Friday, January 23, 2015

Churches help police build trusting relationship with community

Residents in Virginia Beach’s Lake Edward and Campus East neighborhoods are building trusting relationships with city police thanks to the work of Western Bayside Churches United (WBCU) – an alliance of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, Enoch Baptist Church, and Heritage United Methodist Church.

The three churches came together in 2010 with a simple mission – to make their neighborhood a better place to live. The Western Bayside area of Virginia Beach is a community in which many residents are struggling day to day and that has had one of the higher crime rates in the city. But that’s quickly changing.

In August of 2014, WBCU teamed up with officers of Virginia Beach’s third precinct in the Stop the Violence project. “One of the resident’s sons was murdered. Nobody knew anything even though there was a crowd in the yard when it happened. They were afraid to talk to the police,” explains Pastor Michael Daniels of Enoch Baptist Church. “She asked the church what we could do to help.”

The first step was a community meeting with the police, hosted by WBCU. “We wanted to talk about what the community could do, how we can partner with the precinct,” said the Rev. Wendy Wilkinson, rector of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church. “We have to take responsibility for our community.”

Stop the Violence builds on WBCU’s existing semi-annual Community Days. These events provided residents with, among other things, an opportunity to get to know each other and city agencies and services. The church leaders realized that the twice yearly events didn’t provide enough opportunity for residents to build trusting relationships with police.

WBCU now hosts a monthly community meeting at Enoch Baptist Church for residents, police officers, and civic leaders. Residents have the opportunity to get to know each other and the police officers serving their neighborhood. The project also encourages residents to join and use, a social network for neighborhoods. The goal is to have at least 50% of residents using the site. The residents’ relationship with police has improved so much that WBCU is also helping residents obtain grant funds to install security cameras on their homes that will allow police to monitor activity in the neighborhood.

“People know the officers now. Police are getting calls now,” says Wilkinson.  “It’s made a huge impact on crime here. Daniels agrees. “The neighborhood sees the police in a different light now. The police are getting more tips. Crimes are being solved and there is some prevention also.”

The community is talking and making decisions together to take steps to reduce crime. “It came out at one of our monthly meetings that a local playground was a drug hangout,” says Wilkinson. “So the community decided to remove it.”

“One of the things we recognized is that the community had to change how they view officers and neighbors,” says Daniels. “We want to help neighbors feel more responsible for each other.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Blessing the start of a new semester at CNU

The Rev. Lauren McDonald, Christopher Newport University chaplain, and the Rev. Scott Baker, rector of St. Stephen's, Newport News offered a special liturgy at CNU to bless the new semester there. Please treat yourself to reading Lauren's blog post on this special celebration.

Register now for Vestry Training Days

Healthy, skilled vestries who understand their role in the life of the church and their relationship to the clergy and congregation are essential in creating and maintaining vital congregations. This workshop is designed for all vestry members, and will include: Presentations on the role and duties of the vestry; Best practices; Discussion of common challenges that vestries face.

Saturday, February 28 at St. Stephen's, Petersburg - Click here for details and registration
Saturday, March 7 at Ascension, Norfolk - Click here for details and registration

Diocesan ECW hosts Time for Reflection Feb. 14 in Williamsburg

The Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of Southern Virginia cordially invite you to a very special Time for Reflection on Saturday, Feb. 14, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center in Williamsburg. Based on 1 Corinthians 13:13 - "the greatest of these is love" - this prayer and worship conference for women focuses on valuing, loving, respecting, and caring for God, for others, and for ourselves in a healthy, well-balanced way. Through interactive workshops, reflection, and worship, we will explore love, God's greatest gift to us, and learn to intentionally spread love, know love, and live love. Facilitator will be Cynthia Gossman, an author, trainer, motivational speaker, and Joy Restoration Coach. With over 15 years experience in bereavement aftercare, Cynthia's training incorporates proven techniques and practical skills for making positive changes. Cynthia uses both her personal experience as a young widow and her professional expertise to offer individuals a healthy, unique perspective that finds peace by integrating life, loss and love.  

The Cancer Care Foundation of Tidewater will be a special part of our conference. Please bring a scarf or hat to donate as we remember and honor those who have battled cancer. Cost is $25 (includes breakfast, lunch, and all conference materials) 

Please R.S.V.P. by February 1 with your payment in full to Ronda Toll, 42 Cherbourg Drive, Newport News, VA 23606, 757-869-8873 or Make checks payable to ECW. Fort Magruder has reserved rooms at a special rate for overnight guests. Please book by February 1 by contacting the hotel directly at 757-220-2250. Identify yourself as a participant in the 2015 Episcopal Church Women Prayer and Worship Conference.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Acolyte Festival in Nags Head

The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina invites you and your acolytes to participate in the 2015 Acolyte Festival on Friday, April 24, and Saturday, April 25, at St. Andrew's By the Sea in Nags Head, NC. All Acolytes, young, and young at heart, acolyte directors, youth ministers, and acolyte parents are encouraged to attend. Click here for more information.  

Hampton Roads Community Foundation scholarships available

Hampton Roads Community Foundation 2015-2016 theological scholarships applications are due April 1, 2015.  Students may visit to view the list of available scholarships and follow the steps for applying through our new online application process.  Applicants should be native or long-time residents of the specified geographic areas rather than those temporarily living in the area to attend school.

Barron F. Black Theological Scholarship- For students at Virginia Theological Seminary (Alexandria, VA) who are candidates for the ministry. Students must be residents of the geographic region served by the Diocese of Southern Virginia. 

William F. Miles - For a student from Hampton Roads who is preparing for leadership in a field of religious service.

Hy Smith Endowment Fund- For students at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria who are candidates for the ministry. Students must be residents of the geographic region served by the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

Clergy Transitions

The Rev. Ronald Ramsey began as Rector at St. Cyprian's, Hampton, 12/1/2014

The Rev. Steve Cowardin retired from Redeemer, Midlothian, 1/4/2015

The Rev. Gwynneth Mudd will retire from St. Stephen's, Norfolk, 1/31/2015