Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Christmas message from Bishop Hollerith

"At Christmas, God says to his creation, I'm willing to experience what you experience, to feel what you feel, to think what you think, to laugh as you laugh, and to suffer as you suffer. I am willing to draw you and the whole world to myself. It's so simple and so elegant. A birth, a gesture of insignificant proportion and yet one of infinite consequence." Click here to watch Bishop Hollerith's message. A transcript of his message is available here

Diocesan office closes for holidays

Bishop Hollerith and his staff wish everyone in Southern Virginia a very Merry  Christmas and happy New Year! The diocesan office will be closed December 24 through January 1 for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Seeds of Hope: Mission of the Holy Spirit

The last in a series about the recipients of this year's Seeds of Hope Grants to develop and expand social justice ministries in Southern Virginia. Learn more about Seeds of Hope grants here. 

The Mission of the Holy Spirit, Norfolk, was awarded two Seeds of Hope Grants this year. One of the grants will fund the expansion of the very successful "Life is a Choice - Get Smart About Your Health!" program. The other will fund "Building Dreams," a new partnership with Old Dominion University Canterbury students to help members of the Mission succeed in school.

The "Life is a Choice - Get Smart About Your Health!" program presents healthy lifestyle choices to the Mission's children and families. Most programs of the Mission are focused on at-risk youth, but this effort brings in family members so that each family works together to improve their health. The program addresses topics like disease prevention, nutrition and exercise and helps families to make healthier choices.

Seeds of Hope Grant funds will allow the Mission to expand on this already successful program. A ten week program in Spring 2013 will continue to provide health education. A partnership with Old Dominion University nursing students provides one-on-one health assessments, individualized recommendations and encouragement for each participant. The program will add a segment on healthy shopping and cooking on a budget to help steer participants away from processed and fast foods that have little nutritional value. The program will also sponsor a Spring Health Fair at St. Stephen's, Norfolk, inviting Mission families, volunteers and supporters and the community at-large. The fair will provide screenings for blood pressure, vision, asthma and more, along with information about community health services and making healthier lifestyle choices.

The Mission of the Holy Spirit began as a ministry of the Diocese of Southern Virginia in 1993 to address spiritual, physical, emotional and educational needs of inner city "at risk" youth in the Norfolk area. For many participants, the Mission has provided the first, and perhaps only, opportunity to hear and experience the Good News of Jesus Christ. A Sunday worship service and dinner have been the core activity of the Mission as well as regularly schedule weekday activities. Most participants suffer from socio-economic related health issues such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and poor nutrition. The "Life is a Choice" program will encourage exercise, an active lifestyle, good nutrition, disease prevention, and an understanding of why good health is so important.

The second Seeds of Hope Grant project is "Building Dreams," a new partnership with the Canterbury Center at Old Dominion University. For younger members of the Mission, the program will focus on reading, elementary level skills and completion of homework. Older members will receive coaching in the skills necessary to be successful in school. The program will be presented one evening each week and will include a nutritious dinner.

When the Mission was started, few of the participants had much hope of graduating from high school. In June 2012, six members graduated from high school and five of them are now attending college. Several other members are starting their second or third year in college. By incorporating the skills and dedication of the Canterbury Center students with a planned tutoring program, the Mission hopes to encourage more youth to seek success in education.

You can learn more about the Mission of the Holy Spirit at www.missionoftheholyspirit.org,
or like them on Facebook (MissionOfTheHolySpirit).

Presiding Bishop's Christmas message

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2) These words were spoken long ago to people living in anxiety, fear, and despair, people feeling bereft of security, safety, and any sense of God's presence.  We hear them early on Christmas, forgetting that they were first spoken hundreds of years before the birth we celebrate.  Human beings across this planet still yearn to know that a more gracious and divine reality is active and evident in our lives.     

