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.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Rogation Sunday celebration honors Eastern Shore's COVID-19 victims

Submitted by Betsy Seyboldt - Holy Trinity, Onancock
The Very Rev. Rick Willis at the dedication of a tree  
in memory of those on the Eastern Shore  
who died in the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a sign of our continuing commitment to Creation Care at Holy Trinity, Onancock, we celebrated a contemporary Rogation Sunday on May 17. We walked in procession around the parish boundaries with eight parishioners and the Very Rev. Rick Willis, and then dedicated the planting of a Japanese maple in memory of those on the Eastern Shore who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. Videos of the service (Sixth Sunday of Easter, parts 1 and 2) can be found on Holy Trinity's YouTube channel.  
Rogation Days are an ancient custom observed since the 5th century. The word Rogation comes from the Latin verb rogare , meaning "to ask" and applied to the rogation days means to ask God's blessing of the harvest, earth and sea, reminding ourselves that we are the stewards of Creation. The Sixth Sunday of Easter is Rogation Sunday with the so-called minor rogations are held on Monday to Wednesday preceding Ascension Thursday, this week on May 21. An ancient custom was beating the bounds: a procession walked out the boundary lines of the village and marked the bounds with stakes. Sticks of willow and birch were used to strike the stakes; hence the name, beating the bounds. Subsequently the custom became incorporated into the Rogation Day celebration and was observed by walking the boundaries of the parish and acknowledging our tangible stewardship of God's creation.
Our dedication of the COVID-19 Memorial Tree is our way of saying each person matters, that life is precious and those who die are worth remembering. The parishioners of Holy Trinity want the friends and families affected by the virus to know that there is a place on the Shore where your loved one can be remembered; there is a safe, quiet spot where you can come and sit and pray and reflect on the good memories of your loved one.

Celebrating Graduation resources available from The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church Faith Formation Department's Office of Youth Ministry and Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministries have been collaborating with youth ministers, campus chaplains, and young adult ministers around the church to curate resources, ideas, and liturgies to help celebrate those who are graduating from high school and college.
Available Celebrating Graduation resources include prayers and blessings, service videos and virtual choirs, worship bulletins and scripture, as well as a collection of resources and ideas for celebrating 2020 graduates during this pandemic. There is also a special message from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Click here for more information.  

Resources for processing grief and lament

Finding Brave Space is a series of new videos with Dr. Catherine Meeks from the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing. There is also a new episode on the A Brave Space podcast on  Lament in the Midst of COVID-19. In the coming weeks Dr. Meeks will facilitate three webinars on lament.   
Grief and Graduation and Ideas & Resources For Lament & Thanksgiving *Especially Appropriate For Those Working With Youth are posts by Sharon Ely Pearson. They can be helpful in processing loss and grief with youth and young adults, including ideas for celebrating important moments the best way we can right now.   
Processing Grief And Death With Picture Books by Anna V. Ostenso Moore lists great books for helping children process grief. Sesame Street's Caring for Each Other Hub also has great resources for how to have conversation with children about COVID-19, anxiousness, and more.   
Weekly Webinars are being provided by Episcopal Relief and Development. Especially helpful is the "Addressing Isolation and Quarantine" webinar that discusses the "Emotional Lifecycle of Disaster", both Original and Elongated, in understanding what we are experiencing emotionally in this season.  

Online conversation about faith formation with EfM's Executive Director Karen Meridith

St. Martin's, Williamsburg, Wednesday webinar series, Bread for the Journey, continues this Wednesday, May 20, at 7 p.m. with Karen M. Meridith, Executive Director of Education for Ministry, the University of the South's flagship four-year program for lay theological education.
The conversation will survey how and why faith formation (and how we think about it) has changed over the years: from Sunday School in the Industrial Revolution through its rise (and fall?) in the 20th century. Our aim is to arrive at not just today's church, but to look at tomorrow and the future of faith formation. What opportunities and challenges are we facing, and who is God calling us to become? While the conversation is a theoretical one, it has important personal ramifications for each Christian. Who is God calling me to be, and how committed am I?
To prepare for the webinar, Karen suggests reading a five-part blog series, on how we do (and might do) formation in a changing church. Each short article is written by Sharon Pearson, longtime leader of Christian formation in the Episcopal Church. The webinar is free, but registration is required. Register here

Webinar May 21: Reflections & Resources for Summer Formation

Join host Building Faith for Reflections & Resources for Summer Formation, a free webinar on May 21, 3 to 4 p.m. As the COVID-19 pandemic extends into the months ahead, it is time to consider how we might offer our congregations opportunities for Christian formation in the summer months. In this webinar, Keith Anderson and Sarah Bentley Allred will provide guidance on how to plan summer formation for adults, youth and children. They will also share ideas from around the church for inspiration. Click here for more information and registration.

