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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 - Oct. 16, 2014

Open enrollment for conference health plan continues
Open enrollment for Virginia Conference Health Plan options is available now through Friday, Oct. 31. 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 2015, you must make that election during open enrollment. You will not be automatically enrolled in an FSA in 2015, whether or not you participate in an FSA plan in 2014. The Medical Flexible Spending Account maximum is $2,496 ($208/month). The Dependent Care maximum is $4,992 ($416/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.

Imagine No Malaria district representatives available to help you
Each district now has a trained representative to assist your church with finding resources to help with your Imagine No Malaria initiative. Our conference firmly believes that we can reach our goal of saving 100,000+ lives this conference year. With the help of every person in our churches, Every Life Can Save A Life! Contact your district representative today for more information about how your church can get involved in saving lives: Alexandria District: Linda Heller,, and Wyley Neal, or (703) 786-3161; Arlington District: Ken Speicher, or (703) 534-2124; Charlottesville District: Rachel Miller, or (434) 973-5806; Danville District: the Rev. Faith Weedling, or (434) 685-3140; Eastern Shore District: Michelle Surran, or (757) 710-2865; Elizabeth River District: David Chaudoin, or (757) 635-1747: Farmville District: Martha Reed, or (434) 294-3002; Fredericksburg District: Lynn Manley, or (804) 448-8326; Harrisonburg District: Rodney Bussard, or (540) 457-1417; James River District: Gene Mims, or (804) 733-8632; Lynchburg District: the Rev. Charlie Johnson Jr., or (434) 385-7016; Richmond District: Maria Maxwell, or (804) 521-1160, and Courtney Layman, or (804) 475-1613; Roanoke District: the Rev. Morris Fleischer, or (540) 544-7183; Staunton District: Brenda Decker, or (757) 334-2919; Winchester District: the Rev. Linda Lowe, or (540) 869-4549; York River District: district office, or (757) 596-346.

Wesley UMC preschoolers sell art to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria
Under the direction of Darlene Spurlock, preschool children at Wesley UMC in Alexandria, Alexandria District, made and sold art items and led Sunday morning worship at the church to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria. The church sanctuary was overrun with "mosquitoes" made by Wesley preschool and kindergarten children. Worshippers were encouraged to donate to Imagine No Malaria and take a "mosquito" home.

Laity Sunday is Oct. 19
This Sunday, Oct. 19, is Laity Sunday, a time to recognize the work and mission of all laity — not only within the walls of the church but also in everyday lives. Click here for worship suggestions, bulletin inserts and posters for this year’s theme from the General Board of Discipleship.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men have partnered to launch a domestic violence initiative to raise awareness and provide training in congregations. Resources include fact sheets, discussion starters and useful links to increase understanding about domestic violence and help churches help victims. In addition, United Methodist Publishing House is offering the “Domestic Violence and Faith” Oct. 12 issue of FaithLink as a free download. This resource will help individuals, small groups and congregations engage in meaningful faith-based conversation about this tough subject. More ...

Friday is deadline to submit videos for Nov. 1 panel discussion of sexuality
The Connectional Table’s Human Sexuality Task Force is hosting a live stream panel discussion on sexuality Saturday, Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Panelists are members of the Council of Bishops who contributed to the book Finding Our Way: Love and Law in The United Methodist Church, as well as the editor and president of United Methodist Publishing House. United Methodists can create YouTube video explaining a personal story that pertains to unity and/or human sexuality and pose a question about "Finding Our Way" to one of the bishops or the editor. Friday, Oct. 17, is the deadline to submit videos. Videos must be no longer than three minutes. Tag the video using #cttalks and e-mail a link to Three videos will be selected and shown at the event. More ...

United Methodist Communications uses animation to fight Ebola
An animated video created for use in West Africa attempts to dispel myths about how Ebola is spread and promote prevention of the disease. United Methodist Communications collaborated with Chocolate Moose Media and iHeed to create the video, which will be produced in different languages. Click here to view video. The World Bank of West Africa has offered to pay to air the video a minimum of three times a day in every country affected by Ebola. Click here to read news release. More ...

