Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Bishop Haynes' pastoral letter on the death of Mr. George Floyd

I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies... Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.   (Amos 5:21-24)
We cannot continue to be silent. Too long we have refused to receive the breath of the Holy Spirit. Martin Luther King, Jr. said "There comes a time when silence is betrayal." In our silence we have dismissed the the indiscriminate killing and violence levied on people of color, and especially African-Americans. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd are just the latest of a long list of people of color, known and unknown who have died because of our silence.
In that great hymn of the church, "Breathe on me, Breath of God" we ask God to Fill us with life anew that we may love as God loves and do what God would do. And yet our Black brothers and sisters cannot breathe. The breath of life is being choked out of them. The knees which bear down on their necks are our knees of White privilege, institutional and systemic racism. "I can't breathe!" is something they have been trying to tell us for a long time. Our brothers and sisters can't breathe. But we CAN breathe! And because we can breathe, it is time for us to stand up, give voice to their lament and outrage and voice to our lament and outrage. They can't breathe, but we can; and we must breathe and speak so that our breath can send out the word that what we have seen and heard IS UNACCEPTABLE.
If we remain silent, we will have betrayed our community. This is not a call to polarization. This is not about pitting the police as villains and the people they are trying to arrest as the good guys. We are all beloved children of the God in whose image we all are created. But we are all pre-disposed toward actions of evil; and it is toward those actions that we can no longer be silent. The cry for justice must be sounded out by all to whom the breath of life has been given.
Many will say that words are not enough; and indeed they are not. They must be coupled with action that is constructive and supportive of all life. The words that go out on our breath must be matched with actions that support our Baptismal promises to persevere and resist evil, to repent of sin, to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ, to seek and serve all persons loving our neighbors as ourselves, and to strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being. If we abandon these promises, we have walked away from God.
But what can we do? We can begin to look at ourselves and to root out every trace of our own racism. And it exists within all of us. This idea distresses us, because we want to be good people, and the idea of racism is abhorrent to us. But it exists. And the sooner we begin to shine the light on it, the sooner we will be freed from its oppression; and then, maybe then, our brothers and sisters of color will also be freed. The Episcopal Church, in its efforts towards "Becoming Beloved Community," has developed a curriculum called Sacred Ground. Many churches are beginning to offer opportunities to participate in this curriculum. If your church is one of them, please let the Diocesan office know. If you would like to find a group, please contact us, and we can help connect you. Our group on racial reconciliation, Repairers of the Breach, is working to update resources and action steps. Stay tuned through the Diocesan website, diosova.org.
I invite you to recall the Parable of the Good Samaritan. That wounded person is currently on the side of the road. That person cannot breathe. Are we going to stop and take action, or are we going to keep walking? What will we do so that one day everyone will be able to breathe.
Yours faithfully in Christ,

Presiding Bishop Curry's word to the Church: "When the cameras are gone, we will still be here"

"Our long-term commitment to racial justice and reconciliation is embedded in our identity as baptized followers of Jesus. We will still be doing it when the news cameras are long gone."  
On May 30, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued a Word to the Church on the death of Mr. George Floyd and the Church's commitment to the work of racial justice and reconciliation. 
Read Bishop Curry's Word to the Church here.    
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post on May 31, addressing the killing of George Floyd and violent protests in Minneapolis, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote that "Love looks like all of us - people of every race and religion and national origin and political affiliation - standing up and saying 'Enough! We can do better than this. We can be better than this.'"
You can read Bishop Curry's message here.

