Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Buildings for a New Tomorrow conference

The Episcopal Church Building Fund invites you to attend Buildings for a New Tomorrow conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL, April 28-30. This conference was created to bring people together to discuss the complex issues of church buildings, in an open, honest and realistic forum. It also challenges people to think differently - about their buildings, what they represented, how they supported ministry (or do they?); how to use them for revenue, and when to close them. Participants and presenters come from across the country to challenge themselves and each other to think differently, and to explore ways of using their buildings as an asset and to become thriving hubs of their community. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Presiding Bishop's Lenten reflection 2014

Click here for video of this message
The reality is that the season of Lent, which Christians have practiced for so many centuries, is about the same kind of yearning for greater light in the world, whether you live in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere.  

The word "Lent" means "lengthen" and it's about the days getting longer.  The early Church began to practice a season of preparation for those who would be baptized at Easter, and before too long other members of the Christian community joined those candidates for baptism as an act of solidarity.  

It was a season during which Christians and future Christians learned about the disciplines of the faith - prayer and study and fasting and giving alms, sharing what they have.  

But the reality is that, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, the lengthening days were often times of famine and hunger, when people had used up their winter food stores and the spring had not yet produced more food to feed people.  Acting in solidarity with those who go hungry is a piece of what it means to be a Christian.  To be a follower of Jesus is to seek the healing of the whole world.  

And Lent is a time when we practice those disciplines as acts of solidarity with the broken and hungry and ill and despised parts of the world.

I would invite you this Lent to think about your Lenten practice as an exercise in solidarity with all that is - with other human beings and with all of creation.  That is most fundamentally what Jesus is about. He is about healing and restoring that broken world.  

So as you enter Lent, consider how you will live in solidarity with those who are hungry, or broken, or ill in one way or another.

May you have a blessed Lent this year, and may it yield greater light in the world.

- Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Apply NOW for ECW Scholarships

The Episcopal Church Women's Elise Holladay Scholarship provides assistance to men and women for continued education beyond high school in undergraduate study only. In 2013, the ECW awarded $12,200.00 to 14 students throughout the diocese. The Beverley D. Tucker Scholarship provides assistance to men and women in church-related training in an accredited Episcopal Church training school. The deadline to apply is April 30. Click here for online scholarship applications. Questions? Contact Susan Broaddus, ECW Student Work Chair at 757-623-0205 or broaddussusan@aol.com.  

National Episcopal Health Ministries 6th Annual Conference is May 7-10 in New Orleans

Join National Episcopal Health Ministries (NEHM) in New Orleans, May 7-10, 2014 for our 6th Annual Conference on Health Ministry. The annual conference focuses on creating a health ministry,  the special health needs of veterans, spiritual aspects of healthcare and many other topics. This year's theme is "Empowering Health Ministries." Keynote speaker will be G. Scott Morris, M.D., M.Div., Chief Executive Officer of the Church Health Center. Click here for more information, event brochure and online registration. 

News from Mission of the Holy Spirit

By Keith Josey, Lay Pastor, Mission of the Holy Spirit 

As we move forward in 2014, snow and ice are not the only challenges we face at the Mission of the Holy Spirit. Over the past three years, we have had to make hard choices regarding how we meet the needs of the people we serve due to tough economic times. Thank you to all of our partners! It is because of your giving that we continue to offer quality programs for children, adolescents and adults.

As we look across the landscape of the communities served by this ministry, we see the value of our presence and the work that God has called us to do. Shattered pieces of broken lives are being made whole again at the Mission of the Holy Spirit. Our journey to heal the hurts that bind requires your prayers and support. As we strive to serve God's people, many lives are being changed. At the Mission of the Holy Spirit we are working to empower families in a variety of ways, but it is through partnerships with you that we are able to continue to provide life-changing experiences to the people we serve.

One example of such an experience was in January when youth from Convocation 3 and eleven of our members went on a ski trip. This adventure not only provided a fun outlet, but it also opened hearts and created new relationships that will last a lifetime.

