January, 2013
                 The Virginia


Looking for a good
New Year's resolution?
     by Eric Carlson


Join Team 2017!   The Virginia Synod Malaria Task Group hopes that the people of Virginia will respond generously in the year 2013 to provide sustainable support for God's children in need of relief from malarial disease, hunger, and disaster.


 Check out our website to get the latest status and learn about the good works we Lutherans are doing around the world. Virginians are giving over $5,000 each month to help fight malaria.  Our ELCA Malaria Campaign goal for Virginia Synod is $230,000.  Once we reach that, funds given through Team 2017 will be directed for long-term sustainment through ELCA World Hunger and ELCA Disaster Response.


We've already raised nearly $60,000!


Go ahead. Make a commitment of just $20.17 per month and provide education, medicine, and mosquito nets this year to turn the tide of malaria in Africa.  It's easy!  Either give through your congregation or do it on-line at www.Team2017.org Join our team!



Join our Mailing List!
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
A different Thanksgiving
Celebrating Christmas in a barn
Helping victims of Hurricane Sandy
Focusing on the child in the manger
Consumer expectations drop
Pastor Stephen McGinnis died
Three approved for ordination
Mauney joins bishops to keep hunger funding
St. Stephen meditation garden
Addiction impact courses
Effective church seminar
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news

              Pastor Ted Schulz of Shepherd of the Valley, Dayton, caught the attention of USA Today when his church's bell in the brick tower rang 28 times after the Newtown, Conn. School shooting, including Adam Lanza, the gunman, and his mother, Nancy Lanza. The victims were 26 children and staff-but mourning for the shooter? Schulz told the newspaper, "We included the mother of the killer and the lost soul who sadly took his own life. And there was not a single objection...We mourn all who died. Ultimately, God is the judge."

            Following the work of a Vision 2015 team at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg,  relation- ships, nourishing faith, community and outreach have emerged as themes for the next three years. "God has led us to a vision of Muhlenberg as a wellspring...a place where people are naturally drawn, the source of living water, where our hearts are filled," according to the Red Door, the congregation's newsletter.

            Volunteers at St. Stephen, Williamsburg, will participate in a new Community of Faith Mission, in which more than a dozen congregations are providing overnight shelter and hot meals for homeless people. The congregation also is helping feed and staff a homeless shelter in Newport News. St. Stephen members have been preparing meals and snacks for children and babies at two local motels for two years.

            Members of Reformation, Newport News, assembled baskets for other members who were unable to worship during a Getting Ready for Jesus Event in early December.

            Christ, Fredericksburg, has been asked to provide $1,000 to purchase tents and sleeping bags for the homeless. The Social Ministry Committee and Youth Group are collecting donations to supply work boots for people who need them at their job sites. In other ministries, volunteers at Christ church are providing Welcome Home Baskets for those moving into housing and items for backpacks for homeless neighbors.

            At College Lutheran, Salem, Dr. Katerina Valcova from Martin, Slovakia, will preach on Jan. 6, Epiphany Sunday. She and her husband, Dr. Michal Valco, will be teaching at Roanoke College from September to May. The congregation council of College has approved sending Sunday School offerings, approximately $1,000 so far, to sponsor the Lutheran Elementary School at Martin, Slovakia. College will host a noon service on Jan. 26 in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Susan Hafey, parish nurse at College for seven years, died in November.

            Youtherians at St. Mark, Yorktown, are preparing "spiritually and financially" for a Pilgrimage to Spain in June 2014. They hope to reduce the estimated individual cost of $1,500. Also, members of St. Mark are planning to make 70 to 75 heart pillows for open heart surgery patients at Riverside Regional Medical Center in February, Heart Month. The theme is "Share your heart, to give a heart to a mended heart."

            Lakeside Community Chorus presented "Majesty of Heaven," a cantata, at Lakeside Lutheran on Dec. 16.

            Pastor Robert W. "Bob" Koons, who served at Grace, Winchester, from 1974 to 1982, died on All Saints Day, Nov. 1, at his home at Gettysburg, Pa.  He was 95.

            United Methodist Bishop Kenneth L. Carder has joined the faculty of Southern Seminary as senior visiting professor of Wesley Studies. He served on the faculty of Duke Divinity School for eight years before his retirement last year. He joins Dr. Daniel M. Bell Jr., a fellow United Methodist professor in expanding the Methodist Studies program at the seminary.

Southern Seminary also announced four spring events for people to learn about how they teach, form and nurture women and men for public ministry. A Discernment Retreat is scheduled for Feb. 2-4; Open House will be held Feb. 25 and April 21-22, and  Seminary Saturday on March 23. Registration may be completed online at ltss.lr.edu or at 803-461-3238.

