Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts get under way

Hurricane Sandy has caused record flooding and left an estimated 6 million people on the Eastern Seaboard without power. Thanks be to God that Southern Virginia came through the storm with no parishes reporting significant damage. As the crisis unfolds, Episcopal Relief and Development is working with affected dioceses to assess needs and to provide critical, life saving assistance, as well as long-term recovery aid in the aftermath. Get more information, and make donations, here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Hungry, And You Fed Me" reflections on Lectionary includes priest from Southern Virginia

"Hungry, And You Fed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C" is a brand new book edited by Deacon Jim Knipper, and includes homilies and reflections from some of today's finest homilists, including Richard Rohr and James Martin. This includes work by the Rev. Penny Nash, Associate Rector for Youth, Children & Families at Bruton Parish, Williamsburg. 

"A year ago I launched this project, leading me to eventually reach out to a dozen men and women who are some of the best of the best when it comes to breaking open the Word of God," said Jim Knipper, the book's editor. "My goal was to compile and edit a book that would feed the heart and souls of the readers and act as a vehicle to raise money to feed the hungry and homeless. My hope and prayer is that this book does both."

As Homilists for the Homeless, the book's writers and preachers have generously donated their material so that proceeds from the book can be given to the four charities selected for this volume. This first of three books begins with Cycle C of the Lectionary for Mass, which starts the First Sunday of Advent 2012 (and every three years thereafter).

The book is available at the Bruton Parish Shop and online here. You can also follow Homilists for the Homeless on Facebook.

Jackson-Feild Home admits first boy in 157-year history

On October 16, the first boy in Jackson-Feild Homes' 157-year history was admitted. C.J. is from Southside Virginia, and his placement marks a milestone for Jackson-Feild.

In a special ribbon cutting ceremony held on October 23, Debbie Mehl, Director of Programs, noted that "for more than one hundred years, the Home has provided many blessings to girls. It has provided seeds to plant, roads to follow, people who cared, and inspiration for girls to follow and achieve their dreams. Today, we now offer these same gifts to our first boy, C.J., and eagerly await the hundreds of other boys who will follow."

Much like Jackson-Feild is implementing history-making changes to benefit the lives of children, C.J. is making great changes in his own life. C.J. is at a turning point, and Jackson-Feild is the road that is right for him.

In the next few weeks, Jackson-Feild anticipates the arrival of more boys who - like C.J. - will take the road of recovery that will enable them to become successful, self-sufficient, healthy adults. Since 1855, Jackson-Feild Homes has provided care and hope to girls. The Home now looks forward to offering successful treatment to both girls and boys who so desperately need what they provide - help and healing.

College students in Southern Virginia are grateful for Ridley Foundation scholarships

In July the Ridley Foundation Board met and awarded 44 scholarships for the 2012-13 academic year totaling $87,000. Listen to what some of the recipients have said:

Dear Ridley Foundation,
I can only begin to describe my gratitude for the very generous financial assistance you all have given me. Thank you so much. This past summer I had the privilege of working for Virginia Tech's New Student Programs as an Orientation Leader. Ever since my freshman orientation I had dreams of becoming one. While working in this position, I was able to share my passion, personal experiences and the best advice I could offer with over 250 incoming freshmen. I can honestly say that I have never had a more rewarding job or one that I loved as much. I want you all to know that you have helped me with that dream and I could not be more grateful for your help. Thank you once again for helping work towards my goal of graduating college.
Peter Gunderson, St. Thomas, Chesapeake

Dear Ridley Board of Trustees,
Thank you so much for helping again this year with my scholarship! Words cannot express how grateful I am. I am very excited for this new school year and I don't know if I could do it without your help! Thanks Again!
Darby McClellan, Johns Memorial, Farmville

Thank you so much for all of your help. This is greatly appreciated and is very welcomed.
Again Thank You,
Eric Beard , Grace, Norfolk

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to your foundation for awarding me with your scholarship. It made a definite contribution to my education.
Ericka J Beard, Grace, Norfolk

