Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Triduum during quarantine; other new resources

As we navigate this global pandemic health crisis we are reminded that as we maintain social distancing and are prohibited from physically gathering in our church buildings, for the health of all, we are still the church. We will still be the church during Holy Week and Easter even if our worship looks and feels different from what have previously experienced. Creativity, connection, and innovation have been the new benchmarks for clergy and lay people alike as we explore and experience being church in new ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The resources included in this Google Drive were curated and provided by Lisa Kimball and James Farwell from Virginia Theological Seminary for their two-part webinar, Triduum Under Quarantine. You can find the recorded two-part webinar here and also in the Google Drive under "Follow Up email."
In addition to those resources, we've provided an edited version of  "The Three Days for Home Use"  for use in Southern Virginia. It is available here in both Word and PDF versions and includes hymns from the 1982 Hymnal (with video links for those without access to a hymnal), and The Solemn Collects for Good Friday.  In addition,  individual names have been removed from the prayers and prompts are provided to encourage users to read or view individual clergy sermons if they are available.
We invite you experience a rich, holy and meaningful Holy Week using these resources in your homes.  
Messages from Bishop Susan and many more resources on the diocesan website
The diocesan website has a wealth of resources to assist churches and their parishioners in being the Church during the coronavirus and new resources are being added. Messages from Bishop Susan, including her lectionary reflections, are all available on our website here. Here are a few of the newly added resources: 
Resources for Communities Online - a wide variety of great resources from Virginia Theological Seminary
Invite Welcome Connect in Virtual Church - from Episcopal Church Foundation
The Work of the People - offers many free films for streaming, including the series The Four Gospel Journey.  
Outreach opportunities - Foodbanks in Southern Virginia have information about how you can help provide for the vulnerable and those out of work in our communities. Find that info here.

News from Chanco on the James

Register for Camp Chanco with confidence
Though Chanco has currently suspended group activities until further notice, you can register for Camp Chanco with confidence! Camp Chanco registrations are up by more than 50 campers compared to this time last year! The Chanco Board of Directors recently passed an amended refund policy so that our families can register with confidence. In the event of cancellation of your program, your deposit will be refunded, credited toward a future program, or may be donated to Chanco as a gift in support of our mission, based on your preference. Through this policy change, we hope to build on our strong relationships and reputation from more than 50 years in camping to reassure you that you have nothing to lose when you register with Chanco again this year! Click here to read our full message. Click here for a 2020 Camp Chanco dates and rates flyer. Register here today! Questions? Contact us at or 888-7CHANCO (888-724-2626).
Virtual Easter Vigil from the Bluff  - join us on Facebook
The Rev. Eileen Walsh will be officiating a special virtual/electronic Easter Vigil from the bluff on April 11. The Easter Vigil is one of the oldest liturgies in the church. This electronic service will involve readings that tell the history of salvation, music, the lighting of the Pascal candle and other candles, the ringing of bells, and the joyous celebration of the resurrection! Join the Rev. Eileen Walsh for a special electronic Easter Vigil from Chanco on Saturday, April 11 at 8 pm via our Facebook page.

A reminder about signs

If you are posting a sign on the front doors of your churches advising that public worship is suspended, please remember, if you are doing any live-streaming or recording of services for Facebook, etc. to put information on those signs directing people to those resources.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us to PROCLAIM the good news of God in Jesus Christ!
- Bishop Susan

Pledging during coronavirus

In these unsettling times where the economy is shifting and uncertainty abounds, many churches are wondering what the economic impact will be on their future. Most of us are used to paying our church pledges and tithes while we are sitting in the pews and the offering plate is passed. During this time of compassionate effort to isolate so as not to further the spread of the virus, we of course do not have that opportunity so it would be easy to simply forgo or forget paying your pledge. This is just a reminder to slip a check in the mail if you are able, or to direct your bank to send a check. Some churches have on-line giving options on their websites. Please remember to use them.
For churches who do not use on-line giving platforms, Ann Turner (Communications Officer for the Diocese) and Judy Dobson (Diocesan Comptroller) recommend the following platforms which have all received good reviews:
  • American Church (same folks that make offering envelopes)
  • Tithely
  • EasyTithe
  • Givelify
  • PushPay
  • PayPal
  • SecureGive
  • Churches that use ACS accounting software can set up an online giving platform through ACS. Other church accounting software systems likely offer the same type on on-line giving platforms.
Live links to these platforms available on the Diocesan website so that you can easily visit and research them.
- Bishop Susan

