June, 2012
                 The Virginia



St. Paul, Hampton

prepares birthing kits


birthing kits 2
Bishop Jim Mauney helps Mary Ann Smith and Kathy Clark assemble birthing kits.

           Bishop Jim Mauney, a surprise guest, assisted with the assembly of birthing kits at St. Paul, Hampton on May 6 for distribution around the world through a United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) project. On Mother's Day, 100 kits were blessed for shipment to a UMCOR distribution depot in Louisiana.

            The project is the dream of a young man from Liberia whose mother gave birth to him under a tree. The kits provide a safe, clean environment for women in developing countries when they deliver babies far from medical facilities. Over 600,000 women in these countries die each year from complications related to child birth and over 9 million babies died from infections contracted during birth.

            The kits contain a pair of gloves, a plastic sheet, receiving blankets, soap, baggies and a razor blade to cut the umbilical cord. More kits will be packed as donations come in to the church. 
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In This Issue
St. Paul, Hampton prepares birthing kits
Lutherans in the news
Synod men discuss worship
Muhlenberg Exhibit travels to Virginia
Largen leaves, Schmitt to lead Southern Seminary
Lita Johnson will talk about feeding the hungry
Malawi people are poor, warm and kind
Three Virginians graduate from Philadelphia Seminary
Gettysburg Seminary events
Virginians explore the Holy Land
Greta Rikard is 96!
Bethel dedicates prayer labyrinth
African American Outreach Team
472 Virginians head for New Orleans
100-mile unners race from Caroline Furnace
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news


             A couple to be ordained at the June 8-10 Synod Assembly are Jonathan and Donna Scheffel Boynton, May graduates with master of divinity degrees from Southern Seminary. They have been called to serve a new North Mountain Parish at Toms Brook. Donna Boynton, a member of Our Saviour, Warrenton, is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Jonathan Boynton, from Kimball Memorial, Kannapolis, N.C., is a graduate of North Carolina State University.

            Sam Lionberger, Christ, Roanoke, has received the William H. Ruffner Medal, the highest honor given by Virginia Tech to a person whose service to the university has been notable and distinguished.


            Lionberger, president of the1962 graduating class at Virginia Tech, led his family's construction firm from1975 until his retirement in 2010.and he now runs a construction consulting business. At the university, he has served on the steering committee of the national fund campaign, Foundation and Alumni boards, Presidents Circle of Ut Prosim Society and advisory boards. Lionberger has been a board member of Lutheran Family Services and a Southern Seminary committee. He and his wife, Lorinda, were placed in the Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame in 2008.

            Nathaniel Hodges, Our Saviour, Christiansburg, received a $4,800 stipend and recognition as a Presser Scholar at Elon University in North Carolina. The son of Pastor Fred and Anjanettte Hodges and a rising senior at Elon, he plans to teach choir or band.

            Bethel, Winchester, has started a Bethel Becoming visioning process to discern the congregation's future "within the framework of our vision, 'Deeper Faith: Wider Love.'" After four brainstorming sessions, the congregation will be invited to shape a focus, according to Pastor David Young. On May 20, Dency Michael and Gethsy Jayapalan from Bethania Kids Ministries in India, supported by Bethel, spoke to the congregation.

            Gloria Dei, Hampton, plans a Father's Day Car Show to raise funds for ELCA World Hunger Appeal. After morning service on June 17, an all makes car, truck and motorcycle show and hot dog bar will be featured. A Heart and Soul concert at Gloria Dei on May 20 featured the congregation choirs, supplemented by choir members from St. Michael Lutheran, Virginia Beach, and Fox Hill United Methodist, Hampton. The concert was in memory of Cheryl Morris, a longtime member of Gloria Dei senior choir.

            At St. Stephen, Williamsburg, Pastor Andy Ballentine recalled that the congregation has helped establish a grain mill, sunflower seed press, welding shop, a vocational technical training school, kindergarten and support of school scholarships in partnership with the people of Mongai Parish, Tanzania, for 16 years.  Ballentine challenged the congregation to enlist at least 10 new Godparents for Tanzania, scholarships costing $540 for a student in one year, on Father's Day, June 17, St. Stephen planned a disaster preparation presentation on June 3 to be ready when a major storm comes.

