October, 2012
                 The Virginia


Internet outage delays
publication of Virginia Lutheran
            An internet outage in the Roanoke, Va. area delayed the publication of the October Edition of the Virginia Lutheran.  We regret any inconvenience.  -Ed.

Pastor Jim Utt will
write Synod history


            Pastor Jim Utt of Grace, Winchester, has started work on researching and writing a history of the first 25 years of the Virginia Synod in the ELCA, 1988-2013. The publication is scheduled for completion by the 2013 Synod Assembly in June.

            Much of the research will be in the Synod archives, now located in the Fintel Library at Roanoke College, as well as interviews with Synod leaders over the last 25 years. A two-volume Synod history was published for the 1962-1987 period..

            George Kegley, editor of the Virginia Lutheran and a worker on the 1987 Synod history and a 1820-1987 Biographical Sketches, will assist Utt. 

St. Michael, Blacksburg 
expands backpack program


            St. Michael, Blacksburg, has received a $10,000 Community Foundation grant to support Micah's Mobile Backpack, a new ministry of summer meal deliveries. The grant will pay for purchasing and refurbishing a bus and developing a route for regular delivery of summer meals for children in need.

            This expands the Micah's Backpack program which provides weekend meals to 225 students in Blacksburg through the support of approximately 100 community organizations.

            Jessica Wirgau, executive director of the Community Foundation, said Micah's Backpack "has had a tremendous impact in Blacksburg and continues to come up with creative ways to provide nutritious meals for children in need."

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In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
2013 Conference gatherings planned
Support of Assembly Resolution 4 encouraged
Food gathered on A Day to Serve
Hymn sing held in Trinity pub
Senior ministry taking shape
Our Savious experiments with Taize prayer
Milton to lead Christian formation
Practical stewardship tips for congregations
Roanoke College has rule of law center
Twenty-five in candidacy process
VICPP calls for reducing poverty by half
Vinton couple clips coupons for charity
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news

Davis, Brett

            Brett Davis, a May graduate of Philadelphia Seminary, has accepted a call to serve as associate pastor at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, and she will be ordained at Muhlenberg on Friday, Oct. 12, at 7:30 p.m. Her home church is Christ the King, Richmond, and she previously was on the staff at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and at many Synod youth events. Her husband, Evan Davis, is finishing his final year at Philadelphia Seminary.

            Tonya Eza, a former Missouri Synod deaconess, will be ordained at

Eza, Tonya

Grace, Waynesboro, her home congregation, on Saturday, Oct. 13. She has accepted a call to Hope Lutheran, Powell, Wyoming, in the Montana Synod.  A graduate of Middlebury College, Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and Gettysburg Seminary, she served as a deaconess in Alaska and Texas.

            Pastor Gary Erdos has resigned at St. Mark, Yorktown, to accept a call to Wayne Trinity English, Fort, Ind., Indiana-Kentucky Synod.

            Pastor John Herman and his wife, Leslie, were honored at a farewell reception marking his retirement at Peace, Charlottesville. The congregation also participated in a Walk to End Alzheimer's, in honor of Pastor Herman's mother who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

            Ryan Kobert, a student at Gettysburg Seminary, has started serving as an intern at Rural Retreat and Attoway/Kimberlin parishes in Wythe and Smyth counties. Kobert grew up in a town near Pittsburgh and graduated from Penn State University.

            Bishop Emeritus Richard Bansemer was scheduled to preach at a 140th anniversary service on Sept. 30 at Grace, Rural Retreat, where he once served.

            The congregation of Messiah, Mechanicsville, will push their pastor, Lou Florio, over the edge of a 25-story building in nearby Richmond on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 10 a.m.-for a good cause-Special Olympics of Virginia. Florio has raised the qualifying amount to participate in the event where participants rappel down the SunTrust Bank but church members and school families are trying to set a record for funds raised. Florio invited anyone who wants to help to visit www.overtheedgeva.com to find his link among the rappelers list. 

            Dr. Clayton J. Schmit will be installed as founding provost of the Lenoir-Rhyne School of Theology, which includes Southern Seminary, at a Festival of Installation, Oct. 29-Nov. 4.  Schmit will become the 18th leader of the 182-year-old Seminary and the first under the new structure. An ELCA pastor, he comes from Fuller Seminary in California where he held the chair of preaching and served as director of a worship center.

            Dr. Gordon Lathrop, professor of liturgy emeritus at Philadelphia Seminary, will preach on "Four Gospels on Sunday, the New Testament and Reformation of Christian Worship" at a Reformation service at Trinity, Newport News, on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 4 p.m.

