Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ecumenical community facing major changes

35th Anniversary celebration at Holy Apostles', Virginia Beach
Holy Apostles', Virginia Beach, is our diocese's ecumenical community with Episcopalians and Roman Catholics together in the same congregation. It is the only community of its kind anywhere and they are now facing some major changes in the way they worship.

Last November, Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond told Holy Apostles to "bring its liturgical celebrations into conformity with the Roman Catholic Church."

In a statement released last week, DiLorenzo suggested other forms of liturgy, would allow Catholic and Episcopal members to worship together. Celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy continues to be separate. "As the shepherd of the Diocese of Richmond, it is my prayerful desire that this ecumenical community at Holy Apostles continues and flourishes," the statement said.

Bishop Hollerith expressed his obvious concern over how the requirements of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the liturgy would affect the life of the community. He also said that, from the Episcopal side of things, we have much to lose. "We will respect the Roman Catholic requirements because Holy Apostles' is a precious community and should be preserved."

Holy Apostles' was established in 1977 and Catholic and Episcopal clergy performed services according to each tradition and shared leadership of the community. The Episcopal and Catholic congregations prayed together before separating for the Eucharist. Participants say that this has allowed families in ecumenical marriages to worship together and strengthen their community.

Last week, Bishop DiLorenzo, accompanied by members of his staff, and Bishop Hollerith, accompanied by the Rev. Canon Ed Tracy, met with congregational leadership, including the clergy. Congregational leaders outlined what has been done since November to comply with the directives and to assure Bishop DiLorenzo that they have been working faithfully to do what was required of them while also trying to avoid pastoral trauma to the congregation. Bishop DiLorenzo assured them that he is aware of potential pastoral consequences and desires that they be as minimal as possible. The community has more work to do to bring their liturgy in line with the directive, much of which they have already begun.

The Rev. Michael Ferguson, the church's Episcopal priest said the meeting was productive, but that there are still "huge pastoral issues that have to be worked out because there are people here who have been worshiping together for years."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Energy stewardship contest for congregations on the Peninsula

To raise awareness of how much energy places of worship use, God's Earth Ministry is sponsoring an Energy Stewardship Contest among faith communities on the Peninsula to see which one uses energy the most efficiently.  We believe that a community of faith will win just by entering because awareness of one's energy usage is the first step in reducing it.  We will award an inscribed plaque to the winning place of worship and present it to the winning congregation's place of worship.  The deadline for submissions is April 20th, 2013. To take part in this contest, contact Ken Wright at or 757-851-5085.  You'll need to access your gas and electricity usage for 2012 as well the square footage of your building(s).

Presiding Bishop writes to congregations about Good Friday offering for Jerusalem and Middle East

"In spite of the challenges, the strength and vitality of the witness of indigenous Christians throughout the Middle East is inspiring," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori writes in the annual Good Friday letter to all congregations asking them to consider assistance for Jerusalem and the Middle East.

"The Good Friday Offering provides essential funding to strengthen the visibility of the Christian presence throughout the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East," the Presiding Bishop writes. "That funding is critical to the ongoing ministry of both institutions, as well as others in the region."
Funds collected from the Good Friday Offering are gathered and distributed to the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East which includes the Dioceses of Jerusalem and Cyprus and the Gulf, all members of the Anglican Communion.

Information and resources for the Good Friday Offering are available here. 
For more information contact the Rev. Canon Robert Edmunds, Episcopal Church Middle East Partnership Officer,

2013 Gathering of the Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church to be held April 4-5

Registration is now open for the 2013 Gathering of Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church to be held on April 4th and 5th 2013 at the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. This promises to be a wonderful time of spiritual growth, education and great fellowship. Registration
includes workshops, lunch & dinner on Thursday & Friday, musical performance, river barge tour to dinner on the Riverwalk & an optional private tour of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Financial assistance is available. Click here for more information and registration. 

New Formation resources and training available

Two new online resources have been added to our Christian Formation Resources page:
Faith Formation Learning Exchange is a source for best research, practices, approaches, and resources in faith formation for all ages.
21st Century Faith Formation is a resource center to help leaders in congregations create faith formation using 21st century approaches, methods, technologies, and tools.
Click here for information on The Vision and Practice of 21st Century Faith Formation three-day interactive educational program for clergy, faith formation leaders, and staff in all Christian congregations. The training includes: 
  • Understand the diverse religious and spiritual needs of all generations
  • Understand the emerging vision of 21st century faith formation in a connected, networked, digital world
  • Discover a variety of 21st century approaches and resources for faith formation with all ages
  • Learn how to design faith formation that addresses the religious and spiritual needs of all ages and generations, and uses the new digital media and web technologies 
  • Develop the skills for becoming a faith formation curator

Applications now being accepted for diocesan grants

Seeds of Hope Grants 
Seeds of Hope grants are available to congregations and diocesan groups (e.g., affiliated institutions, commissions and task forces) within Southern Virginia to support the development or expansion of Social Justice ministries sponsored by diocesan congregations and organizations. Click here for more information and application form. Application deadline is August 1. 

