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News from the Virginia Conference - September 10, 2019

Bishop Lewis returns to episcopal office    
After a six-month medical leave, Bishop Lewis returned to her episcopal office on Sept. 9. In this video, she shares her thanks for Bishop Pete Weaver's interim leadership for the Virginia Conference and more about her return. She encourages all churches to share this video widely with their congregations. The video is also available in Korean and Spanish. More….

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

Reflection begins as clergy return from Alaska pilgrimage
Organized by the Rev. Meredith McNabb and the Rev. Tim Ward, a group of clergy set out for Alaska, Aug. 1-8. This Alaska Parks Pilgrimage allowed the clergy to explore “the unknown frontier” of Alaska and see the real effects of climate change firsthand in the area and to have conversation about the unknown territory of The United Methodist Church’s current climate. In this reflection, the Rev. Gennie Bowles shares about the experience.  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...

All God’s Children Camp director shares her thanks
"2019 was an amazing summer for All God’s Children Camp," said Lori Smith, All God's Children Camp director in a recent letter. "This year we sent 78 children to camp at two different sites. Through Harmony (our self-esteem building and conflict resolution class), Bible study and arts and crafts, they were able to hear and talk about how Jesus is FOR them. They began to understand that they truly are somebody. They began to understand what it means to be fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator who wants nothing more but to be in relationship with them. Through outdoor activities such as rock wall climbing, boating, archery, swimming, low ropes and much more, they began to lean on and trust each other and build each other up. We are so thankful for the 69 mentors who gave up a week of their summer to volunteer their time to hang out with some kids who need it most. I want to thank each and every one of you for being the hands and feet of Christ for our beautiful children. You started out as a mentor but you became someone who they laughed with, cried with, confided in; you became someone they could trust. You became their friend."  More...

Team members needed for 2020 UMVIM trip to Brazil
Ten to 12 team members are needed for a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) trip to Brazil to finish construction on a church building and work with children’s ministries. Trip will be from June 24-July 7, 2020 and will include six work days, four travel days, three culture/enrichment days, and one day of worship. The cost is $3,000 which includes airfares, local room and board, transportation, interpreters, sightseeing, and project costs. Request an application and learn more by emailing

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

Kindred Project invites you to pray
The Kindred Project invites all clergy and lay persons to join them in deepening awareness to God’s presence. The Kindred Project ( is a group of clergy and laity who gather together for the practice of spiritual disciplines, contemplative prayer, fellowship and communion. The group started convening at a new location at Madison UMC (505 S. Main Street, Madison, Virginia 22727) on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The event features Scripture and silent time (Centering Prayer), conversation and fellowship and Holy Communion. All are welcome to these gatherings. For more information please contact the Rev. Bruce Lugn at or the Rev Dan Albrant 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...

Henry Fork Center seeking executive director
Henry Fork Service Center, Rocky Mount, Va., is seeking an executive director. The position of executive director is unique in that she/he has expectations from both the Virginia Annual Conference and the Henry Fork Service Center. It is the responsibility of the executive director to supervise the overall program, mission, and activities of the Center. The executive director, using strong leadership and training skills, should provide recommendations for improved programming, staffing, facilities, communications, and public relations. For details, visit the Virginia Conference jobs opportunities page. More...

Educational opportunity for high school students, parents at Randolph-Macon College
For the 2019-20 academic year, Randolph-Macon College (R-MC) in Ashland, Va., will host on Saturday, Oct. 26, “Valuing the Voices in Our Church,” an opportunity for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to
     •  explore God’s call in their lives,
     •  grow in leadership skills,
     •  and develop an awareness and appreciation for diversity within the church.
There will be activities and programming for high school participants, parents/guardians, and younger siblings. Participants will explore their own leadership style, hear stories of call/leadership from a variety of speakers, and be part of a workshop focused on valuing their own unique voice and discerning God's call in their own lives. Parents who attend will enjoy two workshops: "How to tell your story to your children" and "How to listen and allow your child to tell his/her own story" along with a presentation by the R-MC Admissions Office to assist families in navigating the college application process. Childcare and activities are also provided for younger siblings who register to attend with Valuing the Voices participants. From November through May, the school will create an online video conference-style format to keep the high school participants connected. Applications are open to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors (2019-20 academic year).  The application deadline is Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.  If accepted, participants are asked to submit a $20 registration fee to hold their place.  There are no other expenses for the program, though participants will need to travel to R-MC for the Oct. 26 event and have access to computer/phone and Internet for the ongoing video community. More…

September Advocate explores personal, prayerful motivation    
It’s “back-to-school” time and the changing of the season often makes people reflective and seeking motivation. Learn more about how you can get motivated in your ministry in the September Advocate, consider your prayer life in some activities and learn how to create a mandala. Starting in the September issue, memories are shared about the Advocate magazine from two former Advocate editors. This special “Advocate Remembered” section will run through the December issue.

