Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Open office hours with Latino/a/x Missioner

The Rev. Mario Melendez, Diocesan Latino/a/x Missioner, will be holding open office hours via Zoom for anyone (clergy and lay) interested in learning more about Latino/a/x ministries. The open office hours will be held Thursday, July 16, and Thursday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information contact Mario, mmelendez@diosova.org.  

TENS offers free resources for virtual stewardship

As the summer deepens, many congregations begin to think of their fall stewardship campaigns. The Episcopal Network For Stewardship (TENS) provides excellent stewardship campaign materials that are free to all congregations in Southern Virginia via our diocesan TENS membership. This year TENS will be providing resources that help congregations to conduct virtual stewardship campaigns in addition to the more traditional efforts.  
TENS member resources are available to all congregations in Southern Virginia via the diocesan membership. For log in information contact Canon for Formation Lynn Farlin, lfarlin@diosova.org or Communications Officer Ann Turner, aturner@diosova.org.  
Take advantage of these free webinars offered by TENS: 
  • Virtual Stewardship 101 - July 25, 1 p.m. Review virtual offering plates and answer questions about virtual best practices. Register here.
  • Creating Virtual Community for Stewardship - August 15, 1 p.m. Learn more about how to create meaningful small groups and pastoral teams virtually. Register here.
  • How to use the TENS 2020 Materials for your Stewardship Campaign - Walk through this year's resources to maximize their usefulness. Register here.

ECW Yearbook & Directory for 2020 now available

2020 ECW Yearbook & Parish Directory The 2020 ECW Yearbook & Directory is available by contacting Diocesan Communications Officer Ann Turner, aturner@diosova.org. (The directory is not posted on the website due to privacy concerns.) 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Virtual Vacation Bible School: Amazing Stories, Unexpected Storytellers

Faith communities have been forced to address numerous challenges over the past few months as we all learn to navigate our lives, worship, formation, and our interactions with others while COVID-19 is in our midst. It has been exciting to see creative thinking and innovation with respect to digital worship and Christian formation opportunities as churches explore how to be the Church in our current reality. 
Faith communities have realized that we are so much more than what happens in our church buildings during Sunday worship. It is safe to say that this summer will be a different kind of summer as we continue social distancing efforts to help keep people safe. The traditional Vacation Bible School (VBS) program design of summers past, presents risks to the volunteers and participants as well as to their families. As a result, VBS is one of those summer formation opportunities that will require some creative thinking and adaptation in order to offer the program during the pandemic. Luckily, there are a number of virtually VBS options for faith communities and parents to explore this summer.
 A group of formation leaders from our diocese's Christian Education Network (CE-Net) developed a free virtual VBS program called Amazing Stories and Unexpected Storytellers that is highly flexible in both context and execution. Amazing Stories and Unexpected Storytellers is designed to adapt to the needs of parishes and congregations as well as individual families. It can be led for groups via Zoom, Facebook Live, or some other virtual meeting platform or simply be led by families at home.
The program design was inspired by the books A Spy on Noah's Ark and The Spy at Jacob's Ladder by Lindsay Hardin Freeman. We are thankful that the publisher, Forward Movement, has given us permission to use video readings of these stories through August 31, 2020. Freeman's books share the Bible stories from the perspective of an unexpected voice rather than the narrators we are used to hearing. If you are interested in learning more about the books visit www.forwardmovement.org. 
 Amazing Stories and Unexpected Storytellers consists of three segments/sessions - each segment features three storytelling videos (view on the Diocese's YouTube channel), crafts, recreational activities, science experiments, and outreach/mission challenges. The three segments include:
  • FAITH - God Calls Us to be Heroes explored through the stories of Miriam, David, and Deborah.
  • HOPE - Jesus with Us explored through the stories of the Woman of the Well, Jesus Calms the Storm, and Jesus Feeds the 5000.
  • LOVE - Lead with Jesus explored through the stories of the Last Supper, Dorcas, and Pentecost.
Whether you are a formation leader leading the program virtually or a parent using the program in your home you can use whatever components best meets your needs.   There is plenty of content included to provide for a more traditional but virtual one-week program, multi-week program, or the stories can be stretched out weekly over the course of the summer or the user can create any variation in between. 
Click here to explore the program. Efforts are underway to provide a Spanish translation of the program which should be available in the coming weeks.
If you would like to explore other virtual VBS alternatives there are a number of options available from various vendors. Many of these programs offer two distinct fee structures for families and church use.  
  • Church Publishing offers the free Summer Activity Pack for Children and Families Vol. 1.  Click here to download the packet.
  • Illustrated Ministry offers a fee-based program called Compassion Camp. Click here to learn more about it. 
  • GenOn Ministries offers suggestions to modify their integrational fee-based VBS -All God's Children: The Church Family Gathers for Summer to virtual space. Click here to learn more about their program.
  • Go Curriculum has an online fee-based program with music, titled Backyard Bolt Towards Faith in Jesus.  Click here to learn more about the program.
  • Group Publishing is offering some guidance to adapt their fee-based packaged VBS programs to neighborhood VBS options. Click here to view their resources.
  • Cokesbury is offering some resources to adapt their fee-based packaged VBS programs to virtual space.  Click here to explore their resources.
If you use Amazing Stories and Unexpected Storytellers this summer the planning team would love to hear how you used it in your setting. If you have questions about the program contact Lynn Farlin, Canon for Formation (lfarlin@diosova.org), or CE-Net Co-Chairs, Vicky Koch (vkoch@stpaulsnorfolk.org) or Gizelle Moran (gizelle@trinity-portsmouth.org). 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Bishop Vaché Scholarship applications due July 1