What does The United Methodist Church say about Halloween?
Oct. 31 is Halloween. The United Methodist Church does not have an official statement or position regarding Halloween, but many local churches offer safe alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating. Others turn the focus to giving rather than receiving. Collecting for UNICEF or giving fair-trade chocolate are ideas for using the occasion to give to others. More ...

UMTV: Have a fair-trade Halloween
Americans eat 90 million pounds of chocolate on Halloween and reports of child labor on cocoa farms have led to a movement toward fair-trade chocolate. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) suggests ways churches and individuals can embrace fair-trade certified products and educate neighbors about where cocoa comes from in this video first posted on Oct. 29, 2008. More ...

Order Rethink Church Advent resources by Nov. 1
Rethink Church is launching national Advent advertising on Nov. 17 featuring a commercial about making Christmas less complicated by focusing on helping others and sharing the greatest gift of all. Look for the commercial on television and in digital advertising spaces. You can get a free video copy of the commercial, as well as new Advent resources, including sermon starters, bulletin covers, invitation cards and door hangers. For delivery by Thanksgiving, order by Nov. 1. For a limited time, free door hangers will be printed with your church information. More ...

Nov. 9 is International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Church
Sunday, Nov. 9, has been designated International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This year, the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s attacks on Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq have drawn international attention to places where people risk their lives for their faith. Bishop William McAlilly and the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences Cabinet are inviting United Methodists to pray for the persecuted church (especially in the Middle East) and to address the refugee crisis caused by terror and war through their giving. Click here to read blog. The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) is also calling on United Methodists "to be in deep prayer for Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq." To date, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has provided $170,000 in emergency assistance to communities pushed north by the Islamic State, including Christians known in the particular area as Nazarenes, Chaldeans or Assyrians as well as Kurds, Turkmen, Yazidis, Zoroastrians and other branches of Islam that are being systematically eliminated. Click here to read the GBGM statement. Click here to contribute to UMCOR International Disaster Response, Advance #982450. Click here for prayer resources from the General Board of Discipleship.

Chuck Knows Church: Laity Sunday
This Sunday, Oct. 19, is Laity Sunday. Laity Sunday focuses on the celebration of the ministry of all lay Christians. But, there's so much more to know, and Chuck is eager to tell you on this episode of "Chuck Knows Church," a weekly 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 the General Board of Discipleship. More ...

Finance agency partnership seeks to expand electronic giving
Vanco Services, a provider of electronic payment solutions, has expanded its partnership with the General Council on Finance and Administration, The United Methodist Church's finance agency. The partnership's goal is to accelerate the adoption of electronic giving in United Methodist congregations. More ...

Jan. 10 is deadline to apply for Human Relations Day grant
Jan. 10 is the deadline to apply for a Human Relations Day Grant from the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS). The grants are to support ministries that respond to non-violent young offenders through education, advocacy or leadership training and development. Grant funds are raised through The United Methodist Church’s Human Relations Day Special Sunday each year. Human Relations Day is the Sunday immediately following the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday: Jan. 18, 2015. More ...

Jan. 10 is deadline to apply for Peace with Justice grant
Jan. 10 is the deadline to apply for a Peace with Justice grant from the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS). Funding for this program is generated through the United Methodist Peace with Justice Special Sunday offering. Peace with Justice Sunday is May 31, 2015. Peace with Justice grants are awarded in two cycles: spring and fall. Applications must be received no later than Jan. 10 for the spring funding cycle and Aug.10 for the fall. Applications are evaluated by GBCS’s Board of Directors. More ...

Jan. 10 is deadline to apply for Ethnic Local Church grant
Jan. 10 is the deadline to apply for an Ethnic Local Church Grant from the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS). The grants are to strengthen ethnic minority local churches through education, advocacy or leadership development as they engage in social justice. More ...