Mission Initiative Grants
The Mission Network is again making available grants of up to $1000 per Convocation to be used in an Evangelistic Mission Initiative. Be creative! How can you raise the visibility of the Episcopal Church in your area? How could you better equip the congregations in your Convocation to be more inviting and welcoming? Click here for more information and application form. Deadline is October 1.

Communications Grants
Communications Grants provide congregations in Southern Virginia with funding for development or expansion of digital communications. Click here for more information and application form. Deadline is May 15. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Repairing the Breach: New resource for exploring our history with racism

At this year's Annual Council, the Repairers of the Breach Task Force presented "Repairing the Breach: A Resource for exploring our history with racism in Southern Virginia" and an accompanying video. Those materials are available on the  Formation page of our website. Convocations and Parishes will use the materials to initiate conversation, to share stories, both personal and institutional, that will help to transform relationships and to transcend the sin of racism.
Resolution R-1, submitted to Council by the Task Force, was passed with friendly amendment. The amended resolution is available here. The resolution designates November 2, 2013 as a Day of Repentance and Reconciliation. A service will be held at Christ and St. Luke's Church, Norfolk, at 11 am on that day for the attendance and participation of the Diocese of Southern Virginia Family. It further resolved that November 2, "All Souls Day" will be designated as the "Day of Repentance and Reconciliation" in the Diocese of Southern Virginia and parishes will annually hold this observance during the octave of All Saints.

VTS Christian Rock Concert features Five Iron Frenzy and The Sloan River Project

Virginia Theological Seminary and the Center for the Ministry of Teaching are proud to announce the first VTS Christian Rock Festival on Saturday, April 13. The festival will feature an impressive and diverse line-up of the best in Christian rock: Joel Joa (urban), The Sloan River Project (contemporary rock), Fran McKendree (singer-songwriter), The Letter Black (hard rock), and headliners: Five Iron Frenzy (third wave ska). The groups hit the stage on the campus Grove at noon (following two high school bands), and will continue until 10 pm.

"Like any great music festival there will be food - lots of it - and activities to draw the young and young at heart together for a day of celebration and thanksgiving!" said Dr. Lisa Kimball, Interim Associate Dean of Students and the Director of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching. "This is a moment for serious evangelism. Seize it!" Click here for more information and registration.

In addition to the ten hours of amazing music, the VTS Christian Rock Festival will begin with a morning Quidditch clinic and tournament at 9:00 am, as well as poetry, spoken word performance, opportunities to meet the musicians and plenty of food vendors all day. Rain or shine, the family friendly, ecumenical event is free and open to the public, including youth groups. 

Office of Black Ministries offers Lenten Study Resource

The Episcopal Church Office of Black Ministries has issued a free Lenten Study Resource,  "Fill Me, Use Me...for the Work of Ministry," designed to invite all ages to participate in the reflective nature of Lent. 
"The Lenten Study Resource has been designed upon the foundation of faith formation to serve as a companion to you on your Lenten journey as you take on the disciplines of holy listening and reflection in preparation for the Lord's passion and resurrection," explained the Rev. Angela Ifill, Missioner for the  Office of Black Ministries. Rooted in the Baptismal Covenant, each section is presented in key highlights: Opening Ritual, Scripture Reading, Reflection, Exploring the Landscape, Discussion Questions, Closing Ritual, and Assignment. Also included in the Lenten Study Resource are the Baptismal Covenant from the Book of Common Prayer, the Five Marks of Mission, and the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation. For more information contact Ifill at

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Annual Council - Day 2 highlights

Caitlyn Darnell (William & Mary) reports on College Ministries
Repairers of the Breach Task Force presented a “Repairing the Breach: A Resource for exploring our history with racism in Southern Virginia” and an accompanying video. Those materials are available on the Formation page of our website. Convocations and Parishes will use the materials to initiate conversation, to share stories, both personal and institutional, that will help to transform relationships and to transcend the sin of racism.