The Bishop Vaché Scholarships provide funds to assist both low-income and minority undergraduate college students in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. First-year students as well as returning college students are welcome to apply. Scholarship awards range from $500-$2500 per academic year. To be considered, complete application packets must be postmarked by July 1, 2020. Click here for application form.  

Beloved Community "Rapid-Response" Grants available - apply June 19-August 15

The Presiding Officers' Advisory Group on Beloved Community Implementation is pleased to announce the availability of grants to address the racial disparities laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic and for groups responding to racist violence and policing reform. 
Across America, COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting people of color in terms of health outcomes, access to testing and treatment, safe work environments, and more.  At the same time, many recognize the pandemic of ongoing violence directed against black people and other people of color, especially at the hands of law enforcement personnel in communities in the Americas and beyond.
All proposed projects must demonstrate adherence to relevant local, diocesan and state public health guidelines for gathering and interaction. More information about the criteria and the application process are available here. Learn more about the Church's work on Becoming Beloved Community here, and see resources for "Responding to Racist Violence and Police Brutality" here.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Walk Your Faith on June 19

Juneteenth Celebration at Bruton Parish

A service commemorating Juneteenth will be held on June 19 at 9 am in the Bruton Parish, Williamsburg, Churchyard. Join us as we remember and celebrate the day when all American slaves were declared to be free. It took until June 19, 1865 to get the message to a group of slaves in Galveston, Texas, who had not been told they were free. The holiday is meant to commemorate the emancipation of 4 million slaves, but particularly the small handful who weren't aware that emancipation had come months earlier (250,000). 
This service will include a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, the singing of Lift Every Voice and Sing, known as the Black National Anthem, a presentation of the Juneteenth Flag, remarks by the Rev. Willis R. Foster, Sr., in addition to a Litany of Repentance. The Right Rev. Susan B. Haynes will be present for the Commissioning for the Ministry of Justice and Reconciliation. Join us as we remember and celebrate the day when all American slaves were declared to be free. Please wear a mask and observe social distancing.

Registration open for upcoming session of Virtual Episcopal Latino Ministry Competency course

Registration is now open for a special Virtual Episcopal Latino Ministry Competency Course (VELMC), an innovative five-day intensive course designed for diocesan staff, clergy, lay leaders, and seminarians to gain practical knowledge and cultural competency for Latino/Hispanic ministry. The course will be conducted online in English, August 10-14, 2020.

The five-day VELMC includes 20 hours of online classroom presentations, worship services, and group dialogue, with comfortable breaks and an ample lunch time factored in from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EDT) each day. VELMC has an Early Bird registration rate of $250, if registered by July 3.  Regular registration of $300 has a deadline of August 3. Click here to register.

United Thank Offering presents the Inaugural Great EpisGOpal Race

The United Thank Offering (UTO) invites all to support the 2020 Ingathering by joining them in gratitude, grabbing a pair of sneakers, and racing YOUR way in the Great EpisGOpal Virtual Race. Anytime between July 22 - July 31, choose a preferred mode and distance and race to raise money for COVID-19 relief. Participants can bike a 10K, run a half marathon, skate a mile, and more-the options are limitless. All of the funds that are raised will be collected for the 2020 UTO Ingathering and dispersed to ministries responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking for some friendly competition? Start a team with friends, church, or diocese and see how far the team can collectively go. Prefer to keep your sneakers in the closet? Sign up and invite others to donate to a personal page. Registration is just $15 with the option to purchase a race shirt with an amazing original design by Chris Corbin.    
Click here for more information about the EpisGOpal Race and how you can participate. 

