Diocesan eNews -
July 21, 2020
Bishop Haynes visited Emmanuel, Franklin, on Sunday. The Bishop posted this about her visit, "So blessed this morning to be able to join Father Scott Baker and the good people of Emmanuel Church in Franklin for worship. In his thoughtful homily, Fr. Scott reminded us that by taking upon ourselves the yoke of Christ, we are hitching up alongside Jesus. In this way, we bear the load together. With Jesus to help us, we have the grace to do the things we need to do."
From Bishop Haynes: Pastoral update on re-gathering
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Now that the Diocesan guidelines for re-gathering have been issued and churches are submitting their plans for in-person worship, we are confronted with the reality that this virus isn't doing what we thought it would or wanted it to. Instead of continuing to decrease, the number of new cases and percent positivity is increasing! Some areas of the Commonwealth are seeing more of an increase in numbers - the Tidewater area in particular. More and more we hear stories of people who know people who have been sickened with COVID-19, whereas before perhaps they knew of no one who had the illness. There is more confusion than clarity as to whether or not it is safe for congregations to gather for in-person worship. Our anxiety is at an all-time high!
In the face of such confusion, we hope that the following reminders will prove helpful:
There is no rush to re-gather for indoor worship
Even though churches are submitting their plans to re-gather, many are stating that their congregations are waiting until the fall actually to resume worship. This is entirely within the power of clergy and vestries to decide. We encourage leadership to watch the numbers in their area and to make decisions about worship accordingly. If you have opened for worship, but have subsequently decided that the numbers are heading in the wrong direction, you may temporarily decide to close again. You may continue to offer virtual worship opportunities for those who do not feel safe to come to church. Or you may gather for brief, outdoor opportunities for worship and fellowship. The important thing is to keep the lines of communication open with your parishes so that everyone knows what is happening.
We are in a different place today than we were in March
In March when we made the sweeping decision to shut down worship, we were completely unprepared to continue gathering safely. We didn't understand then what we understand about the virus today. Today we know more about how it is transmitted and about things we can do to protect ourselves. Today we have guidelines that we can put in place for our protection. We also understand more about numbers and trends that indicate if the virus is contained or is spreading. All of this information can help inform us as we make decision about worship and other church activities. Vestries and clergy are of course capable of making these decisions; however, the Diocesan staff also stands ready to offer counsel and advice. Give us a call.
Our technological abilities are increasing
We have learned a lot through this pandemic, and one of the things we have learned is how to stay connected and how to continue to be the church through the use of technology - email, virtual worship, social media, and other things. We now understand that God's church perseveres in new, fresh ways that we didn't dream possible before.
GOD LOVES US!
In this Sunday's Gospel we hear the Kingdom of Heaven likened to a small mustard seed that grows into a tree large enough to shelter birds from all over. With even the smallest kernel of trust that we can muster, we are welcomed into the protective branches of God's love. His all-encompassing embrace will shelter us, protect us, guide us and lead us into all truth. The day will come when the reality of this pandemic will be behind us. We will boldly carry forward the lessons we have learned from it. But no matter what, we will keep on being the Church of God. So let us go forth, continuing in the apostles' teaching, in the prayers, the fellowship and the breaking of bread. Pick up the phone and call somebody. Pick up pen and paper and write a letter. Do not be afraid to be the Church!
I will not forget you. Behold! I have carved you in the palm of my hand. (Isaiah 49:16)
Planning for fall formation programs
Who has started thinking about planning for their fall programs? This fall will look vastly different than past years and we want to be here to help you through the planning process.
On Wednesday, July 22 at 12 noon, join us for a Diocesan colleague lunch over Zoom. We can discuss what we learned on Monday (although it's not necessary to have participated) and have space to ask questions specific to our Diocese. We will break out into groups based on if you are planning formation for children, youth, or adult ministry to better process your ideas for the fall with formation leaders going through the same things. Advanced registration is required.
Click here to register
If you have any questions or things that you want to see covered, please contact Megan Dern at
Bishop Susan to lead online Bible study in August
Bishop Susan would like to invite anyone in the Diocese of Southern Virginia who is interested to study the Bible with her through Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina is a prayerful way of studying Scripture that, once learned, can be practiced in groups or in solitude. Beginning August 10, we will meet weekly for four weeks to look at Scriptures that will also be helpful in assisting us to navigate through the COVID-19 crisis. No experience is needed, as Bishop Susan will guide you through the practice of reading (lectio), meditation (meditatio), prayerful response (oratio), and contemplation, or simply resting in God (contemplatio). Beginning at 7 p.m., these meetings will last for 90 minutes. Each meeting is limited to 50 persons, so registration is needed. Only a few spaces remain! Register to participate here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Education for Ministry (EfM): Meet Diocesan EfM Coordinator Cindy Jordan; online event July 30
Let me introduce myself. My name is Cindy Jordan and I will be the Diocesan Coordinator for EfM. I am filling some formidable shoes of past EfM coordinators, so please be patient as I learn the ropes.
