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.  

Employment opportunity

Director, Children and Youth Christian Faith Formation Program
Grace Church, Yorktown, is seeking a Director of Faith Formation for Children and Youth to lead a vibrant ministry with and for the children and youth of Grace. Responsibilities include inspiring youth to a life of faith; nurturing a community of mutual support; developing and overseeing Christian Formation programs for children and youth; recruiting and training volunteers; and collaborating with church leadership. Click here for more information and how to apply. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Bishop Vaché Scholarship applications now being accepted

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.
Complete application packets for 2020 must be postmarked by July 1, 2020. Notifications will go out by July 29, 2020 and awards will be mailed by August 17, 2020. Click here for an application packet.

Cool Congregations Webinar April 30

We have all seen a glimpse of cleaner air due to the constraints on human activity required by the COVID-19 pandemic. But a more lasting way to clear the air and protect our climate is to measure and reduce our carbon footprints. While you're inside flattening the curve, what better time to gather up your data and measure your carbon footprint?  Join Interfaith Power & Light for a webinar on April 30 at 3 p.m. to demonstrate the NEW Cool Congregations calculator for your congregational facilities -- and for your home too.
Across the country, people of faith are making changes in their homes and places of worship to prevent global warming through our Cool Congregations program. IPL's unique stewardship program helps congregations reduce the carbon footprint of their facilities and engages their members in reducing their carbon footprint at home. The program educates, inspires, and saves money too!  
The calculators measure the energy to heat and cool and power your buildings, transportation, food, and procurement or dollars spent on goods and services.

New book by the Rev. Nigel Mumford available now

The Rev. Nigel Mumford, priest associate of prayer ministry at Galilee, Virginia Beach, has written a new book, "This is Where Your Healing Begins," that is now available on Amazon.  
The myriad of human need for healing and the peculiar personal histories surrounding them are as numerous as all people who ever lived on the planet, and involve physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, generational, identity, relational, financial, historical, locational, racial, inter-denominational, intellectual, and other global issues of healing. Spanning nearly thirty years, this book addresses what Mumford has identified as the core issues of everyday life: disease, diagnosis, distress, pain, fear, doubt, shame, guilt and all other manner of human concern.  
"My prayer is that hope, in the Person of the Lord Jesus, will flow through these pages and saturate your souls with what I have learnt--as I listened, loved, and prayed healing over thousands of people," says Mumford.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Virtual Easter Vigil a collaboration of nine Episcopal and Lutheran churches

By Kim Lenz, Acting Communications Coordinator, Grace, Yorktown 
The Holy Saturday Easter Vigil, held each year on the York River shoreline, will go virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Seven Episcopal congregations along with two Lutheran congregations have been working to turn what's been an eight-year tradition of drumming, fire, processions and baptisms into a virtual Vigil for participants to experience at home. Recreating what's been a highly participatory experience of a couple hundred folks has been no small feat, but all churches involved have done their best to bring this ninth annual vigil to the people.
Music Director Suzanne Daniel at Grace, Yorktown, has led the technology charge to record - safely and individually - this year's participants for a YouTube broadcast that will begin at 7 p.m. this Saturday, April 11. The Rev. Thomas Haynes of Christ the King, Tabb, will give the homily. The Rev. Sven vanBaars, rector of Abingdon Church in White Marsh, and this year's lead clergy, says the decision to produce a virtual Vigil is partly to mark the resurrection as the defining moment of Christian faith, but also the opportunity to have a fuller expression of the meaning of this event. The opening prayer "reminds us that the church is dispersed around the world. Maybe in this time of social isolation, in this time of being dispersed rather than gathered together as we typically are, we can hear and experience the words of this ancient liturgy with fresh ears and hearts."
The Vigil on the York River has historically been a collaboration recognizing Easter as a celebration of the whole church, not just individual parishes. "With the safe distancing guidelines in place we knew that we could not do the Vigil as we had, but we also knew that it was perhaps more important to make a statement of our faith in Christ's resurrection," says vanBaars. "Luckily, our Creator has made us very creative and we used our creative spirits to bring this event together in a virtual context."
A bulletin for this service, which also has a link to Grace's YouTube channel where it will be broadcast, is available now on the Grace Church homepage. For those who have not been to the waterfront Vigil, click here for a video created to promote last year's event.
This year's participating congregations are: Grace Episcopal in Yorktown; Abingdon Episcopal in White Marsh; Ware Episcopal in Gloucester; Apostles Lutheran in Gloucester; St. George's Episcopal in Newport News; Reformation Lutheran in Newport News; Kingston Parish Episcopal in Mathews; St. John's Episcopal in West Point; and Christ the King Episcopal in Tabb.

