This post was written by the Rev. Canon Mark Furlow, Canon to the Ordinary and Chief Operating Officer of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. Read Mark’s bio here.
During the summer, the diocesan staff continued to purse the goals of the diocesan Mission Action Plan recently updated this past year. We also took time to clean, reorganize, and prepare for the fall program year. It has been my honor to serve alongside all the staff as Canon to the Ordinary and Chief Operating Officer.
One of the joys of my role has been supporting our various diocesan institutions. On June 27, I joined Bishop Heath Light, Chaplain Kristie Miles, and Development Coordinator Connie Sowa for the dedication of the new Drinkard Health Center at Westminster Canterbury in Lynchburg.
During the first week of July, I assisted Anita Boyd, the Director of Grace House on the Mountain, by leading a work group from Grace Episcopal Church, Nyack, New York in a dry wall installation project. The project site was a residence in Coeburn, Virginia.
On July 25 and 26, I joined the Boys Home board for their summer meeting and contributed to their new strategic planning process. It was good to see Executive Director Donnie Wheatley and Chaplain Anne Grizzle.
Perhaps the greatest highlight of the summer was assisting Canon Melissa Hays-Smith on the Pilgrimage for Racial Justice. Before the pilgrimage, I had the opportunity to have lunch with all three of our seminarians from Southwestern Virginia at The Virginia Theological Seminary: William Yagel, Cara Modisett, and Samson Mamour.
The Pilgrimage lifted my spirit and enlivened my faith to join our diocesan focus on Becoming the Beloved Community.
Other summer activities included assisting The Rev. Bob Brodie, and Pamela Garrison with the summer Safeguarding God's People training; supporting Jo and Brain Loop in their efforts to lead our diocesan youth on the Leeds Youth Exchange; and joining The Rev. Joseph Butler and Pattie Ames in welcoming new residents to Aidan House, Roanoke.
Participants joined in person and via the web, which in itself shows the prevalence of tech needs in the church in this digital age. The trainings were a collaboration with our Diocese, The Virginia Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, & Lifelong Learning @ VTS.