The Ridley Foundation,
Thank you so much for your support. I will use the money wisely. It is good to know I can find support in the church I love. Go Hokies!
Julie Worley, St. Paul's, Norfolk

To the Board of Trustees for the Ridley Foundation,
Thank you very much for seeing fit to award me a scholarship! The financial assistance provided by you has been a major asset in college, and I feel confident that the education I am receiving will enable me to carry out God's work in the world.
Thank you,
Marcus Starman, St. Martin's, Williamsburg

Dear Ridley Foundation,
Thank you so much for the immensely generous scholarship! My family and I are both very grateful to the Ridley Foundation for helping to make my academic dreams come true.
Thanks again and God bless!
Kerri Kearse, Emmanuel, Virginia Beach

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chanco seeking applicants for Board of Directors

Calling all lovers of Chanco on the James! Whether you went as a camper, a counselor, a Happener, a Cursillista or simply someone who cares about the future of Chanco’s ministry....The Board of Directors of Chanco on the James needs you! The Chanco Board is especially interested in those with a background in finance or development. There will be seats coming open on the board for 2013 and we would love to have some new faces! All board members must be members in good standing of an Episcopal church in the Diocese of Southern Virginia. Applications are vetted through the board and then sent to the Bishop for approval. Board terms are three years in length. Meetings are every other month (the third Tuesday of the month) from 4-6 pm at Chanco. There are carpools from the Southside and potential carpools from the west. This is one simple way you can give back to Chanco! Click here for a nomination form. Questions? Contact New Board Member Coordinator Marguerite Alley at Applications may be emailed to Marguerite at this address. Thank you for your consideration of this important ministry of our diocese! 

Trinity Institute 42nd Theological Conference downlink site in Gloucester

 This year's conference features speakers Richard Rohr and Joan Chittister.

Abingdon Episcopal Church, Gloucester, and Grace Episcopal Church, Yorktown will partner to present The Trinity Institute 42nd Theological Conference via a downlink from New York City. The conference begins on Friday, November 9 and continues through November 10. Registration will begin at 5:00 pm on November 9 at the Abingdon Parish Hall (4645 George Washington Memorial Hwy), and the conference will begin at 6:00 pm. Saturday's session will consist of speakers and small group discussion groups. The theme for this year's conference is Radical Christian Life: Equipping Ourselves for Social Change. Speakers include Richard Rohr and Joan Chittister. 

Sister Joan Chittister will be the keynote speaker on Friday evening. In the 21st century, people seek to cope and to create in a world that is shifting on its very foundations. Economic inequity threatens to tear us apart at the seams. The forces of globalization demand that we rethink what it means to be a community and where our mutual responsibilities lie. It is a time of classic crisis, forged of equal parts threat and opportunity. "Our task is now to be radical Christian communities in the here and now, not fossils of a bygone reality, not leftovers from an earlier golden age. Now we need new wisdom and a new kind of struggle to determine what we must be and do in the midst of changing time. The question is then: What does it mean to be a radical Christian community in times such as these?" Joan Chittister, The Radical Christain Life.

Join us for what will be an interesting and thoughtful workshop. Call 757-898-3261, Grace Episcopal Church, to register early for this event or visit Abingdon Church's website

Boys' Home grad awarded Eagle Badge

Devin VanGundy, a student from Boys' Home Covington, was awarded the highest rank in scouting, the Eagle Badge on October 13, 2012. His Eagle Court of Honor was held in the All Saints' Chapel on the Boys' Home campus.

The Boy Scout motto of Be Prepared has special meaning to Devin. It doesn't mean just being prepared to help others in emergencies or disasters. Be Prepared also applies to being prepared for life, through the challenges that situations sometimes bring. For Devin, one of the challenges involved coming to Boys' Home in the summer of 2011. By persevering, sometimes on his own and sometimes through the persistence of the Boys' Home staff, Devin settled into the structure at Boys' Home and attained two of his primary goals: to complete his Eagle project and to graduate from high school.