♦ UMFS Lynchburg Community Family Day - Oct. 18
The new Lynchburg regional center for United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) is hosting a free Community Day with fun, food and fellowship 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at OBIC Ministries, 406 Briarcliff Circle, Lynchburg. Activities will include petting zoo, horseback riding, games, face painting, popcorn, cotton candy, fishing, nature walks and more. For more information, contact Jamesia Harrison at (434) 846-2002 or

♦ 'Lord, Teach Me to Pray' - Oct. 25, Feb. 21
"Lord, Teach Me to Pray — Practical Applications for Prayer" will be offered again Saturday, Oct. 25, at St. Thomas UMC, Manassas, (Click here to register) and Saturday, Feb. 21, at Williamsburg UMC (Click here to register). Main speaker will be Dr. Wendy Miller, professor emeritus of Spiritual Formation at Eastern Mennonite Seminary and adjunct faculty at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. Click here to download a flyer.

♦ PAUMCS fall training event - Oct. 29
Virginia chapter of the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries (PAUMCS) will hold its fall training event, "Experience Your Conference Connection 2014" 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. Members of the Conference Board of Communications will address the need to communicate in a technology-infused world, including discussions on social media, website design and hosting and blogging. 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 (804) 521-1124.

♦ 'Ghosts, Games & the Gospel - Oct. 31-Nov. 2
"Ghosts, Games & the Gospel" will provide middle and high school youths a fun, safe way to enjoy Halloween traditions Oct. 31- Nov. 2 at Westview on the James Camp and Retreat Center in Goochland. The weekend will mix the best parts of Halloween (costumes, candy and jack-o-lantern making) with the best parts of camp (counselor-led worship, Halloween–themed camp activities and being outdoors in the beautiful fall weather). Bring your whole youth group, and Westview will provide staff, food and fun. Registration fee is $65 per person. For more information, contact Anthony Gomez, Summer Camp Program Director, at or (804) 457-4210. More ...

♦ UMFS FORE the Kids Golf Tournament - Nov. 10
United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) will sponsor FORE the Kids Golf Tournament at 10 a.m. Nov. 10 at Stonehenge Country Club in Midlothian. All proceeds go to help foster children find forever homes. Click here to register.

♦ Ethics II training - Nov. 13
All clergy and church professionals are required to attend an Ethics II training during this quadrennium (2012-2016). 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 Thursday, Nov. 13, at Fairfax UMC in the Alexandria District. Click here to download brochure with training details and schedule. A 0.5 CEU is awarded for full participation. Click here to register for Nov. 13 event. 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. Paper registrations are not available for these events. Registration is required 48 hours prior to event in order to ensure sufficient materials are available for all participants.

♦ Fall Youth Retreats - Nov. 14-16, Dec. 5-7
Now is the time to register for Virginia Conference Fall Youth Retreats. Middle School Retreat will be Nov. 14-16 and High School Retreat will be Dec. 5-7 at Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg. Theme for both retreats 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 (804) 521-1139.

♦ 'The Good Race' - Nov. 15
Clergy and laity are invited to join other United Methodists in "The Good Race," a day of participation and celebration as they walk or run the Anthem Richmond 8K, Half-Marathon or Marathon on Saturday, Nov. 15. Information about these races can be found at Or contact Steve Jones at or Allie Rosner at Or join the Facebook Group “The Good Race.”

♦ Day of Holy Conversation - Nov. 22
In response to Bishop Young Jin Cho's request that the Virginia Conference Common Table for Church Vitality facilitate discussions around the conference on the subject of human sexuality, the Common Table will hold "A Day of Holy Conversation on Sexuality and The United Methodist Church" on Saturday, Nov. 22, at Woodlake UMC, 15640 Hampton Park Drive, Chesterfield. The day of conversation will also be live streamed to 12 additional sites across the conference. All Virginia Conference clergy and laity are invited to participate at one of the sites. More ...

♦ '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

♦ 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 p.m. 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 ...

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
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
PO Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
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