August, 2012
                 The Virginia



Ethiopian choir

sings at Our Saviour, Richmond



Ethiopian singers
Visiting choir and a drum at Our Saviour, Richmond


            Our Saviour, Richmond, started Pentecost worship with members of St. Mary's Ethiopian Orthodox Church choir singing, accompanied by a drum. St. Mary's members have worshiped in Our Saviour's sanctuary most Saturday mornings since September, 2006. They are led by Father Gabre Marian, who recently arrived in the United States.


            "It's always fun trying some new worship ideas for these special festivals," said Pastor Ken Ruppar of Our Saviour.

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In This Issue
Ethiopian choir sings
Lutherans in the news
Lake Christian Ministries serves thousands
Hundreds expected for Muhlenberg Celebration
Protective net is reminder
Hinlicky to teach ACTS course
Doors should be open for strangers
Campers present musical
ELCA Youth Gathering combined fun and faith
Leadership gatherings scheduled
Criminal Justice hearings planned
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news


              Heather J. Neff (left), head of a Connecticut network of health clinics and residential complexes, will become president and chief executive officer of Virginia Lutheran Homes in September. She will follow George "Skip" Zubrod, who is retiring after six years in that post. Neff, who has more than15 years of experience in senior services, is a graduate of Juniata College and holds a master's degree in health policy and administration from Penn State University. As CEO of Waveny Care Network, New Canaan, Conn., she has focused on person-centered care and organizational sustainability. Zubrod is retiring after more than 35 years of management experience.

            Pastor Paul Pingel (right), who served the Floyd-Willis Parish from 1993 to 2003, has Pingel accepted a call to Grace, Waynesboro. He has been at Ebenezer, Columbia, S.C., since 2003. While in Virginia, he served on the Global Mission Committee.

            Pastor David Nelson has resigned after serving 91/2 years at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, to accept a call to St. Peter Lutheran, Southport, N.C. He has been chair of the Synod Social Action Committee.

            Roanoke College has been preparing to welcome high school juniors and seniors during Virginia Private College Week, July 30-Aug. 4. More than 100 families visited the campus during that event last year, said Pat LeDonne, college director of admissions. For the 15th year, 25 participating colleges plan information sessions and campus tours during the week.

            Children at the vacation Bible School at Our Saviour, Virginia Beach, raised $500 for a Bayside area Stop Hunger meal program planned to give overseas school children high protein meals. Bayside churches will purchase 100-pound sacks of soybeans, corn, rice, flour, cabbage and other food. Volunteers will divide the food into smaller bags containing six meals for a family, to be shipped overseas. They plan to provide about 10,000 meals.

            Participants from St. Philip, Roanoke, who visited Malawi in May will describe their mission at Christ, Staunton, and Holy Trinity, Martinsville, this month. They will be sharing their experiences and seek more support for the people of Malawi. Also, St. Philip's preschool has been accepted in the Virginia Start Quality initiative, a program designed to assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in early care and education settings in schools.

            Members of Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, have been invited to Comfort for Colorado, an event at the Farmer's Market in Blacksburg on Saturday, Aug. 4, from noon to 5 p.m. to offer cards of hope, sympathy and good wishes to the Aurora, Colorado community, site of a July shooting. After the Virginia Tech shooting, hundreds of cards of encouragement were sent to Blacksburg. Also, volunteers are needed at Luther Memorial for Gobblerfest, an event to meet new Virginia Tech students on the university Drill Field on Friday, Sept. 7, from 4 to 8 p.m. New students will be introduced to the community.

            At St. Michael, Blacksburg, Steve Muras, director of transportation and campus services at Virginia Tech, has received the Governor's Award for Innovation for his work in increasing efficiency and productivity in managing the university's parking, fleet and alternative transportation services, as well as the print shop, centralized mailing and records management programs. St. Michael's Micah's Backpack feeding program for children received its second $5,000 grant from the Food Lion Charitable Foundation. The Middle Agers, (between PTA and AARP) at St. Michael plan to join New River House and the AARP to start Micah's Soup for Seniors, providing food for senior adults who are struggling to afford groceries.

            At Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, Andrew Prasse, editor of Hunter's Raid-the Battle for Lynchburg, a Civil War documentary, was recognized when the film won three regional Emmy awards for directing, editing and best documentary in Washington in June.

            At Christ, Staunton, bluegrass was added to worship on July 15 when Woody Sanders and friends set the tone in the style of Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion.


Lake Christian Ministries serves thousands in need


Lake Ministry
Volunteers pack food
for Lake Christian Ministries

Almost 4,000 people in the Franklin-Bedford-Pittsylvania county area received food from Lake Christian Ministries (LCM)-an organization manned by many volunteers from Trinity Ecumenical Parish---last year. More than half of the 250 volunteers are Trinity members.

