March, 2012
                 The Virginia



Pastor Dick Neal

named Master of the Furnace


Neal & Moyer
This photo of Pastors Neal (left) and Moyer, reviewing the architectural models of the Moyer Lodge and a cabin at the camp was used in The Virginia Lutheran almost 50 years ago.

            Retired Pastor Dick Neal of Martinsburg, W. Va., a longtime Virginia Synod pastor, has received the 2011 Caroline Furnace Master of the Furnace Award. 

            In 1957, his first year of ordained ministry, Neal worked with then Pastor V. A. "Buck" Moyer in locating and purchasing property for the camp. Neal, who has been a longtime member of the camp board, was pastor of St. Thomas, Charles Town, W. Va., then in the Virginia Synod, for more than 30 years.

            Neal currently serves as the representative of the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod on the camp board. In presenting the award, Camp Director Wayne Shelor said, "We celebrate the many years of continued service that Pastor Neal has given to the ministry at Caroline Furnace."

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In This Issue
Neal named Master of the Furnace
Lutherans in the news
Virginians visit Operation Bootstrap Africa
RC survey of Virginians finds higher expectations
Hinlicky is busy writer, lecturer
Grimaldo cites VICPP legislative record
Music workshop set for Richmond
Jensen retires from Peninsula Counseling Center
Straight talk from ULA agencies, institutions
Our Saviour, Norge, looks ahead
Getting caught in the ACTS
Let's give up
Stewardship resources for Virginia Lutherans
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news

            Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, has started a Bank for Youth Discipleship, asking members to make a direct investment in the faith development of youth as they participate in mission trips this summer and live out the congregation's mission to "care actively in the name of Jesus Christ." Deposit envelopes with a different contribution amounts are in the fellowship hall. Ten junior youth and two chaperones plan to work on home repairs on the North Carolina coast in June and 20 senior youth and four chaperones will help with home repairs in a Cherokee Indian community in North Carolina in July. 

             An email prayer chain has been established at Reformation, Newport News. Prayer concerns may be sent to Janice Bunting at and she will relay the request to an email prayer chain. The people on the chain also pray for those on the intercessory prayer list from Sunday worship. The requests also are relayed to members of the prayer chain who do not have email.
            Pastor Fred Marcoux of Midlothian has been named interim pastor at St. Luke, Richmond. He retired from Bethlehem Lutheran, Sturbridge, Mass., and moved to Virginia.

            Adam and Cathy Copeland are the new interim campus ministers at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg. They met in graduate school at the University of Alabama and moved to Harrisonburg two years ago. Both work at James Madison University. Also at Muhlenberg, a chronic disease self-management workshop, for persons with chronic disease and/or caregivers, is offered on Thursday mornings. And the Shenandoah Valley Biblical Storytellers will tell Matthew's account of the Passion of our Lord at Muhlenberg on Palm Sunday.

Zolack daughter
Sarah Zolack

            Sarah Katherine Zolak, the second grandchild of Bishop Jim and Linda Mauney, arrived on Valentine Day. She joins her sister, Charlotte Ruth, 2, and her parents, Drs. Mem and Jason Zolak, Birmingham, Ala.