            College, Salem, plans to join Salem Presbyterian Church for a fifth year of community service for rising 6th to 9th graders in the Roanoke Valley during the week of June 18-22. They start with a Bible study about a way Jesus served others and then they go on a field trip. In past years, they have served at Brandon Oaks, Refugee and Immigration Services, Rescue Mission and Presbyterian Community Center. Members of College Church have been challenged to contribute a pound of canned food each week for a total of 150 pounds weekly or almost 4 tons a year for Salem/Roanoke County Food Pantry.

            Donors gave 114 units of blood at a Red Cross collection at St. Philip, Roanoke. Sixty of the donors were from St. Philip, including eight from the Shadix family.

            Our Saviour, Virginia Beach, is investigating the possibility of building a columbarium in a memorial garden on church grounds.

            Congregations of Highlands Conference held an Ascension Day service at Grace, Rural Retreat, with a sermon by Pastor Chip Gunsten, assistant to the bishop, and a crabcake dinner.

            The work of the late Sandi D'Alessandro, St. Mark's, Roanoke, was recognized at a "Painting Interrupted" exhibit. She was the head of the Hidden Valley High School art department and winner of a national prize for her watercolor work. The Arts Council

of the Blue Ridge announced a lifetime achievement award posthumously for her.


Synod men discuss worship


Worship is the work of the people, liturgy is our participation in the body of Christ and hearing the word of God is placing that word on our lips, said Pastor Steve Bohannon at the annual gathering of Virginia Lutheran Men in Mission at Roslyn Center in Richmond, May 4-6. Bohannon, pastor of Christ the King, Richmond, spoke on the theme, "Ambassadors for Christ: How We Worship."

             Bohannon told of his recent worship at a number of Synod churches during a sabbatical period. "Worshiping with your family is a great gift," he said. "If our country

worshiped with the vigor that we profess our Christianity, church parking lots would be full," Bohannon added. Small groups of men discussed their experiences with communion and prayer.

            Pastor Andrew Bansemer of Ebenezer, Marion, referencing Jesus' metaphor about the vine and the branches, asked the men to consider "a time when you know God has been with you and share how you know you have been grafted."

            Rich White of South Riding, Northern Virginia, national president of Lutheran Men in Mission, said 52,000 Bibles have been distributed through the national Bible ministry and a Spanish New Testament is in the works. White said the organization is working on outreach to young men.

Tim Crout of Lexington, S.C., national LMM vice president and former director in Region 9, said, "We are a spiritual self-help group." At men's gatherings, "I watch men grow."

The men's organization recognized that its president, John Schallhorn, Petersburg, died of a heart attack on April 21. A member of Our Redeemer, Petersburg, he had led VLMM for a year.

The VLMM board delayed election of a president until its next meeting in July. Other officers, James Somerville, vice president, St. Timothy, Norfolk; Dolph Moller, treasurer and chairman of Committee 100+, Christ the King, Richmond, and John Lasher, secretary, Christ, Staunton, will continue. The gathering elected Dick Niedermayer, Christ the King, Richmond, and re-elected Lasher to the board.

A disaster relief trailer, financed in part by VLMM over a period of years, will be turned over to Lutheran Family Services at the June Synod Assembly.

VLMM scheduled next year's gathering at Roslyn Center for April 5-7, 2013.


Muhlenberg Exhibit travels to Virginia


Four Virginia Synod congregations have been selected to host the Muhlenberg Exhibit from the University of Halle in Germany.  The exhibit, composed of 21 panels, highlights the life and times of the Muhlenberg family in colonial America.  The host congregations are: Resurrection, Fredericksburg; Hebron, Madison; Emanuel, Woodstock, and St. Stephen, Williamsburg.

Resurrection hosts the exhibit from July 29 through August 2.  Pastor Jim Kniseley will highlight the Muhlenberg legacy at the adult forum on Sunday, July 29.  Hebron will host the exhibit from August 3 through August 7 as part of its 295th anniversary.  The Germanna Conference clergy have scheduled their monthly meeting at Hebron on August 7 in order to experience the exhibit.  Emanuel hosts the exhibit from August 8 through 13. 

On Sunday, August 12, Emanuel Lutheran and Emmanuel Episcopal in Woodstock will host the Muhlenberg Celebration.  Eight Muhlenberg legacy congregations in Virginia are planning the afternoon activities of worship, archival exhibits, seeing Peter Muhlenberg's famous robe and fine refreshments.

 St. Stephen will host the exhibit Tuesday, August 14, through Monday, August 20.  Prof. Tim Wengert from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia has been invited by Pastor Andy Ballentine to give presentations  on the Muhlenbergs during the weekend of August 18 and 19. 

