September, 2011
                 The Virginia



Bishop Mauney

reports on "a fine assembly" 


     (Bishop Jim Mauney brought this report back from the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, Fla., in mid-August.)

            I returned from a very fine assembly, having attended with an excellent group of voting members from the Virginia Synod! There was a strong mood of unity in Christ and seeking to be ambassadors of Christ in the world.

            I can't tell you with examples, but I want to express to you there was a joy in our gathering and a desire to serve our Lord together. In our Churchwide Assembly, we sought to become a church supporting its congregations to become vital mission centers of the gospel, to continue as a globally connected church with our 140 companion synods and our full partnership in the Lutheran World Federation, to continue seeking to be a generous church in our welcome to all and in our giving and in our walking with others in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we affirmed the presence and importance of our ecumenical sisters and brothers in the body of Christ.

            We voted to assume a $15-million Malaria Campaign over the next four years and a $18.5-million support of the ELCA World Hunger Appeal this coming year.

            Each day had a wonderful worship service at 11 a.m., with preaching and Holy Communion amid excellent music. The final two days had an assembly choir of over 125 voices accompanied by a symphony of instruments! Three days had the 65 bishops and 65 vice presidents of the synods leading small groups in Bible study.

            Both Matthew Wertman, national president of the Lutheran Youth Organization, and Bill Franz had resolutions passed by the Assembly.

            ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson spoke many encouraging words in his report to the church. "We are a church with clarity about who we are and about our shared commitment to being engaged in God's mission for the life of the world," Hanson said.

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In This Issue
Bishop's Assembly report
Lutherans in the news
Voices of ELCA Assembly
Germanna faith stories
Synod interns/vicars
Food pantry demand triples
9/11 observances
Lutheran firm buys apartments
290 at Grace VBS
Salem, Mt. Sidney dedicates
Grace and Glory breaks ground
Japanese visit Winchester
Bread for the World advocates
Not your parents' VBS
RC classes commence
German youth in Lynchburg
Quick Links

Lutherans in the news


Griffith Harry



            Pastor Harry W. Griffith has come from Jacksonville, N.C., to serve at Our Saviour, Virginia Beach. A California native, he's a graduate of California Lutheran College and he attended Wartburg Seminary and served Good Shepherd, Cleveland, Ohio, before he was called to active Navy duty, serving 28 years on three overseas tours, postgraduate studies in Islam and Marine service in Iraq. He and his wife, the former Annette Andrews, have two children, Ethan and Karen. Griffith  is a member of the endorsing committee for ELCA Federal Ministries and he received a distinguished alumnus award from Wartburg Seminary.

Kuckuck Dan


           Pastor Daniel Kuckuck was ordained at his home church, Resurrection, Fredericksburg, Aug. 27, and he is serving on a pastoral staff of five at St. Paul, a congregation of 3,200 members at Davenport, Iowa. He is serving under a Lilly Endowment grant.  Kuckuck attended the University of Virginia, worked as a psychology researcher and earned a master's degree at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He taught and coached swimming for 10 years and once lived in Rome.

Carlson Family

Carlson family

            Pastors Paul and Lauren Carlson, graduates of Wartburg Seminary, have come from Soldiers Grove, Wis. to accept a call as associate pastors at First, Norfolk. Paul Carlson, a native of California, is a graduate of San Diego State University. Lauren Carlson, a Florida native, grew up in the Atlanta area, graduated from Appalachian State University and spent a year with the Young Adults in Global Mission program of the ELCA. They have a one-year-old son, Henry.

            Pastor Jean Bozeman, newly retired assistant to the bishop, is in physical therapy in Norfolk, recovering from back surgery at the University of Virginia Hospital. She has been walking to therapy.

            Rich White of St. Andrew, Centreville, Metro Washington Synod, has been elected president of the national Lutheran Men in Mission organization.

