The Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia held its 95th annual council this weekend in Roanoke, Virginia, around the theme “One in Mission.” Cara Modisett, the diocesan communications officer, reports from Roanoke:
Those who attend the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia’s Annual Council invariably refer to it as a “family reunion,” and there is that sense — in the warmth, energy, humor and discussions that suffuse the event, which goes far beyond business meetings and votes, encompassing workshops, multiple worship services, live music and youth activities.
Each year, the weekend is bookended, aptly, with services that look back and forward. Friday night’s festival Eucharist at St. John’s, Roanoke, is a traditional service in the towering downtown sanctuary, with Eucharist, pipe organ and a choir made up of singers from across the diocese. Sunday morning, youth and adults join together for a more contemporary service at Hotel Roanoke, with guitars, percussion, singers and flute; the youth enacted the day’s Gospel with the help of a Baptist storyteller from Martinsville. Bishop Bourlakas officiated and gave the sermon at both.
The presence of youth at council is part of the momentum and excitement driving these three days. The youth move into St. John’s, Roanoke, for two nights, working on skits, singing, meeting in small groups. Following Saturday night’s banquet this year, youth and adults joined together for a Stop Hunger Now pack, structured within a Eucharist. Bags of rice and beans, funnels, scales, boxes and people filled a ballroom at the Hotel Roanoke. The packing paused intermittently for prayer, readings and a homily by youth William Merten. The service was partly to remember Michael Sandridge, a youth who died of cancer last year around council time; the pottery for communion had been commissioned by his parents.
At the end of the evening, 50,000 meals were measured, packed and boxed. The adults may have been ready for some quiet time, but the youth boarded buses and and headed back to St. John’s for a coffee house, and more music.
Lauren Kirk’s Youth at Council 2014 slideshow captures the spirit of our great family reunion with Christ in Roanoke and why I am ever grateful to be a part of this mission.