Stories of the Diocese


Five Ways to Bring Lent Home

Feb. 11, 2021
As we await the time when we can gather in person, Lent 2021 will be an opportunity to create new traditions and to be more intentional as we take on a observances at home. How do we mark the beginning of the Lenten season in tangible ways that bring deeper meaning to it? From the imposition of ashes to creative activities to engage kids, here are 5 ways to bring Lent home.

Shrove Tuesday

Many of us will miss the tradition of a Shrove Tuesday Dinner at church, but you can begin a new tradition at home with a guided conversation over your own pancake supper or other meal. Invite everyone at the table to take turns answering questions: Are you planning to give up something for Lent? And: How does Lent help you focus on God? Then read a scripture or prayer and invite reflections from each person. This sheet from Milestone Moments can help you shape your dinner conversation.

Ash Wednesday Bonfire

What better way to engage little ones in the meaning of Ash Wednesday than by roasting s’mores over a bonfire? Leave it to Jerusalem Greer, Evangelism Officer for the Presiding Bishop, to create a beautiful metaphor with a burnt marshmallow. All kidding aside, Greer’s bonfire gathering offers children of all ages a unique way to encounter God’s forgiveness, as prayers are said, stories are shared and as each person cast their regrets into the fire.

Ashes at Home
Parishioners at St. Stephen's, Richmond, were invited
to pick up Ash Wednesday kits to take home. Then to
tune into the live Ash Wednesday service held online. 

Many folks plan to attend their church’s online Ash Wednesday service. This means that you or someone in your household will do the part of imposing the ashes. “Can I do that?!” you ask. The short answer is yes, any baptized member of the church can impose ashes on others. You can even ash yourself. While the imposition of ashes is sacred, it’s not a sacrament, and that’s why you don’t have to be ordained to do it.

Where do I get the ashes? Lots of churches in the Diocese will be providing kits of Ashes to go, but you can also make ashes at home. You can use ashes from your fire pit or burn some leaves. If you have palms from previous years, these are especially appropriate.  After burning, place the ashes in a small bowl or dish and bring to your online or home service.

What’s my line again? When you get to the point in the service where you will impose the ashes, you simply dip your thumb in the bowl of ashes, then trace the sign of the cross on the person’s forehead, while saying the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” After all members of the household have received ashes, including yourself, the service continues.

Conducting Your Own Intergenerational Service

If you won’t be attending a church service online, you can use this liturgy from the Rev. Shivaun Wilkinson. It's especially appropriate for households with younger and older kids. It includes “burying the Alleluia,” (literally digging a whole in the yard and burying written notes), “blowing away the sins” (with bubbles, of course), and the imposition of ashes. 

Pray Daily with a Coloring Calendar

Now that you’ve intentionally marked the beginning of the season, don’t lose the Lenten momentum. You can create a daily prayer calendar. In each space on the calendar, write a word or the name of a person to pray for. Then draw, doodle or color around it, all the while praying for that person or meditating on that word. Think of it as a visual prayer. Need a little inspiration? Praying in Color offers some eye-catching printable calendar templates that can help you get started.

The diocesan Office of Christian Formation offers a well-curated library of Lenten resources, including books, meditations, daily devotions and more. Looking for something specific? Contact diocesan Minister for Christian Formation Paris Ball.

Feb. 11, 2021
VTS Immanuel Chapel Opens Doors to Vaccine Clinic for Underserved Community

The Virginia Theological Seminary is lending its Immanuel Chapel to house a vaccination clinic for the underserved in the community.
“Where normally the focus of a Chapel is on our spiritual health,” said Dean Ian Markham, “from time to time we need our Chapel to function as a place for physical health. This is one of those seasons.” The chapel is currently not being used for worship services due to the pandemic. 
The chapel clinic, which will serve approximately 200 people each Tuesday and Friday, is run by Neighborhood Health to provide vaccinations for their patients, many of whom lack health insurance.
The clinic will run through March 19, but VTS is open to extending their time on campus if there is greater need. 

Desks by Dads at St. Peter's, Arlington 

January 27, 2021

Virtual learning amid the pandemic has put some students at a disadvantage, as not every family can afford the supplies to do school from home. When two dads from St. Peter’s, Arlington, saw a news story about Desks by Dads, they said, “Think we can make 100 desks?” “Let’s get started.”

In 10 days, beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, dozens of St. Peter’s members decided on a design, acquired the lumber (with help from a local company) and built over 100 desks, all while remaining socially distanced, outside of St. Peter’s (thank goodness for good weather). In the meantime, another group of volunteers from St. Peter’s worked with the local county schools on a distribution system, and organized members of the parish to deliver desks to students in need.

Working together, apart:

The production line, from bench saws to staple guns.

The Rev. Dan Spors assembles a “Desk by Dads.”


The sanding team in front of the church doors.

Ready for delivery.


Final quality check before distribution.