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Word to the Church: On Our Theology of Worship

On March 31, 2020, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued A word to the Church regarding the theology of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read here Bishop Curry's letter about the theological reflection below.

An Offering of Reflection by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
On Our Theology of Worship: Questions in the Time of COVID-19
Across The Episcopal Church the current Pandemic has given rise to many questions about challenges to our liturgical life. Bishops are being asked, "May we do this or that? Will you permit this or that way of celebrating the Eucharist or delivering Holy Communion to the members of our congregations?" Some years ago in an essay titled "Is There a Christian Sexual Ethic?" Rowan Williams observed that in the then current debates about marriage rites for same sex couples, this "permissible/not permissible" way of conducting the conversation was a dead end. The real (and much more productive) question for a sacramental people, he said, was not simply whether a given practice was "right or wrong," but rather "How much are we prepared for this or that liturgical action to mean?" How much are we prepared for it to signify? Sacraments effect by signifying.
Sacraments are actions that give new meaning to things. The current questions about the way we worship in a time of radical physical distancing invites the question of what we are prepared for a given sacramental encounter to mean. Sacraments are communal actions that depend on "stuff": bread and wine, water and oil. They depend on gathering and giving thanks, on proclaiming and receiving the stories of salvation, on bathing in water, on eating and drinking together. These are physical and social realities that are not duplicatable in the virtual world. Gazing at a celebration of the Eucharist is one thing; participating in a physical gathering and sharing the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist is another. And, God, of course, can be present in both experiences.
And that is surely the most important thing to remember. From the time of Thomas Cranmer, mainstream Anglicanism has insisted that the Holy Eucharist is to be celebrated in community, with no fewer than two people. In contrast to some medieval practices, the Prayer Book tradition was deeply concerned with reestablishing the essential connection between the celebration of the Eucharist and the reception of Holy Communion. Over time, of course, many factors contributed to a general decline in the celebration of the Eucharist well into the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Morning Prayer became the common service of worship on the Lord's Day. And while it is good and right that the situation has changed dramatically, that the Holy Eucharist has again become the principal act of worship on Sunday across our church, few would suggest that the experience of Morning Prayer somehow limited God's presence and love to generations of Anglican Christians. There are members of our church today who do not enjoy a regular sustained celebration of the Eucharist for a variety of reasons other than this Pandemic - they are no less members of Christ's Body because of it.
Practices such as "drive by communion" present public health concerns and further distort the essential link between a communal celebration and the culmination of that celebration in the reception of the Eucharistic Bread and Wine. This is not to say that the presence of the Dying and Rising Christ cannot be received by any of these means. It is to say that from a human perspective, the full meaning of the Eucharist is not obviously signified by them. Our theology is generous in its assurance of Christ's presence in all our times of need. In a rubric in the service for Ministration to the Sick (p. 457), The Book of Common Prayer clearly expresses the conviction that even if a person is prevented from physically receiving the Sacrament for reasons of extreme illness or disability, the desire for Christ's presence alone is enough for all the benefits of the Sacrament to be received.
Richard Hooker described the corporate prayer of Christians as having a spiritual significance far greater than the sum of the individual prayers of the individual members of the body. Through corporate prayer, he said, Christians participate in communion with Christ himself, "joined ... to that visible, mystical body which is his Church." Hooker did not have in mind just the Eucharist, which might have taken place only quarterly or, at best, monthly in his day. He had very much in mind the assembly of faithful Christians gathered for the Daily Office.
While not exclusively the case, online worship may be better suited to ways of praying represented by the forms of the Daily Office than by the physical and material dimensions required by the Eucharist. And under our present circumstances, in making greater use of the Office there may be an opportunity to recover aspects of our tradition that point to the sacramentality of the scriptures, the efficacy of prayer itself, the holiness of the household as the "domestic church," and the reassurance that the baptized are already and forever marked as Christ's own. We are living limbs and members of the Body of Christ, wherever and however we gather. The questions being posed to Bishops around these matters are invitations to a deeper engagement with what we mean by the word "sacrament" and how much we are prepared for the Church itself - with or without our accustomed celebrations of the Eucharist - to signify about the presence of God with us.
Click here for Bishop Haynes' message to the churches of Southern Virginia, as well as a joint statement from the bishops of Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. 

