Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bishop Hollerith's Christmas message

"The question that I hope each one of us will ponder this Christmas is this: Where is it that you might give the gift of life to another? It is one thing to simply mail packages or put presents under a tree. It is something altogether different to enable someone else to be whole or to thrive, or to reach some new potential, to know joy or comfort or to have new life. There are gifts and then there are Holy gifts. The difference between the two isn't a matter of lavishness or expense or even effort. A Holy gift is simply on some deep level a reflection, an extension of that gift given to the world in Bethlehem so long ago. It is heart felt in the deepest sense. It's what Christmas is truly all about. And what we can be about." For the full message, click the links below.

Click here to watch Bishop Hollerith's Christmas message. Click here for the text of the message.

A message from Bishop Hollerith about the Talbot Hall property

Dear Diocesan Family,
On behalf of the Talbot Hall Property Committee, Executive Board and Standing Committee, I am pleased to announce that the Diocese of Southern Virginia has entered into a contract for the sale of the Talbot Hall property. Subject to normal commercial contingencies, after a due diligence period, the property will be sold to Talbot Hall West, LLC.
This contract addresses all of the considerations discussed in the 2012 Council Resolution which commended the sale:
  • The historic Talbot Hall Manor House will be preserved.
  • The environment will be respected.
  • The property will be brought into conformity with the existing use of the Talbot Park neighborhood.
  • The diocesan offices will be improved and moved to a more accessible location.
  • Additional funds will become available to support the mission and ministry of the diocese.
Talbot Hall West is an ideal purchaser. The group is composed of well-known Norfolk people who will be building their own single-family dwellings. In short, the property is not being sold to a developer who would seek high density housing, or to maximize profits, but rather to a group of friends who intend to make the property their home.

I am tremendously grateful for the assistance of the Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate Group, and especially for the personal interest that Mr. Lindsay has himself taken in assuring the preservation of the historic Manor House. Their excellent work has led us to an outcome which maximizes the benefit to the diocese, the neighborhood, the environment and the historic house.
I also want to thank all of the people who have offered their time to bring us thus far: the members of the Talbot Hall Committee, the Conveyance Committee and the Relocation Committee, who have dedicated their work in memory of their friend and former chair, Bud Schoolar. I am also deeply thankful for the generosity of the Talbot family, who made the gracious gift of Talbot Hall many years ago.
Within the next few months, the diocesan Relocation Committee will be making its final recommendations regarding a new home for the diocesan staff.  The committee is narrowing down their recommendations on locations that are both appropriate and well-suited to the needs of our diocesan mission. Because of their hard work, I am confident that we will be in a new diocesan office well before the close of the sale.
The Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith IV

Monday, December 16, 2013

Presiding Bishop's Christmas message

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, in her Christmas Message 2013 prays: "May you discover that humble authority born again on the edges of the world's notice. May that royal inheritance and authority of the stable be born in you, enliven your heart, and rest on your shoulders."

Click here to read the Presiding Bishop's message. Click here for the message in Spanish. 

Seeds of Hope Grants awarded

Ten Seeds of Hope Grants totaling $23,233 have been awarded for 2013. Seeds of Hope grants are awarded to congregations and diocesan groups in Southern Virginia to support the development or expansion of social justice ministries sponsored by diocesan congregations and organizations. Over the next few weeks, we'll tell you about our grant recipients. 

St. Paul's, Newport News
Single Mothers Support Program
Because of St. Paul's location in the very pit of poverty in Newport News, they work with single mothers who are struggling to keep body and soul together for themselves and for their children. A volunteer (retired) social worker is available weekly to offer family and financial counseling, employment counseling, etc. To help these vulnerable families avoid eviction, St. Paul's also offers financial support for rent and utilities.

St. James', Warfield
Senior Citizens Outreach Program
St. James started a Senior Citizens Outreach Program in 2004 with a Seed Of Hope Grant. During the years since the program was started, educational, recreational and social activities have been provided monthly for approximately 35 or more senior citizens from the parish and parish community. Each session has included a lunch and fellowship with each other. All of the participants live in this rural, socially isolated community and their lives have been enriched by the various activities. In 2010 -2011, the parish applied for a grant to add another component to the program - an Online Resource Center. The funds were used to purchase computers, pay for an instructor to teach the seniors how to use the computer and internet services. The senior citizens have participated in the training classes and have acquired basic computer skills that will enable them to access websites for information and to communicate with family and friends. The interest in these classes is so great, St. James' is expanding this program to provide services to a larger number of senior citizens.

