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New blog: Each month, the BWC's Center for Clergy Excellence issues an online newsletter, the Sower. This month, the Rev. John Nupp, Director of the Center, asks the question, "How do you show the world you belong to God, that you believe in God's love more than anything else?" Read more.

Racial Justice: All United Methodist Women are invited to a workshop about racial justice on March 9, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., at William Watters UMC. The presentation will be on "The United Methodist Charter for Racial Justice," by Sabrina White. Participants will gain an understanding of what the Bible and The United Methodist Church have to say about racial justice and how we might live that out as sisters and brothers in Christ. Sabrina White is a Harford County resident and has held a variety of positions within the UMW.  For more information please contact Mary Jane Figinski at 443-371-6852, or the Rev. Barry Hidey at 410-322-2052. William Watters UMC is located at 1452 Jarrettsville Road in Jarrettsville.

The Highway To Hanwa: Community UMC in Crofton will be taking their 17th Volunteers in Mission Trip to Zimbabwe in late July/early August. They will be returning to the Hanwa Mission to facilitate the completion of two more major school buildings that will encompass four large classrooms and two administrative offices.The completion of this project will enable the Hanwa Mission School to obtain full certification from The Zimbabwe Ministry of Education. To complete this next phase, the church needs to raise $40,000. They are inviting anyone interested in helping with the vital ministry to make a donation. If you wish to participate, please make your check payable to "CUMC" with ZIM VIM 17 in the memo section and mail it to the ZIM VIM lead, Charlie Moore, at 1168 River Bay Road, Annapolis, MD 21409. All of the VIM team members pay their travel expenses, so 100 percent of your gift goes towards the project.

One sound. One voice. One body: St. Luke's UMC in Reisterstown will host a Worship Explosion Friday, April 28. Held in partnership with the BWC's Young Adult Council, the event is designed to unite young adults in the spirit of worship with dance, mime, song, rap and spoken word. Learn more.

Laity Training: Bel Air UMC is hosting a Lay Pastors Ministry, Inc. International Conference April 28-29. This two-day conference includes 20 workshops, a keynote speaker and a Celebration Dinner. Whether you are interested in developing a caring ministry in your church or you wish to improve and grow your existing ministry, this conference will invigorate your congregational care ministry. Register online. For more information, contact Fred Guenthner.

Advocacy effort: Area faith communities, including The United Methodist Church, are supporting the proposed Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Initiative. This initiative seeks to control the skyrocketing prices of prescription medication. If enacted, this legislation would:

  • require major drug corporations to disclose the basis for the prices of their drugs, including generic, name brand, and specialty drugs, in a timely fashion, including how much they spend on production, research, marketing, and profits;
  • require major drug corporations to provide prior public notice if they plan on increasing the wholesale price of any name brand or specialty drug by 10% or more so that consumers can better plan for such price hikes; and,
  • authorize the Office of the Maryland Attorney General to take legal action to prevent price gouging by major drug corporations.

United Methodists are encouraged to contact their State senators and delegates at 410-841-3000. A petition to voice your support is online.

Stress Less: The Conference Council on Youth Ministries is championing the cause of stress reduction among young people. They offer this listing of Stress Less resources.

Standing with the Vulnerable: In a time in which immigration reform has captured the national spotlight, United Methodists are working to fulfill the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger. See a listing of resources, compiled by the Washington Region, to assist in this ministry.

Good Reads:

  • Rev. Carlee Hallman, retired, and Howard Hallman recently published a book titled, "Moving On: Prayers for Relocating to a Retirement Community." The book is available for free online at www.prayersformovingon.org and from Amazon.
  • The Rev. Lon Chessnutt, retired, has recently published "A Devotional for Progressive Christians." The note on Amazon states, "During a time of intense searching over what it means to be religious, this short book offers some hope. In a practical way—with stories and experience—the author demonstrates how to move from personal reflection to trusting your judgment and engaging the world." Learn more. Copies will also be available for $9 at the Washington Region Leadership Days, at Reservoir High School in Fulton, March 11.
  • Making New Connections: Deaf and hard of hearing people seem to be missing from United Methodist pews. Read how you can make a connection with them in this article by the Rev. Leo Yates.

Thoughts on Leadership: In a time when cynicism is all too common in the church, one young adult leader suggests this article by Lovett Weems, from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, as an antidote: "Lead Positively." 

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Discipleship Opportunities

Scholarships Available: The Baltimore-Washington Conference will once again be offering college scholarships for the Fall 2017 semester. Students can apply through March 1 using an online application system. Scholarships are available to students attending or enrolling in accredited colleges and universities in the United States. Students must be an active member of a church for at least one year and be attending (or will attend) an accredited college or university within the United States full-time. Students will need to provide their official transcript (high school or college) and contact information for two church references (pastor and another member of the church). In addition, the student must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 or higher. Learn more and apply. Please contact Cheryl Cook at 410-309-3446 with any questions.