Resolution R-1 (Repairers of the Breach) was passed with friendly amendment. The amended resolution is available here. The resolutions designates November 2, 2013 as a Day of Repentance and Reconciliation. A service will be held at Christ and St. Luke’s Church, Norfolk, at 11 am on that day for the attendance and participation of the Diocese of Southern Virginia Family. It further resolved that November 2, “All Souls Day” will be designated as the “Day of Repentance and Reconciliation” in the Diocese of Southern Virginia and parishes will annually hold this observance during the octave of All Saints.

Archdeacon Bill Jones and Deacon Becki Dean gave a report on the Diaconate. The Diaconal Ordination Exploration Program in the Diocese of Southern Virginia is accepting applications through May 15, 2013.  Those granted postulancy will receive formation and training in the new cross diocesan school for deacons. The school is a joint effort of the Episcopal Dioceses of Southern Virginia and Virginia.  Go to our website for more information.

Reports were received from the Commission on Ministry – Ministry of the Baptized, and ECW. The College Ministries report was presented by Canterburians Caitlyn Darnell (William & Mary), James Lilly (Hampden-Sydney) and Brian Collins (ODU). EYC president Holly Waide (St. Aidan’s, Virginia Beach) reported on the diocesan EYC.

Budget for 2013 was presented and passed.

Friday, February 15, 2013

121st Annual Council – Day 1 highlights

Bishop's Address to Council
 The day opened with Bishop Hollerith’s Address to Council. “Today, I find that I am especially thankful and feeling more joyous about our common life in Southern Virginia than ever before,” said Bishop Hollerith. “Something is different in our diocese.  We seem to be turning a corner!  And for that I give God thanks and praise.  All of my remarks this morning will be framed by a deep sense of hope that is developing in my heart about our future.”  Click here for the full text of Bishop Hollerith’s address.

As the Bishop noted in his address, "I believe that Chanco has the potential to be a kind of special cathedral for our diocese -- a place that acts as a true spiritual center for our common life.”  Vital to the mission and ministry of Chanco is its new Executive Director, Gareth Kalfas, who was introduced to Council this morning. Gareth began his work at Chanco just weeks ago. He comes to the diocese from Camp All Saints in Dallas.

Elections & Appointments
Results of Executive Board elections at the pre-Council Convocation meetings were reported. You can find a roster of our new Executive Board here

The appointment of our Convocation deans was also announced. You can find a roster of our new deans here. 

Elections were held. Elected to Standing Committee were the Rev. Bob Randall (Old Donation, Virginia Beach) and Dr. Angela Parker (St. Paul’s Memorial Chapel, Lawrenceville). Elected to Disciplinary Board were: Ms. Tracy Martin (St. John’s, Halifax), the Rev. Conor Alexander (St. Francis, VB), and the Rev. Anne Kirchmier (St. George’s, Newport News). Elected to the Provincial Synod were Mr. Scott Norris (Emmanuel, Jenkins Bridge) and the Rev. John Boucher (St. Matthias, Midlothian).

Constitutional Resolution 1 (Status of Parishes & Missions) and Canonical Resolutions 1 (Commission on Ministry), 2 (Discipline Structure) and 3 (Discipline Structure) were all passed. Click here for text of resolutions.

Reports were received from the Rev. Susan Grimm, president of the Standing Committee; the Rev. Conor Alexander, president of the Chanco board; the Rev. Keith Emerson, chair of the Leading a Holy Life Task Force; Bud Schoolar, chair of the Talbot Hall Property Committee; and the Rev. Jeunee Godsey of the Mission Network.

Keynote Speaker
Definitely the highlights of the day’s events included two talks given by our keynote speaker, Dr. Lisa Kimball on “The EPIC Adventure of Being Church.” “As human beings we are hard-wired for Epic meaning,” she said. “Across time and cultures, we are a people of story. We search for stories that help us live lives of meaning.” Facebook, Harry Potter, multi-player online role-playing games – all extraordinarily popular secular epic narratives – challenge and instruct the church when it comes to the way we share our epic story. “At its core, Christianity is an epic journey and if we’re not communicating it as an epic into which every single individual is invited for a leading, transforming role, then we’re not communicating it.”   

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Diaconal Ordination Exploration Program accepting applications

The Diaconal Ordination Exploration Program in the Diocese of Southern Virginia is accepting applications now through May 15. Applicants will interview with the Commission on Ministry for postulancy in the fall of 2013. Those granted postulancy will receive formation and training in the new cross-diocesan school for deacons. The school is a joint effort of the Episcopal Dioceses of Southern Virginia and Virginia. We expect the instructional phase to begin in January of 2014.  During the two year course, classes will meet one weekend per quarter with assignments in between. Click here for more information. 