            Members of St. Philip, Roanoke, have used a first disbursement of more than $257,000 from an estate gift of about $800,000 to retire a mortgage and donate $5,000 to Southern Seminary, ELCA World Hunger and three local organizations in Roanoke. St. Phiilip has a policy of tithing 10 percent of unrestricted gifts outside the congregation. Renovation of the church kitchen is planned. A second payment from the estate of Guy and Fay Kinder is expected next March.

            Resurrection, Fredericksburg, is joining seven other congregations in a remembrance of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with readings of scripture in their churches. Resurrection readers have been asked to read from the Old Testament books of I and II Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah on Friday, Sept. 23, from 5 to 11 p.m. Resurrection also is joining two other congregations to stage a variety show on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m. to benefit local feeding programs for the needy.

            Pastor Rick Goeres, First, Norfolk, said he was touched by "the warm welcome and generous spirit" of people in Tanzania when he accompanied a dozen members of his congregation on a trip to Africa. Witnessing offerings of money and animals was a new lesson in stewardship, seeing the love and energy of school children was inspiring and the entire trip was "filled with the wonder of God's spirit at work among the people of Tanzania," he said.       

            Leslie Gryder, Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, a water treatment operator for the City of Lynchburg, has received a U.S.Environmental Protection Agency Regional Operator of the Year Award, given for a six-state area. Susan Williams has joined the Holy Trinity staff as part-time director of youth and campus ministries.

            Elizabeth McBride, former interim director of liturgical arts, has been named minister of music at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg. Through Orphan Grain Train, a volunteer ministry, Muhlenberg members have donated more than 100 Mercy Kits for the people of Haiti.

            Pastor Richard Carbaugh was recognized on the 30th year of his service at Christ, Fredericksburg.

            Plans are being made for the annual Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center Fall Motorcycle Ride, to be led by Pastor Joe Shumate on Saturday, Sept. 24, traveling across Floyd, Patrick and Carroll counties to see the stone churches built by the late Pastor Bob Childress, subject of the book, "The Man Who Moved a Mountain." For information, contact the retreat center at 276-783-6521.

            On Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 5 p.m., Johannes Brosseder, a lay Catholic theologian who teaches at the University of Cologne, Germany, will speak on "What Now for Catholics and Lutherans after the Agreement on Justification of 1999?" at the Antrim Chapel on the Roanoke College campus. Pastor William Wiecher, College Lutheran, Salem, will give one of two responses.


Many voices heard at the ELCA Assembly

     by Debbie Mintiens 


            The 12th Biennial Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA was held August 15-19,  2011 at the Orlando World Center Marriott.  Our theme was "Freed in Christ to Serve."

            Of the 1,025 voting members; from the Virginia Synod were Bill Franz, Christ, Richmond; Pastor Rick Goeres and Judge Charles Poston, synod vice president, First, Norfolk; Pastor CeCee Mills and Gail Penman, St. Timothy, Norfolk; Debbie Mintiens, Salem, Mt.Sidney; Pastor Steve Ridenhour, Holy Trinity, Wytheville;. Elisabeth Smythe, Ebenezer, Marion; Matt Wertman, president of the national Lutheran Youth Organization, Grace, Waynesboro, and Bishop Jim Mauney and Pastor Chip Gunsten, assistant to the bishop...  Also with us were Patty Franz, Chris Gunsten, Lynda Mauney and Pastor David Penman.

Mauney and Gunsten

Is Pastor Gunsten (left) shorter than Bishop Mauney?

             We worked hard during plenary sessions and a wonderful time of fellowship. 

              "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability."  Acts2:4

            We heard many voices and languages throughout our time together: From the Malaria Campaign, we learned that every 45 seconds a child is dying from malaria.  A $10 mosquito net can save lives, but to a family with an annual income of $60, as their children are dying, a mosquito net is dream.  And so we passed the start of the Malaria Campaign

Wertman Matt

Matt Wertman's resolution to keep the Lutheran Youth Organization alive was passed by a vote of 909 to 30 with a standing ovation.

             We heard from large ranchers and farmers from the Heartland what genetics means to them in agriculture and cattle ranchers.  We heard from individuals with chronic and terminal genetic disorders.  And so we passed the Social Statement on Genetics. 