Mission of the Holy Spirit, Norfolk 
Building Dreams
The Mission will continue its partnership with Old Dominion University nursing students to help school-aged members succeed in school. Tutoring of younger participants will focus on reading, elementary-level skills and completion of homework, and older participants will be coached on the skills necessary to be successful at their grade levels. The weekly evening program will include a break for a nutritious dinner.

Commission on Ministry approves candidates

Candidacy - Priesthood: John Hogg - St. Aidan's, Virginia Beach 

Postulancy - Priesthood: Tyler Montgomery - Christ Church, New Haven, CT 

Postulancy - Diaconate:
Jan Brown - Bruton Parish, Williamsburg 
Linda Ricker - St. Luke's, Powhatan 
Genevieve Nelson - Ascension, Norfolk 
Mary Lou Crifasi - Eastern Shore Chapel, Virginia Beach 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Forward Movement's new Daybook includes meditations by Bruton Parish priest

Forward Movement recently published Seeking God Day by Day: A Year of Meditations, their 2014 book of daily meditations. The Rev. Penny Nash, associate rector at Bruton Parish, Williamsburg, wrote fifteen of the meditations in this volume that many refer to as the "Daybook."

Seeking God Day by Day shares stories from the hearts and souls of thirty-one authors who differ widely in age, ethnicity, gender, geography, and denomination. Some writers are well known, such as Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the inspirational Bo Cox, while others are offering their stories for the first time.

"So many people have told me how much they love the Daybooks," shares Nash. "They read them over and over again, catching a new meaning with each reading. I'm grateful to be part of this project that touches so many and grateful to Forward Movement for creating such a community of people who seek God together day by day."

The meditations are as diverse as their authors - they are edgy, joyful, angry, gentle, struggling, and loving. What holds the stories together-and what connects all of us-is our common quest to be in a deeper relationship with God.

Seeking God Day by Day: A Year of Meditations is available from the Bruton Parish Shop or at  

Safe Church training update

Safe Church Trainings for 2014 will be published on the Christian Formation page of our website on Friday, December 13. Adult Safe Church Training is now available online along with the other modules. Anyone choosing the online option must complete all the assigned modules online within a two week period to receive certification. Please contact Judy Rieken to register to take the courses online. You may sign up for live classroom trainings, as usual, through the diocesan website. Please contact Judy at with any questions. 

Seeds of Hope Grants awarded

Ten Seeds of Hope Grants totaling $23,233 have been awarded for 2013. Seeds of Hope grants are awarded to congregations and diocesan groups in Southern Virginia to support the development or expansion of social justice ministries sponsored by diocesan congregations and organizations. Over the next few weeks, we'll tell you about our grant recipients. 

Mission of the Holy Spirit, Norfolk 
Skills for Life
Mission of the Holy Spirit will offer a program designed for teens and adults that will help them learn skills necessary to become productive members of our community. The program will be presented one evening per week, with a break for a nutritious dinner. Participants will learn skills such as resume writing, interviewing for jobs, conflict resolution, prevention of domestic violence, time management, banking, using online resources to obtain college scholarships and employment, as well as other skills.

St. Matthias', Midlothian
Food Pantry
This fall the need for the St. Matthias' Food Pantry significantly increased with an expanded school program and increased clients from community programs. The pantry will participate in the Community in Schools (CIS) program at Chalkley Elementary School in Chesterfield and will provide food for three to five families per week. About 80% of Chalkley's students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs. the families who receive the food are selected by the school social worker and are different each week. The food is delivered to the school and parents pick it up. This ministry has begun on a trial basis and has been successful. St. Matthias' expects to expand the number of families during the school year. St. Matthias' pantry may be unique in that it provides enough appropriate food to supply three meals per day for seven days for each family member. the pantry grew by 15% in its first year and this growth is expected to continue. The pantry is also unique in that volunteers deliver the food to the school. The strain on resources has already been felt and Seeds of Hope Grant funding will help to increase the resources to meet the increased need.

Galilee, Virginia Beach
Job Seeker Academy
Over twenty-five years ago Galilee joined other local Virginia Beach churches to found the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center (JCOC) to serve the homeless on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. In January JCOC started providing the ServSafe Food Handler Program to its residents. The ServSafe food handler training program is nationally recognized throughout the food service industry. The ServSafe program at JCOC started with generous funding from Old Donation, Virginia Beach. Old Donation provided seed money to get the program up and running. The Seeds of Hope grant will build on the success of the ServSafe program by providing funds to pay for other types of job training. Residents will be able to use the Seeds of Hope funds for job training programs such as the ServSafe Managers Course, cosmetology, auto mechanic, or construction classes. Costs associated with job training will also be eligible for grant funding, such as text books and study guides.  

