Monday, November 24, 2014

Online resources for Advent 2014

The leaders of The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Anglican Church of Canada, and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have prepared devotions for each of the four weeks of Advent.  

Society of Saint John the Evangelist has developed a digital Advent calendar.

Following the Star
Daily online devotions take on a seasonal theme, beginning with the first Sunday in Advent. Following the Star is written for teenagers and the adults who work with them. This service is a collaborative initiative of the Youth Ministries offices of The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church USA, and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Advent Lectionary Reflection
Join the Formation missioners of The Episcopal Church on a photo meditation through the Season of Advent. Each day a word for reflection, taken from the Sunday lectionary readings, will be posted on social media sites. Meditate on the word, then find a photo that embodies that word. Post the photo on social media with the hashtag "#episcopaladvent" as well as a hashtag for the word for the day (for example, "#joy"). Posting will begin on the first Sunday of Advent and conclude on Christmas Day.

Living Well through Advent app
Living Well Through Advent is an iOS app that provides daily reflections, weekly Scripture readings, and a built-in journal to record thoughts and experiences through the season. Readings, images, and thoughts from your journal can all be shared with your companions on the journey using the Share Panel.

Presiding Bishop calls for prayer for Liberia, West Africa on Sunday, Dec. 7

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has urged Episcopalians to observe the Second Sunday in Advent, December 7, as a day of prayer for those in the Diocese of Liberia and the entire Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, areas heavily affected by the current Ebola pandemic.

"The Diocese of Liberia was founded by Episcopalians in 1836, and was a diocese of The Episcopal Church until the early 1980s, when it joined the Province of West Africa," noted Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. "Today we continue in a covenant relationship of mutual support and fellowship."

She continued, "Liberia is at the epicenter of the recent Ebola outbreak, and Episcopalians have turned Cuttington University (Suakoku) into a center for response in rural northern Liberia.  The Anglican Province of West Africa includes all three nations (Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone) where the pandemic continues to develop.  The suffering and death is enormous, the economy is devastated, schools are closed, yet the caring and compassionate response continues."

The Presiding Bishop concluded, "I ask your prayers for the people of West Africa in the midst of this plague.  Please include this in your intentions on the Second Sunday of Advent.  With Isaiah, pray for comfort and strength for all God's children; seek out the builder of straight roads and giver of healing balm for all on this difficult journey.  Learn about this crisis, and instead of fear, let your hearts be moved to respond in generosity of spirit and of purse."

Mission of the Holy Spirit needs your help

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my lambs.'--John 21:15

The Mission Food Pantry is nearly empty, and Mission families depend on food from the Mission to feed their hungry children. Non-perishable items are needed, such as canned soup, meat, vegetables and fruit. We also need pasta, rice, cereal and other healthy dried goods. Please consider a food drive for your EWC, EYC, Outreach or other church group. For more information or to arrange a drop-off time, please contact the Mission at 757-858-0010 on Mondays or Wednesdays. Thank you for helping us to feed His lambs, and God bless you!  

Sponsor a child for Christmas at Jackson-Feild Homes

For many of the children at Jackson-Feild Homes, the Christmas season is a very difficult and painful time of year. They don't have the happy memories of feasts, or gifts, or family gatherings. For them, the entire holiday season is little more than a 6-week period just like any other time of the year.

At Jackson-Feild, the staff is working to ensure that the boys and girls will remember this Christmas for a lifetime, and you are invited to help by participating in the Sponsor-a-Child for Christmas program. You can sponsor a child's entire Christmas list, or you can purchase only one or two items from it. You can send the funds and let the JFH staff do the shopping, you can go shopping yourself and deliver the gifts - unwrapped - no later than Monday, December 15.

The holidays are right around the corner, so please act quickly to help the folks at Jackson-Feild bring happiness to the boys and girls in their care. You would be surprised at the joy that comes in knowing you shared the true meaning and blessings of Christmas with a child you don't know... a child who, for the first time in his or her life, will finally feel the love of a very special Christmas.
The youngsters are reminded that Christmas isn't just about toys and gifts. It is a special holiday and a time to be joyful and appreciative.

If you would like to help, please contact Ann Chaffins at or call her at 804-354-2929.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Over the River and Through the Woods" to Boys Home Christmas tree farm

Are you looking for a Christmas Road Trip this winter? Don’t pass up the beautiful scenery of West Augusta, Virginia. “Over the River and Through the Woods,” is the theme of this year’s Christmas tree season at the Boys Home of Virginia Christmas Tree farm. Spend your day with us starting Saturday November 29 from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. for our open house.