            The A Cappella Choir and Brass Ensemble of Lenoir-Rhyne University will present a sacred concert at Grace, Winchester, on Wednesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. Northern Valley Conference Lutherans have been invited. This concert will be a day after the choir and brass ensemble perform at St. Mark, Yorktown.
            Stephen Ministry training is under way at Salem, Mount Sidney, Grace, Winchester, and Our Saviour, Norge. At Salem, a second class is starting this month. The first four Stephen Ministers completed approximately 80 hours of intentional one-on-one Christian caregiving in the last half of 2011. A waiting list of caregivers, including grieving people in the congregation and the community, are in need of the ministry.
            Twenty members of Holy Trinity, Wytheville, are preparing for two spring trips to the Mississippi Gulf Coast with Thrivent Builds and Habitat for Humanity. After orientation on a Monday, they will be working on site the rest of the week.
            The Luther Crest Auxiliary is seeking volunteers to help with transporting residents from the apartments at New Market to appointments, to help with administrative support and planning and providing programs.
            Women of St. Stephen, Williamsburg, will assemble school kits for distribution through Lutheran World Relief during a retreat March 9-11.
            Members of Our Saviour, Richmond, enjoyed Jambalaya & Jazz by the Cosby High School Jazz Ensemble on Feb. 11 at a Mardi Gras concert for the benefit of youth who will be attending the ELCA Youth Gathering at New Orleans in July.
            Other fund-raising activities for the youth trips to New Orleans were planned in February at Trinity, Pulaski, and St. Paul, Strasburg. The youth of Trinity held a Sweetheart Dinner on Feb. 11. The menu was "The Best of New Orleans." St. Paul held a Thirty-One and Pampered Chef fundraiser on Feb. 19. Demonstrations, door prizes and special offerings from two companies were featured.
            A traveling exhibition featuring Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg, 1711-1787, the patriarch of North American Lutherans, has been on display at the Lineberger Memorial Library at Southern Seminary from Feb. 12 through March 4.
            Members of Immanuel, Bluefield, W. Va., have been asked to contribute to a birthday endowment to support community projects. They are asked to give $1 for each year of their life during their birthday month. Names, but not ages, will be published in the newsletter.
            Retired Pastor Al Kuhn and his wife, Jean Kuhn, longtime, active members of St. Stephen, Williamsburg, have moved to Bethany Village, 6445 Far Hills Ave., #515, Centerville, Ohio 45459. 


Virginians visit Operation

Bootstrap Africa ministries

     by Bruce Lathrop


            In late January a group of Virginia travelers journeyed to Arusha, Tanzania. Howard and Earlene Kemnitz, Jack and Jane McAllister, Arlene Gavitt and Bruce Lothrop are members of Bethel, Winchester. Tammy and Shane Fletcher came from the Fredericksburg area, while Peyton and Elana Taylor hail from Charlottesville. The Virginia contingent joined Operation Bootstrap Africa (OBA) Director Diane Jacoby, OBA Board Secretary Carrie Hefte and Sarah Hefte en route.  
           Their purpose was to visit missions supported by Operation Bootstrap Africa to gain a better understanding of the challenges and successes that the various ministries experience, and to learn how those of us in the U.S. can support those missions. Operation Boot Strap supports a variety of medical and educational missions.  
           We visited Arusha Lutheran Medical Center (ALMC) and Selian Lutheran Hospital, both supported by OBA. The group learned that both hospitals practice medicine in a form where understanding the whole life of the patient and healing the brokenness in that patient's life, not just the disease, are central. Both facilities see their Christian ministry fundamental to healing. Staff regularly pray with patients, and every morning starts with worship.  
             The two hospitals have a very different feel. ALMC, in central Arusha, has the look of an America hospital. They serve city dwellers, and expect that patients who are able will contribute to the cost of their treatment. Director Dr. Mark Jacobson includes setting the standard for excellence in medical care in northern Tanzania among the goals of ALMC.  
In contrast, Selian Hospital serves the rural poor, predominately of the Maasai tribe. The typical patient has never lived in a building larger than a tiny hut, herds cows for a living and has no experience with city life. To accommodate such patients, Selian has an open campus with small buildings. Patient families often provide services for the patient, such as cooking and laundry. Maasai women are often on the ground drying linens or preparing meals for the sick. Patients at Selian are not charged for care.  
             In addition to the medical missions, we also visited several schools that OBA supports. We visited Olchoki primary school in Arusha, where Principal Michael Mollel expressed his appreciation for OBA's support and gave us a tour of the grounds. The class rooms were slightly larger than most U. S. primary school rooms but each housed about 90 students with six sharing each book. Classrooms were crowded, poorly lit, and in desperate need of repair.  
            At the Moringe Sokoine Secondary School in Arusha, we found things in a better state of repair. Moringe Sokoine is a co-ed school. In the Tanzanian educational system, students must pass a national test to progress from primary to secondary school and pass an additional test in alternating years to continue. Moringe Sokoine charges tuition, so students there tend come from families that have some resources.  
Maasai Girls Graduation
Form Six girls gather for graduation.
           The final visit was to the Maasai Girls Lutheran Secondary School. MGLSS provides scholarships (donated by individuals and congregations in the U. S.) All students are female and 90% come from poor rural villages with no electricity or running water. Our visit to MGLSS coincided with the Form Six graduation. Form Six in the Tanzanian educational system is equivalent to one year beyond 12th grade in the U.S. About 15% of MGLSS students complete Form Six. Most will attend college, if scholarship money can be found. We witnessed six girls, dressed in traditional Masai robes and beads, celebrating this enormous and transformational experience. It was truly an honor to be part of the celebration.
            For more stories of these adventures, see the blog from the trip at   


