Thursday, August 30, 2012

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Newport News is now enrolling for 2012-13 in grades Pre-K through 5

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Newport News offers challenging academics in a nurturing environment, including daily morning chapel, music, art, PE, library, computer, French, Chinese,  state of the art classroom technology, and before & after school care. 

For more information contact Kristi Elliott, Director of Admissions, at 757-596-6261 or Visit for more information.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New biography of James Solomon Russell published

 James Solomon Russell: Former Slave, Pioneering Educator and Episcopal Evangelist by Worth E. Norman, Jr. was released in August. This comprehensive biography explores Russell’s life within the broader context of colonial and Virginia history and chronicles his struggles against the social, political and religious structures of his day to secure a better future for all people.

Born into slavery on a Virginia plantation in 1857, James Solomon Russell rose to become one of the most prominent African American pastors in the post-Civil War South. As a minister, educator, and found of Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, he played a major role in the development of educational access for former slaves in the South and within the Episcopal Church.

A native of Norfolk, Worth E. Norman, Jr., has published work on Russell in The Historiographer, The Living Church and the Brunswick Times-Gazette. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

Free web conferences from Episcopal Church Foundation

Episcopal Church Foundation is pleased to offer a wide range of web conferences to help revitalize grassroots communities of faith.  There is no cost to participate and all lay and clergy leaders are welcome. Topics  include stewardship, vestry practices (in English and in Spanish), multi-site ministries, congregational leadership, team structures, endowments, planned giving, and ministry to address human trafficking. Upcoming webinars include:  
  • Annual Stewardship Best Practices (September 11, 6:30-7:30 p.m.)
  • Sound Practices for Vestry Leaders (September 12, 7:00-8:00 p.m.)
  • Identifying & Recruiting New Leaders (September 26, 7:00-8:00 p.m.)
  • Creating Strong Team Structure (October 3, 7:00-8:00 p.m.)Finding Our Voice on Human Trafficking (November 13, 7:00-8:00 p.m.)  
Click here for more information about these and other web conferences and online registration.

Outreach events for youth and young adults

"Stop Hunger Now" event for youth 
Sunday, October 7, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Eastern Shore Chapel, Virginia Beach
All youth and their advisors are invited to join us for a special Stop Hunger Now meal-packing event. Stop Hunger Now is an international hunger relief organization that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world.  At our event, we will assemble more than 10,000 highly nutritious meals to be used in crisis situations and in school feeding programs in developing countries.  The event will conclude with a celebratory Eucharist.

Please register your group, so we know how many people will attend. Click here for online registration. Snacks will be offered for participants. There is no registration fee for groups, but you are encouraged to bring donations with you for Stop Hunger Now. If you have questions, please contact Mary Lou Crifasi, Convocation Youth Director, at or Ashley Scruggs, Youth Missioner, at This event is co-sponsored by Convocation II Youth Ministries and the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. Click here for an event flyer

"Play It Forward" outreach project for youth and young adults
Youth and young adults from Virginia Beach are invited to team with St. Aidan's, Virginia Beach, to build a playground  for a young child with cancer.  The building will begin on the evening of October 19 and be completed the morning/afternoon of October 20. This project is being coordinated through Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters and Roc Solid Foundations, a local organization that builds custom play sets for pediatric cancer patients. ( We are looking for at least 25 volunteers to help with this. Specific details are still being worked out but save the dates. Contact Brian Collins ( for more information.

Dorothy Linthicum to address the Changing Roles of Older Adults in the Church

CE-NET (Christian Education Network) invites you to attend our Thursday, September 20 gathering at Hickory Neck Church, Toano, from 11:30 to 2:00.  Lunch will be provided with $5 registration. Click here to register. Our speaker will be Dorothy Linthicum who has studied and taught human growth and faith development, researched the changing demographics in the Church and our culture and has embarked on a new field of study about spirituality of the elderly.  She teaches at Virginia Theological Seminary, and has a passion for Christian formation and its role in weaving together disparate parts of parishes into a tapestry of beauty and function for spreading the Good News.  Dorothy will speak to us about the changing ministry to older adults in the church.  All are welcome

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Integrity chapter participates in Norfolk’s Out in the Park

Integrity's Susan Pederson & Jesse Woods
On Saturday, August 18, members of the diocesan chapter of Integrity braved the heat and humidity in Norfolk’s Town Point Park to bring a message of welcome to the Hampton Roads LGBT community at “Out in the Park.”  The annual event draws thousands each year. This is Integrity’s third year participating in the event. Volunteers from Ascension Norfolk, Eastern Shore Chapel Virginia Beach, St. Stephen’s Norfolk and St. Mark’s Hampton spent the day talking with festival-goers and sharing the good news that God loves everyone and that the Episcopal Church welcomes you.