Family camping at Chanco

Did COVID foil your family vacation plans? We have the answer for you - Chanco is now open for family camping! Guests may enjoy kayaking, canoeing, swimming, paddle boarding, hiking, campfires, and fishing along the beach - just to name a few of our fantastic outdoor activities. With options ranging from campsite camping to renting fully equipped homes, we have the vacation option for you! Click here for more detailed information including a "Welcome to Chanco Family Camping" packet, a suggested packing list and more. Click here for a family camping reservation form to email to us at hospitality@chanco.org or contact us at 888-724-2626 to make your reservation today! Welcome back to the magical forest!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

An invitation to watch the metrics with Bishop Haynes

After conferring with the medical and legal subgroups of the Advisory Panel for Re-Gathering, Bishop Haynes invites you to follow along with her as she watches the recommended metrics for determining when a 14-day decline in COVID-19 cases has happened in the State of Virginia. Bishop Haynes, at the recommendation of doctors, physician assistants and registered nurses, will be monitoring the decline in new cases, hospitalizations, commitments to ICU's, deaths and percent positivity as they are updated daily on the following sites:
Virignia Department of Health (Specifically, she will be looking at the 7-day average)
Covid Act Now (reports on readiness of hospitals, adequacy of testing, etc.)
Additionally, Bishop Haynes and Canon Hoffman will continue to meet with the medical advisory panel at the beginning of each week so that they can assist with correctly interpreting the data. Bishop Haynes will let the diocese know each week what the progress is; in the meantime, you are invited to watch along with her. The hopeful news is that we are getting closer, and we will see each other again very soon.

Congratulations graduates!

We want to celebrate all of our seniors who are graduating. It may not have been your typical year, but their achievements are still a huge accomplishment. Youth Missioner Megan Dern has put together a Celebration video of the seniors who participated in our call for pictures. You can view the video here. We know there are more seniors out there who are celebrating this special time and we send our sincerest congratulations to them as well.
Connect college-bound students with campus ministy 
The Diocesan Office can provide graduating seniors with information to help them make connections with the Episcopal Church and Canterbury fellowship programs when they arrive on campus in the fall. If you are interested in information for you or your student's upcoming school, please contact Youth Missioner Megan Dern (mdern@diosova.org) with the name of the school you will be attending.

Resources for adult formation related to race and diversity

Virginia Theological Seminary's Building Faith blog shared these resources for adult formation and discipleship that relate to race and diversity:
Sacred Ground is a film-based dialogue series on race & faith. It is a small-group curriculum designed in 10 parts with documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories. This curriculum is part of the larger  Becoming Beloved Community commitment within The Episcopal Church to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society.
White Privilege: Let's Talk - A Resource for Transformational Dialogue is an adult curriculum that's designed to invite church members to engage in safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold conversations on race. 
GCORR Real Talk is a series of conversations with community and faith leaders to discuss and uncover the disparities of race, ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status that are deeply embedded in our social fabric.  
Vital Conversations 1: Realities of Race and Racism is a video-based series featuring contemporary theologians, sociologists, laity, clergy, and other thought-leaders dealing with challenges of race, culture, and oppression in the Church and world today.  
One Body Many Members: A journey for Christians across race, culture and class is a faith-based journey of discovery to learn, share and proclaim God's intention of oneness among people of every racial, ethnic and class background. How do we find that unity in a world as diverse as ours? How can we build up "one body" as strong as that?
Implicit Bias: What We Don't Think We Think is an on-demand online course for anyone who is interested in learning and teaching others about implicit bias. The course is designed to be done at your own pace with pieces for individual work, group work, and optional sermon preparation. 
You can find many more resources on the Justice & Advocacy page of the diocesan website.

Practitioners of Gratitude: A new Facebook group for challenging times

The ECW's United Thank Offering (UTO) Team of the Diocese of Virginia invites you to join a new Facebook group called Practitioners of Gratitude. Find us on Facebook, join, and then simply share a brief reflection on moments for which you are, or have been, thankful during COVID-19. Your simple reflection has the power to significantly increase your well-being and your connection to God.
Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what we receive, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, we acknowledge the goodness in our lives and the very source of that goodness: our amazing God.
The practice of gratitude helps us experience more positive emotions, relish good experiences, feel more alive, improve our health, deal with adversity, express more compassion and kindness, and build stronger relationships. Practitioners of Gratitude will tell you that the overflow of gratitude is contentment. Realizing God's abundant goodness, even on the hard days, is a gateway for joy.
Post your gratitude entry in our online, easy to find Facebook journal today and please consider making a gift of any amount to the United Thank Offering. 100% of what is collected this year will be given away to support Episcopal/Anglican ministries directly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. Be sure to note that your donation is from the Diocese of Southern Virginia. https://unitedthankoffering.com/give

Chanco open to families - plan your vacation with us!

