Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Good Friday Offering for Jerusalem and Middle East

"The Episcopal Church has been in partnership with the Diocese of Jerusalem for a very long time," 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 offering we collect on Good Friday carries on the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, through support for the many ministries of healing, feeding, and teaching among the dioceses of the Province," the Presiding Bishop writes.

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.  

"May our offering this year strengthen the bonds among all God's people, and bless each one with concrete and eternal signs of more abundant life," she concludes.

The Presiding Bishop's letter is available here

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, redmunds@episcopalchurch.org.

Praying for the churches of Southern Virginia

As part of our liturgy at Annual Council 2015, each delegation wrote a prayer for their parish. We are sharing these prayers each week in the eNews so that we all can support one another in the upcoming year.

Holy Apostles', Virginia Beach
Heavenly father, through the effort of two bishops and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit you created a community that is a living sign of the Unity You desire for all people. As a community we have sought to remain faithful to that commitment for 37 years. Father, we love each other and do not want to be separated. We humbly seek your blessing on the Church of the Holy Apostles and pray that you help us move forward to continue the work you have given us to do, that we all may be one. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Trinity, Portsmouth
Almighty and everlasting Father, thank you for the continued blessing of our church home. We thank you for allowing us to rebuild our physical church, and as an extension, our spirituality. Through our current challenges, you have made us more prayerful and better stewards. Thank you for your continued blessings as we continue our Christian formation and evangelism ministries in this new year. Please help us to remain a beacon for the Gospel in our community for another 250 plus years. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. One God, now and for ever. Amen

Author Anne Lamott to speak at Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church conference

Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church will hold its national conference, The Gathering 2015, at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle, WA, October 29-31. Guest speakers will be Anne Lamott and the Rev. Becca Stevens. Registration opens March 1. Click here for more information.  

New York Times bestselling author Anne Lamott writes and speaks about subjects that begin with capital letters: Alcoholism, Motherhood, Jesus.But armed with self-effacing humor - she is laugh-out-loud funny - and ruthless honesty, Lamott converts her subjects into enchantment.

The Rev. Becca Stevens is one of the premiere speakers in the United States proclaiming love as the most powerful force for social change. She is an author, Episcopal priest and founder of Thistle Farms-Magdalene, a community of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction.

Light the Way Project at Boys Home

On Wednesday, February 25, a group of students and staff from Boys Home of Virginia will assist at the Greater Lynchburg Habitat for Humanity ReStore location. This project called Light the Way is a show of gratitude to the many area supporters and groups who have helped Boys Home through the years. Named to honor Bishop Heath A. Light, retired bishop for the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, the Boys Home group will provide lunches for the construction manager, building crew and volunteers.

Susan Morris, program assistant for GLHFH, will provide a tour and explanation of the program as well as show how volunteers play a major role in the success of the Habitat for Humanity organization, locally, nationally and internationally.

The students attend the Boys Home School located on the Boys Home campus, in Covington, Virginia. Boys Home School provides residential education for young men who need remedial classes in elementary or middle school or concentrated classes in high school to gain credits towards a high school diploma.

Boys Home students and staff regularly volunteer their time and talents to community services projects, most in the Covington area. Some of the projects are sponsored by the local Alleghany Highlands Kiwanis Club through the Boys Home Key Club or through community involvement.
For more information about Boys Home, please contact Amy R. Hubbard, Manager of the Intake and Evaluation Center at 540/965-7739 or Jodie Weidman, Director of the Boys Home School 540-965-7737.

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards benefits Jackson-Feild

In a three-day session at the 4-H center in Wakefield, 120 high school students recently met for the 2015 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program held by Rotary District 7600. RYLA is a leadership development program run by Rotary International.

The students from high schools across District 7600 which runs from Fluvanna County to North Carolina east to the Eastern Shore participated in presentations, activities, and workshops covering a variety of topics, including: leadership fundamentals and ethics, communication skills, problem solving and conflict management, and community and global citizenship.