New ECW Board members take office in January

By Nancy L. Smith, St. Aidan's, Virginia Beach

Episcopal Church Women have elected Susan Broaddus, Christ and St. Luke's, Norfolk as Student Work Chair and Ronda Toll, Christ the King, Tabb, Prayer and Worship Chair. Susan and Ronda will serve a two-year term on the ECW Diocesan Board beginning in January 2014.
The Rev. Christopher L. Epperson, Burton Parish Rector installed the new board members at the ECW Annual Fall Meeting hosted by the Burton Parish ECW October 16.  

Katherine Patterson, Christ and Grace, Petersburg, presiding in the absence of Diocesan President, Barbara Taylor, thanked outgoing board members, Student Work Chair, Deborah Austin, St. Mark's, Suffolk; Prayer and Worship Chair, Pricilla Benn, St. Mark's, Suffolk; and Recording Secretary, Betty Mariner, St. George's, Pungoteague for their service. An election will be held at the Spring meeting to fill vacant positions. Nominees for office are: Recording Secretary, Janis Chenery, Christ Church, Danville; and Treasurer Elect, Betty Mariner.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Annual Council: Registration is open!

Registration for the 122nd Annual Council (Feb. 7-8, 2014) at the Williamsburg Lodge is now open.  

Registration fee before January 7, 2014 is $125 per attendee. After January 7, registration will increase to $150. Online registration and cancellation deadline is January 24, 2014. Youth aged 18 and younger as well as college students may register at the $50 rate.  

Each attendee should make their own hotel reservations directly with the Williamsburg Lodge or The Woodlands in Colonial Williamsburg. Please refer to Group Code 9952 to receive the discounted rate.

Click here for complete information and online registration.

Click here for information and registration for Exhibitors at Council.

Presiding Bishop's Advent message

Advent is a time of waiting and for many people it's a time to reflect on what Mary must have experienced as she waited for the birth of this unusual child.  

You may never have been pregnant or lived with someone who was, but put yourself in her place for a while.  Consider what it would have been like to have a new life growing within you.  And reflect on what new is growing within you this season of Advent.  

What new concern is growing for the people around you? What new burden is on your heart for the woes of the world?  What new possibility do you see emerging in the world around you, and how might you be part of that?  

Advent is a quieter time of the year in the Church's understanding. It's a time to be still and listen, listen deep within to what is growing, ready to emerge into new life.  

And as the season for the birth of the Christ Child arrives, I would encourage you to consider how you yourself will be present in the world in a new way this year.  How will you give evidence of love incarnate to the world around you?  

I pray that you have a blessed and joyful and peace-filled Advent.  God be with you.  

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori 

Click here for the Presiding Bishop's message in Spanish. 

Mission of the Holy Spirit Christmas Gift Book Project

This year The Parish Book Store, inside Eastern Shore Chapel, Virginia Beach, will join with the Mission of the Holy Spirit for a Christmas Gift Book Project. The Episcopal Mission of the Holy Spirit serves the at-risk community of Norfolk, particularly focusing on the children and youth.

Inside the Parish Book Store is a Christmas tree with "decorations" providing the gender and age of a child. Visitors to the store can take a decoration from the tree and choose an age appropriate book from the various children's books available in the store. The book, with the decoration attached, will be placed in baskets around the tree. On December 4, the books will be picked up to be taken to the Mission and distributed to the children.

For more information, contact the Parish Book Store, or 757-425-0114. 

Episcopal Church Young Adult Service Corps accepting applications

The Episcopal Church offers untold opportunities for young adults to provide service and share their expertise worldwide through the Young Adult Service Corps. Commonly known as YASC, applications for 2014-15 are now being accepted for the Young Adult Service Corps from young adults between the ages of 21-30.

"YASC provides an opportunity for young adults to explore their faith in a new capacity and to live out the Baptismal Covenant by seeking and serving Christ in all persons," noted the Rev. David Copley, Mission Personnel Officer. "Applicants must have a high degree of maturity and possess a faith commitment and the willingness to be a humble guest, and the ability to be an authentic companion."

The application is available here . The application deadline is January 3, 2014.

Where are the YASC?

