Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Creating sacred space at home

By Canon for Formation Lynn Farlin
During this time of social distancing various digital tools are being used to help us stay connected and are providing diverse ways to worship at home. While I'm thankful for those tools, I am also mindful that some intentional, quiet, low tech, sacred space is equally needed for prayer and reflection. The video shows one example of how sacred space was created at home. Visit our Facebook page and share a photo of the sacred space that you have created in your home (or email them to Click here, or the image below, to watch. 

Zoom meeting for Christian formation leaders

If you have responsibility for Christian formation (children, family, youth, adult) efforts the Christian Education Network (CE-NET)  would like to invite you to a Zoom gathering  on March 30 at 5:30.  During our time together we will be sharing ideas/resources for enriching formation during this time of social distancing.  Click here to receive the Zoom login information.

Add your live-stream and other digital offerings to The Episcopal Asset Map

The Episcopal Asset Map invites churches who are live-streaming services to update their worship information on the map as soon as possible. Update your page to share what services you are live-streaming, whether those offerings are regular, semi-regular, or occasional services, and in what language they are offered. Click here for step-by-step directions. You do NOT need a log-in to add information.  

Habits of Grace: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, I invite you to join me each week to take a moment to cultivate a 'habit of grace.' A new video meditation will be posted every Monday through May. Click here for more info and to watch the videos.

New resources added to 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  
Messages from Bishop Susan, including her lectionary reflections and video, Being the Church during the coronavirus are all available on our website here.
Free Conference Call enables you to hold conference calls for free
Center for Lifelong Learning at VTS offers numerous video tutorials on the use of digital media like Zoom, Facebook, etc. It also offers recordings of two webinars on Holy Week, Triduum and Easter services that honor social distancing. 
Beyond Livestream Worship: What we learned from our experiment with online worship is a series of blog posts by Episcopal Church Foundation
Worship and formation at home
Creating Sacred Space at Home a video by Canon for Formation Lynn Farlin
Lectionary calendar Find the collect and readings for each day   
Bedtime Prayers for Children a video from All Saints, Virginia Beach
Rule of Life songs for children (videos) from Anne Zobel, Director of Christian Formation, and Rev. Robert Foxwell, Organist/Choirmaster, at All Saints, Virginia Beach. Click here for the lyrics to the songs so you can sing along.
Virtual Spirituality Room at All Saints, Virginia Beach
Bruton Forum Lecture series with topics range from Scripture, and Science & Faith to the Doctrine of God
Other resources
COVID-19 Resources for Churches from Episcopal Church Foundation, updated regularly
Church Fundraising in a New Normal a webinar recording from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship and the Consortium for Endowed Episcopal Parishes
Don't Feed the Beast: Trusting the Gospel in Trying Times a webinar recording from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship and the Consortium for Endowed Episcopal Parishes
Recommendations for Food Pantries & Food Ministries a very helpful guidelines from Diocese of Virginia
Assistance for individuals and small businesses 
Dial 211 for questions and assistance 

Being the Church during the coronavirus

"We can still be the Church. The Church is open even if we aren't able to come to their buildings right now."

Join Bishop Susan as she begins sharing suggestions for how we can worship in our homes, especially during Holy Week and Easter. Click here or the screenshot below to watch.

Message from Bishop Haynes: Holy Week, Triduum and Easter during coronavirus/COVID-19

