June, 2013
                 The Virginia


Pastor Chris Bowen
is new Roanoke chaplain

Pastor Chris Bowen of St. Michael, Virginia Beach, has been appointed chaplain of Roanoke College, starting July7, following the retirement of Chaplain Paul Henrickson. Bowen, who has served at St. Michael for nine years, was ordained in 2001 and previously served at Lake Nebagamon, Wis.

            Bowen grew up in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina and graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne College. Afterward, he worked for two years as a research assistant toward a doctorate in genetics before he attended and graduated from Southern Seminary. He and his wife, Cynthia, have three children, Carolina, Courtney and Croix.

            College President Michael Maxey's announcement of the appointment as Timothy L. Pickle Dean of the Chapel, said Bowen played ice hockey, soccer, baseball and basketball while growing up and golf is his favorite hobby as an adult. Music has been an important part of his life. He plays the trumpet and guitar. His parents, Michael and Patricia Bowen, are retired educators and he has a younger brother, Sgt. Bowen, who is a police officer in Raleigh, N.C.

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In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
PNG district president to visit
"Joy in the Journey"
Remembering Chancellorsville
"Run the 5K" at Synod Assembly
Gillespie dies at 82
Moyer honored with anthem
Funds for mosquito nets
Women enjoy spiritual fulfillment
Dialogue with other faiths
Hearts & Hands winners
Synod ranks high in health assessment
Why come to Vacation Bible School?
"The Wife, The Witch and The Virgin"
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news

Church (pastors)
Church family.

            Pastors Michael Church and Terri Church have accepted a call to Our Saviour, Warrenton. The Churches met at Princeton Theological Seminary, married in 1995 and were ordained in 1996. Their son, Theodore, also is in the photo. They served congregations in New York City and nearby and they recently helped to develop the International Church in Cluj, an English language mission start in Romania. Michael Church, a native New Yorker, studied at Vassar College and earned a master's degree from Philadelphia Seminary. Terri Church, a native of New Orleans, grew up in Mississippi and Texas, attended Baylor University and was ordained as a Southern Baptist. She was drawn to the Lutheran church by its traditional worship style and its theology of grace.


          Pastor Stephen Schulz has retired for the third time. He has developed the Bedford mission since 2000. A graduate of Gettysburg College and Seminary, he served churches in Gatlinburg and Maryville, Tenn., and Christ, Fairfax. His first retirement was in 1971 when he and his wife, Judith, moved to Marion and he worked in personnel at a furniture plant two years before he was called to Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, where he served 25 years until he retired and was called to part-time service at the Bedford mission. Plans are for the mission to call a fulltime pastor. In Lynchburg, he was head of an historical foundation, Meals on Wheels and the ministerial association.

            Pastor Sarah Trone has resigned at Martin  Luther, Bergton, to accept a call to an Iowa congregation.

            Pastor Timothy Nilsen has resigned at Mt. Zion, Woodstock, to accept a call in the Northwestern Ohio Synod.

            Retired Pastor Harold Burnette, Edinburg, is participating in "Pastors2go" at Living Waters Lutheran, North Port, FL. He is preaching on alternate Sundays, leading periscope studies and singing in the choir.

            At Southern Seminary, Dr. Mary Sue Dreier, has come from the Center on Missional Leaadership at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., to serve as associate professor of pastoral care and missional leadership.     

The congregation of Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, has increased its giving to the wider church by $30,000, half of the synod's rebound of $60,000, according to a letter from Bishop Jim Mauney. This past year was the first year of increased giving since 2007. Muhlenberg has become the largest congregation in baptized membership, he said.

At Trinity, Roanoke, a bequest from the estate of the late Pastor Dewey Heglar, who served at Trinity from 1950 to 1959, was divided into $25,000 for benevolence and $75,000 for general funds.

 Christ, Roanoke, made a contribution to Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center in honor of the service of Angie Covington as president of the camp board. Youth of Christ Church are planning a summer mission trip to do Hurricane Sandy Relief work in New Jersey in July. Pastor Bruce Osterhout of Reading, Pa., who served as associate pastor at Christ in 1986-1990, will preach at Christ on June 30.

Bishop Jim Mauney has been elected to a four-year term on the board of Portico, the benefits services arm of the ELCA, formerly the Board of Pensions.

The bishop participated in a Rally in the Valley at W. W. Robinson School, Woodstock on May 11, featuring an ecumenical interactive worship on the promise of baptism and celebration of Luke's Backpack for Children in Shenandoah County. A Social Ministry Fair displayed the work of local institutions.