            The organization, based around Smith Mountain Lake, has received $4,000 in ELCA grants to buy food during the past two years and a request for $3,500 in a Domestic Hunger Grant has been sent to Chicago. LCM spends $132,000 for food every year, said Mike Bond, executive director. Much of the supply comes from Feeding America Food Bank in Salem and supermarkets at the lake and in Bedford.

 Based on family size, volunteers provide food for five days of meals, which may include meat, butter, eggs, bread, vegetables, cereal and fruit. Clients receive food once a month, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations. Over half of the clients are under 18 or older than 60. Bond said LCM is serving about 450 families a month. The client base is recorded on computer.

Grant applications are sent to organizations in Roanoke and Lynchburg. LCM also is supported by 20 local churches, including four major backers-Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Resurrection Catholic, Bethlehem United Methodist and Morgan Baptist.  LCM has no paid staff. Many of the volunteers "have retired from work but not from life" when they moved to the lake, Bond said.

LCM operates three mobile food pantries for about 100 families  who cannot come to the center at Moneta in Bedford County each month. Volunteers recently completed a major expansion and renovation project at the center. LCM also provides holiday food baskets at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter and backpacks with school supplies.

In other programs, LCM provides emergency financial assistance for housing, fuel, electricity and medical expenses, seasonal clothing and donated household items.

           The LCM center is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon and on the last Tuesday of each month from 5 to 7 p.m.

            Pastor Philip Bouknight of Trinity said LCM, started in 1992, "grew out of some of the earliest discussions that were held at Trinity as they discerned how this new faith community would engage in local mission and ministry." Funds received by LCM are "used wisely with compassion and wisdom held firmly in balance," he said.


Hundreds expected for Muhlenberg Celebration

  peter muhlenberg

Sunday, August 12, will be a memorable day in Woodstock. Folks from all over the Shenandoah Valley will join others from the eight Muhlenberg Legacy Congregations in Virginia in celebrating the life and ministry of Peter John Gabriel Muhlenberg and other members of his remarkable colonial America family.

The 3:30 Celebration Worship takes place at Emanuel, Woodstock.  Displays from the legacy congregations may be viewed at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Woodstock, beginning at 2:30 p.m.  A 21-panel Muhlenberg Exhibit from the University of Halle will also be on display.  After the Celebration Worship, folks are invited to a reception at Woodstock Presbyterian Church and afterwards may view the displays and exhibit.  The three congregations are all within one block of each other and the largest parking lot is at the Presbyterian Church.

Pastor Peter Muhlenberg's clerical robe will be on display that day also.  This is the first time since 1910 that the robe has been seen in Virginia.  It was donated by members of the Henkel family to Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. A special offering is being received to cover costs for restoring this robe and providing a permanent display case.

The preacher for the Celebration Worship is Pastor Herbert Michel. Pastor Michel served as pastor of Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe, Pa., for 25 years.  This was one of the three congregations served by Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, the patriarch of Lutherans in North America and the father of Peter.  A special guest at the service will be Peter Findley Muhlenberg.  Bishop Jim Mauney is the celebrant for Holy Communion.  Pastors from the Virginia Muhlenberg Legacy Congregations are providing other leadership roles.

The Muhlenberg Exhibit from the University of Halle will be displayed at four other congregations in the Virginia Synod: Resurrection, Fredericksburg, July 29 - August 2; Hebron, Madison, August 3 - 7; Grace, Winchester, August 7 - 12; Emanuel, Woodstock, August 12; St. Stephen, Willamsburg, August 13 - 19.

Dr. Timothy Wengert will be speaking at St. Stephen at a potluck luncheon following  the 11 a.m. worship service on Sunday, August 19.  Dr. Wengert recently edited two volumes of the translated letters of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg that he wrote to the Francke Institute at the University of Halle back in the 18th century.   


(For more information on these events, you may contact Pastor Jim Kniseley, at or 540-845-2427.) 


Protective net is a 

reminder of the Malaria Campaign


malaria net   A malaria net was used in a service and at a vacation Bible School at Our Saviour, Richmond. This reminder of the ELCA Malaria Campaign will be used by the congregation following a decision by its church council to support the program, according to Pastor Ken Ruppar.


Hinlicky to teach ACTS course on confessions


Dr. Paul Hinlicky, Tise professor of Lutheran studies at Roanoke College, will lead the fall ACTS course on "Lutheran Confessions" at Grace, Waynesboro, on Sept. 15 and Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The course also will be telecast to Ebenezer, Marion, and St. John, Norfolk.