On March 12, we directed Episcopal communities in our Diocese to suspend all church activities including gatherings for public worship for a period of two weeks in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 disease caused by the now pandemic coronavirus. At that time that we promised that would re-evaluate by March 26. I think it is safe to say that even with March 26 still a few days away, we all realize that our time of social distancing will extend far beyond that date. The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have suggested a period of up to 8 weeks. Sadly, these 8 weeks encompass our most sacred times of Holy Week and Easter, a time when more people gather to receive the Eucharist than at any other time. How can we NOT gather, we wonder? And yet, our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has asked us to do just that and to encourage and engage online and in-home resources for worship. (See the Presiding Bishop's statement here)
In light of Bishop Curry's advice, the advice of health professionals monitoring the pandemic and the directions of government officials, public gatherings for worship continue to be suspended in the Diocese of Southern Virginia until further notice - a time frame which regrettably includes the liturgies for Holy Week and Easter.
While I deeply appreciate the enthusiasm and creativity of priests from different parts of the Diocese who have proposed alternative ways of celebrating the Eucharist which might, if very carefully employed, still observe the requirements of social distancing and sanitation, I am not able to authorize those at this time. My reasons are two-fold. First, even though the risks of disease transmission might be mitigated, at least in part, in a "parking lot Eucharist," where the Sacrament is delivered to opened car windows, the risk of transmission would not be eliminated. Likewise with consecrated hosts that are left on the doorsteps of shut-in parishioners. Because we do not yet completely understand the extent of that risk, health officials are cautioning against it. Secondly, as Christians, we are called to attend to the well-being of our neighbor - essentially the good of our communities. Our community officials have asked us to observe a policy of social distancing. As Christian citizens, it behooves us to model adherence to those policies rather than look for exceptions that would enable us to circumvent them, or ways to be excused from them, however well-intentioned our efforts.
Likewise, I cannot authorize any electronic consecration, or consecrating of elements over the internet. We live an embodied faith which means physical presence. Our current practices require the actual laying on of hands, not a virtual laying on of hands.
These are all painful, difficult decisions. Since the Liturgical Reform Movement of the 1970's, we have been a church centered on the Eucharist. We believe that Christ is powerfully revealed present to us in the breaking of the bread. However, I would encourage you to consider and remember that Jesus is revealed to us in other ways as well - in Scripture, in the kindnesses and loving actions of others, in our reaching out in whatever way we can to the poor and marginalized. Perhaps God is working through this crisis to reveal to us additional ways to connect to Him and the saving work of His Son. Perhaps our task now is to explore and create new ways to live our Baptismal Promises even in the face of this coronavirus.
We will be working with you in the next days and weeks to gather resources for use in the homes of all those associated with your parishes to offer ways to observe Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter in their individual homes, rather than in large worship gatherings. We will also continue to make online resources available. Please do not hesitate to contact us. While we all want to help you, in particular, Canon Lynn Farlin (Canon for Formation) and Ms. Ann Turner (Diocesan Communications Officer) are especially equipped to assist you in staying connected with your parishes and each other.
I do realize that none of this is news that you wanted to hear today. I did not want to deliver it. I do want to remind you, however, that in this time when social isolation might cause us to feel disconnected and separate, there is nothing, absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:38-39). Not even the coronavirus! And if we all make our life in Christ, from whom we are joined, then we cannot be separated from one other either!
With love and every blessing,
Bishop Susan

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Using Sparkhouse Christian formation curriculum in digital space

For Christian formation leaders and churches using Sparkhouse curriculum, here is information about how you can use that curriculum in virtual space.

Sparkhouse recognizes with the spread of COVID-19, churches are moving towards a virtual discipleship method. Here are proposed solutions for distributing materials to your students:

If you are a Sparkhouse Digital Subscriber:
  • You may add an unlimited number of users to your Sparkhouse Digital account
    • My Account – Leaders – Add New Leader
  • You may download the materials and upload them to a temporary, password protected site
    • Click here for instructions on how to create a password protected Dropbox folder
If you own the content in physical form:
  • It may be duplicated and distributed internally either through physical copies or a temporary, password protected site, including learner leaflets.
    • 1517 Media cannot provide assistance with anything outside of our own products (duplicating DVDs, Dropbox, Windows/Mac programs, etc.)
    • Consult local IT professionals in your area or conduct your own research online
Any posting online must be to an internal group, i.e. not public.
Certainly if any of your congregations have questions on this topic, they can call us  8AM-4:30PM Central Time Monday through Friday: 877-702-5551, and also at 800-328-4648.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A message from Bishop Haynes - more news on the coronavirus

"But as for me, I have trusted in you, O Lord*
 I have said, "You are my God.
My times are in your hand*
 Rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.
Make your face to shine upon your servant*
 And in your loving kindness save me"
(Psalm 31:14-17) 

The Psalmist reminds us that in all things, our times are in God's hands. In this time of evolving uncertainty around the coronavirus, the reminder that we are in God's certain hands is a timely reminder. As the situation evolves, we are gaining more information at the diocesan level that we are using to help us make decisions about our communal life together. Because there is so much about this virus that we don't know, our decisions and responses are also evolving and we do ask for the patience of everyone as sometimes we have to make decisions that are disappointing and unsettling.

Because we are learning that the transmission of this virus can happen as easily as that of the common cold, we are beginning to think about the ways in which we gather and how we ought to interact with one another. After consulting with epidemiologists and health officials as well as other church leaders, we have had to make the disheartening decision to cancel a few diocesan-wide events in the coming weeks. We will continue to evaluate this evolving situation beyond the next few weeks and keep you informed. The events which have currently been canceled are:
  • Safe Church Training scheduled for March 14
  • Happening, scheduled at Camp Chanco for the weekend of March 27-29
  • Clergy/Vestry Day scheduled for March 21
  • Clergy/Vestry Day scheduled for March 28
  • Clergy/Vestry Day scheduled for April 4
Information will be forthcoming about refunds of deposits paid for the Clergy/Vestry Days.
We realize that to some, this decision is distressing and disappointing. We too are distressed and disappointed; but given the lack of information we have on many levels about this virus, we are erring on the side of caution.