              For more information on the Halle Exhibit and the Muhlenberg special events, contact Pastor Jim Kniseley at txbe2godx2@comcast.net or 540-845-2427.  Donations to restore Peter Muhlenberg's famous robe are being received now.  Please make checks payable to Emanuel Lutheran (Woodstock) and send them to Pastor Kniseley at Resurrection Lutheran Church, 6170 Plank Road, Fredericksburg, VA, 22407.


Largen leaves, Schmitt to lead Southern Seminary

  Largen John

           Pastor John Largen (left), a Virginia native and Synod member, has resigned after 26 years on the staff of Southern Seminary and Dr. Clayton J. Schmit, preaching professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Cal., has been named to the new post of provost for the seminary. He will head the Lenoir-Rhyne University School of Theology, which will include the seminary.

            Largen, who has been pastor to the seminary community for spiritual formation, is seeking a call near Gettysburg where his wife, Kristin, is associate pastor of systematic theology at Gettysburg Seminary. Largen, a son of St. John, Roanoke, has been a frequent speaker at many Synod events, including ACTS classes. He preached to a standing-room-only crowd at the seminary's Alumni Day in May. Largen said his service at the seminary has been "the greatest honor and joy of my professional life."

 Schmit           Schmit (right), who said he has "a strong commitment to the Lutheran church," will take office before the fall session of the seminary, after completion of its merger into Lenoir-Rhyneon July 1. He earned a master of divinity degree from Luther Northwestern Seminary and a doctorate from Graduate Theological Union. He has experience in teaching and administration at Duke Divinity School and Pacific Lutheran Seminary. Schmit will follow Dr. Marcus Miller, who is retiring as seminary president later this summer.

            At the seminary Alumni Day in May, Bishop Jim Mauney gave the annual Yost Lecture in two stages: "A Stellar View for the Church" and "A Cellar View from the Church."

          Pastor John Fitzsimmons of Nativity, Arden, N.C., and formerly a pastor at Grace, Winchester, received the John Benjamin Bedenbaugh Award of the seminary for distinguished pastoral leadership. Pastor Jay Gamlin of Pilgrim Church, Lexington, S.C., and formerly of First, Norfolk, was a presenter.


Lita Johnson will talk about feeding the hungry

Johnson, Lita 

            Lita Johnson (right), director of international development and disaster relief for the ELCA, will present the Virginia Synod Assembly theme, "Ambassadors for Christ, Feeding the Hungry," in talks on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning at the June 8-10 event at Roanoke College. As the official representative of the national church, she will answer questions at a Sunday morning session.

            Johnson, former director of the ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal for six years, deputy director of the Lutheran Council Office for Governmental Affairs in Washington for 10 years and assistant to the presiding bishop, has served the church in many ways. She also is a leader in the ELCA's new malaria campaign.

            A highlight of the Assembly will be the ordination of a husband-wife team, Jonathan and Deanna Scheffel Boynton, May graduates of Southern Seminary, who have been called to serve the new North Mountain Parish, consisting of St. Peter, St. Stephen and St. Matthew, Tom's Brook. (Biographic information in Lutherans in the News). The ordination will follow a sermon by Bishop Jim Mauney at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke.

            A director of the new Lutheran Partners in Mission is expected to be named. This office combines the former functions of the Synod Office for Planned Giving and the United Lutheran Appeal.

            Bishop Neff Powell of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, will preach at the opening service on Friday afternoon. Other preachers will be Pastor Dwayne Westermann, founder of Godparents for Tanzania, and Pastor Karen Van Stee, St. Mary, Edinburg.

            Elections will be held for Synod treasurer, five Synod Council seats and eight voting members for the 2013 ELCA Assembly. George "Skip" Zubrod, current treasurer, is eligible for reelection.

            Workshops will be held on 10 subjects: An after-school tutorial program, ELCA Criminal Justice Social Statement, National Youth Gathering, growing plants in water, world hunger meals, community supported agriculture, advocacy, healthy living and an interactive poverty awareness program.

            Daniel Lehmann, editor of The Lutheran, will report on that magazine and reports will be given by representatives of a number of agencies and organizations of the church.

A food backpack servant event is planned for Saturday. Stations will be set up for packing bags of food to be stored for a new Roanoke College backpack ministry in the fall.  


Malawi people are poor, warm and kind

     by Pastor Kelly D. B. Derrick


Malawi is known as the "Warm Heart" of Africa.  For two weeks in May, five women from St. Philip, Roanoke, experienced firsthand the warmth, grace and kindness of the people of Malawi (in southeastern Africa).  Our trip was in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi.   Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and, yet, their richness of faith was without measure. 