The course will consist of two Saturday classes and five small group sessions of two hours each. Suggested dates for small group meetings are Sept. 28, Oct. 5, 12, 26 and Nov. 2. The registration fee for the course, lunch and breaks is $175 per person or a group rate of $900 for six or more participants from one church. Registration payments may be made to Virginia Synod.The textbook will be The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. By Robert Kolb, Timothy Wengert and James Schaffer.

Hinlicky, ordained in 1978, served parishes in New York, Blacksburg and Roanoke and taught theology in Bratislava, Slovakia, before joining the college faculty in 1999. He has written a number of books and articles.


Doors should be open for strangers 


            Many strangers---refugees, immigrants, homeless, poor people and anybody who is different---were welcomed at the 26th annual Power in the Spirit at Roanoke College on July 12-14. Outstanding messages on the theme of "Welcoming the Stranger" came from the keynote speaker, the Rev. Ruben Duran, director for new evangelizing congregations in the ELCA, and Bishop Margaret Payne of the New England Synod, Bible study leader.

            Duran, a native of Lima, Peru, said the Christian church ought to welcome the stranger "so the doors are always open...We stand equally in God's eyes in the world."

He spoke of "a time for mutual strangers to get to know each other better, a time to get out of the comfort zone and meet in the public square."

            Jesus, "a refugee at birth...never saw people as strangers," said Bishop Payne. Jesus "was born to break down barriers...he welcomed every stranger on the street." God's word "shapes us for welcome," she said. Payne described Christians as "resident aliens" and posed the question, "What if we were engaged instead of enraged?"

            Araceli Ryuz of First United Methodist Church, Pulaski, a native of Mexico, asked in a worship service, "If you were a stranger in a foreign culture, how would you like to be welcomed?"

            Twenty-eight workshops covered a wide variety of topics related directly or indirectly to the theme of "Welcoming the Stranger."  Servant trips to other lands, refugee resettlement programs, disciples welcoming strangers, science and religion, Appalachian Trail hospitality, backpack feeding ministry for low-income children, justice of loving neighbors, travels of 18th century missionary Paul Henkel, prayer, music and art were some of the topics.

            Worship was led by Pastor Sandra Wisco, St. Mark, Charlottesville; Pastor Kathleen Miko, Brandon Oaks chaplain; Vicar Peter Suwak of Central, Burkes Garden;

Father Joe Lehman, Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church, Roanoke, and Pastor Bill Stewart, Charlottesville. Music was led by Mark Merz, Anna Merz, Catherine Merz and Hannah Long, Mt. Rogers Parish. Musical storytelling by Ed Kilbourne of Rock Hill, S.C., was an entertainment feature.

            Bishop Jim Mauney acted as master of ceremonies, standing in for Elizabeth Smythe, Power in the Spirit coordinator, who was with her ailing husband, Michael Smythe, in Marion. After a long illness, Michael Smythe died on July 17.


Campers present musical


            A Performing Arts troupe of 11 youths at Caroline Furnace took a musical, "God is in Control," on the road for three performances in July. They presented the musical at St. Philip, Roanoke, St. Luke, Culpeper and St. Paul, Strasburg, directed by Anita Smallin. 


Youth Gathering combined fun and faith

     by Chi-Chi Ugochukwu 


St. Marks youth
Youths and leaders from St. Mark's, Roanoke, rest after New Orleans service project.

The 2012 ELCA youth gathering was an amazing experience for me and my group,  It was wonderful to not only see old friends from Virginia but to also make new friends from all over the country and even Puerto Rico.

 This was also a really great learning experience. The ELCA wonderfully combined fun and faith together to make one of the greatest trips I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. They also incorporated some of New Orleans rich culture as well. Even though this is the first national youth gathering I have gone to, it certainly made quite an impact on my life.

            While there they taught us about discipleship, justice and peacemaking. Before this trip I thought I had a good understanding of these three topics but now I have a better understanding. They explained it in a way that not only helps me understand its meaning but also helps me see how I can incorporate it into my daily life. I am going to be a freshman in high school and as a teenager it is hard to find ways to incorporate these kinds of things in our daily lives. But after gong to this gathering I now know that it is possible.

            During the large group at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, they had a bunch of great speakers who really knew how to connect with the audience. What I mean by this is that they put their speeches in more of a teenager's understanding. When my group had its nightly small group, it was easier for me and my group to talk about what the speaker had said.

And the music was very lively and upbeat, fun to sing along with. And when they played a slow song, it was touching to sing along, rest your arm on your friend's shoulder as they did the same to you, and sway side to side. And it was especially nice to look around and see the thousands of people sitting in the stands around you also enjoying this wonderful experience. I thought it was really cool to know that there were over 33,000 youth who came from around the country just to be together.