Invite-Welcome-Connect digital gathering June 10

Invite-Welcome-Connect invites you to a free Zoom webinar, June 10 at 3 p.m. Experienced practitioners and newcomers to Invite-Welcome-Connect will gather and present best-practices for a welcoming church in our new paradigm.
Our faith communities are navigating uncharted waters in the midst of these challenging and uncertain times, and we might ask:
  • How are we navigating the digital world in the midst of this pandemic?
  • How are we Inviting, Welcoming, and Connecting folks to our faith communities?
  • What are the best practices for redefining, reimagining, and revisioning the proclamation of the Gospel? 
  • How are we engaging, embracing, and implementing the ministry of Invite Welcome Connect?
Using God's gifts of creativity in ways that transform lives is at the core of the ministry of Invite Welcome Connect; and adaptability, flexibility, and innovation are in its DNA. Join the gathering on Wednesday, June 10, at 3 p.m. when seasoned clergy and lay leaders will share ideas, resources, and creative best practices for engaging in evangelism, hospitality, and the ministry of belonging.  
This 90-minute gathering at no charge but registration is required - click here to register. Details for joining the Zoom webinar will be sent once registration is completed and logistics have been finalized.

Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action

In the month of June, join The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and Episcopal Migration Ministries for Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action, a series of webinars to learn and advocate with and on behalf of immigrants, DACA recipients, refugees, and asylum seekers.     
Newcomers contribute greatly to U.S. communities, enriching our common life, strengthening the U.S. economy, and bringing joy as they join and reunite with families and friends. And yet, immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees face a wide array of challenges, including federal policies and legislation that are outdated and do not address the realities of immigrants in America today. As the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement, we are called to advocate with and for our siblings seeking safety and a better life in the United States.

June 7-13: Episcopal Action on DACA Week 
WEBINAR: June 9, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time
June 14-20: Episcopal Action on Resettlement Week 
WEBINAR: June 16, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time
June 21-27: Episcopal Action on Asylum Week 
WEBINAR: June 23, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time
Participants may choose to attend one or more of the webinars offered. Registration is required
. Click here for registration.  

Time to submit your Certificate of Lay Delegates & Alternates for 2020-2021

It is now time to submit a new Certificate of Lay Delegates and Alternates for Diocesan Council. Elected delegates and alternates will serve for an entire conciliar year beginning July 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2021. This term includes eligibility to vote at Pre-Council Convocation meetings in January, Annual Council in February, and any other Special Council or other called meetings that may occur during this period. Click here for more information and the form for sending in the name(s) of delegate(s) and alternate(s) elected by your vestry for Council year 2020-2021.

Safe Church Audits due June 30

Congregational/Organization Safe Church Annual Audits are due to the diocese on June 30.  The audit provides an opportunity for each church/organization to review their level of compliance with safe church polices and identify areas that need to be addressed to achieve compliance.  If you have questions about the Safe Church Annual Audit please contact Lynn Farlin at lfarlin@diosova.org or via phone at 757-213-3377.

Monday, May 11, 2020

New resource: Spiritual Directors

A new resource has been added to the diocesan website - a directory of spiritual directors. The resource includes a full profile of spiritual directors serving clients in Southern Virginia as well as answers to frequently asked questions about spiritual direction and a wealth of resources to explore. You can find this new resource on the Christian Formation page of the diocesan website.

Life at Boys Home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Boys Home of Virginia would like to thank you for your support and prayers while we continue to make adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to keep everyone updated about what is happening on "The Hill." At this time, we are accepting packages, but ask that in-kind gifts be mailed or held until we can freely welcome guests back on campus. Click here for a video featuring Executive Director Donnie Wheatley. He explains the precautions currently in place on campus.This video was filmed in mid-April and all measures are still in place except for the policy on packages. Again, know that you remain in our prayers, and please continue to remember the boys and staff in yours. Click here for more news from Boys Home.  

