Friday, December 19, 2014

Bishop Hollerith's 2014 Christmas message

Dear Episcopal Church Family in Southern Virginia,

The crèche is surely one of the most enduring traditions of the Christmas season.  During the holidays many churches manage to display one somewhere on their property.  Crèches really vary in size – from a small display set on a table in the back of the church or parish hall, to a life-size, elaborately lighted one in the church yard.  And there are a few industrious congregations that even perform an outdoor living crèche, replete with live animals and costumed congregants.

Likewise, crèches are popular in homes.  I grew up watching my mother set one up each year with delicate precision on the dining room sideboard.  The figurines were made of china.  I can still remember the “negative feedback” my baby brother and I received one Christmas when we “borrowed” Joseph to lead our army of plastic toy soldiers into battle.

Lizzie and I have a crèche that was given to us years ago as a wedding present.  Rather than made of china, ours is made from olive wood from the Holy Land.  It appears to be indestructible – which is a good thing after raising three children.  Each Christmas Lizzie still sets it up on our dining room sideboard – just as my mother did – just as her mother did.

Regardless of size or location, all crèches have a couple of common attributes.  The first and most obvious are the characters – Mary, Joseph, barn animals, wise men, sometimes shepherds, maybe an angel or two, and, of course always, the baby Jesus.

A second and less obvious attribute is that crèches are opened depictions.  The barn scene is always displayed outwardly toward the observer – not unlike a stage play is displayed outwardly toward an audience.  Each crèche means to tell a story – the story of Jesus birth.  Yet, this telling is about more than the mere conveyance of historical fact.   The crèche is an attempt to dramatize something holy, to elicit in an observer a first-hand experience of the abiding peace, tranquility and joy that so characterize the essence of the miracle of the Incarnation.  Also, the crèche dramatizes the startling news that God has opened his home to the whole world.  In the birth event God literally invites the whole world in to his inner sanctuary to meet his newborn son.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sharron Kitchen Miller names to Jackson-Feild Homes Board

Jackson-Feild Homes is pleased to announce that Sharron Kitchen Miller of Newport News has been elected to the Board of Trustees. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the state agency that appropriates General Assembly funds for non-profit arts organizations throughout Virginia.

A retired Pediatric Administrator, Ms. Kitchen Miller has a strong history of community involvement and charity work on the Virginia Peninsula including service to the Hampton Roads Chapter of the American Red Cross and a recent three-year term on the Board of the Virginia Living Museum. She has also served on the Newport News Public Works Advisory Committee, the Deer Run Golf Course Citizens Advisory Committee and as a Liaison Board Member to the USS Newport News.
Ms. Kitchen Miller and her husband, John, are the proud parents of two adult children and a grandson, Isaac.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Presiding Bishop's Christmas Message 2014

The altar hanging at an English Advent service was made of midnight blue, with these words across its top:  "We thank you that darkness reminds us of light."  Facing all who gathered there to give thanks were images of night creatures - a large moth, an owl, a badger, and a bat - cryptic and somewhat mysterious creatures that can only be encountered in the darkness.

As light ebbs from the days and the skies of fall, many in the Northern Hemisphere associate dark with the spooks and skeletons of secular Hallowe'en celebrations.  That English church has reclaimed the connection between creator, creation, and the potential holiness of all that is.  It is a fitting reorientation toward the coming of One who has altered those relationships toward new possibilities for healing and redemption.

Advent leads us into darkness and decreasing light.  Our bodies slow imperceptibly with shorter days and longer nights, and the merriness and frantic activity around us are often merely signs of eager hunger for light and healing and wholeness.  

The Incarnation, the coming of God among us in human flesh, happened in such a quiet and out of the way place that few noticed at first.  Yet the impact on human existence has been like a bolt of lightning that continues to grow and generate new life and fire in all who share that hunger.
Jesus is among us like a flitting moth - will we notice his presence in the street-sleeper?  He pierces the dark like a silent, streaking owl seeking food for hungry and defenseless nestlings.  He will overturn this world's unjust foundations like badgers undermining a crooked wall.  Like the bat's sonar, his call comes to each one uniquely - have we heard his urgent "come and follow"?  

God is among us, and within us, and around us, encountering, nudging, loving, transforming the world and its creatures toward the glorious dream the shepherds announced so many years ago, toward the beloved community of prophetic dreams, and the nightwatch that proclaims "all is well, fear not, the Lord is here."  

