I am glad to report that we have a date for the Bishop’s visitation. He will be joining us on Sunday, September 29th, 2019, when he will confirm 2 Adults and N. young people. He will also celebrate Eucharist and join us for reception afterwards. Bishop Magness, is our interim Bishop, but he will still be with even though we will have elected a new Bishop on September 21st. At this writing the election has not taken place (dah!) since it is about a month and a half away. But I will certainly let you know who is elected.
I can give you now some information on the four candidates for the position of 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Virginia. The nominees are: The Rev. Canon John T. W. Harmon, The Rev. Susan B. Haynes, The Rev. Canon Victoria Heard, The Rev. Sven L. van Baars. Below are their autobiographies:
The Rev. Canon John T. W. Harmon
Discerning my vocation has been a lifelong journey. My earliest recollection was as a child. Years before my mother presented me to the priest, I played church at home with the neighborhood children. Then, I had already expressed to my parents my desire to become a priest. In 1976, my mother took to me to see the rector. He met with us and my mother uttered the words that took shape and directed my life up to this very moment. She said what I already knew in my heart, “My son wants to be a priest. Here he is.” The rector looking me asked, “So you want to be a priest?” My response was simply, “yes.” My mother left me with the priest, what trust. Like Hanna, my mother knew that before I was her child, I was God’s child.
The early formation of my vocation that began and took shape with my parents and the very notion of my belonging to God was strengthened on Sunday afternoons. After church, the rector and I traveled to small village churches to conduct worship services. Silence, prayer, and conversations (small talk) marked those long trips. My rector became my
When I was fifteen, my mother died. Her death marked a critical moment in my life. The deep loss I experienced heralded a pivotal shift in my life and spiritual journey. It crystallized a cardinal wisdom that brought into sharp focus the faith my mother and father imparted. She often said, “You belong to God. You are God’s child.” Fully aware of my busy-ness with church activities, my mother, one Sunday stood before me and said, “Don’t get too busy doing church-work that you forget to do God’s work.” I pray never lose sight of God’s work in my commitment to the work of the church and my ministry.
In 1980, a civil war broke out in Liberia. Fearing for my life, my family insisted that I leave for the United States. The civil war intensified, and my father was subsequently killed.
My life is shaped by prayer and public witness. A natural transition from my parents, first teachers and practitioners of faith, prayer and hospitality. By thirteen, I was teaching Sunday school, leading Bible studies and preaching. I worked inner city and studied organized street ministry.
Other influences are the mysticism of Howard Thurman and Rabindranath Tagore, Augustine’s thoughts about memory and self, Hegel’s observation about consciousness and the wisdom of those who pursued a spiritual and holy life. I am moved by the passion of young adults seeking to change the world. I feel called to address suffering in the world, particularly the concerns of the poor and marginalized, attend to the needs of the elderly, youth and children, speak out against injustice, honor the hopes and humanity of all persons. I seek to articulate in my life a spiritual vision love.
My wife, Keeva, and I are the parents of three young adult children, Joshua, Jarena, and Justin.
The Rev. Susan B. Haynes
In a one-room church in the low country of South Carolina, my faith was formed under the watchful eye of my grandmother. She taught me to sing the hymns, pray the prayers and say the creeds. There I learned that even a small faith community can powerfully impact the life of one person. That little church challenged me to be the person God was calling me to be and gave me he courage to answer the call. Because of their witness, I know how important every congregation is. As I consider the ministry of the episcopate, I bring the gift of a strong belief in the power of even the smallest of congregations!
That low country faith sustained me through elementary and high school and on to an Episcopal college where, as a member of the chapel choir, I was introduced to the liturgy for the first time. That introduction turned out to be a homecoming that led to my confirmation during my junior year. The liturgical grounding I received from that experience equips me to be at home in any number of different liturgical expressions.
Each of us receives gifts from the Holy Spirit at our baptism. My own gifts include compassion and an abiding sense for pastoral care. That pastoral care is manifested in the care of my congregation as I led them through their own challenge of reaching beyond their comfort zone to raise the money for the renovation of their building and installation of an elevator. As a result, the congregation developed a strong sense of self-confidence that enabled them to stretch even further out into the community to bring healing and hope to those struck by tragedy, poverty and hopelessness.
With a gift for building relationships, I have established a network of healthy, competent lay persons in my congregation. These lay persons have stepped into vocations to preach, to provide pastoral care, to help in the administration of the church, to go out into the neighborhood and to greet the newcomer. We are beginning to see a way forward for the church in a time when priests are not always available or when they are seriously overworked. This vision has prompted me to begin work on a lay discernment and formation program that challenges all of the baptized to realize
A strong laity is sustained by healthy, well nurtured clergy. As a priest of compassion, I have reached out to colleagues on many occasions to support them as they respond to stress, loss, overwork and burn-out. I delight in assisting colleagues who face complicated situations in a profession that can be isolating and spiritually demanding.
Tom and I would delight in the opportunity to join you in your journey. We are both Episcopal priests (in both English and Spanish). We have two adult daughters, Sarah and Avery. We both come from families with military backgrounds. Wherever God has called us, He has not failed to use us mightily! My faith began in a little church, but God is spreading it in manifold ways. I am delighted to be in discernment as to whether he is calling us to join our faiths to work as bishop and people.