            About 30 high school students came to the annual Lutheran Visit Day at Roanoke College in early September. Bishop Jim Mauney led a devotional period, Roanoke President Michael Maxey welcomed the students and parents; Tommy Blair, director of financial aid, explained his program and Brenda Poggendorf, enrollment vice president, talked about "finding the right fit" in admissions.

            Trinity, Roanoke, will celebrate its 65th anniversary with a service on its front lawn on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 11 a.m., led by a sermon by Pastor Chip Gunsten, assistant to the bishop. Ron Walrath from the staff of Southern Seminary will bring greetings and retired Pastor Ed Harper, who served at Trinity from 1967 to 1972, will be the keynote speaker after a picnic lunch.

            Dr. Julie Hoffman, history professor at Shenandoah University, will talk about the political nature of Martin Luther's time, how it shaped his political thoughts and how this might shape thoughts today at two Christian Learning sessions at Bethel, Winchester, Oct. 28 and Nov. 2. Retired Pastor Bill Hall, Strasburg, will talk about the history of Lutherans in the Shenandoah Valley on Dec. 2 and Dec. 9.

            The annual Fall Bazaar will be held at Brandon Oaks, Roanoke, on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., sponsored by the Auxiliary of Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. All proceeds will go to the nursing home.

            Members of St. Paul, Hampton, are training for a 5K: Know Jesus, Know the Bible, Know Luther and the Confessions, Know each other and Know the neighborhood.

            George and Janeen Wadzita will lead a Lutheran Marriage Encounter Weekend at Virginia Beach, Nov. 16-18. They said the weekend offers spouses "a unique communication process that not only will deepen your couple communication, but also will help you rediscover the love you have for each other and rekindle the sparks you had on your honeymoon."  For more information, visit www.GodLovesMarriage.org, or contact by email at GWadzita@aol.com or phone 757-689-8322.

            The Service and World Hunger Ministry Team at College, Salem, celebrated "Doing God's Word" at a Faith in Action event on Sept. 23.  They celebrated the hundreds of hours members contribute to support ministries and organization by donating food, clothing and money, serving meals, conducting chapel service for the homeless, visiting veterans, buying gifts for needy families at Christmas and other faith actions.         


2013 Conference Gatherings planned


            Continuing a tradition started last year, Synod officials have announced a schedule of 2013 Conference Gatherings, meeting on Sunday afternoons from February through October of next year. Congregation council members and rostered leaders will be invited.

            The emphasis will be on exploring God's calling and gifting members as a part of the body of Christ to be missional communities of faith-grounded in the Gospel and turned inside-out for sharing the good news and upside-down for serving neighbors.

            Content of the three-hour gatherings, starting with refreshments at 2:45 p.m., will be conversation on understanding of God's purpose/mission for congregations, conferences and the Synod, presentation of a proposed Synod Mission Strategy, sharing of resources for developing mission plans for faith communities and discernment of missional networking accomplishments and opportunities with other congregations and institutions.

            Each congregation will be invited to provide a copy of its vision/mission plan/statement as a resource for conversation and future discernment. Bishop Jim Mauney and Pastor Chip Gunsten, assistant to the bishop, will preach and lead adult or youth Sunday School classes when appropriate in two of the conference congregations. On Monday, Mauney and Gunsten will meet with a group of rostered leaders and then they will be available for individual visits.

            The dates for the 12 Conference Gatherings: Northern Valley, Feb. 10-11; Southern, March 17-18; New River, April 21-22; Page, Aug. 25-26; Germanna, Sept. 22-23; Peninsula, Oct. 20-21; Southern Valley, March 10-11; Central Valley, April 14-15; Highlands, May 19-20; Richmond, Sept. 15-16, and Tidewater, Oct. 13-14.


Synod Team encourages

support of Assembly Resolution 4


The Synod's African American Outreach Team (AAOT) is encouraging congregations to support Resolution No.4 that passed at the June Synod Assembly. This was the recommendation to have each congregation engage in an internal conversation about its outreach ministry, especially in terms of reaching out to other cultures in its setting.

            The team is providing congregations with a letter consisting of a sample outline for having this conversation, along with accompanying questions for reflection.  "Think of these as some discussion starters for congregational soul-searching," team members say.

            The team also draws attention to recent awareness of the "reverse great migration," a movement of people of African descent back to the southeast."  The migration is documented in the draft of the Region IX Missional Work Plan via the Evangelical Outreach & Congregational Mission Unit of the ELCA.  The document poses a fundamental question:  "How can we awaken faithful congregations and leaders to hear again Jesus' call and follow into the vast mission context in the United States...?"  

