June, 2011
                 The Virginia



472 graduate

from Roanoke College 

RC Grad 2011  


            A total of 472 Roanoke College seniors graduated at a commencement ceremony on the front campus on May 7.

            Dr. George Herring, a Roanoke alumnus who taught at Ohio and Kentucky universities and is an authority on the Vietnam War, told the graduates each generation of Americans has faced serious problems like war, depression and nasty political partisanship. His advice to the graduates: "work hard, have fun and be good to those around you."

            Two Roanoke Valley graduates--Sarah Pauline Cohen and Adam "Cody" Sexton-were valedictorians.
            Herring, David and Susan Goode of Norfolk were awarded honorary degrees. College Chaplain Paul Henrickson spoke at the baccalaureate service on May 6.
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In This Issue
472 graduate from RC
Lutherans in the news
Assembly highlights
Women coming from Papua
Outreach increased
Jersild writes
Florida pastor pedals
107 needy families helped
VA banners in Afghanistan
Callahan to hold seminar
Popular coffee hour
Joyful stewards
Precious angels
ACTS enriches faith
Quick Links

Lutherans in the news


            Pastor C. Frederick Eichner will retire in August after serving nine years at Lakeside Lutheran, Littleton, N.C. and a total of 45 years in the parish. A Cumberland. Md. native, he's a graduate of Gettysburg College and Seminary. His first call was at Christ, Fredericksburg, where he served more than seven years. He served at Our Shepherd, Severna,  Md. for 28 years. He and his wife, Gail, have three children and six grandchildren. Education, growth in worship and music, start of an internship program and increases in ecumenical relationships have been priorities at Lakeside.

Duane Steels


          Pastor Duane Steele has retired at Gladesboro, Carroll County, after 32 years of service. Steele, who has been without sight since birth, said he hopes to find a way to reach out to those with varying degrees of disability across the ELCA. He has made many performances, singing and playing the piano. A native of Livingston Manor, N. Y. and a graduate of Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and Gettysburg Seminary, he and his wife, Janet, have four children.

          Pastor James Nickols will be installed as pastor of Our Saviour, Norge, on Sunday, June 12, at 4 p.m. He formerly served at Peninsula Pastoral Counseling Center and as pastor of Reformation, Newport News.

          Pastor John Herman, Peace, Charlottesville, received a doctor of ministry degree from Philadelphia Seminary in May. His thesis, "Growing Disciples: The Impact of Discipleship Groups on the Spiritual  Vitality of a Congregation," was based on a long-term approach to spiritual growth at Peace.

          An exhibit of 17 paintings by Kurt Seidel, Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach, was shown at the Virginia Beach Central Library in May. The paintings are from his time in Virginia from 2008 to 2011. Seidel also is an officer in the Logistics  branch of the German Navy.

          The Human Warmth Fund under Lutheran Family Services raised over $14,000 and gave most of that to families in need in the Tidewater area last winter. The fund served 106 families who each received $100 per household toward their heating bill cutoff notice.

          Thirteen members of  First Lutheran, Norfolk, will travel to Tanzania in July to visit 86 students at the Faraja Primary School for Children with Physical Disabilities. Contributions for shoes for the children will be taken to Tanzania by the group.

          Pastor David Nelson, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, has started a four-month sabbatical. Nelson and Beth Croushorn of Harrisonburg plan to marry this summer.

          When the "Welcome" sign at Our Saviour, Virginia Beach, blew down in a violent thunderstorm, Interim Pastor Larry Shoberg challenged the congregation to minister in the sign's place as "a sign to the community..advertising Jesus Christ wherever you are: at home, at work and at play."

          Following a successful 50th anniversary staff reunion at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp last year, another gathering of staff alumni and their children is planned for Oct. 21-23 at the camp. Hikes, campfires, worship, crafts and camp songs are planned.

Members of Grace and Glory, Palmyra, joined United Methodists in collecting building supplies, baby and personal hygiene items and clothing for "the poverty-stricken community of Hurley in Buchanan County."