The Rev. Canon Victoria Heard
The Rev. Canon Victoria Heard was born in Washington, D.C. at a military hospital, her father being a retired military officer. She grew up on a farm in The Plains, Virginia, the youngest of four children. Victoria met her future husband, David Ridgely, at a debating society when she was an undergraduate and he was a graduate student at the University of Virginia. They have three grown children: Edward, David Jr. and Elizabeth.
Victoria answered a call to ministry, graduating with honors from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria in 1982 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1984, serving at St James, Leesburg, first as assistant rector and later as acting rector. During that period she re-opened Christ Church, Lucketts, an experience that led her to become vocationally interested in church growth and planting. She next served on the staff of the Diocese of Virginia and as curate at Pohick Church, Lorton, and in 1989 Victoria successfully planted St. David’s, Ashburn, turning a historic ruin into a new
In 1990, her husband David, a civilian attorney with the Department of Defense, accepted an opportunity to work for the Army in Italy and Germany, where they and their first child spent the next four years. Victoria established an Episcopal community in Vicenza, Italy and, following their move to Frankfurt, Germany; she served as a canon to the Bishop of the Armed Forces.
Returning to the States in 1994, she became associate and then interim rector of St. George’s, Arlington. In 1997, she was invited again to serve the Diocese of Virginia as missioner for church planting under Bishop David Jones. From 1997 to 2006, she planned, organized, recruited and trained clergy and supervised newly planted churches, leading to the establishment of fourteen new missions and parishes in the diocese. These including negotiation and purchase of a former Baptist church to serve the diocese’s first unyoked Spanish-speaking mission. Victoria wrote, directed and edited a video on church planting that has been used in other dioceses and provinces and she has taught church planting courses at Episcopal seminaries and at national conferences.
In 2006, Victoria was recruited by Bishop James Stanton to join the staff of the Diocese of Dallas, serving as Canon for Church Planting and Congregational Development. She also serving as acting Canon to the Ordinary. She has served six times as a delegate to General Convention.
In 2016, Victoria accepted a call as rector of Church of the Redeemer in Irving, Texas, where she currently serves, relearning and re-experiencing both the joys and occasional challenges of fulltime parish ministry. She also currently serves on the diocesan Standing Committee.
Victoria walks, swims, kayaks and (too) seldom discards her (too many) books. She enjoys gardening and both domestic and foreign travel, having been to much of Europe, Israel, Russia (where she and David adopted their daughter Elizabeth), South Korea, the Caribbean and Central America.
The Rev. Sven L. vanBaars
With a name like mine, people usually expect to meet someone who is tall, blonde, and has an accent. Except for my Virginia accent, I don’t meet those expectations. I am 5th generation Norfolk County and 1st generation American. My mother’s family has deep roots in southeast Virginia and my father immigrated to this country to serve in the US Navy. I grew up in Chesapeake, and our family went to the Presbyterian Church that my great grandfather had helped found. I tell people we went regularly – “Christmas, Easter, and whenever grandma took us.” Religion was not a priority in my parents’ lives.
It was during college that I began to assume responsibility for my faith. A seminal moment for me was being cast in a community theatre production of Godspell. Matthew’s Gospel, on which the script is based, was unfamiliar to me. It was intriguing and lively. Rehearsals were held at the local Episcopal Church. I first met the Episcopal Church in the parish hall and at the Christmas Eve midnight Mass.
My first job after graduation was in northeastern NC. I attended the Presbyterian Church. I wasn’t fitting in but I wasn’t yet ready to give up on the denomination of my family. One Sunday I was sitting in my car on the street in front of the church waiting for the last possible moment to go in when I saw something two blocks away. I left the car to see what was happening. Several churches were gathering in a parking lot for the Blessings of the Palms. I didn’t know what Palm Sunday was. When the blessing ended, I followed the cross to St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church. It was there that I met my future wife and there that I was confirmed. I only went back to the Presbyterian Church to get my car.
Shortly after our marriage, Jen and I moved because of my work and became active in a small congregation near Harrisonburg, VA. In the years there I took on almost every lay position and became aware of the role a diocese plays in the life of a congregation. I joined a diocesan committee and would consult with parishes about their giving and pledging programs. This gave me a breadth of understanding for parishes of varied sizes and liturgical styles.
In 2006, I ended my first career and attended seminary full-time, graduating in 2008. In my ordained ministry, I have served two parishes. I find great joy in being a priest. Walking with people in their faith; being present in Word and Sacrament for life moments; and empowering the church to be the body of Christ call upon gifts that I have. It has also caused me to develop new gifts and to strengthen others.
I find strength in several places. My daily prayer routine grounds me. My colleague group and spiritual director provide places for on-going discernment and support. My marriage is a profound source of strength.
You can find more information on-line at www.diosova.org. In the meantime, keep the search process for our new Bishop in your prayers and for the four individuals and their families who have offered themselves to serve Christ in
Prayer for the Bishop Search
Almighty and most gracious God, source of all wisdom and guidance, send your Holy Spirit to guide us as we seek and discern a shepherd for the Diocese of Southern Virginia. Inspire us with hope, hearts to love you and a desire to serve one another. Grant us grace to entrust you with the future of your Church and all things. We ask in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.