Board of Laity issues letter to the Annual Conference

April 3, 2019 -- Because lay ministry has been instrumental in the spread of the gospel from the earliest times and especially in the establishment of The United Methodist Church, and because God, through baptism and confirmation, continues to call each believer into ministry, the Virginia Conference Board of Laity lifts up the crucial importance of lay ministry and urges lay people to take this call seriously, committing themselves to grow in faith, mission, witness and ministry. We thank our pastors who commit themselves to leading lay people to discover and develop their ministries and who partner with them in this great adventure of faith and discipleship. More...

Varied response to GC2019 continues in Virginia Conference

April 2, 2019 -- A little over a month ago, delegates from around the world met in St. Louis for the Special Session of General Conference to discuss the work of the Commission on a Way Forward and human sexuality. At the conference, delegates passed the Traditional Plan, a plan that reinforces church bans on same-sex unions and “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy, by a 438-384 vote. Following this decision, reaction from laity, clergy and congregations was mixed. While still at General Conference, the Western Jurisdiction declared that it would continue to work for inclusion together. The Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA), proponents of the Traditional Plan, shared a statement following the conference and said they were thankful that the church “reaffirmed its sexual ethics, teachings on marriage and its ordination standards for clergy.” The association shared that they are committed to working with other United Methodists to address “factors that have contributed to dysfunction and ineffectiveness” including a gracious exit provision or the possibility of launching a new Methodist movement. Last week a grassroots movement created and shared a letter response in opposition to General Conference 2019. The letter called for the end of LGBTQIA discrimination in The United Methodist Church. In a week, the letter has garnered over 2,000 signatures from laity and active and retired clergy in the conference. The letter shared, “We hear God calling all disciples to greater faithfulness in the midst of this time of pain and lament. At Christ’s invitation, we continue gathering around the wide-open Communion table as one family.” More...

Advocate magazine to discontinue at the end of 2019

March 19, 2019 - Virginia Advocate Editor and conference Director of Communications Madeline Pillow announced today that the Advocate magazine, the longtime flagship communication tool of the Virginia Conference, will cease production at the end of 2019. The decision was made by the Board of Communications and approved by Common Table. More…

Bishop Peter Weaver responds to savage attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand

March 15, 2019 -- Bishop Peter D. Weaver, who is serving as interim bishop of the Virginia Annual Conference, has issued a statement in response to the savage attacks and murder of dozens of children, women, and men who were worshipping in the "quiet and calm" of Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand. Click here to read his statement.

Bishop Lewis to go on medical leave for six months

March 4, 2019 -- Bishop Sharma D. Lewis announced on Mar. 4, during the “State of the Church” address that focused on General Conference 2019, that she will be on medical leave for six months. In late December 2018, Bishop Lewis underwent a hip surgery and then had an additional surgery in January. This made her unable to attend General Conference in St. Louis from Feb. 23-26. Lewis shared she will have to undergo two additional surgeries due to ongoing complications related to her original hip surgery; the first is scheduled for this Thursday.  More...

President of UMC Bishops issues pastoral letter in aftermath of General Conference

March 1, 2019 -- In the aftermath of the Special Session of the General Conference, Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, President of the Council of Bishops, has issued a pastoral letter based on James 3:13-16. Congregations asked to read Council of Bishops' letter during Sunday’s morning worship. More...

Day 1 Update: General Conference 2019

Feb. 23, 2019 -- Martha Stokes, Head Laity delegate, and the Rev. Tom Berlin, Head Clergy delegate, contextualized what the 864 delegates and Council of Bishops did today, Feb. 23, 2019, in the first day of the Special Session of General Conference 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. Today was a day of prayer for about six hours and ended with a time of preparation which included time to understand parliamentary procedure. You can hear from Stokes and Berlin at the conference Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vaumconf/

Work group formed by Bishop Lewis focuses on ‘way forward’

Feb. 7, 2019 -- A work group formed by Bishop Sharma D. Lewis has been meeting since July 2, 2018 to discuss the work of the Commission on a Way Forward and in anticipation of the results from the Special Session of General Conference (GC) in 2019. Known as the Bishop’s Way Forward Work Group, its members represent individuals involved with clergy and laity of the conference as well as those related to the financial considerations of the Virginia Conference. More...