            This question and the team's discussion starters could certainly be a part of local conversations.   For additional support in this process, check out the video from Pr."CeCee" Mills at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULJDtxOAoB8&feature+youtu.be .  (You may need to paste the link into your browser.)

            Also in support of Resolution 4, the AAOT is hosting Conversation Gatherings at locations around the Synod.  Conversations have already been hosted at First English in Richmond  on March 10 and St. Philip in Roanoke  on March 17.

            The team says "Feel free to join us at upcoming Conversations:"

            Our Saviour in Virginia Beach, October 6, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

            St. Paul in Strasburg, November 10, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

            For more information, contact: Melinda Barnhardt Jud (melindabarnhardt@comcast.net) or    Pr. "CeCee" Mills (lucillemills@hotmail.com)


Food gathered on A Day to Serve 


Saturday, Sept.29, was set aside as A Day to Serve, the kickoff day for an effort by churches and others to gather supplies for food banks in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Gov. Bob McDonnell proclaimed the Day to Serve, along with governors of the other two states.

            Bishop Jim Mauney said Virginia Lutheran congregations might use this date as a rallying cry for members to give food and also let the governor know how much food congregations gather "week in and week out for the hungry around you." Many congregations also count on the Virginia food bank system for their feeding and backpack programs and community pantries, he added.

            Although "there is precious little agreement on too many policy issues in Washington and state capitals," McDonnell said, "the issue of hunger is something we can agree on." Since 2006, food banks have seen a 54 percent increase in demand while several have experienced a 50 percent drop in food donations, he said. He called the Day to Serve "a tremendous opportunity to bring recognition to that need and to do something meaningful about it." September was Hunger Action Month.


Hymn sing held in Trinity Pub

  hymn sing

            St. Mark, Charlottesville, held its first ecumenical off-site hymn sing as 26 "faithful" gathered in the upper room at Trinity Pub on The Corner near the University of Virginia in September. Invitations went to congregations that host campus ministry and it was "a wonderful song-filled evening," said Pastor Sandy Wisco of St. Mark.

            Two song leaders stepped up and "we sang our hearts out with praises to the Lord. Most hymns were familiar to all," Wisco said. Only a few of the "faithful" had wine and the others had beer or soda, along with starters on the bar.

            Starting with "Amazing Grace," they sang boldly for an hour. A bit of fun was reported when they sang "Earth and All Stars" as three people acted out the words. They drew applause from bar patrons below.

            Wisco issued an invitation for anyone to join "great fellowship" at another hymn sing at Trinity Pub on the second Monday of October. "God is good, all the time," she said. Wisco also asked anyone who has old hymnals to donate or sell to contact her at PastorWisco@StMarkLutheran.org


Senior ministry taking

shape in the Shenandoah Valley


orchard ridge
Ariel photo of construction progress at the       Winchester Village at Orchard Ridge in September

National Lutheran Communities & Services' (NLCS) 122 years of ministry to seniors throughout the District of Columbia and Maryland has begun to take shape in the Shenandoah Valley, with senior living options in Winchester and Staunton.

The Legacy at North Augusta-A National Lutheran Community in Staunton, celebrated its one-year anniversary as part of the National Lutheran family in August. The independent living apartment rental community includes meals, housekeeping in its monthly rental fee. In June The Legacy began offering assisted living services, which means that seniors at The Legacy will not have to move to a new physical space, should they need light levels of additional care.  The Legacy formerly operated  only as an independent living apartment rental community.

mauney legacy at stauton
Bishop Jim Mauney spoke at the opening of The Legacy at North Augusta in Staunton
"In most retirement or senior living communities, residents physically move throughout the continuum of care as they need more services," said Courtney Malengo, NLCS director of public relations.  "The approach we are taking at The Legacy enables delivery of services to residents in the comfort and privacy of their apartments. This is tremendously beneficial for everyone, but especially couples, as they will not have to be separated because one requires more care than the other."


The significance of this approach was celebrated at The Legacy at North Augusta's grand reopening  celebration on Sept. 19 , with more than 175 guests. Guest speakers  included Bishop Jim Mauney, Rev. Dianna Horton and Staunton's Mayor Lacy B. King, Jr. The event  highlighted assisted living services and allowed guests to tour apartments and see all five of the newly added common spaces (libraries, women's lounge, men's lounge and expanded wellness/workout rooms).

