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The Virlina District Board - Church of the Brethren, Inc. has called Mary Sink St. John to serve as Director of District Conference, Nurture and Witness. She began work on March 1, 2019. This new 2/3 time position replaces the former Associate District Executive Minister position.
Mary graduated from the Lord Botetourt High School in Daleville, Virginia in 1983 and from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (English) in 1987. Mary is a member of the Ninth Street Church of the Brethren in Roanoke. She formerly served the district as the first full time Program Director at Camp Bethel (1991-96) and as Director of Children, Youth and Young Adult Ministries (2007-16). She has served denominationally on the Outdoor Ministries Association Steering Committee and on the national junior high youth conference team. Mary has coordinated the last three Virlina District bus trips to National Youth Conference. She is married to Frank St. John. They are the parents of three children, Sam, Maggie and Betsy.
COORDINATOR OF CHILDREN, YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULT MINISTRIES
Joy A. Murray began as Coordinator of Children, Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Virlina District of the Church of the Brethren on August 1. She has been a member of Central Church of the Brethren for 14 years. During that time she has served as Youth Director/ Minister. Joy brings 39 years of experience working with youth to the position. The position is funded by “Seed, Scattered and Sown: Reaching Beyond This Generation.”
Born in Chicago, Ilinois, she grew up in Nebraska and graduated from South Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Indiana. She has taken college classes from Shenandoah Bible College and Virginia Western Community College. For more than twenty years she has been employed as an Instructional Assistant in Special Education at Mountain View Elementary School in Roanoke County. She has been married to Mike for 39 years. They have two married sons and four wonderful grandchildren.
Joy was fortunate to be raised in a Christian home. She spent many hours on the front pew of churches as a child. Her mother is a gifted and talented organist/pianist/musician. She become a Christian as a young child. Joy feels very strongly about helping people become all that God means for them to be, to have a growing faith, and to be comfortable sharing the Gospel with others, be it by word or deed. She may be reached at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or at <email@example.com>.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED AT DISTRICT RESOURCE CENTER
The District Resource Center has a large volume of printed resources, including books and periodicals. We need volunteers to record which resources we have so we can make them more easily accessible for others to borrow. This would be a great project for youth who are looking for community service or volunteer hours. Call the office or email Mary Sink St. John if you are interested: 95400 362-1816 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
ANNUAL CONFERENCE WRAP UP VIDEO is AVAILABLE
ACHIEVEMENT SUNDAY - NOVEMBER 17, 2019
Virlina District Achievement Sunday will be celebrated on Sunday, November 17, with a special offering in our congregations to benefit the mission and ministry of the Virlina District including Camp Bethel (divided 80/20). This event, sponsored by the Virlina District Commission on Stewardship, allows congregations and individual members to share, over and above the ordinary self-allocation giving, in the work of the Lord which we all do together. A special bulletin insert and a cover letter is attached to this email or enclosed with the U.S. Mail version for every pastor and contact person explaining the details.
DISASTER RESPONSE OFFERING FOR HURRICANE DORIAN
As of October 30, 2019 we have received $12,385.56 from twenty congregations and six individuals. We will continue to receive offerings from our congregations to underwrite various efforts in response to this storm that has devastated various parts of the United States and the Bahamas. Please send your check to us (Virlina District Resource Center – 3402 Plantation Road, NE, Roanoke, VA 24012) with the following inscription on the memo line: “Hurricane Dorian Offering – Account #33509.”
CHRISTMAS TOGETHER BANQUET - DECEMBER 5, 2019
Camp Bethel's Christmas TOGETHER Banquet on Thursday, December 5, beginning at 6:30 p.m. includes an excellent dinner and fun Christmas program in our festive, decorated Ark Dining Hall. Your gift of $50 per person (larger gifts accepted) will provide much needed year-end funding for Camp Bethel. Our collective support of Camp Bethel puts TOGETHERness into practice as described in Acts 2:43-47. Please reserve a special place for your family or group by November 28 at www.CampBethelVirginia.org/Christmas-Together.