An important part of the event includes the organization and planning of a community service project. Members chose Jackson-Feild Homes to be this year's beneficiary. Participants engaged their Interact Clubs and local Rotary Clubs to collect school and art supplies, clothing, personal care items and sporting equipment for the residents at Jackson-Feild.

The items were presented to Jackson-Feild during event. Ms. Shadhri Stith, Senior Residential Supervisor at JFH was thrilled to receive these items that have been put to good use.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

From the Presiding Bishop: On Healing and Wholeness

Healing is the primary work of people of faith and the communities of which they are a part.  Christians, as disciples of One who came to save (rescue, heal, make whole) the world and its inhabitants, seek to heal their relationships with one another and with all that is.

Episcopalians believe this is God's mission and we are its ministers or servants.  We are meant to seek to repair what is breached and broken, to stitch up what is torn, to heal what is sick, to release what is imprisoned and oppressed, to comfort the dying, to encourage the ignored, forlorn, and grieving.  Our life finds meaning in responding to the cries around us and within us, as individuals in community.  We follow One who was himself vilified, tortured, and finally executed for proclaiming the possibility of reconciled relationships in communities divided by poverty, violence, and religion.

The tragic death of Thomas Palermo challenges us all to attend to the work of healing.  We cannot restore what is past, but we can seek reconciliation and wholeness for all who have been affected - the Palermo family, Heather Cook, the biking community and others in Baltimore, the Diocese of Maryland, bystanders and onlookers who have witnessed any of these traumatic events.  

We begin in prayer - lament and wailing at loss and at human frailty.  We continue in prayer - for succor and comfort, for compassion, for transformation and healing.  Episcopalians worship a God who came among us in fragile human flesh and suffered pain and death at the hands of other human beings.  We understand his resurrection to mean that death does not have the final word - and that healing and wholeness transcend the grave.  That healing is never quick or easy, it does not "fix" what has already happened, but it does begin to let hope grow again.

Our task is that hard work of healing.  It requires vulnerability to the pain of all involved - victims, transgressors, onlookers, friends and families and coworkers and emergency responders and community members.  A violent death often divides communities, yet ultimately healing requires us all to lower our defenses enough to let others minister to us, to hear another's pain and grief, to share our own devastation, and indeed to look for the possibility of a new and different future.  Healing also comes through a sense of restored order, which is the role of processes of accountability.

Healing requires hope for a redeemed future for the Palermo family as well as Heather Cook.  Many have been changed by this death, yet their lives are not ended.  They can be healed and transformed, even though the path be long and hard.  Our work is to walk that path in solidarity with all who grieve and mourn.  May we pray with the psalmist, "Yea, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me."  May we also be that companioning presence, the image of God in the flesh, for those who walk through that valley.

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

Snow day is the perfect day to register for camp!

The snow blankets Chanco grounds and covers the stunning cross at the bluff.  But while white blankets Chanco's grounds, we are still thinking of sunshine and summer camp!  Home from work and school today?  It's a great day to get on line and get that camp registration done!  With specialty sessions such as Ropes Camp and Mariner's Camp filling fast, and First Session historically filling to capacity, now is the perfect time to ensure the Camp Chanco session of your choice!  Visit www.chanco.org for more information on all sessions and easy on line registration.  Chanco offices are closed today due to road conditions but once open, you can reach us at 888-7CHANCO (888-724-2626) or director@chanco.org with any questions.  Enjoy the snow, stay warm and safe, and relish the thoughts of warmer weather as you register for Camp Chanco today! 

Praying for the churches of Southern Virginia

As part of our liturgy at Annual Council 2015, each delegation wrote a prayer for their parish. We are sharing these prayers each week in the eNews so that we all can support one another in the upcoming year.