Mockingbird: an innovative, online spiritual community

Mockingbird is an innovative spiritual community of Christians mostly in their 20s and 30s that is online, virtual, and thriving. This pioneering concept is explored in a new video produced by the Episcopal Church. "Mockingbird is showing how to meet people where they are in a non-threatening way," explained Mike Collins, Episcopal Church Manager of Multimedia Services.  "They allow people to explore their faith through pop culture."

According to Episcopalian David Zahl, "Mockingbird was started in 2007 in NYC, by a bunch of friends and colleagues who were interested in reaching out to young adults who had been "burned by the church." Many of us had grown up in mainline churches and had watched our friends drift away, or in some cases, get pushed away. We noticed that many of them ended up in New York, a place we love (my hometown). Anyway, it soon morphed into something else altogether, something much more exciting and larger in scope." Zahl added, "Mockingbird is a non-profit organization devoted to connecting the message of God's grace with the realities of everyday life in fresh and creative ways. We do this primarily, but not exclusively, via online resources, publications and conferences."

Mockingbird focuses on things "people are already thinking about," whether its science, theology, social science pop culture.  The five-year-old movement, according to its website, "seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways."
Although the online community doesn't have a home made of bricks and mortars, Zahl noted, "the majority of our board members and volunteers are members or clergy in the Episcopal Church.  You could say we were born out of and sustained by the ministry of the Episcopal Church. We certainly have a lot of love for (and commitment to) our wonderful denomination!"  

Mockingbird will be sponsoring a conference in April in New York City.

Presiding Bishop provides testimony on gun violence to Senate Judiciary Subcommittee

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has submitted written testimony to the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, chaired by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, for the hearing on Proposals to reduce gun violence: protecting our communities while respecting the Second Amendment.   

"I urge lawmakers to press for comprehensive and universal background checks for firearm ownership, regardless of where and how a gun is purchased; for bans on the availability to civilians of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines; and for policies designed to better regulate the manufacture of guns, the Presiding Bishop states in her testimony. The Episcopal Church also supports the highest level of accountability for violation of all existing laws pertaining to violence in our midst." Click here for the full text of the testimony.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Daughters of the King sponsor Quiet Day for women

February 27, 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Christ the King, Tabb
Daughters of the King Diocesan Chaplain, the Rev. Jack Lynch will lead a Lenten Quiet Day sponsored by the Daughters of the King of the Diocese of Southern Virginia. The day is open to all women. Contact Ronda Toll at for more information.

Saint Augustine's University discusses plans to acquire Saint Paul's Collge

The Executive Committee of the Saint Augustine's University Board of Trustees met with the Executive Committee of the Saint Paul's College Board of Trustees to discuss an acquisition of Saint Paul's College located in Lawrenceville, Virginia. Founded in 1888, Saint Paul's College is one of three historically black colleges affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Saint Augustine's University and Voorhees College are the other two. Saint Augustine's University is located in Raleigh, NC.

Both boards agreed to move forward with joint management of the Saint Paul's College operations beginning January 1, 2013. The joint management agreement will allow Saint Augustine's University to complete its due diligence on the proposed acquisition while providing support to the Saint Paul's College campus. A plan is being developed that will create a campus of Saint Augustine's University at the Saint Paul's College site.

Saint Augustine's University is committed to preserving the legacy and history of Saint Paul's College. This strategic decision by both boards will allow for enhanced educational opportunities for the students currently enrolled in both institutions and will support the vision of the greater Lawrenceville community.

"There continues to be a number of unknowns; however, we are excited about the possibilities as we move forward in a cautious and responsible manner. Our main responsibility continues to be the on-going health, and viability of Saint Augustine's University. We have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us - a chance to create a model for other institutions with challenging circumstances. And, a chance for both of these fine institutions to leave their footprints on the future," said President Dianne Boardley Suber. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Seeing the Episcopal Church in a new way

