April, 2012
                 The Virginia



Synod seeks $230,000

in four years to stop malaria

 Malaria Day ELCA


            As the observance of World Malaria Day on April 29 approaches, Synod congregations are raising funds toward a four-year goal of $230,000. The 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly approved a goal of $15 million to help eradicate malaria.

            ELCA World Hunger reports that malaria kills 800,000 people every year. Many are children under five.  A child dies every 45 seconds from this disease which is preventable and treatable, according to World Hunger reports.  Almost 90 percent of Malaria deaths occur in Africa.

            St. Philip, Roanoke, is offering members Easter corsages to pay for mosquito nets priced at $10 and malaria preventative medicine for about $2.50.  

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In This Issue
Synod seeks $230,000 to stop malaria
Lutherans in the news
Johnson to speak on hunger at Assembly
VT and UVA students build for Habitat
African-American Team promotes welcoming
Brandon Oaks wins award
Five-year-old needs blood
Apostles' men repair homes
Weicher promoted
Motorcycle ride to rock churches
RC names Center for Benne
Reed writes criminal justice statement
Lutheran Partners in Mission created
New River Valley provides shelter
Conserva to speak at RC Commencement
Virginia one of top 7 in hunger giving
Southern Seminary-Lenoir Rhyne merger
Worship will be theme of Men's Gathering
Was Paul a good Jew?


Lutherans in the news

vought, joe


            Pastor Joe Vought, former chairman of the Synod's Ecumenical Relations Committee, will receive the 2012 Faith in Action Award of the Virginia Council of Churches. Vought, who served at Our Saviour, Richmond, and Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, for a total of 21 years, moved to Community Lutheran, Sterling, in the Metro D.C. Synod in 2008. He is a member of the Virginia LARCUM State Committee and chairman of the Metro D.C. Synod New and Renewing Congregations Mission Team.

            Bishop Jim Mauney will give the annual Yost Lectures at Southern Seminary on its Alumni Day, May 10.


           Beverly S. Polk, a member of St. Luke, Woodstock, and supervisor of food services for nine schools in Shenandoah County, received a lifetime achievement award for food services at a conference of Virginia School Nutrition Association at Virginia Beach in early March. She began as a cafeteria worker at Edinburg Elementary School more than 40 years ago. She is a member of Shenandoah Lutheran Advisory board and she has been president of Lutheran Church Women, member of church council and Sunday School teacher.

            Paul Shepherd, novelist and poet, will be the visiting theologian at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, on April 16-17. The program will explore theology through the eyes of literature. Shepherd, author of the novel, More Like Not Running Away, will speak on the theme, "An Almighty Struggle."

             Nicole Pries, a licensed clinical social worker, will come from ChildSavers in Richmond to serve as director of adoption and foster care for Lutheran Family Services in mid-April. She was program director and she has led a trauma response program for children who have experienced trauma or have been exposed to violence. She has served in the Peace Corps and worked in AIDS education and counseling.

            The Tidewater Conference will sponsor a Lutheran Revival on April 13-14, featuring a celebration of music and service projects as an opportunity for interaction among congregations. The event will start with a dinner and worship at St. Andrew, Portsmouth, on April 13, followed by a service project, dinner and worship at Luther Manor on April 14.  Bishop Jim Mauney will lead worship on Saturday.

Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Moneta, has started a Parents Again ministry, supporting grandparents who are parents again as the result of a poor economy, high foreclosure rates, divorce and other problems. Pastor Philip Bouknight said the congregation is structuring an environment where grandparents can support one another, share experiences and participate in forums geared to their circumstances.

Pastor Kelly Derrick, St. Philip, Roanoke, will lead four members of her congregation on a mission trip to Malawi in May. They will take medicine, school supplies, girls' underwear, soccer balls and ball pumps. 

Lou Rossiter, St. Stephen, Williamsburg, has been named to the board of Williamsburg Community Health Foundation and its Grants Committee. The foundation provides millions of dollars in funding to non-profits each year to improve the health of residents in the Williamsburg region. 

