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Event Details
Ministers' Convocation

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - Thursday, January 16, 2014

Registration for this event is now closed. For more information contact Cyndi Schnell at the Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center, (434) 292-5308 or e-mail 



Annual continuing education event for clergy and church professionals in the Virginia Conference. Theme is "Breaking Down the Walls: Transforming Conflict into Restoration." Keynote speakers are Dr. Ellen Ott Marshall and Thomas W. Porter Jr. Preacher for convocation is Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer. Bishop Young Jin Cho will preach at the opening service of Word and Table.

Click here for a brochure with the event schedule, workshop choices, and paper registration (pdf)
Click here for a list of lodging choices near Blackstone (Word)

Workshops on Breaking Down the Walls: Transforming Conflict into Restoration (Held twice on Wednesday – select two to attend)

Applying Family Systems
The Rev. Steven J. Summers, Pastor, Good Shepherd UMC, Richmond District
Whatever its size and culture, every ministry setting is a system. Navigating the waters of conflict within a system, while retaining a healthy sense of self, is an inevitable part of any clergyperson's ministry. In this workshop, we will explore the fundamentals of family systems theory as they relate to transforming such conflict into restoration. We will spend much of our workshop time in processing actual experiences we encounter in ministry.

Organizing Interfaith Justice Ministries
The Rev. Dwala J. Ferrell, Executive Director, Pathways-VA, Inc., James River District
This workshop will explore best practices for developing faith partnerships to identify and address local justice issues. We will look at challenges and opportunities that require mutual respect, appreciation beyond tolerance, and common ground for success. The class will include interactive hands-on opportunities.

Biblical Foundations for Loving One Another in Conflict
The Rev. J. Jeffrey Butcher, Pastor, Stephens City UMC, Winchester District
This class will begin with an examination of selected conflict themes in the Bible and then move to biblical sign posts on the road to forgiveness and reconciliation. Those in the class will be guided to apply Ephesians 4:3, "Making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," in thought and in action and in life. The concluding activity will be based on Psalm 85 to create a visual of the relationship among Truth and Mercy, Justice and Peace.

Listening in Times of Conflict
Dr. Maurice Graham and Dr. Travis Collins, Sheppard’s Staff Ministries, Richmond, VA
This workshop is 90 minutes of practical skills to help you reduce conflict in your church/organizational setting. You will learn your own style of conflict. Come and see if you are an owl, fox, turtle, shark, or teddy bear.

Deeper Prayer
The Rev. Kiok Cho, Deacon, Richmond, VA
Prayer is a relationship with God. Contemplative prayer helps us have intimate relationship with God. Through the workshop, “Deeper Prayer” participants will experience/learn how to strengthen their relationship with God through the practice of Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is one of the most frequently used prayer forms of what is known as contemplative prayer.

Expressing Conflict Visually
Mrs. Sue Mink, Author, Artist, and Teacher, Leesburg, VA
How can we use the talent in our congregations to enrich our worship experience through visual art? Susan Mink, graphic designer and author for Cokesbury, will discuss the role of visuals in worship and offer concrete ways that you can incorporate them into your church. Together, we will examine the creative process by studying a scripture from upcoming liturgy and translating it into an image that will be usable in worship.

Skills for Resolving Conflict in the Local Church
Thomas W. Porter Jr., Boston School of Theology, Boston, MA

Strategies for Talking about the Things We Can’t Talk About
Dr. Ellen Ott Marshall, Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, GA
Avoiding contentious subjects in the congregation is one very effective way of avoiding conflict! Correspondingly, strengthening our abilities to facilitate those difficult conversations is one essential skill in conflict transformation. Although the decision about when to broach the topic warrants significant discussion itself, this workshop focuses on strategies for facilitating conversation once that decision to engage the subject has been made.

For more information, contact Beth Downs at or call 1-800-768-6040, ext. 127, or (804) 521-1127.

Location: Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center, Blackstone, VA
Calendar: Conference Calendar
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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center