Virginia Conference News


Advocate 2022 logo
January 31, 2023To submit news items, stories, or corrections, email the conference Communications Office at Communications@vaumc.org.
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To view conference and local church events, visit the Virginia Conference website at https://vaumc.org/events/.

To submit an local church event for inclusion, submit this form.
Virginia News
bishop sue appointments
Process for 2023 Clergy Appointments announced
Bishop Sue shares in a video message about the spiritual process of making clergy appointments. Learn more about the process and how appointments will be announced for the Virginia Conference in 2023. View video…
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More information coming soon concerning Feb 18 Special Annual ConferenceAs a reminder to the Virginia Annual Conference members, on Saturday, February 18, 2023, a Special Annual Conference will be held virtually at 9 a.m. for the sole purpose of ratifying the disaffiliation of local churches seeking to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church over matters of human sexuality using Paragraph 2553. In early February, Annual Conference members will receive further information, including an agenda. Voting credentials will be shared with Annual Conference members the week of February 13.Questions concerning the Special Annual Conference may be directed to the Rev. Dr. Steve Summers at SteveSummers@vaumc.org. All Annual Conference-related information will be posted on the Virginia Conference website.
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Clergy and lay advocated for important legislation at UM DayClergy and lay members met with their House delegates and Senators at UM Day last week to discuss important legislation. Watch the wrap-up video…
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Serving Office seeking applications for VAUMC Advance SpecialThe Serving Ministries at the Virginia United Methodist Conference is currently accepting applications for ministry organizations to be considered as Virginia Conference Advance Special. Information of Conference Advance Specials can be found in paragraph 656, page 505 of the 2016 Book of Discipline. If you are interested in qualifying as an Advance Special ministry group, please review the guidelines and complete the application by March 1, 2023, to be considered. Please contact the Serving Ministries Office at serving@vaumc.org or 804-521-1138 if you have any questions.training (1)
Join Lay Servant Academy in FebruaryAre you excited about Fresh Expressions and the ways it can help you grow your church’s reach beyond the walls of your building? Are you a Sunday School teacher looking to deepen your church’s discipleship? A church leader looking to learn more about your spiritual gifts and how to use them? Are you looking to enhance your ability to offer love and care for those in need, or just want to start learning more about how to live as a disciple? Lay Servant Academy’s Winter Training takes place Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18. The course schedule features Michael Beck, originator of Fresh Expressions and a leader in cultivating movements.
In addition to this course in Planting Fresh Expressions, additional courses include Fruitful Small Groups, Lay Pastoral Care-Giving, Basic Course, Spiritual Gifts, and Certified Lay Ministry Orientation. Courses are offered in person only at Shady Grove UMC Mechanicsville, VA. Registration and additional information can be found using this link.
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Register now for small church communications webinarRegister today for the Small and Rural Church Communications Webinar on Wednesday, March 8, 9 a.m.-noon, on Zoom. This free webinar hosted by the conference Board of Cimmunicaiotons will focus on the communication needs of small and rural churches that often face limited resources, budgets, technology, and staff but who want to reach their community and members in effective ways. Guest speakers will include Rev. Keon Huh, Jonathan Lemaster-Smith, and Jeremy Brown. Register…
herb brynildsen podcast
Podcast discusses youth participation at June Annual ConferenceHave youth interested in serving at Annual Conference? Check out this month’s VAUMC Conversation with Rev. Herb Brynildsen who is helping recruit youth members for the 2023 Annual Conference. Youth bring much excitement to the UMC as a body of Christ; the VAUMC needs more of their voice. Listen to how we nominate the youth and what their participation at this holy conferencing means! You can listen on all major podcast networks or on the VAUMC Digital Hub.
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Volunteer opportunities available at UMFSVolunteers are a vital part of the UMFS community in Richmond, Va. There are a variety of ways you can get involved and make a difference in the life of a child at UMFS. New and expanded volunteer roles are open now:
• Mentors
• Tutors
• Operational support volunteers
• Foster care support group volunteers
• UMFS community ambassadors
• Family Champion volunteers
• Group volunteersLearn more…

