Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Virginia Theological Seminary Fall Ministry Conference for prospective students

You are invited to be our guest on Wednesday, November 14 at a one-day Fall Ministry Conference for prospective students from the surrounding region. Whether you are contemplating a vocation in the Church, want to deepen your understanding of your faith, or want to learn how to share your faith more effectively with others, the Fall Ministry Conference is the event to attend. You'll hear about our programs, talk to faculty and students, go to classes, have lunch and tour the campus, and find out how Virginia Seminary equips people for faithful witness. To register for the Conference or for further information go to www.vts.edu/admissions, or email admissions@vts.edu. This one day event will best serve the needs of visitors who can drive to and from campus on the day of the conference. Space is limited, so register now if you are interested in attending.

Tri-Diocesan Council on Aging offers Fall Camp Oct. 22-25

The Tri-Diocesan Council on Aging's Fall Camp will be October 22-25 at Shrine Mont in Orkney Springs, VA. Keynote speaker will be Philip Gulley, the voice of small-town American life. Along with writing Front Porch Tales, Hometown Tales, and For Everything a Season, Philip Gulley is the author of the Harmony series of novels, as well as If Grace Is True and If God Is Love, co-authored with James Mulholland. He hosts "Porch Talk with Phil Gulley" on the Indiana PBS affiliate WFYI television's flagship show Across Indiana. Chaplain for the camp will be our own Bishop Hollerith. Click here for more information.

Bishop's Days for Parish Leaders: Enlivening Our Faith for Generations to Come

WEST - October 20 at Redeemer, Midlothian
EAST - October 27 at Emmanuel, Virginia Beach   

Workshops will have a different look this year, based on the model successfully used by TED conferences. Instead of just one "expert" speaker on a particular topic, TED talks involve a panel of people who share experiences and ideas and engage the participants in dialogue. The entire small group becomes the "expert" in the room. While many TED talks are online, a number of conference formats are adapting this model of learning rather than the top-down approach. We will still have our experts, but we feel that there are inspiring ideas, programs, and people around our diocese from which all of us could learn more.

Bishop's Days offer 14 workshops from which to choose. Get the most from the day for your parish by bringing a team and have each member attend a different workshop. For complete information about workshops, schedule, registration and a brochure you can download, go to our website.

LPM now enrolling for 2012-2013 session

The Central Virginia chapter of the Leadership Program for Musicians (LPM) is currently accepting registrations for the 2012-2013 session beginning September 14-15 at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Richmond. LPM is a continuing education program in church music, worship, and liturgy, and is open to people of all denominations although sponsorship is provided by the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Students will meet monthly for five months on one Friday night and all day Saturday to complete courses offered this year on Leading Congregational Song, Resources for an Effective Music Ministry, Philosophy, and Hymnody of the Christian Church. In addition, registered students attend the March workshop for free. At the completion of the two year program, students receive a Certificate of Church Music from the National Leadership Program for Musicians organization.

Complete details of the program can be found on our website www.lpm-va.org or by contacting our Coordinator, Nellwyn Beamon, at (757) 423-6715 (day) or emailing nbeamon@ascension-norfolk.org AND nadezhda@quixnet.net. A non-refundable deposit of $100 will hold your space in this year's class. Classes are $200 each or $600 for all four. Late registrations received after September 1 add $50.

A message from Bishop Hollerith regarding the 77th General Convention

Dear Diocesan Family,

I am glad to report that the deputation from the Diocese of Southern Virginia has returned safely from our time in Indianapolis at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. It's good to be home!

Unlike past Conventions which were typically 10 days long, the 77th Convention compressed the work of the triennial into eight days. As a result, we did more work in a shorter period of time than in the past. Each day of legislation began early and ended late. Legislative committees would typically begin at 7:00 or 7:30 a.m. for most of us. The larger legislative sessions of both houses would begin before lunch and usually conclude their business around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. Following a dinner break legislative committees would meet again until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. in the evening. I think it is fair to say that all of us returned home exhausted - and yet, I believe we all feel energized by what we experienced in Indianapolis.

