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Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia
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Your pledge makes it possible...
Our eNews series on the mission and ministries of the Episcopal Church in Southern Virginia.


Youth Ministry

551463_10150758287491983_564971982_11305574_1331178534_nYouth Ministry in Southern Virginia is thriving. In the past year, clergy and youth leaders from 22 parishes have taken advantage of training and networking events, like the annual Youth Leader Gathering at Chanco in January and the Open Planning and Strategy Workshop for Youth Leaders in July, as well as strategic consultations with parish youth teams. Four of our nine convocations have hosted joint youth events. Hundreds of youth have had opportunities to grow in faith through EYC weekends, Happening and the Chanco Chaplain program. Young leaders have been encouraged and challenged as members of the EYC Board, Happening Staff, and as pages at Annual Council.

Amid concerns over declining membership and lackluster involvement from youth in mainline churches, our diocesan youth programs experienced increases in participation in the last year. As we move into the next program year, the department of Youth Ministry will continue to focus on quality programs, excellent communication, leadership development opportunities for youth and their advisors, and collaborative partnerships in our convocations.

The total diocesan budget for Youth Ministry in 2012 was $25,900. With these funds, we have together been able to support parish leaders and teens as they grow into young leaders in the Church. Imagine what we could accomplish with a little more funding: enhanced support for partnerships in our convocations, greater connection to the wider church through participation in provincial and national events, top-notch conferences and training opportunities for adults who work with youth, dedicated scholarship funds to support young people who would like to attend one of our life-changing youth events, additional resources for parish youth teams, and so much more. Let's dream big.

Listen to what some of our youth have to say about our programs:

  • "Happening has changed my perspective about the ways that God moves in our lives." - Becky Shock, St. Luke's Powhatan
  • "These programs taught me that I was worth something, that I had friends that love me, and that God will always love me." - Carson Merritt, St. Andrew's Norfolk
  • "It allowed me a place to grow in multiple ways- in my personal life, my faith, and my leadership abilities- without having to be worried about making a mistake and being judged." - Julie Worley, St. Paul's Norfolk
  • "Happening made me feel love that I've never felt before. It's amazing how you can meet everyone on Friday, and love every single one of them unconditionally, bawling at the thought of leaving them on Sunday." - Alex Puleo, St. Paul's and St. Andrew's Kenbridge
  • "It showed me that God has a plan for each of us and that there are surprises in life that prove to us that he's watching over and protecting us no matter the situation we may find ourselves in." - Amanda Brandenburg, Ascension Norfolk
  • "EYC is my home away from home. It's where I can let go and just be me." - Holly Waide, St. Aidan's Virginia Beach

 CLICK HERE for a downloadable copy of this article.


The Mission Network

Each congregation and ministry center in the Diocese of Southern Virginia is a mission outpost, tasked with making the Gospel known both to its members, and through its members and programs, to the larger community and the world. Therefore, one of the primary functions of the Mission Network is to facilitate and encourage congregational vitality and congregational development. Additionally, the Mission Network, a team of clergy and lay leaders from around the diocese, chaired by the Canon for Congregational Development, oversees the work of the outreach commission, addresses the special needs of small congregations, and distributes grants and loans it has available to resource congregations and ministries for their ongoing work. And because each of us is part of the Christ's body here in the Diocese of Southern Virginia, the pledge your church makes to the diocese helps support these activities.

What are some of the specific ways Congregational Vitality, Mission and Outreach has been encouraged through the Mission Network in the last twelve months? Here are a few:

  • The "New Chapter" congregational vitality conference was held in Williamsburg, Dec. 2011. Participants from around the country learned ways to share the story of what God is doing in their congregations, and practical tools for reaching out and building up their church.
  • The Asset-Based Community Development (community organizing) conference is being held in Petersburg Sept. 21-22, 2012, funded primarily by a Jubilee Grant from the Episcopal Church Center.
  • On-site consultations and retreats are held with vestries, leadership teams, and congregations to help develop greater congregational vitality, develop mission and vision strategies, encourage multi-church collaboration, and where necessary, develop plans for re-development. "Thanks again for your leadership [at our vestry Mutual ministry review.] I felt it was effective, leading to some concrete objectives for the year." ~ The Rev. Dr. Ross M. Wright.
  • Mission Insite provides valuable demographic data to congregations. "Mission Insite", professional demographic data, is available to members from each church who wish to create an account. Congregations are plotting their members and finding out about the populations in their mission field.
  • The Mission Network evaluated the Seeds of Hope grant applications for new and expanded outreach ministries, and the Executive Board just approved $21,722.00 to be distributed to nine different outreach and justice programs, which span from supporting feeding programs and youth development programs, to a Senior Pals program and a life skills development programs.
  • $8,000 in Emergency Maintenance Grants have been distributed in 2012, going to our smallest congregations to help fix roofs, water damage and heating units.
  • Mission Initiative Grants of up to $1000 per convocation were made available in 2011 to encourage local evangelistic efforts. $7000 was granted, supporting Convocation-wide advertising and marketing in Convocations 1 & 9, scholarships to the New Chapter conference in convocations 8 & 4, a Job Seekers program (Needs-Based Evangelism) in Convocation 7, and seed money for an evangelism conference in Convocation 5.
  • Outreach grants from the Feed My Sheep Program go to Jackson Field Home, Covington Boys Home, Mission of the Holy Spirit, and to help support Prison ministry for a total of $15,991 in the 2012 budget.
  • The Mission Network also serves as the advisory board for any M & M grants made by the executive board.

st Tom Freeman Back to BasicsYour church's giving to the diocese helps all of us participate in these significant ways of supporting outreach and increasing congregational vitality.

 "I have truly enjoyed the cooking class, learning to use what you have to make a good but healthy meal for the family. May God continue to bless St. Thomas church family." - participant in St. Thomas', Freeman, Senior Pal "Back to Basics" cooking class, funded by a Seeds of Hope Grant.


CLICK HERE for a downloadable copy of this article.


Clergy Programs

Support and development of the clergy in Southern Virginia is vital to the health of our congregations. The diocese provides a variety of opportunities for development and educational funding to our clergy.

IMG_0036The diocese holds two clergy conferences each year. In the fall we have a two-day gathering (with an optional quiet day to begin), where we explore vocational questions or specific issues within the church's life and ministry.  In the spring, we have a one-day time of discussion and the chance to hear updates on our shared diocesan life.

Another component for clergy self-care is their continuing education, which they are encouraged to take annually, funded in part by their congregation as a benefit. To support and enhance their motivation for ongoing study and spiritual growth, clergy may apply for a continuing education grant. Those engaged in advanced study or a Doctor of Ministry program may apply each year of their participation, and all funds are distributed according to availability.
  • “I'm very grateful for the support I've received for four years as I've pursued my D.Min. at Sewanee. The program not only benefits me, it benefits the congregations I serve. Each year there is not only the academic challenge, but the challenge to ask myself, ‘How will I share this?’ And I think the congregation would say that I return from my time away renewed and reinvigorated.” — The Rev. Susan Grimm, St. Timothy’s Clarksville.
  • "I was fortunate enough to receive a Continuing Education grant from the Diocese in support of my plans to visit the Holy Land and Turkey.  Visiting holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ephesus, and Galilee gave me a perspective that I have never gotten from books and videos. Experiencing the places that Jesus walked was very moving.  I am grateful to the Church of the Ascension and to the Diocese for making this sabbatical experience such a terrific one which has enriched my ministry as a priest and as a Christian." - The Rev. David Davenport, Ascension Norfolk.

fresh startPerhaps one of the most effective and important programs provided for clergy is Fresh Start. This is a two-year program for newly ordained clergy, those entering Southern Virginia from another diocese, and those who are making a major transition from one form of leadership to another, such as from assistant rector to rector, or even from a smaller church to a large church.