UMCOR Sunday, (formerly known as One Great Hour of Sharing) will be observed on March 26. A number of resources are available to help churches observe this special Sunday. Watch this excellent video that explains UMCOR's ministry. 

Praying our Way Forward: Beginning on New Year's Day, each annual conference in The United Methodist Church around the world, will have a week to specifically pray for the denomination and its Commission on a Way Forward, which is meeting to explore the church's response to homosexuality and the unity of the Church. The Baltimore-Washington Conference will pray the week of July 23. Individuals and congregations are encouraged to pray and fast during this time of denominational discernment. The Upper Room has developed a website, UMCprays.org, where spiritual leaders and intercessors can share prayers, information and resources.

Order your 2016 Journal: This year's Conference Journal is being printed and produced by an Amazon-owned company. The process for ordering is similar to other online purchases. The cost is $20. Payment will be made at the time you place your online order. The text of the Journal, minus the Alphabetical Clergy, Lay Member and Surviving Spouse listings, (which contain personal contact information) is posted online. Order your 2016 Conference Journal online.

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Learning Events

Problem Gambling Certification Program: Training to provide clergy and lay ministers with basic knowledge about gambling addiction and treatment and recovery resources will be held March 10, 11, 17 and 18, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration, 55 Wade Ave. in Catonsville. The training is free, certification is $50. To register, contact the Rev. John Nupp at . View more info online, or call Dr. Deborah Haskins at 443-691-2536.

Cultivating a Culture of Creativity in Worship: The BWC's Office of Vibrant Communities is hosting a workshop on creativity in worship, Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at First UMC, 6201 Belcrest Road in Hyattsville. Led by Jason Moore of Midnight Oil, the event will explore how to create powerful God experiences. Learn techniques that churches large and small alike can use to make big things happen in worship and beyond. Spend the day looking at fundamental shifts and best practices that will creatively take every form of worship to the next level. Registration, which is $35, closes March 16. For questions contact Jo Chesson  or the Rev. Tony Love. Learn more and register.

Lead like a Woman: Theologian Dr. Renita J. Weems and Executive Coach Jane Creswell will be the featured speakers at the Vital Congregations workshop, "Lead Like a Woman," on April 22-23 at a location to be announced soon. Participants will be encouraged to discover or deepen their leadership abilities. Come expecting to grow as you encounter the spirit of God and connect, re-connect, charge or re-charge yourself to new heights of spiritual growth as a leader. Early Bird registration is $79 until March 1.  Registration between March 2 and April 12 is $89. For more information, contact Jo Chesson or the Rev. Tony Love.   Learn more and register

Leadership Days: Regional Leadership Days will be held throughout the conference in February and March. Learn more.

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Mission Experiences

Urgent need for work teams: The Virginia Conference Disaster Recovery Ministry remains hard at work in areas hit by the February 2016 tornado outbreak and the October 2016 flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. The Conference had a tremendous response from short-term mission teams from June-November, and they have an urgent need for teams throughout 2017. Housing with excellent kitchen facilities is available in each location. There is no charge for teams to serve; teams are only responsible for the cost of their food and transportation, though financial contributions from teams with available resources are welcome. If you would like to know more about specific needs and ways you may serve, contact Forrest White, Long Term Recovery Manager and UMVIM Coordinator for the Virginia Conference, at .

Mission Consultation: The 2017 Eurasia-Central Asia Consultation will be held Friday, May 5, beginning at 8:30 a.m., through Saturday, May 6, until 2:45 p.m., at the BWC Conference Center in Fulton. The Rev. Charles Harrell and Pastor Rob Pierson encourage everyone interested in learning more about the church in Eurasia to attend. A special registration discount rate for those who live in the bounds of the Baltimore-Washington Conference is $105. Learn more.

The Adrienne Terry Affordable Housing Fund Update: Rev. Gerry Green, superintendent of the Greater Washington District, recently issued the Affordable Housing Challenge, urging congregations to participate in an automatic monthly contribution to the Adrienne Terry Fund for Affordable Housing. Ebenezer UMC on Capitol Hill announced that 10 of their leaders (about a quarter of their worship attendance) have committed to contribute $25 per person per month for at least the next two years and they challenged other churches to make a similar commitment. Churches that want to rise to this challenge, can make their automatic monthly contribution online. Learn more.

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Beyond the Conference

THRIVE2017: The Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference and Methodist Theological School of Ohio invite pastors and other church leaders seeking to "do ministry on the edge," to THRIVE2017, April 30 to May 2 in Pittsburgh, Pa. The cost is $425. Speakers include experts in worship, technology, ministry, inclusiveness, theology and more. Learn more.

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