Janelle Neubauer, former Lutheran Student Association member at St. Stephen, spoke to the congregation on her year in Palestine under the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program.

Twenty-five people from 12 Synod congregations met at Roslyn Center in Richmond in early March for a Discipleship Matters Conference, led by the Discipleship Team of Peace, Charlottesville. They had quiet time for meditation, small and large group sessions and worship. They received Yearning for God, the first in a five-book series by Pastor John Herman of Peace.

Women and children of River of Life-St. Luke, St Paul and St. Peter, Page County---have knitted, crocheted and sewed prayer shawls and lap robes for patients at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Harrisonburg. The project began when women of the congregation called each other.

Christ, Roanoke, has started a Neighbor to Neighbor program for volunteers to drive members to medical appointments or shopping, provide rest for a care giver, make home visits, do light yard work, home maintenance or light household tasks.

In a member survey at Mount Calvary, Mt. Jackson, 29 said they pray daily, 22 read the Bible occasionally, 21 share their faith occasionally, 28 rate their spiritual connection to God as very close and 26 said their faith is very strong. About 10 or fewer had lower figures in each category.

A small group of Coptic Christians is worshiping at St. Mark, Yorktown, on Saturdays and occasionally on Friday evening. The Coptic Church, of Egyptian heritage, is the oldest continuous self-identified group and also one of the most persecuted groups of Christians in the world, according to Pastor Gary Erdos, of St. Mark.

Pastor David Young, Bethel, Winchester, is leading a gathering called Theology on Tap at Piccadilly Brew Pub on the last Thursday of each month for conversation "that is decidedly theological." Beer drinking is not required to participate. Bethel members were invited to spend Good Friday morning in local work projects, mostly clean-up jobs and simple repairs "to assist our brothers and sisters within our community who need some helping hands."

Lakeside, Littleton, N.C., will continue a partnership with Littleton United Methodist Church to package 20,000 meals on April 14 for people around the world who do not have enough to eat. Participants package high protein, dehydrated meals, mainly to feeding programs in schools and orphanages around the world. A team of 40 volunteers can package 10,000 meals in two hours. The program is in the Lakeside budget.


Lita Johnson to speak on hunger, Assembly theme


            Lita Johnson, associate director for ELCA Global Mission and former director of ELCA World Hunger, will be the theme presenter and ELCA representative at the Synod Assembly at Roanoke College on June 8-10. The Assembly theme will be "Ambassadors for Christ, Feeding the Hungry."

            The Rev. Toby Eleasar, president of the New Guinea Islands District of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea, has been invited to speak but that has not been confirmed. He may not be able to leave his country because national elections are scheduled at that time.

            David Ludwig of the Florida-Bahamas Synod will be the guest musician for the Assembly. Elections will be held for the offices of Synod treasurer, five seats on the Synod Council and eight voting members for the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh.



Students from VT and UVA build in Boone


Habitat project  


        Pastor Bill King of Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, led a team of eight from Virginia Tech and five from the University of Virginia's campus ministry on a Habitat service ministry in Boone, N.C. They spent three days working on a Habitat house and another day working in the woodlot.



African-American Team

promotes welcoming all people


The Synod African-American Outreach Team planned four gatherings in March and May to promote more effective welcoming of "all people of God in our churches' communities."

            May gatherings, planned for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be at Our Saviour, Virginia Beach, on May 5 and at St. Paul, Strasburg, on May19. March gatherings were at First English, Richmond, and at St. Philip, Roanoke.

            These gatherings result from a convergence between the team's work and a renewed emphasis of synod leadership, which was expressed at the Synod Ministerium Gathering last October. That theme was "A Call to Parish as Place: Who are the people in your neighborhood?"

            At the Ministerium Gathering, the team highlighted the need for a synod-wide conversation addressing how best to respond to the call God expresses throughout scripture to carry the message of his saving grace to all people. The team acknowledged that the conversation will not be short and will need to be tailored to the communities of local congregations.

            The program for each of the gatherings will include worship, lunch sponsored by the synod, an interview with a prominent African-American ELCA Lutheran about his/her experience, small group discussion and sharing of local details.