Virtual Easter Vigil from Chanco

Even though Chanco has suspended in-person group activity, we are finding ways to stay connected to our community. Join the Rev. Eileen Walsh for a special virtual/electronic Easter Vigil at Chanco on Saturday, April 11 at 8 p.m. via Chanco's Facebook page.  
The Easter Vigil is one of the oldest liturgies in the church. This service will involve readings that tell the history of salvation, music, the lighting of the Pascal candle and other candles, the ringing of bells, and the joyous celebration of the resurrection! Don't miss it! 

Great Vigil from St. John's, Portsmouth

The Great Vigil of Easter is the largest worship celebration each year at St. John's, Portsmouth. Hundreds of worshippers usually gather each year in candlelight to hear the story of salvation (using scripture, video clips, and a wide variety of sacred and secular music), renew their baptismal vows, baptize new sisters and brothers in Christ, share the Eucharistic meal, and continue feasting at an elegant reception that goes well into the night! 
Though this year's shelter in place order makes all that impossible, you are invited to catch a flavor of this amazing annual Easter celebration on their Facebook page as St. John's Church celebrates The Great Vigil & First Celebration of Easter Online this Saturday, 4/11, at sunset (7:42pm...the beginning of the Third Day!).

Help us connect college-bound students with Campus Ministries

In an effort to help college-bound students make connections with the Episcopal Church and Canterbury fellowship when they arrive on campus this fall, we are asking one representative from each parish (Parish Administrator, Clergy, DRE, Youth Minister) to complete the data sheet linked below for anyone in our diocese who is college-bound this fall and email it to the Youth Missioner Megan Dern, mdern@diosova.org. If you have questions, please feel free to give Megan a call at 757-213-3393.  
Click for College-bound Students Data Sheet
The diocesan-sponsored Canterbury ministries at the College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University, Hampden-Sydney College, and Longwood University are eager to welcome new students and the information you provide will help facilitate that connection.  However, we want to make sure students are able to get in touch with a ministry wherever they go, even if it is not at one of the aforementioned universities. This is a great opportunity to support our youth and young adults as they go off into the world and to help continue to foster their relationships with the Episcopal Church. Thank you in for your help in gathering this information! 
Celebrating graduating seniors
Also, we are currently looking at different avenues to celebrate graduating seniors.  We know that with the school year cut short and many events cancelled, that seniors are not able to celebrate in ways that they have seen other classes be celebrated.  If you are interested in participating in this conversation, have seniors that you think might be interested in participating, or are doing something cool within your parish, please contact Youth Missioner Megan Dern, mdern@diosova.org.