If you would like to know more about Integrity, visit them online at or email The chapter gathers the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 at MJ’s Tavern in Norfolk for dinner and a short meeting. All are welcome to attend.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Creating Safe Schools training for day care workers

Ascension, Norfolk, in conjunction with the Diocese of Southern Virginia is pleased to offer classroom training for Creating Safe Schools on Tuesday, August 28. This new session is recommended for all day care workers. The session will be from 7:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and will cover the children's safety module as well as key components of the adult prevention of misconduct training. There is no charge for the training, but asking all to register in advance. Click here for online registration.

Safe Church classroom training in Hampton

St. Mark's, Hampton, in conjunction with the Diocese of Southern Virginia is pleased to offer classroom training for Creating Safe Churches for Congregations and Children on Saturday, October 6. These newly updated 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. The cost for both sessions is $10. The cost to attend only the Adult or Child module is $5. Click here for online registration.

New resources for fall stewardship campaigns

TENS has provided some new resources for its members for fall stewardship campaigns. Go to Our diocese is a member of TENS and all congregations have access to TENS materials. If you need additional information, please contact Caroline Black, or 757-213-3377. 

Free webinar: Integrating Sex Offenders into Faith Communities

On Wednesday, August 22 from noon to 1 p.m. there will be a free webinar titled "Integrating Sex Offenders into Faith Communities" with Richard Hammar, a renowned church legal expert. The webinar is free and will take an in-depth look at how churches can minister to this potentially high-risk population, while ensuring other members stay safe. Click here to register.

Vergers' Guild National Conference Oct. 11-14

The Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church will host a national conference Oct. 11-14 at All Saints' Church in Lakeland, Florida for those currently serving as vergers or those contemplating this area of service. Participants will attend workshops, exchange ideas and be supported by the fellowship of other vergers. Offerings at this year's conference address large and small parishes; Verger 101 for new vergers; dealing with transition in the church or a verger's service; making your own Eucharistic bread; parish security; and many more. Register before September 1 and receive a discount. Some scholarship assistance is available for first-time attenders, youth attendees, and those with financial need. Go to for more information and online registration.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Talbot Hall property update

The Executive Board and Standing Committee of the Diocese have retained Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate Services to address the Talbot Hall property. The proposal by the Harvey Lindsay group is in three parts beginning with an emphasis on historic preservation, appraisal and ending with the marketing of the premises. The firm will also serve as a consultant in the selection of a site for the new administrative offices of the Diocese.

After thorough research and consideration, the Conveyance and Location sub-committees of the Executive Board's Property Committee recommended the engagement of Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate Services. Harvey Lindsay Corporate Real Estate is a highly respected Norfolk firm that has provided real estate services to the Hampton Roads region for over 70 years. Mr. Lindsay, the company's current chairman is a long-time member of Church of the Good Shepherd in Norfolk. His relationship with the Episcopal Church in Southern Virginia uniquely qualifies his firm to handle the marketing of the property with sensitivity, understanding the special affection that the members of the Diocese and others throughout the community have come to have for the Talbot Hall property, and with a desire to honor the original gift of the Talbot family.

In accordance with the resolution passed at Annual Council, 2012, historic protection of the Talbot Hall manor house, preservation of the property's shoreline, and respect for the surrounding neighborhood will be taken into consideration. The decision regarding the disposition of the property will be made only after careful consideration by each of the more than thirty members of the Executive Board and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Southern Virginia who are committed to follow the intent of that resolution.

18 Young Adult Episcopalians serve as missionaries throughout the Anglican Communion

via Episcopal Church Public Affairs  

Eighteen young adults from 13 Episcopal Church dioceses will be serving as missionaries in the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) for the 2012-2013 term in locales throughout the Anglican Communion, including eight new ministries. This year’s group of missionaries boasts the largest number of YASC volunteers ever. YASC is a ministry for Episcopal young adults, ages 21 - 30, who are interested in exploring their faith in new ways by living and serving in communities around the Anglican Communion. The Rev. David Copley, Mission Personnel Officer, noted that while the day-to-day duties of each placement vary, the experiences of the YASCers are life-changing.  “YASC brings young adults into the life of the worldwide Anglican Communion and into the daily work of a local community,” he explained.

