May, 2012
                 The Virginia



Rev. Ruban Duran to speak

on "Welcoming the Stranger"


Duran, Ruben
Pastor Ruban Duran

            The Rev. Ruban Duran, ELCA director for new evangelizing congregations and a native of Peru, will be the keynote speaker on the theme, "Welcoming the Stranger," at Power in the Spirit on the Roanoke College campus July 12-14.

Duran is responsible for promoting development of synodical mission strategies, local initiatives and emerging models for expanding communities in the U.S. and Caribbean. He will speak at Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning sessions. Duran formerly was executive for congregational outreach and associate director for Latino outreach for the ELCA.

Bishop Margaret Payne

            Bishop Margaret Payne of the New England Synod will lead Bible studies. Payne, a former English teacher in India and member of the ELCA stewardship staff, is chairperson of the Theological and Ethical Concerns Committee of the ELCA Conference of Bishops. Power Praise, a group of musicians from Southwest Virginia, will lead the music program and Ed Kilbourne will provide entertainment.

            Among the varied workshops scheduled are sessions on servant trips, reviving a dying church, prayer, discipleship, refugees and immigrants, backpack ministry, the Book of Faith and prayer beads.

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In This Issue
Durban to speak on "Welcoming the Stranger"
Lutherans in the news
Cental, Burkes Garden helps Appalachain Trail hikers
Planting Pinwheels to prevent child abuse
Conference on vibrant living for seniors
Evangelicals favor Romney
Caring for creation
Roanoke Lutherans start 7th Habitat house
Food backpack servant event at Assembly
Workshop features old singing practice
Muhlenberg Legacy Celebrtion set for Woodstock , Aug. 12
Paul Shepherd: Writing akin to spiritual journey
Cecil McFarland dies
Roanoke College building plans
Steeple is placed at Grace and Glory
Ventures workshops
Volunteers clean up Caroline Furnace camp


Lutherans in the news


            Rose Stephens-Booker, First.Norfolk and a member of the Synod Council, has been appointed to the ELCA Addressing Social Concerns Task Force. The goal of the task force is to review the process for addressing social concerns and the procedure for developing social statements. Stephens-Booker, who lives in Arlington and works in Washington, is a young adult representative and marketing/communications expert on the task force.

            Pastor Dave Delaney, synod director of youth and young adult ministries, will be on sabbatical leave from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31. Dana Ripley, a youth ministry intern in 2009, will handle youth ministry operations during that three-month period.    

            Pastor Jonathan Hamman, Grace, Rural Retreat, has been named dean of the Highland Conference to succeed Pastor Murray Ziegenfuss, Speedwell, Wythe County, who has retired.

            Pastor Kathleen Miko has resigned at St. Paul, Timberville.

            Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, supported five campus youth who took an alternative spring break in New York City, meeting needs of the elderly, preparing and serving in a soup kitchen and stocking shelves in a food pantry. A group of Muhlenberg members sang Easter carols for home-bound members. Fourteen Muhlenberg men worked on replacing a cabin roof and building housings on waste-water lines at Caroline Furnace Camp on three Saturdays.

            The Virginia Choral Society, a group of more than 100 singers, presented a Heart and Soul Concert at Gloria Dei, Hampton, on April 27.

            The Concordia College Choir, Bronxville, N.Y., will present a concert at Bethany, Waynesboro, on Monday, May 7, and at Our Saviour, Arlington, on Saturday, May 19.

            Mark V. Barrow Jr., Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, and chair of the Virginia Tech History Department, received the 2012 Scholar Award in History from the Virginia Social Sciences Association.

            At St. Michael, Blacksburg, the Micah's Backpack program is starting a new project to provide fresh food in the community from Micah's Garden. The backpack program sent home 800 weekend bags and over 4,500 meals in April. Almost 1,700 food items were donated by St. Michael and other groups and individuals. The program has over 100 partners who provide six meals and snacks for children and youth. A $2,000 Domestic Hunger Grant was provided by the ELCA for the program.

            A group from St. Philip, Roanoke, loaded 13 suitcases filled with medicine, school supplies, soccer balls and girls' underwear to take on a mission trip to Malawi in early May. Donations came from Holy Trinity, Martinsville, and several other church and school groups.