            Pastors and other rostered leaders at the Ministerium Gathering submitted names of candidates who might like to attend the regional gatherings but they are open to anyone.  Response should be made to MelindaBarnhardt@comcast.net or 540-937-8237prior to the gathering. 


Brandon Oaks wins Cool Citizens Coalition award


            The Roanoke Valley Cool Citizens Coalition presented its Business Good Citizen Award to Brandon Oaks at an annual awards meeting on March 14. Andy Dickenson, executive director and Bonnie Allison, marketing director, accepted the plaque.

            The citation said Brandon Oaks "has positioned itself as the green retirement community of choice in the region with its advertising campaigns and more importantly, Cool Green Biz certification through the Roanoke Regional Chamber of  Commerce and the construction of the newest addition, The Pines.

            Features at The Pines include energy efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning, lighting and appliances, Energy Star windows, local and low-toxicity materials, well-insulated wall and envelope, recycled building materials donated to Habitat ReStore, optional rainwater harvesting and 50 percent of construction waste to be recycled. 


Abby Furco needs blood


Abby Furco, 5-year-old member of St. Michael, Virginia Beach, requires a lot of whole blood and platelet transfusions because she has leukemia. Members of her congregation and friends from afar have donated units for her.

            Her parents, Joseph and Patty Furco, have appealed for blood contributions across the nation. A total of 59 units were contributed at St. Michael on Feb. 16, the one-year anniversary of her diagnosis. She spends a week in the hospital receiving chemotherapy each month. Patty Furco said anyone can donate blood at any Red Cross center and mark it in honor of Abby Furco.


Men of Apostles, Gloucester, repair homes 



Men--Apostles, Glouceste
Men of Apostles, Gloucester

           A men's group at Apostles, Gloucester, has been building handicap ramps, rebuilding kitchens and bathrooms and making roof and siding repairs since it was formed in 2005. 

            The men wanted to work with a Habitat for Humanity group but scheduling could not be arranged so they turned to the Gloucester Housing Partnership, a not-for-profit organization working on housing needs among the poor in Gloucester County. Their first project was a handicap ramp on a snowy day but they completed the work despite the weather.

            They work on the second Saturday of each month but most of the jobs are so large that they are not completed until another group finishes the job, according to Pastor Jim Larsen of Apostles. "This reinforces the truth that we are linked not only to those whom we serve but also to those with whom we serve, even those we may never meet but without whom we could not serve so effectively," he said."The church of Jesus Christ is much larger than Apostles Lutheran Church and we're so glad to be a part of this meaningful ministry done in Christ's name." 

Chaplain Weicher promoted to lieutenant colonel


            Pastor William S. Wiecher was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve on Sunday, March 11, at a ceremony at College, Salem, where he serves as co-pastor, and he left the next day to begin a six-month tour of duty as a chaplain at the Air Force Reserve Command at Warner-Robbins Base in Georgia.

            Wiecher will be working on planning and program development in a chaplain candidate program, scheduling seminarians in intensive 30-day internships. He and five other chaplains will work with 60 interns in training, education and reflection projects.

            After graduation from seminary, the chaplaincy candidates must apply to the branch of service where they want to serve. The majority will be on reserve duty as chaplains and a small number will go on active duty.

            Wiecher has served as an Air Force chaplain on active duty for 21/2 years and in the Reserve for 111/2 years. He said this service is "an extension of the outreach ministry of College Lutheran Church." He served on a special project last September and at Guantanamo several years ago. During his military service, he asked members of College to support Pastor Wynemah Hinlicky, his wife, and the congregation's lay leadership. Bishop Jim Mauney participated in the ceremony.

Motorcycle ride to visit rock churches


            A Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center Spring Motorcycle Ride to visit the famed rock churches in Floyd, Patrick and Carroll counties will be held on Saturday, May 5, led by Pastor Joe Shumate. The ride will start at 9 a.m. at the McDonald's restaurant in Wytheville. The churches started through the work of the late Presbyterian Pastor Bob Childress. Lunch will be at Chateau Morrisette Winery, near the Blue Ridge Parkway. No charge will be made for the ride. Information on the ride is available at Hungry Mother Retreat Center, 276-783-6521 or the website, www.hmlc@hungrymother.org.