Open doors, hearts during government shutdown

Feb. 6, 2019 -- As Oakton UMC member Helen Albanese read stories about the government shutdown in the Jan. 17 edition of the Washington Post, a reader comment at the bottom of one story grabbed her attention.  “I saw how they were all going stir crazy now that they had all cleaned out their closets and bookshelves and taken their stuff to charities, thanks to Marie Kondo’s Netflix program about tidying up,” Albanese said. “Post stories also frequently reported that these furloughed people were spending money at cafes buying coffee and snacks while worrying about having no income.” More...

Churches step up during government shutdown

Feb. 6, 2019 --The government shutdown from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019 was the longest shutdown in United States history. For individuals affected it meant living with loss of payment which, in turn, affected their families and their livelihood. For churches, it meant finding a way to be the hands and feet of Christ to those affected. From Staunton to Virginia Beach to Northern Virginia, churches around the Virginia Conference found ways to be of service. From providing free community meals for furloughed workers to free haircuts, ways to give ramped up. More...

Virginia delegation takes time for prayer before General Conference 2019

Jan 30. 2019 -- The Virginia delegation to General Conference held a time of retreat on January 25, 2019 at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond. The retreat was also open to other clergy and laity who wanted to participate in this time of prayer with the delegation. The retreat provide time for prayer, discernment and centering prior to the Special Session of General Conference which will be held in St. Louis from Feb. 23-26. Danielle Hettmann, a young adult in the conference, offered her leadership in planning and organizing the retreat. More...

Church assists furloughed workers in local community

Jan 23. 2019 -- The Rev. Michelle Matthews and members of The Kingstowne Communion in Alexandria weren’t able to worship together because of the wintry weather on Sunday morning, Jan. 13, but it didn’t stop them from doing what they always do – looking for ways to live out the church’s mission.  That snowy evening, their hearts were heavy because of the partial government shutdown and the effect it was having on countless people in their community. Two of the church’s nursery workers have loved ones serving in the Coast Guard. Unlike other branches of the military, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which operates on emergency orders because of the ongoing shutdown, so its members aren’t getting paid. The church wanted to help. More...

Ride-sharing pastors take their ministry on the road

Seungsoo (R.J.) Jun and Robert Stutes, elders in the Virginia Conference, serve as drivers of a ride-sharing service. Both drive for Uber and share in an article how they are living out their call in a different way.  More...

A Story of Shelter (2.0)

The traditional spot of Jesus’ birth is hardly more than a cleft in a rock. The cave beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem preserves the location with a silver star that pilgrims kneel to kiss as they filter through the hot, crowded space that would have served as a stable. But for Joseph and Mary, it was shelter from the night. As we see the devastating images from California in the wake of the Camp Fire, maybe you wonder like I do—what would we do if we lost the place we call home? How would we even start to rebuild? How could those many, many thousands of people rebuild? More...

Ted Smith named Director of Connectional Ministries


 Dr. Ted Smith

 The Rev. Marc Brown
 

Bishop Sharma D. Lewis is pleased to announce the new Director of Connectional Ministries appointment effective July 1, 2019. The Rev. Dr. Theodore Smith, currently serving as the district superintendent of the Rappahannock River District, will be the new Director of Connectional Ministries. Smith will replace the Rev. Marc Brown who will leave the Extended Cabinet having faithfully served as the Director of Connectional Ministries since 2008. Please join Bishop Lewis in congratulating these servants for their diligent hard work in the Virginia Annual Conference.

Conference event shares information on upcoming General Conference

As head of the Virginia Conference delegation to the Special Session of the General Conference, Martha Stokes has invested countless hours in study and prayer and conversation, preparing herself as best as she can for the three-day gathering in St. Louis, now less than five months away. This journey has taken her into local churches around the conference, where she has heard divergent opinions on issues related to human sexuality, on ordination of self-avowing gay and lesbian clergy, and on same-sex marriages. “I’ve been wonderfully surprised at times, when people come up afterwards and say, ‘We recognize, even in our congregation that we have lots of differences of opinion, but we didn’t realize until today how much we love each other,’” Stokes said on Sept. 26, at the Commission on a Way Forward Q&A event. At the 90-minute Q&A event, Stokes joined Bishop Sharma D. Lewis and the Rev. Tom Berlin – lead pastor at Floris UMC in Herndon and clergy head of the Virginia Conference delegation to General Conference – to provide an overview of the work done by the Commission on a Way Forward and to answer about 15 questions, some submitted in advance, some on the night of the gathering.  More... 