Feeding program finds fresh expression during epidemic

By The Rev. Jon Anderson, Rector - Epiphany, Danville

Disciples meals at Epiphany, Danville, look a little different these days. Normally, we serve a sit down dinner in the Parish Hall on Tuesday evenings at 5:00 p.m. and then offer a sack lunch out of the narthex on Thursdays at 12 p.m.  Attendance at both of these meals varies based on a number of factors, including the week of the month and the weather, but generally vary from a low of around 20 to a high of 60+.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic we have kept the same schedule and served a meal of ready-to-eat, non-perishable items in plastic grocery sacks hung on the historic wrought iron fence around the church. This allows us to serve our guests safely while still being able to engage with them socially as we always have done.
The number of guests is up and last Tuesday we had a record of 67+ guests. We will keep this up as long as we can get supplies, which has become more challenging especially in the last week.

Message from Bishop Haynes

[God says]: "When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars." (Psalm 75:3)
Yesterday Gov. Ralph Northam of the Commonwealth of Virginia announced a mandatory stay-at-home order effective until June 10 in an effort to stem the tide of rising coronavirus cases and deaths during the global pandemic. Many have asked how the governor's order will affect churches in the Diocese of Southern Virginia. The order does not change the guidelines that have previously been given except to say that they are now mandated. To that end, the following directives for our churches are and remain in effect:
  • Church services continue to be suspended until further notice and likely not before June 10. Churches are encouraged to provide on-line worship experiences of their own if they are able, and to employ and make available for home use resources accessible through the diocesan website here. If you need assistance, the diocesan office stands ready to help you.
  • Parking lot gatherings in cars for worship or otherwise, or any gatherings of more than ten people, are not permitted. As reported in the Virginian-Pilot following the governor's press conference yesterday, Gov. Northam "said Monday that Virginia isn't looking to put people in jail, but that anyone gathering in groups larger than 10 could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine." The governor emphasized that "we are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly," stating that "our message to Virginians is clear: stay home." We model being Christian citizens when we adhere to the governor's order.
  • Church offices may remain open to respond to the indigent who are seeking assistance, so long as not more than 10 people are present at one time and they maintain six feet of physical distance from one another.
  • Food and clothing banks and other outreach efforts that address basic human needs may remain open subject to the same restrictions on social distancing and numbering of staff and guests.
  • Clergy, musicians, lay ministers and audio/visual technicians may continue to go to church to record or livestream services provided that are 10 or fewer are present.
  • Day schools are to remain closed. Childcare may remain open with priority given to children of workers deemed essential, subject to the same limitations on social distancing and number of staff and children.
  • FUNERALS: In the event of a parishioner death, families should be encouraged to delay funerals. Funeral homes have been mandated to offer services only to immediate family members (to include spouses, children, parents, grandchildren, siblings in that order and limited to not more than 10). Churches are directed to do likewise.
It does seem perhaps that the earth is tottering and the people are in turmoil. We must remind each other that God established the pillars of this earth and holds them firm. God keeps us steady even if we are tempted to be afraid. Let us not forget the source of our strength and pray for His love and mercy on a daily basis as we continue to be the church during this confusing time. May God bless you and continue to hold you steady and firm in His most loving, all-encompassing hands.
Yours faithfully in Christ,
Click here for a joint statement of the bishops of Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC (in English and Spanish)