Virginia Conference News

2021 e-Advocate logo

April 6, 2021

Take part in the Conference Vision this week:

“to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are lifelong learners who influence others to serve.”

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  • How can you be a lifelong learner this week?

In late March the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) presented TV host and travel author Rick Steves, along with GBHEM’s the Rev. Dr. Tammy Gieselman, to lead an online discussion focused on “Travel as a Spiritual Act.” Steves shared how his travels and experiences with people from different places and cultures have shaped his faith and broadened his perspective on life. Watch recording…
  • How can you be an influencer this week?

What should you do if you witness harassment, or worse, an assault? That question came into focus in March following an attack on a 65-year old Filipino immigrant outside an apartment building in Midtown Manhattan. Caught on surveillance video, the assault is disturbing to watch, but what appears to have happened inside the building is also prompting an outcry. The video shows a man in the lobby glancing up at what’s happening outside. He watches as the perpetrator stomps on the victim repeatedly. He appears to do nothing in response. A few moments later, another man inside the lobby approaches the glass door and shuts it. In this interview on NPR, there are techniques you can use to help as a bystander if you witness an event such as the one above. Learn more…
  • How can you serve this week?

Mustard Seed Migration Grants are now open to United Methodist churches in the United States.
Building on the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s (UMCOR’s) 80-year tradition of helping migrants seeking to build a new life, local churches can assist refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented persons, and migrants of all types in their own communities. Learn more…
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Correction from March 30, 2021 e-Advocate

In last week’s newsletter, it was incorrectly stated Elizabeth River District Superintendent Wayne Snead would receive an honorary doctorate at Virginia Wesleyan University’s (VWU) spring commencement ceremony. Snead will be receiving the Wesley Award during the ceremony. Learn more…

Virginia News

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More district alignment information shared

April 5, 2021–Bishop Sharma Lewis and the District Alignment Team (DAT) shared an update about the ongoing work of district alignment in the Virginia Conference on Feb. 8, 2021. In 2020, this team, formed by Bishop Lewis, worked to answer the question, “How can districts most effectively order themselves for the adaptive challenges of the 21st century? In the first communication, the team shared six forward-looking recommendations that are now being considered for implementation.

Two near-term changes include the appointment of eight district superintendents to oversee the 16 districts effective July 1, 2021, as well as the creation of the District Developer position for the districts.

In the April 5 communication, the team shares updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), a video sharing more information about the District Developer position, and an updated feedback form on the conference website at www.vaumc.org/DAT.

To find all past and present communications and resources about district alignment, please visit www.vaumc.org/DAresources.

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Upcoming district event about youth ministry

The Alexandria and Arlington Bi-Districts are inviting all to an event focused on youth ministry on Thursday, April 8 from 10 to 2:30 p.m. via Zoom with speaker Mike Crain, lead consultant at Ministry Architects.
Youth ministry is difficult in normal times and the pandemic has made it even harder. The Youth Ministry: What’s Now & What’s Next event will offer encouragement, ideas, and strategies for engaging teenagers in faith right now as the pandemic continues as well as in the return to more familiar times. This event is for those who work in youth ministry full-time, part-time, or on a volunteer basis.
This training will be in three parts beginning with the April 8 workshop. After the workshop, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in two additional follow-up conversations with the facilitator to ask additional questions, reflect on any ideas or changes that may have been implemented, and be together (via Zoom) with other youth leaders to share and learn from one another. These workshops will be recorded for those who are unable to attend live.
The cost is $5 for Arlington, Alexandria, & Winchester District participants and $10 for out-of-district attendees. Learn more…
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Where to find the latest Annual Conference news

As more information becomes available, clergy and lay members to Annual Conference can find resources and more at the conference website.
Reigniting Our Call (1) (1)

Clergy encouraged to reignite the call

For the past year, there has been a relentless pace to ministry. Despite the extraordinary amount of work that needed to be done, Jesus taught his disciples to find a sustainable pace of work and time apart. When his energy was depleted, Jesus would find time to go apart, to rest, to sleep, to pray, to relax with friends and family, and this is what he modeled and taught his disciples.
In this joint letter from Bishop Lewis, the Virginia Cabinet, and the Center for Clergy Excellence, learn more about the three distinct ways these entities want to help clergy to survive and even thrive during these days which includes a specific Day Apart for Renewal on May 24. Learn more…
learning to be antiracist wesley