          Junior and senior high youth at Christ, Roanoke, plan a "Youthworks" mission camp in Steubenville, Ohio, working with youngsters in a day camp and doing light construction for elderly residents June 19-24.

          Roanoke College recently ranked in the top 25 among the Top 100 Social Media Colleges by Student Advisor, a ranking of more than 6,000 schools based upon mastery of social media tools and websites. Roanoke was commended for its "exceptional use of video" and "great blog."

          Kate Moomaw, daughter of Ron and Julie Moomaw, Prince of Peace, Basye, has accepted a post as assistant conservator of contemporary and modern art at the Denver Art Museum.



Story sharing, elections will highlight Assembly


            The 24th annual Assembly of the ELCA Virginia Synod will open Friday afternoon at Roanoke College in Salem with worship and a sermon by Pastor John Wertz of St. Michael, Blacksburg, and the first keynote presentation by Dr. Jessicah Krey Duckworth, assistant  professor of Christian formation at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.



           Duckworth, a graduate of George Washington University and Philadelphia Seminary, has completed a doctorate in practical theology with emphasis on Christian education at Princeton University. She formerly was associate pastor of a Doylestown, Pa. church. The daughter and wife of pastors, she has three children. Duckworth will continue her presentations on the Assembly theme, "Ambassadors for Christ: Sharing the Story, Living the Faith" on Friday evening and Saturday morning.

            A highlight of the Assembly will be elections for the offices of bishop, vice president and secretary.  Bishop James Mauney, Judge Charles Poston, vice president, and Janet Gomez, secretary, have said they are willing to serve another term.  Mauney has completed two six-year terms and Poston and Gomez have served one four-year term.

             Voting for bishop will start Friday afternoon by ecclesiastical ballot-without nominations. Elections also will be held for three clergy seats and one lay member of Synod Council, as well as eight members of the Consultation Committee and three on the Discipline Committee.

            Three resolutions and a memorial were received in the Synod office by the end of May. The Synod Council recommends an increase in congregational mission support, following a recent letter from Bishop Mauney. The resolution asks the Assembly to approve a request for congregations to contribute a minimum of 10 percent of undesignated giving next year to the Synod's mission and ministry and through the Synod to the ELCA. Those congregations giving 10 percent or more this year are encouraged to grow beyond this level in 2012 and those giving under 10 percent are encouraged to adopt a plan to grow toward 10 percent in the future. A second resolution from New River Conference pastors calls for a shift from annual to biennial synod assemblies.

            A memorial, proposed for the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, asks that the national church support 2011 as the United Nations International Year of People of African Descent "by recognizing and celebrating the rich history, diverse cultures, vast contributions and gifts for ministry of people of African descent within the ELCA and society." The memorial originated with the Synod African American Outreach Team.

            The memorial calls for continuing efforts to eradicate racism, prayer for the rights and work of human rights defenders and advocacy for full social, economic and cultural inclusion for ethnic-specific and multicultural ministries and pastors within congregations, synods and churchwide organizations.

            Another resolution would affirm the ministry of the late Pastor Patti Arthur of St. Peter's, Toms Brook, who died last Sept. 11.


VSWO welcomes

two women from Papua New Guinea

     by Jody Smiley, VSWO president


            The Virginia Synodical Women's Organization (VSWO) with great enthusiasm accepted a challenge in 2008 to raise enough funds to bring two women from Papua New Guinea (PNG) to Virginia in 2011.  After three years of hard work, incredible generosity, and lots of prayers this dream is about to become a reality.

            Miriam Muyambe and Mary Irasua from PNG will be coming to Virginia in July.  They will first attend the Eighth Triennial Gathering of the Women of the ELCA in Spokane, WA from July 14 to 17.  They will leave Spokane and travel to Virginia.  While they are in Virginia they will attend the 24th Annual Convention of the VSWO and visit many congregations in the synod.  They will return home early in August.