May Christ be born anew in you this Christmastide.  May his light burn in you, and may you labor to spread it in the darkness.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, and it is the harbinger of peace for all creation.

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

Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is December 1. Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement for World AIDS Day 2014. Click here to read the statement.

News from Mission of the Holy Spirit

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

I would like to take a moment to thank each of you for your continued prayers and support for the Mission of the Holy Spirit and the families we serve.

As we prepare for another holiday season, I encourage each of you to continue to be seed planters through your gifts and giving to a ministry that impacts so many lives.

Since September, we have been fortunate to have nine of God’s children baptized, with the help of Rev. David Davenport. We have reconnected with ODU Nursing School, and have a core of interns to work alongside our families for the next year. We have also seen many of our young children take positive strides towards academic success and developing their gifts.

This could not be possible without people like you, who care enough to partner with us and help change lives. Often the changes needed take some time to become evident, and require patience and a strong belief that we all play an important role in creating a community where spiritual, educational and psycho-social needs can be nurtured through the great works you assist us in providing.

Please remember us in your steward-ship, pledges and gifts because all of our young people are counting on you.  
Click here to learn more about the Mission and how you can help. 

Meet Mission volunteer Shari Parker

In 1993 at the age of 10, Shari Parker first came to the Mission with her sister LaToya-- so she has grown up as a Mission member. Asked why she has continued to stay with the Mission, she said, “The Mission has helped me figure out life and go in a positive direction. I found out for myself who God is. Now that I have my own family, I feel it is important to bring children up in that same environment so they can learn to make good decisions.” She has many friends in the Mission, and has brought a number of friends and family members to join the church. Shari feels that the Mission has helped nourish her gift in music. She was also able to find a job that she loves with the help of the Mission.

When asked how the Mission has impacted the lives of other members, she replied, “The Mission gives them a strong foundation to make better decisions, and helps guide them when bad things happen in their lives.”

Shari also has a strong sense of “giving back.” She has helped with many fundraisers, including car washes, yard sales, book sales, etc. She has taught Sunday school, helped with the Food Pantry and Angel Trees, and facilitated the Dare2Dream Abstinence program. She has been a member of the choir for years, and is now the choir leader and drummer. She is also a member of the Board of Directors, and helps as needed with Bible study. She provides a positive role model for Mission girls, and often serves as their mentor.

In the future, Shari would like to see the choir grow in numbers as well as in the variety of musical instruments included. She would also like to take the choir to other churches and organizations so more people will hear the Mission message. Her personal life’s dream: “To record spiritual music for the world to hear.”

When asked if she had anything else special to share with others about her life in the Mission, she said, “I was the first person to get married at the Mission. Rev. Bev Tucker performed the ceremony & his wife Julia was there, as well as Mr. Keith and all the people I looked up to. Getting married and having a proper family is so much better because I grew up without that. God has blessed us.” And clearly God has blessed the Mission with an amazing young woman, Shari Parker!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Online resources for Advent 2014

The leaders of The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Anglican Church of Canada, and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have prepared devotions for each of the four weeks of Advent.  

Society of Saint John the Evangelist has developed a digital Advent calendar.

Following the Star
Daily online devotions take on a seasonal theme, beginning with the first Sunday in Advent. Following the Star is written for teenagers and the adults who work with them. This service is a collaborative initiative of the Youth Ministries offices of The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church USA, and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Advent Lectionary Reflection
Join the Formation missioners of The Episcopal Church on a photo meditation through the Season of Advent. Each day a word for reflection, taken from the Sunday lectionary readings, will be posted on social media sites. Meditate on the word, then find a photo that embodies that word. Post the photo on social media with the hashtag "#episcopaladvent" as well as a hashtag for the word for the day (for example, "#joy"). Posting will begin on the first Sunday of Advent and conclude on Christmas Day.

Living Well through Advent app
Living Well Through Advent is an iOS app that provides daily reflections, weekly Scripture readings, and a built-in journal to record thoughts and experiences through the season. Readings, images, and thoughts from your journal can all be shared with your companions on the journey using the Share Panel.

Presiding Bishop calls for prayer for Liberia, West Africa on Sunday, Dec. 7

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has urged Episcopalians to observe the Second Sunday in Advent, December 7, as a day of prayer for those in the Diocese of Liberia and the entire Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, areas heavily affected by the current Ebola pandemic.