The main goals for the program are to build collegial relationships, create a safe and supportive place for clergy to share their experiences, to reflect on their ministry, and, when necessary, seek advice from others.  Ongoing spiritual and leadership development are at the heart of the program. There is a curriculum based on common issues that arise during the transition of leadership in a congregation, including issues of role clarity, wellness and self-care, how to lead effective change, and coming to understand the complexities of organizational and financial leadership to name a few.

Because it is a required commitment, the diocese subsidizes this program heavily, so as not to be a burden to either the parish or the clergy. This coming term we will have 21 participants and 3 faculty.  Bishop Hollerith has said that Fresh Start is "one of the best things we do for our clergy," and most clergy seem to agree:

  • "Coming out of seminary, I was used to the camaraderie of my peers, and now I am in small town with few colleagues close by.  I am looking forward to having this group as friends."
  • "I am taking a new position in this diocese, so this will help me get acquainted with your traditions and history."
  • "I learn so much from these colleagues, both the newly ordained and more experienced ones."

CLICK HERE for a downloadable copy of this article.



IMG_0066Communication is vital to our life together as the Episcopal Church in Southern Virginia. The Communications Office facilitates that work. The diocesan website offers a wide array of resources and information to assist clergy and lay leaders. The weekly Diocesan eNews is available to anyone who wishes to subscribe and is a great way to stay up-to-date on news, events, resources, and educational offerings. The weekly Parish News email provides a venue for congregations to share their news throughout Southern Virginia. Sharing our stories is a great way to get ideas and make connections that grow ministries. The Communications Office also manages our presence on social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These networks are an increasingly useful way to share news and resources and to make connections between individuals and congregations. The Diocesan Connection is distributed electronically to congregations and subscribers. It is a print-ready newsletter that enables congregations to share highlights from our weekly emails with parishioners who are not online by providing them with printed copies.

In addition to the news and resources offered congregations via our diocesan media outlets, the Communications Office provides resources, workshops and hands-on training to help congregations communicate better. In just the past year, Ann Turner, our communications officer, has visited 28 congregations for individual hands-on training or a group workshop. Shortly after one of our Social Media for Congregations workshops, a participating church created a Facebook page and enthusiastically shared that,

          “It was amazing to see the numbers (of likes) jump within an hour… Our women’s Bible study enrollment has doubled.”

In 2012, for the first time, we were able to budget $5000 for Communications Grants to congregations. Preference was given to small and rural congregations. Thanks to these funds, seven churches received money to help them start or re-activate websites: Christ Church Danville, Good Shepherd Richmond, St. Michael’s Bon Air, St. James’ Portsmouth, St. Mark’s Suffolk, St. Augustine’s Newport News, and St. Paul & St. Andrew Kenbridge.

Our first Church Communicators Meeting was held in June. It was an opportunity for communicators – volunteer and staff – to connect with other communicators, share their successes and frustrations, ask questions, and get resources like the new Church Communicators Manual. Here’s what participants said afterward:

  • “I liked the small groups – I felt comfortable in sharing and questioning”
  • “I loved hearing from other attendees about the stages of development of their communications.”
  • “Thank you for having this and all the resources you made available.”

We encourage everyone to subscribe to our weekly email and the Diocesan Connection at our website, www.diosova.org. Like us on Facebook (facebook.com/Diosova), follow us on Twitter (@DioSoVa) and YouTube (youtube.com/user/TheDioSoVa).

CLICK HERE for a downloadable copy of this article.


Formation Ministries

vestry trngOur diocese is blessed with a rich history of excellent formation and education ministries and we are able to build on this solid framework as we re-imagine formation in the 21st century.  Formation ministries in Southern Virginia includes:  Adult, children and family ministry, professional support and development, formation and education programs and trainings, parish assistance and consultation, resources, stewardship, liturgy, advocacy ministries such as anti-racism and aging, and leadership development in collaboration with other staff.

The Christian Education Network or CENet meets monthly for support and sharing with those who work in Christian Formation. We also offer quarterly programs on formation that are designed for the larger community. Recent programs include “Christian Formation in the 21st Century” with Lisa Kimball; “Ministering to and with Aging Population” with Dorothy Linthicum, and coming in January  - “Curriculum Development” with Sharon Pearson. 