             After 20 years of being the ELCA, we heard from a review of the Living into the Future Together (LIFT) task force.  The LIFT Task Force was guided by two questions:  What is God calling this church to be and to do in the future? And what changes are in order to accomplish these tasks more faithfully?  After much discernment, the Church body approved implementation of the LIFT recommendations.

            Freed in Christ to Serve: A week of witness to the power of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.   

Faith story-telling in Germanna Conference

     by Sandy Wisco, St. Mark, Charlottesville


           The Germanna Conference congregations gathered on Sunday, Aug. 28th for a youth event titled For the Glory of God. Its purpose was to help us identify how our faith is active and tangible in our lives and that our living faith is something valuable to share with our friends and family. The event, led by the synod staff, was held at the spacious and hospitable Resurrection Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg.

Germann youth singing

Pastor Dave Delaney leads youth in singing at the Germanna gathering.

            They started by firing up the youth with songs led by the gifted Dave Delaney, leadership from Chip Gunsten, and some Bible study led by the Bishop. Yes, he did sing "Pharaoh-Pharaoh." We later met in small groups, based on age, and took off to the many classrooms to practice conversations about faith in a fun and friendly way. The Synod had great worksheets for the small group leaders to use to keep the conversations flowing.

            We stopped for a tasty dinner and slowly began some intergenerational conversations over dinner and beyond dessert. The questions we were asked to respond to at our tables of eight (four youth, four adults) were good questions that we all could answer; diving into telling some of our faith stories. We all had something to share and the stories are great nuggets of faith in action.  

            At one point, a youth talked about how great her confirmation class teacher was, a lay person whom she respected and valued. It was so good to hear that Confirmation was 'a good thing'. Thank you, teachers in Christian Ed. You're making a fabulous difference in the lives of the young people with whom you interact and teach! Let's get more conversations started. Kindle a fire of communication with a few well-placed questions or tell a story of someone you valued in your congregation when you were growing up. Let the Spirit be ablaze among you.

            Of course, we had a closing worship to give glory to God with great hymns to sing. On my drive home with two youth, we reflected on some of our conversations and the good time we had and the many ways to eat an iced cupcake.

            Thanks Dave, Chip, and Bishop Mauney for leading us into conversation and to the folks at Resurrection for hosting us so well and for the youth and adults who engaged in some fun singing and good conversation and faith story telling; giving Glory to God. I liked the size of the gathering - just right... not too small, not too large... juuuuust right - Conference size.

            Continuing a schedule of gatherings for all 11 Synod conferences, six more will be held this fall:

            Northern Valley, Bethel, Winchester, Sept. 18

            Southern Valley, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, Sept. 25

            Peninsula, St. Mark, Yorktown, Oct. 9

            New River Valley, St. Michael, Blacksburg, Oct. 16

            Page, St. Peter, Shenandoah, Oct. 23

            Highlands, Ebenezer, Marion, Oct. 30 


Four interns/vicars serve in Synod


            Four interns, sometimes called vicars, have moved into Synod congregations for the 2011-12 year. They are: Jennifer Gonsalves, serving at St. Philip, Roanoke, and Brandon Oaks Retirement Community; Ben Sloss, St.Mark, Yorktown; Ruth Moberg-Foster, Christ, Fredericksburg, and Peter Suwak, Immanuel, Bluefield, and Central, Burkes Garden.

            Gonsalves, from Chillicothe, Ohio, is a graduate of Concordia College in Minnesota and she has finished her second year at Southern Seminary. She has spent some time in Pennsylvania and Minnesota. She serves at St. Philip primarily on Sunday through Tuesday and at Brandon Oaks Wednesday through Friday.

            Sloss, a native of Kokomo, Ind., is a graduate of Capitol University and a student at Trinity Seminary. His wife, Tracie Ortman Sloss, is a graduate of Indiana University.    

Moberg-Foster, originally from central Massachusetts, is a graduate of Valpariso University and she studied in Cambridge, England, for a semester. She is a student at Gettysburg Seminary.