Each day, there are opportunities for growth and ministry that surround us, and I invite you to seek out ways to strengthen your relationship with the Mission of the Holy Spirit by giving your time and/or resources to a powerful ministry that is uplifting so many lives.   

Boys' Home debuts new branding efforts with a little help from students at VCU

In a marketing effort based on students helping students, the Boys Home of Virginia, a nonprofit, nondenominational residential education program for boys ages six to 17, now has a new website,  www.boyshomeofva.org, brochure, logo and promotional video created by students at the nationally known VCU Brandcenter. The marketing materials reflect the organization's emphasis on providing services to deserving boys statewide - and beyond. "We have one of the best programs in the state, but we want to make sure people know our story," says Donnie Wheatley, CEO of the Boys Home of Virginia since 1985.

Kelly O'Keefe, a Boys Home of Virginia Board member, and a Brandcenter professor, agreed. "These new materials reflect an effort to let people know about this remarkable organization and its outreach and impact," said O'Keefe, whose students (now graduated) volunteered to create a Boys Home marketing campaign built around the theme, "A successful man has to start somewhere."

"All I asked for was a few volunteers to go with me to the Boys Home one Saturday morning to see the school." O'Keefe said. "I got more than I bargained for when 18 students signed up. Donnie Wheatley said, 'Don't worry, I'll bring the bus.' So we all went together. When we got back, the students were so impressed by the kids and staff at the Boys Home, they set to work on the campaign."

About 75 boys were enrolled at the Boys Home of Virginia over the course of 2013; many came needing a change in venue. "We like to say we're helping young men who have great promise, but limited opportunities," said Wheatley. And he should know, as he was once a Boys Home resident himself. "I believe strongly that there is a place for residential education, and I want to continue to build on the things that work, and provide a place for those children who are probably not going to be served in other ways," he added.

"The Boys Home of Virginia is different than other organizations because it provides a solution for children who might be walking a difficult path in their lives for no other reason than there simply isn't the right structure available," explained Len Slater, a Boys Home Board member. The bucolic setting of the school in Covington provides a place for boys to grow and flourish - physically, personally and spiritually. Besides class work, there is time for play and sports. The Boys Home of Virginia also maintains a Christmas tree farm in West Augusta, Va. year-round, so students can learn basic farming tasks and the satisfaction that comes from doing a job, and doing it well.

Wheatley's affection for Boys Home is infectious, and his energy and ability to interest others in the school never seems to wane. "This is not about doing a job," he explains. "It's about living a life."

About the Boys Home of Virginia
Boys Home was founded in 1906 and continues to provide a non-denominational, nurturing residential and educational environment for boys from all over Virginia and beyond. The mission of Boys Home is help each resident strive toward becoming a productive member of society, by developing his potential, spiritually, mentally, physically and socially.

Jackson-Feild Homes re-accredited by the Council on Accreditation

 Jackson-Feild Homes, a 159-year old organization providing residential treatment services for adolescent boys and girls, received notice that it has been re-accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).

The Council noted in its letter that "re-accreditation is a tremendous achievement that demonstrates that Jackson-Feild is recognized as a provider that continues to successfully implement high performance standards and, as such, is delivering the highest quality services to all of its stakeholders.  

Accreditation provides an objective and reliable verification instilling confidence and support to Jackson-Feild's parents, donors, board members, community partners and stakeholders. The accreditation process involves a detailed review and analysis of both the administrative operation and service delivery practices. They are "measured" against national standards of best practice. The standards emphasize that Jackson-Feild's operations and practices are accessible, appropriate, responsive, evidence-based and outcomes-oriented. It confirms that services are provided by a skilled and supportive workforce and that children are treated with dignity and respect. Accreditation is conferred on the entire organization and not just one specific program or service with the intent to inspire confidence, credibility, integrity and achievement in Jackson-Feild Homes.

Tricia Delano, Executive Director, commented that "This is a wonderful milestone. A great deal of time and hard work went into this process but it is well worth the investment of time, energy and effort. I salute our dedicated staff members who made this happen.