Son follows father’s footsteps as a church planter

Aug. 14, 2018 - The Rev. Minoo Kim began his middle school basketball career the same year Yao Ming began his NBA career. Kim was 5-foot-9, tall for his age. Ming was 7-foot-6, tall for his species. But there were assumptions made by coaches and fellow players, that Kim would grow to be the next Ming. Never mind that Kim is Korean-American and Ming is Chinese. Never mind the genetic factors at play. The basketball community in Central New Jersey was convinced they had a Yao Ming 2.0 in their midst. Alas, it didn’t happen. Kim grew two more inches through middle school and then stopped growing, but he was a solid contributor on his high school basketball team. Assumptions about him weren’t limited to the basketball court. The son of a United Methodist pastor, Kim heard it all growing up as a “PK” or pastor’s kid, with some assuming he was a rebel and others assuming he was a saint. More...

Church’s ministry makes 'safe zone' for young people

July 2018 - A conversation with the Rev. Timothy Kirven begins with his enthusiasm level on high and rises up from there, as he talks passionately about the new Safe Zone ministry at Worship and Praise Church on Richmond’s East End. But, then suddenly, the enthusiasm is gone, as he considers the recent past. “I’ve probably done over 100 funerals for young people under the age of 25 over the last four to five years,” Kirven said. Amid the cries of those mourning such unthinkable loss, he heard a call, from parents and youth, desperate for a safe haven. More...

Advocates, witnesses remain in spite of Mountain Valley Pipeline project

June 7, 2018 - The Rev. Morris Fleischer can look out of his office window at Newport-Mt. Olivet UMC (NMO-UMC) in Newport, Va., and see the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Once in place, the pipeline will cross Rt. 42 about 60 yards to the north of the church. Currently, the initial clearing for the pipeline has begun with a group of hardwoods already toppled to the ground. The MVP, according the website, will be a “natural gas pipeline system that spans approximately 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia — and as an interstate pipeline will be regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).” The pipeline will be constructed and owned by Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, which is a joint venture with other partners. More...

Virginia Conference Communications office staff wins five UMAC awards

The Virginia Conference Communications office brought home five awards from the denomination-wide communications and media awards banquet held during the annual meeting of United Methodist Association of Communicators (UMAC), March 7-9 in Philadelphia, Pa. The Virginia United Methodist Advocate won a first place award in the magazine category of the Print Publications class which includes the teamwork of editor Madeline Pillow, graphic designer Cathryn Huff and database manager Brenda Capen as copy editor. More...

United Methodist leaders respond to #metoo and #churchtoo movement

Over the recent weeks and months, and continuing on a seemingly daily basis, the media have been saturated with stories of persons coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct perpetrated by individuals in positions of power and authority. The pervasiveness of the power imbalance is a part of every story being told. Responses have ranged from immediate termination of employment of the accused and bribery for silence to invitations for victims to feel shame. More...

Bishop Lewis announces appointment of three new district superintendents

Bishop Sharma D. Lewis said she is pleased to announce three new district superintendent appointments effective July 1, 2018. The Rev. Dr. Victor R. Gomez will serve the Harrisonburg District. The Rev. Sylvia S. Meadows will serve the James River District. The Rev. Steven J. Summers will serve the Winchester District. More...

Charlottesville church remains a sanctuary 

The world watched as a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville turned violent and deadly in August of 2017. Since then, the city has continued to experience a sporadic influx of white supremacists, white nationalists and Neo-Nazis, most recently on Dec. 14, 2017 when a handful of cases from August went to court, including the preliminary hearing of James Field, bringing back hateful imagery and profound sadness from the summer.First United Methodist in Charlottesville opened its doors on Dec. 14 as a sanctuary for all who would come, partnering with Congregate Charlottesville and the Charlottesville Clergy Collective to bring in mental health professionals as well as interfaith clergy and lay leaders from the area.  More...

Pastor leads summer devotions on the water

“There’s a lot of grace out here,” the Rev. Gary Heaton says as he paddles his canoe on the Roanoke River to what’s known as “Downriver Devotion.” Heaton, over the last four years, has paddled this same course and knows where the rocks are as well as the sandbars. Having seen the river at high and low water, he is in active relationship as he paddles. Every Wednesday during the summer, Heaton has paddled to the sycamore tree at the Greenway mile post 22.7 at noon. More...

Call letter for special session of General Conference

The Council of Bishops (COB) has called a Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. More...

Commentary: The Mirth and Mockery of Methodism

Apr. 10, 2017 - Learn more about "The Mirth and Mockery of Methodism" in a commentary from the May issue of The Advocate. More...