            Paul Hanstedt, English professor at Roanoke College and a Fulbright Scholar, is helping develop a new general education curriculum in Hong Kong, as the educational system is evolving from a three-year British model to a four-year American model. Hanstedt was one of the campus leaders in Roanoke College's revision of its general education program. He has consulted with universities in the U.S. and abroad on liberal education, course design and writing about teaching.  

            At St. Philip, Roanoke, more than $2,200  has been collected toward a goal of $50,000 for the Mponela Parish Center in Malawi. This includes a contribution of $550 from Christ, Staunton. St. Philip members offer wood carvings from Malawi in the congregation's Global Missions Malawi Corner. Donations are for the benefit of a sister parish, Mponela Parish. St. Philip's Elijah Backpack ministry, along with 10 other community partners, is providing weekend meals for 47 children in three elementary schools.

            St. Mark, Charlottesville, will serve as a women's shelter home for "neighbors in crisis" from Jan. 26 to Feb. 9. Last year, 230 guests were sheltered for7,925 nights in the PACEM program in Charlottesville; 43 percent had a diagnosed mental illness and 31 percent suffered from alcohol or drug addiction. 


Synod mourns the death of Pastor Chip Gunsten 


Chip Gunsten
Pastor Chip Gunsten in a familiar stance at a baptismal font.

            Close to 200 Virginia Synod pastors and a total of 800 Lutherans celebrated the remarkable life of Pastor Paul "Chip" Gunsten at a service at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke on Dec. 15. He died on Dec. 11 at Duke University Hospital, Durham, N.C., after a struggle with lymphoma for over three years.

            Friends from across the Synod to South Carolina to Washington came for the standing-room-only service, many recalling pleasant experiences with Gunsten during his more than 12 years as assistant to the bishop and 15 years as a pastor at Grace, Winchester, and St. Phillip, Roanoke. His passion for mission and ministry was evident.

            Bishop Jim Mauney said, "Chip died in the hands of Christ...He was engaged in the rescue mission of the Lord...The spirit enlightened Chip." Later, the bishop wrote, "We are grieving very deeply over the loss of our beloved fellow worker and friend...We have sought to share our love and honor this servant of the Lord." They worked as a team for over 12 years.

            At the service, Gunsten's sister, Pam Gunsten, recalled that his nickname started almost 58 years ago when his grandmother was giving him a bath. "She said he was a chip off the old block and that stuck."

            Roanoke College Chaplain Paul Henrickson recalled his work with Chip Gunsten on the staff of Camp Caroline Furnace in 1972. "Chip handled kids nobody else wanted," he said.

            Bishop Mauney read a letter from the Rev. Tobby A. Eleasar, district president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea, Virginia's companion synod, expressing sorrow at Gunsten's death. Eleasar said he has been corresponding with Gunsten about his planned visit to Virginia Synod this summer. "I have lost a brother and a very good friend who has always been encouraging to me in many ways," Eleasar said.

            Pastor Philip Martin of Epiphany, Richmond, wrote a hymn in honor of Gunsten (See below).

In a printed message for the funeral, Kris Gunsten, wife of Chip Gunsten, said, "He loved his job because it meant that he could work with all of you, get to know you, sharing congregational struggles and joys because it meant sharing God's love for all of you. Please keep his love for mission and ministry going!"

            His Roanoke Times obituary said, "What distinguished Chip was not his impressive height but his great passion for ministry, his unwavering faith in others, his endless capacity for forgiveness and his unique and infectious sense of humor. Christ was the center and hope of his life. He recruited and developed young ministers to serve in Virginia and served congregations without clergy across the state. He had a great love of sports and the relationships they fostered."

            When he was chosen to be an assistant to the bishop in 1999, Mauney recognized him as a leader in youth ministry, a frequent retreat and discussion leader and one who served with expertise in stewardship, evangelism and outdoor ministry. In recent years, Gunsten was a leader in many synodical ministries, including the Candidacy Committee, Camp Caroline Furnace board, ELCA Region 9, Missions task force, planning for Synod Assembly, Youth Leadership Roundtable and working with the bishop on conference gatherings. He led many retreats and worked with many congregations in the pastoral call process.

            Born in Harrisonburg in 1954, he was a graduate of Virginia Tech and Luther Northwestern Seminary and he earned a doctor of ministry degree from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

            Also surviving are his daughters, Anna Gunsten and Sarah Krell, a granddaughter, Meredith; two sisters, Pam Gunsten and Claujia Ritchie, and his stepmother, Martha Gunsten.