"The Diocese of Liberia was founded by Episcopalians in 1836, and was a diocese of The Episcopal Church until the early 1980s, when it joined the Province of West Africa," noted Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. "Today we continue in a covenant relationship of mutual support and fellowship."

She continued, "Liberia is at the epicenter of the recent Ebola outbreak, and Episcopalians have turned Cuttington University (Suakoku) into a center for response in rural northern Liberia.  The Anglican Province of West Africa includes all three nations (Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone) where the pandemic continues to develop.  The suffering and death is enormous, the economy is devastated, schools are closed, yet the caring and compassionate response continues."

The Presiding Bishop concluded, "I ask your prayers for the people of West Africa in the midst of this plague.  Please include this in your intentions on the Second Sunday of Advent.  With Isaiah, pray for comfort and strength for all God's children; seek out the builder of straight roads and giver of healing balm for all on this difficult journey.  Learn about this crisis, and instead of fear, let your hearts be moved to respond in generosity of spirit and of purse."

Mission of the Holy Spirit needs your help

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my lambs.'--John 21:15

The Mission Food Pantry is nearly empty, and Mission families depend on food from the Mission to feed their hungry children. Non-perishable items are needed, such as canned soup, meat, vegetables and fruit. We also need pasta, rice, cereal and other healthy dried goods. Please consider a food drive for your EWC, EYC, Outreach or other church group. For more information or to arrange a drop-off time, please contact the Mission at 757-858-0010 on Mondays or Wednesdays. Thank you for helping us to feed His lambs, and God bless you!  

Sponsor a child for Christmas at Jackson-Feild Homes

For many of the children at Jackson-Feild Homes, the Christmas season is a very difficult and painful time of year. They don't have the happy memories of feasts, or gifts, or family gatherings. For them, the entire holiday season is little more than a 6-week period just like any other time of the year.

At Jackson-Feild, the staff is working to ensure that the boys and girls will remember this Christmas for a lifetime, and you are invited to help by participating in the Sponsor-a-Child for Christmas program. You can sponsor a child's entire Christmas list, or you can purchase only one or two items from it. You can send the funds and let the JFH staff do the shopping, you can go shopping yourself and deliver the gifts - unwrapped - no later than Monday, December 15.

The holidays are right around the corner, so please act quickly to help the folks at Jackson-Feild bring happiness to the boys and girls in their care. You would be surprised at the joy that comes in knowing you shared the true meaning and blessings of Christmas with a child you don't know... a child who, for the first time in his or her life, will finally feel the love of a very special Christmas.
The youngsters are reminded that Christmas isn't just about toys and gifts. It is a special holiday and a time to be joyful and appreciative.

If you would like to help, please contact Ann Chaffins at or call her at 804-354-2929.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Over the River and Through the Woods" to Boys Home Christmas tree farm

Are you looking for a Christmas Road Trip this winter? Don’t pass up the beautiful scenery of West Augusta, Virginia. “Over the River and Through the Woods,” is the theme of this year’s Christmas tree season at the Boys Home of Virginia Christmas Tree farm. Spend your day with us starting Saturday November 29 from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. for our open house.

Features of the farm include family activities, refreshments, photo booth and door prizes. Once again, the gift shop will be decorated with traditional Christmas décor and will sell wreathes, roping, ornaments decorated by the residents, and a variety of Christmas items.
The 2014 Boys Home Christmas Tree Farm season begins Friday, November 28 and extends to Sunday, December 21. The tree farm, located in West Augusta, is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Boys Home Christmas Tree Farm is managed by Brandon Brown assisted by residents and staff. There’s no better way to enjoy your Christmas than to visit the farm. It is just the right place for good tree selection while helping out our young men.

The tree farm is located off of Rt. 688 at 1118 Bear Wallow Flat, West Augusta, VA 24485. For information and directions call 540-939-4106 or 540-965-7700. Or visit the Boys Home website,, under tree farm or on Facebook at

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New research document: Episcopal Congregations Overview

Based on data received from a comprehensive survey of churches, the Episcopal Congregations Overview featuring updated facts and figures about congregations, programs and practices in the Episcopal Church have been posted here. This information, available for downloading at no fee, can provide important and needed data to congregational efforts for growth, stewardship, fundraising, recruitment etc. Copies are being sent to all participating congregations and dioceses. The research was compiled by Dr Kirk Hadaway, Episcopal Church Congregational Research Officer, Topics included in the Episcopal Congregations Overview include: Parishes and their Settings; Worship; Members; Recruitment and Evangelism; Programs Practices and ministries; Conflict; Leadership; and Congregational Identity.