It is difficult to describe the sheer volume of material covered at General Convention or the sheer volume of the process itself. The Convention is the largest bicameral (two house) process in the world. While the House of Bishops was comprised of a mere 200 or so bishops, the House of Deputies (lay people, priests and deacons) involved over 700 deputies and 200-plus alternate deputies. Add to that number visitors, special guests, the press, spouses, etc. and the result was a huge assembly of people. I attended one mid-morning Eucharist where there were at least 1,600 people in the congregation.

Given the size of General Convention and the fact that those gathered do the work of the Church through a massive legislative process, it would be easy to conclude that God gets left out of all of it and that the work which is done is somehow less than "holy". I attended my first General Convention in 2009 with more than a bit of skepticism about this possibility.

But what I discovered in 2009, and what I discovered this last week in Indianapolis was the Church of God in all its diversity, and in all its chaos, striving, sometimes struggling, to do the work of its Lord as faithfully as possible. It wasn't always pretty and we more often than not exhibited the "fallen" nature of institutionalized religion, and yet, there seemed to be something sacred and remarkable about our work together. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit was among us and around us at General Convention and that God did work and will work through our work, however imperfect and fallen we might have been or will be.

Unfortunately, there are those who see our gathering in Indianapolis differently and have felt the need as of late to cast derision on the event. There are members of the media who have evaluated the modern Episcopal Church according to some idealized fantasy of the Church as moral "relic". After reading one scathing article in the Wall Street Journal, I sat wondering if the writer and I had actually attended the same event! What he experienced there was the complete opposite of what I experienced. I am hard pressed to explain this difference. I can only offer you what I saw and understood and promise that   I return from the 77th General Convention in praise of the behavior of my colleagues in the House of Bishops - how they treated one another with respect and caring in the midst of disagreement - in praise of our Presiding Bishop's leadership, and in praise of the new missionary sense that seems to be unfolding in our Episcopal Church!

As was expected, the press focused most of its attention on resolutions regarding sexuality, especially Resolution A049 (the blessing of same-gender, life-long covenants). Needless to say, sexuality is always "the news that sells" in our culture. At the bottom of all the hype and all the controversy I believe one will find the Church of God using the legislative process in an attempt to address same-gender relationships in a new, Christ-like way. I have dedicated a full interview describing my thoughts on same-gender unions and why I voted "yes" to A049. I want all in the diocese to have access to my thinking and theological position on this matter.  

In all honesty, sexuality was not the topic around which this General Convention focused its primary time and energy. Nor was it the subject that evoked the most passion. Again, the real and substantive subject which captured our attention was reforming the structure of TEC so that we may, in the future, effectively address the unique missionary challenges that we now face in our culture and in our world at large. As a result, for the first time in history, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution to create a task force to evaluate and to recommend how we might alter our structure so that we are much less about sustaining the institution and much more about doing God's mission. The task force will report its findings to a special gathering of leaders from around the entire Church in the fall of 2014 in preparation for the next General Convention in 2015.

In the same spirit, for the first time in recent history, TEC adopted a budget that had at its foundational core the "Five Marks of Mission" previously adopted by our Church. Even in the budget there was a clear and resounding move away from maintenance spending to mission spending. I recommend that everyone take time and learn about the "Five Marks of Mission" that are now guiding TEC and that should guide every parish in Southern Virginia as well.  

And finally, in the same spirit, General Convention passed a resolution to relocate - as soon as possible - the office of the National/International Church from 815 Second Avenue in New York City, to a more appropriate, more mission-centered location in the Continental U.S. While this may sound like a relatively minor decision to some, it is a hugely symbolic action representing a real coming to terms with who we are and who we now need to be as our Lord's disciples in the 21st Century. The aristocratic mindset that has so dominated our identity in TEC in the last century is now becoming a thing of the past. It is time to re-embrace our understanding of Christian discipleship and to move away from thinking of ourselves as the "privileged" church in society. God needs more from us now.

