December, 2011
                 The Virginia



Bishops work toward

a future without AIDS 

ELCA AIDS logo 2

            In a joint message, ELCA Bishop Mark Hanson and  Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schon called for a rededication of energies "in support of those 34 million living with HIV and AIDS today and to work toward building a future without AIDS." Their message, for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, is an opportunity to remember the 30 million lives that have been lost to the "deadly pandemic over the past three decades."

            This is an opportunity for everyone "to reflect on God's call to lift up the dignity and value of each person." The bishops said all are called to confront the pandemic through prayer, by speaking out to eliminate stigma and discrimination against those living with HIV and AIDS by caring for those afflicted by the virus, by advocating strong government support of life-saving programs and by supporting the global effort to alleviate poverty where HIV and AIDS are so endemic.

            In explanation of the joint message, they said the ELCA and the Episcopal Church have embarked upon a new age of full communion by sharing staff for international  issues in Washington advocacy offices.  
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In This Issue
A future without AIDS
Lutherans in the news
College poll
Connecting spiritual gifts
Building sold
"Yearning for God"
Lost & Found
Global Missions gathering
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news


Miller, Marcus
Dr. Marcus Miller

            Dr. Marcus Miller, president of Southern Seminary since 2006, has announced his retirement at the end of August, 2012. Under his leadership, the seminary's mission has deepened, its reach in the region has expanded and non-Lutheran enrollment has grown. The seminary is developing a plan to merge with Lenoir-Rhyne University. Miller said it is time for new leadership with a different set of gifts and time for him to move to a new chapter in life.

            Pastor James E. Baseler has announced his retirement effective Feb. 1 after more than 161/2 years at Mt. Olive Parish, Toms Brook.

            Ascension, Danville, is preparing for the annual showing of its Chrismon tree, first in the world, from Dec. 11 through Dec. 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. daily. The tree may also be viewed on Sundays, Dec. 11 and 18, from 3 to 5 p.m.  Kate Albright and Karen Distad are the co-lay ministers for Chrismons.

Costa, Kate
Kate and Jon Costa

            Kate Proctor Costa, pictured with her new husband, Jon Costa, after their wedding in July, has accepted a call to serve St.Luke, Culpeper. She will be ordained at St. Luke on Jan. 14 at 4 p.m. An Abingdon native, she's a graduate of the College of William and Mary and she participated in a Project Connect internship in Fredericksburg before attending Philadelphia Seminary. Jon Costa works in the Maps and Geography Division of the Library of Congress. Bishop Jim Mauney will preside and Pastor Andy Ballentine, St. Stephen, Williamsburg, will preach at the ordination service.  

            Dr. John Largen, pastor to the seminary community for spiritual formation at Southern Seminary and a Virginia native, will lead the spring ACTS course on "Filling the Reservoir: The Prayerful Life and Daily Ministry." Two large group meetings will be on March 31 and May 5.  The course in contemplative Christian spirituality "will re-introduce us to the church's classical disciplines and help make us make the connection between our prayer and daily ministry in the word,: Largen said.

            Virginia Lutheran Men in Mission have raised more than $14,600 to develop a shower/laundry trailer to be used by disaster responders. A trailer shell has been purchased and the organization is raising funds for materials and equipment.     

            Members of First, Norfolk, plan to join on Dec. 7 in the annual stuffing of 1,000 Christmas gift sacks for foreign merchant seamen visiting the port. They will meet at the International Seamen's House. For more than 30 years, members of First Lutheran have helped fill the plastic bags with such items as pencils, playing cards, hard candies, caps and scarves. Some members knit or crochet the caps and scarves.

            At Lakeside, Littleton, N.C., 65 singers and musicians in a new Community Chorale from 16 churches will present a community Christmas cantata on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 3 p.m.

            Members of Peace, Charlottesville, support a Christmas Miracle Offering in which they spend half as much on gifts and set aside the other half for those in desperate need. Instead of gifts, they send friends and family a card notifying them that a donation has been made in their honor.

            Bethel, Winchester, plans a Blue Christmas service on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 4 p.m., "a time and space for worship for those who have suffered a loss," such as loss of a loved one, loss of a job or experiencing personal struggles. The Winchester Very Special Arts Chimers, a hand bell choir whose 13 members have autism or developmental disabilities, will present a concert at Bethel on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. Bethel members have a choice of giving alternative gifts to help children in their three global missions in Tanzania, Philippines and India.