The birth we celebrate is meant for this world mired in darkness and fear, yet it also becomes easier to discover in a tiny voice crying in protest over being cold and wet and hungry.  We hear that cry in the midst of war's ravages in Congo and Afghanistan, in the rubble of hurricane and earthquake, in the demeaning of chronic poverty, behind prison bars.  That flickering of hope surges as the world turns to investigate this surprising new life, one heart at a time.  The light grows as hearts catch fire with the same light that illumines the stars, pulsing hope and new life, even out of black holes. Those who search in dark and despair, in dank dungeon and deep devastation, will find divine light given for the world.  Light that will not be put out, so long as any creature remains to receive it, until and beyond the end of time.  The darkness will never put it out.     

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:5) Go and look - and discover the love of God poured into our world in human form.  Hope reigns abroad, in the cosmos and in human hearts.  And rejoice, for a child of the light is born in our midst!  

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church

Resources for Recovery Ministry for addictions

We now have the "12-Step Liturgies and Intercessions" CD and booklet, "Addiction: Helping Priest and Parish Heal," available for parishes. These resources for recovery ministry for alcoholism, drug and other addictions are available from the Formation office. Contact Caroline Black for more information, cblack@diosova.org or 757-213-3377.

Safe Church training dates in 2013

Safe Church classroom training dates for 2013 have been set and can be found on our website. There is at least one training in each of our nine Convocations. You can find the list on the Workshops, Training & Events page of our website.  

American Friends of Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem offer workshop in Richmond

American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem invites Christians concerned about the future of the church in the Holy Land to an AFEDJ Missioner Workshop on  Saturday, January 12, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Stephen's, 6000 Grove Avenue, Richmond. The workshop is free of charge and lunch will be provided.

For over a century and a half, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has served the Christian Community in the Holy Land - a community dating from the time of Jesus. Today the Diocese supports 29 parishes, 13 schools, two hospitals (including the major El Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza), and other institutions in Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Since 1996, members of AFEDJ have helped sustain the Diocese of Jerusalem with public support and financial aid, providing over $20 million in medical, school and infant supplies as well as cash gifts.     

At this workshop, Anne Lynn, AFEDJ executive director, with other leaders, will present a lively program where missioners and individuals interested in becoming missioners (young and old, lay or ordained) will get to know each other, share how each of us discovered this compelling cause and what we may already be doing in this ministry, and explore new initiatives. For more information contact Anne Lynn, Executive Director of AFEDJ, aklynn@afedj.org.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Upcoming events for youth and youth leaders

Vocations Exploration Retreat for Youth

January 18-20 at the Gunn Center at Talbot Hall. For grades 9-12. Spend a weekend discerning your individual gifts, future possibilities for ministry, and career opportunities. Click here to download the application.   

Youth Leader Gathering
January 25-26 at Chanco on the James. 7:00 p.m. on Friday- 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Come to Chanco on the James for an overnight retreat with adults who work with youth from around the diocese.  The event will provide opportunities to network, problem-solve, learn, and be refreshed. Contact Youth Missioner Ashley Scruggs for more information or to register. 

Happening #59
March 8-10 at Chanco on the James. 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. Click here for more information and online registration. Click here to download the staff application.

Blackstone Weekend
March 22-24, VUMAC, Blackstone. For grades 8-12. Join teens from all over the diocese for a spring retreat at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone, VA! The event includes a variety of activities and opportunities to make new friends and learn more about the church. A special service for Palm Sunday and EYC Board elections will also take place during this weekend, as well as small groups, singing, socials, and so much more!  Click here for more information and online registration. Click here to download the 2013-2014 EYC Board Application. 

Seeds of Hope: Community collaboration to fight poverty

The sixth of seven in a series about the recipients of this year's Seeds of Hope Grants to develop and expand social justice ministries in Southern Virginia. Learn more about Seeds of Hope grants here. 

