Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's message for Lent

"The season of Lent is upon us," Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in his Message for Lent 2016. "It is a season of making a renewed commitment to participate and be a part of the movement of Jesus in this world." Click the image below to watch the video. Click here to read text of the message. 

124th Annual Council: Racial Justice and the Role of the Church

The 124th Annual Council of the Diocese of Southern Virginia convened February 5-6 at the Williamsburg Lodge Convention Center.

Bishop Hollerith addressed Council on Friday morning. "Without a doubt, the greatest challenge of my episcopate has been one of discerning and helping others to discern what it means to be the Episcopal Church in the 21st century." The bishop shared his thoughts on "what's working" in Southern Virginia. He also spoke about changes experienced in The Episcopal Church and our own diocese in 2015 and a look toward 2016. Click here to read his address.

The preacher for the Council Eucharist on Friday morning was the Rev. Canon Dr. Sandye A. Wilson, rector of St. Andrew and Holy Communion Episcopal Church in South Orange, New Jersey, who was national president of the Union of Black Episcopalians from 1997-2004.
Our keynote speaker this year was the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, MO. Kinman gave two presentations to Council, "#Ferguson Theology" and "Sacred Conversations About Race and Class, Power and Protest". Following the Ferguson police killing of Michael Brown, Jr., Kinman was an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement and provided sanctuary for the movement at Christ Church Cathedral.  Materials from Kinman's presentations (slides, with links to videos, and notes) are available on the Annual Council page of our website.

Saturday afternoon, Kinman posted on Facebook, "Today's highlights at Annual Council of Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia:
  • Watching people listen deeply to and wrestle with the wisdom, passion and brilliance of Brittany Ferrell, Alexis Templeton, Traci Blackmon and Ruby Sales.
  • Talking about Jesus and being the church in this Kairos moment that is emerging around human rights in America.
  • Talking about being trauma-informed church and naming our addictive family systems -- and hearing incredible resonance.
  • Leading 400-500 Episcopalians (the majority of whom were white and over 55) in the Assata Shakur chant (3 times, shouting it at the end) because until everyone is free none of us are free. Really wish I had film of that one! 'It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other.We have nothing to lose but our chains.'"
Elections at Council
The following elections took place at this year's Council:
Standing Committee: The Rev. Conor Alexander, Mr. Scott Norris
Disciplinary Board: The Rev. Dale Custer, The Rev. Susan Grimm, Mr. Matthew White
Provincial Synod: The Rev. Frederick Walker, Ms. Andrea Morgan

The two canonical resolutions before Council this year, C-1 and C-2, both passed unanimously.

Visit our Facebook page for lots of photos from Annual Council. Thanks to Jackie Rochelle of Epiphany, Norfolk, and Carlyle Gravely of St. George's, Newport News, for their assistance with photography. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Church Periodical Club's Miles of Pennies benefits Jackson-Feild

Founded in 1888, the Church Periodical Club (CPC) is an independent organization affiliated with the Episcopal Church, and it relies on volunteers, clergy, and friends to promote its Ministry of the Printed Word. In 1988 - on its 100th anniversary - the CPC established the Miles of Pennies Fund focuses exclusively on the educational needs of children from kindergarten through high school.
Grants in the amount of $844.80 are awarded to provide books, magazines, audiotape, videos and CDs. Why $844.80? Because it takes 84,840 pennies laid edge-to-edge to cover the distance of one mile. Hence, the name of the fund and the amount of the grants provided.
The Hayden Gwaltney School at Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services recently received a full grant of $844.80 from this fund. Over the years, The Gwaltney School has received more than $7,745 from the program. This year's grant was used to purchase 69 hardcover and 77 paperback books written by a wide variety of authors.
Teachers and students alike are thrilled to be recipients of this grant, and the books are being checked out and read with enthusiasm.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Deacons in Southern Virginia unite to support refugees in crisis - how you can help

Deacons in Southern Virginia are raising funds for refugee. Your donation will help refugees forced to flee from conflict or natural disaster. At work in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities, the International Rescue Committee leads refugees in their journey from harm to home and supports their efforts to rebuild their lives.

Funds raised in this campaign will go to the IRC in Charlottesville and the newest office in Richmond. They will be used for resettlement, education, language skills and health.

Each year, thousands of refugees are invited by the U.S. government to seek safety and freedom. Forced to flee conflict or persecution, many have survived for years against incredible odds. They step off the plane with next to nothing but their dignity, hope and determination. In Charlottesville, Richmond and many other regional offices across the country, the IRC helps them rebuild their lives.