Features of the farm include family activities, refreshments, photo booth and door prizes. Once again, the gift shop will be decorated with traditional Christmas d├ęcor and will sell wreathes, roping, ornaments decorated by the residents, and a variety of Christmas items.
The 2014 Boys Home Christmas Tree Farm season begins Friday, November 28 and extends to Sunday, December 21. The tree farm, located in West Augusta, is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Boys Home Christmas Tree Farm is managed by Brandon Brown assisted by residents and staff. There’s no better way to enjoy your Christmas than to visit the farm. It is just the right place for good tree selection while helping out our young men.

The tree farm is located off of Rt. 688 at 1118 Bear Wallow Flat, West Augusta, VA 24485. For information and directions call 540-939-4106 or 540-965-7700. Or visit the Boys Home website,, under tree farm or on Facebook at

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New research document: Episcopal Congregations Overview

Based on data received from a comprehensive survey of churches, the Episcopal Congregations Overview featuring updated facts and figures about congregations, programs and practices in the Episcopal Church have been posted here. This information, available for downloading at no fee, can provide important and needed data to congregational efforts for growth, stewardship, fundraising, recruitment etc. Copies are being sent to all participating congregations and dioceses. The research was compiled by Dr Kirk Hadaway, Episcopal Church Congregational Research Officer, Topics included in the Episcopal Congregations Overview include: Parishes and their Settings; Worship; Members; Recruitment and Evangelism; Programs Practices and ministries; Conflict; Leadership; and Congregational Identity.

Applications now accepted online for Young Adult Service Corps

The Episcopal Church offers untold opportunities for young adults to live, work and pray with brothers and sisters around the Anglican Communion through the Young Adult Service Corps. Commonly known as YASC, applications for 2015-16 are now being accepted for the Young Adult Service Corps from young adults between the ages of 21-30.

"YASC provides an opportunity for young adults to explore their faith in a new capacity and to live out the Baptismal Covenant by seeking and serving Christ in all persons," noted the Rev. David Copley, Mission Personnel Officer. "Applicants must have a high degree of maturity and possess a faith commitment and the willingness to be a humble guest, and the ability to be an authentic companion." Learn more and get an application here

Diana Butler Bass to speak at Annual Council

The 123rd Annual Council will be held February 6-7, 2015 at the Williamsburg Lodge Convention Center. You can find the latest information on the Annual Council page of our website. Registration will open soon.

Keynote Speaker Diana Butler Bass

This year's keynote speaker will be Diana Butler Bass, author and independent scholar of American religion and culture. She will address "Awakening and the Work of Transformation," and will help us explore a pattern of change in our lives and congregations that enable us to move to a new place.  

Diana Butler Bass received her Ph.D. from Duke University. She has taught at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College, and Virginia Theological Seminary. She is the author of eight books, including most recently Christianity after Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. Her groundbreaking study of mainline vitality, Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith was named one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly and Christian Century, won the book of the year award from the Academy of Parish Clergy, and was featured in a cover story in USA Today. Her next book will be Grounded: Finding the Spirit of God in the Spirit of the Age, scheduled for publication in Fall 2015. Follow her on Twitter: @dianabutlerbass.

Street named in honor of James Solomon Russell

By James Grimstead, Grace Church, Norfolk

The James Solomon Russell Commemoration Committee unveiled a new sign renaming College Drive to James Solomon Russell Drive last Saturday, October 11, 2014 on the campus of Saint Paul’s College.  This historic event honored the Archdeacon Reverend Dr. James Solomon Russell, who founded this college in 1888 which provided an institution of higher learning for many underprivileged citizens in the surrounding communities.    

 The ceremony was attended by more than thirty community local and out of town visitors.  It opened with prayer and welcome by the Rev. Dr. Terrance Walker of South Hill, VA, followed by comments from program chairman James Grimstead of Lawrenceville, VA, who pointed out that this sign is the first recognition in this town of this great pioneer which can be seen and read from the roadway.  Grimstead thanked the Town Council, the Brunswick County Planning Department and the supporting citizens for all their help in making this event a reality. Mayor William Herrington of Lawrenceville brought greetings from the town citizens and expressed thanks to the committee for having the foresight to follow through on such an historic and important occasion in the Town of Lawrenceville.   