Normal Camp Chanco 2020 operations may be suspended, but family fun at Chanco is not! Chanco is open for families to enjoy one of our retreat houses with full kitchens, retreat lodge bedrooms, or our campsites. Canoeing, kayaking, swimming and paddle boarding are awaiting you on the James River at Chanco. Farmer Matt's Scavenger Hunt, fishing, hiking, stargazing, and bonfires are also fun outdoor activities you can enjoy with your family at Chanco this summer! Don't wait - Chanco is an affordable and fun family vacation available to you all summer! For more information or to make your reservation to visit our magical woods, please contact us at 888-7CHANCO (888-724-2626) or hospitality@chanco.org today!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Bishop Haynes' pastoral letter on the death of Mr. George Floyd

I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies... Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.   (Amos 5:21-24)
We cannot continue to be silent. Too long we have refused to receive the breath of the Holy Spirit. Martin Luther King, Jr. said "There comes a time when silence is betrayal." In our silence we have dismissed the the indiscriminate killing and violence levied on people of color, and especially African-Americans. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd are just the latest of a long list of people of color, known and unknown who have died because of our silence.
In that great hymn of the church, "Breathe on me, Breath of God" we ask God to Fill us with life anew that we may love as God loves and do what God would do. And yet our Black brothers and sisters cannot breathe. The breath of life is being choked out of them. The knees which bear down on their necks are our knees of White privilege, institutional and systemic racism. "I can't breathe!" is something they have been trying to tell us for a long time. Our brothers and sisters can't breathe. But we CAN breathe! And because we can breathe, it is time for us to stand up, give voice to their lament and outrage and voice to our lament and outrage. They can't breathe, but we can; and we must breathe and speak so that our breath can send out the word that what we have seen and heard IS UNACCEPTABLE.
If we remain silent, we will have betrayed our community. This is not a call to polarization. This is not about pitting the police as villains and the people they are trying to arrest as the good guys. We are all beloved children of the God in whose image we all are created. But we are all pre-disposed toward actions of evil; and it is toward those actions that we can no longer be silent. The cry for justice must be sounded out by all to whom the breath of life has been given.
Many will say that words are not enough; and indeed they are not. They must be coupled with action that is constructive and supportive of all life. The words that go out on our breath must be matched with actions that support our Baptismal promises to persevere and resist evil, to repent of sin, to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ, to seek and serve all persons loving our neighbors as ourselves, and to strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being. If we abandon these promises, we have walked away from God.
But what can we do? We can begin to look at ourselves and to root out every trace of our own racism. And it exists within all of us. This idea distresses us, because we want to be good people, and the idea of racism is abhorrent to us. But it exists. And the sooner we begin to shine the light on it, the sooner we will be freed from its oppression; and then, maybe then, our brothers and sisters of color will also be freed. The Episcopal Church, in its efforts towards "Becoming Beloved Community," has developed a curriculum called Sacred Ground. Many churches are beginning to offer opportunities to participate in this curriculum. If your church is one of them, please let the Diocesan office know. If you would like to find a group, please contact us, and we can help connect you. Our group on racial reconciliation, Repairers of the Breach, is working to update resources and action steps. Stay tuned through the Diocesan website, diosova.org.
I invite you to recall the Parable of the Good Samaritan. That wounded person is currently on the side of the road. That person cannot breathe. Are we going to stop and take action, or are we going to keep walking? What will we do so that one day everyone will be able to breathe.
Yours faithfully in Christ,

Presiding Bishop Curry's word to the Church: "When the cameras are gone, we will still be here"

"Our long-term commitment to racial justice and reconciliation is embedded in our identity as baptized followers of Jesus. We will still be doing it when the news cameras are long gone."  
On May 30, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued a Word to the Church on the death of Mr. George Floyd and the Church's commitment to the work of racial justice and reconciliation. 
Read Bishop Curry's Word to the Church here.    
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post on May 31, addressing the killing of George Floyd and violent protests in Minneapolis, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote that "Love looks like all of us - people of every race and religion and national origin and political affiliation - standing up and saying 'Enough! We can do better than this. We can be better than this.'"
You can read Bishop Curry's message here.

