Wednesday, January 29, 2020

VBS Curriculum Resource Fair on Feb. 10

Selecting a packaged vacation bible school (VBS) program can be challenging - especially when one is limited to exploring vendor websites and print advertisements.  The best way to determine if a VBS program fits your context, theology, space and staffing parameters is to actually put hands on the resources and explore what's included in the VBS kit. A wonderful opportunity to do just that is just around the corner!  
The Resource Center, at Virginia Union University (Kingsley Hall, 1500 North Lombardy Street, 4th floor, in the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Richmond) is hosting a Vacation Bible School Curriculum Fair on Thursday, February 6, 1 to 4 p.m., Friday, February 7, noon to 5 p.m., Saturday, February 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thanks to the generosity of colleagues from the Resource Center, Diocese of Southern Virginia is able to host a VBS Curriculum Fair on February 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the diocesan offices (11827 Canon Blvd. Suite 101, Newport News). 
Whether you travel to Richmond on February 6, 7, 8 or to the diocesan office on Feb. 10, this is the perfect opportunity to explore the 2020 vacation bible school resources in detail. Join us!

Bishop-Elect Haynes visits Chatham Hall

The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia will consecrate Rev. Susan Bunton Haynes as the 11th bishop of the Diocese on February 1, 2020 in Williamsburg, Virginia. Just before this historic occasion, Rev. Haynes made a trip to Chatham Hall school to meet current students, tour campus, and participate in a chapel service on January 19. Established in 1894, Chatham Hall was founded as the first girls' Episcopal school in Southern Virginia.

When she described her visit, Rev. Haynes noted how impressed she was with Chatham Hall and how much she is looking forward to connecting with students and faculty in the future. "I was hoping my tour guides would be students. They talked about how Chatham Hall is a place that prepares girls to be leaders. All I could think about as they spoke was that I can already see that they are leaders. If that is the kind of girl Chatham Hall is striving for, it's truly doing well." 
When Rev. Haynes reflected on her experience celebrating with the community for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, she expressed how moving it was. "I know students crafted the service. The readings were powerful, and the students were very well engaged. I could tell that justice is an important value for them and this community."

Theological scholarships available

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation is currently accepting applications for the following scholarships. The 2020-2021 theological scholarship application is due April 1, 2020. Students may visit our website at to view the list of available scholarships and complete an online application. Applicants should be native or long-time residents of the specified geographic.
  • Barron F. Black Theological Scholarship- For students at Virginia Theological Seminary (Alexandria, VA) who are candidates for the ministry. Students must be residents of the geographic region served by the Diocese of Southern Virginia. 
  • Richard D. and Sheppard R. Cooke Memorial Scholarship - For students from Hampton Roads attending Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond who are candidates for the ministry. Preference will be given to students from Norfolk churches within the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia.
  • Hy Smith Endowment Fund - For students at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria who are candidates for the ministry. Students must be residents of the geographic region served by the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

General Convention Office launches online too: Mapping demographics and Parochial Report data

Congregational leaders in The Episcopal Church now have access to a new online resource, available here, for understanding history and visioning the future with the data collected through the Parochial Report.
Looking at the social and demographic characteristics of the local community sheds light on the people to which we hope to minister. Looking at trends in membership, average worship attendance, and financial giving sheds light on congregational strength and whether current patterns indicate growth, decline or stability.
The main application will allow you to locate your congregation. After clicking the congregation, a small box will appear showing quick stats and links to explore trends with Parochial Report data and Explore Neighborhood with demographic data.
"Explore Trends" track membership, participation, and giving over the most recently available eleven years for your congregation and your diocese. These data are from annual Parochial Reports. "Explore Neighborhood" gives you a demographic overview of the area within a 15 minute driving distance of your congregation's physical location.

Embracing Evangelism video series and resources coming in spring 2020

Embracing Evangelism is a new six-part evangelism video course from The Episcopal Church and Virginia Theological Seminary. Each episode features teachings on Episcopal evangelism, class discussions and prompts, and exercises to help Episcopalians understand the ministry and call to evangelism.

The full Embracing Evangelism series consists of six videos, each of which includes participant and facilitator guides. The series works equally well as a daylong intensive course or a season's worth of adult education offerings.

Embracing Evangelism will be available for download in its entirety in spring 2020. More information at

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

CE-Net online gathering Feb. 5

Join CE-Net (Christian Education Network) for a Zoom meeting/conversation on Wednesday, February 5 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. During our time together we will connect with colleagues in the diocese and hear key takeaways from the recent FORMA Conference, "Rooted in Jesus."  The "Rooted in Jesus"  promotion materials stated that it's time for the Episcopal Church to come together as disciples of Jesus and take a bold new step into the next decade. Let's talk about taking those bold new steps.
If you are interested in participating, please email Ann Turner, for the link you'll need to join the meeting. For our online gathering, whether you use a computer, phone or tablet, make sure your device has video capability and microphone enabled. If you have not used Zoom before, click here for a quick introduction on how to join a meeting.