            Suwak, the senior member of the four, has been a trial lawyer for more than 30 years, primarily in Washington, Pa. He's a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College and George Washington University Law School and he's attending Gettysburg Seminary. His wife, June, is a retired Air Force nurse. His Japanese mother-in-law, Judy Dail, lives with the Suwaks in Burkes Garden. 

Lynchburg food pantry demand triples

Lynchburg Food Pantry

Louise Martin (right), food pantry co-coordinator at Holy Trinty, works with youth to pack bags of food for distribution at the Rivermont Area Emergency Food Pantry.


            Youth at Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, fill up bags of groceries donated for distribution at the church's Rivermont Area Emergency Food Pantry where demand has tripled in recent years, rising to almost 3,200 people last year.

            As a result of increased demand and lack of storage space, food is stacked around the church in what has become a $50,000-per-year ministry, said Pastor Dennis Roberts. People have joined the church because they saw food stacked around the fellowship hall. "Outreach ministry in action in a very concrete way." When someone comments that things look messy at Holy Trinity, Roberts reminds them "that we are a church living out our mission to care actively in the name of Jesus Christ and we are not a museum. Ministry doesn't always mean a neat and tidy building."

            J. D. Barringer, a Kroger grocery manager, hauls bread, cereal, peas, tuna, powdered milk, pudding and other items on his truck for the Rivermont food pantry. Food from Kroger, Food Lion, Walmart and other stores can't be sold if it is near a "fresh by" date so it is donated for food pantries.

            Barringer said he hates to see food wasted. "I'd do anything to keep food from being thrown away. In Lynchburg, one in 10 people need food assistance. Four in 10 are children.  

10th anniversay observances

of 9/11 at Grace, Winchester


10th Anniversary Observance of 9/11

in Sunday Worship and Sunday School Hour

            As approved by the Congregation Council of Grace, during the 8:15 worship service and at the appointed time in the Sunday School hour, we will join with other downtown congregations to observe the times that airplanes struck in New York, Washington, D.C. and crashed in Pennsylvania.

            At 8:46, 9:03, 9:37, and 10:17 we will pause at in our liturgy and educational hour to ring the bells of the Brevitt Chimes, coordinating with other congregations and those who have been invited to voluntarily gather on the lawn at the front of the Old Court House on the Downtown Mall.  Silence will be observed at those times in our liturgy and Sunday School hour.  Special petitions and intercessions, especially for the family and friends of Bud and Darlene Flagg, members of Grace killed in the attack on the Pentagon, will be offered during the appointed Intercessory Prayers within the liturgy.


10th Anniversary Observance of 9/11

Special Memorial Observance to be Offered to Community

              The Congregation Council of Grace approved a recommendation from the Office of the Pastors that the congregation of Grace host a specially designed observance of the 10th anniversary of "9/11" in  partnership with the Arts Chorale of Winchester, the Downtown Clergy Fellowship, and the Shenandoah Valley Interfaith Council.

              This observance will be offered to the community on Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. in our sanctuary.  Attention is being given to readings and prayers from various faith traditions that are comforting, seeking of peace, and offering healing and unity.  This will not be a worship service, but broad and inclusive to reflect our diverse culture as a nation and in recognition that peoples of all types of faith were killed by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

           The observance will offer a program of sacred and classical music performed by the Arts Chorale.  The Chichester Psalms by Bernstein will be performed and traditional hymns will be song by the assembly.  Special note will be made of the congregation's loss of Bud and Darlene Flagg, members of Grace, with the airline crash into the Pentagon.  All people of good will and desire to remember with dignity the victims of this day are invited to attend. 

Maryland Lutheran firm buys Staunton apartments 


             National Lutheran Communities & Services-the former National Lutheran Home-has acquired Bentley Commons, a 108-unit independent living apartment community at Staunton with plans to convert it to an assisted living facility. The Rockville, Md. Firm said it is paying $14,233,780 for the Staunton operation.

