To subscribe to the e-Advocate and have it delivered to your email address, free of charge, send your name, address  and email address to Please indicate in the subject "Subscribe to e-Advocate."

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

January 14, 2020

January 7, 2020

Click here for 2019 issues 

Click here for 2018 issues  

Click here for 2017 issues 

Click here for 2016 issues 

Click here for 2015 issues

Click here for 2014 issues

Click here for 2013 issues

Click here for 2012 issues

Click here for 2011 issues

Click here for 2010 issues

Click here for 2009 issues



News from the Virginia Conference - September 24, 2019

No e-Advocate for week of Oct. 1
There will be no e-Advocate for the week of Oct. 1. The weekly conference newsletter will be back on Oct. 8.

Harrisonburg churches launch business benefitting ex-prisoners
Harrisonburg churches, Otterbein United Methodist, Vision of Hope United Methodist and RISE, came together several years ago to work on ideas on how to help those coming out of incarceration. The result of their work together is the newly-opened Just Love Coffee and Tea. The store, open on the weekdays, will sell a variety of coffee flavors as well teas to benefit a reentry program, The Just Love Initiative, all done in a person-centered way. More…

Charlottesville Bible study addresses Confederate monuments
From The Washington Post: Charlottesville’s Confederate monuments played many roles in recent years: the epicenter of a legal and cultural battle over what should count as cherished history, the rallying spot for murderous white supremacists, the touchstone of a painful national reckoning with America’s slave-owning past. Now, they’re fodder for a Bible study. Two United Methodist pastors selected the monuments as the sites and subjects of their ongoing class, “Swords into Plowshares: What the Bible says about injustice, idolatry, and repentance.” Over the past month, the pastors — the Rev. Isaac Collins of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church and the Rev. Phil Woodson of First United Methodist Church, both in Charlottesville — have led weekly seminars that reinterpret the statues as idols meant to prop up the false religion of white supremacy. More... 

UMFS offering materials now available
United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) is the Virginia Conference designated offering for December. The organization deeply appreciates the support of local churches in this ministry, helping high-risk children create a brighter future. This year they are supplying bulletin inserts (both printed and electronic versions) and offering envelopes to assist you with the offering. Please click here ( to order your offering materials by Oct. 4, or contact Jill Gaynor at or 804-254-9463. There is also a short UMFS video and other worship resources for you, which are available at

Join UMMen for United Methodist Give Day
Join the conference United Methodist Men on Oct. 21 for United Methodist Give Day. Learn more about how to take part and give at the link. More...

Common Table offering local church ministry grants
The Rev. Dr. Ted Smith, Virginia Conference Director of Connectional Ministries, is pleased to announce the availability of grant funds specifically for new local church ministries. The grant is a Special Ministries Grant for the 2020 calendar year. Fund eligibility includes: ministries that are specifically through local churches, ministries that began in the 2019 calendar year or proposed 2020 ministries, ministries that have not previously been funded by any conference funding organizations. Funds are also limited below the normal $10,000 grant level. Applications are available at and should be submitted by Nov. 1 to be considered.

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

Upcoming events for youth, young adults
Exploration 2019, Nov. 1-3, is an event for college students who are exploring a call into ministry. Exploration creates sacred space for young adults, ages 18-26, to be in meaningful fellowship, passionate worship,theological reflection, and practical workshops as they discern whether God’s call on their life is to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church and what faithful steps they can take in response. For more information, go to Exploration 2019 or contact Joanna Dietz in the Center for Clergy Excellence at

Valuing the Voices in Our Church is an opportunity for high school  sophomores, juniors, and seniors to come together to explore their own gifts and graces for leadership, consider what vocation God is calling them to and to hear and grow in appreciation of a diverse chorus of voices who are leading in the church today. Participants will gather at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. on Saturday, Oct. 26. The remaining meetings will be virtual throughout the year. For more information, go to Valuing the Voices in Our Church.

Scholarships and Loans are available for seminarians. Contact Joanna Dietz ( in the Center for Clergy Excellence for more information about scholarships and loans or either of the above events. Due date for scholarships and loans is Oct. 13. More...

Upcoming open houses at Wesley Theological Seminary to answer questions about 'call'
While it is a challenging time in the church, there are still people called by God to ministry. Wesley Theological Seminary said it believes God's call is constant, and Wesley wants to be there to answer their questions on being formed to serve God's church and world. If you know someone struggling with a call or has questions about seminary, encourage them to attend Wesley’s upcoming open houses, "Welcome Table" event  on Sept. 26, or the "Window on Wesley" event on Oct. 15. They’ll experience a class, meet professors and students, and experience the Wesley community of faith and learning. Visit link for more information and to register. More... 