Current YASC members can be found throughout the Anglican Communion. They are working in administration, agriculture, development, education, and technology. They are serving in Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, and Tanzania. Read their thoughts and reflections on their blogs here

Among the possible placements for 2014-15 are Brazil, Burundi, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa and Taiwan. For more information contact Grace Flint at

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

EfM Mentor Training January 16-18

Education for Ministry (EfM) Mentor Training has been scheduled for January 16 through 18 at Chanco on the James. At present, both Basic In-Service and Formation training are planned. Those who successfully complete the weekend will be accredited as Mentors by the University of the South. Click here for more information.  

Advent app from Church Publishing, Inc.

Walk, don't run, through Advent with "It's Advent!" This new daily devotional app from Church Publishing is suitable for all ages and features the artwork of renowned cartoonist, Jay Sidebotham. Scripture readings and the Sermon on the Mount bring the anticipation of Advent to life. Compatible with all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices running iOS 7.0 or greater. Click here for more information. 

Presiding Bishop's address to groundbreaking public forum on racism

"Let us dream of a world where every family, language, people, and nation is gathered in the commonwealth of God," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said at the groundbreaking public forum Fifty Years Later: The State of Racism in America. "Learn vigilance, teach and work for justice, that we might become the beloved community of God's rainbow people - every family, language, people, and nation gathered before the Lamb, himself one of the lowly and rejected.  Dream that world into being here on earth, and drive out hell to bring it to birth!" Click here to read the address. 

Fifty Years Later: The State of Racism in America, presented on November 15, explored racism in today's society and was sponsored by  The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Mississippi. The on-demand video of the forum will be available on the Episcopal Church's website later this week.

Registration now open for New Community Gathering, March 13-16

Registration is now open for the popular Episcopal Church New Community Gathering, March 13-16, 2014. The theme for event is "Together, Advancing the Sacred Dream." Sponsored by the Episcopal Church Diversity and Ethnic Ministries Team, plenary and workshop topics will provide opportunities for clergy and lay people to explore advocacy and mission in ethnic ministries. Also included will be ethnic-specific meetings, inter-ethnic and cross cultural conversations, and multicultural banquet and worship celebrations.

The event will be held at Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, NC. Registration is available here. Registration does not include transportation to Kanuga. Registration deadline is February 3. Scholarships are available to ethnic delegates on a first come, first served basis; check the registration information.

For more information:
The Rev. Winfred Vergara, Asiamerican Missioner (;
The Rev. Angela Ifill, Black Ministries Missioner ( );
The Rev. Anthony GuillĂ©n, Latino/Hispanic Missioner (;
Sarah Eagle Heart, Indigenous Missioner ( ).

Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal gathering to challenge the epidemic of violence

Registration is now open for Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal gathering to challenge the epidemic of violence April 9 - 11, 2014 at the Reed Center and Sheraton in Oklahoma City, OK (Diocese of Oklahoma). Registration and more information is available here

At Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence, Episcopalians will come together to renew their commitment to the Gospel call to make peace in a world of violence. Through deep conversation, prayer, and skill-building the event will empower the participants to address violence and reclaim their role in society as workers for nonviolence and peace. Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace is focused around four pillars: advocacy, education, liturgy, and pastoral care. These four areas are key avenues to address the culture of violence within and outside of the Church and will be woven throughout all aspects of the event including plenary time, workshops, small group conversations, and worship.

Come to the Table: A group for clergy women

Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care's "Come to the Table" is a therapy group designed exclusively for clergy women of all faith traditions who have been called by God to vocational ministry. Areas of potential group focus include:
  • Managing stresses of pastoral ministry
  • Being attentive to and improving self care
  • Developing personal and spiritual disciplines
  • Balancing work, home and family
  • Managing interpersonal relationships
  • Dealing with depression, anxiety, grief or loss
The group will meet on Mondays from 12 to 1:30 p.m. at the main office of VIPCare, 2000 Bremo Road, Suite 105, Richmond. For information please contact Dr. Sandy Hamilton, 804-282-8332.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A message from Bishop Hollerith on how you can help provide relief to the Philippines

Dear Diocesan Family, 

Our prayers are with the people of the Philippines who have been devastated by typhoon Haiyan. I am pleased to report that Episcopal Relief & Development is already working closely with the Episcopal Church in the Philippines as they determine the best way to provide assistance and relief.

The storm made landfall in the central Philippines on the morning of November 8, causing widespread damage and disabling power and communications lines. Reports estimate that 9.5 million people across 41 provinces were affected by the storm, with 630,000 displaced and served both inside and outside the 1,645 active evacuation centers. The report also estimates the number of damaged houses at just under 20,000. Rescue and relief efforts are reportedly being hampered due to roads being clogged with debris.
The Episcopal Church in the Philippines is working with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, an ecumenical group of which it is a member, to develop a coordinated response strategy.  Episcopal Relief & Development will provide technical and financial assistance to aid these efforts.