“YASC offers young adults an opportunity to live out their Baptismal Covenant by seeking and serving Christ in people all around God’s world,” commented Elizabeth Boe, Global Networking Officer.
Each YASCer maintains a blog, detailing their service, reflections and adventures. Boe, a former YASC volunteer who served in Tanzania, reported that blogs provide an ideal means for connecting with others in the Episcopal Church and around the world.  

Meet the YASCers

Primarily working in administration, communication, education, and agriculture, the 18 YASC missionaries, their home dioceses, assignments and blog addresses are:

Ryan Abrams, Diocese of East Carolina
Serving in the Diocese of Costa Rica, Ryan is the Companion Diocese Officer for the Diocese of Costa Rica and the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Based in San José, Ryan is the first YASC missionary to serve in Costa Rica.

Ashley Bingaman, Diocese of Virginia
Serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, Ashley is a music instructor at the Holy Trinity Cathedral music program in Port-au-Prince. Ashley is the first YASC missionary to be placed in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake.

Nina Boe, Diocese of Olympia
Serving in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, Nina works in the Provincial Secretary’s office in São Paulo. This marks the first time there has been a YASC placement in the Brazilian Provincial Office.

Carrie Díaz-Littauer, Diocese of New Jersey
Serving in Switzerland in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Carrie is the Office and Project Manager for the World Student Christian Federation based in Geneva. Carrie is the first YASCer to serve in Switzerland.

Grace Flint, Diocese of Kentucky
Serving in Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Grace is a mission intern with the Mission for Migrant Workers in Hong Kong.

Jared Grant, Diocese of Western North Carolina
Serving in the Diocese of Lesotho in the Anglican Province of Southern Africa, Jared works at St. James Mission Hospital and in the office of the Bishop of Lesotho . This marks the first time there has been a YASC placement in Lesotho.

Andrew Joyce, Diocese of Kentucky
Serving in the Diocese of the Northern Philippines, Andrew works at the Tadian Learning Center and Demonstration Farm. Andrew is the first YASCer to serve in this ministry.

Doug and Jenny Knight, Diocese of Arkansas
Serving in Japan, Doug and Jenny are volunteers at the Asian Rural Institute.

Jenny Korwan, Diocese of Atlanta
Serving in the Diocese of Kajiado, Kenya, Jenny works with Be the Change-Kenya, based near Nairobi. This marks the first time there has been a YASC placement in this ministry.

Benjamin and Elizabeth Locher, Dioceses of Virginia and Washington
Serving in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, Tanzania, Benjamin and Elizabeth work at the Msalato Theological College in Dodoma. Elizabeth teaches theology and Benjamin works in the college’s technology center.

Holly Milburn, Dioceses of Lexington and New York
Serving in the Diocese of Cape Town in the Anglican Province of Southern Africa, Holly works in the HOPE Africa office in Cape Town as an administrative assistant.

Brian Orlay, Diocese of New York
Serving in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika, Tanzania, Brian works for the Carpenter’s Kids program as the program coordinator.

Phillip Shearin, Diocese of Connecticut
Serving in the Anglican Church of Mexico, Phillip works as a communications officer for the Province, based in Mexico City.

Stephen Smith, Diocese of California
Serving in the Diocese of Grahamstown, South Africa, Stephen is an assistant teacher and resource center assistant at the Holy Cross School in Grahamstown. He has been in this role for a year and will continue for the 2012-2013 YASC year.

Cameron Spoor, Diocese of Texas
Serving in the Diocese of Grahamstown, South Africa, Cameron is an assistant teacher and resource center assistant at the Holy Cross School in Grahamstown.

Katie Young, Diocese of Northwest Texas
Serving in the Diocese of Tohoku, Japan, Katie just finished a year of service in Nagoya. She will begin her second YASC year in early October, working for the Let Us Walk Together program in Sendai. Let Us Walk Together is a coordinating body that oversees earthquake/tsunami recovery efforts being carried out by various dioceses in Japan. Katie’s position in Sendai is a new YASC placement.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pastoral Ministries Consultation & Support Program

The Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care's Pastoral Ministries Consultation and Support Program is designed to promote mature pastoral leadership and healthy congregations in a complicated age and offers twice monthly sessions Oct 2012 to May 2013 (except Dec) focused on facilitating minister's growth, ministry consultation, and periodic forums on high interest topics. Share and learn with your peers what you do and who you are. Total of 30 contact hours in a small, ecumenical group. Contact Sandy Hamilton, 804-282-8332, for more information. Click here for a program flyer.