WINTER CAMP - DECEMBER 30-31, 2019
Winter Camp is a fun and spiritual holiday program for 1st through 12th graders led by our reunited Summer Staff. $70 includes four meals, lodging and program including Group Games, Glow-in-the-Dark Gym Party, a big bonfire, Bible study, crafts, hiking, nature fun, skits, sledding and other snow fun (if it snows), worship, wagon ride, summer photos slide show, 2020 camp preview... and Camp Bethel stickers! You can register for winter camp at www.CampBethelVirginia.org/winter-camp.
CLERGY TAX SEMINAR - JANUARY 25, 2020
Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to participate in this online seminar. Saturday November 16, 2019
Learn how to file clergy taxes correctly and legally.
Comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions.
Earn 0.3 CEUs - requires attendance in the first session.
The annual Clergy Tax Seminar will consist of two sessions:
In Session 1, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST, will focus on the rules surrounding Clergy Tax Returns, including who is subject to these rules, what income is subject to tax, and how to reduce total tax liability using various methods, including housing allowance, business expenses, and medical reimbursement plans. The court case around the housing allowance will also be discussed. Credit for 0.3 CEUs will be available for attending Session 1 only.
In Session 2, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. EST, participants will complete a clergy tax return using H&R Block's highest tier (Premium and Business) downloadable software.
This seminar is highly recommended for all pastors and other church leaders who wish to understand clergy taxes, including treasurers, steward commission chairs, and church board chairs.
Sponsors: The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary.
10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. EST - Morning session
1:00-1:30 p.m. EST - Lunch on your own
1:30-3:30 p.m. EST - Afternoon session
Registration and Cost
Registration is $40 per person (generally nonrefundable to keep fees and overhead low). Current Bethany, TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH, and Earlham School of Religion students may attend the seminar at no cost, although registration is still required to reserve space and will allow us to provide you with web access to the seminar; instructions and handouts will be sent a few days prior to the event. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. Prompt registration is advised - registration deadline is January 15, 2020.
Deb Oskin has been doing clergy tax returns since 1989, when her husband left seminary to pastor a small rural Church of the Brethren congregation. As a pastor's wife and later as a tax professional, she learned the tax problems and pitfalls associated with the IRS’s identification of clergy as “hybrid employees." In 2011, after twelve years with H&R Block, Deb left to start her own tax practice, specializing in clergy taxes. Clergy clients now make up 75 percent of her client base.
2020 MINISTERS AND SPOUSES RETREAT – FEBRUARY 28-29, 2020
The 2020 Virlina District Ministers and Spouses Retreat will be held on February 28-29, 2020 at the Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center on U.S. 501 between Big Island and Lynchburg, VA (1 Eagle Eyrie Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24503). Nancy S. Heishman, Director of Ministry for the Church of the Brethren will lead the event. Her theme is “The Power of Sacred Stories.”
The three sessions will focus on the following texts:
SESSION 1: Watching for Where the Spirit Blows – John 3:1-21
SESSION 2: From the Margins to the Center – John 4:1-42
SESSION 3: Having the Sense to See – John 9:1-41
This event provides .3 CEU credits for ordained or commissioned ministers. The cost of the event is $150 for couples (or double occupancy), $100 for single occupancy and $40 for commuters (meals included). The Commission on Ministry will provide scholarship up to 50% of the cost for those who need it. You may find the brochure and registration material at http://www.virlina.org/resources/downloads/send/5-miscellaneous/97-ministers-spouses-retreat-2020.html.
UPCOMING CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS EVENTS
Registration for 2020 Denominational Workcamps opens on January 16 at 8 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Go to the website at www.brethren.org/workcamps for more information.