The Boy Scout motto and the mission of Boys' Home complement each other. At Boys' Home, preparing also means learning to become a productive citizen by developing your mental, physical, social and spiritual potentials. For Devin, it meant developing a strong heart, mind, spirit and body. 

Devin began scouting on May 28, 2006 when he joined Troop 2826 in Chester, Virginia. After attaining his Life Scout Rank in May 2010, VanGundy joined Troop 66 in the summer of 2011 after first arriving at Boys' Home. He has earned a total of 21 merit badges. These include Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, and Citizenship in the World as well as badges in Camping, Communications, Fingerprinting, Cooking, Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Science, First Aid, Swimming, Leatherwork, Nature, Personal Fitness, Mammal Study, Fishing, Indian Lore, Family Life, Archery, Personal Management and Automotive Maintenance. While in the Boys' Home Troop 66, VanGundy has held the leadership positions of Quartermaster and Senior Patrol Leader.

Devin's Eagle project was constructing feral cat shelters, which took a total of 100 man-hours to complete. Assisting Devin were Chad Whitmer, Scoutmaster, Amy Hubbard, Assistant Scoutmaster, Danny Cale, maintenance chief at Boys' Home and Don Minniear, maintenance staff. Also helping were members of Troop 66.  

Invited to share in Devin's special day were his family and friends, former teachers, scout representatives, Boys' Home staff and residents. Donnie Wheatley, current Executive Director and former Scoutmaster of Troop 66, was the Master of Ceremonies. Other participants were Greg Lemmer, Bonnie Wheatley, Sandra Scruggs, Reggie Gibbs and members of Troop 66.

Devin plans to return to Chester and, in the next few weeks, join Job Corps.

Upcoming events for youth and young adults

Happening Reunion - November 10-11, Chanco on the James   
Join Happening alumni from all over our diocese for a weekend of reconnection, relaxation and refreshment! Learn more about exciting developments in the Happening program, share memories and experience great worship and activities. Click here for information and registration.   

November Weekend - November 16-18, VUMAC in Blackstone
Open to all youth in grades 6-9 and their adult advisors. Make new friends at this fall retreat at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone, VA!  November Weekend includes music, games, activities, socials, small group discussions and amazing worship! Click here for more information and registration. 

Young Adults Conference - December 1, 12 to 5 p.m.,St. John's, Hampton
All young adults (20s and 30s) are invited to attend. Conference features a special Advent Eucharist and programs by: Bishop Hollerith; Jason Sierra, Young Adult Ministries Officer of the Episcopal Church; and the Young Adults Commission of Southern Virginia. This event will offer opportunities to network with other young adults around the diocese, dialogue with dynamic leaders, serve the Hampton homeless community, and engage in compelling worship. Lunch provided with coffee and refreshments served all day. Stick around afterward for an optional happy hour and dinner in historic downtown Hampton. Click here for more information and online registration.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chanco on the James: Executive Director hiring update

After initial screening of resumes, followed by phone interviews with a number of capable candidates, four talented and qualified candidates were interviewed for the position of Chanco Executive Director in person last week. The interview was an all day process with each candidate participating in an interview with a committee of the board of directors, a tour of the property, a presentation and meeting with a panel of Stakeholders and lunch with Stakeholders and/or board members. Thank you to Dave Belote, Ann Krannitz and the Rev. Eileen Walsh (Camp Chanco Alumni Association board members); Rick Mason and Laura Frank Sale (Chanco Parish Representatives); Bruce Comfort and Charlie Schindler (Cursillo); Diocesan Youth Missioner Ashley Scruggs and EYC Board President Holly Waide (Episcopal Youth Community); Juli Edwards (Happening); and staff members Talley Banazek, Robbie and Shanna Matthews, and Stacey Richards for participating in the Stakeholder panel. Written evaluations were solicited from all persons participating in the interview process and compiled for review by the Chanco Board of Directors at last night's board meeting. A name will be put forth to Bishop Hollerith who will continue the process with the candidate in order to make a final decision. We appreciation the support and prayers of the Diocese of Southern Virginia during this important time. Updates on this process will be posted here as well as on our Facebook page.