  • “CENet is important because it offers the opportunity to cultivate collegial relationships with others who are willing to share their experiences, ideas, and challenges, and the meetings are often the catalyst to step outside the safety zone of ‘how we have always done things’.” 
Resource Centers have changed greatly in the last few years and today much of the useful curricula is digital. Diocesan funds provide video curricula as well as books and printed curricula that parishes may borrow.  This is particularly important for smaller parishes with limited budgets. Resources are listed on the website for review or use.

Godly Play is a children’s curriculum centered on story-telling that provides effective formation for any size group.  A number of parishes in our diocese use some form of Godly Play. Trainings are offered twice a year with a nationally accredited trainer.
“Thank you for the Godly Play Training.  Our church administrator was receiving calls all morning with folks raving about the session – so much positive energy has come out practically overnight!”

stew confDiocesan wide formation programs, featuring nationally known speakers, are provided to clergy and lay leaders at little cost. The most recent offering was the Stewardship Conference with Susan Vick. Representatives from 32 parishes attended. Local training workshops, such as Bishop’s Days for Parish Leaders and Gift’s Discernment are also underwritten to allow for greater participation. Other collaborative programs include Vestry Training and New Vitalities Coach training.

Diocesan EfM (Education for Ministry) membership fee to Sewanee allows adults to take this four year course at $100 off the annual tuition. Approximately 250 people currently benefit from this. Additional assistance to EfM mentors and participants is also available.
Consultations with parishes and vestries, especially those with limited staff and resources, are a vital part of Formation Ministries and are a part of diocesan work that many do not see or hear about.  Fostering the programmatic health of all our parishes benefits the entire diocese.

  • “I can’t tell you how much your visit meant to us. Having someone from the diocese to visit with us was very special. The teachers left filled with motivation.”
  • “Those who attended  Caroline Black’s presentation about lay leadership training were inspired to action and excited about the training ahead.” 
  • "We were looking for lay leadership training assistance to support implementation of our strategic plan. Caroline Black came to our rescue with a well rounded program encompassing basic leadership skills within a spiritual framework. We eagerly anticipate this training!"
Repairers of the Breach, the task force empowered by annual Council to study our response to the sin of racism, is concluding its work with a video presentation at council 2013. The video and accompanying study guide, funded by Formation Ministries, will enable all parishes to engage this difficult subject with suitable materials.

Safe Church training is mandated by General Convention, and a necessary reality of our life in the church.  With diocesan funds, we are able to offer an honorarium to our trainers and provide the highest quality trainings.

Scholarships for continuing education for laity help many take advantage of programs offered here and elsewhere.  Parishes may also access these funds for program support in their own parishes.

  • “Because of the financial support from the diocese, we were able to reimburse people who have been buying supplies for our quarterly children’s formation event out of their own pockets. The support funded our last event and will fund the one coming up in September.”
  • “LPM tuition is $600 per year. This is sometimes a large amount for musicians who may be serving part-time in a small parish. The Diocese has helped several students who have gone through the two-year program with a third of the tuition costs. Thank you to the Diocese for its support of the students in this program.

CLICK HERE for a downloadable copy of this article.


College & Young Adult Ministries

canterbury w&mOne of the most important ways we support young adults in our diocese is through our Bishop Vaché, ECW and Ridley Foundation college scholarship awards. In 2012 alone, scholarships totaling $87,000 were awarded to 44 Episcopal college students in the Diocese of Southern Virginia through the Ridley Foundation. The Bishop Vaché Scholarships provide funds to assist low-income and minority college students in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia.  In 2012, 11 outstanding applicants were awarded $1000 each to offset the cost of their college education. Award winners included: Nora Jackson, Meghan Locke, Steven Oake, Joy Watkins, Eric Beard, Ming Barney, Marquis Evans, Marcus Starman, Santana Belfield, Alexandra King, Markus Jay McCourty. 