November Advocate needs your stories about having 'hearts of gratitude'
The November Advocate needs your stories! This issue will be focusing on “Hearts of Gratitude.” November is that time of year when we pause to give thanks for what we have and the people who are in our lives. For what are you grateful this year? How can we take time out of our busy schedules to be grateful? Share your stories or ideas to Madeline Pillow, Advocate editor, by Sept. 24 at

Clergy asked to attend ‘Re-Calibrate’ event with Bishop Lewis
All Virginia Conference clergy are invited to “Re-Calibrate,” a day apart experience to reconnect, celebrate and have a healing moment with Bishop Lewis. The event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Location will be the Virginia State University Multi-Purpose Center (20809 2nd Avenue, Petersburg, VA 23803). Clergy are asked to make this gathering a priority to attend whether they are active, retired, bi-vocational, extension ministers, or supply pastors. Registration for the event is available at the link. Questions may be directed to your district superintendent. More…

Missionary couple speaking at several Virginia churches
John Nday and Florence Kaying are a missionary couple serving at Cambine Mission in the South Mozambique Annual Conference. John is serving as agricultural coordinator and Florence is a nurse practitioner serving in maternity and child health at the Cambine Hospital and Clinic. They are both originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are currently visiting several churches in Virginia where you can hear them share about their ministries:
   Sunday, Oct. 6:  Heritage UMC (Lynchburg District)
   Monday, Oct. 7: Keezletown UMC (Harrisonburg District)
   Tuesday, Oct. 8: Mount Carmel UMC, Covington (Staunton District)
   Wednesday, Oct. 9: Waynesboro/Stuarts Draft location TBD (Staunton District)
   Friday, Oct. 11: Hillsboro UMC, Lovettsville (Winchester District)
   Sunday, Oct. 13: Great Falls UMC (Arlington District)

For more information, contact Ann Klotz, Missionary Itineration Coordinator for the conference Missional Ministries Board, at

Goodson Preaching Academy presenting one-day event
The Goodson Academy of Preaching presents a one-day event “Preaching Through Troubling Times,” with keynote speaker Rev. Dr. John W. Kinney.  The event will be held Monday, Oct. 14, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Providence UMC in Chesterfield. Cost for the day is $35, which includes lunch; 0.5 CEU is available. Contact the Rev. Mandy Newman at or (757) 630-6518 with questions. More... 

Applications now open for Foundation grants
Now is the time for churches, districts and ministries across the conference to consider how they may apply for available grants from the Foundation. The deadline for completed applications is Oct. 31, 2019.  Distributions will be made in January 2020. To learn more about Foundation grants, you may visit:

United Methodist churches invited to Unwrap Christmas in communities around the globe
When it comes to what matters most at Christmas, people say that it’s spending time with family and friends. United Methodist Communications’ 2019 Unwrap Christmas event campaign is designed to help local churches offer meaningful places for people to connect with one another throughout the Advent season. United Methodist Communications is supporting these outreach efforts by offering event grants and other resources to local United Methodist churches. Congregations are encouraged to plan events, such as free cocoa stands in busy shopping areas, toy giveaway or food packaging experiences, holiday music concerts in parks or live Nativity scenes, as a way to connect people with faith communities. Grant recipients will receive promotional items and resources for the events. Congregations that are interested in hosting an Unwrap Christmas event may apply for a limited number of event grants while they are still available. Even without an event grant, churches can host an Unwrap Christmas event using a planning guide developed by United Methodist Communications to make organizing for Advent outreach simple. In addition to the Unwrap Christmas events, United Methodist Communications is offering customizable Advent resources to all churches. A limited number of $300 grants to offset the costs of the invitational items are available. Learn more at

Learn more about 5 Talent Academy fall event
The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis will be one of the presenters at the 5 Talent Academy event on Thursday,  Nov. 14. This event will be livestreamed 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. from Woodlake UMC and 11 satellite locations around the state. Lewis is senior minister at Middle Collegiate Church, a 1,100-member multiethnic, welcoming, and inclusive congregation in New York City.  To register, visit For more information, contact the Center for Congregational Excellence at 804.521.1155 or

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... 

Register now for The Big Silence Retreat
Register now for The Big Silence Retreat, a four-day, mostly silent retreat offering a deeper experience of solitude, silence, and prayer at the beautiful St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, N.C., from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 19-22, 2020. Start the new year off right by setting an inner course of connection with God to support your life and ministry in the months to come. Praying the hours in community is complemented by a variety of silent prayer practices and wonderful spaces just to be present with the Spirit. More... 

Learn more about Convergence 2020
The Convergence High School Youth Theology Institute on faith and science brought 37 high school students to Randolph-Macon College this past June to discover where their Christian beliefs and scientific principles intersect. Convergence 2020 will be held June 20-28, 2020. Applications and nominations for current 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade students interested in participating in Convergence 2020 are open now on the website. The cost to participate is only $400 for this 9-day program. Upon high school graduation, if a Convergence participant chooses to attend Randolph-Macon, they will receive a $1,000 annual scholarship for each year they participated in Convergence.  Please contact the Rev. Kendra Grimes or Laura Ruxton ( with any questions about the program. More...

Laity Sunday is Oct. 20
This year, Laity Sunday will be Oct. 20, 2019. Contact your district lay leader and directors of Lay Servant Ministries for assistance. More... 