            The new name for Bentley Commons is The Legacy at North Augusta-a National Lutheran Community. Its services are rentals of studio apartments and two bedroom, two bath apartments for seniors.

            The Maryland firm said it is preparing an application for a state license for assisted living services to be provided to senior residents. The licensing process and conversion of the building, equipment and requirements to implement assisted living services is expected to cost about $1.6 million and to be completed early next year, according to Larry Bradshaw, chief executive office of National Lutheran Communities & Services.

             Bradshaw said "the beauty of integrating assisted living services that harness state-of-the-art technology is that it allows seniors to stay as independent as possible, while still preserving dignity and choice." Cherie Sims, executive director of The Legacy at North Augusta, said the firm is committed to providing seniors "the highest level of choice and care possible."  

            National Lutheran Communities is working on a $318-million expansion beyond the Washington area with a Winchester retirement community, The Village at Orchard Ridge, and a mixed use project, The Village at Crystal Spring, at Annapolis, Md. The Winchester community will have 178 independent living cottage homes and apartments with assisted living on a 132-acre site. Its Village at Rockville, Md. is undergoing a renovation to provide assisted living, memory care and home and community-based service.

            National Lutheran Communities, formerly located in Washington, has been providing senior service for 120 years. It is supported by the Virginia, Washington Metro and Delaware-Maryland synods.


How do you enroll 290 in Vacation Bible School?

     by Teresa Lehman, director of faith formation & youth ministry, 

               Grace, Winchester  


            I was recently asked, "How does a congregation have 290 children participate in Vacation Bible School"?  Well, think of your memories of VBS or your faith journey as a child.  For me, the members of St. Peter's, Shenandoah, provided such fun and excitement with hearing the word and singing Bible songs that I always wanted to be there.

Grace VBS 2011

Celebration at Grace, Winchester VBS.

          Those childhood experiences call all of us to recreate them for the children in our lives today.  Now, duplicate that with over 100 volunteer ministers and a sister congregation and you have a winning combination.  Vacation Bible School at Grace Lutheran is contagious!  Members want to be a part of the excitement of planting a seed in a child, youth, or even an adult that will be life changing. 

            For Grace, Winchester, it begins in February with our VBS recruitment kick-off at our annual report meeting.  Ministers sign up for everything from teachers to snack leaders.  We also have our own VBS engineer, David Ray,  who recruits supplies (aka dumpster diving) to build things like a 16- foot grass hut, a 26- foot ark, or an eight-foot crocodile that could move his head from side to side.  This part of VBS has become somewhat thrilling for our community.  Parents and children can't wait to see what has been constructed for our sanctuary during VBS. 

            By April the VBS order is placed. We plan a budget based on $35 per participant.  Members provide whatever is needed, from glue bottles and glitter to financial support.  Everyone at Grace can be involved. Registration forms and banners go out and up in May, along with the Y-Youth Camp registration forms.  This camp is offered to our youth the week before VBS to assist them in learning the Bible stories and music of VBS.  They also decorate each of the main hallways of Grace and help teachers in decorating their classrooms.  It's a great week. 

             Advertising continues through our pre-school, after-school program and in the  newspaper.  Vacation Bible School registration forms are included in our church newsletter, Tidings, calling our members to invite neighborhood children.

             By June, the church is a-buzz with final details and recruitment.  Classrooms are stocked with supplies.  Teachers receive curriculum and registration letters are sent out to  pre-registered children. 

            The first day, children, parents, and leaders come to the sanctuary filled with  anticipation and excitement. Some of the children that come through the doors may have never even opened a Bible or heard about Jesus.  But VBS is a place where they are loved, played with and taught how true and life-changing God's love really is.

             A church has 290 children in Vacation Bible School through the contagious love for Christ, and the excitement that happens when we share His love. 

Salem, Mt. Sidney, dedicates Imagine Center


Salem, Mt. Sidney Addition
Mt. Sidney Imagine Center dedicated in June.

         A 12,000-square-foot Imagine Center, a $1.3 million, three-story wing, has been dedicated at Salem, Mt. Sidney. The building contains a gathering area, kitchen, restrooms and a main hall with a stage.