Applications now accepted online for Young Adult Service Corps

The Episcopal Church offers untold opportunities for young adults to live, work and pray with brothers and sisters around the Anglican Communion through the Young Adult Service Corps. Commonly known as YASC, applications for 2015-16 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." Learn more and get an application here

Diana Butler Bass to speak at Annual Council

The 123rd Annual Council will be held February 6-7, 2015 at the Williamsburg Lodge Convention Center. You can find the latest information on the Annual Council page of our website. Registration will open soon.

Keynote Speaker Diana Butler Bass

This year's keynote speaker will be Diana Butler Bass, author and independent scholar of American religion and culture. She will address "Awakening and the Work of Transformation," and will help us explore a pattern of change in our lives and congregations that enable us to move to a new place.  

Diana Butler Bass received her Ph.D. from Duke University. She has taught at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College, and Virginia Theological Seminary. She is the author of eight books, including most recently Christianity after Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. Her groundbreaking study of mainline vitality, Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith was named one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly and Christian Century, won the book of the year award from the Academy of Parish Clergy, and was featured in a cover story in USA Today. Her next book will be Grounded: Finding the Spirit of God in the Spirit of the Age, scheduled for publication in Fall 2015. Follow her on Twitter: @dianabutlerbass.

Street named in honor of James Solomon Russell

By James Grimstead, Grace Church, Norfolk

The James Solomon Russell Commemoration Committee unveiled a new sign renaming College Drive to James Solomon Russell Drive last Saturday, October 11, 2014 on the campus of Saint Paul’s College.  This historic event honored the Archdeacon Reverend Dr. James Solomon Russell, who founded this college in 1888 which provided an institution of higher learning for many underprivileged citizens in the surrounding communities.    

 The ceremony was attended by more than thirty community local and out of town visitors.  It opened with prayer and welcome by the Rev. Dr. Terrance Walker of South Hill, VA, followed by comments from program chairman James Grimstead of Lawrenceville, VA, who pointed out that this sign is the first recognition in this town of this great pioneer which can be seen and read from the roadway.  Grimstead thanked the Town Council, the Brunswick County Planning Department and the supporting citizens for all their help in making this event a reality. Mayor William Herrington of Lawrenceville brought greetings from the town citizens and expressed thanks to the committee for having the foresight to follow through on such an historic and important occasion in the Town of Lawrenceville.   

Saint Paul’s College is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Southern Virginia.   The Bishop, Herman Hollerith, IV, is on sabbatical leave and could not attend the ceremony but authorized Dr. Angela Parker, of the Diocesan Standing Committee, to represent his presence at the unveiling.  

The Rev. Dr. Joseph N. Green, an advisor of the Committee and a long-time supporter of St. Paul’s College gave inspiring remarks expressing how deeply thrilled he was to see this long overdue recognition of this renowned educator and spiritual powerhouse, Archdeacon James Solomon Russell.

Members of the Russell family, Mr. Henry Pratt Russell of Hampton, VA, and Dr. Virginia Russell of Lawrenceville, VA,  both expressed their heart-felt thanks to the JSR Commemoration Committee for seeing this project through making it a permanent landmark in the Town of Lawrenceville, VA.   Dr. James A. Russell, past President of St. Paul’s College (1971 -1981) expressed his regret for not being able to attend the ceremony, but sent his thanks and appreciation the for this historic sign marker honoring such a great man.