            Miriam is married and a mother. She lives in Kimbe, West New Britain Province, and attends Bethel Lutheran Church. It is one of the larger and more modern church buildings. She serves as the treasurer for the New Guinea Islands (NGI) District Women's Organization.

            Mary is also married and has six children, all adults. She also lives in West New Britain Province. Mary was trained through the Lutheran Life Care Program and is a qualified trainer in HIV/AIDS awareness.  She coordinates the social issues program in PNG for the World Christian Temperance Union.

            Please plan to meet these amazing and faithful women while they are in our Synod.  You can do this by attending the VSWO convention, July 22-24 at Roanoke College.  For registration information go to www.vswo.org or contact me at jdsmiley29@comcast.net.  If you would like to know what congregations they will be visiting, please contact Diane Giessler, zephyr@swva.net.

Luther Memorial increases outreach


            Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, is giving social ministry and outreach a high priority with plans for increased hands-on service, responding to basic human needs, according to Pastor Bill King, pastor for social ministry and outreach.  King, formerly working on campus ministry in Region 9, has shifted his focus to social ministry while continuing to lead campus ministry activities at Virginia Tech.

            In an update on the new emphasis, King said a task force has been fleshing out the commitment to responding to human needs. The congregation expects to serve as a host for To Our House, a thermal shelter for homeless men in the New River Valley, and to help with packing and distributing lunches at two mobile home parks in a summer feeding program for at-risk children. A July trip to help with cleanup from tornado damage at Glade Spring and a project to glean food for distribution through the Feeding America food bank in Salem are planned.

            King said the congregation also expects to partner with New River Valley Child Advocacy Resources, Education & Services (NRVCares) to offer "Parenting Young Children" courses, with a goal of breaking a cycle of neglect and abuse by offering parents a way to develop parenting skills and strategies.

            The congregation already supports several ministries through a Change for Change program, works on drives for an interfaith food pantry, gives budget support to an emergency assistance program, helps a shelter for homeless families and provides a full scholarship for a Tanzanian student to attend university.


Jersild writes of evolution and religion


            Dr. Paul Jersild, a professor emeritus of theology and ethics at Southern Seminary and a member of First Lutheran, Norfolk, has written a book for Fortress Press entitled "The Nature of our Humanity - Ethical Issues in Genetics and Biotechnology."

            Jersild addresses human nature in view of the conflict between science and religion. Looking at human origins, he recognizes biological evolution as God's way of creating and maintaining life. But he argues that evolution does not justify an atheistic world view or reducing humanity to its biological roots. He challenges the efforts of genetic engineers to improve or redesign human nature through genetic manipulation. The book is directed at laypersons who may be puzzled or threatened by opposing views on both origins and destiny as human beings and creatures of God.                     

Florida pastor pedals

across Virginia for Haiti project


           Pastor Frank Wagner of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Juno Beach, Fla., rode a bicycle across Virginia in May, pedaling 700 miles in a project which has raised $60,000 for a health center in Haiti.

            Wagner was accompanied by his wife, Martina Wagner, who drove a support car and gave directions.  They stopped for presentations on Haiti at Holy Trinity, Wytheville, and Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg. Wagner said he had no accidents or malfunctions in the trip from Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton, Fla., to Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Fairfax.

            The 12-day trip supported the Village of Hope, a Christian grassroots ministry with 20 years of experience in helping Americans and Canadians to understand the challenges and solutions of Third World countries.

Clothing provided for 107 needy families

     by Pastor Karen Taylor 

             I came to Bethlehem, Waynesboro, a small congregation worshiping about 30 on an average Sunday, in January, 2010. There was a good spirit of kindness and generosity among the people but no real structure to provide an outlet for that graciousness outside of their relationships to one another.

             We began to look at what we had and not all the things we didn't have. One of the simplest ways for us to help care for those in need in the community was to offer a clothing giveaway just before the start of school season. We decided this would not be a sale but a true giveaway of the surplus of things we had for the sake of others who did not have enough.