A little bit about me - I am a member of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Williamsburg, where my family and I have worshipped for 28 years. I have one adult son and a new grandson, who both fill my heart. I grew up in New England, but came to Virginia when my husband of 36 years was stationed at Yorktown with the Coast Guard. I have two brothers, who both have moved to Virginia and made their homes here, one of whom is a member of Old Donation with his famly. My spiritual journey has been influenced by so many wonderful people throughout the years, many of whom are in this Diocese, ordained and non-ordained. I am a high school teacher by vocation, but learned through EfM that my vocation can also be a ministry. I hope to provide that experience for many of you.
What is EfM? For those of you who might be new to the Church, EfM is a program of study, prayer and theological reflection that was developed by, and is administered through, Sewanee: University of the South. Sewanee
is a private Episcopal liberal arts college in Sewanee, Tennessee. It is owned by 28 southern dioceses of the Episcopal Church. Its School of Theology is an official seminary of the church.
The course for EfM is a journey through the Old Testament, the New Testament, Christian/ Church History and Theology over a four-year period. EfM allows participants an opportunity to explore God's call to them, while giving them more information and opportunities for reflection to discern that call. This is done through weekly small-group gatherings (currently virtually) lead by trained mentors. The course operates much like a college course, however, there is no grading and no research papers to write! You can take breaks in the course should you need-take a year off if needed. Throughout the course, participants are asked to reflect on their spiritual journey past, present and future. EfM is living theology. Participants learn to live into their own theological beliefs and be an example of the heart and hands of Christ in their circles-family, friends, church, co-workers, and community.
Let me define "ministry" here. We are not talking about "holy orders" and ordination! Ministry is about giving of ourselves, and of our time, talents, and resources to bless and help others. We are ALL ministers in this world. God has often used unsuspecting, but good people to serve and minister to His people. Think of Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Miriam, Deborah, Mary and the disciples called by Christ. In Isaiah we read, "And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." EfM prepares participants to say "Here I am!"
This is the only program I know of that gives the non-ordained, the non-clerical, the kind of knowledge and tools they need to be active in the life of the Church and church community. Everyone is called to ministry but finding that ministry with all the "noise" around us can be difficult. Many EfM graduates have gone on to begin new ministries in their parishes, serve on their vestry, become formation leaders in their church and even, through discernment, deacons. The benefit to our parishes and diocese is immeasurable as participants and graduates begin their journeys. The benefit to the participant is a deeper knowledge of how the Church came to be and a much richer view of their place in it and in today's world.
My goals for EfM in the Diocese are three-fold:
- To be sure every parishioner in Southern Virginia is aware of the opportunity to become an EfM participant and explore their call to ministry in the church.
- To "train up" several current EfM graduates to become mentors for new groups
- To grow our network of groups by at least 20% this coming year
Right now, new groups are forming and "old" groups are gearing up to resume in the fall! All groups will begin online due to the current public health issues. This is a great time for some our smaller parishes to offer EfM to their parishioners as we can combine folks in the on-line format. No prior study or knowledge of scripture or theology is required.
I am very much looking forward to walking this journey with you. Join me and here your call!
Want more information? Contact your rector, your Christian Formation Director, or Cindy Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us for online July 30 to learn more
Have you ever considered participating in Education for Ministry (EfM)? Do you have questions or want to learn more about the scope and sequence of the program? On Thursday, July 30 at 6 p.m. the Christian Education Network (CE-Net) will host an online session dedicated to Education for Ministry (EfM). Cindy Jordan, Diocesan EfM Coordinator, will provide a brief overview of the program and will respond to questions. Click here to register for this July 30 Zoom event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Avoid having your virtual event "Zoom bombed"
Zoom web conferencing is a fantastic tool for virtual gatherings. It's ease of use and affordability make it perfect for congregations to use for small groups, meetings and even worship. It's great unless an internet troll "Zoom bombs" your gathering. Nothing is fool-proof, but these are ways you can avoid the trolls.
Virtual Vacation Bible School: Amazing Stories, Unexpected Storytellers
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.
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.
Order online and support the Parish Book Store
Want to support the Parish Book Store, but finding it a bit of a challenge because we are still physically closed? We have the solution - go to
, click on the Bookshop link (
) and order ANY book. The Parish Book Store earns the commission on the sale, and Bookshop ships the book directly to you. The titles are not limited to books we have in our current inventory or religious books, but include children's titles as well as fiction and nonfiction.
Bookshop, which is nonprofit, was created to support independent bookshops that have faced the challenge of competition from on-line ordering from Amazon. Each affiliate earns 10% of overall sales made through bookshop.org (over $5 million since January), and members of the American Booksellers Association (that means the Parish Book Store!) earn 30% of each sale made through their websites or by visiting
and clicking on the display of the bookstore selected.
So while we are sequestered, we hope that you will continue to read and to support the Parish Book Store. The Parish Book Store is located inside Eastern Shore Chapel, Virginia Beach. For more information or questions you can contact them at
. The Parish Book Store has been serving churches of southern Virginia since 1967, and is non-profit and self-supporting. All proceeds go to the Christian Formation programs, seminarians and clergy of the Diocese of Southern Virginia.
