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.

Help Saint Paul's College win a Home Depot grant

RETOOL YOUR SCHOOL is a campus improvement grant program created by The Home Depot, designed to help historically black colleges and universities make enduring improvements to their campus and facilities. Thirteen grants will be awarded in 2012 - some as much as $50,000. Grants will be awarded based on a ratio of consumer voting and advisory board panel selection. How can you help? Go to the Home Depot RETOOL Your School website and VOTE for Saint Paul's College! You can vote once every day. Right now, Saint Paul's is 14th out of 66 schools. Cast your vote daily and help Saint Paul's get this well-deserved and much-needed funding!

Absalom Jones service

There will be a service celebrating the life and work of Absalom Jones on Sunday, February 26, 4 p.m., at St. Augustine's, Newport News. Absalom Jones (1746-1818), ordained in 1804, was the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church. All are welcome! A repast will follow the service.

Training opportunity for new vestry members

"Who's on First? Equipping & Guiding New Vestries" is a brand new vestry training workshop being offered March 24 at Christ & Grace, Petersburg and again on April 28 at Emmanuel, Hampton. Healthy, skilled vestries who understand their role in the life of the church and their relationship to the clergy and the congregation are essential in creating and maintaining vital congregations. This workshop is designed for new vestry members, and will include:
  • Presentations on the role and duties of the vestry
  • Best practices
  • How to deal with conflict
  • Role-play and discussion of common challenges that vestries face
Click here for information and registration for the March 24 session. Deadline to register for this session is March 10.
Click here for information and registration for the April 28 session
. Deadline to register for this session is April 13.

Workshop focuses on ministry with the aging

A Changing Landscape: Ministry with the Aging is a new workshop that will be offered March 6, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at St. Martin's, Williamsburg. Vic Maloy, executive director of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, will offer guidance in understanding the issues involved in the last half of life and assist us in charting a new course allowing the church to have a strong new response. Click here for more information and registration.

Workshop on year-round stewardship coming in May

"Gratitude, Giving and Gladness: Making the Move to Year Round Stewardship" is the first in a series of annual stewardship events for our diocese. This first event will be held Saturday, May 19 at St. Martin's, Williamsburg, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is designed for parish teams of up to three persons which may include clergy and stewardship chairs. Cost for the event is $25.00 per person. Deadline for registration is Monday, May 7. Click here to register.    

Our presenter for this event is Susan Lee Vick, founding chair of the Commission on Gratitude in the Diocese of Northern California. An in-demand preacher, speaker, consultant, and trainer, Susan celebrates the ministry of stewardship as "the joy business," a lifelong opportunity to learn and teach that it really is more blessed to give than to receive. Susan is the Co-author of Grateful, Glad, and Giving: Year Round, Abundance Based, Stewardship, Congregations around the country have found Grateful, Glad, and Giving an engaging, highly customizable, and integrated approach to stewardship, leadership development, and congregational revitalization. "G3," as it's affectionately known, spotlights and amplifies abundance, on all fronts. Susan is a postulant for ordained priesthood, the founder and Chief Development Officer of the Church Investment Group, and the mother of four children aged 14 - 22. Her home parish, The Church of the Incarnation, is in Santa Rosa, California.

Union of Black Episcopalians hosts first annual Bishop's Ball

The Diocese of Southern Virginia Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) is sponsoring an evening of great food and dancing on Saturday, June 9 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott Hotel. The Gala event is a fundraiser supporting Saint Paul's College and the local UBE Chapter. Tickets are $60 and will be available at the UBE table during Annual Council. If you have any questions, please contact Olivia Osei-Sarfo at 757-288-2611 or David Flores at 757-466-1991 or

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Believe Out Loud training workshop in Norfolk

This workshop, offered by Formation Ministries and Integrity USA, will help you to speak to people in your church about why it's important to welcome and include LGBT people in the life of your church communities and will offer tools to help your church become an inclusive and welcoming community. Workshop is Saturday, February 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (lunch provided) in the Gunn Conference Center, Norfolk. Click here to register.

Lenten silent retreat at Chanco

A Lenten silent retreat, "Be Still and Know that I am God," will be offered at Chanco March 16-18. Come away this Lent to be with our Lord through worship, guided meditations, labyrinth walks and nature. Beginning after dinner on Friday through Eucharist and lunch on Sunday, this is an opportunity to be in contemplative silence with God. Sponsored by St. Aidan's, Virginia Beach and led by Wendy Wilkinson, M.Div. Click here for a retreat brochure.

Volunteers needed for Camp Wakonda 2012

Camp Wakonda, the diocesan camp for children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS will operate from June 20-24 this summer. The camp is based at the diocesan center in Norfolk. Counselors are needed to interact directly with campers throughout the day, so they should be capable of participating in all camp activities. Counselors must be at least 21 years old. There are 60 children looking forward to this summer camp experience this year. Without enough volunteers, some of the activities planned for the kids will have to be cancelled. Please consider this meaningful outreach opportunity. To volunteer or get more information, contact Boyd Duncan, 757-850-1520 or

Chapel Pantry receives Seeds of Hope Grant

The Chapel Pantry at Eastern Shore Chapel, Virginia Beach, has been awarded a Seeds of Hope Grant from the Diocese of Southern Virginia. The $2500 grant will allow the pantry to purchase much-needed shelving and a special refrigerator that thaws frozen foods. Seeds of Hope Grants are awarded to ministries that address social justice needs in our diocese. In 2011 the Chapel Pantry provided food to over 20,000 people. You can learn more about the Chapel Pantry ministry on Eastern Shore Chapel's website.