New resources available

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 lectionary reflections, are all available on our website here.  
Here are a few of the newly added resources:
Light in Dark Times Healing Souls During the Pandemic and Beyond, a free webinar TODAY at 1 p.m. from Fresh Expressions US.    
Youth Group at Home ideas, Galilee, Virginia Beach, has put together some youth group at home ideas for the whole family.   
Ecumenical resources for Holy Week and Easter, Christian Churches Together, Churches Uniting in Christ, and The National Council of Churches have joined together to offer resources for Christians who are observing Holy Week and Easter in their homes.
Holy Week Resources for Families, a free download from Church Publishing.
Holy Week at Home, a resource created by Kristen Ketron, Director of Formation Ministries for Children & Youth at St. Matthias, Midlothian.
Stations of the Cross for younger people, a resource created by Kristen Ketron, Director of Formation Ministries for Children & Youth at St. Matthias, Midlothian (a PDF in booklet format).
Sermons for Holy Week 2020: New resources for worship, reflections, meditation
A new resource, Sermons for Holy Week 2020, is an ideal companion for Holy Week devotions. Like all resources offered by The Episcopal Church's office of communication, Episcopal congregations, dioceses, and organizations and agencies have permission to use Sermons for Holy Week 2020 for online worship, study groups, or other virtual use.
Sermons for Holy Week 2020 is designed for public and personal use for group discussions, personal meditations, reflections, and devotional reading by preachers, groups, individuals, adults and youth.
Prepared through The Episcopal Church's popular Sermons That Work, the resource is designed for use throughout Holy Week to follow Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem, to Gethsemane, to the foot of the cross, and toward the joy of Easter.
Included are resources for Palm Sunday through the Great Vigil, all presented in different voices by the cadre of writers from Sermons That Work. Topics are: Made Holy; Extravagant Love; Shame; The Paradox of Judas; By Our Love; and He Has Been Raised from the Dead.
Sermons for Holy Week 2020 is available to download at no fee  here
Sermons That Work will also be launching a podcast on Palm Sunday, April 4, offering audio versions of the sermon for each day of Holy Week. After Easter, the podcast will continue weekly, with a new sermon available for every Sunday. Find the podcast here or on your favorite podcasting platform.
For more information contact Christopher Sikkema, Office of Communication manager for special projects, csikkema@episcopalchurch.org.

Safe Church Training postponed through June

Due to Governor Northam's mandatory stay-at-home order, all in-person Safe Church Training workshops have been postponed thru June. The registration links have been removed from the diocesan website and we will be contacting individuals who submitted registrations to inform them of this decision. We plan  to reschedule the in-person training events once it is safe for individuals to gather, after this health crisis has passed. 
Online training is still available, however please do be mindful that the training covers difficult topics and can be a trigger point for individuals who have been victims of abuse. If you wish to register to complete the training on-line, click here. 
Watch the e-news and the website for updates about summer safe church training offerings. 

ECW Grapevine newsletter available

The Grapevine, the diocesan ECW newsletter, for Spring 2020 is here! Click here for your copy. This edition includes important information about:
  • Annual Spring Meeting cancellation
  • ECW Scholarship applications due JUNE 1 (CORRECTION)
  • Province III ECW Annual Meeting
  • and MUCH more
The Grapevine is a quarterly print-ready newsletter available for individuals and churches to receive via email. Subscribe by going to www.diosova.org  and entering your email address in the "Sign up to receive news" box at the top right of the page.
ECW seeking historian/archivist

The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of the Diocese of Southern Virginia is seeking an historian/archivist. The Historian/Archivist shall: 
  1. Search out and continue to compile records of the history of the ECW.  These  records shall include parish,  convocation and diocesan histories and shall be stored in a fireproof area of a building with public access, said building to be selected by the historian/archivist.
  2. In addition to these duties, the Historian/Archivist must be able to chronicle and document the history of the Diocesan ECW, placing activities/events and functions in a chronological and historical context.  She must posses excellent writing skills, knowledge of Word processing functions, and the capability to make informed  determinations of which materials or artifacts will be preserved in their original condition or scanned/digitized for future use/reference.
  3. Update with information on storing archives. 
If you are interested, please contact Laura L. Manigault, Diocesan Episcopal Church Women President, carver.manigault7@gmail.com or Deborah Austin, Nominating Committee Chair, complianceretired@gmail.com. Please also make this announcement to your ECW Chapter in your Parish.