The Rev. Rhonda Wheeler elected to Jackson-Feild board

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services - a residential treatment program serving children with severe mental health disorders - is pleased to announce the election of The Rev. Rhonda E. Wheeler to its Board of Directors.
Since 2013, Wheeler has served as Rector of Emmanuel, Hampton. She received her undergraduate education from Carson-Newman University in Johnson City TN and her Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at Wake Forest. She has as post-graduate diploma in Anglican Studies from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria VA.
In past years, Wheeler has served as a chaplain at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville VA, and held pastoral positions at Grace Episcopal Church in Staunton VA, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Temple Hills MD, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Newport News VA.
With an interest in helping children suffering from mental illness, Wheeler is excited to serve on the Board of Directors and do what she can to improve their lives.

WomanKind 2020: Fearless Women of Faith

Since 2004, the women laity and clergy of St. James's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia have welcomed women to explore their Christian faith and the role of women in the church during a two-day conference held every other year. WomanKind is a weekend of faith and fellowship, enlightenment and engagement for women. An ecumenical Christian gathering, WomanKind welcomes women of all faiths.  
WomanKind's 2020 theme Fearless Women of Faith explores and celebrates how God has inspired fearlessness in us. Keynote speaker Lisa Sharon Harper draws on God's original vision of a world that is "very good" - is shalom. Harper declares that shalom is the Gospel's vision for us now - shalom between us and God, within our broken families, between races and nations. In keynote sessions, workshops, and worship, participants will examine fearlessness in the face of injustice, violence against women, life transitions, the unknown, vulnerability, and even fear itself. Together, they will seek Christ's healing, strength, and fearlessness.
Click here for more information and registration.

Episcopal Relief & Development's 2020 Lenten Meditations Support ONE THOUSAND DAYS OF LOVE

Episcopal Relief & Development celebrates the spiritual lives of children and how they inspire the spiritual lives of adults in the organization's 2020 Lenten Meditations, now available in both English and Spanish at . In September 2019, the organization embarked on a three-year fundraising campaign, ONE THOUSAND DAYS OF LOVE, in order to expand its global work with children. 
The 2020 Lenten Meditations focus on the gifts of children in the poignant and joyous recollections and reflections of educators, caregivers, parents and grandparents from around The Episcopal Church.  

New location announced for the consecration of the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia

The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia announces a change of location for the February 1, 2020 consecration of the Rev. Susan Bunton Haynes as the 11th bishop of the Diocese. The service will take place at 11:00 am at Williamsburg Community Chapel, 3899 John Tyler Highway, Williamsburg. The Most Reverend Michael Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church will serve as chief consecrator.
The decision to change the location from St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg arose out of concern and respect for the ministries and leadership of both the Catholic parish and the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. Learning that its intended use of the building was causing dismay and distress, the Episcopal Diocese withdrew from its contract with St. Bede. As Bishop-Elect Haynes observed, "in the 8th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul cautioned Christians to be careful about pursuing behavior that might cause problems for others within their community."
In her letter to Bishop Knestout, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, and Monsignor Lehman, pastor of St. Bede, Bishop-Elect Haynes wrote, "I am writing to withdraw from our contract to use the lovely, holy space of St. Bede for my upcoming consecration as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. We have so appreciated and admired your grace and courage in extending this hospitality and abiding by your invitation even under fire from those within your own flocks."
The consecration service will be live streamed on the diocesan website [] and video will be available afterward for on-demand viewing. All are welcome to attend the service and reception to follow. Tickets are not required. Ample parking is available at the consecration site, 3899 John Tyler Highway in Williamsburg.
This statement is available in PDF format here.
You can read the statement from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Register now for Happening #72

Registration is now open for Happening #72 to be held March 27-29 at Chanco on the James. Happening is a weekend retreat for young that may just change your life. Come and see what it's like to be transformed by God's love! Open to all young adults grade 10 and up. Registration closes after March 9 - so don't delay, register today! Click here for details and registration.  
Rector and staff applications for Happening #72 are also being accepted and are due by Feb. 20. Pre-Happening Weekend for staff will be March 7-8.  Click here for the Rector application. Click here for the staff application.