In addition to the James Solomon Russell sign unveiling the Committee planned another special event that took place at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall.   This second celebration and reception honored the Rev. Dr. Joseph N. Green, Jr., retired Rector Emeritus of Grace Episcopal Church in Norfolk, VA.  Fr. Green spent much of his time over the last fifty plus years promoting the welfare of St. Paul’s College.   He has been very instrumental in bringing together a coalition among the various church memberships of parishes founded by the late Dr. James Solomon Russell.  Dr. Green spearheaded the efforts to bring much needed funds to St. Paul’s College resulting in a $1.5 million donation to the college single parent program.  He was also noted for many of his endeavors outside of his activities related to St. Paul’s College.  He served for twenty years on the Norfolk City Council with twelve years as Vice-Mayor.  This allowed him to be instrumental in bringing several needed housing programs on board and turning a dilapidated theater into a top-rate performing arts center.  Fr. Green received a framed Proclamation from the Committee honoring him for his long outstanding service to this local community.  Also, he was graced with a beautiful poem by Mrs. Annie Walker, president of the JSR Commemoration Committee. (Photo L to R: The Rev. Joseph Green, Jr; Mrs. Annie Walker; Mr. James Grimstead)

The Committee thanked St. Andrew’s host-in-charge and author, Ms. Gay Neale, for their gracious hospitality.  She expressed her thanks and appreciation for this historic sign unveiling celebration for Archdeacon James Solomon Russell who started his ministry at St. Andrews Parish before the construction of St. Paul’s Memorial Chapel was completed.  The Committee also gave thanks to members, Nelson and Queen Birchette of St. James in Warfield, VA, for their special assistance on the program.   The sign re-naming project was co-chaired by James and Shirley Grimstead. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Advent Retreat

There are only 43 days until Christmas! Are you ready? And we don't mean, "Have you done all your shopping?"!  We mean, "Have you reflected upon the season of Advent and given yourself the gift of peace this season?" Spend time at Chanco this Advent discovering tools to develop your prayer life and cope with stress while you join with friends from all around our diocese for joyful fellowship. The retreat will take place on Friday, December 5 beginning with dinner at 6 pm and continue through Saturday, December 6, concluding at 3 pm. Overnight accommodations are provided in the conference center rooms with private bath. All meals and a hospitality hour on Friday night are included. This retreat is designed for adults and the cost to attend is $110.00 for a single room or $90.00 for a double room. To register, contact Ashley Scruggs at Don't miss this opportunity to take time during the very busy holiday season to create space for prayer, Christian fellowship, and peace. We hope to see you there!

Download the 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card

Congregations, dioceses and individuals can download a printable PDF of the 2014 Episcopal Church Christmas card at no fee here.

The design of the card features artist Joan Covell's depiction of the nativity scene.  Covell's art was the top vote-getter in the recent contest to select the art image. Learn more about Covell here.

For information contact Ana Arias,, or Barry Merer,

Ridley Foundation Scholarship applications due January 15

The Ridley Foundation board will meet in February to consider new applicants for the second semester. New applications and documents are due by January 15. Current recipients need to send their first semester transcript in order to receive the second half of their grant. Click here for more information on the Ridley Foundation Scholarships.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bishop Hollerith returns from sabbatical

L to R: Canon Ed Tracy, Canon Michael Spear-Jones, Bishop Hollerith and his assistant, Leah Sicignano.
Dear Diocesan family,

I am writing you on the occasion of my first day back after having completed a three month sabbatical. I am deeply appreciative of the fact that I was afforded the opportunity to have time away for rest and spiritual refreshment. It truly was a gift.

While I do believe my time away was well-spent, I was disappointed that I was not able to travel and study in Jerusalem as I had originally planned. The unrest in the Middle East during July and August necessitated cancelling. I hope that one day I will be afforded another opportunity to take such a pilgrimage as part of my normal annual continuing education. The fact that I did not travel as much as I thought I would did provide me with more quality time with my family.

I am very thankful for all those who made my time away possible, especially Canon Michael Spear-Jones, Canon Ed Tracy, Chancellor Sam Webster, and Bishop David Jones. Needless to say, the Diocese was in very competent hands!

For the next week or so, as I transition back to the "normal" routine, I will be doing a lot of catching up and working directly with the diocesan staff. This weekend I am looking forward to attending the consecration of the new bishop of East Carolina, and next week being with the clergy of Southern Virginia for our annual conference at Chanco on the James.

In the next several weeks, while I'll have plenty to do, I will relish most of all the opportunity to reconnect with all of you and to hear your stories. I find that I return with an increased feeling of joy and excitement about the ministries that are taking place across our diocese. I also return with a deepened sense of just how blessed I am to be your bishop.