You can respond to the needs of those impacted by this disaster with your gift to Episcopal Relief & Development's Disaster Response Fund.  Click here for more information.

Bishop Hollerith 

O God our help in time of trouble, we pray for the Filipino people who have suffered this grievous natural disaster. We pray that survivors may find water, food, and shelter, and news of their missing loved ones. There is trauma and destruction in many places, and little news from some of the areas hardest hit. Give peace and confidence, O Lord, to those in the midst of the whirlwind. Open hearts and hands around the world to respond sacrificially to the urgent need. Help us to remember that we are connected, one to another, the living to the dead, the comfortable to the suffering, the peaceful to the worried and anxious. Motivate us to change our hearts, for our misuse and pollution of the earth you have given us to share has something to do with this disaster.  Show us your suffering Son in the midst of this Calvary, that we might love one another as he has loved us.  In your holy name we pray.  Amen.  --  Prayer offered by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Annual Council: Deadline for nominations and resolutions is December 6

Nominations for elections and resolutions for our 122nd Annual Council (Feb. 7-8, 2014) are now being accepted. The deadline for submissions is December 6, 2013. The nomination form can be found on our website. You will also find information about and requirements for each position open for election. Elections to take place are Standing Committee (1 Lay, 1 Clergy), Disciplinary Board (1 Lay, 2 Clergy), Provincial Synod (1 Lay), and General Convention Deputation (4 Lay Deputies and 4 Lay Alternates, 4 Clergy Deputies and 4 Clergy Alternates).

Resolutions for Annual Council should be sent to the Rev. Charles Robinson, chair of the Resolutions and Memorials Committee, Resolutions concerning Canons and Constitution should be sent to diocesan Chancellor Sam Webster,  

2014 Clergy Compensation Guidelines online

Clergy Compensation Guidelines for 2014 are now available on our website.
Each year, the Compensation Commission recommends a cost-of-living adjustment for clergy and lay employees and re-issues the Clergy Compensation Manual & Guidelines. The Compensation Table reflects comparable pension-based total compensation amounts based on the size of the congregation, using pledge & plate revenues and average Sunday attendance from the Parochial Reports. These are merely guidelines to be used by the vestry and clergy to determine compensation for the clergy.

If you have questions, please contact Canon for Administration, the Rev. Ed Tracy, or 757-213-3378.

Integrity to meet at LGBT Center of Hampton Roads

Integrity is now meeting monthly at the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads. The next meeting will be held Tuesday, November 19. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and includes a potluck dinner. The LGBT Center is located at 247 West 25th Street, Norfolk, VA 23517. Integrity meets the third Tuesday of each month. For more information contact Integrity, Follow them on Facebook.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Service of Repentance, Reconciliation & Healing

Our diocesan Service of Repentance, Reconciliation & Healing for the sin of racism was held on Saturday, November 2 at Christ and St. Luke's, Norfolk. Bishop Hollerith read a Formal Apology on Behalf of the Diocese of Southern Virginia. The Reverend Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon for Missional Vitality in the Diocese of Long Island and Chaplain to the Episcopal House of Bishops, was the preacher. An inter-parish diocesan choir, drawn from 10 parishes and led by Christ & St. Luke's Music Director Kevin Kwan, led the music. Click here to see more pictures from the service. Click here for our Repairing the Breach resources, including a video and study guide. 


Your diocesan pledge makes it possible

Cross-diocesan School for Deacons    

The Gathering Place outdoor service in Richmond - organized by Deacon Becki Dean of St. Michael's, Bon Air. This time of worship and community is geared to meet the needs of those who might not find their way into a church on Sunday morning. 
In January, postulants will be entering the new Cross Diocesan School for Deacons. The school is an exciting collaboration between our diocese and the Diocese of Virginia.

This new school has been created specifically for the training of deacons. A total of twelve to fifteen postulants, recommended by the Commission on Ministry of their respective diocese and approved by their bishop, will attend. The school will meet at Chanco on the James and at Shalom House in the Diocese of Virginia. The school's teachers and staff come from both dioceses, as well as from around the Episcopal Church. When postulants complete the school and receive candidacy, they will be ordained to the diaconate and assigned to a parish by their bishop for a certain period of time.