Other upcoming youth and young adult events include:
Junior High November 3, 2019 is the National Junior High Sunday. The theme for 2019 is "Strong and Courageous" based on Joshua 1:8. Worship resources are available on the website at www.brethren.org/yya/jr-high-resources.html.
Senior High February 2, 2020 is the Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday. For more information go to www.souperbowl.org.
Christian Citizenship Seminar 2020 will be held April 25-30, 2020. Registration for this event begins on December 2, 2019. Information may be found on the website at www.brethren.org/yya/ccs/.
May 3, 2020 is our National Youth Sunday. The theme and worship materials will be posted online in early 2020.
Young Adult Ministry Summer Service (MSS) is a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren who spend 10 weeks of summer working in the church (local congregation, district office, camp, or national program). Applications are due on Jan. 10, 2020. Go to www.brethren.org/yya/mss/ for more information.
The National Young Adult Conference will be held on May 22-25, 2020 at Montreat Conference Center (North Carolina). Registration opens on January 20, 2020. For more information on this event go to the website at www.brethren.org/yac/. For details regarding events, contact Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at email@example.com or (847) 429-4385.
PILGRIMAGE XXIV - MARCH 20-22, 2020
Pilgrimage XXIV will be held March 20-22, 2020, at Camp Bethel. Individuals from 60 congregations in our district have participated in this spiritual retreat for adults. Pilgrimage is for everyone who wants to draw closer to God. It is for the young and old, for the new Christian and the one who has been a Christian for decades. The retreat includees spiritual talks, small groups, fun times, inspiring worship services, and much more. God continues to work in wonderful ways through this ministry! Prayerfully consider your participation. For more information, please contact Karen Haynes at (336) 765-5263 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our website at http://www.experiencepilgrimage.com/.
ANNUAL CONFERENCE COST UPDATE FOR 2020
The Program and Arrangements Committee concluded their planning meeting for 2020. Registration fees for the 2020 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids will be $125 for non-delegates and $305 for delegates. The hotel costs will be $119/night (+tax) for the Amway Grand Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott, and $129/night for the JW Marriott. All three hotels will have free self-parking.
THE XENOS PROJECT
Intercultural Ministries of the Church of the Brethren has launched a new and exciting venture called the Xenos Project. The word Xenos is a Greek word meaning stranger or alien. The purpose of Xenos is to build a community of congregations feeling called to speak up and take action supporting immigrants within our nation. A website has been created where congregations who are involved and working on immigration can communicate with each other and with other congregations interested in becoming involved. The Xenos website will be a place for a respectful, biblically centered conversation, building into a network of those concerned about our brothers and sisters in need—about immigration / family separations / refugee / asylum issues and justice.
You can learn more about the Xenos project by visiting the website at www.brethren.org/xenos. Begin by taking our survey of congregational concerns and actions about immigrant, refugee, and asylum issues. Ir a la encuesta en español. To become more involved in the project, or if you need additional information, please contact us at email@example.com.
COMPELLING VISION PROCESS
Everyone is invited and encouraged to participate in an event. In preparation, please: pray for the church and the Spirit’s guidance as we move through this process; visit the Compelling Vision website at http://www.brethren.org/ac/compelling-vision.html, and read about the Compelling Vision process (especially if you were not at Annual Conference and are unfamiliar with it); reflect on scriptures that inform our ministry and life together as the body of Christ; and bring a Bible and, if possible, a smart phone, tablet, or laptop to the event.
NEW COMMUNITY PROJECT 2020 LEARNING TOURS
New Community Project 2020 Learning Tours will take folks of all ages to Nepal (January), the Ecuadorian Amazon (early June), the Dineh reservation (NM) (late June), Denali National Park, AK (early August) and Arctic Village, AK (mid-August). Low cost, big experience of God's earth and God's people - both their challenges and their beauty and resilience. More detail may be found at http://www.newcommunityproject.info.