To learn more and how you can help, go to http://diy.rescue.org/sovadeacons.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Resources to help you keep a holy Lent

Growing a Rule of Life is this year's Lenten offering from the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. This series uses a tool from monastic spirituality called a 'Rule of Life' to explore and cultivate our relationships with God, Self, Others, and Creation.  
Episcopal Relief & Development offers a 2016 Lenten Meditations guide. Available in English and Spanish, this year's devotional focuses on creating economic opportunities and strengthening communities, with a particular focus on empowering women.
d365 Daily Devotionalis written especially for students and seeks to provide reflections on themes that impact our faith journey. Although devotions are available every day of the year, they offer a special series for Lent. For iPhone and iPad users, there's a handy d365 app.
Lent Madness is back again!
The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as they offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.

Praying in Color - For fans of Sybil MacBeth's Praying in Color, she offers several free Lenten Calendar templates. She say, "On the calendar template I choose a word or name for each day, write the word in a space, and draw or doodle around it. I think of each mark or stroke of color as a wordless prayer. This process can take three minutes or thirty. Each day is different. I love the accumulation of words or peoples' names in a visual tapestry." 
Christ Walk is a 40 day program that combines spiritual and physical fitness by Anna Fitch Courie, an Episcopalian formerly residing here in Southern Virginia.
ChurchNext is offering a complete free Lenten curriculum. The first of the five courses is "Spirituality and Racial Justice" led by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Learn about the spiritual dimensions and responsibilities inherent in building racial justice.
Forward Movement offers very inexpensive devotionals for Lent, including "Meeting Jesus on the Margins" and "Lent is Not Rocket Science".
Church Publishing has a nice selection of Lenten reading materials for adults, children and families, including "Love Life Live Lent: Be the Change!", "Under the Fig Tree: Visual Prayers and Poems for Lent", and "What We Do in Lent: A Child's Activity Book".

The power of Mission Insite demographic research tool

By The Rev. Fletcher Wells, St. Thomas', Chesapeake
Did you know that our diocese provides a demographic research tool that allows each parish to know the demographic information of the population in their area?  Said more plainly, we have the ability to know what the spending habits, hopes and dreams, psychology, and even struggles are of the people in and around our churches.

Demographic reports that would cost $250 to $1000 are provided free through Mission Insite to each congregation through our subscription.
Although churches may have an unlimited number of people sign up to use the service, this tool is underutilized. Although over 50 churches have signed up, only 28 people utilized the tool over the last year. The diocese is considering  whether to renew the contract. I think it's a valuable tool.  
As part of a course with Dwight Zscheile, a past speaker at Diocesan Annual Council, I was able to do all of my demographic research for a paper describing Chesapeake and the people who live in the area. This program allowed me to see what the people in may immediate area did for a living, how they spent their money, and even infer what needs and concerns they faced. The data collected changed my preaching, changed ministry focuses for the church and helped us to help our community.  
As the landscape of the church continues to change, how we do ministry and attract others to our ministry will necessarily change as well. For instance, the time when creating programs for people to take part in simply does not work any longer because folks do not attend church in the ways or in the masses that they used to.  
But there is a way for us to continue to grow as individual churches, as dioceses, and as a national church and that is to, in the words of our presiding bishop and primate, be the Episcopal manifestation of Jesus in our neighborhood.  In order to be that, we have gotta get out into our neighborhoods!  
Mission Insite helps us to do just that: get out into our neighborhood.  Have you wondered how you might find a niche in outreach?  The mosaic indicator (a program in Mission Insite that tells about who people are) will disclose those types of challenges.  Perhaps you wonder what people struggle with; for instance, in my own ministry neighborhood we found out that people struggle with debt.  We created a forum around finances and it is still one of the best attended events put on by our church.  Now imagine if we had created this for our community, meeting them where they are.  
I would like to invite and encourage all parishes to checkout this helpful tool here.  Look at how it can help you find how your great work can meet your communities deep need. Use Mission Insite to create new and wonderful ways to seek Jesus in the neighborhood.  Who knows, you might even find ways to grow with the people around you and grow your church in the process.

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services welcomes Dr. J. Michael Griffin

Jackson-Feild is pleased to announce that Dr. J. Michael Griffin, PhD. has joined its clinical staff.
Dr Griffin is a licensed psychologist and is Board Certified in EEG Biofeedback (Neurofeedback).
Dr. Griffin has special interest in attention and memory issues of children, adolescents and adults. As a survivor of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), he is accomplished in the assessment and treatment of patients who have experienced TBI and/or attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities.
In his treatment of boys and girls who are severely emotionally impaired, Dr. Griffin utilizes biofeedback to help his patients understand the complexity of their disorders and how to function successfully while managing them.
Dr. Griffin received a B.S. in Biology from Guilford College, an M.A. in Biology from Western Carolina University, an M.A. in Psychology from North Carolina Central University, a doctorate in education (Ed.D) from the University of Sarasota, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Walden University.