The highlight of the trip, for us, was spending four days with our sister parish, Mponela Parish, molding bricks.  Mponela Parish is starting the building process for its parish center - a building which will serve as worship space and also as a gathering space and community center for the eight congregations in the parish as well as for the people of the wider village community. 

We joined our sisters and brothers-who were not too sure whether five American women could really do this work!-in carrying water, mixing mud and molding bricks.  Despite the language barrier (English is the official language of Malawi, but most people speak Chichewa), we were able to learn from, laugh with and motivate each other as we carried water on our heads and molded 8,000 bricks in four days.

The work was exhausting!!  It highlighted the dedication of the people as well as the great need for nearby, clean water wells.  St. Philip has committed to raising the $50,000 needed by our sisters and brothers of Mponela Parish to finish their parish center.  Other congregations are invited to join in this support.

The low point of our trip actually came after we returned.  While working with our friendsWakesa in Mponela Parish, we stayed in nearby Madisi Parish.  While there, we got to know Abusa (Pastor) Anthony Maseke and his family - wife, Elizabeth, three sons, and daughter, Wakesa (right).  We spent time blowing bubbles with Wakesa and the other children of the parish.  The Masekes invited us into their home, where Abusa Anthony, Elizabeth and little Wakesa shared with us a delicious local dish made from sweet potatoes and peanuts.

 On May 24, we received word that Wakesa Maseke had died of malaria.  She was three years old.  We were, and still are, devastated by this news.  She got sick shortly after we left Madisi, and just one week later she died.  Malaria is a devastating disease which continues to take too many lives.  Please consider supporting the ELCA Malaria Campaign, in memory of Wakesa.

(Feel free to contact me for more information: pastorkelly@stphiliplutheran.net )


Three Virginians graduate

from Philadelphia Seminary

Phil graduates 

            Three Virginia Synod members who graduated from Philadelphia Seminary on May 18 with master of divinity degrees are (from left) Bryan Penman, Brett Davis and Leslie Scanlon. Penman, the son of Pastor David and Gail Penman, St. Timothy, Norfolk, and Davis, from Christ the King, Richmond, have been assigned to the Virginia Synod. Scanlon, from First, Norfolk, has been assigned to the New England Synod.

Two events scheduled at Gettysburg Seminary


            Two summer events have been announced for Gettysburg Seminary this summer.

            A Summer Institute will be held July 9-13. More information is available at


            A Discernment Retreat will be held June 28-30. Information and a registration form are at http://www.ltsg.edu/Lifelong-Learners/Discernment-Retreat.  

Virginians explore Holy Land

     by Pastor David Penman

 holy land groups

             On April 15, two groups of Virginia Synod Lutherans gathered at JFK airport in New York City and became one band of pilgrims headed to the Holy Land (Israel) for a two-week visit. Pastors Chris Price and Jean Bozeman co-led the group and Prof. Lemont Luker of Southern Seminary provided lectures and tour oversight.

            The tour started and ended on the Mediterranean Sea coast, went as far north as Dan in the Golan Heights and as far south as Beersheva in the Negev, with many stops in between. During the trip, the pilgrims explored three main areas of interest:

       o   Ancient sites for insights into the Biblical message

       o   A first-hand appreciation of the issues Palestinians and Israelis face in trying to live on the same land

       o   The similarities and differences between Eastern and Western Christianity in honoring holy places.

The photo of the group (above) was taken just after their worship service in the outside

chapel area at the Mount of the Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Part of the group returned on April 28, the others continued on to Petra, Jordan for a two-day optional excursion. 

Greta Rikard is 96!

Rikard, Greta 

            The 96th birthday of Greta Rikard, one of the oldest members of College, Salem, was celebrated on May 20 in Pastor  Wynemah Hinlicky's children's sermon. The congregation sang "Happy Birthday" and friends took Rikard out to lunch.

            At left, Greta Rikard visited her friend, Gene Robinson, on her birthday.

Bethel, Winchester, dedicates prayer labyrinth

 Bethel prayer lab 

            Bethel, Winchester, has dedicated a prayer labyrinth (right)  for use by the congregation and the community. It is located behind the church, near a picnic pavilion.

            Future plans for the 10-acre site include adding a memory walk, benches, a walking or exercise trail, community garden and possibly a small amphitheater, said Pastor David Young of Bethel.