            Papa "Dethie" Fall, a Roanoke College senior from the West African country of Senegal, is one of four young men featured in a documentary film, "Elevate," following the youths as they finish high school in the U.S. and learn to play basketball as they enter college.

            At St. Mark, Yorktown, the Patchwork Angels have made 56 Quilts of Valor for Wounded Vets. Donations will be asked in honor of Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day to make more quilts.

            As a solution for a lack of committee involvement, St. Peter's, Toms Brook, planned a "team work" in which teams will have very specific short-term goals and each member will have one assigned job, with advice from a coach and quarterly meetings.

            Peace, Charlottesville, is selling stock certificates at $25 a share to help pay for 12 young people and four adults who plan to travel to the ELCA youth gathering in New Orleans this summer. Investors will hear a report on the gathering experience at a meeting when they return. Part of a Christmas Miracle Offering at Peace was sent in support of two education programs at the Bright Stars of Bethlehem, a Lutheran mission  working in the West Bank of Israel.

            St. Paul, Strasburg, planned a Golden Gems Celebration, celebrating members 75 and older, honoring "these faithful servants of God for their dedication and service to our church and community." If members were willing to admit that they are 75, they were asked to call the church office.

            Christ, Fredericksburg, has formed a Safety and Security Committee to help make sure that the church is a safe place to be 24 hours a day. Two proposals are to have volunteers check the church building nightly to see if all doors and windows are locked and to restrict public access to church property outside the fellowshiphall.

            Bethlehem, Lynchburg, has sent medical supplies helping more than 1,000 patients in a Haiti Medical Mission.

            A prayer labyrinth, an ancient way to pray while walking, will be installed at Grace, Winchester, in June. The labyrinth will be made of pavers, to be located in the southeast corner of Grace's property at Mt. Hebron Cemetery. Descendants of Christian Streit, a pioneer pastor at Grace and other area churches in the late 1700s, had a special meeting at Grace on March 11. Erin Reeve, parish nurse at Grace, received a state achievement award from the Virginia Emergency Nurses Association, after serving as state president last year.

            Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries set a goal of raising $2,000 for its new Luke's Backpack Program, providing food and snacks for at-risk children in Shenandoah County on weekends.

            Grace White, a young adult friend of Trinity, Stephens City, wrote a letter thanking the congregation for supporting children in the mountains of Guatemala, giving them "something that will help them rest a little better, smile a little brighter, remind me to thank God a little louder and make worries a little lighter." 


Central, Burkes Garden, 

helps Appalachian Trail hikers


Grever & 2 hikers
Lee Greever and two hikers, named Jelly and Bean on the trail.

            An Appalachian Trail hiker with the trail name of  Lightning, from Georgia, wrote in a guest book that hospitality in the new Burkes Garden trail ministry was "genuinely wonderful people showing God's love. Very, very cool."

            Led by Vicar Peter Suwak, the small congregation of Central, Burkes Garden, has pulled together to provide a hot meal, a shower and overnight lodging for as many as a dozen hikers at a time. The trail winds around the rim of Burkes Garden, a scenic bowl surrounded by mountains in Tazewell County, southwest of Bluefield.

            They post cards at trail heads asking, "Are you cold, tired or hungry?" with the phone number for Suwak and his wife, June. They provide transportation from the trailhead and return. When Suwak was away recently, June Suwak picked them up and "got them showered, laundered, fed a spaghetti meal" and transported to another home for lodging.

            Their biggest night so far came during a 4-inch snowfall on April 23 when 13 hikers sought shelter. "During inclement weather, there is always room at the inn," June Suwak said. Joe Nicholson, a member, is installing an outdoor shower in an "Agape Hut" in the vicar's backyard. .Plumbing and electricity have been upgraded to allow a washer/dryer set and hot water heater to be installed.

            Guest book thank-you notes from hikers are signed by such trail names as Mellow Yellow from Chicago, Far East Coast from Singapore, Midnight Fly in Connecticut and Good Deeds, Georgia.

