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News from the Virginia Conference - Oct. 20, 2016 

Trained ERT teams needed for Hampton Roads area 
Trained Early Response Teams (ERT) are desperately needed for the Hampton Roads area following damage from Hurricane Matthew said the Rev. Bob Pihlcrantz, Virginia Conference Disaster Response coordinator. “These cities weren’t prepared for this kind of damage. They were just following reports from the weather stations. Now, we are just picking up the pieces,” said Pihlcrantz. Over 1,100 homes in the area were affected. In Virginia Beach, 104 homes have been labeled as priority for three different agencies, including Virginia Conference Disaster Response, to start relief efforts. Pihlcrantz stated that a tremendous amount of work needs to be done which will take up to several weeks. To schedule your team, please contact Michele Michaelian, Conference ERT Coordinator, at

VIM shares story of survivor from the Feb. 24 tornado in Waverly 
The Virginia Volunteers in Mission (VIM) recently shared the story of Trenika Stringfield from Waverly who lost her son, brother and fiancé in the tornado that struck Feb. 24. More… 

Monday, Oct. 31, is Reformation Day
Reformation Day is Monday, Oct. 31. This observance celebrates the anniversary of what many historians consider the start of the Protestant movement, when Martin Luther publicly displayed his 95 Theses. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries has worship resources. More ...

Nov. 1 is All Saints Day
All Saints Day is Tuesday, Nov. 1. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers prayers and a family litany for this day when Christians celebrate the people who have joined the Church Triumphant. More ...

November is Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers worship resources, including a Native American interpretation of Psalm 23. The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race offers resources to highlight the history, gifts and struggles of the First Americans, including resources for the Act of Repentance.

United Methodist Student Day is Sunday, Nov. 27
Sunday, Nov. 27, 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 ...

Laity want more representation on commission
More than 500 laity from across the denomination signed a letter protesting the under-representation of laity in the composition of the Commission on a Way Forward. The letter went to Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, and the council’s executive committee on Oct. 16, Laity Sunday. More… 

Judicial Council takes up gay ordination issue
A controversial decision by United Methodists in New York last June to commission and ordain openly gay clergy candidates is one of the 11 docket items on the agenda when the United Methodist Judicial Council meets Oct. 25-28 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Lisle, Ill., in the Chicago area. Oral hearings are scheduled on two other docket items. More… 

Web developer position available with United Methodist Communications
Are you a Nashville-area based, experienced Front End Web Developer, highly skilled in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, knowledgeable in PHP and MySQL (other programming languages and database systems a major plus)?  If so, you would be an integral part of the team by helping to design and implement solutions for both their website and mobile applications. More… 

Mass shooting victim works to reduce gun violence
Pam Simon keeps on her desk the bullet that went through her wrist and into her torso in the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting near Tucson that killed six and wounded 13, including former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. Simon, a United Methodist, has become a strong advocate for gun violence prevention, working to bring churches into the cause. More… 

United Methodists among richest U.S. religious groups
United Methodists are among the 10 most financially successful religious groups in the United States, reports a new study by Pew Research Center. Using data from its 2014 Religious Landscape Study, Pew found about one in four U.S. United Methodists makes at least $100,000 a year. The study found that richer religious groups also tended to have higher levels of educational attainment. More…

Status and Role of Women Commission organizes
The 19-member board of the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women held its organizing meeting Oct. 6-8 at First United Methodist Church (Chicago Temple). The board elected Ohio East Area Bishop Tracy Malone as president and unanimously re-elected Dawn Wiggins Hare as the agency’s top executive. Read press release. 