I could certainly name many, many other important resolutions that arose from our time in Indianapolis. There are various websites where that information can be found - our diocesan website offers several links. There are, however, a few resolutions that I believe are particularly noteworthy. These include:
  • Acknowledgment and affirmation of Holy Baptism as the normative entrance rite to Holy Communion.
  • Affirmation of the work of the Anglican Covenant to build relationships across the Communion and our continuing commitment to that process. (Note: Convention declined to take a particular position on the Covenant at this time)
  • Diocesan bishops authorized to allow the use of the BCP lectionary in place of the Common Lectionary.
  • Authorization of liturgical rites for those who care for animals, including a rite for celebrating the life of a beloved animal.
  • Creation of a pilot student loan fund for seminarians who agree to three years of service in under-served areas of the Church.
  • Establishment of a development office for the entire Episcopal Church.
I do hope that everyone will find some time in their respective parishes to discuss the work of General Convention. This triennial gathering of the Church for the 77th time will be another formative step in our common life.

+H. Hollerith

Monday, July 2, 2012

Large print BCP and Hymnal CDs help blind and visually impaired

The Large-Print Ministry offers three CDs that can help the blind and visually-impaired and others with special needs with their devotions and to be able to more fully participate in worship. The Large-Print Book of Common Prayer CD includes the entire Book of Common Prayer (1979) of The Episcopal Church USA. The Revised Common Lectionary is included. The CD material is formatted in Microsoft Word™ and is mainly in 18-point Times New Roman type. It is laid out for 8.5 x 11-inch pages and can be used to help prepare large-print worship materials.

"Sing Praise to Our God" is a CD that includes large-print lyrics to the 338 hymns from The Hymnal 1982 of the Episcopal Church, USA that are in the public domain. They are in Microsoft Word™ and 20-point Arial type. The hymns are laid out for use on 8.5 x  11-inch pages and can be printed out as part of large-print service materials.

"Prayers & Psalms for Today" can help those who are hurting in body, mind and/or spirit. It includes selections from Prayers and Thanksgivings, Prayers for the Sick, Prayers for Use by a Sick Person, Ministration at the Time of Death, and the Book of Psalms from The Book of Common Prayer (1979). The CD is in Microsoft Word™ and is mostly in 20-point Arial type.
It is laid out for use on 8.5 x 11-inch pages.

Blind individuals with electronic note takers and special software and visually-impaired people with access to computers can use the CDs. The material can be loaded into a note taker and re-edited into a form of Braille. The CDs should also be useable in optical-character readers that can read material formatted in Microsoft Word™.

To order, please send a self-addressed, stamped 6x9-inch envelope with four first-class stamps attached (five on a padded envelope) to Ann Dahlen, 1900 6th Ave., Apt. 513, Rock Island, IL 61201. Please add more postage when ordering more than one CD. Please indicate which CDs you want. There is no charge for the CDs, but a donation of any amount to help cover costs is appreciated. The Large-Print Ministry is not affiliated with any diocese, church or organization. For more information, contact Ann Dahlen at a.dahlen@att.net.

Blessed to Be A Blessing: Tools for stewardship campaigns

from Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs 

The Office of Stewardship is offering a program called Blessed to Be A Blessing, which offers tools to enhance stewardship campaigns and features prominent writers from throughout the Episcopal Church. Blessed to Be A Blessing is a six-week series inviting reflection and discussion on stewardship principles and practices based on the Gospel readings from Mark for each Sunday from October 7 through November 11.

According to the Rev. Laurel Johnston, Program Officer for Stewardship, "Blessed to Be A Blessing is designed to complement and support a congregation's annual giving campaign, each of the six contributing writers explores stewardship, giving, gratitude and generosity in connection with the Gospel lection for each Sunday during the month of October through November." She added, "The series is ideal for those leading stewardship formation, and each week participants can download Blessed to Be a Blessing bulletin inserts as well as a pledge card with a proportional giving chart."

Blessed to Be A Blessing materials are available free at www.episcopalchurch.org/page/blessed-be-blessing. For more information contact Johnston at ljohnston@episcopalchurch.org.