Bishop Hollerith

"A Sermon for Every Sunday" video project

Episcopalians Lauren Winner and Michael Curry are among the outstanding preachers who have recorded lectionary-based sermons on video as part of a project called "A Sermon for Every Sunday," intended as a resource for churches without pastors, churches in the interim, or churches that might simply need a supply preacher from time to time.  The resource can also be used for small group discussions or adult forums, Any congregation with the capability of showing or projecting a video can see and hear America's best preachers on any-or every-Sunday of the year for the astonishingly low price of $4.99 per sermon.  Visit the website for full details at

Episcopal Relief & Development update

By The Very Rev. Keith Emerson, Diocesan Coordinator, Episcopal Relief & Development

Let me express my thanks to the following congregations in our diocese for making contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development during the third quarter of the current year:
  • St. John's, Hopewell
  • Ascension, Norfolk
  • St. Mark's, Hampton   
  • St. Andrew's, Newport News
  • St. Luke's, Powhatan
  • St. Luke's, Blackstone
  • St. George's, Newport News
  • Christ and Grace, Petersburg
  • Christ Church, Smithfield         
  • St. George's, Pungoteague
  • Holy Apostles, Virginia Beach
  • Grace Church, Yorktown
I also want to call to your attention that for all gifts made to Episcopal Relief & Development's 75th Anniversary Fund between now and the end of the year will be matched dollar for dollar. You can make a contribution here

The 2014 Gifts for Life Christmas Catalog is available here. It is full of wonderful ways individuals and parishes can transform how they observe Advent and celebrate Christmas.

Thanks again for your participation and support of this wonderful ministry.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Employment Opportunity

Chanco on the James is currently accepting applications for the position of Director of Programs and seasonal Summer Camp Director.  Job descriptions and employment application can be found on our website at (click "About Us"). Questions? Contact Executive Director Gareth Kalfas at or 888-7CHANCO (888-724-2626).

Boys Home grows blue-ribbon white pine

Boys Home of Virginia once again was awarded a blue ribbon for White Pine entered at the annual Virginia Christmas Tree growers meeting held in August. Project Manager Greg Lemmer who is also the president of the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association oversees the Boys Home Christmas Tree Farm. Brandon Brown manages maintenance and farm upkeep, and several residents and staff throughout the year assist him.  

The tree farm, located in West Augusta, will celebrate its 21st season as a Boys Home operation. The tree farm is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., beginning Friday, November 28 and ending Sunday, December 21.  

Tree Farm Open House on Nov. 29

Open House at the Boys Home Christmas Tree Farm is Saturday, November 29. The theme "Over the River and Through the Woods" features family activities, refreshments, photo booth and door prizes. There's no better way to enjoy your Christmas than to visit the farm. It is just the right place for good tree selection while helping our young men. Besides trees, the gift shop sells wreathes, roping, handmade ornaments and a variety of Christmas items.  

The tree farm is located off Rt. 688 at 1118 Bear Wallow Flat, West Augusta, VA 24485. For information and directions, call 540-939-4106 or 540-965-7700. You may also visit the Boys Home website or Facebook page.  

Clergy transitions

The Rev. Ronald Ramsey will begin as Rector of St. Cyprian's, Hampton, 12/1/2014 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Observing a Day of Repentance and Reconciliation

A Reconciliation Resource for November Liturgies on healing the sin of racism is now available from the Repairers of the Breach. Following the format of Holy Women, Holy Men, the booklet offers several options for readings and psalms. It is available on the  Repairing the Breach page of our website. The Reconciliation Service from November 2, 2013 is also available with anthems and hymns that are suitable for parish use.  

Annual Council Resolution R-1 resolved that "November 2, 2014, 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." If you need further assistance or have questions, please contact Canon Caroline Black, or 757-213-3377.   

Observances of a Day of Repentance and Reconciliation: 

St. Martin's, Williamsburg 
The spirit of reconciliation and repentance for the sin of racism will be prayerfully honored at Saint Martin's on November 1 at 5pm as we acknowledge our transgressions of the past and repent for those sins against our brothers and sisters in Christ that we have committed as an institution and as individuals. The service will conclude with the celebrating of Holy Eucharist where we will acknowledge our reconciliation with Christ, as well as the entirety of the Body of Christ. The evening will then conclude with a meal of thanksgiving that will acknowledge the gift of reconciliation that God so bountifully provides to us. The meal will be served in Miles Hall at approximately 6:15 p.m.
St. John's, Chester
Contemplative Evening Prayer for Reconciliation and Healing  on Sunday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m.