As the Advocate magazine comes to an end in its print and online formats in 2019, every issue, print and online, can be purchased for $7.50/subscription. You may contact the Communications Office to place your order for any 2019 issue at or 804-521-1110.

Submit petitions to General Conference
Updated instructions for petitions to the 2020 General Conference by clergy, laity, or organizations of The United Methodist Church can be found at the final link. Petitions can be submitted within the GC2020 website, by email to, or by fax to 615-369-2405. The final submission deadline is Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Paragraph 507 of the Discipline details the process required for General Conference petitions. The following link gives details for the specified format for consideration of petitions. More…


First church in Africa becomes reconciling
A United Methodist church in Kenya unanimously voted to identify as reconciling — making it the first African congregation to do so. With the Sept. 1 vote, First United Methodist Church Moheto has chosen to associate with Reconciling Ministries Network — an unofficial United Methodist advocacy group that seeks full equality of LGBTQ individuals in the life of the church. The congregation’s vote was 180-0, with two members absent because of illness. “First United Methodist Church Moheto has taken the step to formalize what we have been doing in the society as a visible voice for the voiceless for over 12 years,” said the Rev. Kennedy Mwita, the congregation’s senior pastor and a former district superintendent in the Kenya-Ethiopia Conference. “We have been advocates for human rights and equality.” The congregation in southwestern Kenya adopted a statement that, among other things, supports “the full participation of all persons in every phase of church life.” The church’s decision comes about six months after the special General Conference, by a 438-384 vote, adopted the Traditional Plan that maintains the policy that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The legislation also reinforces bans on same-gender weddings and “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy. More…

UMCOR starts efforts for Bahamas relief
As Hurricane Dorian continued to threaten the U.S. east coast, United Methodists were connecting with Methodists in the Bahamas to start relief efforts. The Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church already is fielding requests to help those being evacuated from the “unprecedented devastation” to receive basic supplies and find a place to live, said its president, the Rev. L. Carla Culmer. But the survivors also need someone to hear their stories. “We want to see how we can counsel and listen and be there for them,” she told UM News in a Sept. 5 phone interview. After striking the island nation on Sept. 1, Hurricane Dorian caused “vast devastation” and left 70,000 people in need of immediate humanitarian relief, says Mark Lowcock, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. More…

African Bishops issue statement on future of The United Methodist Church
Bishops in Africa have vowed that The United Methodist Church will continue in Africa even after the 2020 General Conference.Therefore, the bishops have resolved not to support any proposed legislations or plans that call for dividing or dissolving The United Methodist Church. “We do not support any legislation that calls for the dissolution of The United Methodist Church. We uphold our values as a connectional and worldwide church committed to ‘Making disciples of Jesus Christ, for the transformation of the world’,” the bishops said in a rehash of a statement made in 2018. More…

Bishop's Convocation on Prayer- Sept. 21
The Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21 at Trinity UMC in Richmond. Both clergy and laity are invited to attend the gathering which will include Dr. Terry Tekyl as plenary speaker and breakout small groups. Deadline to register is Sept. 13. For more information, contact the Rev. Ted Smith, director of Connectional Ministries, at More…

United Methodist Men Spiritual Advance- Sept. 27-28
Registration is now open for the 2019 UMMen’s Spiritual Advance at Baylake UMC in Virginia Beach on Sept. 27-28. Featured speaker is the Rev. Dr. Kevin Watson, author of The Class Meeting and Bible study teacher at the 2019 Virginia Annual Conference. The theme is Transforming Grace. Special rates are available for pastors, early birds, spouses, and, if you attended last year, Bring One Get One (BOGO) for first timers.  New this year, church sponsorships are targeted for churches who have never attended the event or those currently with no formal UMMen organization. Open to all churches, the challenge is to line up 12 men to come and receive both a discounted rate and a free event themed T-shirt.  A box lunch option is available on Saturday to allow for more fellowship on site with brothers in Christ. 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

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