Monday, June 26, 2017

Diocesan Office closed for Independence Day holiday

The Diocesan Office will be closed Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4 for the Independence Day holiday. The office will resume regular hours on Wednesday, July 5.

Tri-Diocesan Council on Aging Annual Fall Camp

The Tri-Diocesan Council on Aging will hold its annual Fall Camp Oct. 23-26 at Shrine Mont in Orkney Springs, VA. Details and registration will be available in July.

Back by popular demand will be storyteller, sanctuary gardener, author and ordained minister, Terry Hershey, as our keynote speaker. Bishop Martin Townsend, retired bishop of the Diocese of Easton, returns as chaplain.
Once Again we will be entertained by Folk-Theologian Ed Kilbourne.

Fall Camp is an opportunity to spend time in the mountains of Virginia with other seniors (but we don't have an age limit) from across the Commonwealth and from other states.  The Camp is an attempt to take seriously the spiritual needs and journeys of primarily retired people. We attempt to challenge participants through keynote speakers, workshops, worship and interaction with one another. In addition to the scheduled activities, there is plenty of time to sit on the porches, visit with friends, relax, and enjoy the amazing scenery and to explore the surrounding area.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

St. Paul's, Newport News, inner city improvement project awarded $23,400 UTO grant

The United Thank Offering (UTO) of the Episcopal Church awarded 34 grants last week and one of them went to a project here in Southern Virginia. St. Paul's, Newport News, was awarded a grant of $23,400 for its Inner City Improvement project.

Newport News and Hampton have high rates of drug and alcohol dependent individuals who are homeless and unemployed. Drug and alcohol dependencies result in health crises and repeated arrests and convictions. When released, individuals have no resources with which to re-engage in the community, nor the coping skills to prevent relapse.

The UTO grant funds will be used to provide housing for AmeriCorps volunteers - working alongside St. Paul's clergy, staff and volunteers - as they provide education, outreach and connect individuals and families with services.

St. Paul's project aims, through a holistic approach, to change not just the lives of individuals, but the life of the community as a whole. "Most inner city neighborhoods haven't seen the Resurrection; they're still living in Good Friday. Resurrection is transformational."

2017 Seeds of Hope Grant applications now being accepted

The 2017 Seeds of Hope Grant application is now available and applications are being accepted. Applications must be postmarked no later than August 31. Awards will be announced and distributed no later than November 30.

Seeds of Hope grants are available to congregations and diocesan groups to begin or expand ministries for social and economic justice causes as they relate to the Five Marks of Mission. The Five Marks of Mission are an important statement on mission which expresses the Anglican Communion's common commitment to an understanding of God's holistic/integral mission.

These grants are "seeds" in the form of matching grants when possible so as to act as a catalyst to help parishes and other diocesan-affiliated groups begin or expand their ministries that reflect the biblical call to care and advocate for the "widow, the orphan, and the stranger." It also includes the opportunity for special grants for economic justice causes.

Click here for more info and an application. 

ECW News: New issue of Grapevine newsletter; Becca Stevens to speak at Fall Meeting

The Grapevine
The new issue of the Diocesan ECW newsletter, The Grapevine, is available here.  This issue includes:

ECW scholarship awards 
President's message - "Love thy neighbor" 
Women-to-Women announces new project 
ECW Scholarship award for Malawi 
and much more
Becca Stevens to speak at Fall Meeting
On Saturday, November 4, the Rev. Becca Stevens will be the keynote speaker for the Diocesan ECW Annual Fall Meeting at St. Francis, Virginia Beach. Becca Stevens is an author, speaker, priest, social entrepreneur, founder and president of Thistle Farms. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and Stevens talk is planned for around 11 a.m.  Parish Book Store will be on hand with copies of Stevens' books.

Webinar: Dementia Friendly America

There are more than 5 million people living with Alzheimer's disease in the United States. Learn about how your community can become a friendlier place for people living with dementia and their care partners. Join this webinar on Dementia Friendly America, July 11, 2 to 3 p.m. Click here to register.

Through the work of over 35 national, leading organizations, the Dementia Friendly America (DFA) initiative is catalyzing a movement to more effectively support and serve those who are living with dementia and their care partners. There are now over 45 communities across 36 states that are part of the Dementia Friendly America network. These communities are working across sectors (such as with partners in health care, business and banking, legal and financial, faith communities, and local government) to ensure they are friendly places for people with memory loss and their caregivers to live.

Join this webinar to learn more about Dementia Friendly America, why it is more important than ever before and how your community can join the movement.

