Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parishes give "ashes to go" a try on Ash Wednesday

The Rev. Win Lewis of Christ & St. Luke's in Norfolk and the Rev. Gillian Barr of the ODU Canterbury Center offered "ashes to go" on Ash Wednesday morning outside a busy Starbucks in Norfolk. “The rules are: We don’t accost anyone,” Win told Gillian, "Just see if anyone comes," as the two stood on the sidewalk next to a small sign reading: "Welcome. Ashes to go." And people did come. Drivers slowed down to check out what was going on.

Win and Gillian weren't the only ones in Southern Virginia that took Ash Wednesday to the streets of their community. Folks from St. Luke's in Powhatan set up an "Ashes to Go" station outside the Powhatan YMCA this morning from 9 to 10 a.m. and will go back this evening from 4 to 5 p.m.

Communications grant funding available to congregations

Communications Grants from the Diocese of Southern Virginia provide congregations within the diocese with funding for development of digital communications. Grant funds are intended to assist churches that do not currently make use of digital communications methods to create and implement a new digital communication program. Funds may also be used to assist churches with an existing digital communication program that have discovered needs within their congregation or community that can be addressed with a new digital communication initiative. Click here for more information and an application.

ECW Scholarship applications now being accepted

Episcopal Church Women's Elise Holladay-Beverley D. Tucker Scholarship applications are now being accepted. The deadline for applications is April 30. Applicants must be communicants of the Diocese of Southern Virginia, have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and be enrolled full-time for the coming year. Students may receive funds twice. Click here for more information and application. Questions? Contact Deborah Austin, or 757-538-1797.

Safe Church classroom training scheduled

Classroom training for Creating Safe Churches for Congregations & Children is being offered April 21, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at St. Barnabas, Richmond. These sessions are recommended for all Vestry members and church employees. Any parishioners, volunteers, clergy and staff who work with children are requested to complete the Child module. The first session will be from 9:30-12:00 and will be the Adult Module. The second session from 12:30-3:00 will cover the Children curriculum. Lunch will be served only to those attending both sessions. Deadline for registration is Monday, April 9. Cost to attend one class is $5, cost to attend both classes is $10. Click here to register.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Presiding Bishop calls for focus on Millennium Development Goals during Lent 2012

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori invites a focus on the Millennium Development Goals for Lent 2012.

“I invite you to use the Millennium Development Goals as your focus for Lenten study and discipline and prayer and fasting this year,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said.  “The Millennium Development Goals are truly reflective of several of the Five Marks of Mission.”

An audio of her 2012 Lenten message is available here or

The text of her 2012 Lenten message follows.

Lent Message 2012

I greet you at the beginning of Lent. 

In this year I’m going to invite you to think about the ancient traditions of preparing in solidarity with candidates for baptism, to think about the old disciplines of prayer and fasting and alms-giving and study, through the focus on those beyond our communities, in the developing world, who live in abject poverty. 

I invite you to use the Millennium Development Goals as your focus for Lenten study and discipline and prayer and fasting this year.  I’m going to remind you that the Millennium Development Goals are about healing the worst of the world’s hunger. They’re about seeing that all children get access to primary education.  They’re about empowering women. They’re about attending to issues of maternal health and child mortality. They’re about attending to issues of communicable disease like AIDS and malaria and tuberculosis. They’re about environmentally sustainable development, seeing that people have access to clean water and sanitation and that the conditions in slums are alleviated.  And finally, they are about aid, foreign aid.  They’re about trade relationships, and they’re about building partnerships for sustainable development in this world.

As you pray through the forty days of Lent, I encourage you to attend to the needs of those with the least around the world.  I would invite you to study, both about how human beings live in other parts of the world and our own responsibility as Christians. 

What the Bible says more often than anything else is to tend to the needs of the widows and orphans, those without.  Jesus himself says, “Care for the least of these.” 

I invite you to consider your alms-giving discipline this Lent and remember those in the developing world who go without. 

I wish you a blessed Lent and a joyful resurrection at the end of it that may be shared with others around the world. 

God bless you.  

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church launches its own iPad app

The Episcopal Church Office of Communication has launched its first iPad app, Wayfarer.

Available as a free, quarterly iPad app downloadable at iTunes, all the content can also be viewed in an Internet browser here or

“Wayfarer features compelling stories told through video, photographs and words,” noted Lynette Wilson, Wayfarer producer. Wilson, who is also an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service, addressed the appropriateness of the name. “We chose to name the app Wayfarer because we intend to tell a wide spectrum of stories about people, possibilities and action across a broad landscape,” she said. “This is an exciting moment - it represents our entry into mobile content, appealing both to Episcopal and broader audiences,” noted Anne Rudig, Director of Episcopal Church Office of Communication. “As the title suggests, each issue of Wayfarer has been shot in a different far-flung location.”

VA Uninsured Medical Catastrophe Fund needs your help

Virginia's Uninsured Medical Catastrophe Fund needs us. The UMCF came from the hearts of two Virginians-one a long-time Episcopalian in our diocese-who learned of a fellow Virginian, a woman, diagnosed with breast cancer and left untreated for more than a year because she was uninsured. They turned their anger into action and took their idea to the General Assembly where it was given life in 1999. It was created to do one thing only-save the lives of uninsured Virginians diagnosed with a medical catastrophe and 108 people have been saved, most of them suffering from cancer. Critically, the UMCF has a balance of less than $24,000 as of the end of January and so the Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Medical Assistance Services, which administers the program, has established a waiting list. Additional modest funding, $225,000, is expected to arrive through the state budget after July 1. But that leaves five months and a growing waiting list for people who cannot wait. The UMCF is a tax check-off on Virginia income tax forms but it can also receive direct donations at any time. Now would be a program-saving, life-saving time. Checks should be made payable to: DMAS-Uninsured Medical Catastrophe Fund and mailed to: Uninsured Medical Catastrophe Fund, Dept. of Medical Assistance-Fiscal Unit, 600 East Broad Street, Suite 1300, Richmond VA 23219.