Oklahoma churches join for multi-ethnic ministry
Two United Methodist congregations in Heavener — one English-speaking and one majority Hispanic — have built a bridge between one another and formed a new church. The new congregation’s leaders are convinced that children are the key to a successful merger. More… 

Turning food waste into healthy meals
Members of Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church prevent carloads of fresh meat and vegetables from ending up in a landfill. They have joined an effort to turn food waste into healthy meals for the hungry. More… 

Iliff conference focuses on indigenous peoples
As protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline continue at the Standing Rock Sioux Camp, United Methodist Iliff School of Theology in Denver hosted a conference Oct. 10-11 to help the community better understand the intersection between religious dominance and the taking of lands from indigenous peoples. More… 

Martin Luther items headed to Candler
Pitts Theology Library at Candler School of Theology will be one of three U.S. sites to exhibit Martin Luther-related items next year in celebration of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary. Candler is a United Methodist seminary and part of Emory University. More…  

♦ Conference UMW Annual Meeting - Oct. 28-29
Virginia Conference United Methodist Women (UMW) will hold its Annual Meeting Oct. 28-29 at Good Shepherd UMC in Richmond. Theme is “Growing in Blessedness.” Keynote speaker is Elizabeth (Lisa) Lamb Nichols, a deaconess serving as executive director of Henry Fork Service Center, a facility in Rocky Mount, Va., that provides Christian education, educational enrichment, recreation and experiences in the arts to more than 100 students throughout the year. More ...

♦ Kindred Project two-day silent retreat - Nov. 2-4
Kindred Project will offer a two-day Silent Retreat in the Celtic Tradition at the Bellfry Retreat Home (, 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, to 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 4. The retreat will be facilitated by Kim Barker-Brugman, Janie Mitchell and Dawn Peck. Estimated cost is $175 per person. To reserve a space, contact Dawn at

♦ Disaster Emotional and Spiritual Care Training - Nov. 5
Disaster Emotional and Spiritual Care Training will be offered 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at Bruen Chapel UMC, 3035 Cedar Lane, Fairfax. Certified leader of the event will be the Rev. Ellen Comstock, retired Virginia Conference elder. Cost is $40 (plus $10 for lunch unless you bring your own) and includes background check, materials and completion badge. If you already have a background check through the conference within a year, cost will be $30. Completion of this course will allow you to assist survivors of disaster without having to be heavily involved in construction. Coupled with ERT training, this training would also allow you to be deployed with Early Response Teams. This event is open to both clergy and laity and might be of special interest to Lay Servants and those involved in Stephen Ministries, church teachers, visitation team members and others who feel specially called to participate in aspects of the church’s overall ministry and mission that require personal relating to people of various ages and backgrounds. To sign up by Nov. 3 or for more info, email Ellen Comstock ( 

♦ Fall Youth Retreats- Nov. 11-13; Dec. 2-4
Register now for the super early bird rates 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. 11-13, and High School Retreat will be Dec. 2-4 at Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg. This year's retreats will focus on “Just Move." Guest speakers will be Brooklyn and Coy Lindsey. Cost is $145 Oct. 10-30 for the Middle School retreat, . Middle School registration deadline is Oct. 30. Cost for the High School Retreat is $125 Oct. 3-31 and $145 Nov. 1-20. High School registration deadline is Nov. 20. More...

♦ Virginia Diaconate Day Apart - Nov.7
The Virginia Diaconate will gather at Good Shepherd UMC in Richmond for the Virginia Diaconate Day Apart on Monday, Nov. 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The theme for the day will be "The Deacon and the Sacraments." Bishop Sharma Lewis will also be in attendance for the reflection and teaching on the book Deacons in the Liturgy (Ormonde Plater), the deacon's role in the sacraments and a Q&A on General Conference. The cost of the event is $10 and lunch is provided. Registration is online at: For questions, contact the Rev. Jason Stanley at

♦ Conference 25th Anniversary of UM Day at General Assembly Celebration - Jan. 14
The Conference Legislative Committee is hosting a 25th anniversary celebration of United Methodist Day at General Assembly, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, at Centenary UMC, 411 E. Grace Street, Richmond, Va. The event will start with registration at 11 a.m., lunch at noon followed by a program at 1 p.m. Pre-registration is necessary and child care will be available. For more information, email Randy Harlow 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 email For information about the Virginia Conference and resources for ministry, visit the Virginia Conference website at



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