            In a Founders Day program, Roanoke College recognized the 200th birthday of its founder, Dr. David Bittle, with a gathering in Fintel Library to hear about Bittle's legacy and to see for the first time his pre-Civil War collection of  rocks pulled from the attic of Crawford Hall, cleaned and identified by faculty and staff last summer. Of the collection of 1,000 rocks, more than 200 were placed on exhibit. A bonfire, parade to Bittle's grave in East Hill Cemetery in Salem and a party also were part of the Founders Day program.

            David Fox, Trinity Ecumenical  Parish, Moneta, assisted in a Richmond retreat for a Ministering to Ministers group which helps pastors who have been terminated or left a church under difficult circumstances. Also at Trinity Ecumenical Parish, a coat drive is being conducted through Lake Christian Ministries to provide winter coats, wind breakers, rain coats or any clothing for children in winter weather.

            Pamela McClain, a third-generation organist,is the new music director at St. Luke, Richmond.  She studied at Oberlin Conservatory, holds a master's degree from Longy School of Music and used a degree in Japanese studies to work in Japan. She has served at a number of churches.

            Shelly Andrews, a high school teacher and member of St. John's, Winchester, was recognized as the top sponsor in a regional scholarship essay competition. Papers by her social studies class won $1,000 for her school. She leads a Papua New Guinea companion congregation program which raises funds for student fees. Also at St. John's, Stephen Allamong was recognized as the 2011 Virginia Truck Driver of the Year. As a professional driver and businessman, he was honored for safety and helping others. He also serves on the church council which has directed $17,000  in improvement projects this year.

            At St. Michael, Blacksburg, 310 Christmas shoe boxes were shipped to the Head Start program at the Pine Ridge Reservation. The gift boxes were donated by Christ the King, Richmond, and other Lutheran churches in the New River Valley.


College poll finds some optimism for 2012


            A Roanoke College poll of Virginia consumer sentiment found that 44 percent of state residents polled felt they are worse off financially than they were a year ago and 60 percent believe business conditions are worse than a year ago. The college polled 603 residents.

            However, 32 percent said they believe they could be better off financially a year from now. They were more optimistic than those in a national poll. Potential reasons for greater optimism in the state are an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent-lower than the national 9 percent rate-and per capita income more than 10 percent higher than the national average.

            The view of the economic situation varies substantially across the state. The poll's Index of Current Conditions was lowest in Southwest and Southside Virginia and highest in Northern Virginia. Almost 59 percent of those polled in Southwest Virginia said they were worse off financially than a year ago. But Southside residents expressed optimism about the coming year, due to a considerable drop in unemployment in the past year.


Connecting spiritual gifts

with stained glass windows

Trinity stained glass
Trinity stained glass.


            When Pastor Terrie Sternberg met with members of her congregation, Trinity, Pulaski, last year to find a theme for her first sabbatical they came up with a plan for renewal and unleashing the spiritual gifts of members to enhance their ministry together.

            They submitted a proposal to the Lilly Foundation for a grant for clergy sabbatical renewal. In her plan, Sternberg expressed a desire to create a stained glass design which would depict spiritual gifts, such as compassion, servanthood, teaching, discipleship and faith. As they worked on the project, each member of Trinity would be matched with a particular piece of the design, based on his or her spiritual beliefs. As the project was being completed, a prayerful connection would be made between church members and their gifts for ministry and the glass artwork itself.

            Starting with a design by Hanna Wade, then a high school senior, they worked on three windows, depicting members' spiritual gifts with the sacraments, a vine and branches, an outstretched hand and a scroll. "It kind of depicts our life in Christ," the pastor said.

            "It was a way for me to step away from the busyness of day-to-day work and pastorally reconnect with the members according to their life's story and their spiritual gifts which are manifest in many ways," Sternberg said. "All of this is in an effort for us to develop more of an 'asset-based' approach to ministry here at Trinity," she added. The congregation is "trying to be more lay-led."

            The art element of the sabbatical was made possible when the members learned that they had been selected by the Lilly Foundation  to receive the grant. About 40 percent of Sternberg's sabbatical time was devoted to the stained glass project, including a 10-day intensive class with Nic East of Jim Thorpe, Pa., a stained glass artist.