            The ground rule was that there would be no limit to how much people could take. They were asked to take only what they and their families could use. On the Saturday of the giveaway-which was advertised very minimally, mostly by word of mouth-the congregation appeared with mountains of clothing for all ages.

           Some of the clothing came in dry cleaning bags, professionally cleaned. Some were brand new, tags attached. One pair of jeans had a $90 price tag. Some brought school supplies no longer needed, such as backpacks, and new items such as pencils and notebooks. Some brought bedspreads, winter boots, all kinds of shoes, child car seats and more.

             One stranger called to say that she had seen the notice on our church sign as she drove by. This was the time of year when she cleaned her closets and took donations to charities for their thrift store. But this year, she said she was so impressed that we were giving away items and not selling them that she much preferred to donate to our event. She dropped off four large bags of clothing.

              On the day of the event we served 107 families. It was a joy-filled event for us and a blessing to see the pleasure on the faces of the needy who came and took what they needed, unrestricted by limits on what they could have. Several handed me a little money because they felt the need to donate what they could. The $8 we received that day felt like the widow's mite. It meant all the more because it came as a sacrificial offering from the heart and not from obligation or surplus.

               It was our first venture in pure charity of this sort and it blessed our hearts and strengthened our resolve to be a servant church. We will repeat this kind of event and use it to help define the direction of ministry in which God is leading us. 

Virginia banners placed in Afghanistan chapel


            When Messiah, Virginia Beach, recently closed, its banners and paraments were moved to a new home in Afghanistan. The banners were placed in the unit chapel at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, the worship facility for soldiers of Task Force Ironman. Members of St. Paul, Hampton, helped Pastor Jean Bozeman, assistant to the bishop, clean the Virginia Beach church

Callahan to hold leadership seminar Sept. 6-7




            Dr. Kennon L. Callahan, a nationally recognized church consultant, will lead a seminar for pastors and lay leaders on "Developing Keys to an Effective Church" at St. Mark's, Roanoke, on Sept. 6-7. The seminar is designed for "developing leaders, encouraging leaders, bridging with people."

            Participants will learn to build on strengths, discover ways to develop leadership skills, develop congregation leaders, learn what motivates people to act and strengthen connections with people. Callahan led a similar seminar at St. Philip, Roanoke, last September. An $85 registration fee will be charged for the two-day event.

            Callahan, who lives at Dallas, Tex., is the author of 15 books, including Twelve Keys to an Effective Church. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and he taught at Emory University and founded a Center for Continuing Education at the Candler School of Theology at Emory. He founded a national program providing training and certification for pastors and church administrators. He also served as pastor of rural and urban congregations in Ohio, Texas and Georgia. 

For more information, contact Pastor John Wertz Jr., seminar coordinator, at pastorjohn@stmlc.us or 540-951-8951. Registration should be sent to Mission Leaders Network, 2308 Merrimac Road, Blacksburg, VA 24060. 


 Gladesboro has popular Wednesday coffee hour 


            When Pastor Joe Shumate became interim pastor at Gladesboro, Carroll County, after the retirement of longtime Pastor Duane Steele, he and his wife, Liz Shumate, started a popular activity-a Wednesday morning coffee hour for church members and neighbors to gather for conversation.

            Meeting for coffee and a sweet roll is "a little social event" because there is no other place in the community for people to meet and talk, Shumate said. Twenty or more meet at the church every Wednesday at 9. The Shumates noticed in their travels that seniors often meet at fast food restaurants for morning coffee but the rural community of Gladesboro, 10 miles east of Hillsville, doesn't have such a place. Shumate, who has retired more than once, travels to Gladesboro from his home in Wythe County.

Joyful stewards of life

     by Pastor Kenneth Albright, Grace and Glory, Palmyra


            Have you ever thought about all the good stewards of life that you have come to know and admire?  I want to share a few that have impressed me along the way.

            I know a man who picked up the trash others discarded each day as he walked in his neighborhood.

            I know a person who chose to buy all of his clothing from Goodwill stores.