Hickory Neck, Toano
Gracious and loving God, we thank you for all of the blessings that you have bestowed upon this congregation. We, your humble servants, seek your guidance and direction; Instill in us your grace, and grant us the ability to hear your words with our ears and in our hearts, so that we may find a new rector who will enable your church to grow in faith and service. Help us to welcome new disciples, of all ages, so that together, through changing and uncertain times, we may continue to praise your glory and keep our light on this Holy Hill shining brightly; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

St. Michael's, Colonial Heights
O God, who knows our need before we can think to ask, we at St. Michael's sense our calling to care for the multiple needs of our own, as well as strategically  reaching out to our community.  We pray for your Holy Spirit's guidance in this service.  We also pray for those beset by violence beyond their control, and for those whose view of life is so pained and angry that violence seems their only recourse. We offer these hopes through you, our Creator, Savior, and Ever-present Guide.  Amen.

Love a timely topic for ECW Time for Reflection

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

Aptly, love was the topic at the ECW's Time for Reflection held Valentine's Day. Through interactive workshops, reflection and worship, women from across the diocese explored God's greatest gift to us- love. Cynthia Gossman (front row, 3rd from the right) author, trainer, motivational speaker and Joy Restoration Coach, led the annual prayer and worship conference held in Williamsburg. Sharing the love, attendees donated 54 scarves and 19 hats to the Cancer Care Foundation of Tidewater. Many thanks to Ronda Toll, ECW Prayer and Worship Chair for planning a wonderful day. 

Absalom Jones Celebration Feb. 22

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians will hold its annual Absalom Jones Day Celebration on Sunday, February 22 at Tabernacle Christian Church (2500 East Washington Street, Suffolk), hosted by St. Mark's, Suffolk. The celebration starts at 4 p.m. and will be followed by light refreshments. The Very Rev. Phoebe Roaf, rector of St. Philip's, Richmond, will preach.

Absalom Jones was an African-American abolitionist and clergyman. He was the first African-American ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States in 1804. He was born into slavery in 1746 and achieved his own freedom in 1784. Absalom taught himself to read out of the New Testament, among other books.

The Very Rev. Phoebe Roaf, the rector of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Richmond, will preach. Roaf is a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary and is the first African-American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Louisiana. She is the first woman to serve as rector of St. Philip's in its 150 year history.  

Please join us in the Festival Eucharist and Celebration.

Annual Council: A First Timer’s Impressions

By Joyce H. Williams, Epiphany, Norfolk

In early February, I join my fellow Episcopalians at the 123 Annual Council of the Southern Diocese in Williamsburg, Virginia.  For me, it was my first time.  Not so for my fellow traveling companions; all three had been several times before.  What an advantage this was, they were able to guide me in navigating my way through the conference. 

But for me, everything was new.  The setting was certainly inviting and conducive to warm and friendly networking; it was at the Williamsburg Lodge.  It was fun and educational to browse the exhibits—everything from jewelry to religious tracts.   However, when I entered the general room, I felt a special sense of belonging to this community; maybe it was the friendly round table setting; maybe it was the opening prayers; maybe it was singing hymns; whatever it was, there was a peace and comfort that passed over me.  Of course there where the traditional business agenda items to be dealt with:  the election of officers, committee reports, the discussion and passing of the budget, and the informative presentations on stewardship. The talk, talk, talk was occasionally interrupted by brief and lively videos that highlighted outreach work done in some of the parishes in the diocese. 

But the highlight of the Council was the keynote speaker, Diana Butler Bass.  The noted Christian scholar talked about the new spirituality in Christianity.  Since 1960 and what she calls the Great Awakening, there has become a new sense of harmony between God and nature.  A God that is less authoritarian.  A relationship between God and nature that is more supportive, more nurturing, and more empathetic. These ideas are elaborated more thoroughly in her published works, the most familiar of which is Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (Harper One, 2012). This transformation means that traditional Christian churches must grapple with these changes.  A not so easy accommodation that she spoke to at length.  In conclusion she said that there is a shift from a vertical understanding of God to one as now part of us—not from above us.  A connection that she sees in the importance of the neighborhood and the human priesthood. 