College names center for Bob Benne

bob benne


Roanoke College has named the Robert D. Benne Center for Religion and Society on the retirement of Bob Benne after 30 years as director of the center. Roanoke President Michael Maxey announced the name change after Benne gave the annual Rev. Dr. James R. Crumley Lecture on March 29.

            In his lecture, Benne listed highlights of his 30 years of teaching in the Religion and Philosophy Department and his friends and colleagues heaped praise on his accomplishments at a dinner following the lecture. Four generations of Bennes, including his 93-year-old mother, were there.

            Maxey called Benne "a great gift, who has influenced a tremendous number of people."  He said Benne, author of a popular book, Ordinary Saints, is "an extraordinary saint." College Chaplain Paul Henrickson said Benne "has made all of us more responsible church people." Benne has written 12 books, often dealing with ethics and the relationship of faith and vocation.

            Afterward, Bishop Jim Mauney said the Center for Religion and Society has brought 170 worldwide speakers to the college and the Religion and Philosophy Department has grown from three to nine professors, including four endowed chairs, since Benne arrived on campus in 1982. Professors of different disciplines share their faith with colleagues at regular events and Henrickson's post as dean of the chapel has been endowed.

The bishop said the Religion Department "has become a factory of writing and teaching, with many books written and published." Benne has been "the catalyst for these signs of life and capacity" at the college, while serving as department chair, hiring faculty, lecturing and writing and serving as a colleague and voice on campus. Mauney said Benne "has been a strong, active lay teacher in the life of the Lutheran church, with a passion for the church, maintaining its obedience to our Lord, who says 'Follow me.'"

Dr. James Peterson, who came from Canada last year as Benne's successor to lead the center and teach in the Religion and Philosophy Department, said he had heard of Benne, "clearly a national figure," who encourages the interaction of faith and reason.

Benne recalled that he was interested in athletics and coaching while a student at Midland College. While working in a garden, a woman told him he would "make a fine pastor, but that's the last thing I wanted to do...(but) the Lord opened different doors." He turned to teaching and he was called to the faculty of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he taught for 17 years. He decided to remain a layman, rather than presiding over worship as a pastor. He told of his "liberal idealism" in Chicago in the 1960s until he was turned off by the anti-Vietnam war movement and he became a strong neoconservative.

Today, Benne said, secularization is a serious threat on college campuses and many Christians who worship on Sundays see no connection to their lives Monday to Friday. "We get more students without any religion" and it's exciting to see them light up when they are exposed to religion, he added.

Another role for Benne was shown in the presence at the lecture of the Rev. Paul Spring, bishop emeritus of the new North American Lutheran Church, a body formed by congregations who left the ELCA over the homosexuality issue in 2009. In a brief interview, Spring said Benne "has been a big help theologically, a big supporter" of the North American Lutheran Church.

That body, based in Columbus, Ohio, has 320 congregations with a total of 130,000 members, "a very vital community of faith, based on the Bible" he said. Its strength is in Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and Iowa, he said. Spring said the North American Church has a "very strained relationship with the ELCA." He said sexuality, teaching of the Trinity and Christ as the only savior are major issues for his church.

Nancy Reed helps write criminal justice statement


            Nancy Reed, who practices law with her husband, Mark Reed, in Luray, serves on an ELCA task force which released a draft social statement on criminal justice on March 15. Reed said the statement is available for comment on the ELCA website and she hopes that hearings will be held in the Synod before an Oct. 31 deadline.

            The task force hopes to present a proposed statement for approval by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh in 2013. Reed has made a number of trips to ELCA headquarters in Chicago to work on the draft. She is a substitute judge and a former Page County prosecutor.

            While commending positive aspects of the system, the draft conveys some dissatisfaction with many areas about the criminal justice system that urgently need reform, the ELCA said. A copy of the draft statement is available here.         