UMFS is a champion for children, teens, families and communities. Their guiding philosophy is to always do whatever it takes to help children and teens successfully overcome the toughest odds and create bright futures for them. They assist the child or teen by empowering the entire family to become stable, self-sufficient and caring members of their communities.
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Be an Earthkeeper at Global Ministries
Global Ministries seeks U.S.-based United Methodists to lead grassroots environmental projects that are action-oriented, antiracist, bold and entrepreneurial. Apply by February 13, 2023 for the next online training, which will be held online March 10 – 25. 
Learn more here…
clergy upperroom academy
Clergy attend Academy for Spiritual FormationA number of Virginia clergy attended the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a ministry of the Upper Room.The program invites clergy and lay participants to meet in residence (in the same location) for five days every three months for a total of 40 days in residence over the course of two years. An experience of disciplined Christian community emphasizing holistic spirituality—nurturing body, mind, and spirit—the Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation is ecumenical in nature and held together by spiritual rhythms of study and prayer, silence and liturgy, solitude and relationship, rest and play. Learn more about 
the Academy for Spiritual Formation…
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GCORR releases five-week Lenten Bible Study
The Imago Dei (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) Lenten Bible Study from the General Commission on Religion & Race is a five-week study written in the style of Lectio Divina. In this form of Bible study all participants are equal, all insights are of equal value, and there are no wrong answers to correct. This form of Bible study is built upon prayerful listening to the Holy Spirit and to each other. Each person takes turns sharing by mutual invitation. In this Bible study we seek to share with one another the image of God, celebrating our diversity, our equity and our inclusion. During the study we are looking for the same image of God displayed in the lectionary texts used with the hope that the use of this model might facilitate our ability to live in the image of God and to perceive that same sacred image in others. Use resource…
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General Board of Higher Education and Ministry awards millions to United Methodist Students in scholarship funds
The Center for Clergy Excellence and the Board of Ordained Ministry is excited to announce that the Office of Loans and Scholarships (GBHEM) will be awarding over 2,000 students a total of $4 million in financial assistance for 2023! These future leaders range from first year Freshmen to Doctorate level students across the denomination.
Thank you for your support in recognizing United Methodist Student Day, World Communion Sunday, and Native American Sunday which help fund a portion of our scholarships. The remaining funds for these awards come from gifts, annuities, and endowments GBHEM has invested and administered for decades.We congratulate every single recipient in the Virginia Conference! Below are the names of those recipients who have given permission for us to share the good news. Please join in celebrating these students in your churches and in your districts.
The VAUMC is a proud partner in the matching Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship program. Students who are members of The United Methodist Church may apply for a Fall 2023 GBHEM scholarship online between December 15, 2022 – March 30, 2023..