            Anyone interested in information about the Lilly Foundation clergy sabbatical renewal grant program or the Louisville Institute sabbatical grant program may contact Sternberg at 540-230-3139 or "We heartily encourage other congregations to tap into this wonderful resource for funding congregational and pastoral renewal," she said. 


St. Paul, Winchester sells its building


After membership of St. Paul, Winchester, declined to a small number, the remaining congregation has sold its building to Living Waters Christian Fellowship, a non-denominational group which has been renting the church for services. Trustees will continue to be in charge of the cemetery. Many of its former members have transferred to other area congregations. St. Paul began in 1856.

"Yearning for God" is Peace retreat theme 


            Peace, Charlottesville, will host a conference/retreat on the theme, "Yearning for God," at Roslyn Center in Richmond on Friday-Sunday, March 9-11.

            In a sense, this will be a follow-up to a Discipleship Matters conference Peace held in 2007. "We will continue to discuss disciple-making strategies for congregations," Pastor John Herman said, but "it will be different in that we anticipate a smaller, more intimate group of participants who will be able to experience a small-group process, using portions of a new discipleship curriculum that we are pilot-testing this fall."

            "Growing Disciples of Jesus Christ" is a sub-theme of the retreat. Its purposes will be to "experience the process of growing disciples of Jesus Christ in the church today; learn resources, tools and strategies for growing disciples, enjoy quiet time for prayer and reflection and worship the Lord with joy and thanksgiving." 

            Early bird registration, by Jan. 13, will be $200 per person, double occupancy, or $265, single occupancy. This payment is for two nights, five meals and resource materials. The commuter rate will be $110. For late registration, add $10 per person, based on availability. The absolute registration deadline is Feb. 10.

            For information and a registration form, contact Discipleship Matters Conference & Retreat at or Peace Lutheran at 434-978-4357.

Youth explore places for faith conversation

 Lost & Found logo        

            In this year's Lost & Found, Nov. 18-20, some 325 7th and 8th graders and adult advisors met at Eagle Eyrie Conference Center near Lynchburg for a weekend of worship, singing and small group conversation. The event theme, "Tabled Faith," explored the various settings in which junior high youth live and what the possibilities are for faith conversation in each place.

            This Lost & Found was remarkable for the large role played by nearly 30 young adults of the synod who served as small group leaders, musicians, song leaders and advisors.

            The event was planned by five 8th grade youth-Elizabeth Acors, First,

Norfolk; Bailey Morisak, Bethel, Winchester; Christian Peterson and Lauren Widner, Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, and Seth Poore, St. Mark's, Roanoke.

            Their adult advisors were Teresa Firing, Christ, Roanoke; Bryan Hepner, Emmanuel, Woodstock, and Dana Ripley, St. Philip, Roanoke. Chaplain Wayne Shelor, director of Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp, served on the planning team, was responsible for helping participants understand each of the large group presentations and preached at the Saturday evening worship.

            Lost & Found and other annual youth events of the Synod are administered by Pastor Dave Dalaney, synodical director for youth and young adult ministries. Lost & Found has been held every year since the late 1970s and will soon mark its 30th anniversary at Eagle Eyrie.

Global Mission Gathering set for Jan. 27-28

Global events logo

            An ELCA Global Mission Gathering is scheduled for Christ the King Lutheran Church, Cary, N.C., beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, and continuing through Saturday, Jan. 28, at 5 p.m.

            Gatherings propel participants to encounter neighbors, particularly strangers, and equip them for God's work in today's global and local realities and their "global" intersections, said Sunitha Mortha of the ELCA. She invited people "to join some of the most relevant mission conversations around the realities of the world we live in today."

Mortha called for answers to the questions-What is mission?  Who is the neighbor?-"for our migrating and immigrating world."

            The Gathering is expected to bring together congregational teams and leaders for worship, workshops and sharing around global and local mission. Skill-building workshops may include cross-generational engagement, growing a missional congregation, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Mission 101, mission interpretation: growing your mission interpretation ministry, music and mission, radical hospitality, short-term mission, social action and stewardship.

            The cost for 11/2-day gathering is $35 per person. Mortha invited congregational teams to register for the event. Each person will attend only one workshop so team members can share information.





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