Course on Leading Anti-Racist change at Wesley Seminary

Join Wesley Theological Seminary’s Community Engagement Institute & the seminary’s African American Church Studies Program, co-sponsors for Part Two of a three-part workshop series, on:
  • Naming racism/racial injustice;
  • Dealing with racial trauma as a leader;
  • Sustaining anti-racist work.
Session 2 on April 8 will feature the following guest speakers:
  • The Rev. Vahisha Hasan, Executive Director of Movement in Faith, Director of the SEAL Initiatives at American Baptist College in Nashville, TN
  • The Rev. Violet L. D. Lee, Ph.D., Executive Program Minister of Christ Church United Methodist Church, New York City
  • The Rev. Canon Terence Alexander Lee, Rector, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, NY
  • Cicely Whitfield, Chief Program Officer of Bridges to Independence, Arlington, VA.
These workshops are open to people in any discipline, denomination, and location, and are designed to reach and speak to practitioners who must navigate spaces in which they have to lead tough conversations around race. A special invitation is made to those who are “lone-rangers” in their space/context to join. Fee is $20 per session. You do not need to have attended an earlier workshop in the series to attend.
For more information about this series and Session 3 on April 29, contact theinstitute@wesleyseminary.edu to register for Session 2, visit this link.
survey

Take survey to share your local church technology, communication needs

The Virginia Conference Board of Communications offered technology grants in 2020 to support local churches as they moved their worship services online last year. The grant program also included technology consultations.

The board would like to expand on this initiative and identify other ways to assist local churches with their communications ministry. To help identify areas of greatest need, the board is asking local churches to complete a survey on their communications needs.

The information gathered in the survey will help the Board of Communications create a system for churches to obtain communications advice and expertise. Please take a few minutes to share your feedback by completing this survey Thank you for your help!

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Worship Service from Older Adult Council for Older Adult Recognition

In the United States, we honor older adults, through Older Americans Month each May. To spread the news and to provide pastors with a Sunday “off,” the Older Adult Council will be making available a recorded worship service for churches to use for Sunday, May 2, which is Older Adult Recognition Sunday in The United Methodist Church. All churches within the Virginia Conference are invited to support older adult ministries by sending prayers and taking an offering to support ministries with older adults. This year’s offering will go to support Pinnacle Living’s Samaritan Offering. The Samaritan Offering is from Mother’s Day-Father’s Day annually and your gifts go to ensure the personal security and peace of mind of Pinnacle Living’s most vulnerable residents. Learn more…
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Information about 2021 summer mission trips released

For the spring and summer of 2021, the Bishop and Cabinet are permitting and encouraging congregations to engage in mission work in their local communities. It is the hope of both the Mission & Ministry workgroup and the Cabinet that this local mission work in 2021 will enable churches to strengthen relations with neighbors and organizations in their local area, and even foster new relationships in their local communities.
The Mission & Ministry group is also sharing tools for planning Vacation Bible School in 2021. Learn more…
Apply now

Apply now for conference Benevolence grants

Conference Benevolence Grants are for connectional ministries beyond the local level to cover administrative expenses. Applications for 2022 grants are now available on the conference websiteApplications are due on April 15, 2021.
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Bishop, In-person Work Group share update on singing during COVID-19

You may be asking, “When will we sing again?” The Bishop’s Work Group on Return to In-Person Worship has been steadily and frequently reviewing the latest studies and guidance around singing and wind instruments. As they have learned more, they have shared opportunities to move slowly back toward the rich musical life we associate with the full praise of God. To learn more, read the letter from March 25, 2021.
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Join virtual Lay Servant training this spring

The Rappahannock River District is pleased to offer another virtual training session this May open to all districts. The following classes will be available: Basic, UM Polity, and Leading Worship.

The classes will be held on Zoom on May 1,8, and 15 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Participants must attend all three sessions to receive credit for the class.

If you have any questions, please contact the district Director of Lay Servant Ministries, Pastor Kevin Elmore at kevinelmore@vaumc.org.