            At night, after the large group, we had community life. This was where we got to go to different hotels had the special activities like inflatables, dance parties, all kinds of fun things. I thought this was the icing on the cake. It was so fun to be able to meet new people here. And the dances they had were very fun. They played all of the music we listen to. I thought it was really cool how even at the end of the day we still had so much energy. When we actually return back to our hotels, that is when the tiredness and exhaustion really comes into play.

            The service project took place in one of the neighborhoods. What we did was clear a lot that had overgrown bushes, shrubs, grass and a lot of litter. It took about 41/2 hours and it was great to see how much our hard work paid off. It was also great to see some of the people from the neighborhood come out and help. I really enjoyed being able to look out at the land that we had just cleared and then the neighborhood as a whole. Other groups were cleaning up a park across and the street and it felt nice to know that we had helped brighten their community.

            All in all, I had the time of my life, probably one of the most memorable experiences of my life time. There was not a moment I was there that I would change. There were so many things to be done that I wasn't able to try everything. I really enjoyed the Peacemaking Zone  even though at first glance you would probably think it was just one big play zone. They had so many fun things to try, like zip-lining, bumper cars, mini golf, more inflatables, sports, includng soccer, volleyball and basketball, and also blood donation spaces and hair donation spaces. It was hard for me to contain my excitement.

And then also being able to witness the beauty of New Orleans, learn about its rich culture and eat its delicious food. And the fact that I got to experience this with my friend just made it all the more memorable. After such a wonderful experience, I can't wait to see how it goes in 2015 when they hold it in Detroit, Michigan.  


(Chi-Chi is a member of St. Mark's, Roanoke. Her parents are natives of Nigeria. Close to 500 youth and adults from Virginia went to New Orleans for the Gathering.)

Six leadership gatherings scheduled 


            Continuing a program started in the spring, six Leadership Conference Gatherings have been scheduled, starting in late August and continuing to November. "Bringing Leadership Together for Networking and Sharing of Faith" will be the theme of the Sunday afternoon gatherings of leaders, running from 2:45 to 6.

Mauney James
Bishop Jim Mauney

            Bishop Jim Mauney said there are eight objectives for the meetings:

                 To honor and highlight the importance of the special relationships of presidents, vice presidents and mutual ministry chairs

                 To discuss duties and expectations of rostered leaders and presidents

                 To read through the ministerium covenant and speak to its uses

                 To discuss a model for the mutual ministry committee

                 To provide highlights of healthy ministry materials

                 To build a network of leadership relationships among congregations

                 To share ideas and resources of congregations

                 To share faith

            Bishop Mauney and Mindi Reynolds, diaconal minister, will lead the gatherings.

            The dates and places: Aug. 26, Page Conference; Sept.16, Highland Conference; Sept. 30, Southern Valley; Oct. 28, Northern Valley; Nov. 4, Peninsula Conference, and Nov. 11, Germanna Conference. 

Three Criminal Justice hearings planned


            Three hearings have been scheduled for September and October on the ELCA Criminal Justice Draft Social Statement that will be open for comment until Oct. 31.  The Criminal Justice Task Force will sign off on the revised proposed statement in February and it will go to the ELCA Church Council for possible consideration at ELCA Churchwide Assembly at Orlando, Fla., next summer.

            The dates and places for the Synod hearings:

                 Our Saviour, Warrenton, Sept. 9, 4 p.m.

                 Ebenezer, Marion, Sept. 16, 6:30 p.m.

                 St. Stephen, Williamsburg, Oct. 14, 4 p.m.

            "Obviously, we want as much input and participation as possible," said Nancy Reed, a Luray lawyer who is a member of the ELCA Criminal Justice Task Force.

            Information on the task force is on the ELCA website at

            The central thought of the statement is that "the ELCA affirms the fundamental principles of the U.S./ criminal justice system but also hears the cries that reflect the system's serious deficiencies. Drawing from the biblical witness to God's wondrously rich forms of love and justice, the ELCA  is compelled by a "holy yearning" to address the need for change and improvement.

            "The ELCA, through its members and various expressions, is called to strengthen or take up responsive ministries. In addition, drawing on evidence and data, the ELCA is compelled to speak publicly to commend positive efforts and to identify areas in the criminal justice system that require reform."

            The draft statement points out that the U.S. ranks among the top two or three countries in the world in percentage of adults under control of the criminal justice system-one of 31 of all adults and as high as one of 11 for people of color.

            Also, Christians "are called to confess that the church as individuals and through its organizations, has fallen short in responding to crime, both in terms of its harms and the problems in the justice system. We ask God's aid in opening our hearts to the cries of our neighbors and pray for guidance to speak and work more prophetically and actively toward earthly justice."





Editor:  George Kegley   
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