Mission Cross now available

The Mission of the Holy Spirit is an urban outreach ministry serving an at-risk community in Norfolk spiritually, emotionally, educationally and physically. Its focus is on empowering youth and their families through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Mission Cross was created to honor and support the ministry and community of the Mission of the Holy Spirit. Uplifted hands receive the Holy Spirit: holy hands that worship, praise and heal. Each cross is handcrafted of nails, a gentle reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made for each of us and that we are vessels of the Living God, called to go forth in his name.

You can purchase a Mission Cross and support the Mission of the Holy Spirit. Click here for more information and an order form.

Upcoming Cursillo events

Cursillo is a movement within the Episcopal Church. It is an adult retreat designed to help us grow closer to Jesus Christ. It's also a community where we're encouraged to live joyfully and serve faithfully in grace. 

Fourth Day Cursillo Gathering - November 3 at 12 noon at Chanco. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served. Bring a covered dish to share. Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to gather together to renew old friendships, praise the Lord and welcome our new Cursillistas. For more information contact Cursillo Lay Director Bee Betts,

Men's Cursillo Weekend - Feb. 28 through Mar. 3 at Chanco.  

Women's Cursillo Weekend - April 11-14 at Chanco.  

For more information about Cursillo in Southern Virginia or to apply to be a candidate or team member for a weekend, go to

Nominations for Annual Council elections

The 121st Annual Council of the Diocese of Southern Virginia will be held February 15-16, 2013 at the Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Nomination Form and Nomination Guidelines for Annual Council elections are now available online. The nomination deadline is December 14, 2012. Candidates are being sought for the following positions:
  • Standing Committee: 1 laity, 1 clergy
  • Disciplinary Board: 1 laity, 1 clergy
  • Provincial Synod: 1 laity, 1 clergy
Please complete and mail the  Nomination Form,  available here, by December 14, 2012 to Leah Sicignano, 600 Talbot Hall Road, Norfolk, VA 23505. All nominations must be received by mail as they require original signatures.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

None of the Above: The Rise of the Religiously Unaffiliated

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, the national PBS television program produced by Thirteen/WNET, is launching a three-part mini-series, "None of the Above: The Rise of the Religiously Unaffiliated," based largely on a new survey about the views of the 46 million Americans who say they are not affiliated with any particular religion. Click here for more information. Congregations could benefit from the information in this series as they think about ways to reach out to the unchurched in their communities. 

Fall Game & Wine Dinner to benefit Happening

On October 27, 2012, St. Christopher's, Portsmouth, will be hosting a Fall Game and Wine Dinner to benefit the Happening program. Happening is a Christian renewal program designed for youth in grades 10-12. The focal point of the weekend is learning and experiencing the love of Christ.  

A magnificent menu has been planned for the benefit dinner. Be prepared to have a fine dining experience in a relaxed atmosphere. The menu will consist of several courses prepared with duck, venison and rock fish. The dinner will start at 7 p.m. and the cost is $65 per person. We will be pairing each course with a wine selection. You will not be disappointed! We are selling a limited number of tickets so get them now. You can purchase tickets online here. You can also purchase tickets via cash or check (made out to St. Christopher's). If you have questions please contact Kim Centers 757-447-8801, or the Rev. Eileen Walsh at 757-484-5155,

Help the Mission of the Holy Spirit change lives

by Keith A. Josey, Lay Pastor, Mission of the Holy Spirit 

Thank you for supporting the Mission of the Holy Spirit with your prayers, gifts and resources. This summer, many of our children were blessed with trips to pool parties, a Tides game, Busch Gardens and the Children's Museum. All these trips were made possible because of the generosity of those who gave out of a love for helping others and a belief in the services we provide at the Mission of the Holy Spirit. As we move into the fall months, our programming has shifted from activity-centered to educational enrichment and healthy living.