Please stay tuned to electronic communications from the Diocesan Office as we try to offer ways that we can stay connected with one another. Our challenge during this uncertain time is to continue to be the Church in times which challenge us. God has us in God's certain hands. 

Prayer for People Critically Ill or Facing Great Uncertainty

God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
-Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 765

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Walking Toward Truth provided a unique and deep experience for pilgrims

The Repairers of the Breach wishes to express its thanks for the pilgrims who participated in the Walking Towards Truth Pilgrimage that occurred on March 6 & 7. The group spent two days visiting sites of memory related to the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Hampton and Jamestown and had deep opportunities for education, discussion, reflection and worship.  Special thanks to Terry Brown - Superintendent of Ft. Monroe National Monument, the Tucker Family, Mark Summers -Jamestown Historian, Valarie Holmes - Angela Interpreter, Hampton History Museum staff, Barbara Hamm Lee - panel moderator and panel members Linda Rowe, Rev. Samantha Vincent-Alexander, Rev. Les Ferguson and Rev. Willis Foster. We are grateful to Darlene Jackson, Rev. Willis Foster, Rev. Bob and Chris Randall and Bishop Haynes for enriching our worship experiences. Thanks one and all for an informative and powerful experience!

Beyond Addiction workshop March 20 & 21

Beyond Addiction is a Free Workshop for Parents, Family Members, Recovery Communities and Caregivers. Attendees will learn the Invitation to Change (ITC) approach:
  • A new way of thinking about substance use, addiction, and recovery
  • Skills and strategies to help facilitate change in a loved one dealing with addiction
  • Discussion on how to combat shame and promote self-compassion
  • Take-home exercises to use with loved ones, clients, and for yourself
The workshop will begin on Friday, March 20, 6 to 9 p.m. in Historic Lane Auditorium in Colonial Williamsburg with "Let's Talk Addiction and Recovery" Fireside Chat with Edward Grinnan, the Rev. Jan Brown (Archdeacon of Diocese of Southern Virginia) and Dr. Carrie Wilkens. It continues on Saturday, March 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Lewis Hall at Bruton Parish, Williamsburg with a practical, compassionate and research-proven roadmap for addressing addiction led by Dr. Carrie Wilkens. 
Click here for a flyer with more information.  
To register go to 

James Solomon Russell Celebration April 5

The James Solomon Russell Commemoration Committee has worked diligently to organize the annual Feast of the Ven. Dr. James Solomon Russell, priest and educator. Please mark your calendars for Sunday, April 5, at 2:00 p.m. Bishop Haynes will be the celebrant and preacher for the event, which will be held at New Hope Baptist Church, 255 Union Mill Road, South Hill.   
A Patrons' List will contain the names of individuals who donate $20 or more to the event. Names and funds for the Patrons' List are due by Monday, March 23. Checks should be made out to: Treasurer, James Solomon Russell Commemoration Committee, and should be mailed to Mrs. Annie F. Walker, Chair; James Solomon Russell Commemoration Committee, P.O. Box 463, South Hill, Virginia 23970.
The Committee looks forward to your presence and participation in this remembrance of the history of the Episcopal Church in Virginia.

Are you planning to attend this year's Fresh Expressions conference?

This year's Fresh Expressions national conference, The Present Future: Cultivating a Church for Tomorrow Today, is planned for April 1-3 in Reston, Virginia. If you are interested in or planning to attend, please contact Canon for Formation Lynn Farlin, or 757-213-3377, to possibly facilitate carpooling.  

Planting & Growing Your Food Ministry webinar

Diocese of Virginia invites you to join them for Planting & Growing Your Food Ministry - a free webinar on March 18, 7 to 8 p.m. The event is free, but registration is required. Register here
If you have a seedling idea for a food, garden or land ministry, or want to grow your current ministry, join this conversation with agrarian ministry practitioner, Brian Sellers-Petersen. Brian will provide you with:
  • Examples from churches across the country that are creatively using their land and property to grow food, feed the hungry and care for the environment.
  • Ideas and inspiration to help you become church gardeners and farmers.More uses for your existing church garden.
  • Ways your church land can be used to further care for creation.
  • Ways to involve our children and youth in creation care, gardening and food ministries.
Brian Sellers-Petersen is the Agrarian Missioner for the Diocese of Olympia and author of Harvesting Abundance: Local Initiatives of Food and Faith. He was a keynote speaker and preacher at Diocese of Virginia's recent Annual Convention.