CE-Net online gathering June 11

Join the Christian Education Network (CE-Net) for a Zoom meeting/conversation on Thursday, June 11, from 6 to 7 p.m. We'll get a chance to check in before we focus our time sharing and brainstorming on a "Different Kind of Summer" for formation.  
For this online gathering, whether you use a computer, phone or tablet, make sure your device has video capability and microphone enabled. Click here to register

Ridley Scholarship applications still being accepted

Ridley Scholarships are still available for fall 2020. The Ridley Foundation of the Diocese of Southern Virginia awards scholarships to undergraduate college students who are Episcopalians associated with a parish in Southern Virginia, are enrolled full-time, and maintain a 2.5 or better GPA. Scholarships are need-based, but are payable directly to the student (therefore do not affect already-existing scholarship aid from the college). All students who meet the criteria and file the application properly will receive some aid. Click here for complete information. Applications for Fall, 2020 awards will be received until June 20.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Grace Church continues Memorial Day tradition online

For more than 20 years, the Grace Church, Yorktown, has held a Memorial Day service, honoring those who lost their lives in service to our country. This year that tradition continued in a very moving virtual version of the service. You can watch the service here and see WAVY TV coverage of the gathering here.  

Resources for Pentecost, Virtual VBS

Pentecost Resource from CE-Net
Looking for Pentecost at Home suggestions or resources to send to families? The Norfolk formation group recently met and suggested ideas for families to celebrate Pentecost during COVID-19 and who parenting, working and teaching from home. The resources list provides easily done at home ideas with whatever materials you have are on hand. Click here to get the document.
Christian formation colleague groups 
Would you be interested in forming a colleague group in your area of the Diocese? The Norfolk Formation Colleague Group has been a much-needed thing during this time. We are a group who supports one another 100% and shares our challenges and love of ministry. If you would be interested in forming a group, contact CE-NET Co-Chairs, Vicky Koch, vkoch@stpaulsnorfolk.org or Gizelle Moran, gizelle@trinity-portsmouth.org and we'll help you get started.
Virtual Vacation Bible School from CE-Net
Wondering what you're going to do for Vacation Bible School (VBS) this summer. Have you thought about a Virtual VBS? CE-Net is working on a Virtual Vacation Bible School program that will be offered to all churches in the Diocese at no cost. This program will allow you to adapt it to meet your specific needs. The Virtual VBS program will focus on themes of Faith, Hope, and Love and will include Bible stories, crafts and activities as well as a suggested mission focus for each day. We plan on sharing this resource on the CE-NET diocesan web site by mid-June. For more information, contact CE-Net Co-Chairs Vicky Koch, vkoch@stpaulsnorfolk.org or Gizelle Moran, gizelle@trinity-portsmouth.org or Canon Lynn Farlin, lfarlin@diosova.org.

"Counting the Days" in isolation

"Counting the Days" is a 50-day video series created by the Rev. Jacqueline Soltys of Grace Church, Yorktown. Soltys was inspired to create the series during this period of isolation. "I wanted a way to connect with the parish during this time of separation, a way to mark our time apart, and to create a shared experience," she explains.
Creating a daily video for 50 days is a significant commitment. "I think of the videos as a spiritual discipline --a form of focused prayer and discernment for me. They require me to face this time honestly and intentionally, to be awake and present to the ups and downs of each day," Soltys said. "They are also a pledge to the people I serve. I want to be in conversation with them every day, to show them that I'm here and with them, going through this experience, too."
Each video includes a psalm, a domestic reflection on the day and a blessing. Why the psalms? "They are an easy way to count, since they are numbered.  If I were musically trained, maybe I would have chosen a hymn to sing every day, and I would have sung my way through the hymnal," Soltys explained. "The psalms are an important touchpoint for me personally.  I had a profound mystical experience of God's presence through praying the psalms every day many years ago.  It is one of the experiences that led me to the priesthood.  It just felt right to pick them up again now as a place to find God and as a way to ride this roller coaster of emotions that we are all on."
While Counting the Days series has ended (you can watch them all here), Soltys now has a new project, Pause: An Invitation to Stillness. These are weekly videos she's making in collaboration with Grace Church parishioners. Each weekly video is made up of prayers, Scripture, poetry, music, and simple images. It's not just for Episcopalians; it could be helpful to anyone looking for a few minutes of peace and refuge. You can view those on the Grace Church YouTube channel.