Although deacons can be seen assisting at the liturgy, the liturgical function is just one part of a deacon's ministry. Deacons often serve among those who are anxious, fearful or live in the shadows of life - particularly the poor, sick and oppressed. In those shadows, deacons serve with compassion to help bring about healing, hope and restoration where possible.

In ministry, deacons visibly represent the Church proclaiming the Risen Lord is alive and walks among us. In so doing, they also seek to inspire each one of us to serve in our own unique way as best our strengths and gifts will permit. A deacon's ministry is one that weaves together the Church, the world and the Risen Christ into the fabric of everyday common life that wraps around us.

Your diocesan pledge makes possible this gift to the Episcopal Church in Southern Virginia and indeed the whole of God's Church.

Covenant Players visit Jackson-Feild

The Covenant Players made their annual visit to Jackson-Feild Homes October 29. This traveling repertory theatre company has been entertaining audiences since 1963. It is comprised of over 100 teams that travel worldwide to share the message of the love of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Bill Bowling, Principal of the Hayden Gwaltney School, welcomed the group to the campus. Their performance was held in the Robinson/Withers Recreation Building.

Three members of The Covenant Players used the medium of drama to bring hope, encouragement and a positive message to the students. Their efforts were well received and much appreciated.

The troupe will soon be traveling to Haiti for performances in tent cities. It will be the first time that the Covenant Players have ever performed in Haiti. They hope to spread their message of dealing with the complexities of the human condition while respecting the separation of church and state to a new audience.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Your diocesan pledge makes it possible

New and vital communities   

Bishop Holly has invited us to think about our Diocese as "The Episcopal Church in Southern Virginia", meaning that together, we are the church, and each congregation is a mission outpost or ministry center carrying out our common mission of sharing the Good News of Jesus. The Mission Network, the team focusing on Congregational Development and Vitality, Outreach, and Mission, looks for ways to enhance the ministry of local congregations, and to strategize for new mission opportunities.

Two new Mission Network initiatives are particularly exciting. Plans are underway to deploy an ordained Ministry Developer / Regional Priest to work with some of our small congregations in Convocations 8 and 9 who are interested in collaborative ministry. The Ministry Developer will help train lay ministers in worship, formation, and pastoral care ministries, and help the congregations coordinate regional formation and outreach activities. The Ministry Developer will grow a team of lay leaders and supply clergy who, together, minister to the needs of the congregations, and equip the congregations for expanded ministry in their communities. We hope to expand this ministry from one part-time ministry developer to two full-time ministry developers over the next three years.

Another exciting initiative is to reach out to the growing Hispanic population in our diocese. Our demographics show that the South Richmond area and the Chesapeake area both have large numbers of Latino/Latina residents, many of whom are not connected to a faith community. Convocation 7 will be using their recently approved Mission Initiative Grant to host a regional and diocesan workshop on Hispanic ministry in early 2014. Then, as funding becomes available, we are looking to hire a bi-lingual, bi-cultural Hispanic missioner who can plant a new Hispanic or multi-cultural ministry.

Meanwhile, the Mission Network continues to encourage vital mission locally through congregational consultations, the administration of the Seeds of Hope Grants for social justice ministries, and the Mission Initiative Grants for evangelistic ministry.

St. Thomas, Freeman's Youth Empowerment Program and Senior Pals Program, both supported with recent Seeds of Hope Grants, continues to make a significant impact in their rural community. The Senior Pal program focused on computer literacy for community seniors as well as needed socialization and fellowship to prevent isolation. The Youth empowerment program encouraged local young people in their academic achievement and participation. Coordinator Iris Jones of St. Thomas said, "Our Youth Empowerment ministry was a huge success this year. As a result, we had 7 youth to be baptized...and [besides the academic and cultural enrichment activities] our Sunday School grew from 10 to 20 participants." Senior Velma Jackson wrote a thank you note to the church saying, "This class was a God-sent resource to me. I've learned lots of new things and feel so much more comfortable searching the internet." Another participant, Berthemia Callis, wrote, "It was beautiful fellowship." Another senior wrote, "I thank God for St. Thomas being the kind of church that opens its doors always with their hearts to us all."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Open Enrollment for healthcare and dental plans is Oct. 31-Nov. 21

2014 Open Enrollment for clergy and lay employees participating in medical and dental plans is October 31 through November 21. During the Medical Trust's Open Enrollment period:
  • Current plan members may change their plan selections for the following year
  • Eligible non-participating employees have the option to join a plan
  • Eligible non-participating dependents may be added to a member's plan without the need of a qualifying event
Click here for complete information, including costs and plan comparisons.
If you have questions about Open Enrollment, please contact Canon for Administration the Rev. Canon Ed Tracy, 757-213-3378 or