How you can help Boys Home during the COVID-19 outbreak

The Boys Home in Covington shares these ways you can support them during this time:
  • Pray for our students, staff, and administrators.
  • Because several spring events had to be postponed, Boys Home can use your gifts now more than ever. The recently-passed CARES Act now allows certain contributions to be deducted "above the line" and loosens percentage limitations on gifts made to non-profits in 2020. Consider a donation to Boys Home and make a difference in the life of a boy. Thank you to those who have remembered us with donations--particularly to the general fund, since that is what helps us the most at a time like this.
  • Due to state regulations and an effort to lessen the threat of spreading the virus, Boys Home will not be accepting in-kind gifts until further notice.
  • Consider purchasing quilt tickets for our current raffle. More info available in this newsletter.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Triduum during quarantine; other new resources

As we navigate this global pandemic health crisis we are reminded that as we maintain social distancing and are prohibited from physically gathering in our church buildings, for the health of all, we are still the church. We will still be the church during Holy Week and Easter even if our worship looks and feels different from what have previously experienced. Creativity, connection, and innovation have been the new benchmarks for clergy and lay people alike as we explore and experience being church in new ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The resources included in this Google Drive were curated and provided by Lisa Kimball and James Farwell from Virginia Theological Seminary for their two-part webinar, Triduum Under Quarantine. You can find the recorded two-part webinar here and also in the Google Drive under "Follow Up email."
In addition to those resources, we've provided an edited version of  "The Three Days for Home Use"  for use in Southern Virginia. It is available here in both Word and PDF versions and includes hymns from the 1982 Hymnal (with video links for those without access to a hymnal), and The Solemn Collects for Good Friday.  In addition,  individual names have been removed from the prayers and prompts are provided to encourage users to read or view individual clergy sermons if they are available.
We invite you experience a rich, holy and meaningful Holy Week using these resources in your homes.  
Messages from Bishop Susan and many more resources on the diocesan website
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. Messages from Bishop Susan, including her lectionary reflections, are all available on our website here. Here are a few of the newly added resources: 
Resources for Communities Online - a wide variety of great resources from Virginia Theological Seminary
Invite Welcome Connect in Virtual Church - from Episcopal Church Foundation
The Work of the People - offers many free films for streaming, including the series The Four Gospel Journey.  
Outreach opportunities - Foodbanks in Southern Virginia have information about how you can help provide for the vulnerable and those out of work in our communities. Find that info here.

News from Chanco on the James

Register for Camp Chanco with confidence
Though Chanco has currently suspended group activities until further notice, you can register for Camp Chanco with confidence! Camp Chanco registrations are up by more than 50 campers compared to this time last year! The Chanco Board of Directors recently passed an amended refund policy so that our families can register with confidence. In the event of cancellation of your program, your deposit will be refunded, credited toward a future program, or may be donated to Chanco as a gift in support of our mission, based on your preference. Through this policy change, we hope to build on our strong relationships and reputation from more than 50 years in camping to reassure you that you have nothing to lose when you register with Chanco again this year! Click here to read our full message. Click here for a 2020 Camp Chanco dates and rates flyer. Register here today! Questions? Contact us at hospitality@chanco.org or 888-7CHANCO (888-724-2626).
Virtual Easter Vigil from the Bluff  - join us on Facebook
The Rev. Eileen Walsh will be officiating a special virtual/electronic Easter Vigil from the bluff on April 11. The Easter Vigil is one of the oldest liturgies in the church. This electronic service will involve readings that tell the history of salvation, music, the lighting of the Pascal candle and other candles, the ringing of bells, and the joyous celebration of the resurrection! Join the Rev. Eileen Walsh for a special electronic Easter Vigil from Chanco on Saturday, April 11 at 8 pm via our Facebook page.

A reminder about signs

If you are posting a sign on the front doors of your churches advising that public worship is suspended, please remember, if you are doing any live-streaming or recording of services for Facebook, etc. to put information on those signs directing people to those resources.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us to PROCLAIM the good news of God in Jesus Christ!
- Bishop Susan

Pledging during coronavirus

In these unsettling times where the economy is shifting and uncertainty abounds, many churches are wondering what the economic impact will be on their future. Most of us are used to paying our church pledges and tithes while we are sitting in the pews and the offering plate is passed. During this time of compassionate effort to isolate so as not to further the spread of the virus, we of course do not have that opportunity so it would be easy to simply forgo or forget paying your pledge. This is just a reminder to slip a check in the mail if you are able, or to direct your bank to send a check. Some churches have on-line giving options on their websites. Please remember to use them.
For churches who do not use on-line giving platforms, Ann Turner (Communications Officer for the Diocese) and Judy Dobson (Diocesan Comptroller) recommend the following platforms which have all received good reviews:
  • American Church (same folks that make offering envelopes)
  • Tithely
  • EasyTithe
  • Givelify
  • PushPay
  • PayPal
  • SecureGive
  • Churches that use ACS accounting software can set up an online giving platform through ACS. Other church accounting software systems likely offer the same type on on-line giving platforms.
Live links to these platforms available on the Diocesan website so that you can easily visit and research them.
- Bishop Susan