by Rick Cole, St. Luke's, Powhatan

I have concluded a three-year term as our Convocation 7 lay representative on the Executive Board of the Diocese of Southern Virginia. Though it was a step outside my comfort zone and it did take time and work, I received far more from the experience than I gave. 
  • Learning - I knew I had a lot to learn, but I did know how much I did not know. I became more informed about Diocesan programs and ministries, staff, procedures, budget, and church governance. Most importantly, I came to the realization that the Diocese is not us and them. It is only "us" and it is made up of regular people working unselfishly to do God's will and support each other (not some mysterious entity or bureaucracy that exists only to perpetuate itself).
  • Inspiration - You cannot help but be inspired by the amazing people and amazing ministries in our midst.
  • Networking - You work with and get to know fellow Episcopalians who face many of the same challenges you do. You formally and informally share and brainstorm strategies for dealing with those challenges.
  • An opportunity to serve - God has given each of us gifts to share and grow. Serving the larger church is one way to serve God's people and his church.
  • A broader perspective - being around people from the different areas of the diocese with different viewpoints and priorities helps give you a greater appreciation for the needs and assets of our diocese.
  • New friends!
I conclude my time as an Executive Board member as a better advocate for who we as a Diocese and with a greater appreciation of the boundless potential that we have when we take advantage of opportunities to work together. I encourage you to prayerfully consider the opportunities to participate in Diocesan activities and on committees or boards.

The Episcopal Church in Southern Virginia is a diverse Eucharistic community, committed to the Gospel, collaborating for strength, innovating for growth, equipping each other to live in the world as disciples of Jesus Christ. -- Diocese of Southern Virginia Vision Statement

Presiding Bishop's Lenten message

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presents a challenge in her Lent Message 2013 to pray, fast, study and give alms. "As you engage this Lent, I would encourage you to pray, to fast, to act in solidarity with those who go without," she offers.  "Learn more, give alms, share what you have." Click here for video. Click here for text.

Lenten resources available online

Episcopal Church Foundation's Vital Practices blog provides this list of Lenten resources:

Christ Walk: A unique Lenten resource

A unique Lenten resource is the Christ Walk program created by Anna Courie, a former member of Emmanuel, Hampton. Anna created the program and used it during Lent at Emmanuel. The program integrates exercise (walking) with scripture and meditation. Anna calculated the distances between various sites in the Holy Land (Jerusalem to Bethlehem, Jerusalem to Damascus, etc.) and used these distances as goals for individuals (or teams) to walk during Lent. Anna's book, Christ Walk: A 40 Day Spiritual Fitness Program, has just been made available on Amazon. You can contact Anna at to learn more and ask questions about the program. You can also follow Christ Walk on Facebook. "Christ Walk is a really good program for those who would like to do something more than just embark on a spiritual discipline for Lent as it integrates spirituality with physical exercise," says Boyd Duncan, a member of Emmanuel, Hampton who has participated in the program.

Celebration of the Feast of Absalom Jones

The Joint Service of Churches in the Diocese of Southern Virginia celebrating the Feast of Absalom Jones, the first African American priest of the Episcopal Church, will be held on Sunday, February 24, at 4 p.m. at St. Stephen's, Petersburg. The Rev. Isabel Steilberg, rector of St. Paul's, Newport News, will preach.

Absalom Jones was an African-American abolitionist and clergyman. After founding a black congregation in 1794, in 1804 he was the first African-American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States.

Training for new vestry members

New to the vestry of your church? Then you should plan to attend our upcoming "Who's on First? Equipping & Guiding New Vestry Members" workshop. It will be offered on Saturday, March 2 at Emmanuel, Hampton, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and again on Saturday, March 23 at St. Paul's Petersburg, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

Healthy, skilled vestries who understand their role in the life of the church and their relationship to the clergy and congregation are essential in creating and maintaining vital congregations. This workshop is designed for new vestry members, and will include: presentations on the role and duties of the vestry; best practices; discussion of common challenges that vestries face. Presenters will be: Caroline Black, Canon for Formation; the Rev. Canon Jeunee Godsey, Canon for Congregational Development; the Rev. Canon Michael Spear-Jones, Canon for Transition & Clergy Development.

Click here to register for March 2 in Hampton.
Click here to register for March 23 in Petersburg.

Mission of the Holy Spirit seeking recipes for their new cookbook

The Mission is collecting recipes so we can put together a cookbook. They would like to be able to include a recipe from every church in Southern Virginia.  Recipes should be e-mailed to, and we'd like to have the name and home church of each recipe author.

2013 UTO Grant applications being accepted

Applications for 2013 United Thank Offering grants are now being accepted. Click here for more information about the grants and application process. Applications are due to our Diocesan UTO Coordinator Cindy Dillon (955 Bolling Avenue, Unit 302, Norfolk VA 23508 or no later than February 22.