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.