            The dedication service on June 26 came 51 years after the last dedication of a new building wing and 51 weeks after the ground-breaking, according to Pastor Christopher Carr. Bishop Jim Mauney presided over the communion service. The congregation processed from the church to the red brick arches of the center for a ribbon-cutting by Bishop Mauney, Pastor Carr and Bill Converse, council president.

            The structure has a two-story main hall. The building, 60 feet wide by 120 feet long, has a geothermal heating and cooling system. The building was set apart for God's mission and ministry in the congregation and the community.

            The bishop spoke of the Trinitarian nature of the congregation's buildings. First was the sanctuary for worship, next came a Sunday School addition for teaching the faith and now comes a mission center for hospitality, fellowship, activity and outreach.

            Carr asked, "Who could have imagined such a center? God imagined and God has imagined uses for our new facility of which we've not yet dreamed."

            Charles Dennison II, Building Committee chairman, acknowledged the work of Dale Cupp, architect, and Harman Construction, the contractor. An engraved handsaw was presented to Dennison. A commemorative refrigerator magnet, bearing the date and pictures of the new building, was presented to each of the 236 people attending the service.

            During construction last winter, winds of up to 70 miles per hour blew 10 roof trusses down to the cement floor like a pile of giant matchsticks. Construction workers scrambled to safety. 


Grace and Glory breaks ground for a church  


            When Grace and Glory congregation held a ground-breaking service at its 10-acre church property at Palmyra on Aug. 7, this was the fulfillment of a 10-year dream by charter members. They had been attending services at St. Mark or Peace Lutheran in Charlottesville, 20 miles west of Fluvanna County.

            Pastor Bill Stewart, who had recently retired at Peace, led the first service of the fledgling congregation in a fitness center on Feb. 11, 2001. Stewart was a part-time development "shepherd" until Pastor Ken Albright was called as the first full-time pastor. Members began working with Meals on Wheels, Habitat, a food bank, Christian Service Society and Prison Ministry.

            At the ground-breaking led by Albright, four readers positioned at the corners of the building site, read a passage from the Bible and then drove a stake into the earth, consecrating the land for God's works. The crowd of 150 sang "All Are Welcome (in this place)," led by a multi-generational handbell choir. A sudden rain forced the congregation to continue its ceremony at the Fluvanna Library, across the road from the church site.

            Bishop Jim Mauney, Pastor Chip Gunsten, assistant to the bishop, and Stewart participated in the ground-breaking. A picnic followed the service.

            Albright said construction will start soon on the 7,243-square-foot church, designed to seat 180 people. Completion is expected by June 2012.  


Japanese guests visit Winchester

     by Pastor Jim Utt, Grace, Winchester


            Just moments after offering words of continued concern and prayers of comfort for the people of Japan suffering from the tragic earthquake and tsunami that struck their country in April, seven visitors from Japan experienced the hard jolt and aftershocks of the 5.8 earthquake felt strongly in Winchester and the surrounding area last month.. 

            The guests were accompanied by Dr. Paul Huddle, retired Synod pastor and missionary to Japan,  Pastor Jerry Livingston and his wife, Janice, retired after 40 years as missionaries to Japan, and Frank Bouknight of the South Carolina Synod. 

            The  guests were: Makio Asakawa, retired professor at National University of Kumamoto and vice president of Kyushu Gakuin Alumni Association; the Rev.Ryuichiro Nagaoka, pastor of Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church and chairperson of Kyushu Gakuin School board of directors; Mrs. Yoshiko Nagaoka, wife of Pastor Nagaoka;  Midori Nasu, sophomore student at Yokohama City University; Rokuro Matsumura, English Teacher at Kyushu Gakuin Senior High School; Kunihisa Yamaguchi, former director of Hiroyasu AiJiEn-Lutheran Home for Orphans in Kumamoto, and Mrs. Miho Yamaguchi, housewife                                             

            The friends went out of their way to travel north to Winchester to honor Grace, the first Lutheran congregation in North America to support one of the first two Lutheran missionaries to Japan in 1892 - the Rev. Rufus Benton Peery. He and Pastor J.A.B. Scherer were instrumental in establishing the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1893. 