UPDATE FROM THE COMPELLING VISION PROCESS TEAM
Brothers and Sisters,
We want to express our gratitude to all who participated in the Compelling Vision conversations at Annual Conference for your prayerful and thoughtful engagement. The conversations were deep and rich. What a sacred honor and blessing it has been to read through the data generated by those conversations and in doing so to be given a glimpse into the hearts, minds, and souls of our brothers and sisters across the denomination.
While differences remain, it is clear we all share an abiding love for Jesus Christ and the Church and a genuine desire to live as faithful and passionate disciples in a turbulent world. A report on the data from the Compelling Vision conversations which took place at Annual Conference is now available at www.brethren.org/compellingvision. As someone who attended Annual Conference and participated in those conversations, we thought you might be particularly interested in this report and wanted to make sure you had direct access to it. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the weeks following Annual Conference, the Compelling Vision Working Group and the Compelling Vision Process Team joined into the Compelling Vision Team. As this united team continues its work to articulate the emerging and compelling vision, we invite you to join us in a season of prayer, that the Holy Spirit might continue to move in our midst as the body of Christ known as the Church of the Brethren, for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good.
In Gratitude and Hope, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Compelling Vision Team
WHAT EXACTLY IS DISASTER RESPONSE?
Who can go on a trip? What is a disaster response trip like? Do I need to be a skilled carpenter or electrician to go? How can I help children? The Disaster Response Committee welcomes the opportunity to speak to congregations who want to learn more about Brethren Disaster Ministries. Contact Virlina's Co-Coordinators, Ed and Susan Mckimmy, by phone (540)354-5345 or e-mail <email@example.com> to schedule a presentation for your congregation.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT BACKGROUND CHECKS?
Did you know that the District Resource Center can run background checks for church employees and volunteers? Completing background checks for those persons who work with minors or volunteer regularly is a good practice to start and maintain. Congregations looking to hire new staff who will be interacting with minors, operating church vehicles, or managing funds, need to seriously consider having a background check run on applicants. Each check costs only $15.00. To learn more or request an authorization form for a background check, contact the office (540) 362-1816.
2019 -- WORLD HUNGER AUCTION ACTIVITIES
DISASTER RESPONSE INFORMATION:
Brethren Disaster Ministries Still Seeking Volunteers in North Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico!
Brethren Disaster Ministries is sponsoring several weeks of clean-up help in St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Puerto Rico. The Disaster Response Committee of the Virlina District will provide a total of $750.00 to help with airfare to and from St. Thomas and Puerto Rico if going in the upcoming months. There is a limit to $150.00 per person. Please do not hesitate to contact us about this opportunity!! Volunteers from Virlina congregations can contact Ed or Susan McKimmy (540) 354-5345 if interested in going and if interested in applying for financial aid.
Brethren Disaster Ministries is not just for those who like to work in clean-up and construction. Children’s Disaster Services is another way to volunteer your time when disasters strike. Children often experience trauma and need nurturing individuals to care for them and play with them. These volunteers need specific training, however. If you are interested in receiving this training, please let Ed and Susan know at (540) 354-5345, so that a training session might be organized for people in our district.
bridgewater college's church travel team available!
The mission of the Bridgewater College Church Travel Team Program is to strengthen the church/college relationship and prepare students for future church leadership. This mission is carried out through student Church Travel Teams that provide fresh and energetic leadership for worship services, Sunday school classes and other events in local congregations.
For many years, Bridgewater College students have generously given of their time and talents to provide leadership in Church of the Brethren congregations. These Church Travel Teams provide significant ministry experience for our students and a valuable service to the congregations that host them.
If you have hosted a Bridgewater College Church Travel Team in the past, we hope you will do so again. If not, we encourage you to have a team of our talented and dedicated students serve your congregation! Please feel free to contact Chaplain Robbie Miller any time at firstname.lastname@example.org and our Student Church Travel Team Coordinator Christa Craighead (after August 28) at email@example.com with any questions you may have.
The form to request a team can be accessed here: BW Church Travel Team Request Form