Dean Squires joins Jackson-Feild's board

Dean Squires, Director of Asset Management for Highwoods Properties, Inc., has joined the Board of Trustees of Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services.
Mr. Squires oversees the property management and maintenance functions for 28 Class A commercial properties amounting to more than 2.3 million square feet, seven owners associations and two third party accounts. He began his property management career in 1985 with Harrison & Bates and joined Highwoods in 1997.
Mr. Squires is a Cum Laude graduate from Old Dominion University.
He is a member and past president of the Innsbrook Rotary Club. He was named the club's Rotarian of the Year in 2000. Dean has enjoyed serving the community and especially children through Rotary. He currently chairs the club's grants committee which receives competitive grants from nonprofits and makes monetary awards based on the merits of their grant request.
He is looking forward to making a difference in the lives of children suffering from mental illness.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Pilgrimage to Portuguese Camino de Santiago

October 5 - 16, 2021
The Diocese of Southern Virginia is hosting a pilgrimage along the central Portuguese route, which will take us from Rubiaes, Portugal to Santiago, Spain. We will walk between villages at an average of 12 miles a day for 7 days, October 5-16, 2021. If interested, please contact Doris Custer. Space is limited.
For more information or to register, please visit worldstrides.com/register, click on Register and enter Trip ID# 190312.  You are able to view all the trip information, cost, etc. before you commit to registering. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Praying with Alexa, and other new resources

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 each week.  
Messages from Bishop Susan, including her videos and lectionary reflections, are all available on our website here.   
New resources include:
Alexa and Google Assistant - Both Alexa and Google Assistant have learned some Episcopal prayers. Thanks to a partnership between TryTank Experimental Lab and Forward Movement, you can now say, "Alexa, open Episcopal Prayer" or "Google, talk to Episcopal Prayer" and your device will begin playing the morning or evening prayer podcasts of Forward Movement.
A COVID-19 Spiritual Survival Kit - A free course from ChurchNext to help you tap into resources to help us deal with the pandemic in healthy ways. Course is available for individuals or for groups.
eFormation Conference - June 3. Virginia Theological Seminary hosts this annual all-day all-online conference. The conference brings diverse, strong voices to speak to the current state of digital ministry. These leaders will discuss practical resources as well as future-forward initiatives.    
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership in the Midst of Crisis - Free webinar on Thursday, April 30 at 3:30 p.m. In this thoughtful conversation, Ruth Haley Barton will help us explore how a leader can be strengthened at the soul level, even in the midst of crisis, so we can continue to be a source of life for others. 

Bruton Forum: God, crisis and the problem of evil

How do the ways we think about evil and God influence the way we think about human suffering, illness, disaster, and crisis? Tune in to the Bruton Parish, Williamsburg, Forum on Wednesday Apr 29 at 12 p.m. for a conversation with Dr. Chris Baglow (Notre Dame, McGrath Institute for Church Life) about God and evil. The gathering will address these topics and discuss the way in which a particular crisis about 15 years ago led Chris to his current research and vocation. Get more info and the link to join the Zoom event here.  

#SoVaGrateful - St. John's, Halifax, parishioner writes song to give thanks and lift spirits

Singer-songwriter David Martin, a member of St. John's, Halifax, wrote and recorded "Carry the Flame - A Tribute Song for Everyday Heroes of the COVID-19 Pandemic" - a song to help lift spirits and give thanks for those on the front lines. Listen here.   
The Diocese of Southern Virginia invites all congregations to join the Thankful Thursday bell ringing and social media #SoVaGrateful efforts to let our health care workers and first responders know that their care and commitment to others is appreciated beyond what words can express. Click here to learn how you can participate. 

Books for church libraries

Galilee, Virginia Beach, has limited library space and offers duplicates (not discards) of their church library books to any parish without a library that would like some excellent books available for parishioners. The material includes works from its collection of master works, commentary, prayer, liturgy, and church history. Galilee pays shipping. Contact Dave Wynne at diw1022@gmail.com. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

EYC Board applications are live!

The Episcopal Youth Community (EYC) Board is seeking applicants for the 2020-2021 school year.  Serving on the EYC Board is an exciting opportunity to be a leader in the diocese. The Board is comprised of up to nine youth members, preferably one youth representative who will be going into 10th, 11th, or 12th grade in the fall from each of the nine convocations in the diocese. The Board's mission is to help youth in the diocese grow in their spiritual journey and understanding of the Episcopal Church. The Board works closely with the Youth Missioner and other adult leaders to implement events like Spring and Fall Weekends, represent the youth voice at Annual Council, help connect youth with national Episcopal events like the Episcopal Youth Event and Province III gatherings (Middle Atlantic region of Episcopal churches), and are encouraged to explore new ways for youth in the Diocese to grow in community. We are looking for youth from across the Diocese and ask your help in finding youth who might be a good fight. The application deadline is May 31, 2020. Click here for the application.  