Lutheran Partners in Mission created


            The Synod Council has approved a task force recommendation to create a new Lutheran Partners in Mission, combining the ministries of the United Lutheran Appeal and the Mission Office for Planned Giving. A Partners in Mission board will select a director for the new program.

            This action follows the retirement of Pastor Floyd Addison as coordinator of United Lutheran Appeal and the resignation of Pastor George Sims, who moved to the new post of director of advancement for the Village at Orchard Ridge at Winchester in October.

            The purpose of the new mission will be to connect agencies and institutions with members of congregations by providing information about them in a variety of media, by making volunteer opportunities in member agencies and institutions available to congregations, to encourage financial support for their ministries and to nurture planned giving within the synod.

            The director of Partners in Mission will have two major areas of responsibility:

Managing the effort to engage congregations and individuals in mutual ministry with eight agencies and institutions and carrying out the ELCA's regional gift planning program by serving as a resource for congregations in their cultivation and gift solicitation.

            Bishop Jim Mauney said that "with the Lutheran Partners in Mission, the chief executive officers of our institutions and the deans of our synod have sought to create a ministry that will tell the stories of the missions of the church more intentionally, lift up the importance of the love and witness and stewardship of wills for all of us and continue to emphasize the importance of planned giving, the making of wills and creation of endowment committees, supporting the wonderful ministries of the church."

            Initial members of Lutheran Partners in Mission will be Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center, Chaplain Service of the Churches of Virginia, the ELCA Foundation, Hungry Mother Retreat Center, Lutheran Family Services, Southern Seminary, National Lutheran Communities & Services, Roanoke College and Virginia Lutheran Homes.

            The board for the new mission organization will be comprised of four representatives of synod institutions, four from deans and congregations, one from the bishop's office and a representative of the ELCA Foundation.


New River Valley provides

shelter for homeless men 

     by Laurie Bond, Our Saviour, Chrstiansburg


  The idea for sheltering homeless men was nonexistent in the New River

Valley until the To Our House program was started by members of the community, faith organizations and community leaders last year.

  It was created as a result of the death of Teddy Henderson, a homeless man who had lived part-time in Blacksburg for about a decade.  He was found ailing on the streets in 2008 and died at Montgomery Regional Hospital.  Approximately 40 people attended a community service for him, and afterwards a group of them dedicated themselves to helping homeless men in the New River Valley area.   

From January through April 2011, To Our House (TOH), an inter-faith and community services volunteer organization, began serving the homeless population of single men in the New River Valley of southwest Virginia. In the inaugural season, the program served 28 men who sought shelter from the winter weather. They were served by 29 host and support congregations or community organizations and staffed by 290 volunteers.

            During this time, 403 shelter nights were provided, along with 1,209 meals. New River Community Action is the fiscal and insuring agent for To Our House. For 2012, the program was extended by 10 weeks and has exceeded the number of men served, host churches involved and number of volunteers involved.

 In 2011, the total number of volunteers was 290 and as of January 2012, the number of volunteers was 367 with three more months to go until the program ended for this year.

Each week, a different church hosts the men and Our Saviour, Christiansburg, was a host church, partnering with St. Thomas Episcopal and Christiansburg Mennonite Fellowship. Many hands are needed to make the work a success. Services provided daily are transportation between an intake location and the host church, a hot dinner, hot shower and movies, cards and puzzles, a warm place to sleep, breakfast, a bag lunch and laundry. Evening activities foster interaction with the men and volunteers.

Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, also is a host church for the two-week visit by homeless men. St. Michael, Blacksburg, is a support congregation, providing food and other needed material to the sites to make the ministry possible.

One member of Our Saviour provided food and prepared a hot breakfast for the guests through her employer and many volunteers. This employer provided a job for one of the men.

Some of the men hold college degrees and have jobs. The primary reasons for their homelessness were loss of job, lack of money, evictions and disputes with families or friends. To Our House provides an opportunity to find a job, save money, find a place to stay and get back on their feet. It takes a lot of volunteers to make this program a success. For more information about the program, visit by email:  info@toourhouse.org or the website: www.toourhouse.org. 