            A Paul G. Gunsten Fund for Mission and Ministry has been established at the Synod, P.O. Box 70, Salem, VA 24153. 


Silent Morn, Holy Morn

(sung to the tune of "Silent Night, Holy Night")

in loving memory of the Rev. Chip Gunsten

Phillip Martin


Silent morn, holy morn.

All is bleak, hope forlorn.

Earth cries out for a Savior to reign.

Sinners echo familiar refrain:

God, your ki-ingdom come!

God, your kingdom to come!


Silent day, holy day.

Angel speaks God's new way:

Lowly virgin receives the Word,

Humble souls with God's mercy are stirred.

Christ, your advent is near

Christ, your advent is near.


Silent eve, holy eve

Spirit moves; we believe!

Filled with grace by your holy call,

We proclaim your goodness to all.                             

Lord, your servant is here!

Lord, your servant is here!


Celebrating Christmas in a Rural Retreat barn

Rural Retreat barn Christmas
Mary and Joseph were portrayed by Kristi and James Whitlock of St. Paul Lutheran, Rural Retreat, at a barn service.

The birth of Christ was celebrated by close to 300 people at two services in a Wythe County cattle barn on Christmas Eve. Continuing a 30-year tradition, Lutherans of the Rural Retreat Parish and the United Methodist Church joined many others in the community in the barn of Glenn and Sandra Vernon.

            The annual services, featuring carols, a homily and a live nativity scene with goats, donkeys, sheep and a calf, began in 1982 as a project of Dale Higgs, then an intern in the parish. Pastor Jonathan Hamman of the Rural Retreat Parish gave the homily, holding his infant son, Luke David, at the afternoon service and the United Methodist pastor spoke in the evening of Dec. 24.

            The winter weather was perfect, drawing people from a wide area to the services in the barn built in 1915, Sandra Vernon said. The Vernons move their farm machinery out and set up hay bales for the services.

             Vernon said these services may draw people who aren't "comfortable in the more formal setting of a church. It's comfortable and sweet, coming to the barn, knowing that Jesus was born in a stable," Vernon said.


Helping victims of Hurricane Sandy

Workers cleaned streets of sand near Breezy Point where houses burned.


Debbie Mintiens of Woodstock has returned from a two-week deployment with the Red Cross, assisting some of the many people whose lives were changed by Hurricane Sandy. She was managing a shelter in Shenandoah County when the hurricane passed through. She served in New York as a disaster volunteer, working as a client caseworker.  Here is her report:

            Over the past two weeks I have worked with many folks whose rental and owned homes were destroyed. After several weeks of living in shelters, through FEMA and the City of New York these folks are now living in local motels. There are so many, but my heart identified with two-Ruth and Phoebe (names changed).

            Ruth, 88, (my dad's age), had to take over after her husband died. She had no idea how to handle finances. Though family and friends were all gone, Ruth was doing well by herself. She is now living in a motel because the townhouse she owns is not habitable. She is not sure what insurance she got. The city is overwhelmed.

            Ruth has been going back to her home, trying to do something, risking her health due to the mold. Some "volunteers" came in to clean up. They cleaned up all right, just not the storm damage. It was very hard for me to stay within the resources of the Red Cross. I could not stop myself from researching. I did register Ruth with Lutheran Disaster Response of Greater New York. Of course, there is a big gap between now and rebuild.

            Phoebe is from Jamica and has been in the U.S., taking care of herself for over 30 years. (Phoebe and I are the same age and have a child the same age.) As Phoebe told me her story, she said when they were told to evacuate, she had no place to go and was afraid to go to a shelter. She told me that about 8 p.m., her landlord came wildly knocking at her door, saying something about her car and that she needed to come upstairs. She said she grabbed car key and when she went to the door, her car was floating and there was no land in sight.

            By midnight the water was gushing up through the first story flooring. Phoebe was renting the basement apartment and lost everything. She has a job but cannot get to work because she doesn't have a car. After trying to stay in her home with no heat and no electricity she is in a motel now. Phoebe has a strong faith and she is just thankful.


LARCUM bishops opposed child hunger, trafficing

     by Pastor Eric Moehring

Lambs basket bishops
Five bishops who met at Lamb's Basket, a Richmond food pantry, were (from left) Bishop Jim Mauney, Virginia Synod; Assistant Bishop Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., and Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnson, both of Episcopal Diocese of Virginia; Most Rev. Paul S. Loverde, Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington; and, Bishop Jin Cho, Virginia Conference, United Methodist Church.