            I know a person who saved up every quarter he received for a decade and brought them to church one Sunday and filled a wheelbarrow with them to support the ELCA World Hunger Appeal.

            I know a woman who sang to her plants and canned produce from her abundant garden every year and lived from it all year 'round.

            I know a man who found a $20 bill beside the road one Saturday and quietly placed it in the offering plate on Sunday.

            I know a woman who is blessed with good health so she donates accumulated sick days to those who are enduring a hardship.

            I know a man who prayed over every purchase before he made it, right down to his shoes. And sometimes, his prayers prevented him from buying what he wanted but did not need.

            I know a driver who changed his driving habits to sip as little fuel from his high-efficiency vehicle as possible.

            I know a woman who treated her 15-year-old car like a loyal dog and was determined to keep it running well in its old age as it had run well for her in its youth.

            I know that all these people are followers of Christ, whose practices exemplify the merger of faith and values.

            They are joyful stewards of all that has been entrusted to them. Their actions remind me that the Risen One is alive and well and renewing the earth and all who dwell therein.

            (From Grace Notes, newsletter of Grace and Glory)


Precious Angels Preschool opens in Portsmouth

     by Gary Fletcher

precious angels

Precious Angels: Hannah, Halee,Orlando, Carlie, Will and Aidan prepare to join Pastor Stephen McGinnis and Ms.Jeanie in a Palm Sunday service at Precious Angels Daycare.

              Perceiving a need for more Christian training and education opportunities for young children in their community, the people of Holy Communion Lutheran Church of Portsmouth have expanded their ministry.  In early 2011, after more than a year of planning and preparation, the church opened the doors of the Precious Angels Preschool.  

            The church had been blessed by having a cottage that was looking for a mission.  Then Sherrie Fletcher, a former preschool teacher from Everett, Washington moved to Portsmouth.  With strong faith, love, and a passion for helping children, she proposed the cottage be converted into a faith-based preschool.  With a lot of drive and patience, the cottage was renovated, the long process of compliance with City of Portsmouth requirements was completed, wonderful teachers were found, and the preschool is now open.

            Precious Angels Preschool provides a kind and caring faith-based environment for little students from infant through age four.  The preschool is from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, year-round.  The preschool also offers extended care between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. The response from the community has been tremendous, and some classes have a waiting list.

            The Church, Director Sherrie, and teachers Ms. Lizz and Ms. Jeanie are very excited to be able to share the love of God with his tiniest children.  

You can learn more about the "Angel School" online at www.PreciousAngelsPreschool.org, and about the church at www.HolyCom.org 


ACTS enriches knowledge and faith


            (Geri Smiejan, president of Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach, wrote this appreciation of the ACTS program for the Shepherd's Horn, her congregation's newsletter.)


            Acts, a book of the Bible, yes, but ACTS is also Ambassadors Community for

Theological Study. I know that sounds daunting but it is a wonderful opportunity to enrich your knowledge and faith.

            The ACTS program is a series of courses offered by the Virginia Synod in the fall and spring. They are designed to help us delve more deeply into the Bible, our faith and to equip us to intentionally share our Christian faith with our families, friends, neighbors and even further, as ambassadors for Christ.

            The courses usually consist of two large group meetings, one at the beginning and one at the end, with several small group meetings in between. I just began my first ACTS course on April 16 and I am excited. The course I am taking is "The Christian's Call Today."

            Our large group met at St. John's in Norfolk on the 16th and via Skype, were able to interact live with participants at the main site at Grace in Waynesboro and Ebenezer in Marion. We could also hear and interact with the guest speaker, the Rev. Roberto Duran, a director in the Congregational and Synodical Mission Unit of the ELCA, who was at the site in Waynesboro.

            Isn't it amazing how technology makes our world smaller? Anyway, before I start going on forever let me just share with you that the focus of the course is the fact that the gift we have received is a call and the call is a gift. Interested? I hope so.






Editor:  George Kegley   
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