Thank you again for helping us celebrate these students!
Elizabeth Dalton
Katherine Dotson
Lauren Geraghty
Mary Kendall
Benjamin Leese
Paula Levesque
Haleigh McLean
Nathan Michaelson
Ama Obeng
Benjamin Rochford
Taehwan Roh
Lori Valentine
Katie Wax
Breanna Wimbush
Dorothy Witherspoonglobal ministriesApply now for Global Mission Fellows, U.S.-2sGlobal Mission Fellows are young adults, ages 20-30, who commit to serve in social justice ministries for two years. The program offers the opportunity for service in the United States (U.S.-2 track) and around the world (international track). The winter deadline for applications for the GMF U.S.-2 track is February 1, 2023. The spring deadline is April 1, 2023. Interested candidates can learn more here. Hear directly why the Global Mission Fellows program is so transformative from US-2 GMFs.
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Mentors needed for summer camps
All God’s Children Camp is looking for mentors this summer. There are three opportunities to serve: June 18-23August 6-11, and August 13-18. This is a wonderful opportunity to serve locally. Also, this is a great mission trip for youth groups and other small groups and it’s free. Please contact Camp Coordinator Lori Smith for more information.A ministry of the Virginia Annual Conference, All God’s Children Camp is a weeklong overnight camp for children ages 7 to 12, with an incarcerated parent. Campers have an opportunity to participate in all the physical activities the camp has to offer such as boating, swimming, hiking, archery, music, crafts, and Bible study, along with a conflict resolution/self-esteem-building class. Learn more…
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Foundation for Evangelism Local Church Grant Cycle now open
The Foundation for Evangelism is now accepting applications for the 2023 Equipping the Local Church grant cycle. A total of $350,000 is available for grants of $5,000 or $10,000 to small and medium church congregations, or clusters of churches working together, in a Wesleyan-tradition denomination.The grant is intended to help launch an experiment or initiative to share the Gospel, faith stories, and invite others into a relationship with Jesus. Any church or group of churches fitting the criteria may applyGrants will be awarded in the summer of 2023.bishop sue interview
Bishop Sue shares about her family, next steps in VAUMCBishop Sue sat down with Communications Director Madeline White to talk about her background and her next steps in the Virginia Conference. The interview was recorded as both a video and a podcast.
You can watch the video or listen to the podcast here…
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New 2023 Lenten resource: Role Play the Gospel
Are you looking for a new way to experience the Lenten Season? A new resource called Role Play the Gospel (or RPtheG) is a project created by a group of Virginia clergy, laity, and the conference Communications Office to help immerse yourself into the events of Holy Week. Build a character, read some Scripture, and turn on those imaginations! More coming soon, so stay tuned! Watch introduction video…
devotions with deacons
New deacon devotion launches
Need a spiritual boost? Join the VAUMC Order of Deacons on Mondays of each week on the VAUMC Connection podcast to center with a weekly 3-5 min. devotional including but not limited to lectionary Scriptures, prayers, and positive messages. You can listen anywhere you can find podcasts or on the VAUMC Digital Hub.
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New webpage highlights VAUMC clergy books
A new webpage on the conference website will share books written by VAUMC clergy (books focusing on faith, UM mission, ministry, and polity) as a way to share with conference clergy and laity potential resources for individual and group study. Clergy can share their information by emailing communications@vaumc.org. Books listed on the webpage are not endorsed by the conference. Learn more…
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Save the Date for Bishop Installation Service
Virginia Conference clergy and laity, please ‘Save the Date’ for the Installation Service for Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson on Saturday, February 11 at 10:30 a.m. at Woodlake UMC (15640 Hampton Park Dr, Chesterfield, VA 23832). Clergy who attend in person are encouraged to robe in either a black robe or white alb with red stole. The event will be livestreamed.

Bishop Sue was assigned to the Virginia Conference at the 2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJ) on November 4, 2022 at Lake Junaluska, NC. She was elected to the episcopacy at the 2016 SEJ and has been serving over the North Georgia Conference. She began on January 1, 2023 in the Virginia Conference.
General Church News
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Yambasu Agriculture Initiative empowers farmers
UM NEWS — Participants from 15 United Methodist annual conferences in Africa sharpened their entrepreneurial and agricultural skills during training at the Songhai Center, a sustainable farming facility in West Africa. The training is part of the Yambasu Agriculture Initiative, a program of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Read more…
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Methodism is best in triplicate
UM COMMENTARY— Five states significantly reduced the effects of the opioid epidemic through one unusual accountability practice. Methodists of all kinds would do well to pay attention, writes the Rev. Jeremy Smith, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Seattle and a frequent blogger on church issues. He writes about the importance of church accountability in empowering women and people of color.
umc gun violence
Church responds to days of mass shootings
UM NEWS–From California to Louisiana to Iowa, United Methodists are responding with prayer, comfort for the grieving and renewed calls for advocacy against gun violence. United Methodists are especially expressing solidarity with Asian American communities left mourning the attacks in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California. In a letter to the church last year, United Methodist bishops called for rejecting “the idolatry of guns.” Read more…
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Tyre Nichols police beating video prompts faith leaders to react with grief, goals
RELIGION NEWS— They expressed grief and prayers for Nichols’ family, as well as called for national and state legislation. Some questioned whether the video of the police beating of Nichols should be watched. Read more…
One Last Word
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and the Lord will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3 NIV
have a blessed day
Please send any issues or concerns to communications@vaumc.org. If you have issues with the formatting trying to forward (especially in Outlook), you can use the following link. More…