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Word to the Church: On Our Theology of Worship

On March 31, 2020, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued A word to the Church regarding the theology of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read here Bishop Curry's letter about the theological reflection below.

An Offering of Reflection by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
On Our Theology of Worship: Questions in the Time of COVID-19
Across The Episcopal Church the current Pandemic has given rise to many questions about challenges to our liturgical life. Bishops are being asked, "May we do this or that? Will you permit this or that way of celebrating the Eucharist or delivering Holy Communion to the members of our congregations?" Some years ago in an essay titled "Is There a Christian Sexual Ethic?" Rowan Williams observed that in the then current debates about marriage rites for same sex couples, this "permissible/not permissible" way of conducting the conversation was a dead end. The real (and much more productive) question for a sacramental people, he said, was not simply whether a given practice was "right or wrong," but rather "How much are we prepared for this or that liturgical action to mean?" How much are we prepared for it to signify? Sacraments effect by signifying.
Sacraments are actions that give new meaning to things. The current questions about the way we worship in a time of radical physical distancing invites the question of what we are prepared for a given sacramental encounter to mean. Sacraments are communal actions that depend on "stuff": bread and wine, water and oil. They depend on gathering and giving thanks, on proclaiming and receiving the stories of salvation, on bathing in water, on eating and drinking together. These are physical and social realities that are not duplicatable in the virtual world. Gazing at a celebration of the Eucharist is one thing; participating in a physical gathering and sharing the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist is another. And, God, of course, can be present in both experiences.
And that is surely the most important thing to remember. From the time of Thomas Cranmer, mainstream Anglicanism has insisted that the Holy Eucharist is to be celebrated in community, with no fewer than two people. In contrast to some medieval practices, the Prayer Book tradition was deeply concerned with reestablishing the essential connection between the celebration of the Eucharist and the reception of Holy Communion. Over time, of course, many factors contributed to a general decline in the celebration of the Eucharist well into the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Morning Prayer became the common service of worship on the Lord's Day. And while it is good and right that the situation has changed dramatically, that the Holy Eucharist has again become the principal act of worship on Sunday across our church, few would suggest that the experience of Morning Prayer somehow limited God's presence and love to generations of Anglican Christians. There are members of our church today who do not enjoy a regular sustained celebration of the Eucharist for a variety of reasons other than this Pandemic - they are no less members of Christ's Body because of it.
Practices such as "drive by communion" present public health concerns and further distort the essential link between a communal celebration and the culmination of that celebration in the reception of the Eucharistic Bread and Wine. This is not to say that the presence of the Dying and Rising Christ cannot be received by any of these means. It is to say that from a human perspective, the full meaning of the Eucharist is not obviously signified by them. Our theology is generous in its assurance of Christ's presence in all our times of need. In a rubric in the service for Ministration to the Sick (p. 457), The Book of Common Prayer clearly expresses the conviction that even if a person is prevented from physically receiving the Sacrament for reasons of extreme illness or disability, the desire for Christ's presence alone is enough for all the benefits of the Sacrament to be received.
Richard Hooker described the corporate prayer of Christians as having a spiritual significance far greater than the sum of the individual prayers of the individual members of the body. Through corporate prayer, he said, Christians participate in communion with Christ himself, "joined ... to that visible, mystical body which is his Church." Hooker did not have in mind just the Eucharist, which might have taken place only quarterly or, at best, monthly in his day. He had very much in mind the assembly of faithful Christians gathered for the Daily Office.
While not exclusively the case, online worship may be better suited to ways of praying represented by the forms of the Daily Office than by the physical and material dimensions required by the Eucharist. And under our present circumstances, in making greater use of the Office there may be an opportunity to recover aspects of our tradition that point to the sacramentality of the scriptures, the efficacy of prayer itself, the holiness of the household as the "domestic church," and the reassurance that the baptized are already and forever marked as Christ's own. We are living limbs and members of the Body of Christ, wherever and however we gather. The questions being posed to Bishops around these matters are invitations to a deeper engagement with what we mean by the word "sacrament" and how much we are prepared for the Church itself - with or without our accustomed celebrations of the Eucharist - to signify about the presence of God with us.
Click here for Bishop Haynes' message to the churches of Southern Virginia, as well as a joint statement from the bishops of Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. 