Your diocesan pledge makes it possible: Transition Ministry

What is "Transition Ministry?" Every church goes through times of change - growing or declining, finding new energy, developing new ministries, seeking God's will for the future. When there is a change in clergy leadership, the diocese engages in a discernment and assessment process to assist in moving forward toward continued health and vitality, to help weather the normal anxiety that emerges from a new situation, and to provide stability in the interim time between the leaving of one priest and the arrival of another. As a part of this process, lay and clergy consultants or "coaches" are used to be companions to vestries and search committees. Here is how two members of parish committees experienced the ministry provided by the Diocese in their own recent transitions.

Eastern Shore Chapel, Virginia Beach - By Elise Balcom
I found myself on the newly-formed Eastern Shore Chapel Discernment Committee in January, 2012. Picking a new rector - how hard could that be for our savvy group of 10 parishioners? But, then, I wondered, where do we start? Do we post a want ad somewhere and wait for resumes? How would we pick the "one"? Hmmmm. Enter the Transition and Pastoral Consultant, and the Canon for Transition Ministries and Clergy Development. We learned there was a method to finding a new rector, and the hard work was just beginning.  

The process started with discerning what the parish wanted for the future of ESC. This gave the Discernment Committee what it needed to post both its online profile on the ESC webpage, and to write what became a kind of want-ad. All of this formed the basis for the questions we would later ask of candidates, both in Skype interviews, and in person for the finalists. Without this orderly process, it is unlikely we would have had our new rector in just one year. It is also possible we might not have found a rector who was like-minded and had a skill set matched to what we need. Without the leadership provided by the Diocese, we likely would have floundered in trying to figure out how to proceed.
No process is perfect, and we certainly encountered our share of bumps in the road, but we called our new rector. Our parish is now working with him to reach our long term goals set forth by the congregation in its discernment process a year and a half earlier. Time will tell how good the match is, but the process used, and the help of the consultant and the Diocese were certainly valuable to ESC in its search.

St. Augustine's, Newport News - By Joyce Douglas

My experience as a member of the Discernment Committee was both challenging and rewarding. I learned to listen to the parishioners and to give them the feedback that engendered a relationship of trust and respect. Because I learned so much about the Episcopal Church, our parish, and the process, my question was, "How may I use my experience to help parishes going through transition?"

The assistance of a knowledgeable, patient, and caring consultant was essential to our success. He guided us through the steps of the search process, which made me a believer because it works! In addition, our diocese made sure that we were financially stable, that our profile was a reflection of our parish, and that we were prepared for the interview process. As a result, we were able to call a priest who was (and still is) an answer to our search prayer.

Your Diocesan budget supports the training of our consultants and diocesan staff who focus in this important area of church life and mission.

Supporting Episcopal Relief & Development: Johns Memorial, Farmville

Congratulations to the young people at John's Memorial, Farmville for raising over $515 for Episcopal Relief & Development. They raised this money by hosting a Coffee Hour after church. People were encouraged to give a donation for a treat and every person who made a donation was entered into a raffle drawing. I hope their witness and example will inspire others in the diocese to undertake simple and creative ways to help fund one of the most important ministries of the Episcopal Church.  -  The Very Rev. Keith Emerson, Diocesan Representative for Episcopal Relief & Development

CE-Net Speaker Series: Formation on Facebook

CE-Net (Christian Education Network) invites you to join them at Hickory Neck Church, Toano, on November 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the next installment in their speaker series - Formation on Facebook, led by diocesan Communications Officer Ann Turner. There are a myriad of digital tools available to Christian educators. Making use of the social network giant Facebook can help you engage an audience beyond your congregation, and to reach a generation of social media natives. We'll talk about what Facebook is and what it isn't; curating your page; and ways to engage participation. Please note that participants should already be somewhat familiar with Facebook. This workshop will NOT cover basic Facebook use. Click here for details and registration.

Taskforce to Reimagine the Episcopal Church wants to hear from you!

In 2012, the General Convention created a taskforce to reimagine The Episcopal Church for the future. The members of the Taskforce want to hear the memories, hopes and dreams that people have for The Church. We are trying to reach as many people as we can over the next few months. We will use what we hear to help us shape recommendations for The Church's structure, administration and governance. Click here to engage in a group conversation or to post your individual response.  If you would like more information, please contact Caroline Black,, or Ann Turner,  Remember that your voice is important!