            Peter Suwak said the Holy Spirit is at work in this ministry and the small congregation (dating from 1828) is "recreating its identity." Suwak's term as vicar will end in July but Ron Levison, council president, has committed the congregation to continue offering hospitality to AT hikers.

            A similar trail ministry has been led by Woody and Irma Graf at Grace, Waynesboro, for several years.


Planting Pinwheels to prevent child abuse

     by Carole Todd, Lutheran Family Services

Annabelle Roney helps plant a pinwheel at St. Paul, Hampton


             Two Lutheran churches in eastern Virginia partnered with Lutheran Family Services in April to take part in "Pinwheels for Prevention," a national campaign to change the way people think about child abuse prevention. At St. Paul, Hampton, intrepid church members did not let April showers get in the way of planting almost 200 pinwheels as a reminder that we can prevent child abuse by helping families create the brightest future possible for their children.

            Pastor Chris Farrow led members and Lutheran Family Services guests in prayer before the planting ceremony. Because April was both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Autism Awareness Month, the St. Paul ceremony also honored children and families who are affected by autism.

             At Trinity, Henrico, the church's preschool teachers also braved cold, rainy weather to plant pinwheels with Randy Ronning, minister of education to families with youth, and LFS staff. Both churches are the site of Essential Pieces, a free eight-week workshop for families with children on the autism spectrum and the professionals who serve them, which is offered by Lutheran Family Services. Essential Pieces is also held at Grace, Winchester.

            St. Paul will "harvest" the pinwheels on Sunday, May 6, when they are prayerfully packed away on Rachel's Day, which is a day celebrated by ELCA women in which they protest the violence in children's lives. Both churches are planning to have more pinwheels and participation next year. If you would like more information about Essential Pieces, please call or email Hollie Stephens at 757.722.4707, ext. 133 or You can also read about Essential Pieces in the May issue of The Lutheran. 

(LFSVA educates children with complex needs at four schools; offers adoption, foster care and community-based services; and serves older adults and adults with disabilities. Call 1.800.359.3834 for more information or visit


Conference on vibrant living for seniors


            The National Lutheran Communities & Services and Fellowship Square Foundation will sponsor an inter-faith conference on "Vibrant Living, Vibrant Faith: Inspiring a New Culture of Senior Ministry" at the Rockville, Md. campus of Johns Hopkins University on May 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. For more information or to register, visit


Evangelicals favor Romney over President Obama


            A Roanoke College poll of 412 evangelical Christians in Virginia favored Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for president by 55 percent to 29 percent while 251 non-evangelical residents supported Obama over Romney by 51 percent to 37 percent.

            But the evangelical Christians were no more enthusiastic about Romney than the non-evangelicals, according to the poll by the college's Institute for Policy and Opinion Research in interviews between March 26 and April 9.

            Religion plays a prominent role in the thinking of evangelicals but they are more focused on economic issues than on social issues, the poll found. On views of the Mormon religion, evangelicals are generally similar to non-evangelicals, though there are some differences.

            Evangelicals and non-evangelicals are slightly more optimistic about the direction of Virginia but they are more pessimistic about the direction of the country, according to the poll.  


Responsibilities of caring for creation are explored


A small ecumenical gathering heard about responsibility of corporations, health care costs, parish nurse ministry to the whole person and nutritious food at the second annual Interfaith Conference on Care for Creation at St. Mark's, Roanoke, on April 29.  "Faith, Hope, Love + Deeds" was the theme. The Virginia Synod was a sponsor.

            Tom Cain, lead planner for the conference, said, "We don't know much about how nature works but we recognize our responsibility." The faith community has steadfastness of purpose and time to work, he added.

            Father Seamus Finn of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility in Washington talked about the "Emerging Green and Ethical Economy, the Role of Faith Consistent Investor." The organization grew out of successful efforts to persuade large companies to withdraw investments in South Africa during its apartheid problems. 

            Faith communities have a role in corporate decisions, he said, and stockholder resolutions often deal with such issues as food safety, environmental health, water safety, financial services and access to affordable health care.

            Dr. Kerry Redican of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech said some of the factors driving health costs upward are longer lives, consumer expectations and a litigious society. A healthier lifestyle and exercise are ways to help control costs, he added.