Day of Prayer offered by Lutheran-Episcopal Joint Committee

The Lutheran-Episcopal Joint Committee of Virginia is sponsoring a Day of Prayer on August 19 at Trinity Ecumenical Parish in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. The speaker for the day will be Pastor Richard Bansemer. Pastor Bansemer will lead us in two group sessions considering how and why to pray, whom to pray with, resources for prayer, prayer and the liturgical year, and will share other personal prayer practices. Click here for details and registration.

Presiding Bishop Curry's message for World Refugee Day

In the late 1930s, as the world was on the verge of being plunged into an apocalyptic Second World War, Episcopalians and the Episcopal Church gathered together and began work to resettle those who were refugees fleeing terror in Europe, helping to resettle families, helping to resettle young people, helping to resettle people in this country in safety and security.
Since the 1930s, Episcopalians have been involved in the work of resettling families and people who are refugees, some 80,000.
At that time, in the 1930s there was a poster that depicted Mary, the baby Jesus, and Joseph. Mary was on the donkey. They were clearly on a journey. They were fleeing Palestine. They were seeking to find safety in Egypt. They were refugees. The poster from the 1930s read, "In the name of these refugees, aid all refugees."
In the name of Mary, Joseph and the Lord Jesus, aid all refugees today, for most of the refugees like the Holy Family themselves, are families, and most are children.
I invite you to observe June 20 as World Refugee Day to learn more about the crisis and to find ways that you can both pray and help in other ways.
God bless you, God keep you, and you keep the faith.

Click here to watch video of Bishop Curry's message.

Click here for Episcopal Migration Ministries' resources for World Refugee Day.

Applications accepted for Stewardship of Creation grants

The Episcopal Church Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation is accepting applications for grants that focus on local faith-based projects for mitigating climate change and safeguarding the integrity of Creation.
This marks the next cycle of grantmaking by the Episcopal Church Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation, enabled by Resolution A030, Create Task Force On Climate Change, approved at General Convention 2015 and charged with the responsibility to develop a grant process to support local ecologically responsible stewardship of church-related properties and buildings.
Recommendations will be made for grants up to $10,000. Further information regarding this grant process and how to submit an application is available here. Deadline for applications is August 20.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Save the date: Becca Stevens to speak at Diocesan ECW Fall Meeting on Nov. 4

On Saturday, November 4, the Rev. Becca Stevens will be the keynote speaker for the Diocesan ECW Annual Fall Meeting at St. Francis, Virginia Beach. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and Stevens talk is planned for around 11 a.m.
Becca Stevens is an author, speaker, priest, social entrepreneur, founder and president of Thistle Farms. After experiencing the death of her father and subsequent child abuse when she was 5, Becca longed to open a sanctuary for survivors offering a loving community. In 1997, five women who had experienced trafficking, violence, and addiction were welcomed home. Twenty years later, the organization continues to welcome women with free residence hat provide housing, medical care, therapy and education for two years. Residents and graduates earn income through one of four social enterprises. The Global Market of Thistle Farms helps employ more than 1,800 women worldwide, and the national network has more than 40 sister communities.

Understanding Addiction & Supporting Recovery: Strategies and tools for clergy and pastoral leaders

This seminar on Thursday, August 17 at Bruton Parish House, Williamsburg, is a unique opportunity for clergy and other congregational leaders to receive the latest information, resources and strategies on how to educate and give hope to individuals and families suffering from the impact of addiction. It is presented by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and The Clergy Education and Training Project® of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA), with its partners SpiritWorks Foundation and the Addictions and Recovery Commission of the Diocese of Southern Virginia. Cost is $15 for lunch. Seminar will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Click here for more info and registration.  

Jackson-Feild graduates 10 students

June 9 was a milestone day for ten students at the Gwaltney School at Jackson-Feild Homes as they graduated from high school. The Baccalaureate Service and Commencement Exercises were held at Southside Virginia Community College's Golden Leaf Commons.
Five students received their high school diploma and five students received their GED. This was the largest graduating class since 2009. In its 20 year history, a total of 167 students have graduated from the Gwaltney School.
Dr. Bill Bowling, Director of Education, presided over the ceremony. Three students, Aureana, Genya and Fidel were the commencement speakers. Their speeches provided everyone in the audience an understanding of how important this day was to them as well as their deep gratitude towards the faculty and staff who helped them along the way.
Five scholarships were awarded to students to help them with the expenses to further their education. In addition to the scholarships awarded, there were special gifts that were given to all the graduates. Among these were cash gifts, gift cards, flowers for the girls and wallets for the boys. Helen Sharpe-Williams, President of the Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of Southern Virginia was in attendance and presented each graduate with a cash gift as a token for their accomplishment. An anonymous donor gave each graduate a $100 gift certificate and each girl a bouquet of red roses and each boy a wallet. Each student also received a class ring that was funded by an anonymous donor.
This ceremony is one of the highlights of the year for both children and staff as it culminates and validates the mission of Jackson-Feild and celebrates the accomplishments of it children.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

CE-Net and Digital Faith Formation

For many of us just saying the words Digital Faith Formation can instill feelings of inadequacy, perceived technical challenges or perhaps outright avoidance of the subject.    Fear not! CE-NET has collaborated with Jared Rendell, Partner for Digital Strategies, at Vibrant Faith to present several sessions over the summer to help us reduce our digital angst. 