Saint Paul’s College is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Southern Virginia.   The Bishop, Herman Hollerith, IV, is on sabbatical leave and could not attend the ceremony but authorized Dr. Angela Parker, of the Diocesan Standing Committee, to represent his presence at the unveiling.  

The Rev. Dr. Joseph N. Green, an advisor of the Committee and a long-time supporter of St. Paul’s College gave inspiring remarks expressing how deeply thrilled he was to see this long overdue recognition of this renowned educator and spiritual powerhouse, Archdeacon James Solomon Russell.

Members of the Russell family, Mr. Henry Pratt Russell of Hampton, VA, and Dr. Virginia Russell of Lawrenceville, VA,  both expressed their heart-felt thanks to the JSR Commemoration Committee for seeing this project through making it a permanent landmark in the Town of Lawrenceville, VA.   Dr. James A. Russell, past President of St. Paul’s College (1971 -1981) expressed his regret for not being able to attend the ceremony, but sent his thanks and appreciation the for this historic sign marker honoring such a great man.

In addition to the James Solomon Russell sign unveiling the Committee planned another special event that took place at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall.   This second celebration and reception honored the Rev. Dr. Joseph N. Green, Jr., retired Rector Emeritus of Grace Episcopal Church in Norfolk, VA.  Fr. Green spent much of his time over the last fifty plus years promoting the welfare of St. Paul’s College.   He has been very instrumental in bringing together a coalition among the various church memberships of parishes founded by the late Dr. James Solomon Russell.  Dr. Green spearheaded the efforts to bring much needed funds to St. Paul’s College resulting in a $1.5 million donation to the college single parent program.  He was also noted for many of his endeavors outside of his activities related to St. Paul’s College.  He served for twenty years on the Norfolk City Council with twelve years as Vice-Mayor.  This allowed him to be instrumental in bringing several needed housing programs on board and turning a dilapidated theater into a top-rate performing arts center.  Fr. Green received a framed Proclamation from the Committee honoring him for his long outstanding service to this local community.  Also, he was graced with a beautiful poem by Mrs. Annie Walker, president of the JSR Commemoration Committee. (Photo L to R: The Rev. Joseph Green, Jr; Mrs. Annie Walker; Mr. James Grimstead)

The Committee thanked St. Andrew’s host-in-charge and author, Ms. Gay Neale, for their gracious hospitality.  She expressed her thanks and appreciation for this historic sign unveiling celebration for Archdeacon James Solomon Russell who started his ministry at St. Andrews Parish before the construction of St. Paul’s Memorial Chapel was completed.  The Committee also gave thanks to members, Nelson and Queen Birchette of St. James in Warfield, VA, for their special assistance on the program.   The sign re-naming project was co-chaired by James and Shirley Grimstead. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Advent Retreat

There are only 43 days until Christmas! Are you ready? And we don't mean, "Have you done all your shopping?"!  We mean, "Have you reflected upon the season of Advent and given yourself the gift of peace this season?" Spend time at Chanco this Advent discovering tools to develop your prayer life and cope with stress while you join with friends from all around our diocese for joyful fellowship. The retreat will take place on Friday, December 5 beginning with dinner at 6 pm and continue through Saturday, December 6, concluding at 3 pm. Overnight accommodations are provided in the conference center rooms with private bath. All meals and a hospitality hour on Friday night are included. This retreat is designed for adults and the cost to attend is $110.00 for a single room or $90.00 for a double room. To register, contact Ashley Scruggs at Don't miss this opportunity to take time during the very busy holiday season to create space for prayer, Christian fellowship, and peace. We hope to see you there!

Download the 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card

Congregations, dioceses and individuals can download a printable PDF of the 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card at no fee here.

The design of the card features artist Joan Covell's depiction of the nativity scene.  Covell's art was the top vote-getter in the recent contest to select the art image. Learn more about Covell here.

For information contact Ana Arias,, or Barry Merer,

Ridley Foundation Scholarship applications due January 15

The Ridley Foundation board will meet in February to consider new applicants for the second semester. New applications and documents are due by January 15. Current recipients need to send their first semester transcript in order to receive the second half of their grant. Click here for more information on the Ridley Foundation Scholarships.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bishop Hollerith returns from sabbatical

L to R: Canon Ed Tracy, Canon Michael Spear-Jones, Bishop Hollerith and his assistant, Leah Sicignano.
Dear Diocesan family,

I am writing you on the occasion of my first day back after having completed a three month sabbatical. I am deeply appreciative of the fact that I was afforded the opportunity to have time away for rest and spiritual refreshment. It truly was a gift.