I thought the speaker and her thoughts were just the right tone for a Christian conference—something to bring us together and give us food for thought  as we muster our courage and faith for the challenges that await us in our home parishes.  I am thankful that I got the opportunity to attend; and on a lighter note, I would heartily recommend the squash bisque served at lunch--it was appropriately “heavenly."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Presiding Bishop's message for Lent 2015

Click here for video of this message.
Lent is about to begin. That word in English comes from an Old English word that means "to lengthen," and it's a reminder of the days getting longer as we move toward summer out of the dark of winter. But in a number of other languages, particularly Spanish and French, the word for "Lent" reflects "forty days," "cuaresma." Forty days of wandering in the desert, forty days of Jesus out in the desert. It's also about a journey.  And it's a journey that is about enlightenment if we're willing to think about it that way.  

Lent is an ancient tradition of solidarity and preparation for those who look forward to Baptism at the Easter Vigil.  It has always been a time for prayer and study, fasting, self-denial, and alms-giving, sharing what we have with those who do not have.  Prayer is an opportunity to reflect on who walks with us in the desert, who brings light into the world. Study is an opportunity to do the same kinds of things looking at the history of our tradition, where have human beings found light and direction in their journey through this world.  Fasting and self-denial are an inward-reflection on what it is that keeps us in the dark, or what it is that keeps us directionless, or that keeps us overly self-focused.  And it becomes an invitation to turn outward and share what we have with those who have not.  To build solidarity among God's people and the rest of the earth.  

One of the most memorable Ash Wednesdays I ever spent was in San Jose, Costa Rica, in a school for children. I was asked to place ashes on the foreheads of toddlers.  It was a provocative experience in the deepest sense, reminding very small children that they are mortal.  

That cross that comes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday is a reminder of the cross that's put there at Baptism.  You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ's own forever.  The cross that comes at Ash Wednesday is a reminder that you are dust and to dust we shall return, that we share that dust with every other human being who has ever walked this planet, that we share that dust with the stars and the planets, that we share that dust with all that has been created.  We are made for relationship with creator and creation.  

Lent and cuaresma is a journey to walk toward that light.  May it be a blessed one this year.  

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

Praying for the churches of Southern Virginia

As part of our liturgy at Annual Council 2015, each delegation wrote a prayer for their parish. We are sharing these prayers each week in the eNews so that we all can support one another in the upcoming year.

Galilee, Virginia Beach
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love and redemption experienced in and through Galilee Church in 2014. In the coming year we ask you to lead, shield and anoint this congregation to take joy in every task that you set before them, and to live more deeply into the mission of renewal into which you have guided them. This we ask in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, who with and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

St. James', Portsmouth, and St. Mark's, Suffolk
Almighty God we thank you for knitting together the congregations of Saint James, Portsmouth and Saint Mark's, Suffolk as they tread the path of Shared Ministry in thy church; grant that thy Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen the parishioners of both congregations, through the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God now and for ever. Amen.

Leadership Program for Musicians' Spring workshop

The Leadership Program for Musicians' annual Spring workshop will take place March 14 at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, 4819 Monument Avenue in Richmond. The workshop topic for the morning session is "Discovering Hidden Gems: Mining the 1982 and ELW Hymnals." Ellen Johnston and Martha Burford will lead an exploration of the 1982 hymnal, and Kevin Barger will discuss the ELW hymnal. The presentations will run simultaneously, and participants may attend either one. 
Registration is at 9 a.m., and the morning session will begin at 9:30 a.m. and run until 11:30 a.m. Noon prayer and a brief presentation on LPM will take place from 11:30 a.m. until noon. Lunch (included with registration fee) is noon-1 p.m. From 1-3 p.m. Ellen Johnston and Kevin Barger will lead a choral music reading session using the music attendees received in their packets upon registration. The session will focus on anthems appropriate for choirs with limited resources.

