Highlights & Lowlights
Congratulations to the Bishops and Staff of the Diocese of Virginia who put together and produced the 2020 Annual Convention that took place last Saturday. A first in the history of the Diocese – A Virtual Annual Convention conducted in the span of one workday. And special thanks to our delegates from N. Farnham and St. John’s, respectively: Ed Marks and Brother Mark Jenkins.
My recollections in this the week following. Superb “Stories of the Diocese” spot on at intervals as we paused for these unique stories to relieve the “business” of the day. We will be sharing these stories, one per week, for the next few weeks. The first, offered following this Message, highlights an amazing and still growing program in the Richmond area. Since it is about food, it is a good one to watch as we contemplate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I beg you to take a few minutes to watch it in the next few days and experience delight that your Diocese is involved in and has promoted such a wonderful ministry.
A highlight (at least in my view) of the business of the day was the resolution passed calling for the election of a new Bishop Diocesan. According to Bishop Goff in her Pastoral Address, the timing of such election and consecration is anticipated in 2022. Since the resignation of Bishop Shannon Johnson, Bishop Susan Goff, our Suffragan Bishop has served as the Diocese’s “Ecclesiastical Authority.” It is time to move ahead in our seeking and finding (with God’s help) our next Diocesan Bishop. While several other Resolutions and Amendments to our Constitution and Canons were on our Agenda, for the sake of some brevity in this Message, I suggest you scan the results in the “Highlights” Summary sent out by the Diocese the day after the Convention as that document is linked here.
The 2021 Budget drew the most intense discussion as presented with conservative income projections resulting from concerns about the financial impact of COVID on parish pledging to the Diocese. Delegate lenses zeroed in on a few targeted areas where budgetary cuts appeared to impact our Diocesan work in important areas. Specifically, two areas drawing significant delegate comments that were the subject of strong concern included funding for our campus ministries and funding for our work in the area of racial justice.
My eyes were blurry, my head spinning as the last vote of the day took place, the Convention concluded and we all paused to prepare heart, mind and spirit to engage virtually in a beautifully and creatively prepared worship service. If any of us were weary and low in spirit as we prepared ourselves to be present for the service to come, our spirits were lifted as we entered that time and opened to the worship experience. The music was particularly notable– prelude by jazz musicians in a variety of sanctuary settings and postlude in Latino rhythms. Readings were offered in the various languages that grace the diversity of weekly services around our diocese. The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf, Bishop of the Diocese of West Tennessee, offered the sermon and we participated virtually in a Spiritual Eucharist presided over by Bishop Goff as celebrant.
A day to remember, but also ordinary in its presenting high and low moments, joyful ones and stressful ones, uplifting ones and wearying ones. After all, we are simply human subject to all that entails, yet longing to be more than this. But I was left with a deep abiding sense that the Spirit is very present and alive at work in this Diocese and that there is a creative current drawing us forward into a future that may be unknown to us but known to the Holy. May we have the courage to open to, support, and engage together in our continuing pilgrimage seeking the next step, and the next and the next with eyes and hearts open to Light along the Way, with trust in the God who set us on this path.