            They also honored Dr. L.S.G. Miller, a Winchester pastor who was instrumental in establishing the reputation of Kyushu Gakuin Lutheran School for Boys, one of the pre-eminent high schools for boys and girls in modern Japan, established by Lutheran missionaries in Kumamoto in 1911.  This 100th anniversary year of the school prompted their visits to the synods and congregations most supportive in establishing the school.  Grace and many congregations gave strong financial support for its development. The visitors walked to Mt. Hebron Cemetery to visit the gravesites of Dr. Miller, his wife, Martha Miller, and her sister, Helene Harder, who served all their years of missionary work in Japan.

            Bishop Mauney noted in a letter to Grace announcing the visit: "Just as they see Virginia and South Carolina as the "Holy Land" of sending forth disciples to Japan, so they look upon Winchester as Jerusalem with Grace and Dr. Miller so historically connected to them."   After the walk to Mt. Hebron, Pastor Livingston jokingly noted at a lunch that he was really impressed with the efforts of Grace to host their guests with such wonderful hospitality and food, going so far as to "plan an all too familiar experience of an earthquake during their time in Winchester." .

            At a brief worship service, gifts were exchanged and invitations made for Grace to send visitors to the Japanese church and especially to Kumamoto to visit Kyushu Gakuin School.  A walking tour of Old Town Winchester concluded their six-hour visit. 

            The visitors also made a stop at the Synod office in Salem and toured Roanoke College, under the leadership of Roanoke President Mike Maxey.


Bread for the World advocates for the poor

     by the Rev. Paul Jersild

 bread for the world logo

           First Lutheran, Norfolk is observing its annual Bread for the World (BFW) event on September 25 and October 2.  The guest preacher on September 25 will focus on the hungry people of our nation and world, letters will be written on both Sundays after each service and sent to senators and representatives in Congress, and bread baked by members will be for sale with proceeds going to BFW.

             BFW is a collective voice for Christians of all denominations, urging our nation's decision makers to create policies that will effectively address poverty and hunger issues.  Founded in 1974 by a Lutheran pastor, Arthur Simon, whose congregation was in a poor neighborhood in New York City's Lower Manhattan, the organization now numbers close to 50,000 members and congregations throughout the country.  The current president, David Beckmann, is also an ordained Lutheran who previously worked as an economist with the World Bank.

            Among the numerous organizations that are active on behalf of the poor and hungry, BFW is recognized as one of the most effective.  Unlike most organizations that combat hunger by providing food and groceries, BFW directs its efforts at both the domestic and foreign policies of our nation, urging Congress to pass effective measures designed to assist poverty-stricken people.  Governments are huge players in this cause because of their resources, as Arthur Simon has observed: "Government policies may multiply or nullify a hundredfold all private efforts to assist hungry people."  It was this realization that led Simon to found BFW.

            Given the dire economic conditions we now face, the temptation for politicians is to reduce the amount of support devoted to combating hunger.  Recognizing this threat, BFW together with other organizations is urging our representatives to establish a "Circle of Protection" for the poor and vulnerable and not try to solve our economic problems on the backs of the poor.

            When one considers the fact that foreign policy aid for the hungry constitutes 0.6 percent of the US budget, together with the fact that hunger around the world is a chief cause of civil disruption and unrest, what we do as a nation in this area is not just humane but an effective measure on behalf of global peace and justice.  The "Offering of Letters" being sent by BFW members and congregations this fall focuses on more effective policies in helping the poor to help themselves.

            Individuals and congregations who are interested in becoming members of BFW can visit the Bread for the World website.  Membership on the congregational level (called "Covenant Congregations") involves budgetary support of the organization.  A typical annual gift is $500, but many congregations give $1,000 or more.


Not your parents' VBS

Project Justice

Project Justice youngsters say "We care."


