
The same training will be offered at three locations 10 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, Nov. 14:
  ♦ St. Paul’s UMC, 1400 G. St., Woodbridge, for the Alexandria, Arlington and Winchester districts;
  ♦ Asbury UMC, 205 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, for the Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Staunton districts;
  ♦ Heritage UMC, 582 Leesville Rd., Lynchburg, for the Lynchburg and Roanoke districts. Registration deadline is Nov. 2. More ...
There is no registration fee. For more information, contact Tammy Burton, registrar, at 1246 Mill Stream Way, Chesapeake, VA 23239, (757) 274-7035 or

♦ UMVIM Team Leader Training - Oct. 31, Nov. 14, Dec. 5
United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader Training is required for all first-time UMVIM team leaders, but all interested persons are welcome to attend whether leading a team or not. Training events are currently scheduled:
  ♦ Saturday, Oct. 31, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at The Gathering UMC, 5516 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach. Click here to register online and pay by credit card. Click here to download a pdf form and pay by check.
  ♦ Saturday, Nov. 14, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at Antioch UMC, 3489 South Hill Rd., Kenbridge. Click here to register online and pay by credit card. Click here to download a pdf form and pay by check.
  ♦ Saturday, Dec. 5, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at Trinity UMC, 903 Forest Ave., Richmond. Click here to register online and pay by credit card. Click here to download a pdf form and pay by check.
A $55 registration fee, payable when you register, covers mandatory background check, team leader handbook from the Southeastern Jurisdiction and lunch. Continuing Education Units (0.5) will be provided for those needing CEU certification. Pre-registration is required by noon on the Monday before the training event. For more information, contact the conference office of Justice and Missional Excellence at (804) 521-1139 or toll-free at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 139. Or contact Forrest White, Virginia Conference UMVIM coordinator, at (804) 938-1026 or More ...

♦ United Methodist Men Spiritual Advance - Nov. 6-8
The Virginia Conference United Methodist Men 2015 Spiritual Advance will be Friday-Sunday, Nov. 6-8, at Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone. The annual event will feature the Rev. Dr. Clarence R. Brown, senior pastor of Annandale UMC (Alexandria District), who will preach a series of four messages on Men Making a Difference. More ...

♦ School for Children’s Ministries - Nov. 7
The School for Children’s Ministries is on the road again offering the same school at four different locations on four different dates. The final event this year will be 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at Good Shepherd UMC, 14999 Birchdale Ave., Dale City. Learn "Extraordinary Lessons from Ordinary Objects" plus three more workshops. A .5 CEU offered. Only $20 per person. More ...

♦ 5 Talent Academy: ‘Stir Up the Fire: Wesley's Way of Making Disciples’ - Nov. 10
The 5 Talent Academy faith development event focused on small group ministry will be held Tuesday, Nov. 10, at Ebenezer UMC in Stafford and will be live-streamed to nine other conference locations. Keynote speaker will be the Rev. Dr. Jim Harnish, former senior pastor of Hyde Park UMC in Tampa, Fla., and author of many books including A Disciple’s Path. Cost is $25 and .5 CEU will be offered. Group discounts are available. Registration deadline is Oct. 23. For more information and to register, go to

♦ Fall Youth Retreats - Nov. 13-15, Dec. 4-6
Now is the time to register for Virginia Conference Fall Youth Retreats, weekend retreats in which youths are challenged to grow as disciples of Christ through powerful worship, Bible study and small groups while building friendships with youths from all over Virginia. Middle School Retreat will be Nov. 13-15 and High School Retreat will be Dec. 4-6 at Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg. This year's retreats will focus on learning to be a "Called Generation." Click here for flyer. Band will be Keith Elgin. Paulo Lopes, Virginia Conference director of Ministries with Young People, will be the speaker. Cost is $125 per person if paid by Oct. 30, $135 per person after Oct. 30. To register and for more information go to or contact Becky Tate at or (804) 521-1139.

♦ Clergy Ethics II training - Nov. 18
All clergy beyond their first year of appointment and certified church professionals are reminded that attendance at an Ethics II training during this quadrennium (2012-2016) is required. Trainings are held four times a year throughout the conference to provide convenient opportunities for participation. The next training will be 9:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, at Wright’s Chapel UMC on the Fredericksburg District. Click here to download brochure. A 0.5 CEU is awarded for full participation. Registration fee of $12 includes lunch and training materials and is payable by credit card. You may register with a fee of $5 and provide your own lunch. Registration is required 48 hours prior to the event in order to ensure sufficient materials are available for all participants. More ...

♦ UMVIM Team Leader Recertification training - Dec. 6
United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader Recertification training will be offered 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, at Trinity UMC, 903 Forest Ave., Richmond. This training is required for all UMVIM team leaders who completed basic team leader training five years ago or longer. Focus of this training is to update leaders on Virginia Conference UMVIM policies and guidelines, to share best practices, and to answer any questions. At least five participants are needed to offer this training. A $25 registration fee is payable when you register. Note: This fee does not cover an optional team leader handbook, which will be available for purchase ($20) at the training, or the new A Mission Journey book, which is available through Cokesbury. A meal will not be provided. Click here to register online and pay by credit card. Click here to download a pdf form and pay by check. All registrations must be in the office of Justice and Missional Excellence by noon Monday, Nov. 30. For more information, contact the office of Justice and Missional Excellence at (804) 521-1139 or toll-free at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 139. Or contact Forrest White, Virginia Conference UMVIM Coordinator, at or (804) 938-1026.

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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