Ten Things We Love about Our Faith Communities in SWVA
The Diocese of Southwestern Virginia covers some of the most beautiful land in the country. Stretching from Staunton to Big Stone Gap, Hot Springs to Martinsville, the Diocese is home to fifty-five Episcopal faith communities nestled in and among mountains, rivers, and valleys. It is hard to select the top ten things we love about these faith communities, but here – in no particular order – is just a small taste of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia.
Located in Wise County in far southwestern Virginia, we love how Grace House seeks to be “a place of social justice and advocacy for the welfare of the Appalachian people” and hosts groups from all over the United States. At Grace House, the seemingly minor act of building a wheelchair ramp or painting a wall has incredible power to transform the lives of those in need.
#9 Campus Ministries
We love how our campus ministries in Blacksburg, Radford, and Lexington reach students at Virginia Tech, Radford University, Washington and Lee, and VMI to journey with them at such an important time in their lives and seek the presence of Christ with them. Many of our people have made deep commitments to care for university and community college students as they discern God’s will for their lives.
#8 Aidan Community
The Aidan Community, Roanoke, is home to four young adults who are committed to living in a community as they discern God’s call for their lives. We love how it is a community that is a warm and welcoming to those who are drawn to the deep questions of life but who would not normally walk through the door of an Episcopal Church (or any church). The next Aidan Community is being planted in Staunton this year!
#7 Partnership with Diocese of Haiti
We love that so many of our people are partners in ministry with the people of Haiti. Many of our congregations and diocesan leaders have been working together to raise money to build a school and pay teacher salaries at St. Marc’s Primary School in Cerca-la-Source, and we support the work of St. Vincent’s Center for Children with Disabilities.
#6 Boys Home
Nestled among the Allegheny mountains outside of Covington, VA, Boys Home is a residential campus that provides boys ages 6 to 17 with a caring, committed, and supportive environment where they’re given the tools they need to grow into responsible citizens and members of society. We love how boys can come to Boys Home and develop as whole people — mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually.
#5 Stuart Hall
Stuart Hall is an Episcopal School in Staunton, Virginia, that is celebrating its 175th year! Stuart Hall is full of young people (pre-K through 12, boarding and day) from around the world. Twenty-two countries are represented in its student body. We love how the students come from many different places and systems of belief, yet live in community. Episcopal schools are an example to the world what God’s beloved community can be!
We love that members of our congregations in Wise County have organized to help provide transportation and hospitality to family members so they can visit loved ones who are incarcerated in one of the two state prisons in their county. Church members provide rides, good meals, and overwhelming hospitality to those on the margins through the Rideshare program.
#3 Youth at Annual Convention
We love how each year over a hundred youth come together from across our Diocese to play, pray, and grow in relationships with one another for three days in the midst of our annual diocesan convention.
We love how people across our Diocese have responded to Bishop Curry’s unifying call to become Beloved Community by stepping up to make things happen and embracing racial reconciliation as a way of life. Members of our Diocese have engaged in Allyship Training to learn how to use their privilege to equalize opportunity for all. Parishioners have also participated in story sharing about experiences of discrimination and planned racial reconciliation pilgrimages around the diocese.
We love how so many of our congregations are taking on intentional spiritual practices of listening to God in Scripture, one another, and in the neighbors who live around them—so that they can learn how to respond to how God is moving in the world, not just within their churches. We began two years ago with six pilot parishes under the guidance of missional leadership consultant Dwight Zscheile, and now those parishes will mentor a new round of twelve participating congregations seeking to follow the Holy Spirit into their neighborhoods.