Hear what one young man has to say about the impact of the Bishop Vaché award:

I am very grateful and this, along with many other things, ignites a flame of hope and determination in my heart. So, I thank you for your thoughts, consideration and award.
-Marquis Evans, Ascension Norfolk

canterbury oduIn addition to this financial support for Episcopal college students, the diocese also funds five chaplaincies in our region: Christopher Newport University in partnership with St. Stephen’s Newport News, The College of William and Mary in partnership with Bruton Parish, Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College in partnership with Johns Memorial Farmville, St. Paul’s College, and Old Dominion University.

The Young Adults Commission of the diocese, chaired by Erin Brady of Glebe Church Suffolk, is a group of dedicated young adult leaders who meet monthly to share resources and encourage parish-based ministries for Episcopalians in their 20’s and 30’s. This relatively new commission has sponsored programs at Diocesan Council and Bishop’s Days for Parish Leaders.

This year the first diocesan Young Adults Conference will be held December 1 from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. at St. John's Hampton. The conference will feature a special Advent Eucharist and programs by: Bishop Hollerith; Jason Sierra, Young Adult Ministries Officer of the Episcopal Church; and the Young Adults Commission of Southern Virginia.

Young adults and college students are also increasingly active as leaders and staff members for EYC events like October Weekend, November Weekend and Blackstone, and are integral to the ongoing ministry of our Happening program in the diocese. Many also continue to engage as leaders in their home parishes.

Click here for a downloadable copy of this article.


Chanco on the James

Chanco bluffChanco on the James, our diocesan camp and conference center, is the home for Christian spiritual formation for many youth and adults from around our diocese. In 2011, 65 conference groups utilized our retreat center and 554 campers attended summer camp in 2012. 

The conference center is home to youth events such as October Weekend and Happening and to adult events such as the Fresh Start clergy program and Cursillo.  Numerous parishes within our diocese host annual parish family retreats and vestry retreats often taking advantage of our stellar ropes course for team building activities. Family reunions, not for profit groups, the College of William and Mary and many other businesses take advantage of Chanco’s remote, peaceful and beautiful location to rest and rejuvenate while enjoying strategic planning and/or fellowship. Some mistakenly believe that only camp alumni have a strong passion and love for Chanco, however, if you speak to a Happener or a Cursillo alumni, you will often hear an enormous connection to Chanco as a place where spiritual awakening or renewal has occurred.

The camp program at Chanco has been running continuously since 1968 and is accredited by the American Camping Association. This year, Chanco enjoyed the recognition of being voted “Best Summer Camp” in Virginia Living Magazine’s May 2012 “Best Of” edition. Residential campers enjoy a range of outdoor activities; traditional camp skits, songs, and traditions; along with a structured chaplain program including small group activities with a camp chaplain, worship and Eucharist. Many youth report discovering God in a different way in our relaxed, natural environment. Breaking bread among old and new friends with a priest who has developed a personal relationship with them through their camping experience can be profound and a different awakening to their spirituality than can be found elsewhere. 

Chanco fluornoyNone of these programs could exist without the diocesan subsidy that Chanco receives annually. In these tough economic conditions the subsidy has decreased in recent years, however continuing to receive this subsidy has been essential to Chanco’s continued growth and progress. For example, Chanco awarded $22,060 in tuition assistance to camper families in 2012 and Conference Center Lodges A and D have undergone extensive exterior renovations within the last two years.  Chanco depends on the diocesan subsidy in order to continue this type of scholarship assistance and needed property renovation while keeping costs low to our camp and conference guests. Thank you for being a part of our progress and our future with your support.