What comes after GC2020 petitions deadline
The deadline to submit legislation to the 2020 General Conference is now in the rearview mirror. So what is ahead? The coming months will provide a fuller picture of what options will be before delegates when The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking assembly meets May 5-15 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. A big focus of the coming assembly will be dealing with the fallout of this year’s special General Conference. The contentious gathering has led to varied proposals for the denomination’s future in light of its still-unresolved debate over homosexuality. But getting legislation into a format that is readily accessible for a multinational and multilingual denomination takes time. By denominational rules, the Advance Daily Christian Advocate — which contains the petitions and reports requiring General Conference action — must be distributed to delegates at least 90 days before the assembly begins. That date is Feb. 5 for the 2020 gathering. More...

Group learns about causes, solutions for human trafficking
A floating village that is home to “boat people” who fled Vietnam vividly illustrated for a United Methodist group the economic hardships that have made Cambodia one of the worst countries for human trafficking. “I have learned that human trafficking is a more complex issue than I originally understood and has many forms and root causes. Many people know of the risk of human trafficking in Cambodia, but due to great financial hardship, they are willing to take the risk of relocating and starting a new job that could potentially lead them to becoming a victim of human trafficking,” said Josh Perry, a member of First United Methodist Church in Flushing, a section of Queens in New York. He was part of the Cambodia Human Trafficking Consultation Mission Team, which included six Korean American United Methodists and seven staff members from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Cambodia is ranked ninth out of 167 countries in prevalence of human trafficking, with an estimated 261,000 people living in slavery, according to the Global Slavery Index. More... 

Hospital garden sows healthy care for expectant mothers
When a woman is pregnant, she is filled with an ocean of emotions, which may include anxiety, excitement and fear about what is good and safe for her and her unborn baby. It is a time when a mother needs strong care. A unique garden at Old Mutare Mission Hospital in Zimbabwe is feeding the women’s hearts, souls and bodies. The garden is maintained by the women as they await the arrival of their babies. The addition of healthy vegetables means the women will not go hungry if their families cannot supply them with food. Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa recently toured the garden and said he was happy to see the mothers working in the garden. “I am happy with this initiative of having a nutrition garden specifically for expecting mothers … An expecting mother has a right to a balanced diet of which vegetables is part of it. They are not allowed to feel hungry whatsoever.” More...

Number of elders under 35 dropping
At age 32, the Rev. Jarrod Caltrider is living life in full as a United Methodist elder. He’s pastor of three small churches in rural West Virginia, and resides in a parsonage with his wife, Breana, and their 2-year-old, Ella. He leads three or four worship services each Sunday and occasionally wades into the Right Fork of Sandy Creek to do baptisms. The work is gratifying, and what excites Caltrider most is the growth he’s seen in young families with children attending Sandyville United Methodist Church, his largest congregation. “We average 72 to 74 in worship, and that’s increased a little, but two Sundays ago we had 93 in worship and 33 of those were elementary school age and younger,” he said. “That’s exhilarating.” Young elders like Caltrider — enthusiastic, committed and perhaps better able than many older colleagues to connect with young families — are getting harder to find in The United Methodist Church. The Lewis Center for Church Leadership, part of Wesley Theological Seminary, does an annual analysis of clergy age trends in The United Methodist Church, and its just-released 2019 report shows that the number of U.S. elders under age 35 has declined for three straight years. More...

5 Talent Academy fall event- Nov. 13,14
The theme for this year’s 5 Talent event is Engage 2019: Community Transformation.  There are two events: one just for clergy and one for clergy and laity.
Wednesday, Nov. 13 will be a Clergy-only Pre-event at Woodlake UMC and will feature Bishop Ken Carter, Florida Conference UMC.  He will speak about redefining the UM connection and evangelism, the role of fresh expressions, and how to shape missional relationships in the current cultural landscape.
Thursday, Nov. 14 will be the main Clergy and Laity event at Woodlake UMC and livestreamed to 11 satellite locations around the state.  Bishop Carter will be preaching and speakers will be the Rev. Michael Adam Beck, Wildwood UMC, Wildwood, Fla.; the Rev. Jaqueline Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church, New York, N.Y.; and the Rev. Andy and the Rev. Anjie Woodworth, Neighborhood Church, Atlanta, Ga.  They will address what it looks like to be a neighborhood church, what is a community partner, and what is a fresh expression. If you plan to attend in a group from your church, every fifth person in a group registration goes free. Fees for the events are as follows: Nov. 14 event - $35; Nov. 13 & 14 events - $60; Nov. 13 event only - $50. Registration prices increase after Sept. 30.  To register, visit For questions, contact MaryKaye Cochran 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

Privacy Policy





The Cross and Flame is a registered trademark, and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the GCFA, Attn: Legal Department, PO Box 340029, Nashville, TN 37203-0029; phone 615-369-2334; fax 615-369-2330

Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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
Click here for directions to the Center