Altar Book seeking a new home

Johns Memorial, Farmville, has an Altar Book that has been in service at the church since about 1980 that was recently replaced. The old book has some wear and some marks, but is still very serviceable. If your church or mission is interested in having the Altar Book, please contact Bob Zupanek, Campus Chaplain & Parish Administrator, Johns Memorial Church, 400 High Street, Farmville, VA 23901, 434-392-5695 or

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Your diocesan pledge makes it possible

Chanco on the James Camp & Conference Center  

Chanco on the James, our diocesan camp and conference center, is the home for Christian spiritual formation for many youth and adults from around our diocese. This summer, 446 campers attended summer camp. Last year, 62 conference groups utilized our retreat center.

The conference center is home to youth events such as October Weekend and Happening and to adult events such as the Fresh Start clergy program and Cursillo. Numerous parishes within our diocese host annual parish family retreats and vestry retreats often taking advantage of our ropes course for team building activities. Family reunions, not for profit groups, the College of William and Mary and many other businesses take advantage of Chanco's remote, peaceful and beautiful location to rest and rejuvenate while enjoying strategic planning and/or fellowship.

The camp program at Chanco has been running continuously since 1968 and is accredited by the American Camping Association. In 2012, Chanco enjoyed the recognition of being voted "Best Summer Camp" in Virginia Living Magazine's May 2012 "Best Of" edition. In 2013, in absence of a "Best Summer Camp" category, Chanco earned third place as "Best Outdoor Adventure" right behind Busch Gardens! Residential campers enjoy a range of outdoor activities; traditional camp skits, songs, and traditions; along with a structured chaplain program including small group activities with a camp chaplain, worship and Eucharist. Many youth report discovering God in a different way in our relaxed, natural environment. Breaking bread among old and new friends with a priest who has developed a personal relationship with them through their camping experience can be profound and a different awakening to their spirituality than can be found elsewhere.

None of these programs could exist without the diocesan subsidy that Chanco receives annually. For example, Chanco awarded over $16,000 in tuition assistance to camper families in 2013 and Conference Center Lodges B and C have undergone extensive exterior renovations this past summer, with Lodges A and B renovated in 2011 and 2012. Chanco depends on the diocesan subsidy in order to continue this type of scholarship assistance and needed property renovation while keeping costs low to our camp and conference guests. Thank you for being a part of our progress and our future with your support.

Listen to what our camp and conference guests say about Chanco's ministry:
  • "Sending our 13 year old daughter and 10 year old son to Chanco at the same time was so good for both of them - they have a shared experience that I can already see has strengthened their relationship...they are making friendship bracelets together in the back of our van right now! Thank you all!" - Ginger White
  • "We had a great retreat! You are our diocesan retreat center! We tell EVERYBODY (all other Canterbury groups) what a great place Chanco is!" - The Rev. John Maxwell Kerr, Canterbury, William and Mary
  • "I will always carry the Chanco spirit with me no matter how old or far away I am. Thank you for everything you have done for me. By introducing me to Chanco, my life has been changed. I have met great life-long friends and have definitely been brought closer to God." - Jessica Denomme, Redeemer, Midlothian
  • "I am extremely thankful for Christ and Grace's contribution to my scholarship for Camp Chanco on the James. It helped enable me to spend a wonderful twelve days of my summer at a camp where I have made lifelong friends and bonds. Chanco has urged the leader in me to step forward...The lessons I have learned will forever accompany me as I made decisions in my everyday life." - Catherine Poarch, Christ and Grace, Petersburg
  • "We laughed, listened and learned all weekend. Thank you for each, every and all things done to accommodate our group. Every year we say 'This is the best' and then the next year it gets better! You are a shining example of hospitality and it is clear that you are being used by God to further His kingdom as you manage and share His resources. - Annette Irving, St. Gile's Presbyterian Church Women's Retreat

Highway marker honoring James Solomon Russell to be dedicated

The James Solomon Russell Celebration Committee has made application and received approval from the Virginia Director of Historical Resources to have a state highway marker placed recognizing the accomplishments of Archdeacon James Solomon Russell. The marker will be located on U.S. route 1 in Mecklenburg County near the place of his birth. A dedication ceremony will be held there on Saturday, October 26 at 2:00 pm. You are invited to be present at this important event. If you plan to attend, please be present at Trinity, South Hill by 1:00 p.m. on that date. Please contact Eugene Roberts if you plan to attend, or 434-594-4437.