Bishop Lewis issues letter about Way Forward, upcoming Judicial Council meeting

Mar. 29, 2017 - Bishop Sharma D. Lewis issued a letter addressing the need for prayer for both the Commission on a Way Forward as well as the upcoming Judicial Council meeting at the end of April. More... 

Q& A about recent VIM Cambodian pilgrimage

Mar. 1, 2017 - Nick Ruxton, conference videographer, and Nancy Yarborough, York River District lay leader, were part of a recent pilgrimage to Cambodia. The focus of this Volunteers in Mission (VIM) trip was to provide and opportunities for sharing, growing and learning from and with both laity and clergy of the Methodist mission in Cambodia.
You can also learn more about the trip in the April issue of the Advocate magazine. More...

New series examines church apportionments

Feb. 24, 2017 -- What are apportionments? They are one of the ways the connection of The United Methodist Church is exemplified. Learn more in this first article in a series that will explore apportionments.  More... 

Madeline Pillow named Communications director

Jan. 1, 2017 -- Madeline Pillow, who currently serves as editor of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, has officially been named Virginia Conference Communications director as of Jan. 1, 2017. Pillow was named interim director of Communications for a four-month time period beginning Sept. 1, 2016, following Linda Rhodes' retirement. The decision was formalized by the Common Table Personnel Committee. More... 

Hopewell church partners with elementary school for hurricane relief

Nov. 1, 2016 - What started as an outreach effort has grown into a partnership between one church and elementary school in Hopewell, Va. Relief supplies were collected by members of Wesley UMC from students at Patrick Copeland Elementary School on Nov. 1.   More...

Council of Bishops Names 32 Commission Members

Oct. 24, 2016 - The United Methodist Council of Bishops has announced the membership of the Commission on a Way Forward. The Rev. Tom Berlin, pastor of Floris United Methodist Church, Arlington District, Virginia Conference, is a clergy member of the commission. "After three months of diligent and prayerful discernment, we have selected eight bishops, 11 laity, 12 elders and one deacon to serve on the commission," said Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the Council of Bishops. "This group is representative of our theological diversity." More...

5 Talent Academy focuses on ministry outside the church's walls

Oct. 5, 2016 - “Good leaders create spaces for other people to act. Your job as a leader is to give people the capacity for meaningful action,” said Andy Crouch, keynote speaker for the 5 Talent Academy event, Oct. 4. More...

Welcome service for Bishop Lewis, Sept. 17

July 28, 2016 - A welcoming service of worship for Bishop Sharma Lewis will be held at Reveille UMC, 4200 Cary Street Road, Richmond, 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, Sept. 17. Lewis, the first African-American woman elected a bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, has been assigned to lead the Virginia Conference for the next four years. She will begin her term of office on Sept. 1. More ...

 

Cabinet, provisional clergy help with tornado relief

July 21, 2016 - Members of the Virginia Conference Cabinet and newly-commissioned clergy spent all day Wednesday, July 20, working on tornado recovery in Waverly. Waverly is one of three locations where the conference is undertaking long-term recovery efforts to rebuild after an outbreak of tornadoes on Feb. 24 caused loss of life, injuries and severe property damage. More...

Bishop Sharma Lewis to lead Virginia Conference

July 14, 2016 - Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, the first African-American woman elected a bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, has been assigned to lead the Virginia Conference. She will begin her term of office on Sept. 1. More ...

Bishop Cho says fruitfulness is best way to honor deceased leaders

July 14, 2016 - On Thursday, July 14, Bishop Young Jin Cho preached for the Service of Remembrance at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. His sermon was titled “Well-Done, Good and Trustworthy Servant” based on the parables found in Matthew 25. More ...

SEJ Conference elects five bishops before dinner on first day

July 13, 2016 - All five bishops were elected before the dinner break at this year’s Southeastern Jurisdictional (SEJ) Conference being held July 13-15 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in western North Carolina. The new bishops will replace five bishops who are retiring from active service. More ...

United Methodists gather in Roanoke for 234th Annual Conference

June 23, 2016 - Nearly 4,000 clergy and laity representatives of United Methodist churches across Virginia gathered at the Berglund Center in Roanoke June 17-19 for the 234th Annual Conference meeting of worship, mission projects, celebration of ministries and conducting the business of the conference. Theme for the 2016 Virginia Annual Conference was “Thy Will be Done.” Bishop Young Jin Cho presided over the proceedings for the last time before his retirement. More ...

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