Good Shepherd, Norfolk and Mission of the Holy Spirit
On Wednesday, Nov. 5 at Good Shepherd there will be a dinner at 5:30 p.m. followed by a Service of Repentance at 6:30 p.m.  

Eastern Shore Chapel, Virginia Beach
Holy Eucharist with Service of Repentance and Reconciliation on Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 5:30 p.m. 
St. James', Accomac
Service of Reconciliation and Healing, Friday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. 

Bruton Parish, Williamsburg and SpiritWorks Foundation 
On Nov. 5, 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Bruton Parish, SpiritWorks Foundation will host a screening of "The House I Live In," a documentary that explores the moral failure of the war on drugs and particularly looks at the role that racism has played in incarceration and mandatory minimums. The Rev. Charles Robinson, Vicar of Bruton Parish and Jan M. Brown, Founder and Executive Director, of SpiritWorks Foundation, will facilitate a conversation following the film. On Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m., the monthly First Fridays Eucharist hosted by SpiritWorks Foundation will weave together the themes of repentance, reconciliation and recovery. The Rev. Chris Epperson, Rector of Bruton Parish, will be the celebrant. Parking is available on Duke of Gloucester Street during the service.    

St. Paul's Memorial Chapel, Lawrenceville
Service of Repentance and Reconciliation on Saturday, November 15 at 10 a.m. 

If you would like your parish's observance listed here, please contact Communications Officer Ann Turner,  

ECW installs new president and board members

Episcopal Church Women elected Nancy Sands as the 41st ECW Diocesan President at the ECW Fall Annual Meeting.  The Rev. Helen McKee, interim rector at Christ Church, Danville, installed Nancy at the meeting, October 18, hosted by Christ Church, Nancy's home parish. Other board members installed are: First Vice President, Helen Sharpe-Williams, Grace Church, Norfolk; Second Vice President, Katherine O. Patterson, Christ and Grace, Petersburg; Betty Mariner, St. George's, Pungoteague, Treasurer, Corresponding Secretary, Louise Boss, Christ Church, Eastville, Parliamentarian, Lu Sullivan, Christ Church, Danville; Historian, Barbara Taylor, St. Francis, Virginia Beach, Nominating Committee Chair, Deborah Austin, St. Mark's, Suffolk, United Thank Offering Treasurer, Rosalyn Neal, Grace Church, Norfolk and Communication Chair, Nancy Smith, St. Aidan's, Virginia Beach. The new board members take office in January 2014.  
L to R: Nancy Smith, Lu Sullivan, Betty Mariner, Louise Boss, Deborah Austin, Helen Sharpe-Williams, Nancy Sands, Barbara Taylor, the Rev. Helen McKee. Not pictured: Katherine Patterson and Rosalyn Neal  

Administrators & Treasurers Lunch Group will meet in Norfolk in November

The next Administrators and Treasurers lunch will be Wednesday, November 19, noon to 1:30, at Ascension, Norfolk (405 Talbot Hall Road). This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with other parish administrators and treasurers to talk about common issues. Bring your own lunch; beverages will be provided. There's no agenda for this gathering - just an opportunity to get together, share, encourage, support, and ask questions. RSVP to

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seminarian Josh Stephens receives Freeman Award for Merit

The Sewanee School of Theology awarded the 2014 Freeman Award for Merit to Joshua Paul Stephens, T'16, a M.Div. student from the Diocese of Southern Virginia (St. Andrew's, Norfolk). The award was announced and presented by the dean, the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, during the School's annual DuBose Lectures and Alumni/ae Gathering banquet on Oct. 1.

"Josh Stephens distinguished himself in his first year of theological studies," explained Alexander, on why Stephens was chosen to receive this award. "His strong undergraduate background, his devotion to his vocation, and his strong work ethic puts him academically at the top of his class. We look forward to seeing him continue to grow and develop academically, spiritually, and pastorally."
The Freeman Award for Merit was established in 1998 by Reed Freeman and his wife, Nancy, to honor and reward a rising middler student of The School of Theology that has demonstrated outstanding academic performance and promise. Freeman, T'96, T'05, was a recipient of the Woods Leadership Award while he was attending The School of Theology.
"As those who were at the DuBose banquet can attest, I was shocked to receive the Freeman Award," stated Stephens. "Now my initial surprise has shifted to feeling rather grateful and humbled, not only to be recognized in this way, but also to be part of such an awesome environment in Sewanee. This is a remarkable community of learning at The School of Theology and I am proud to be a member of the class of 2016. My academic work only has meaning because of our common life together."