Cemetery Conservation Workshop & Certification offered at St. Paul's, Norfolk

September 10-12 at St. Paul's, Norfolk
This historic cemetery conservation workshop is offered to cemetery professionals, volunteers, and anyone who is interested in cemetery conservation.  The workshop will be led by Robert Mosko, founder and owner of Mosko Cemetery Services specializing in the preservation, restoration, and conservation of cemeteries, gravestones, and monuments. Robert is a third generation conservator and has been in practice for over 14 years. He has shared his expertise with more than 68 cemeteries throughout central Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. To date, he has repaired, preserved, and/or conserved more than 6,598 gravestones, monuments, and burial sites. The cost for three days is $40. Those who are not acquiring certification may pay $15/day & attend the segment(s) of his/her choosing. Click here for more information, including the schedule and registration form. Deadline for receipt of application and payment is Friday, August 31.

New Youth Ministry Toolkit now available online

The 2012-2013 Youth Ministry Toolkit is now available for download at our website. The Youth Ministry pages of our website are all updated with the latest resources, forms and upcoming events for the 2012-2013 program year. Go to to take a look and download the new Youth Ministry Toolkit.

Bettyrene Pope elected to serve on Executive Board

Our thanks as a diocese go to Bettyrene Pope, St. John's Parish, Hampton, for her willingness to be elected to a partial term on the Executive Board, on behalf of Convocation V, following the resignation of Bill Rhode, due to his move.

CE-Net hosts Dorothy Linthicum

 CE-NET (Christian Education Network) invites you to attend our Thursday, September 20 gathering at Hickory Neck Episcopal Church, Toano, from 11:30 to 2:00. Dorothy Linthicum has studied and taught human growth and faith development, researched the changing demographics in the Church and our culture, embarked on a new field of study about spirituality of the elderly, and continues her role as managing editor of the Episcopal Children's Curriculum and Episcopal Teacher. She teaches at Virginia Theological Seminary, and has a passion for Christian formation and its role in weaving together disparate parts of parishes into a tapestry of beauty and function for spreading the Good News. The cost for this event is $5 which will include lunch. Please register via the link below no later than September 10 if you wish to join us for this informative session. Click here for more information and registration.

Seeds of Hope Grants: Funds still available

The Seeds of Hope grants help support new and expanded social justice ministries proposed by parishes, diocesan departments and commissions. The deadline for applications was August 1, and we received several fine applications. Even if we were to approve all the proposals we still have funds available for 2012. Therefore, we are extending the deadline until Friday, August 24. Applications and more information are available here.

Nominees considered for special task force on church structural reform

Episcopalians wishing to be considered to serve on a General Convention-mandated task force focusing on church restructure may access an online nomination form here.  People may nominate themselves or others. Nominations will be accepted until Thursday, August 23.

Approved at the recently-concluded General Convention 2012, Resolution C095 calls for development of a 24-member task force charged with presenting a plan to the next General Convention in 2015 "for reforming the Church's structures, governance, and administration."

The task force members will be appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings by September 30. According to the resolution, "The membership of the Task Force shall reflect the diversity of the Church, and shall include some persons with critical distance from the Church's institutional leadership." In addition, the task force will conduct a special gathering with representation from every diocese in preparation of its final report, due by November 2014.  The date and location of the special meeting will be determined later. 

A message from the Presiding Bishop regarding the 77th General Convention

"We emerge with abundant hope, better discipline for working together and with partners beyond this Church, for our fundamental reason for being - engagement with God's mission."  Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's message regarding the 77th General Convention was released on August 3 and is available  here.

You can find a thorough overview of the work accomplished at General Convention here. Bishop Hollerith's letter to the Diocese about the 77th General Convention and his interview regarding General Convention resolution A049, the blessing of same gender unions are here.

Community Organizing training, Sep. 21-22

Friday & Saturday, September 21-22

9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
St. Paul's, Petersburg

Discover how the passions in your church and your community can translate to positive change.Using the Asset Based Community Development model (ABCD), the Episcopal Church Center is partnering with the Diocese of Southern Virginia to provide expert community organizing training to churches and community organizations. Grow your church by building into your community. Learn how to discover the gifts in your community and deploy them for action. Learn how to develop networks of community partners to make positive change. This training is good for teams from congregations, and even better when teams include other local people and partnering organizations.  Click here for an event flyer. Click here for more information and registration. Because of a grant from the Episcopal Church Jubilee ministry office, this event is only $25.00 for both days, including lunch. Scholarships are available. Hosted by St. Stephen's and St. Paul's, Petersburg, held at St. Paul's. Local hotel information available on the registration page.

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, or email 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 or by contacting our Coordinator, Nellwyn Beamon, at (757) 423-6715 (day) or emailing AND 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