CE-Net online gathering June 11

Join the Christian Education Network (CE-Net) for a Zoom meeting/conversation on Thursday, June 11, from 6 to 7 p.m. We'll get a chance to check in before we focus our time sharing and brainstorming on a "Different Kind of Summer" for formation.  
For this online gathering, whether you use a computer, phone or tablet, make sure your device has video capability and microphone enabled. Click here to register

Ridley Scholarship applications still being accepted

Ridley Scholarships are still available for fall 2020. The Ridley Foundation of the Diocese of Southern Virginia awards scholarships to undergraduate college students who are Episcopalians associated with a parish in Southern Virginia, are enrolled full-time, and maintain a 2.5 or better GPA. Scholarships are need-based, but are payable directly to the student (therefore do not affect already-existing scholarship aid from the college). All students who meet the criteria and file the application properly will receive some aid. Click here for complete information. Applications for Fall, 2020 awards will be received until June 20.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Grace Church continues Memorial Day tradition online

For more than 20 years, the Grace Church, Yorktown, has held a Memorial Day service, honoring those who lost their lives in service to our country. This year that tradition continued in a very moving virtual version of the service. You can watch the service here and see WAVY TV coverage of the gathering here.  

Resources for Pentecost, Virtual VBS

Pentecost Resource from CE-Net
Looking for Pentecost at Home suggestions or resources to send to families? The Norfolk formation group recently met and suggested ideas for families to celebrate Pentecost during COVID-19 and who parenting, working and teaching from home. The resources list provides easily done at home ideas with whatever materials you have are on hand. Click here to get the document.
Christian formation colleague groups 
Would you be interested in forming a colleague group in your area of the Diocese? The Norfolk Formation Colleague Group has been a much-needed thing during this time. We are a group who supports one another 100% and shares our challenges and love of ministry. If you would be interested in forming a group, contact CE-NET Co-Chairs, Vicky Koch, vkoch@stpaulsnorfolk.org or Gizelle Moran, gizelle@trinity-portsmouth.org and we'll help you get started.
Virtual Vacation Bible School from CE-Net
Wondering what you're going to do for Vacation Bible School (VBS) this summer. Have you thought about a Virtual VBS? CE-Net is working on a Virtual Vacation Bible School program that will be offered to all churches in the Diocese at no cost. This program will allow you to adapt it to meet your specific needs. The Virtual VBS program will focus on themes of Faith, Hope, and Love and will include Bible stories, crafts and activities as well as a suggested mission focus for each day. We plan on sharing this resource on the CE-NET diocesan web site by mid-June. For more information, contact CE-Net Co-Chairs Vicky Koch, vkoch@stpaulsnorfolk.org or Gizelle Moran, gizelle@trinity-portsmouth.org or Canon Lynn Farlin, lfarlin@diosova.org.

"Counting the Days" in isolation

"Counting the Days" is a 50-day video series created by the Rev. Jacqueline Soltys of Grace Church, Yorktown. Soltys was inspired to create the series during this period of isolation. "I wanted a way to connect with the parish during this time of separation, a way to mark our time apart, and to create a shared experience," she explains.
Creating a daily video for 50 days is a significant commitment. "I think of the videos as a spiritual discipline --a form of focused prayer and discernment for me. They require me to face this time honestly and intentionally, to be awake and present to the ups and downs of each day," Soltys said. "They are also a pledge to the people I serve. I want to be in conversation with them every day, to show them that I'm here and with them, going through this experience, too."
Each video includes a psalm, a domestic reflection on the day and a blessing. Why the psalms? "They are an easy way to count, since they are numbered.  If I were musically trained, maybe I would have chosen a hymn to sing every day, and I would have sung my way through the hymnal," Soltys explained. "The psalms are an important touchpoint for me personally.  I had a profound mystical experience of God's presence through praying the psalms every day many years ago.  It is one of the experiences that led me to the priesthood.  It just felt right to pick them up again now as a place to find God and as a way to ride this roller coaster of emotions that we are all on."
While Counting the Days series has ended (you can watch them all here), Soltys now has a new project, Pause: An Invitation to Stillness. These are weekly videos she's making in collaboration with Grace Church parishioners. Each weekly video is made up of prayers, Scripture, poetry, music, and simple images. It's not just for Episcopalians; it could be helpful to anyone looking for a few minutes of peace and refuge. You can view those on the Grace Church YouTube channel.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Rogation Sunday celebration honors Eastern Shore's COVID-19 victims