The cost of the workshop is $60 per person (includes lunch and music packet for reading session). Those registering after Feb. 22 are not guaranteed a music packet; if, due to late registration, a music packet is not received, the registration fee will be reduced to $25/person. Registration forms are available on the web at http://www.lpm-va.org and may be mailed to LPM Virginia - c/o Nellwyn Beamon, Church of the Ascension, 405 Talbot Hall Road, Norfolk VA 23505. Checks may be made out to LPM Virginia. For more information on LPM or the spring workshop contact Nellwyn Beamon online at  lpmvacoordinator@gmail.com or by calling 757-423-6715.  

St. Paul's, Norfolk, hosts Ultreya

St. Paul's, Norfolk, will be the host of the Ultreya on February 20 (201 St. Paul's Blvd., Norfolk, 23510). There will be a potluck shared meal from 6 to 6:45 p.m. A sandwich meal will be provided. Please bring a salad-type side dish or a dessert and beverage to share. The Ultreya will begin at 6:55 p.m. and end at 8:15 p.m. Come and enjoy seeing friends from our area Episcopal Churches. Please pray about attending, talk it up, invite and offer a friend a ride. Make it part of your plan for the week. Any questions or need a ride? Contact Bruce Comfort, comfort_1 @cox.net or 757-480-0316.  

Clergy Renewal of Vows services

The annual Renewal of Ordination Vows services for clergy will be held on Wednesday, April 1 at 10 a.m. at St. Cyprian's, Hampton, and at 2:30 p.m. at Manakin, Midlothian.

Liturgical items no longer needed can be donated on March 2

St. Mary's Mission, a charitable organization which finds new homes for liturgical and religious items, will be collecting items in our Diocese on Monday, March 2. They are coming to collect the Diocesan Council "Bishop Closet" items that did not find a home elsewhere, and they are also willing to come by your church if you have large items that cannot be transported to the Diocesan Center at Talbot Hall, or St. Michael's, Bon Air before March 2 (ie, baptismal fonts, altars, etc.).

If you have liturgical items to donate (vestments, hangings, prayer books, candlesticks, etc.) and would like to arrange for delivery or pick up, please contact The Rev. Canon Jeunée Godsey at Jgodsey@diosova.org or 434-603-1782.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Clergy Transitions

The Rev. Earl Christian began as Deacon at St. Cyprian's, Hampton, 1/12/2015

The Rev. Katherine Gray began as Deacon at St. Andrew's, Newport News, 1/20/2015

The Rev. Frederick Walker, Rector of St. Mark's, Suffolk, will begin as Priest-in-Charge at St. James', Portsmouth as the churches enter into shared ministry, 2/1/2015

The Rev. John Boucher will begin as Priest-in-Charge at St. Anne's, Appomattox, 2/1/2015

The Rev. Martha Jenkins will begin as Priest-in-Charge at St. James', Cartersville, 2/1/2015

The Rev. Donny Dunn III will begin as Interim Rector at Redeemer, Midlothian, 2/1/2015

The Rev. Tige Newell  will begin as Interim Assistant Rector at Redeemer, Midlothian, 2/1/2015

Venture Mattress donates to Jackson-Feild

Venture Mattress, headquartered in Franklin VA, recently donated 50 brand new mattresses to Jackson-Feild Homes to improve the bedding and sleeping conditions of its residents. Working with their manufacturer, Mattress Tech, Venture developed the new mattresses and they in turn worked with their suppliers to produce them. Everyone along the way took a personal interest in this project and wanted to ensure the comfort of the children served by Jackson-Feild.

The new mattresses are twice as thick as the old and worn ones they're replacing, and are much better built. Already, the children are reporting that they are sleeping better and waking up in the morning feeling better.

Jackson-Feild is very grateful to Venture Mattress, Mattress Tech, and their suppliers for improving the boys' and girls' quality of life.

Jackson-Feild Homes is a residential treatment program with an accredited private school. It serves adolescent children who have severe emotional disorders. Established in 1855 the Home serves over 100 children annually. They are able to achieve positive outcomes for its residents where others have not.