Stewardship gatherings scheduled for Chester, Norfolk and Hampton

The Stewardship Focus Group of the diocesan Executive Board is once again hosting informal gatherings for parish wardens and stewardship/finance chairs to share successes and challenges with our parish giving programs. Anyone interested in parish stewardship is invited and encouraged to attend.
  • Saturday, November 22, 10 to 11 a.m. at St. John's, Chester. Contact the Rev. Gini DiStanislao if you plan to attend the gathering at St. John's,
  • Saturday, December 6, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Ascension, Norfolk. Contact Bob Motley if you plan to attend the gathering at Ascension,
  • Saturday, January 17, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at St. John's, Hampton. Contact Bob Motley if you plan to attend the gathering at St. John's,

Diocese of Virginia hosting disaster response workshop Nov. 8

The Diocese of Virginia Disaster Preparedness and Response (DOVDPR) ministry team is hosting a Volunteer Day on November 8, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at St. Stephen's, Culpeper. During the morning session they will offer both the child and adult sexual misonduct prevention training. These workshops will go to 1 p.m. Lunch will be served and the afternoon will be spent diving into disaster response. Explore opportunities throughout the US for teams to help folks recover from natural disasters. Learn step by step how to plan and execute these recovery mission trips. There will be speakers from the various dioceses around the US that are hosting disaster recovery teams. Click here for more information and registration. 

Registration open for Annual State LARCUM Conference, Dec. 5-6 in Norfolk

  The LARCUM Churches of Norfolk invite you to join us at our annual State LARCUM Conference on Friday and Saturday, 5-6 December 2014. Rev. Dr. John Armstrong, president and founder of ACT 3 Network, a minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America and an adjunct professor of mission at Wheaton College Graduate School will present "The New Landscape of Post-Christian Christianity"
  • Americans remain deeply religious yet are rejecting organized religion in increasing numbers while they retain deep interest in spirituality. What is really happening? Is this a lasting trend that will radically alter the religious landscape?
  • If the older Christendom model of church is passing away how should we respond if we believe that we still have a mission in America? Where is the missional moment bearing fruit and how?
  • The next generation wants to belong to community before they can believe anything that is taught. How will this impact our mission and what does ecumenism have to do with this important change in religious behavior?
Click here for the conference brochure, which includes a registration form.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Join us for the second annual Fall Family Festival at Chanco

Join us October 26 from 2 to 5 pm for pumpkin carving, refreshments, hayrides, fellowship and fall fun! You can even scale our 32 foot high rock wall or fly along a zip line - and they are not just for kids! Bring your own pumpkin or purchase one at Chanco to creatively carve any way you choose! This event is open to the public and is for all ages. Come celebrate this beautiful time of year with us at Chanco. Click here for a flier with more information. Feel free to post this flier at your churches and/or share via email and help us invite all our friends throughout the diocese to Chanco on October 26 for this fun family event! We hope to see you there!

Young adult Episcopalians serve as missionaries - including Justin Davis from St. David's, Chesterfield

Justin Davis meeting new friends on board a ship in Hong Kong.
Seventeen young adults - including six who will serve for a second year - representing 18 Episcopal Church dioceses are serving as missionaries in the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) for the 2014-2015 term in locales throughout the Anglican Communion. One of these is our own Justin Davis, a member of St. David's, Chesterfield. Justin is serving with the Mission to Seafarers in Hong Kong.
YASC is a ministry for Episcopal young adults, ages 21 - 30, who are interested in exploring their faith in new ways by living and serving in communities around the Anglican Communion. The Rev. David Copley, Mission Personnel Officer, noted that while the day-to-day duties of each placement vary, the experiences of the YASCers are life-changing.  "YASC brings young adults into the life of the worldwide Anglican Communion and into the daily work of a local community," he explained.   

Each YASCer maintains a blog, detailing their service, reflections and adventures. You can follow Justin's  blog, Turn Up for Jesus, here. You can read more about the other YASC missionaries and find links to their blogs here