Have you ever seen the look on a person's face when they finally realize that they can make a change in their lives? It is so vastly different than the expressions of hopelessness that occur when people are faced with the sad realities that surround so many. Despite all the daily struggles faced in our community, seeds of hope, joy and purpose are planted with your support.

At the Mission of the Holy Spirit, we strive to effectively change lives by nurturing the gifts of the people we serve and offering opportunities for all to experience God's love in multiple ways. Through our efforts, lives are being changed, as evidenced by the many young people in our program who graduate high school and go on to college. When the Mission started in 1993, few participants had hope of graduating from high school; as I write, 8 Mission members are currently enrolled in college and pursuing their dreams. We have also experienced an increase in our Sunday worship attendance from an average of 35 (mostly children) in 2007 to more than 50 children and adults in recent months. We are indeed proud of this growth, coming at a time when many churches are seeing a decline in membership. We have baptized 43 infants, children and adults since 2007, forever bonding them with Christ Jesus. Our growth is a result of quality programs, people and purpose.

In order to sustain our purpose "to effectively change lives" we need your help. Due to the economy, our contributions are down considerably; in order to maintain our worship services and programs into 2013, we are in very serious need of your continued financial assistance. These tough economic times make your giving so much more important than ever before. Please think about asking for donations to the Mission in lieu of birthday and Christmas gifts, and send your own contribution after you consider this ministry for God's children prayerfully.

These times are challenging, but "we can make a difference and we will make a change." Through working together to share God's love and allowing the light of Christ to shine, we can continue to touch the lives of the people we serve.

2013 Diocesan Pledge letters are in the mail

Letters to the parishes from Treasurer John Meek and PB&R Chairman Spencer Coleman requesting your 2013 pledge to the diocese are being mailed this week. Please look for them in your mail and direct them to the appropriate people. Two are being sent to each parish - one to the senior warden and one to the rector, vicar or priest-in-charge.  A 2013 pledge form is enclosed in the letter addressed to the senior warden. The pledge form needs to be sent to the diocesan office by December 1 in order for the PB&R Committee to complete the 2013 budget in time for the Executive Board meeting in January.  Thank you.

Open Enrollment for health plans begins today!

2013 Open Enrollment for clergy and lay employees participating in medical and dental plans is October 10-31. Click here for complete information. If you have questions about Open Enrollment, contact Canon for Administration the Rev. Canon Ed Tracy, 757-213-3378 or

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Safe Church training now required for Lay Licensing

Please be advised that effective immediately all persons applying for lay licensing will need current Child and Adult Safe Church certification. The Adult module is available as 3 hour classroom training. Please consult the diocesan website to see currently scheduled training sessions and register online. The Child module may be completed as classroom training as noted above or online by contacting Judy Rieken via e-mail at Please send your name, home address, a contact phone number, and the parish you attend.

History-making change coming to Jackson-Feild Homes

By Tod Balsbaugh, Jackson-Feild Homes
After 157 years of serving only girls, Jackson-Feild Homes (JFH) will soon accept boys into its Adolescent Psychiatric Program. Children who come to JFH have poor family relationships and support. They live in environments filled with substance abuse. They are all-too-familiar with the court systems and social service systems having received numerous in-home, community-based, and residential services. They have suffered serious emotional trauma as the result of abuse and/or neglect.

In 2010, JFH developed its Trauma Focused Treatment model and as a result of the tremendously successful strides made in the treatment of girls, agencies across the Commonwealth that place children into residential facilities have been asking JFH to accept boys as well as girls. Trauma, abuse and neglect knows no gender. In fact, the majority of children currently served by the Commonwealth of Virginia are boys, yet until now there has been no residential treatment facility available to meet the needs of severely traumatized boys. After much thoughtful and prayerful consideration, the Board of Trustees approved the recommendation to accept boys into its Adolescent Psychiatric Program. JFH anticipates that the first will arrive on campus within the month. Safeguards and security are already in place to ensure that this history-making change will proceed smoothly and successfully.

Jackson-Feild is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation to provide residential treatment services.