Submitted by Betsy Seyboldt - Holy Trinity, Onancock
The Very Rev. Rick Willis at the dedication of a tree  
in memory of those on the Eastern Shore  
who died in the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a sign of our continuing commitment to Creation Care at Holy Trinity, Onancock, we celebrated a contemporary Rogation Sunday on May 17. We walked in procession around the parish boundaries with eight parishioners and the Very Rev. Rick Willis, and then dedicated the planting of a Japanese maple in memory of those on the Eastern Shore who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. Videos of the service (Sixth Sunday of Easter, parts 1 and 2) can be found on Holy Trinity's YouTube channel.  
Rogation Days are an ancient custom observed since the 5th century. The word Rogation comes from the Latin verb rogare , meaning "to ask" and applied to the rogation days means to ask God's blessing of the harvest, earth and sea, reminding ourselves that we are the stewards of Creation. The Sixth Sunday of Easter is Rogation Sunday with the so-called minor rogations are held on Monday to Wednesday preceding Ascension Thursday, this week on May 21. An ancient custom was beating the bounds: a procession walked out the boundary lines of the village and marked the bounds with stakes. Sticks of willow and birch were used to strike the stakes; hence the name, beating the bounds. Subsequently the custom became incorporated into the Rogation Day celebration and was observed by walking the boundaries of the parish and acknowledging our tangible stewardship of God's creation.
Our dedication of the COVID-19 Memorial Tree is our way of saying each person matters, that life is precious and those who die are worth remembering. The parishioners of Holy Trinity want the friends and families affected by the virus to know that there is a place on the Shore where your loved one can be remembered; there is a safe, quiet spot where you can come and sit and pray and reflect on the good memories of your loved one.

Celebrating Graduation resources available from The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church Faith Formation Department's Office of Youth Ministry and Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministries have been collaborating with youth ministers, campus chaplains, and young adult ministers around the church to curate resources, ideas, and liturgies to help celebrate those who are graduating from high school and college.
Available Celebrating Graduation resources include prayers and blessings, service videos and virtual choirs, worship bulletins and scripture, as well as a collection of resources and ideas for celebrating 2020 graduates during this pandemic. There is also a special message from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Click here for more information.  

Resources for processing grief and lament

Finding Brave Space is a series of new videos with Dr. Catherine Meeks from the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing. There is also a new episode on the A Brave Space podcast on  Lament in the Midst of COVID-19. In the coming weeks Dr. Meeks will facilitate three webinars on lament.   
Grief and Graduation and Ideas & Resources For Lament & Thanksgiving *Especially Appropriate For Those Working With Youth are posts by Sharon Ely Pearson. They can be helpful in processing loss and grief with youth and young adults, including ideas for celebrating important moments the best way we can right now.   
Processing Grief And Death With Picture Books by Anna V. Ostenso Moore lists great books for helping children process grief. Sesame Street's Caring for Each Other Hub also has great resources for how to have conversation with children about COVID-19, anxiousness, and more.   
Weekly Webinars are being provided by Episcopal Relief and Development. Especially helpful is the "Addressing Isolation and Quarantine" webinar that discusses the "Emotional Lifecycle of Disaster", both Original and Elongated, in understanding what we are experiencing emotionally in this season.  

Online conversation about faith formation with EfM's Executive Director Karen Meridith

St. Martin's, Williamsburg, Wednesday webinar series, Bread for the Journey, continues this Wednesday, May 20, at 7 p.m. with Karen M. Meridith, Executive Director of Education for Ministry, the University of the South's flagship four-year program for lay theological education.
The conversation will survey how and why faith formation (and how we think about it) has changed over the years: from Sunday School in the Industrial Revolution through its rise (and fall?) in the 20th century. Our aim is to arrive at not just today's church, but to look at tomorrow and the future of faith formation. What opportunities and challenges are we facing, and who is God calling us to become? While the conversation is a theoretical one, it has important personal ramifications for each Christian. Who is God calling me to be, and how committed am I?
To prepare for the webinar, Karen suggests reading a five-part blog series, on how we do (and might do) formation in a changing church. Each short article is written by Sharon Pearson, longtime leader of Christian formation in the Episcopal Church. The webinar is free, but registration is required. Register here

Webinar May 21: Reflections & Resources for Summer Formation

Join host Building Faith for Reflections & Resources for Summer Formation, a free webinar on May 21, 3 to 4 p.m. As the COVID-19 pandemic extends into the months ahead, it is time to consider how we might offer our congregations opportunities for Christian formation in the summer months. In this webinar, Keith Anderson and Sarah Bentley Allred will provide guidance on how to plan summer formation for adults, youth and children. They will also share ideas from around the church for inspiration. Click here for more information and registration.

