Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Open office hours with Latino/a/x Missioner

The Rev. Mario Melendez, Diocesan Latino/a/x Missioner, will be holding open office hours via Zoom for anyone (clergy and lay) interested in learning more about Latino/a/x ministries. The open office hours will be held Thursday, July 16, and Thursday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information contact Mario, mmelendez@diosova.org.  

TENS offers free resources for virtual stewardship

As the summer deepens, many congregations begin to think of their fall stewardship campaigns. The Episcopal Network For Stewardship (TENS) provides excellent stewardship campaign materials that are free to all congregations in Southern Virginia via our diocesan TENS membership. This year TENS will be providing resources that help congregations to conduct virtual stewardship campaigns in addition to the more traditional efforts.  
 
TENS member resources are available to all congregations in Southern Virginia via the diocesan membership. For log in information contact Canon for Formation Lynn Farlin, lfarlin@diosova.org or Communications Officer Ann Turner, aturner@diosova.org.  
 
Take advantage of these free webinars offered by TENS: 
  • Virtual Stewardship 101 - July 25, 1 p.m. Review virtual offering plates and answer questions about virtual best practices. Register here.
  • Creating Virtual Community for Stewardship - August 15, 1 p.m. Learn more about how to create meaningful small groups and pastoral teams virtually. Register here.
  • How to use the TENS 2020 Materials for your Stewardship Campaign - Walk through this year's resources to maximize their usefulness. Register here.

ECW Yearbook & Directory for 2020 now available

2020 ECW Yearbook & Parish Directory The 2020 ECW Yearbook & Directory is available by contacting Diocesan Communications Officer Ann Turner, aturner@diosova.org. (The directory is not posted on the website due to privacy concerns.) 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Virtual Vacation Bible School: Amazing Stories, Unexpected Storytellers

Faith communities have been forced to address numerous challenges over the past few months as we all learn to navigate our lives, worship, formation, and our interactions with others while COVID-19 is in our midst. It has been exciting to see creative thinking and innovation with respect to digital worship and Christian formation opportunities as churches explore how to be the Church in our current reality. 
 
Faith communities have realized that we are so much more than what happens in our church buildings during Sunday worship. It is safe to say that this summer will be a different kind of summer as we continue social distancing efforts to help keep people safe. The traditional Vacation Bible School (VBS) program design of summers past, presents risks to the volunteers and participants as well as to their families. As a result, VBS is one of those summer formation opportunities that will require some creative thinking and adaptation in order to offer the program during the pandemic. Luckily, there are a number of virtually VBS options for faith communities and parents to explore this summer.
 
 A group of formation leaders from our diocese's Christian Education Network (CE-Net) developed a free virtual VBS program called Amazing Stories and Unexpected Storytellers that is highly flexible in both context and execution. Amazing Stories and Unexpected Storytellers is designed to adapt to the needs of parishes and congregations as well as individual families. It can be led for groups via Zoom, Facebook Live, or some other virtual meeting platform or simply be led by families at home.
 
The program design was inspired by the books A Spy on Noah's Ark and The Spy at Jacob's Ladder by Lindsay Hardin Freeman. We are thankful that the publisher, Forward Movement, has given us permission to use video readings of these stories through August 31, 2020. Freeman's books share the Bible stories from the perspective of an unexpected voice rather than the narrators we are used to hearing. If you are interested in learning more about the books visit www.forwardmovement.org. 
 
 Amazing Stories and Unexpected Storytellers consists of three segments/sessions - each segment features three storytelling videos (view on the Diocese's YouTube channel), crafts, recreational activities, science experiments, and outreach/mission challenges. The three segments include:
  • FAITH - God Calls Us to be Heroes explored through the stories of Miriam, David, and Deborah.
  • HOPE - Jesus with Us explored through the stories of the Woman of the Well, Jesus Calms the Storm, and Jesus Feeds the 5000.
  • LOVE - Lead with Jesus explored through the stories of the Last Supper, Dorcas, and Pentecost.
Whether you are a formation leader leading the program virtually or a parent using the program in your home you can use whatever components best meets your needs.   There is plenty of content included to provide for a more traditional but virtual one-week program, multi-week program, or the stories can be stretched out weekly over the course of the summer or the user can create any variation in between. 
 
Click here to explore the program. Efforts are underway to provide a Spanish translation of the program which should be available in the coming weeks.
 
If you would like to explore other virtual VBS alternatives there are a number of options available from various vendors. Many of these programs offer two distinct fee structures for families and church use.  
  • Church Publishing offers the free Summer Activity Pack for Children and Families Vol. 1.  Click here to download the packet.
  • Illustrated Ministry offers a fee-based program called Compassion Camp. Click here to learn more about it. 
  • GenOn Ministries offers suggestions to modify their integrational fee-based VBS -All God's Children: The Church Family Gathers for Summer to virtual space. Click here to learn more about their program.
  • Go Curriculum has an online fee-based program with music, titled Backyard Bolt Towards Faith in Jesus.  Click here to learn more about the program.
  • Group Publishing is offering some guidance to adapt their fee-based packaged VBS programs to neighborhood VBS options. Click here to view their resources.
  • Cokesbury is offering some resources to adapt their fee-based packaged VBS programs to virtual space.  Click here to explore their resources.
If you use Amazing Stories and Unexpected Storytellers this summer the planning team would love to hear how you used it in your setting. If you have questions about the program contact Lynn Farlin, Canon for Formation (lfarlin@diosova.org), or CE-Net Co-Chairs, Vicky Koch (vkoch@stpaulsnorfolk.org) or Gizelle Moran (gizelle@trinity-portsmouth.org). 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Bishop Vaché Scholarship applications due July 1

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. To be considered, complete application packets must be postmarked by July 1, 2020. Click here for application form.  
 

Beloved Community "Rapid-Response" Grants available - apply June 19-August 15

The Presiding Officers' Advisory Group on Beloved Community Implementation is pleased to announce the availability of grants to address the racial disparities laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic and for groups responding to racist violence and policing reform. 
 
Across America, COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting people of color in terms of health outcomes, access to testing and treatment, safe work environments, and more.  At the same time, many recognize the pandemic of ongoing violence directed against black people and other people of color, especially at the hands of law enforcement personnel in communities in the Americas and beyond.
 
All proposed projects must demonstrate adherence to relevant local, diocesan and state public health guidelines for gathering and interaction. More information about the criteria and the application process are available here. Learn more about the Church's work on Becoming Beloved Community here, and see resources for "Responding to Racist Violence and Police Brutality" here.