            United Methodist Pastor Kathleen Monge from Danville talked about the faith community's ministry to the whole person through spiritual, occupational, physical, environmental, intellectual, social and emotional wellness. She described  the seven dimensions of life-mind, body, spirit, love, work, play and the earth.

            Laura Pole, a nurse-musician-fitness instructor, spoke of cooking and eating to maintain health and promote healing. Dr. Saleem Ahmed from Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine brought a greeting from the Muslim community and Dr. Suchitra Samanta from Virginia Tech spoke for the Hindu community.


Roanoke Lutherans start 7th Habitat house


Nigerian family
Manche Swaray and his five children, natives of Liberia, will be helping volunteers build their five-bedroom Habitat 

Work has started by Roanoke Valley Lutherans on the seventh Habitat house to be built under Thrivent Builds, a Thrivent Financial for Lutherans program. This two-story, five-bedroom home in Southwest Roanoke is planned for the six members of the Liberian refugee family of Manche Swaray.

            This will be the 13th Habitat home built by Roanoke area Lutherans in 15 years, said Jim McCarthy of Christ, Roanoke, a leader of the program. He spoke at a reception at College, Salem, launching the 2012 project. Earlier homes were constructed with the assistance of the former Aid Association for Lutherans and Lutheran Brotherhood.

            Thrivent will pay more than half of the cost and Habitat and local churches will raise the remainder of necessary funds. Since the program began in 2005, Thrivent Builds has paid for construction of more than 1,600 homes with total contributions of more than $160 million, according to Chuck Leiser, a Thrivent representative.

            Habitat volunteers are needed to work on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The home is at 1405 Campbell Ave., SW, across the street from a Roanoke College Habitat house. A wall-raising ceremony will be held on May 19 and the home is expected to be completed in four to five months, McCarthy said. 

Food backpack servant event planned for Assembly


            A new feature at the Synod Assembly on June 8-10 will be a food backpack servant event on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Stations will be set up for packing bags of food to be stored for Roanoke College backpack ministry in the fall.

            The theme of the assembly will be "Ambassadors for Christ: Feeding the Hungry." Lita Johnson, a former director of the ELCA World Hunger Appeal and currently an official of ELCA Global Missions, will be the official ELCA representative and also the presenter of the theme. 

Workshop features old singing practice

     by Judith Carolson

Wiedler, Scott
Scott Weidler leads singers.


       When 37 busy church people travel (on a Saturday in Lent, yet!) to an out of town workshop, you know something's going on.  It was called "Music that Makes Community," a workshop reviving an ancient singing practice that is simple, beautiful, faithful, and traditional, and all this without using books or screens or fabulously professional choirs!

            Scott Weidler, the ELCA's national associate director for Worship and Music, gave a lively presentation of the method which has been central to folk traditions for centuries.  Emphasis was on ways to incorporate it into our liturgies today, showing basic techniques for leading a variety of music types. "He encouraged us to stop hiding, to come out from behind our instruments in order to encourage greater congregational participation," reported one attendee.  "It was a good day!"

            The event was sponsored by the Central Virginia chapter of LPM, the Leadership Program for Musicians.  LPM is ecumenical and so was this day.  In all there were 24 Episcopalians, nine Lutherans, two Methodists, one Presbyterian and one Roman Catholic.  Participants either worship or work in Virginia churches.  Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, Richmond, hosted the March 12 gathering.

            Lutheran congregations represented were Our Saviour, Chesterfield; St. Peter's, Churchville; Hebron, Madison; Grace and Glory, Palmyra; Christ, Roanoke; Faith, Staunton; and St. Luke's, Richmond.  Two participants also came from the Lake Gaston area - Lakeside Lutheran Church in Littleton, N.C.     More information about LPM can be found on

Muhlenberg Legacy Celebration set for Woodstock


 Sunday, August 12, will be a memorable day for Virginia Lutherans.  A Celebration of the ministry, life and legacy of the Muhlenberg Family, especially Peter Muhlenberg, will take place at Emanuel Lutheran and Emmanuel Episcopal Churches in Woodstock in mid-afternoon.  Both of these congregations were served by The Rev. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg before his service in the Revolutionary War.