While I do believe my time away was well-spent, I was disappointed that I was not able to travel and study in Jerusalem as I had originally planned. The unrest in the Middle East during July and August necessitated cancelling. I hope that one day I will be afforded another opportunity to take such a pilgrimage as part of my normal annual continuing education. The fact that I did not travel as much as I thought I would did provide me with more quality time with my family.

I am very thankful for all those who made my time away possible, especially Canon Michael Spear-Jones, Canon Ed Tracy, Chancellor Sam Webster, and Bishop David Jones. Needless to say, the Diocese was in very competent hands!

For the next week or so, as I transition back to the "normal" routine, I will be doing a lot of catching up and working directly with the diocesan staff. This weekend I am looking forward to attending the consecration of the new bishop of East Carolina, and next week being with the clergy of Southern Virginia for our annual conference at Chanco on the James.

In the next several weeks, while I'll have plenty to do, I will relish most of all the opportunity to reconnect with all of you and to hear your stories. I find that I return with an increased feeling of joy and excitement about the ministries that are taking place across our diocese. I also return with a deepened sense of just how blessed I am to be your bishop.

Bishop Hollerith

"A Sermon for Every Sunday" video project

Episcopalians Lauren Winner and Michael Curry are among the outstanding preachers who have recorded lectionary-based sermons on video as part of a project called "A Sermon for Every Sunday," intended as a resource for churches without pastors, churches in the interim, or churches that might simply need a supply preacher from time to time.  The resource can also be used for small group discussions or adult forums, Any congregation with the capability of showing or projecting a video can see and hear America's best preachers on any-or every-Sunday of the year for the astonishingly low price of $4.99 per sermon.  Visit the website for full details at

Episcopal Relief & Development update

By The Very Rev. Keith Emerson, Diocesan Coordinator, Episcopal Relief & Development

Let me express my thanks to the following congregations in our diocese for making contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development during the third quarter of the current year:
  • St. John's, Hopewell
  • Ascension, Norfolk
  • St. Mark's, Hampton   
  • St. Andrew's, Newport News
  • St. Luke's, Powhatan
  • St. Luke's, Blackstone
  • St. George's, Newport News
  • Christ and Grace, Petersburg
  • Christ Church, Smithfield         
  • St. George's, Pungoteague
  • Holy Apostles, Virginia Beach
  • Grace Church, Yorktown
I also want to call to your attention that for all gifts made to Episcopal Relief & Development's 75th Anniversary Fund between now and the end of the year will be matched dollar for dollar. You can make a contribution here

The 2014 Gifts for Life Christmas Catalog is available here. It is full of wonderful ways individuals and parishes can transform how they observe Advent and celebrate Christmas.

Thanks again for your participation and support of this wonderful ministry.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Employment Opportunity

Chanco on the James is currently accepting applications for the position of Director of Programs and seasonal Summer Camp Director.  Job descriptions and employment application can be found on our website at (click "About Us"). Questions? Contact Executive Director Gareth Kalfas at or 888-7CHANCO (888-724-2626).

Boys Home grows blue-ribbon white pine

Boys Home of Virginia once again was awarded a blue ribbon for White Pine entered at the annual Virginia Christmas Tree growers meeting held in August. Project Manager Greg Lemmer who is also the president of the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association oversees the Boys Home Christmas Tree Farm. Brandon Brown manages maintenance and farm upkeep, and several residents and staff throughout the year assist him.  

The tree farm, located in West Augusta, will celebrate its 21st season as a Boys Home operation. The tree farm is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., beginning Friday, November 28 and ending Sunday, December 21.  

Tree Farm Open House on Nov. 29

Open House at the Boys Home Christmas Tree Farm is Saturday, November 29. The theme "Over the River and Through the Woods" features family activities, refreshments, photo booth and door prizes. There's no better way to enjoy your Christmas than to visit the farm. It is just the right place for good tree selection while helping our young men. Besides trees, the gift shop sells wreathes, roping, handmade ornaments and a variety of Christmas items.  

The tree farm is located off Rt. 688 at 1118 Bear Wallow Flat, West Augusta, VA 24485. For information and directions, call 540-939-4106 or 540-965-7700. You may also visit the Boys Home website or Facebook page.  

Clergy transitions

The Rev. Ronald Ramsey will begin as Rector of St. Cyprian's, Hampton, 12/1/2014