Diocesan Latino Missioner to preach at Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service

The Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be January 18-25. Tidewater Christian Ecumenical Network invites you to join with other Christian communities for ecumenical prayer services all week long. Southern Virginia's Missioner for Latino/Latina Ministries, the Rev. Mario MelĂ©ndez, will preach at the main service on Sunday, January 19 at 3 p.m. at First Lynnhaven Baptist Church, 2744 Robert Jackson Drive, Virginia Beach. Click here for a full schedule of the week's events.  

Absalom Jones Service set for Feb. 15

The annual diocesan Absalom Jones Service will be held on Saturday, February 15 at 12 noon at St. Thomas, Freeman. Bishop-Elect Haynes will serve as Celebrant. St. Thomas is located at 6271 Belfield Road in Freeman.

In 1794 Absalom Jones founded the first black Episcopal congregation, and in 1802 he was the first African American to be ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. He is listed on the Episcopal calendar of saints and is remembered liturgically on the date of his death, February 13.

Clergy transitions

The Rev. Sean Cox began as Priest-in-Charge of St. Luke, Powatan, on December 9, 2019.
The Rev. Tim Fulop became Priest-in-Charge of Christ Church, Danville, on January 1, 2020.
The Rev. Phil Bjornberg began as Rector of St. George, Pungoteague, and St. James, Accomac, on January 1, 2020.
The Rev. Ross Wright retired from Church of the Good Shepherd, Richmond, on January 5, 2020.
The Rev. Charles Bauer is leaving as Curate of Hickory Neck, Toano, on January 31, 2020.
The Rev. Joshua Stephens is leaving as Associate Rector of Bruton Parish, Williamsburg, on January 31, 2020. 

Update to Manual of Business Methods in Church Affairs now available

An updated version of the Manual of Business Methods in Church Affairs has just been released and is available online. This is the first full-scale revision of the manual since 2012. You can download a copy from the diocesan website here. You may purchase a simple printed copy from The Episcopal Church Finance Office for a fee of $20. To do so, please contact

Free threat preparedness workshop for churches

The Virginia Fusion Center's SHIELD Program is collaborating with the Faith-Based Information Sharing & Analysis Organization to educate faith-based organizations on the Hostile Events Attack Cycle and challenge them to consider their preparedness and ability to respond to threats. This workshop will:
  • Provide a one-day forum for faith-based and charity organizations to enhance their threat awareness and preparedness relating to potential physical attacks at their facilities.
  • Use a hostile events scenario to provide participants an opportunity to interact with one another and discuss issues, concerns, best practices and other salient points regarding physical security preparedness, coordination and response among participants.
  • Use a hostile events scenario to provide participants with greater awareness of U.S. Government and local government resources, guidance and best practices relating to hostile events and physical security to help inform organizational preparedness, security and resilience.
The workshop will be held on Tuesday, April 14 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Aidan's, Virginia Beach. Click here to register. St. Aidan's is located at 3201 Edinburgh Drive in Virginia Beach.  

American Guild of Organists workshop: Repertoire You Can Count On!

Calling all church musicians, organists, choir members, choir directors! The American Guild of Organists Tidewater Chapter presents Repertoire You Can Count On! Join us for a wonderful educational opportunity to explore 'tried and true' repertoire for choirs and organists. Five of our experienced colleagues will bring us five compositions each which they enjoy using. These choral anthems or organ works are their 'go to' pieces and they will share them with YOU!  This event will take place on Saturday, February 8 at 10am at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 45 Main Street, Newport News. Free and open to all. For more information and to RSVP, please contact Deborah Carr at or call/text 757-406-4970. Click here for more information.    