             A planning committee, composed of representatives from the 8 Muhlenberg Legacy Congregations in Virginia, is busy planning this wonderful event.  Each congregation will have a display of their history, some with colonial era artifacts.  A legacy congregation is one that was served or influenced by either Peter Muhlenberg or his father, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg.

              The planning committee has set a worthy goal for this event.  The goal is to provide funds to restore Peter Muhlenberg's famous ministerial robe.  The robe is part of Virginia lore.  Peter opened up this robe at the end of worship to reveal his military uniform of the militia and called men to fight for the cause of liberty and independence.  The robe was given to Pastor Paul Henkel after the Revolutionary War and in 1911 the Henkel family presented the robe to the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia.  The robe restoration goal will include providing a display case that will help preserve the robe for future generations to view.  The robe itself will be on display on August 12, the first time since 1911 that it has been in Virginia.

              The Celebration Worship on August 12 will be both historical and inspirational.  A colonial liturgy will be used, a mass from several congregations will sing,  and the preacher is Pastor Herbert Michel who served 25 years at Augustus Trappe Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania.  Augustus is a congregation served by Pastor Henry Melchior Muhlenberg and boasts of having the oldest unaltered Lutheran sanctuary in the United States. 


For further information on plans for this August 12 Legacy Celebration, you may contact Pastor Nathan Robinson, chair of the planning committee and pastor of Emanuel, Woodstock, or Pastor Jim Kniseley,  historical advisor and pastor of Resurrection, Fredericksburg.

Paul Shepherd:  

Writing is akin to a spiritual journey 


          Paul Shepherd, visiting theologian at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, made several presentations in April exploring how the feeling of divine abandonment is part of the reality of seeking God and sometimes an essential part of spiritual growth.

            Shepherd, a member of St. Mark, Charlottesville, and an author and poet, took "An Almighty Struggle" as his overarching theme. He wrote a novel, More Like Not Running Away, which won the Mary McCarthy Award. He founded the Lutheran Writers Project at Roanoke College and his fiction, poetry and articles have appeared in many national magazines and journals.

            At a luncheon, he spoke on "Where Word and Story Meet..Some Thoughts on What Makes Sermons Interesting from a Writer in the Pew." Both clergy and laity gained insight into how sermons can be more memorable and effectively presented.

            Shepherd concluded his Blacksburg visit with a reading of his novel on the Virginia Tech campus. He illustrated how literature illuminates the struggle to find meaning in the face of adversity. Creativity is often overly romanticized, Shepherd said, yet very often the process of writing or composing is akin to the spiritual journey, fraught with struggle and hard-won victories. 


Rev. Cecil McFarland, prison chaplain leader, dies


McFarland, Cecil
Rev. Cecil McFarland

            The Rev. Cecil McFarland, a United Methodist minister who led the Chaplain Service Prison Ministry of Virginia for 17 years, died April 19 in Richmond. He was 81.

McFarland had represented the Chaplain Service at Synod assemblies for many years.

            He had also served as a Navy chaplain and a Goodwill Industries executive. A memorial service was held in Richmond on April 28 and a graveside service was scheduled for Emory and Henry College on May 1. 


Roanoke College has building plans


            Roanoke College has plans to build an athletic-recreation center with an indoor track at the location of Bowman Hall and to renovate its science building, college President Mike Maxey told an Honor Guard (graduates of 50 years or more) breakfast during Alumni Weekend on April 14.

            After several recognitions, the college has a goal of becoming one of the top 100 liberal arts colleges in every category, he said. Roanoke was recently cited as the 18th most beautiful campus in the nation by the Princeton Review and it is one of 7 percent of colleges in the nation with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

            The college also recently received one of three Pride in Salem Green Awards for energy-efficient renovations on its campus. The school was nominated for its energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly renovation of Lucas Hall, a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building. A residence hall under construction is moving toward LEED certification.

            Maxey said 4,200 applications have been received for 550 spots in the freshman class next fall. The college has 2,050 students "but we don't want to grow too much," he added. "We never want to change the relationship of faculty and students. Roanoke is about people. We take good students and make great citizens."