 "We want the area to be used for recreation and for re-creation of the spirit." Co-pastor Heidi Young said she hopes people will see the labyrinth as a prayer tool and as they walk into it, they let go of their daily stress to be with God so they can simply be open and receive whatever God has for them in that moment.

The labyrinth is made of bluestone for the circular walking path and center. Ornamentation was kept simple so that the only maintenance is mowing grass between the stones. A crew of four men took about 10 days for the installation. Each piece of bluestone had to be measured, cut, laid and leveled.

Advice to those walking in prayer: Take your time and walk in your own way, leave all thoughts behind as you enter. Ask God to lead you. Take off your shoes if you wish. Three stages of the walk: Releasing, letting go of details of life; receiving, open your mind and heart to the Holy Spirit, and returning, claim the insight, strength, comfort or anything else you have received. Prepare to re-enter the world, pause to pray when you step outside.


African American Outreach

Team regional conversations


           First English, Richmond, and St. Philip, Roanoke, this spring hosted the Virginia Synod African American Outreach Team (AAOT) in the first of a series of conversations with clusters of people from around the synod who have an interest in outreach especially along the "color line."

The session began with devotions and includes lunch, several small group conversations  about race, inclusiveness and issues like inertia or timing that may block or stifle outreach. They  practiced a "conversation model" for use in the home parish. A highlight each time has been a "tell-it-like-it-is" interview of one of the African-descent members of the team.

Fall conversations are slated for the Virginia Beach area and the I-81 North corridor. For more information contact Team leaders: Melinda Barnhardt Jud melindabarnhardt@comcast.net or Pr. CeCee Mills lucillemills@hotmail.com or meet at the AAOT lunch Saturday June 9 at Synod Assembly. 


472 Virginians will head 

for New Orleans Youth Gathering

     by Pastor Fred Hodges


When 34,000 Lutheran youth and adults head for the Youth Gathering in New Orleans in July, 472 will be traveling from the Virginia Synod.

Congregations across Virginia have been planning and fund-raising in various ways to make the journey. Travel plans sound like a familiar movie title, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," actually buses and vans. Congregations in the Highlands Conference have banded together to create one group for travel, housing and to share adult leaders.

Fund-raising activities include, but are not limited to, yard sales, bake sales, car washes or dinners. One activity that seems the most inspiring is at Peace, Charlottesville, where the youth and leaders gathered the congregation and other supporters and told them where they were going and what they were doing and then sold shares as an investment in the Gathering.

Whether your congregation is sending youth to the Gathering or not, please pray for safe travel and an inspirational event in July. The youth of the ELCA will make a difference in New Orleans and the Gathering will make a difference in the lives of our youth. 


100-mile runners race from Caroline Furnace

     by Anita Smalin

 camp race

            On Friday, May 11, 196 trail runners and their crews from all over the U.S., and a few from Canada and Mexico, descended on Camp Caroline Furnace to prepare for a 103-mile trail race, the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100-Mile Run.

            After a course briefing and a hearty meal, the camp was suddenly quiet  as everyone prepared for an early Saturday start. At 4 a.m., runners started on their 103-mile adventure on the Massanutten Trail by running past the silo and the Retreat House and up the driveway. Along the way, the race organizers, Virginia Happy Trails Running Club, had 15 aid stations so that runners could restock their supplies, rest and refuel. These locations are also places for runners to drop, if necessary.

            The stations were also check-in locations to make sure all runners were safe, present and accounted for. Runners had to finish in 36 hours, by Sunday at 4 p.m. They finished by running up the road, past Chapel on the Hill, down Chapel Trail, across the Twin Bridges and through the field to a large tent near the silo.

            Of the 196 who started, 125 finished. Jason Lantz, 30, from Lancaster, Pa., was first with a race time of 19:33:18, averaging over 5 miles an hour. Eva Pastalkova, 36, from Ashburn, set a new course record for women, finishing in 22: 01:04. Gary Knipling, 68, from Mason Neck, completed the Massanutten run for the 15th consecutive year.         

A great party of supporters, other runners and event organizers were at the finish line with loud music, lots of food, fellowship and race stories galore. The first runners finished between Saturday night at 11:33 p.m. and Sunday at 3:30 a.m.

Near the end, the runners showed a ton of emotion. They were exhausted and they were running to conquer themselves, not to win the race, and most were smiling. One woman crossed the finish line, crying tears of joy. One guy crossed the finish line and then he and his friends and crew did 11 push-ups. It's a great time watching these super-human, ultra runners finish the race.  





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