The LARCUM Conference held in Richmond on Nov. 30-Dec. 1 reflected a continuing desire among its bishops of the Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Methodist communions to intentionally plan and set goals together at a pre-conference working session on Nov. 29-30 at the Church of the Epiphany, Episcopal and Christ Lutheran Church in the Lakeside area.

 Under this year's conference title, "Living Out the LARCUM Covenant: Vatican II at 50," the bishops reaffirmed their commitment made in 2011 to pray for each other, gather for a retreat and work toward the ending of childhood hunger and trafficking. Their plan is to speak on childhood hunger and trafficking on an occasion during Holy Week and also on St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6, inviting other denomination to join them. The ecumenical officers and State LARCUM Committee, meeting at the same time, committed themselves to strengthening existing and forming new LARCUM groups across our commonwealth.

            A highlight of the pre-conference gathering of the bishops and ecumenical officers was a visit to the new location of the LAMB's Basket, a large food pantry formed and supported by the Lakeside community churches and a number of other Henrico County congregations.

            From Friday evening through Saturday afternoon, the conference of over 150 participants was held at Lakeside United Methodist Church and Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church. The speaker for the conference, John Borelli, of Georgetown University and former associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, began a brief background and narrative of Vatican II by saying, "With Vatican II, the world is no longer divided between Catholics and non-Catholics."

During the conference, he called upon each participant to make the commitment to the unity of the church, that it is now "irreversible," now "not an appendage to the church's mission but central to it." Taking the thoughts of Raymond Brown, the noted biblical scholar, Borelli described the church today as the "Apostolic Church left behind." It is a church made up of congregations called by our Lord to prayer, study, listen and work for social justice together, "that each be determined to hold onto the unity of the whole church." 

            As a part of the conference, Bishop Mauney spoke of his own ecumenical journey by talking of his ever-expanding "circle," first as a Virginia Lutheran, then as a seminarian studying Luther who "exploded the faith" for him, then his travels beyond Virginia as bishop. Concluding his "testimony," Bishop Mauney said that "the history of ecumenism seems to be the history of individuals who show up" and that "as I sign the LARCUM Covenant, I am saying that I will be a sign of the unity of the church."

            The 2013 LARCUM Conference in Winchester, December 6-7, will continue the conversation around Vatican II.


Pastor Gary Schroeder honored at retirement

Schroeder retirement
Pastor Gary Schroeder holds a retirement gift from the congregation.

            At a retirement luncheon for Pastor Gary Schroeder at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, he was recognized for his leadership in improving the church facilities, expansion of ministry, courage in leadership to become a Reconciling in Christ congregation and his gentle ability to help the congregation move smoothly into unfamiliar but necessary places. He retired at the end of December after 25 years at Luther Memorial.

            Features of the program were a song by children, speeches by Pastors Joanna Stallings and Bill King and Diane Catley, congregation president, and presentation of a book of cards and letters, a custom-designed quilt with an outline of the church signed by members, a certificate for a weekend at a resort and a humorous song by the senior choir. During Schroeder's last service, a liturgy was adapted from installation of a pastor, with a response, "Well done, good and faithful servant."


 Pastor Jesse Hangen dies at 87


            Pastor Jesse S. Hangen Jr., 87, who served four Virginia Synod congregations from 1953 until his retirement in 1987, died at Village at Rockville, Md. (formerly National Lutheran Home). A graduate of Gettysburg College and Gettysburg Seminary, he served as an assistant at Resurrection, Arlington, and as pastor at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg; Reformation, Newport News, and Messiah, Virginia Beach.

            His wife, Shirley Ann Brockman Hagen, died Oct. 31. Surviving are a son, Peter J. Hangen, and a grandson, Jesse W. Hangen. A memorial service will be held at Emmanuel Lutheran, Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 4, at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Emmanuel Lutheran, 7730 Bradley Blvd., Bethesda, MD. 2087, or to Village at Rockville, 9701 Veirs Drive, Rockville MD 20850. 

Three approved for ordination


The Synod Candidacy Committee  has approved Joanna Hertzog of St. Phillip, Roanoke; Kristen Van Stee, Mt. Calvary, Mount Jackson, and Aaron Fuller, St. Michael, Virginia Beach, for ordination, pending a call. They expect to be assigned to a synod in the spring.

Hertzog, now in her senior year at Philadelphia Seminary, expects to receive a certification in urban ministry along with a master of divinity degree. She served as intern at St. Paul's, Washington, D.C., and she is interim visitation minister at Muddy Creek Lutheran, Lancaster County, Pa., where she grew up. Her interest is in urban ministry.