What would Jesus do about immigration laws?

     by Pastor Bill King, Luther Memorial, Blacksburg


I was screaming at my radio. As I washed the evening dishes, NPR aired a story on the many unintended consequences of the draconian immigration law passed by the Alabama legislature: crops rotting in the fields due to a labor shortage, a rise in violence against Latinos, children afraid to go to school lest they be separated from their parents.

At one point the interviewer asked an influential legislator, a man who identified himself as a Christian, if he thought Jesus would have voted for the law. The lawmaker paused for a long time and then, sounding like a Southern politician straight from central casting, he replied "No suh, I don't think Jesus would have voted for this law."

"Then why the heck did you vote for it?" I bellowed at the ceiling and flipped a wet bowl toward the dish drain. At that point I had one of those Nathan and David moments: "Thou art the man." If you don't know the reference, take a few minutes and read 2 Samuel 11-12. I'll wait....

            I had worked myself up into frothy, self-righteous indignation. "Boy, if Jesus is so important to you, why do you act in a way contemptuous of his welcoming spirit? If Jesus is Lord, why do you treat him like political window dressing? If you long to love as he does, why do you cave to the only barely veiled racism which has plagued our beloved South for too long?"

            But then I saw the question coming back to me; if Jesus is your Lord, Bill, why... you so quickly hate the hater? you more fear offending the powerful than failing to speak the truth as you see it? you not care more about the plight of the poor when you make spending choices? you not more boldly bear witness to His way among your unchurched friends?

            Siloing, compartmentalization, prudence-there are a lot of words for it, some more socially acceptable than others. But the reality is the same, we keep Jesus hermetically sealed away from 99% of our lives, sealed in a niche called "religion." We tend to confess Jesus a lot more than we allow him to make a difference in how we spend our money, treat those with whom we disagree, or use our time.

           I give that Alabama politician a lot of credit for honesty. At least he was able to 'fess up, admit the mistake, and begin down a new path-what the Bible calls repentance. I hope you and I can be equally honest in our self-reflection. If we cannot imagine Jesus doing it...maybe we should not either.


College surveys find slightly

higher economic expectations


            Virginia consumer sentiment, up 18 percent since November, is considerably higher than a national value, probably as a result of a lower unemployment rate and per capita income more than 10 percent higher than the national average, according to a February survey of 616 Virginians by the Roanoke College Institute for Policy and Opinion Research.

            A separate Roanoke College Poll of 607 Virginians found that Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen leads Democrat candidate Tim Kane 45 percent to 37 percent in a probable matchup in the November election. Also, in a potential presidential election scenario, President Obama leads all Republican candidates except Mitt Romney, with whom he is statistically tied.

            In this poll, 25 percent said the nation is on the right track, up from 15 percent in September, but 67 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Their perception of Virginia was largely unchanged; 47 percent said the state is going in the right direction and 40 percent said it is in the wrong track.

            An index of current conditions in the consumer survey was recorded as 78, slightly less than the national value but 22 percent higher than in November. The survey found that 28 percent of Virginians said they are better off financially than a year ago, higher than the national average of 23 percent.

            The college reported that 43 percent of Virginians said now is a good time to buy big ticket items, as a result of low prices and deals available. An index of consumer expectations found that 36 percent of those surveyed believed they would be better off financially a year from now.