ECW video update; Autism Awareness Month

Dr. Rene Escoffery-Torres, Vice President of the ECW of Southern Virginia, provides a brief report and offers resources for the ECW's current focus, Unmasking the Mystery of Autism Spectrum Disorder. April is Autism Awareness Month, and the ECW is hoping to provide resources and connect the greater church community with good information they can use during this COVID-19 epidemic. Click here or on the video below to watch.  

Employment opportunity

Director, Children and Youth Christian Faith Formation Program
Grace Church, Yorktown, is seeking a Director of Faith Formation for Children and Youth to lead a vibrant ministry with and for the children and youth of Grace. Responsibilities include inspiring youth to a life of faith; nurturing a community of mutual support; developing and overseeing Christian Formation programs for children and youth; recruiting and training volunteers; and collaborating with church leadership. Click here for more information and how to apply. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Bishop Vaché Scholarship applications now being accepted

The Bishop Vaché Scholarships provide funds to assist both low-income and minority undergraduate college students in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. First-year students as well as returning college students are welcome to apply. Scholarship awards range from $500-$2500 per academic year.
Complete application packets for 2020 must be postmarked by July 1, 2020. Notifications will go out by July 29, 2020 and awards will be mailed by August 17, 2020. Click here for an application packet.

Cool Congregations Webinar April 30

We have all seen a glimpse of cleaner air due to the constraints on human activity required by the COVID-19 pandemic. But a more lasting way to clear the air and protect our climate is to measure and reduce our carbon footprints. While you're inside flattening the curve, what better time to gather up your data and measure your carbon footprint?  Join Interfaith Power & Light for a webinar on April 30 at 3 p.m. to demonstrate the NEW Cool Congregations calculator for your congregational facilities -- and for your home too.
Across the country, people of faith are making changes in their homes and places of worship to prevent global warming through our Cool Congregations program. IPL's unique stewardship program helps congregations reduce the carbon footprint of their facilities and engages their members in reducing their carbon footprint at home. The program educates, inspires, and saves money too!  
The calculators measure the energy to heat and cool and power your buildings, transportation, food, and procurement or dollars spent on goods and services.

New book by the Rev. Nigel Mumford available now

The Rev. Nigel Mumford, priest associate of prayer ministry at Galilee, Virginia Beach, has written a new book, "This is Where Your Healing Begins," that is now available on Amazon.  
The myriad of human need for healing and the peculiar personal histories surrounding them are as numerous as all people who ever lived on the planet, and involve physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, generational, identity, relational, financial, historical, locational, racial, inter-denominational, intellectual, and other global issues of healing. Spanning nearly thirty years, this book addresses what Mumford has identified as the core issues of everyday life: disease, diagnosis, distress, pain, fear, doubt, shame, guilt and all other manner of human concern.  
"My prayer is that hope, in the Person of the Lord Jesus, will flow through these pages and saturate your souls with what I have learnt--as I listened, loved, and prayed healing over thousands of people," says Mumford.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Virtual Easter Vigil a collaboration of nine Episcopal and Lutheran churches