The Village at Orchard Ridge-also a National Lutheran Community currently under construction on 132 acres of land along U.S. Rt. 50 in Winchester, will open its doors in February. Similar to The Legacy at North Augusta, some health services will be delivered to residents at their residence. With construction on schedule, the 178 independent living cottage and apartment residences will inhabit seniors from all walks of life, with 43% hailing from local counties (Winchester, Frederick, Clarke and Warren) and 58% from other areas of Virginia and beyond.

The continuing care retirement community will offer independent living, short-term rehabilitation, assisted living/memory support and skilled nursing care that include amenities such as housekeeping, meal plans, landscaping, life enrichment programs and more. Surrounding the Village Green will be a commons building, several dining options, a chapel and wellness center. The majority of health care services will be delivered to residents in the comfort of their apartment or cottage, as long their safety is not compromised.  Should additional care be needed, the Orchard Woods building (a small-house model) will be available for memory support and skilled nursing services.

"The day that The Village at Orchard Ridge opens its doors will mark a milestone in National Lutheran Communities & Services' history and commitment to caring for seniors," said CEO Larry Bradshaw. "Our mission to serve seniors remains the driving force of all that we do throughout the greater Washington-Metropolitan area."

For more information on National Lutheran Communities & Services or its growing ministries in the Shenandoah Valley, visit www.nationallutheran.org or call 301-354-2710. 


Our Saviour experiments with Taize prayer

taize prayer
Praying in Taize form

 Lutheran Church of Our Saviour in Chesterfield County experimented with a weekly Taize prayer worship on Thursday evenings during the summer and the congregation is continuing the service on each second Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

            Taize prayer is a meditative service of reverence and simplicity which originated in Taize, France in 1940. It consists of music, song, reading and time for quiet contemplation in a format allowing participants to worship in a community setting while remaining open to the voice of God and discovering prayer within themselves, according to Pastor Kenneth Ruppar of Our Saviour. At least two other Richmond area churches are offering this form of worship, he said.

            As part of the learning experience, the congregation's worship team visited services in Richmond and Williamsburg and did additional research on this form of worship. Jennifer Ripley, director of music, guided the preparation of materials for use in the services. "This is a great way to grow in prayer and gain deeper appreciation for the use of silence in our worship," Ruppar said.

            The service is posted on the congregation's highway sign to encourage others in the community to share in this time, he said. "Anyone in the Richmond area on the second Thursday is welcome to attend at 7:30 p.m.," Ruppar added

Dr. Phyllis Milton to lead Christian formation



Dr. Phyllis Blair Milton was approved to serve in the position of synodical minister for Christian formation during the Synod Council retreat in September.  She will be the staff person giving guidance and leadership to Christian formation, ACTS and Roots & Wings. 

Milton has graduate degrees in business and Christian education and a doctor of  ministry in church leadership development and organizational systems. She has owned her own Christian education consulting ministry presenting workshops on multi-sensory teaching and learning; and served as adjunct faculty teaching practical ministry courses for diploma and master's level students at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies.  She is an approved candidate for call to ministry.. 

She has been married for 38 years to Chaplain Nathaniel Milton (Captain, USN, Retired).  They have two adult children and two grandchildren.

Practical stewardship tips for congregations

     by Pastor Jim Kniseley


If your congregation ended the summer with a deficit, you are not alone in the synod.   Keith Brown, financial consultant, reported that at the end of August, the receipts from congregations for synod benevolence were lower than expected.  This tells me that many of our congregations are experiencing a decrease in income and certainly could use some practical advice.

            The question most asked of me these days as synod stewardship coordinator is this: "What do we do about our deficit?"  I would like to share some tips for all of our congregations on practical ways to  increase our resources to carry out congregational ministries.

            You can have a "catch up Sunday" or "catch up month." Send a letter to the congregation explaining the need and asking for the congregational family to rally to give the support that was promised when the mission and ministry budget was passed.  It would be a good idea for the financial secretary to give the council a sense of why the giving is behind.  Usually it means that a number of families have been a bit lax and collectively are behind several weeks.  A "catch up" will usually result in balancing the budget.

            In the Ventures Stewardship Workshops we learn about different "giving doors."  One of the doors is the annual giving door for supporting mission and ministry.  Another door is called "short-term special appeal."  The Council can look at the mission and ministry plan (budget) and select one or two areas that can be helped by a short-term special appeal.  An example would be a special appeal for supporting the ministry of children and including such items as Sunday School curriculum, Vacation Bible School, the nursery attendant and the children's choir program.  Another example is supporting worship ministry.  You could include bulletins, bread and wine for communion, choir music, instrument tuning and repair, salaries for the musicians and purchase of seasonal supplies.