            The economic situation varies substantially in regions of the state. Optimism was expressed by residents of  central Virginia, Tidewater and Northern Virginia while current conditions were at lower levels in the Shenandoah Valley and Southwest Virginia. Economic conditions in Southwest Virginia will face high unemployment and overall depression during the next five to 10 years, according to 43 percent of those surveyed. But all regions reported increases in consumer sentiment since November. Consumer confidence figures were reflected in unemployment rates across the state.

            Nearly 60 percent of Virginians said they believe prices will increase in the next year and 77 percent predicted higher prices over the next five to 10 years. Almost two-thirds expect inflation will be between 3 and 5 percent in the next year.

            The college institute surveys consumer confidence and price expectations by telephone in November and February. 


Dr. Paul Hinlicky is a busy writer, lecturer



Dr. Paul R. Hinlicky, Tise Professor of Lutheran Studies at Roanoke College, is a busy author, working on several theological books and planning to start a 14-month sabbatical in May.

            He is co-authoring with philosophy Prof. Scott Adkins a "cartography" of the faith---reason or theology---philosophy relation from the perspective of theology in the tradition of Luther. Hinlicky also has signed a contract for a book entitled Before Auschwitz: What Christian Theology Must Learn from the Rise of Nazism. He has taught courses at Roanoke on the Holocaust and theologians under Hitler.

            Hinlicky is awaiting final word on a Fulbright Lectureship to teach at his former institution, the Protestant Theological Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava, in January 2013. He plans to lecture on a book of systematic theology, a work in progress.

            Also, he recently entered negotiations with a press on two writing projects. One is to be an edited volume of contributions from an International Luther Congress in Helsinki, Finland, where he will join another professor in conducting a seminar on Luther's Genesis lectures. A second proposed project is a study of the medieval and early modern doctrine of God, complementing his 2010 study of the Patristic doctrine of the Trinity. He has recently published several chapter-length works for The Encyclopedia of Christianity and other publications.

Grimaldo, VICPP head, cites legislative record

   viccp logo

            Marco Grimaldo, new president and chief executive of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP), gave an overview of wins and losses for Virginia in President Obama's proposed budget for the next fiscal year at a meeting of the New River Valley chapter of VICPP in Radford on Feb. 20. VICPP is the social justice arm of the ELCA in Virginia.

            The proposed budget provides solid funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, restoration of food stamp funding cuts and establishment of the earned income tax credit program, a benefit for the working poor, as a permanent measure, he said.

But on the downside, the proposed budget would pay for some of these benefits by increasing from $10 to $75 the monthly benefit a poor family will have to pay for subsidized housing, an increase many poor families cannot manage.

Of interest to the chapter were a measure in the General Assembly to allow people

who are eligible to receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits to help their families even if they have a prior felony conviction for substance abuse and a bill directing the Department of Education to develop regulations for ensuring appropriate physical activity in schools.

 Both the State House and Senate passed bills allowing Medicaid and FAMIS (Family Access to Medical Insurance Security) benefits for low-income, pregnant, legal immigrants during their first five years in the U.S. This ensures appropriate  prenatal care and delivery coverage. The VICPP Center supported these measures.

Other legislation supported by VICPP which failed included a bill providing in-state tuition rates for immigrants, three bills that would have moderated the rates predatory lenders can charge and a bill outlawing the shackling of women prisoners during labor and delivery.

Music workshop set for Richmond on March 10 



            Scott Weidler, associate director for worship and music in the ELCA since1995, will be the presenter at a spring workshop in the Leadership Program for Musicians on Saturday, March 10, at the Church of the Holy Comforter, 4819 Monument Ave., Richmond. "Music that Makes Community" will be the theme.

            "Music that Makes Community" is a movement in the church, rekindling an ancient practice of singing without the use of a book or screens. This is a way of music-making that has been central to folk traditions for centuries. The workshop is planned to explore ways to incorporate this kind of singing into regular liturgies. A wide variety of music will be sung and basic techniques for leading will be introduced.

            Weidler is ELCA liaison to the national board of the Leadership Program for Musicians, a former board member of the Institute of Liturgical Studies at Valpariso University and the Lutheran Music Program and cantor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Chicago.