St. John's, Suffolk, has been awarded a Seeds of Hope Grant to help fund the Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk (CAPS). Begun in 2010, CAPS is a collaborative effort to address poverty on two levels: the crisis of an immediate need and the underlying causes of these needs. Currently 24 churches and organizations are participating members. CAPS provides a collaborative and coordinated system to meet the financial, physical, mental and spiritual needs of the community.

The CAPS model for addressing poverty is to create a central intake center for Suffolk at which a Services Coordinator will handle requests for assistance that usually go to churches. Rather than each church handling requests individually, churches will direct requests for assistance to CAPS. The coordinator is based at the Salvation Army office in Suffolk. The program provides a one-stop center for a variety of types of assistance.

CAPS' vision is that Suffolk churches and organizations are united and empowered to accomplish Christ's commission. That individuals and families live with dignity as they participate in CAPS ministries and experience the holistic Gospel transformation.

You can learn more about CAPS at  www.capsuffolk.com or like them on Facebook (CAPSuffolk).

EfM Mentor training January 17-19

EfM (Education for Ministry) Mentor Training will be held January 17-19 at Chanco on the James. At present, both Basic In-Service and Formation training (Transition in the midst of a Changing World) are planned. If you are interested in attending this training, please contact Ann Meyer, Diocesan EfM Coordinator, 757-229-1111 or ann@stmartinswmbg.org. Click here for more information and a registration form.

Join the Mission of the Holy Spirit in changing the lives of young people

By Hank Luhring, Chair, Mission of the Holy Spirit Board of Directors 

At a recent Sunday service, Pastor Keith Josey announced that Tiffani Satterwhite had just been accepted to Mary Baldwin College! All the kids at the Mission of the Holy Spirit were very excited. Tiffani is a shining example of how the Mission works with kids to succeed despite the problems they face in their lives.
The Mission has developed into a community of people looking out for each other, celebrating their successes, and also being there when life is not so good. To me, the Mission is a vivid example of Christianity in action. These kids who face tons more obstacles than most of us come to the Mission and leave with hope: the hope that, despite the bad, God's kingdom is manifest here on earth.
The Mission is doing more than ever. The Sunday service has anywhere from 60 to 80 people in attendance. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings we average 23 kids, being served by 4-8 volunteers. We provide meals on these two nights, as well as on Sundays. So far this year, over 5,000 meals have been served to children at the Mission. We delivered Thanksgiving baskets to over 50 families last month.
We are helping more children and more families than ever before, and are doing it for less. Funding is down 56% from its peak in 2007, yet we serve more kids with more programs.
Because of this, your contribution is more important than ever. It's through your generosity that we can keep the buses running, pay to heat the building, provide meals on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and operate a food pantry so that families don't go hungry.
Your tax-deductible donation to the Mission helps tremendously. As we transition from a season of thanksgiving to one of Christ coming into this world, your donation will help these children overcome adversity through Christian hope and good works.

Help make Christmas merry at Jackson-Feild Home

Not all children have wonderful Christmas memories. What should be a joyous season is often a painful one for the children at Jackson-Feild Homes. They do not have a loving family ... and a majority of their Christmas memories are unhappy ones.

For most of us the Christmas season is filled with symbols and traditions that are happy and fun. Unfortunately for the girls and boys at Jackson-Feild Homes they have been denied these happy holiday rituals. Christmas triggers memories of past trauma which causes sadness and depression. One child's holiday memories include waking up on Christmas morning to find out her mother had sold the toys they received from a community program to buy drugs. As difficult as it is to hear true stories like this, can you image how that child felt when there wasn't a single present under the tree for her?

But you can help make this Christmas the best one the girls and boys at Jackson-Feild have ever had - one they will cherish for a lifetime. The staff at Jackson-Feild Homes goes to great lengths to make Christmas as special as possible - funds permitting.