Invite-Welcome-Connect digital gathering June 10

Invite-Welcome-Connect invites you to a free Zoom webinar, June 10 at 3 p.m. Experienced practitioners and newcomers to Invite-Welcome-Connect will gather and present best-practices for a welcoming church in our new paradigm.
Our faith communities are navigating uncharted waters in the midst of these challenging and uncertain times, and we might ask:
  • How are we navigating the digital world in the midst of this pandemic?
  • How are we Inviting, Welcoming, and Connecting folks to our faith communities?
  • What are the best practices for redefining, reimagining, and revisioning the proclamation of the Gospel? 
  • How are we engaging, embracing, and implementing the ministry of Invite Welcome Connect?
Using God's gifts of creativity in ways that transform lives is at the core of the ministry of Invite Welcome Connect; and adaptability, flexibility, and innovation are in its DNA. Join the gathering on Wednesday, June 10, at 3 p.m. when seasoned clergy and lay leaders will share ideas, resources, and creative best practices for engaging in evangelism, hospitality, and the ministry of belonging.  
This 90-minute gathering at no charge but registration is required - click here to register. Details for joining the Zoom webinar will be sent once registration is completed and logistics have been finalized.

Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action

In the month of June, join The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and Episcopal Migration Ministries for Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action, a series of webinars to learn and advocate with and on behalf of immigrants, DACA recipients, refugees, and asylum seekers.     
Newcomers contribute greatly to U.S. communities, enriching our common life, strengthening the U.S. economy, and bringing joy as they join and reunite with families and friends. And yet, immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees face a wide array of challenges, including federal policies and legislation that are outdated and do not address the realities of immigrants in America today. As the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement, we are called to advocate with and for our siblings seeking safety and a better life in the United States.

June 7-13: Episcopal Action on DACA Week 
WEBINAR: June 9, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time
June 14-20: Episcopal Action on Resettlement Week 
WEBINAR: June 16, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time
June 21-27: Episcopal Action on Asylum Week 
WEBINAR: June 23, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time
Participants may choose to attend one or more of the webinars offered. Registration is required
. Click here for registration.  

Time to submit your Certificate of Lay Delegates & Alternates for 2020-2021

It is now time to submit a new Certificate of Lay Delegates and Alternates for Diocesan Council. Elected delegates and alternates will serve for an entire conciliar year beginning July 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2021. This term includes eligibility to vote at Pre-Council Convocation meetings in January, Annual Council in February, and any other Special Council or other called meetings that may occur during this period. Click here for more information and the form for sending in the name(s) of delegate(s) and alternate(s) elected by your vestry for Council year 2020-2021.

Safe Church Audits due June 30

Congregational/Organization Safe Church Annual Audits are due to the diocese on June 30.  The audit provides an opportunity for each church/organization to review their level of compliance with safe church polices and identify areas that need to be addressed to achieve compliance.  If you have questions about the Safe Church Annual Audit please contact Lynn Farlin at lfarlin@diosova.org or via phone at 757-213-3377.

Monday, May 11, 2020

New resource: Spiritual Directors

A new resource has been added to the diocesan website - a directory of spiritual directors. The resource includes a full profile of spiritual directors serving clients in Southern Virginia as well as answers to frequently asked questions about spiritual direction and a wealth of resources to explore. You can find this new resource on the Christian Formation page of the diocesan website.

Life at Boys Home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Boys Home of Virginia would like to thank you for your support and prayers while we continue to make adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to keep everyone updated about what is happening on "The Hill." At this time, we are accepting packages, but ask that in-kind gifts be mailed or held until we can freely welcome guests back on campus. Click here for a video featuring Executive Director Donnie Wheatley. He explains the precautions currently in place on campus.This video was filmed in mid-April and all measures are still in place except for the policy on packages. Again, know that you remain in our prayers, and please continue to remember the boys and staff in yours. Click here for more news from Boys Home.  

Dean Squires joins Jackson-Feild's board

Dean Squires, Director of Asset Management for Highwoods Properties, Inc., has joined the Board of Trustees of Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services.
Mr. Squires oversees the property management and maintenance functions for 28 Class A commercial properties amounting to more than 2.3 million square feet, seven owners associations and two third party accounts. He began his property management career in 1985 with Harrison & Bates and joined Highwoods in 1997.
Mr. Squires is a Cum Laude graduate from Old Dominion University.
He is a member and past president of the Innsbrook Rotary Club. He was named the club's Rotarian of the Year in 2000. Dean has enjoyed serving the community and especially children through Rotary. He currently chairs the club's grants committee which receives competitive grants from nonprofits and makes monetary awards based on the merits of their grant request.
He is looking forward to making a difference in the lives of children suffering from mental illness.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Pilgrimage to Portuguese Camino de Santiago