            Registration information is available at 757-423-6715 or  

Pastor Carl Jensen retires 

from Peninsula Counseling Center


Jensen, Carl

            Pastor Carl Jensen retired as executive director of the Peninsula Counseling Center at Newport News on March 1. The Rev. Rebecca Glass, associate director for community relations, was named interim director.

            The center, founded in 1973, provides professional counseling and consulting in a faith context. Lutheran Pastors David Gunderlach and Daniel Jungkuntz are among the staff of 11 fulltime and part-time therapists. Ten are licensed by the state and seven are ordained or consecrated.

            Contributions to a client aid fund make it possible to serve clients who don't have  insurance or other means to pay for counseling. The center also offers education and consulting to congregations and the community.

            A graduate of  the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Jensen was ordained in the Lutheran Church in America in 1972. He served congregations in the Greater Pittsburgh area before he was named director of pastoral counseling training at Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute in 1984. He served there until he came to the Peninsula post in May 2003.

            In addition to providing pastoral counseling and supervision, Jensen has been a coach for pastoral leadership groups, a facilitator trainer in Healthy Congregations, a Bridgebuilder consultant and adjunct faculty at seminary and university levels. He is a diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, an approved supervisor  and clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and a licensed marriage and family therapist. In addition to a master of divinity degree from the Chicago seminary, he received a master of science in education degree from Duquesne University and a post-master's family therapy certificate from the University of Pittsburgh.

Straight talk from ULA agencies, institutions 

 ULA Logo for Journey

Do you have questions about what the United Lutheran Appeal (ULA) agencies and institutions do, where they do it, or for whom? Just give a call to any of the representatives of the eight ULA agencies and institutions (See the link below) and they will come to your congregation to do a temple talk or visit with your Sunday school class or social ministry committee to talk about the ULA 2012 campaign and how it sustains these important shared ministries.

The ULA agencies and institutions are Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center, Chaplain Prison Ministry Service of Virginia, Hungry Mother Retreat Center, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, National Lutheran Communities & Services, Roanoke College and Virginia Lutheran Homes. You can get contact information here.


Our Saviour, Norge, looks ahead five years


            Members of Our Saviour, Norge, have approved a five-year strategic plan providing for restoration of the church basement, location of a free-standing altar and funding for training two persons in Stephen Ministry. The $30,000 basement project will provide improved space for children's church and additional meetings, according to Interim Pastor James Nickols.

            The five-year plan projects a fulltime pastor, a new church building, outreach and multilingual services for a Spanish community, a music-drama-art series, a fulltime minister of music, parish nurse and increased outreach for a community food pantry, housing and prison ministries.


Getting caught in the ACTS!

     by Bill Roberts, Peace / St. Mark, Charlottesville 

ACTS logo 

Get caught in the ACTS! Let your spirit be at work and your faith be enriched!  Registration is now underway for the Virginia Synod's ACTS (Ambassadors Community for Theological Study) Spring 2012 course, "Filling The Reservoir: The Prayerful Life and Daily Ministry" to be led by The Rev. Dr. John Largen, pastor to the seminary community for spiritual formation at Southern Seminary.

            This experiential course in contemplative Christian spirituality will reintroduce the church's classical disciplines and help make the connection between our prayer and daily ministry in the world. The two Saturday large-group sessions, March 31 and May 5, will focus on Christian spirituality, spiritual formation and the traits of a healthy prayer life. Several time-honored and foundational devotional practices will be explored, including centering prayer, lectio divina, Luther's "Garland of Four Strands," the examen, and a "rule" of life. An ancient admonition to church leaders will be discussed in light of our own baptismal calling to service in daily life.

Largen John

            The course will also include five small-group discussion sessions, with the dates and locations of the various small groups across Virginia to be decided later by the groups).   Largen will lead the two Saturday large-group sessions LIVE at Grace, Waynesboro, and these will be broadcast ay the same time LIVE at Ebenezer, Marion and St. John, Norfolk!  Registration forms can be found online at the Virginia Synod website by selecting the menu item Events and then selecting ACTS Spring Course Registration.