Phil Conserva, CSI producer,

to speak at Roanoke Commencement


Conserva, Phil

Phil Conserva, a 1995 graduate of Roanoke College and the producer of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation television program, will be the commencement speaker for the college graduation on Saturday, May 5. College Chaplain Paul Henrickson will be the baccalaureate speaker on Friday, May 4.

            At the commencement, honorary degrees will be awarded Robert and Mary Wortmann, Saddle River, N.J., Brooks Whitehurst. New Bern, N.C., and Maynard Turk, Greenville, Del.

            Also at the college, Dr. Stella Xu, an assistant history professor who specializes in East Asian studies, has won a Freeman Fellowship to travel and study in China this summer. Xu, who was born in China and attended graduate school in Korea, recently was named a Rising Star in Korean Studies.

            She and four Roanoke students will travel to China in May and June to do research for a project, "Reinvented Tradition in the Age of Globalization:The Silk Road and its Legacy in Contemporary China." They are one of only 14 research teams chosen from a national competition and the first Roanoke team to receive the fellowship. The ASIA Network, a consortium of more than 170 North American colleges, awards this $24,900 fellowship grant.


Virginia is one of 7 top 

ELCA synods in hunger giving


Did you know?


  • Virginia has an 11.8% food insecurity rate. Over 912,790 Virginians do not know where their next meal will come from.
  • In the most recent "Hunger in America 2010" study by Feeding Amer­icaź, the Commonwealth of Virginia's food banks served 42% children (11% are children 0 - 5 years old), 6% elderly, 45% house­holds with at least one employed adult and only 6%  homeless. Even more staggering is the report that 76% of those served live below the official federal poverty level. 
  • Malaria kills 800,000 people each year, most of whom are children under 5. One child dies every 45 seconds from this preventable--and treatable-- disease.
  • In 2011, over $19,000 in ELCA Domestic Hunger Grants were awarded to 10 agencies in Virginia to support local hunger ministries.
  • During the 2011 ELCA fiscal year, the Virginia Synod was one of only 7 ELCA Synods that raised more than $ 6.00 in giving per baptized member, raising over $ 229,780.

One of the most basic yet cherished commands in the Bible is to "love your neighbor as yourself." Every day, members of congregations in the Virginia Synod heed this command by sharing their blessings of time, talents and treasures in support of countless ministries that support all of God's children.

To help "educate and communicate, advocate and mobilize" these hunger resources, the Virginia Synod World Hunger Committee is comprised of representatives from congregations throughout the Synod.  With the purpose to promote hunger education and awareness among the members of the Synod and to encourage giving to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal, the Virginia Synod regularly ranks among the top five of all ELCA synods in per capita giving to the World Hunger Appeal. The committee also supports sustainable development projects.

Chaired by the Rev. Kelly D.B. Derrick, St Philip, Roanoke, the World Hunger Committee is working with Bishop Jim Mauney and the Synod staff to promote these Synod goals:


  1. By October 31, 2017, no child in Virginia will be hungry.
  2. By 2015, $230,000 will be raised to support the ELCA Malaria Campaign goal of $15 million.

To support these goals, the World Hunger Team is working to:

  • Educate and communicate, advocate and mobilize
  • Distribute a Synod newsletter to highlight ministries
  • Provide avenues for networking within the synod to share best practices
  • Serve as a resource for local congregations or groups within the Synod
  • Share resources, including ELCA website
  • Educate congregations and organizations about the ELCA World Hunger Grants
  • Provide seminars and programs at the 2012 Synod Assembly

For more information or to participate on the Synod World Hunger Team, contact the Rev. Kelly D.B. Derrick at pastorkelly@stphiliplutheran.net.


Southern Seminary-Lenoir Rhyne to merge July 1

ltss logo 

          Representatives of Lenoir-Rhyne University and Southern Seminary celebrated their official decision to merge on July 1 during a celebration signing ceremony at Hickory, N.C., on March 26. With the merger, Lenoir-Rhyne will establish a school of theology, including the seminary, which will retain its name and identity while integrating with the larger university system. The institutions have had compatible missions but "going forward, we have the promise of a vibrant singular mission," said Dr. Marcus Miller, Southern Seminary president, who will retire this summer.  