October 5 - 16, 2021
The Diocese of Southern Virginia is hosting a pilgrimage along the central Portuguese route, which will take us from Rubiaes, Portugal to Santiago, Spain. We will walk between villages at an average of 12 miles a day for 7 days, October 5-16, 2021. If interested, please contact Doris Custer. Space is limited.
For more information or to register, please visit worldstrides.com/register, click on Register and enter Trip ID# 190312.  You are able to view all the trip information, cost, etc. before you commit to registering. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Praying with Alexa, and other new resources

The diocesan website has a wealth of resources to assist churches and their parishioners in being the Church during the coronavirus and new resources are being added each week.  
Messages from Bishop Susan, including her videos and lectionary reflections, are all available on our website here.   
New resources include:
Alexa and Google Assistant - Both Alexa and Google Assistant have learned some Episcopal prayers. Thanks to a partnership between TryTank Experimental Lab and Forward Movement, you can now say, "Alexa, open Episcopal Prayer" or "Google, talk to Episcopal Prayer" and your device will begin playing the morning or evening prayer podcasts of Forward Movement.
A COVID-19 Spiritual Survival Kit - A free course from ChurchNext to help you tap into resources to help us deal with the pandemic in healthy ways. Course is available for individuals or for groups.
eFormation Conference - June 3. Virginia Theological Seminary hosts this annual all-day all-online conference. The conference brings diverse, strong voices to speak to the current state of digital ministry. These leaders will discuss practical resources as well as future-forward initiatives.    
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership in the Midst of Crisis - Free webinar on Thursday, April 30 at 3:30 p.m. In this thoughtful conversation, Ruth Haley Barton will help us explore how a leader can be strengthened at the soul level, even in the midst of crisis, so we can continue to be a source of life for others. 

Bruton Forum: God, crisis and the problem of evil

How do the ways we think about evil and God influence the way we think about human suffering, illness, disaster, and crisis? Tune in to the Bruton Parish, Williamsburg, Forum on Wednesday Apr 29 at 12 p.m. for a conversation with Dr. Chris Baglow (Notre Dame, McGrath Institute for Church Life) about God and evil. The gathering will address these topics and discuss the way in which a particular crisis about 15 years ago led Chris to his current research and vocation. Get more info and the link to join the Zoom event here.  

#SoVaGrateful - St. John's, Halifax, parishioner writes song to give thanks and lift spirits

Singer-songwriter David Martin, a member of St. John's, Halifax, wrote and recorded "Carry the Flame - A Tribute Song for Everyday Heroes of the COVID-19 Pandemic" - a song to help lift spirits and give thanks for those on the front lines. Listen here.   
The Diocese of Southern Virginia invites all congregations to join the Thankful Thursday bell ringing and social media #SoVaGrateful efforts to let our health care workers and first responders know that their care and commitment to others is appreciated beyond what words can express. Click here to learn how you can participate. 

Books for church libraries

Galilee, Virginia Beach, has limited library space and offers duplicates (not discards) of their church library books to any parish without a library that would like some excellent books available for parishioners. The material includes works from its collection of master works, commentary, prayer, liturgy, and church history. Galilee pays shipping. Contact Dave Wynne at diw1022@gmail.com. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

EYC Board applications are live!

The Episcopal Youth Community (EYC) Board is seeking applicants for the 2020-2021 school year.  Serving on the EYC Board is an exciting opportunity to be a leader in the diocese. The Board is comprised of up to nine youth members, preferably one youth representative who will be going into 10th, 11th, or 12th grade in the fall from each of the nine convocations in the diocese. The Board's mission is to help youth in the diocese grow in their spiritual journey and understanding of the Episcopal Church. The Board works closely with the Youth Missioner and other adult leaders to implement events like Spring and Fall Weekends, represent the youth voice at Annual Council, help connect youth with national Episcopal events like the Episcopal Youth Event and Province III gatherings (Middle Atlantic region of Episcopal churches), and are encouraged to explore new ways for youth in the Diocese to grow in community. We are looking for youth from across the Diocese and ask your help in finding youth who might be a good fight. The application deadline is May 31, 2020. Click here for the application.  

ECW video update; Autism Awareness Month

Dr. Rene Escoffery-Torres, Vice President of the ECW of Southern Virginia, provides a brief report and offers resources for the ECW's current focus, Unmasking the Mystery of Autism Spectrum Disorder. April is Autism Awareness Month, and the ECW is hoping to provide resources and connect the greater church community with good information they can use during this COVID-19 epidemic. Click here or on the video below to watch.