Feeding program finds fresh expression during epidemic

By The Rev. Jon Anderson, Rector - Epiphany, Danville

Disciples meals at Epiphany, Danville, look a little different these days. Normally, we serve a sit down dinner in the Parish Hall on Tuesday evenings at 5:00 p.m. and then offer a sack lunch out of the narthex on Thursdays at 12 p.m.  Attendance at both of these meals varies based on a number of factors, including the week of the month and the weather, but generally vary from a low of around 20 to a high of 60+.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic we have kept the same schedule and served a meal of ready-to-eat, non-perishable items in plastic grocery sacks hung on the historic wrought iron fence around the church. This allows us to serve our guests safely while still being able to engage with them socially as we always have done.
The number of guests is up and last Tuesday we had a record of 67+ guests. We will keep this up as long as we can get supplies, which has become more challenging especially in the last week.

Message from Bishop Haynes

[God says]: "When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars." (Psalm 75:3)
Yesterday Gov. Ralph Northam of the Commonwealth of Virginia announced a mandatory stay-at-home order effective until June 10 in an effort to stem the tide of rising coronavirus cases and deaths during the global pandemic. Many have asked how the governor's order will affect churches in the Diocese of Southern Virginia. The order does not change the guidelines that have previously been given except to say that they are now mandated. To that end, the following directives for our churches are and remain in effect:
  • Church services continue to be suspended until further notice and likely not before June 10. Churches are encouraged to provide on-line worship experiences of their own if they are able, and to employ and make available for home use resources accessible through the diocesan website here. If you need assistance, the diocesan office stands ready to help you.
  • Parking lot gatherings in cars for worship or otherwise, or any gatherings of more than ten people, are not permitted. As reported in the Virginian-Pilot following the governor's press conference yesterday, Gov. Northam "said Monday that Virginia isn't looking to put people in jail, but that anyone gathering in groups larger than 10 could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine." The governor emphasized that "we are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly," stating that "our message to Virginians is clear: stay home." We model being Christian citizens when we adhere to the governor's order.
  • Church offices may remain open to respond to the indigent who are seeking assistance, so long as not more than 10 people are present at one time and they maintain six feet of physical distance from one another.
  • Food and clothing banks and other outreach efforts that address basic human needs may remain open subject to the same restrictions on social distancing and numbering of staff and guests.
  • Clergy, musicians, lay ministers and audio/visual technicians may continue to go to church to record or livestream services provided that are 10 or fewer are present.
  • Day schools are to remain closed. Childcare may remain open with priority given to children of workers deemed essential, subject to the same limitations on social distancing and number of staff and children.
  • FUNERALS: In the event of a parishioner death, families should be encouraged to delay funerals. Funeral homes have been mandated to offer services only to immediate family members (to include spouses, children, parents, grandchildren, siblings in that order and limited to not more than 10). Churches are directed to do likewise.
It does seem perhaps that the earth is tottering and the people are in turmoil. We must remind each other that God established the pillars of this earth and holds them firm. God keeps us steady even if we are tempted to be afraid. Let us not forget the source of our strength and pray for His love and mercy on a daily basis as we continue to be the church during this confusing time. May God bless you and continue to hold you steady and firm in His most loving, all-encompassing hands.
Yours faithfully in Christ,
Click here for a joint statement of the bishops of Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC (in English and Spanish)