Jackson-Feild is asking you to make a donation to help ensure that Christmas wishes come true for each and every child in their care These wishes include gifts, decorations, special holiday meals and seasonal outings and activities. To make a gift send your tax deductible contribution to Jackson-Feild Homes, 546 Walnut Grove Drive, Jarratt, Virginia 23867. Or visit their web site,  www.jacksonfeild.org, to make an online or credit card gift. If you have any questions please call the Development Office at 804-354-6929.

Jackson-Feild Homes is a recognized leader in transformational programs for children and families. Founded in 1855, its practices and principles are supported by more than a century and a half of success in the treatment of troubled children. Its residential treatment services represent the standard of excellence in identifying, treating, and healing trauma and in building resiliency in children. It is dedicated to ensuring its children receive the best services possible to ensure they will have meaningful and productive lives. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Seeds of Hope: St. Matthew's expands ministry to the hungry in Chesterfield

The fifth of seven in a series about the recipients of this year's Seeds of Hope Grants to develop and expand social justice ministries in Southern Virginia. Learn more about Seeds of Hope grants here. 

St. Matthew's, Chesterfield, was awarded a Seeds of Hope Grant to help them make improvements to their food pantry ministry. The grant-funded project will allow them to weatherize and outfit an existing garage on their property so that it can be used to store and refrigerate food for their food pantry.

St. Matthew's has an on-going food pantry ministry. People in need of food are referred to the church by Chesterfield Colonial Heights Assistant Ministry (CCHASM), as well as member requests. St. Matthew's partners with Second Branch Baptist Church and the Beach Grange, who provide food donations. They have had no facilities for perishable food distribution, such as fresh vegetables and frozen meats. Expanding their pantry to provide foods other than non-perishable shelf items will provide better nutritional choices for their guests. Also, the expanded storage space will allow St. Matthew's to pursue additional partnerships, which would include the Central Virginia Foodbank.

121st Annual Council registration is open

Registration for the 121st Annual Council is now open. Council is February 15-16 at the Williamsburg Lodge. This year's them is "Let the EPIC Adventure of Church Begin" with keynote speaker Lisa Kimball, Ph.D. Get the latest Council information and access online registration for delegates and exhibitors on our website.  

Annual Council nominations deadline is December 14, 2012. More  information and nomination form are available here. Please complete and mail the Nomination Form 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.

CE-Net speaker series welcomes Sharon Pearson

The CE-Net Quarterly Speaker Series welcomes Sharon Pearson, Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing, on January 17, 11 a.m., at Hickory Neck, Toano. In addition to sharing the latest available resources, Sharon will talk about how to adapt curricula and resources to fit your particular context. Registration is necessary and a $5 charge for lunch. Please contact Judy Rieken at jrieken@diosova.org to sign up.

Boys' Home offers gift that fits everyone

Looking for that thoughtful Christmas idea? A Boys' Home Christmas card is a wonderful way to honor someone special or memorialize a loved one. Boys' Home is offering Christmas Cards that are original artworks by residents Malik E. and Vernon G. Their designs received the most votes in a recent people's choice contest. With each $10 (minimum) purchase, one printed original artwork Christmas card with envelope will be mailed to you to personalize and give when you wish.

To order, call Sandra at 540-965-7714 or e-mail sfscruggs@boyshomeinc.org with the total number of cards desired and specify either honor or memorial cards. Or send your entire card list to 414 Boys' Home Road, Covington, VA 24426 and Boys' Home staff will address and mail. No need to worry about shopping - this is a good gift for everyone on your list!

Boys' Home, Inc. was founded in 1906 as a home and school for children in this remote mountainous region of Virginia. Soon, the need for a home for homeless boys, in addition to the educational concerns, expanded its program. Today, Boys' Home continues to help boys whose families either cannot or will not provide for them the support and shelter they need and deserve. Our focus is young men who have great potential, but limited opportunities for success. The stated mission of Boys' Home is to help each young man in residence to strive towards becoming a productive member of society by developing his mental, physical, social and spiritual potentials.