Worship will be the theme

for Men's Gathering, May 4-6



            Pastor Stephen Bohannon of Christ the King, Richmond, will be the presenter on the theme, "Ambassadors for Christ: How We Worship," at the annual gathering of Virginia Lutheran Men in Mission at the Roslyn Center in Richmond, May 4-6.

            Bohannon grew up in an LCA mission congregation in Northern Virginia, graduated from the University of Virginia and Philadelphia Seminary and served a Philadelphia church. He returned to Virginia to serve at Christ, Fredericksburg, before moving to Christ the King in 2004. He has served on the planning team for Winter Celebration. He will talk about worship practices in the church, reflecting on his study of worship across the synod during a sabbatical last summer.

         Pastor Andrew Bansemer of Ebenezer, Marion, will be the chaplain for the gathering. A graduate of James Madison University and Southern Seminary, Bansemer was chaplain for Winter Celebration last year. He formerly was assistant chaplain at Roanoke College and he is a son of Bishop Emeritus Richard Bansemer.

            The gathering features Bible study, small group discussions, personal growth through presentations and discussions and fellowship. Linus Ellis, associate in ministry at First English, Richmond, will lead music for the gathering.

            The cost of the Friday-Sunday event will be $215, double occupancy.


Was Paul a good Jew?

     by Cody Meadows


            Modern theology has begun to reconsider the standard interpretations of religious texts, asking questions that could radically alter Christian thought. During a lecture at Roanoke College on March 18, Dr. David Rudolf from Cambridge University asked one such question: Was Paul a good Jew? 

            Rudolf began by examining Acts 21, a passage not usually considered in New Testament studies. In this passage, Paul is brought before James and the elders in Jerusalem. They accuse him of teaching the Gentiles to ignore the laws of Moses; they accuse him of being a bad Jew. However, Paul complies with the elders' demand to purify himself before God in the temple, proving that their accusations were false.

            Rudolf discussed the problem that Acts 21 presents to theologians. Since the accusations were proven to be false, modern theology needs to explain Paul's willingness to publicly dispel the rumors of him being a bad Jew. Biblical scholars currently debate Paul's motives. Rudolf quickly dismissed several popular theories, such as a lapse in Paul's faith and historical inaccuracies in Acts 21.

 However, he considered one theory more fully. Some scholars believe that I Corinthians 9;20-22 explains the rumors and Paul's willingness to dispel them. The verses summarize Paul's principle of flexibility. Paul would accommodate his audience in hopes of saving them.

But Rudolf, who studied these three verses extensively for his dissertation, believes that they cannot explain Paul's actions. For him, this theory also assumes that the verses are meant to be taken literally. Rudolf disagrees with this interpretation. He offered what he considers to be the only logical explanation: Paul was Torah observant---a good Jew.

Rudolf suggested that this conclusion has significant consequences for modern theology. Since the events described in Acts 21 take place after I Corinthians, Galations and Romans, Rudolf believes that his new conclusion will force modern theology to reinterpret these books in the Bible. Also, it will require a reassessment of Paul's letters because they are usually interpreted as if the accusations against Paul were true.

Dr. Aaron Sherwood, a professor in the college Religion and Philosophy Department, responded to Rudolf's lecture. They talked not about whether Paul was a good Jew---they agreed on that point---but they discussed what it meant for Paul to be a good Jew. For Rudolf, this is directly related to observing the Torah. But Sherwood suggests that Paul was a good Jew because he was a disciple of Jesus. Paul, according to  Sherwood, thought that Jewish practices were compatible with Jesus and his teachings.

Regardless of how one defines a good Jew, Paul's status as a good Jew offers an exciting opportunity  to modern theology. It demands the reinterpretation of numerous religious texts. Rudolf's work will surely lead to new developments in Christian thought.


  Cody Meadows is a biology/chemistry major from Bedford. 





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