Friday, January 10, 2020

A Pastoral Address from the Bishop

January 8, 2020
Click here to download a PDF of this message 
As we hear and watch the news of the moment, our unfortunate reality is that once again we are engaged in armed international hostilities. While reflecting upon this situation it is all too easy to default to the emotions of all too quickly formed conclusions and anticipations. Often that means that we will appeal to a combination of anger and fear. In 1861 during his inaugural address to our nation President Abraham Lincoln, seeing that the country was as well at the brink of hostilities, then a time of conflict which ultimately would pit states against states and even brothers against brothers, asked the members of our country to appeal to our "...better angels." (1) When the dark clouds of such hostilities are on the horizon, it is well for people of faith to be reminded that we follow a different way; a way of faith in God that beckons us to rise above vengefulness to way of our better angels.
While our inclinations for revenge and retaliation are wholly natural responses, as persons whom the Apostle Paul described as people of "...the way..." (2) of Christ Jesus, we are called to an extraordinary and different response. In 1963, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome wrote a letter to the church entitled "Pacem in Terris (Peace Upon Earth)." While the backdrop of this letter, the global nuclear arms race, was a different setting than what we face today, the bishop offered what I believe are some very applicable thoughts. For one thing, the letter was addressed to "...all men of good will." (3) The Bishop believed that all men and women of God's creation had the infused spiritual capability to rise above partisanship and join in the pursuit of peace upon earth. Accordingly, the Bishop of Rome challenged people of faith to be both-and-citizens of the countries and states in which they lived: full faithfulness and full citizenship. They were called to be people of prayer whose constant supplication was for peace and thoughtful decisions for the good of all of God's children. Simultaneously, they were called to be citizens who were fully engaged in the affairs of their nation. Our Christian mission is to be both followers of the risen Lord Jesus and to be citizens involved in the public life of our country.
Considering the heavy military concentration within the confines of our diocese, this is a particularly poignant moment in our lives. As a retired career service member I have great empathy for service members and service families who must bear the heavy weight of this burden. To them and to all of us I ask you to be mindful that we are in the hands of a loving and caring God.
In her recent missive to our diocese, Bishop-elect Susan Haynes implored us to a daily rule wherein we faithfully read our scriptures and offer our prayers. As individual Christ-followers and corporately as members of the body of Christ, this is a time when we need to be so engaged. Accordingly, for your individual and corporate worship usage I commend these prayers adapted and taken from The Book of Common Prayer (1979):
Eternal God, in your perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love. So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one God of all people. Guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Almighty and loving God, your Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend our nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Brothers and sisters, go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
  1. Accessed January 08, 2020.
  2. Acts 9:2, NSRV.
  3. Accessed January 08, 2020.

Diocesan ECW newsletter available

The Winter 2019 edition of The Grapevine, the newsletter of the Diocesan Episcopal Church Women, is now available here and on the diocesan website here.  

Gizelle Moran named CE-Net co-chair

CE-Net (Christian Education Network) is pleased to announce that Gizelle Moran has joined Vicky Koch as co-chair of the group. Moran is the Director of Family & Children's Ministry at Trinity, Portsmouth. She has a certificate in Godly Play and a certificate in Children's Ministry from Forma. She has a passion for creating meaningful experiences and formation for the whole family, loves learning, and is always up for sharing ministry ideas.  
CE-Net is educators, laity and clergy, volunteer and professional, who work with Christian Formation in parishes around our diocese and meets five or six times a year for support and sharing.You can learn more about CE-Net here or by contacting one of the co-chairs:
Vicky Koch,, 757-627-4353, ext. 23
Gizelle Moran,, 757-393-0431 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Name of Jesus

New Year's Day was the Eighth Day of Christmas. It was also the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, that day when we remember the naming of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Luke: "at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb." (Luke 2:21). Our collect for that day reads:
Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Notice that we are praying for God to plant within the hearts of everyone love for the name of Jesus. We are asking God to do the planting, which means that we acknowledge that God is the one who has the power to plant seeds of love and change within the heart of His creation. This is good news for Evangelism! Good news because our job is not to plant, but to nurture growth and then to harvest. Very often when we think of Evangelism we think that it is up to us to change the hearts of people and to persuade them to become Christians. We feel powerless to effect such change and then we feel guilty. Once the guilt sets in, it paralyzes us and we do nothing. And we miss where the true power lies: in the Name of Jesus.
In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus tells his disciples that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few and says that we should pray for God to send workers into the harvest. Our job, as those who believe in the Name of Jesus, is to be ready and prepared to work the harvest. First Peter 3:15 tells us that we must always be prepared to give an account for the hope that is within us. Such preparation is actually a tool of the harvest. We must practice articulating why we believe that the Name of Jesus is the most powerful name on the Earth. If we don't engage in such preparation, we are like harvesters that go into the field without hoes or other tools of the harvest. We go into the field not expecting to bring in fruit.
How can we engage in preparation to make us ready to harvest that which God has planted in human hearts? We can engage in a disciplined life of prayer and Bible study. We can deliberately execute acts of kindness and justice. We can attend to our church community life faithfully. All of this prepares us to be harvesters of the fruits of the Name of Jesus. Sounds like some good New Year's resolutions doesn't it?
  1. Read the Bible every day.
  2. Start every morning with prayer - pray for others, pray for yourself, pray for the church, pray for the world.   Set an alarm on your phone and pause a few times a day to pray.
  3. Do something every day for someone else as an act of kindness or charity (preferably anonymously)
  4. Resolve to attend Church weekly.
  5. Trust that God is planting Himself in everyone you meet and act accordingly.
As your Bishop-elect, I ask on New Year's Day - the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus -- to join with me in committing to do these things in 2020; and let's see what God plants and what kind of harvest we gather in the Diocese of Southern Virginia in 2020.
Blessings and Peace in Christ,