ECW Spring General Meeting date correction

Please note that the correct date for the ECW Spring General Meeting is Saturday, May 16, at St. Cyprian's Hampton (1242 W. Queen Street). The cost is $20. If you plan to attend, RSVP to Corresponding Secretary Tia Morings,
Also please note that ECW President Laura L. Manigault has a new mailing address: 232 West Gilbert Street, Apt. 143, Hampton, VA 23669

Bishop Susan to conduct Open Office Hours on the Eastern Shore

Bishop Susan will be available for Open Office Hours on the Eastern Shore on Wednesday, March 11. She will begin by attending noonday prayers at Holy Trinity, Onancock, and will then meet with the Convocation 1 Clergy. Then, beginning at 2 p.m., she will open her doors to anyone who wants to come chat. Time slots of 30 minutes each will be offered either on a walk-in basis or you may contact The Rev. Frederick (Rick) W. Willis, the Dean of the Convocation for an appointment,

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Message from Bishop Haynes: Guidelines for congregations to prevent spread of illness

Dear Beloved Family in Christ,
This morning I write to you to offer my assurance, prayers, and a few guidelines for your worshipping communities during this season of increased potential for the spread of contagious diseases, including the flu, the common cold and most recently the coronavirus.
The first thing that I would stress is that we be prepared, but that we not allow ourselves to become panicked. Preparation anticipates the possible, but it does not paralyze us. When we get into our cars to travel from one place to the next, we fasten our seatbelts in order to protect us and minimize injury in the event of an accident; but we don't stay put in our houses and abandon our travel plans for fear of that accident. Likewise, as we worship together in communities where infectious illness can spread, we take measures to protect ourselves from the spread of those illnesses; but we don't stop worshipping together.
Here are a few guidelines to consider during this season:
Frequent Hand-washing is counseled as the number one preventive strategy for contagious diseases. Additionally, avoid touching your face, especially the eyes, mouth and nose through which germs can gain easy access to your body.
Holy Communion: Those engaged in the preparation and distribution of Holy Communion (altar guild, clergy, and lay Eucharistic ministers) should exit the altar just after the Peace to wash their hands thoroughly in the Sacristy. Hand sanitizer should be available throughout the Church for those who wish to use it. Taking Communion by dipping the bread in the wine should be avoided unless the Lay Eucharistic Minister does that for you. And Clergy are exhorted to remind the people that Communion in one kind is entirely sufficient and people may bypass the Chalice if they prefer.
The Peace: While liturgically, the Peace is part of the service, the rubrics allow for the greeting of one another to be voluntary. Rather than shaking hands, greet one another verbally, or with some other greeting besides a handshake that does not involve actual contact (a nod, a bow, a side hug, an elbow bump, etc.) Be especially respectful of people who do not wish to pass the Peace.
Coffee Hour: Those who host Coffee Hour, of course, are reminded to follow all food preparation guidelines, especially the washing of hands.
Church Attendance: As I reminded all who assembled at Council this weekend, faithful church attendance is one of the ways we keep our first Baptismal Promise (BCP p. 304). However, if you are sick, loving your neighbor as yourself (Baptismal Promise No 4 BCP p. 305) suggests that perhaps the loving thing to do is to stay home. If you choose to stay home, please connect with the community in one of the following ways:
  • Listen to Morning and Evening Prayer with The Audio Office at This is a ministry started by the Rev. Thomas Haynes (my husband) when we were in Northern Indiana and features readers from all over North America and Canada (both clergy and lay).
  • Tune into worship live-streamed by the National Cathedral, Trinity Wall Street, or the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta - or watch a delayed broadcast via YouTube.
  • Pray Morning and Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer or accessible online at, a website offered by the Brotherhood of St. Gregory, which provides texts for Morning and Evening Prayer, Noonday Prayer, and Compline.
  • Give a quick phone call to someone else in your church, just to stay connected.
  • And finally, take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, good nutrition, exercise, leisure. Remember that prevention is worth an ounce of cure!
These are just a few suggestions about how to stay connected. Here in the Diocesan Office, we are working on an expanded list of resources which we hope to send to you soon and to have posted on the website. We as Christians have work to do. We should not permit our fear to keep us from doing it. God has given his angels charge over us to guard us in all our ways.
"So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today." (Matthew 5:34)
Blessings and Peace in Christ,
Bishop Susan
Additional resources and a printable version of the Bishop's letter can be found here. 

Clergy Continuing Education Grant applications due April 1

Applications for Clergy Continuing Education Grants are due April 1. The primary purpose of the grants are to support programs that are essentially theological in emphasis. This does not, however, rule out programs designed for training in special ministries, or those which would in other ways enhance the effectiveness of an individual in his or her ministry. Click here for information and application form.