          Ten middle school youth at Peace Lutheran Church in Charlottesville experienced something quite different during vacation Bible school this year. This group came together with a mission to change the world! Through Project Justice @ Peace, the children explored what justice is and what it means to God.

          They learned about justice issues in the community and beyond through field trips and guest speakers. Their time together culminated in a project that advocates for real, positive change in our world.

            "It's great to have the kids focus in on an idea/project and figure out a way that they can be part of the solution ... making the kids more aware of the part they play in God's world," says Terri Voight, VBS co-director. Irene Cernik, who shared with the children about her recent mission trip to SW Virginia says, "It is awesome that you offered a contact point between the kids and older generations." Pastor John Herman reflects that "We adults may not realize that middle schoolers are ready to learn about the problems of injustice in their communities and even eager to help in practical ways."

           Kim Wilkens initially created Project Justice as a week-long immersion experience for her middle school students at Mountaintop Montessori. She says, "By giving the students time and space to learn about the larger issues in the world, they were able to share their voice and ideas for changing the world with others." It was such a positive experience, Kim has been looking for ways to replicate and share this idea with others.

            To check out what the children did during Project Justice @ Peace go to Anyone interested in learning more, may contact Kim at


Roanoke College classes commence

 Roanoke College           

           Roanoke College classes began Wednesday, Aug. 31, with the arrival of almost 2,000 students, including 537 freshmen and 81 transfers.

            The college is celebrating its ranking as 18th among the nation's most beautiful campuses in a survey by the Princeton Review.  The annual guidebook also lists Roanoke among the nation's great schools for majors in business and finance, computer science and engineering and psychology. "Life at Roanoke is pretty sweet," said the Princeton Review.

            Michael Maxey, Roanoke president, said, "It's wonderful to be recognized for the beauty of our campus, but the real attraction for students is what happens in the classroom. Roanoke's fine faculty members create a learning environment for our students that is second to none."

            The Princeton publication uses institutional data and input from the National College Counselor Advisory Panel and its own admissions experts to determine the best colleges and universities for 15 of the most popular undergraduate majors. In a two-page profile, students described the college's professors as approachable and personal, largely a result of the school's small class size. "Professors are very lively and passionate about the subjects they teach," said one student who was surveyed. Some students surveyed said professors push them to think at challenging levels. The guidebook also hailed the many opportunities here to experience the outdoors and the environment in this region.

            Among the college's new class of 2015 are 12 high school valedictorians, 10 Eagle Scouts, 52 class presidents and 128 team captains. After an induction ceremony, the freshmen were bused into downtown Roanoke to several entertainment spots.  All of the new students worked on  the start of a Habitat house on campus. Dr. Julie Lyon, assistant professor of business administration, was to speak at the opening convocation on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

            Over the summer, the incoming freshmen read magazines and books and watched a movie to prepare for a discussion of the theme, "Food: Why do we choose what we choose?" For the past six years, the freshmen have read a designated book.


German visitors do acts of kindness in Lynchburg


              Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, was host to 15 youth and four adults from its sister church, Lutherkirche, Holzminden, Germany, who participated in community service projects, sightseeing and canoeing on the James River during a two-week visit in July.

            The German visitors spent a morning working on Lynchburg Mayor Joan Foster's 12 acts of kindness campaign. They pruned trees, cleared trash and pulled weeds at Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg.

            Georg Seeliger, 17, said it was rewarding to contribute to the community. The street was "filled with trash...Everywhere was trash. I think it must be difficult for people to live with this trash, to walk around it and drive around it," he told the Lynchburg News and Advance. Karoline Hagemann, 15, said, "It's good to see American culture and American lifestyles...Everything is much bigger here than in Germany, the cars, the houses, the butterflies, everything."

            Pastor Dennis Roberts of Holy Trinity said his congregation wanted the visitors to experience volunteerism in America. The mayor's acts of kindness initiative, which encourages residents to perform 12 random acts of kindness throughout the year, is "a natural fit for the church," he told the newspaper. "Our congregation's mission is to always care, actively."





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