By Kim Lenz, Acting Communications Coordinator, Grace, Yorktown 
The Holy Saturday Easter Vigil, held each year on the York River shoreline, will go virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Seven Episcopal congregations along with two Lutheran congregations have been working to turn what's been an eight-year tradition of drumming, fire, processions and baptisms into a virtual Vigil for participants to experience at home. Recreating what's been a highly participatory experience of a couple hundred folks has been no small feat, but all churches involved have done their best to bring this ninth annual vigil to the people.
Music Director Suzanne Daniel at Grace, Yorktown, has led the technology charge to record - safely and individually - this year's participants for a YouTube broadcast that will begin at 7 p.m. this Saturday, April 11. The Rev. Thomas Haynes of Christ the King, Tabb, will give the homily. The Rev. Sven vanBaars, rector of Abingdon Church in White Marsh, and this year's lead clergy, says the decision to produce a virtual Vigil is partly to mark the resurrection as the defining moment of Christian faith, but also the opportunity to have a fuller expression of the meaning of this event. The opening prayer "reminds us that the church is dispersed around the world. Maybe in this time of social isolation, in this time of being dispersed rather than gathered together as we typically are, we can hear and experience the words of this ancient liturgy with fresh ears and hearts."
The Vigil on the York River has historically been a collaboration recognizing Easter as a celebration of the whole church, not just individual parishes. "With the safe distancing guidelines in place we knew that we could not do the Vigil as we had, but we also knew that it was perhaps more important to make a statement of our faith in Christ's resurrection," says vanBaars. "Luckily, our Creator has made us very creative and we used our creative spirits to bring this event together in a virtual context."
A bulletin for this service, which also has a link to Grace's YouTube channel where it will be broadcast, is available now on the Grace Church homepage. For those who have not been to the waterfront Vigil, click here for a video created to promote last year's event.
This year's participating congregations are: Grace Episcopal in Yorktown; Abingdon Episcopal in White Marsh; Ware Episcopal in Gloucester; Apostles Lutheran in Gloucester; St. George's Episcopal in Newport News; Reformation Lutheran in Newport News; Kingston Parish Episcopal in Mathews; St. John's Episcopal in West Point; and Christ the King Episcopal in Tabb.

Virtual Easter Vigil from Chanco

Even though Chanco has suspended in-person group activity, we are finding ways to stay connected to our community. Join the Rev. Eileen Walsh for a special virtual/electronic Easter Vigil at Chanco on Saturday, April 11 at 8 p.m. via Chanco's Facebook page.  
The Easter Vigil is one of the oldest liturgies in the church. This 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! Don't miss it! 

Great Vigil from St. John's, Portsmouth

The Great Vigil of Easter is the largest worship celebration each year at St. John's, Portsmouth. Hundreds of worshippers usually gather each year in candlelight to hear the story of salvation (using scripture, video clips, and a wide variety of sacred and secular music), renew their baptismal vows, baptize new sisters and brothers in Christ, share the Eucharistic meal, and continue feasting at an elegant reception that goes well into the night! 
Though this year's shelter in place order makes all that impossible, you are invited to catch a flavor of this amazing annual Easter celebration on their Facebook page as St. John's Church celebrates The Great Vigil & First Celebration of Easter Online this Saturday, 4/11, at sunset (7:42pm...the beginning of the Third Day!).

Help us connect college-bound students with Campus Ministries

In an effort to help college-bound students make connections with the Episcopal Church and Canterbury fellowship when they arrive on campus this fall, we are asking one representative from each parish (Parish Administrator, Clergy, DRE, Youth Minister) to complete the data sheet linked below for anyone in our diocese who is college-bound this fall and email it to the Youth Missioner Megan Dern, mdern@diosova.org. If you have questions, please feel free to give Megan a call at 757-213-3393.  
Click for College-bound Students Data Sheet
The diocesan-sponsored Canterbury ministries at the College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University, Hampden-Sydney College, and Longwood University are eager to welcome new students and the information you provide will help facilitate that connection.  However, we want to make sure students are able to get in touch with a ministry wherever they go, even if it is not at one of the aforementioned universities. This is a great opportunity to support our youth and young adults as they go off into the world and to help continue to foster their relationships with the Episcopal Church. Thank you in for your help in gathering this information! 
Celebrating graduating seniors
Also, we are currently looking at different avenues to celebrate graduating seniors.  We know that with the school year cut short and many events cancelled, that seniors are not able to celebrate in ways that they have seen other classes be celebrated.  If you are interested in participating in this conversation, have seniors that you think might be interested in participating, or are doing something cool within your parish, please contact Youth Missioner Megan Dern, mdern@diosova.org.