            When finances are tight, we must not be afraid to be creative.  The major source of funding for ministries must come from the tithes and offerings of our people.  In addition, we can do some funding through fellowship-enriching projects such as silent auctions and bazaars and bake sales and fish fries.  Other ways that congregations  are addressing additional income include: sharing facilities with another congregation, accepting donations for use of their parking lot on game days, sharing costs with a preschool and/or elementary school, and conducting a thrift store.

            In 2013, Pastor CeCee Mills and I will be presenting more Ventures Stewardship Workshops for congregational leaders.  In those workshops we address the Six Giving Doors and teach ways to address healthy stewardship practices.  Please let us know if you and your congregation are interested.

            Pastor Jim Kniseley serves as the Virginia Synod Stewardship coordinator.  You may reach him at txbe2godx2@comcast.net or 540-845-2427.

Roanoke College has rule of law center

Roanoke College  

 Roanoke College has established a Center for Teaching the Rule of Law, to be a forum for discussion and debate involving national and international rule of law advocates, scholarly research and writing on related topics and collaborative initiatives with other organizations and institutions.

            G. Michael Pace Jr., founder and chief executive of the center and managing partner of the Roanoke law firm of Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, said the most significant challenge in the world today is educating youth about the importance of the rule of law in their lives and the need to promote, preserve and protect it.

            Roanoke President Michael Maxey said the college's commitment to preparing great citizens and the center's commitment to the betterment of society makes this a perfect partnership. Timothy Isaacs, the center's vice president and education director, said the center's focus is on scholarship, teaching teachers and developing educational materials to give students a personal relationship with the rule of law.

            Also, U.S. New & World Report has placed Roanoke College No. 4 among six liberal arts institutions on its annual list of  "Up and Coming" colleges. The University of Richmond is the only other Virginia college on that list. The "up and comers" are nominated by college presidents, provosts and admissions deans. Maxey said, "It's great to see they recognized the progress and innovation that occurs at Roanoke every day and how our faculty and these outstanding programs impact our students in great ways." 

Twenty-five people are in candidacy process


           Twenty-five women and men are involved in some phase of the Synod candidacy process and six candidates are on internship in North Carolina, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia, according to the annual report of the Candidacy Committee.

            The committee met prior to the annual Vocations Conference in August, attended by about 30 inquirers, applicants, candidates and committee members. Pastors Jim Kniseley and CeeCee Mills were the facilitators for the conference, centered on the theme, "Ambassadors for Christ: A Call to Stewardship of Time, Talent and Family."

VICPP calls for reducing poverty by half


As a result of new Census Bureau data showing that poverty is rising in many Virginia cities and counties, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is seeking signatures of a Half in Ten pledge calling on elected officials to prioritize policies that will reduced poverty in half over the next 10 years.

            The pledge can be signed online at office@virginiainterfaithcenter.org.

            "Our voices are needed more than ever as our congressmen face tough choices about the federal budget and our state officials prepare to come back to Richmond for the 2013 General Assembly," according to Holly Coy, director of programs for VICPP. The center represents the ELCA at the legislature.

            As the number of Virginia families increased from 2011 to 2012, the number of children living in poverty reached 15 percent. The 46 million Americans living in poverty is "far too many," Coy said. Elected officials at every level of government "can and must do more to invest in policies that protect vulnerable families and enrich our communities."

            Coy said the new data demonstrates that programs like Social Security, nutrition assistance (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and the Earned Income Tax Credit kept millions more Americans from experiencing life below the poverty line.

Vinton couple clips coupons for charity 


Heather, Thomas and Kaydon celebrate their collection.

            When Heather Stevens of St. Timothy, Vinton, clips coupons, she's not a Wall Street stock investor-she's looking for premiums in the Sunday newspaper and on line which benefit charities and her household budget.

            She and her husband, Thomas Althoff, recently took a big stack of shampoo, toothpaste, baby formula and soap, estimated at a $200 value, to Manna Ministries, a large food pantry in Vinton. "We're contributing a little bit to people in need," she said.

            Stevens saves the coupons by category in a binder. She uses a couple web sites in her search for deals. After she locates available items, Althoff drives to the stores to pick them up. Heather is a stay-at-home mom for daughter Kaydon and Thomas manages a theater in Franklin County.

            They take many of the items to St. Timothy where Pastor Judy Tavela distributes them to the Rescue Mission and Manna Ministries.





Editor:  George Kegley   
Voice: 540-366-4607;  Email: georgekegley@verizon.net
Post:  301 Tinker Creek Lane, NE, Roanoke, VA  24019

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