            The $16.5 million residence hall under construction will add 243 beds, he said. In the past eight years, the college has added a total of 684 beds on campus. The president said the 150 faculty members "change students' lives by being a part of their life."    


Steeple is placed on the new Grace and Glory

 Steeple raising

A steeple was hoisted into place in March atop the Grace and Glory church under construction in Fluvanna County and the new building is planned for completion by August.

            After that significant event, Pastor Ken Albright reminded the congregation that for centuries the steeple was a place to house church bells which chimed to announce a worship service. Grace and Glory will not have bells, he said, but the spire is a reminder that the building will be a place where people gather to worship.

            The project began more than 11 years ago when Grace and Glory held its first service in a fitness center where members carried their own lawn chairs for seating. After three years, services were moved to the cafeteria of Fluvanna Middle School where they have remained. A lot was purchased on Rt. 54 and a capital campaign to build the congregation's first worship center began in 2007. A ground-breaking service was held last August and construction started soon afterward.

            When completed, the new church building will provide an opportunity to expand the congregation's ministries and "to carry out the work of God in being of service to those in Fluvanna and beyond," said Joe Shaver of Grace and Glory. The mission of  church members is to be "Caring Christians sharing God's message of Grace," Shaver said. The congregation has been active with Habitat for Humanity and the Fluvanna Christian Service Society. Volunteers serve at the Fluvanna Correctional Facility.


Peter Steinke to speak at two Waynesboro events


Steinke, Peter
Dr. Peter Steinke

             Dr. Peter Steinke, nationally recognized church consultant for more than 20 years, will speak to Synod healthy congregations facilitators and to a broader audience of rostered leaders in the Synod and other denominations at the Best Western Inn in Waynesboro at two events on Tuesday, May 22, and Wednesday, May 23.

            On Tuesday, Steinke will talk about future directions for healthy congregations in the Synod, understanding emotional systems, conflict and transformation, lessons from the past for tomorrow's church, how to be a change missionary and how change emerged in other period of the church's history.

            On Wednesday, his theme will be "Life is a Mission Trip." This program will be for the healthy congregations facilitators and rostered leaders, as well as clergy from other churches.

            Steinke, who lives in Austin, Tex., developed the Bridgebuilder and Healthy Congregations programs and now is starting New Visions, a project for leadership in congregations. He has written four books.


Ventures Workshops draw stewardship interest


              Pastors Jim Kniseley and CeCee Mills are pleased with the response for the upcoming Ventures Workshops in the Virginia Synod. Ventures consists of four sessions, helping congregation stewardship committees focus on plans for the coming three years in stewardship leadership.

 The sessions consist of learning about the variety of available stewardship resources and hearing some of the best ideas for congregations in areas such as biblical principles, budgeting, year-round stewardship, and visioning.  A highlight of the sessions is always the sharing of best and worst experiences  among the congregation stewardship committees.

            In the Tidewater area, the first two Ventures sessions are scheduled for Saturday, May 12, at Trinity, Newport News, and Sunday, June 3, at Emmanuel, Virginia Beach.  Five congregations will participate and there is still room for three more congregations.  The cost for participation is $400 per congregation and scholarships are available.

            In the Fredericksburg area, the first  Venture session is scheduled for Saturday, June 23, at Resurrection, Fredericksburg.  Six congregations are participating and there is still room for two more congregations. 

            For more information, you may contact Pastor Jim Kniseley, the Virginia Synod stewardship coordinator, at or his cell phone at 540-845-2427.  


Volunteers clean up Camp Caroline Furnace 


Caroline Furnace work
Among the volunteers working at Camp Caroline Furnace were (from left) Mark Hartman, Allen Lutz, Ryan Angel and Pat Angel.

            A "tremendous" work weekend was reported at Camp Caroline Furnace in April. The project featured lawn mowing, weed wacking around the lake, building a new trash trailer, splitting logs, resetting rocks around the retreat house and pulling excess growth off the spring.

            Volunteers built a cathedral trail, cleaned the bath house, replaced windows, switched door inserts, revived a book/game shelf and added finishing touches to the new dining and fireside rooms.





Editor:  George Kegley   
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