Learn more information with the district flyer.
Lay Servant Training is a leadership development program for our laity in the UMC. It can help anyone who is interested in learning more in their pursuit of being a better leader and servant for Christ’s church. These classes can be used as tools in discerning God’s call for your personal walk and ministry. If you are a Lay Servant, you must attend the ENTIRE course in order to receive credit for certification or recertification. Recertification is required every three years for both Certified Lay Servants and Certified Lay Speakers.
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Deadline for PPP loans extended until May 31, 2021

The United Methodist Credit Union (TUMCU) is proud to have helped hundreds of United Methodist churches and related organizations receive critical funding through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. So many churches and faith-based organizations are struggling to keep their doors open and their ministries alive – and this program can help. TUMCU is ready to assist members in securing these forgivable loans as quickly as possible. Because of the extended timeframe of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SBA is sponsoring another round of PPP funding, and TUMCU would like to assist as many ministries as it can. To this end, TUMCU has just opened the online portal to these new PPP funds and ask that you share this information with a trustee, finance committee member, pastor, or COM chair at your church. Since some of the rules have changed since the first round of loans (including some eligibility changes), please check out their PPP information pageThe deadline for new applications to the
Payroll Protection Program (PPP) has now been extended until May 31, 2021.
wesley merit scholarship

Wesley Merit Scholarships make seminary affordable; application deadline June 1

It’s not too late to apply to Wesley Theological Seminary. It’s been a difficult year – but now, more than ever, Wesley believes God is calling people to lead change in the world and the church. Wesley is there to journey with and equip students to accept that call, with classes and community in the format they need.
Move to their residential campus in Washington, DC, or remain in your own context with online and hybrid courses. In either format, you can engage the unique context of faith and life in Washington, DC as well as Wesley’s diverse community and worship through weekly in-person and online activities as well as during Wesley Community Days, community-wide celebrations two to three times per semester. Get the education you want in the format you need. To be considered for merit scholarships, apply by June 1More information and to apply…
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Join the weekly Chapel Service at the Virginia Conference Center

You are invited to join the staff at the Virginia United Methodist Center for Wednesday morning chapel services. The services are conducted on Zoom and run from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. each Wednesday morning. The service features guest clergy and laypeople from around the conference.
This week, April 7, the Rev. Claire Miller, Bethesda-Patmos Cooperative Parish, will lead worship.
Upcoming April leaders:
  • The Rev. Jonathan Fuller, Assistant Director of Residence Life at Randolph-Macon College, April 14
  • The Rev. Jason Stanley, Elizabeth River District Revitalization, April 21
  • The Rev. Beth Givens, Welborne UMC, April 28
The following Zoom meeting link will be used for all chapel services.
Join Zoom Meeting:
https://zoom.us/j/94938013018
Meeting ID: 949 3801 3018
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,94938013018# US (Germantown)
8558801246,,94938013018# US Toll-free
wesley seminary

Wesley Theological Seminary All-Online Summer Term Course Registration Is Now Open!

Plan your summer with Wesley. Their all-online Summer Term course will enable you to study this summer safely and from wherever you may be! Just a few of this summer’s course offerings:
  • Biblical Storytelling – Dr. Tracy Radosevic
  • The Church and the Civil Rights Movement – Dr. C. Anthony Hunt
  • Spirituality and Ecojustice – Dr. Beth Norcross
  • Church Finances – Dr. Lovett Weems
  • Music and the Civil Rights Movement – Dr. Carolyn Rosen
  • Social Justice in Cinema – Dr. Dawn Cooper Barnes
  • Introduction to Disability & Deaf Ministry – The Rev. Leo Yates
Register early to avoid disappointment – classes fill up quickly! Registration closes for degree, non-degree and certificate courses May 21 . Learn more…
resource hub

Join resourcing Facebook group for church communications, technology

You are invited to join the Virginia Conference Resource Hub. This page has been created by the conference Board of Communications and the conference Communications Office. The goal is to provide a space to share information and resources about various topics related to church communications, technology, discipleship, and more. This is a place where those who have questions and those with experience and answers can collaborate, assist, and equip one another. Join group…
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Guidance for COVID vaccinations for clergy, church staff

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) released a guideline defining “Clergy/ Faith Leaders” as Frontline Essential Workers on Feb. 23, 2021. With the new guideline, clergy are available to schedule a vaccination appointment as phase 1b. However, the document doesn’t clarify if church staff members are included in this categorization.
The Virginia Annual Conference verified with VDH, which is consistent with the guidelines, and encourages clergy and church staff to schedule vaccinations under the following guidelines. Learn more…
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Join the 2021 Bible Challenge

Bishop Lewis has encouraged the clergy and laity of the Virginia Conference to read the Bible in a year since 2017. Each year has featured a different way of reading.
Commit to reading the Bible all the way through Genesis-Revelation in 2021. You can access the daily readings by visiting the conference website or BibleGateway.com.