            I recall a moment in one of the ACTS large-group sessions which Dr. Largen led in Spring, 2009 when we embarked on a most-wonderful 20 minutes of sitting as community together in silence, with our eyes closed, and with our minds in quiet-listening for God. That quiet, silent time of centering prayer with God was for me a mountain-top experience. 


Let's Give Up


In the March newsletter for Our Saviour. Virginia Beach, Pastor Harry Griffith cites a view on Lenten discipline suggested by the Rev. Craig Gates, an Episcopal rector in Jackson, Miss.


 Let's Give Up:

            Give up grumbling! Instead, "in everything give thanks." Constructive criticism is O.K. but moaning, groaning and complaining are not Christian disciplines.

            Give up 5 to 10 minutes in bed! Instead, use that time in prayer, Bible study and personal devotion.

            Give up looking at other people's worst points. Instead concentrate on their best points.

            Give up speaking unkindly. Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding.

            Give up your hatred of anyone or anything! Instead, learn the discipline of love.

            Give up your worries and anxieties! Instead, trust God with them. Anxiety is spending emotional energy on something we can do nothing about: like tomorrow! Live today and let God's grace be sufficient.

            Give up television one evening a week! Instead, visit someone lonely or a sick person. There are those who are isolated by illness or age. Why isolate yourself in front of the tube? Give someone a precious gift: your time!

            Give up buying anything but essentials for yourself! Instead, give the money to God. The money you would spend on luxuries could help someone meet basic needs. We are called to be stewards of God's riches, not consumers.

            Let's not Give up on ourselves because God is still working in and through us. Amen.


Stewardship resources for Virginia Lutherans

     by Pastor Jim Kniseley


I have good news for congregation council leaders and stewardship committee members: you have access to excellent stewardship resources from the ELCA and the Virginia Synod!  Let me share some of the resources.                                                                       Ventures Workshops---Pastor CeCee Mills and I will be leading two series of Ventures Workshops in the Virginia Synod this year at St. Timothy, Norfolk, and at Resurrection, Fredericksburg.  Ventures, consisting of four workshops, is intended for stewardship teams and other key congregation leaders. 

The goal of the workshop series is to become familiar with the ELCA stewardship materials and to plan out a congregation's stewardship direction for the coming three years.  Six to eight congregations can be accommodated for each series.  Two information meetings will be held.  The first is at St. Timothy, Norfolk, on Sunday, March 4, at 2:30 p.m.  The second is at Resurrection, Fredericksburg, on Sunday, April 29, at 3:30 p.m.  Costs and financial aid will be discussed at the information meetings.

  Excellent Videos---I keep the stewardship library for the synod.  You may borrow as needed.  I recommend Mark Allen Powell's Biblical Stewardship: Our Duty and Delight.  This DVD contains six lectures and folks will hear what is being taught to our ELCA seminarians about stewardship.  I also have Rob Bell's series Nooma.  This consists of 24 talks on a variety of Biblical and current topics.  The talk, Rich, is an especially good one for stewardship thinking.

  Wonderful New Book---I just received a copy of a new stewardship book, How Much is Enough?  A Deeper Look at Stewardship in an Age of Abundance.  It is provided by Region 9 of the ELCA and Lutheran Southern Seminary's Council on Stewardship Education.  Bishop Jim Mauney wrote one of the chapters, entitled "A Well-Formed Stewardship Leader Perceives Connectedness."  Please let me know if you would like to have a copy of the book.

  Stewardship Magazine---Three boxes of the wonderful magazine, Giving, published by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, just arrived at my office.  I ordered one copy for each Virginia Synod congregation.  My plan is to give them out at the Synod Assembly, but certainly can provide a copy earlier if I receive a request.  The title of this issue is "Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation."  The many inspiring articles will be helpful to congregation leaders.  The center section provides materials for conducting an excellent Annual Stewardship Emphasis.


            Pastor Jim Kniseley serves as the Stewardship coordinator for the Virginia Synod.  To request resources or seek advice on stewardship matters, you may reach him at or 540-845-2427.  





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