St. Martin's statement of their commitment to justice and equality
The vestry and clergy of St Martin's, Williamsburg, wishes to share the following statement, which they issued on June 26, 2020:
As clergy and members of the Vestry of St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Williamsburg, we take seriously our call to be disciples of Jesus Christ, ministering and proclaiming God's love to all. At this pivotal time for our country and our Church, it is not enough to affirm that all people are created equal; we must acknowledge the reality that all people are not treated equally. We must speak out with clarity and determination against the sins of racial injustice, racism, and oppression; we must renounce, as in our Baptism, all the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God.
Personally and as leaders of St. Martin's, we recommit to our founders' vision of the Beloved Community. We commit to the journey of becoming actively anti-racist, to seek out our own implicit biases and embrace the discomfort of growth. We recognize that this work is not an extraneous short-term program, but an essential part of our lifelong formation as Christians.
With gratitude for the powerful words of our former Senior Warden Melanie Davis, we will keep watch. We will listen and learn, offering multigenerational opportunities for deeper understanding of systemic racism; looking at our decision-making through the lens of racial justice; and planning concrete action to transform racist structures. We will resist falling asleep, walking away, and retreating into safety. We will stand up for the truth that Black Lives Matter.
We endorse and support the work of the Justice League in helping our parish overcome that wider sense of "otherness" that impedes our ability to love all our neighbors as ourselves. Striving for justice and peace among all people, we affirm the dignity of every human being of any race, background, creed, gender, sexual orientation, age and ability.
May the One who has given us the will to do these things give us the grace and power to perform them.
Christ Church, Waverly, helps Jackson-Feild
Correction: The article published last week incorrectly identified Christ Church. We apologize for the error.
The vestry and members of Christ Church, Waverly, have been making a monthly contribution to Jackson-Feild to help its children since 1993.
The vestry recently voted to add an additional $500 to be used to purchase items on its wish list. These items are used to directly benefit the children.
The COVID-19 restrictions have been a challenge for both Jackson-Feild's children and staff. They children are not allowed off the campus nor are they able received visitors. It has been a challenge to occupy their time when they are not in school or receiving 21 hours of mental health services weekly.
The funds provided by the members of Christ Church will be used for recreational materials and supplies for events and activities this summer and beyond.
The children at Jackson-Feild have been blessed to have the support of caring and concerned Episcopalians throughout the Diocese of Southern Virginia.
Cloaks seeking a new home
St. Martin's, Williamsburg, has a number of high-quality capa negra cloaks, which are available to clergy and churches in the diocese. Free to a good home! Contact St. Martin's office if you are interested. (
Christian Formation Director
Manakin Church, Midlothian, in is looking for a Spirit-filled individual to join the staff and fill the position of Christian Formation Director starting September 1. Hours are flexible.
For more information or to submit your resume, please email
or call our church office at 804-794-6401.
St. Paul's in Richmond, VA (Diocese of Virginia) has an opening for a part time (20 hrs. per week) Youth Director.
for job description and application information.
Creation Care Tip
Plastic Free Ecochallenge month
Did you know that July is Plastic Free Ecochallenge month? It's an opportunity to begin to establish plastic free habits and reduce single-use plastic consumption. Visit plasticfree.ecochallenge.org to learn more. It's estimated that 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the US. A plastic free habit that you can begin involves skipping the straw or using reusable straws. Click here to learn about plastic straw alternatives.
News from Chanco on the James
Thank you & best of luck wishes to Nathan Hoyt
It is with great excitement for our Director of Programs, Nathan Hoyt, that we wish him luck as he moves on to the next chapter in his life. The Chanco staff and board give thanks to Nathan for all that he has done for Chanco over many years. We give thanks for his hard work, his creativity, his humor, his faith, and his dedication to Chanco serving our ministry since 2008. Congratulations and good luck Nathan, we will see you around the campfire! To read Nathan's letter to the Chanco community, please click here.
Chanco is opening for retreats
IT'S OFFICIALLY HAPPENING! Chanco is FINALLY reopen for Retreats! Starting August 10, Chanco would like to welcome back any and all who would like to bring a group to Chanco for a beautiful and fun retreat on the James River. We know COVID-19 is still around, but we assure you, we will take your safety seriously and will work with you to maintain CDC safety guidelines to keep your guests happy, healthy, and having a great time! Schedule your retreat today by calling us at 888-724-2626 or emailing us at email@example.com. We look forward to hosting you soon!
for re-gathering guidelines and information, messages from Bishop Haynes, and many resources for congregations as Southern Virginia responds to coronavirus/COVID-19 in our communities.
ALL in person Safe Church Training
through June has been cancelled and will be re-scheduled at a later date. Online Safe Church Training is still available.
129th Annual Council - February 26-27, 2021 at the Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg, VA. Click here for information.
Cursillo #168 - April 22-25, 2021 at Chanco on the James. (RE-SCHEDULED) Go to