Listen to what our camp and conference guests say about Chanco’s ministry:

  • “I will always carry the Chanco spirit with me no matter how old or far away I am... By introducing me to Chanco, my life has been changed. I have met great life-long friends and have definitely been brought closer to God.” – Jessica Denomme, Redeemer, Midlothian
  • “We had a great retreat! You are our diocesan retreat center!  We tell EVERYBODY (all other Canterbury groups) what a great place Chanco is!” – The Rev. John Maxwell Kerr, Canterbury, William and Mary
  • “I am extremely thankful for Christ and Grace’s contribution to my scholarship for Camp Chanco on the James. It helped enable me to spend a wonderful twelve days of my summer at a camp where I have made lifelong friends and bonds. Chanco has urged the leader in me to step forward…The lessons I have learned will forever accompany me as I made decisions in my everyday life.” – Catherine Poarch, Christ and Grace, Petersburg
  • “We laughed, listened and learned all weekend... Every year we say ‘This is the best’ and then the next year it gets better! You are a shining example of hospitality and it is clear that you are being used by God to further His kingdom as you manage and share His resources. – Annette Irving, St. Gile’s Presbyterian Church Women’s Retreat
  • “The best thing about Camp Chanco is the zip line!  The most important thing about Chanco is living together like a family.” –Laurann Banazek, Redeemer, Midlothian
  • “While sitting on the bluff praying to God I heard and felt my call to ordained ministry. Chanco is truly on Holy grounds.” – The Rev. Gini DiStanislao, St. Paul’s & St. Andrew’s, Kenbridge

CLICK HERE for a downloadable copy of this article


Supporting the Episcopal Church

GC HEWe are one of the 110 dioceses of The Episcopal Church, and cooperate with our brothers and sisters in the US and overseas (i.e. Haiti, Taiwan, Europe) as we minister in the name of Christ in terms of ‘The Anglican Five Marks of Mission:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church has asked each diocese to financially assist in living out this ministry by sharing 19% of our 2011 income over $120K. Additional funding for these ministry areas comes from a 5% draw on unrestricted investment assets of The Episcopal Church, along with the rental of space in the Church Center in NYC.

Specifically, our giving to The Episcopal Church supports these priorities:
  • Block grants to dioceses and agencies throughout the church for new work in each of the Five Marks of Mission
  • Funding for the ministry of Episcopal Relief and Development
  • Grants for campus ministry and national youth gatherings
  • Funding for a conversation on restructuring the church
  • Funding for a Development Office to seek major financial gifts for The Episcopal Church

Another way of understanding the budget is in terms of three broad categories: Program, Corporate and Canonical. The Program category, essentially spending on “mission” comprises 48% of the expense budget. About half this amount is grants made to others (e.g., supporting off-shore and smaller domestic Dioceses, Episcopal Relief and Development, etc.) The remaining half pays salaries, benefits, travel and other costs of The Episcopal Church program staff (including domestic and international missionaries).

The Corporate category comprises 31% and includes costs like these:
  • Support functions such as Finance, HR, IT, Chief Operating Officer, and building occupancy costs
  • Debt service (interest and loan repayment) on the $37 million borrowed in 2004 to pay for improvements to the corporate headquarters building at 815 Second Avenue in New York City

GC deputiesThe Canonical category represents 21%:

  • Expenses related to governance, including for General Convention, Executive Council, House of Bishops and House of Deputies
  • Other types of canonically mandated expenses such as for the Office of Pastoral Development, Title IV & litigation expense, and the TEC Archives
  • Less than 8% of the budget is spent on General Convention, its committees, commissions, agencies and boards, the Executive Council, the House of Deputies, the House of Bishops, and the Office of General Convention together
So, given the budget of The Episcopal Church, how well does the Diocese of Southern Virginia in meeting the 19% asking? Not so well. Our diocese consistently gives significantly less than asked, and is one of the lowest givers in The Episcopal Church. In 2012, we are planning to give $132,200 – about 7%. In 2013, the draft budget anticipates giving $161,475 for the work of The Episcopal Church, 9%, as opposed to the asking of 19%; if we gave what was asked we would send $340,892.

The Program, Budget, and Review Committee recognizes there is a tension between what we are asked by General Convention to do to help the larger church, and what we want to do to fund critical ministries in our own Diocese. In 2010 Bishop Hollerith challenged the Diocese to increase our giving to The Episcopal Church to 10% of income in five years. We are coming close and once we do, will look forward to the next challenge of meeting the full asking.

CLICK HERE for a downloadable copy of this article.


Last Published: October 28, 2015 10:57 AM