Van Stee, the daughter of Pastor Karen Van Stee, St. Mary, Mount Jackson, and Stephen Van Stee, is a graduate of Roanoke College and Southern Seminary. She has worked at Camp Caroline Furnace and spent time with Lutheran World Relief in Nicaragua. She said she is passionate about participating in God's social justice in the world and she hopes to work in multicultural ministry in the ELCA.She has been working as a girls' dormitory monitor at Massanutten Military Academy.

Fuller grew up on a Minnesota dairy farm and served 81/2 years as a Navy submarine and engineering officer. Following a call to bi-vocational ministry, he is finishing a two-year concurrent internship at a congregation in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and also serving as assistant wrestling coach at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. He said he is excited about ministry focused on God's mission and engagement with young adults and young families. He also is pursuing military chaplaincy in the Naval Reserves, Fuller recently married Kelly Schumacher. 

Mauney joins bishops' plea to keep hunger funding

Mauney at white house fence
Standing in front of the White House were (from left) Bishop Jim Mauney; Rev. Andrew Genszler, ELCA director for Advocacy; Bishop Robert Driesen, Upper Susquehanna Synod; Bishop David Zellmer, South Dakota Synod; Bishop Michael Burk, Southeastern Iowa Synod; Bishop Jon Anderson, Southwestern Minnesota Synod; and, Rev. Daniel Rift, director of ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal.

            Bishop Jim Mauney joined other bishops from the ELCA Conference of Bishops in advocating congressional and government leaders to retain funding for hunger and poverty programs during a December 17-18 meeting in Washington. Mauney's group, one of three, represent the U.S. Hunger and Poverty "Ready Bench," an advocacy caucus group of ELCA bishops.

They talked about the pending Farm Bill and its SNAP (food stamps) provisions, soon to be voted on in Congress, the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, programs providing critical aid to low-income households and helping families cycle out of poverty.

            An undersecretary of agriculture told them only 1 percent fraud and 3-4 percent errors have been found in these programs "and that seems pretty efficient to me," Mauney said, yet some members of Congress complain of inefficiency. The bishops met with government policy writers, including staff from the Domestic Policy Council, Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Public Engagement.

            "If the Senate cuts these programs, who makes up the difference? Whatever we lose for funding for the poor will be very hard to restore again in the future" Mauney said after the meeting.  "Since all non-government spending and action for hunger through faith-based, non-profits and Feeding America is but 5-8 percent of the $80 billion in government funding spent for hunger in this country, holding every dollar for the hungry in federal funding is critical for those in emergency times in our people's lives."

            The bishops reminded government officials that they and the larger church are part of the Circle of Protection, a coalition representing Bread for the World, Conference of Catholic Bishops and National Association of Evangelicals that seeks to protect programs helping poor and vulnerable people in the ongoing federal budget debate. 

St. Stephen blesses meditation garden

st, steph garden
Meditation garden in Williamsburg.

            Members of St. Stephen, Williamsburg, blessed their new Meditation Garden. The City of Williamsburg had required the congregation to construct a water drainage retention system as part of a building project to construct expanded gathering space along Jamestown Road and that led to a plan to turn the area into a garden, accessed through a side door from the new gathering space.

            The garden features a wrought iron wall cross, fashioned by Ben Henry, a local craftsman. Two benches and a cloister walk of slate paving stones were removed from the front of the church building before the expansion. A contractor in the congregation donated the labor to install the "hardscape" and members bought the plantings.

Courses on addiction impact offered in Radford


            Two training courses on "Understanding the Impact of Addiction and Supporting Recovery: Strategies and Tools for Faith Communities" will be offered at the New River Valley Business Center, 6580 Valley Center Drive, Radford, on Tuesday, Jan. 29, and Tuesday, Feb. 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., both days. The training will be free of charge but participants must register by Jan. 18 at the website http//www.signupgenius.com/go/30EOF4FA4A62DA02-understanding. For more information, contact Lee Spiegel, coordinator of Pulaski Community Partners Coalition at 540-980-3228 or PCPC1@verizon.net or Pastor Terrie Sternberg at Trinity, Pulaski, 540-230-3139 or trinitypulaski@gmail.com

Kennon Callahan offers effective church seminar


            A Seminar for Key Leaders will be offered by Dr. Kennon Callahan at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga.on Feb. 18-22. Callahan will talk abut his latest book, Living in Grace, and tell of 12 decisive events of grace. Registration may be completed online at www.missionleadersnetwork.com. For information, call Pastor John Wertz Jr., seminar coordinator, at 540-951-8951. 





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

Deadline for submission of articles is the 10th of each month. 

 Photographs must be separate from text and in .jpg format only.


Any portion of this publication may be reprinted

for use in local church publications with appropriate credit.