New resources available

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 each week.  
Messages from Bishop Susan, including her lectionary reflections, are all available on our website here.  
Here are a few of the newly added resources:
Light in Dark Times Healing Souls During the Pandemic and Beyond, a free webinar TODAY at 1 p.m. from Fresh Expressions US.    
Youth Group at Home ideas, Galilee, Virginia Beach, has put together some youth group at home ideas for the whole family.   
Ecumenical resources for Holy Week and Easter, Christian Churches Together, Churches Uniting in Christ, and The National Council of Churches have joined together to offer resources for Christians who are observing Holy Week and Easter in their homes.
Holy Week Resources for Families, a free download from Church Publishing.
Holy Week at Home, a resource created by Kristen Ketron, Director of Formation Ministries for Children & Youth at St. Matthias, Midlothian.
Stations of the Cross for younger people, a resource created by Kristen Ketron, Director of Formation Ministries for Children & Youth at St. Matthias, Midlothian (a PDF in booklet format).
Sermons for Holy Week 2020: New resources for worship, reflections, meditation
A new resource, Sermons for Holy Week 2020, is an ideal companion for Holy Week devotions. Like all resources offered by The Episcopal Church's office of communication, Episcopal congregations, dioceses, and organizations and agencies have permission to use Sermons for Holy Week 2020 for online worship, study groups, or other virtual use.
Sermons for Holy Week 2020 is designed for public and personal use for group discussions, personal meditations, reflections, and devotional reading by preachers, groups, individuals, adults and youth.
Prepared through The Episcopal Church's popular Sermons That Work, the resource is designed for use throughout Holy Week to follow Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem, to Gethsemane, to the foot of the cross, and toward the joy of Easter.
Included are resources for Palm Sunday through the Great Vigil, all presented in different voices by the cadre of writers from Sermons That Work. Topics are: Made Holy; Extravagant Love; Shame; The Paradox of Judas; By Our Love; and He Has Been Raised from the Dead.
Sermons for Holy Week 2020 is available to download at no fee  here
Sermons That Work will also be launching a podcast on Palm Sunday, April 4, offering audio versions of the sermon for each day of Holy Week. After Easter, the podcast will continue weekly, with a new sermon available for every Sunday. Find the podcast here or on your favorite podcasting platform.
For more information contact Christopher Sikkema, Office of Communication manager for special projects, csikkema@episcopalchurch.org.

Safe Church Training postponed through June

Due to Governor Northam's mandatory stay-at-home order, all in-person Safe Church Training workshops have been postponed thru June. The registration links have been removed from the diocesan website and we will be contacting individuals who submitted registrations to inform them of this decision. We plan  to reschedule the in-person training events once it is safe for individuals to gather, after this health crisis has passed. 
Online training is still available, however please do be mindful that the training covers difficult topics and can be a trigger point for individuals who have been victims of abuse. If you wish to register to complete the training on-line, click here. 
Watch the e-news and the website for updates about summer safe church training offerings. 

ECW Grapevine newsletter available

The Grapevine, the diocesan ECW newsletter, for Spring 2020 is here! Click here for your copy. This edition includes important information about:
  • Annual Spring Meeting cancellation
  • ECW Scholarship applications due JUNE 1 (CORRECTION)
  • Province III ECW Annual Meeting
  • and MUCH more
The Grapevine is a quarterly print-ready newsletter available for individuals and churches to receive via email. Subscribe by going to www.diosova.org  and entering your email address in the "Sign up to receive news" box at the top right of the page.
ECW seeking historian/archivist

The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of the Diocese of Southern Virginia is seeking an historian/archivist. The Historian/Archivist shall: 
  1. Search out and continue to compile records of the history of the ECW.  These  records shall include parish,  convocation and diocesan histories and shall be stored in a fireproof area of a building with public access, said building to be selected by the historian/archivist.
  2. In addition to these duties, the Historian/Archivist must be able to chronicle and document the history of the Diocesan ECW, placing activities/events and functions in a chronological and historical context.  She must posses excellent writing skills, knowledge of Word processing functions, and the capability to make informed  determinations of which materials or artifacts will be preserved in their original condition or scanned/digitized for future use/reference.
  3. Update with information on storing archives. 
If you are interested, please contact Laura L. Manigault, Diocesan Episcopal Church Women President, carver.manigault7@gmail.com or Deborah Austin, Nominating Committee Chair, complianceretired@gmail.com. Please also make this announcement to your ECW Chapter in your Parish.

How you can help Boys Home during the COVID-19 outbreak

The Boys Home in Covington shares these ways you can support them during this time:
  • Pray for our students, staff, and administrators.
  • Because several spring events had to be postponed, Boys Home can use your gifts now more than ever. The recently-passed CARES Act now allows certain contributions to be deducted "above the line" and loosens percentage limitations on gifts made to non-profits in 2020. Consider a donation to Boys Home and make a difference in the life of a boy. Thank you to those who have remembered us with donations--particularly to the general fund, since that is what helps us the most at a time like this.
  • Due to state regulations and an effort to lessen the threat of spreading the virus, Boys Home will not be accepting in-kind gifts until further notice.
  • Consider purchasing quilt tickets for our current raffle. More info available in this newsletter.

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 hospitality@chanco.org 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.