The first opportunity will occur on June 15 at 10:00 at the Diocesan Center, 11827 Canon Blvd., Suite 101 Newport News. Jared will help us explore some basic information about a few key "must use" digital platforms and guide us in re-orienting our perceptions of the digital landscape.  As we begin to explore the topic the following key points should emerge:
  • Digital formation is not a tool to be used, but rather a space to gather in.
  • Digital formation is not just posted information, but rather active engaged faith formation.
  • You have what it takes to have a digital presence and it is a shared responsibility for all who are engaged in faith formation.
  • Digital formation is a planned, integrated ministry.  It's not a standalone effort but rather it should complement and connect to  our brick and mortar presence
  • Effective digital formation should create opportunities to live out our mission and create ways to connect to each other and to God.
Please join us and share your thoughts.  We will conclude at noon and you are welcome to bring a lunch if you would like to continue the discussion during the lunch hour.  Please confirm you attendance by email,

"Journey to Generosity" stewardship conference available free online

The 2017 TENS Conference, "Journey to Generosity" was held in May in Minneapolis.  Those in attendance were inspired by three outstanding keynote speakers and eight workshops challenged and trained people on topics from the "Spirituality of Philanthropy" to "Planning Your Annual Campaign."
The TENS Board of Directors has decided to make the entire webinar available to all TENS members, FREE! Through our diocesan membership, you can access the videos on the Member Resources page of the TENS website, If you are interested in any of the workshops, please contact Caroline Black at for the login and password.

New course and one free month from ChurchNext

ChurchNext has two new courses available:
  • Ministering with Millennials - Millennials are the largest generation alive today. They are not only important to the faith community; they are a necessity if we want to bring the church into the new world - a world they will be running in just 20-30 years.
  • Is My Loved One Addicted? - This course is designed to help family members and churches combat the disease of addiction. Jonathan Benz, a certified substance abuse counselor, author and speaker discusses ways to recognize the signs of addiction and what to do once your realize that a love one is struggling with addiction.
ChurchNext is also making a free offer - They will give your church a free, one-month Congregational Membership test drive with no obligation. ChurchNext offers over 300 courses for individuals and groups that can help your congregation learn and grow in their faith. To take advantage of the free offer, just email  

Presiding Bishop on the President's action and the Paris Climate Accord

With the announcement by President Donald Trump of his decision to withdraw the commitment made by the United States to the Paris Climate Accord, I am reminded of the words of the old spiritual which speaks of God and God's creation in these words, "He's got the whole world in his hands." The whole world belongs to God, as Psalm 24 teaches us. God's eye is ever on even the tiny sparrow, as Jesus taught and the song says (Luke 12:6). And we human beings have been charged with being trustees, caretakers, stewards of God's creation (Genesis 1:26-31).
The United States has been a global leader in caring for God's creation through efforts over the years on climate change. President Trump's announcement changes the U.S.'s leadership role in the international sphere. Despite this announcement, many U.S. businesses, states, cities, regions, nongovernmental organizations and faith bodies like the Episcopal Church can continue to take bold action to address the climate crisis.  The phrase, "We're still in," became a statement of commitment for many of us who regardless of this decision by our President are still committed to the principles of the Paris Agreement.
Faith bodies like the Episcopal Church occupy a unique space in the worldwide climate movement. In the context of the United Nations, the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, we are an international body representing 17 countries in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia and the Pacific. We also are an admitted observer organization to the UNFCCC process, empowered to bring accredited observers to the UN climate change meetings. Furthermore, the Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the third-largest Christian tradition, and we remain committed to ensuring that Anglicans everywhere are empowered to undertake bold action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
We know that caring for God's creation by engaging climate change is not only good for the environment, but also good for the health and welfare of our people. The U.S. is currently creating more clean jobs faster than job creation in nearly every other sector of the economy, and unprecedented acceleration in the clean energy sector is also evident in many other major economies.
My prayer is that we in the Episcopal Church will, in this and all things, follow the way, the teachings and the Spirit of Jesus by cultivating a loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, all others in the human family, and with all of God's good creation.
In spite of hardships and setbacks, the work goes on. This is God's world.  And we are all his children. And, "He's got the whole world in his hands."
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church

The Presiding Bishop's statement is available online here.