            At Grace and Glory, Palmyra, Pastor Kenneth Albright reported 63 new members have been received since the congregation moved into its new church building last year.

            At Prince of Peace, Basye, Colin Christensen, grandson of David and Mary Solomon, has been elected president of the Student Government Association at Emory & Henry College.

            Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Moneta, reported over 5,000 pounds of paper was shredded and hauled away for recycling during its sixth annual Document Shredding Day.

At Gloria Dei, Hampton, the youth are placing pink flamingo yard ornaments in celebration of an event to raise funds for a trip to the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering to be in Detroit, Mich.

Roanoke College has announced that G. Michael Pace Jr., a Roanoke lawyer, has been named as the college's first general counsel. Pace has been an adjunct professor in the school's Public Affairs Department and he is the founder and president of the Center for Teaching the Rule of Law, located on the college campus last year.

Pinwheels represent victims and autistic children





           Courtney Turner stands amid more than 600 pinwheels planted in a garden in the side yard of St. Paul, Hampton, commemorating Child Abuse Prevention Month and Autism Awareness Month. Each pinwheel represents 19 children who were victims in reports of abuse and neglect in Virginia last year and almost 6,000 children who are on the autism spectrum.


PNG district president to visit Virginia

Eleaser family


            The Rev. Tobby Eleasar, president of the New Guinea Island District of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea-companion synod to Virginia-will visit in October. He will be a featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Ministerium at Virginia Beach in October.

            Eleasar will be traveling across the synod with Bishop Jim Mauney and Diane Giessler, synod Global Missions chairperson, before and after the Ministerium gathering.

In photo at right, President Tobby Eleasar stands with his wife, Katubieng (rear); Rowange (left), Yangenao (middle) and Shirley.  Athalia, a younger daughter, is missing from the photo.


"Joy in the Journey" is Power in the Spirit theme



"Joy in the Journey," the theme of Power in the Spirit at Roanoke College on July 11-13, will be presented by the keynote speaker, the Rev. Rolf A. Jacobson of Luther Seminary. Jacobson, an assistant professor of Old Testament, holds degrees from the University of St. Thomas, Luther and Princeton seminaries. He edited "Crazy Talk: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Theological Terms."

            Bible leader for the annual summer event will be Bishop Richard

A. Graham of the Metropolitan D.C. Synod. Graham, who formerly served at three Maryland congregations, has degrees from Catholic University and Harvard Divinity School.

            Michael Card, music leader, has recorded more than 30 albums, written or co-authored more than  24 books and serves as a teacher of the Bible. He lives in Franklin, Tenn.


           Twenty-six sessions are scheduled on Friday and Saturday on such varying topics as joy in scripture, praying, worshiping, communicating the Gospel with art, false theologians, the Psalms, the Malaria Campaign, biblical science, witness of saints, poverty and joy in Tanzania, and Dr. John Alfred Morehead, a Southwest Virginia native who started the Lutheran World Federation.

            Other features will be a Lutheran World Relief mission quilt workshop and a musical meditation event. Martha Boschen will be the facilitator for the workshop, recycling scraps of fabric to make simple quilts, in the Olin Hall lobby on Friday, July 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. "Walk This Way," will be presented by popular songs and scripture passages at each of 12 stations. This musical presentation, a student project from the Synod's ACTS lay theology course, will be a two-hour session offered in Antrim Chapel at 10:15 a.m., 1  ns 3:30 p.m. on Friday, July 12. 


Resurrection remembers Chancellorsville battle


           Resurrection Lutheran, Fredericksburg, sits on property that was a staging area for the Confederate army in preparation for fighting at Chancellorsville in 1863. The May 1 First Day of Battle took place directly across Rt. 3 from present-day Resurrection on several farms, including the McGee Farm.

            On May 5, the congregation remembered  the events of 150 years ago with special guests at an adult forum and worship services laced with stories and songs from the Civil War. Scott Watkins, an actor in the movie, "Gods and Generals," was one of the speakers at the adult forum. He portrayed Confederate Gen. Raleigh Colston in the 2003 movie about the Battle of Chancellorsville.  Jim Watkins, (not related), a descendant of the McGee family who owned the farm where most of the first day of battle occurred, also spoke.

            Greeters were dressed in period costumes and Pastor Jim Kniseley wore a typical 19th century clerical robe. His sermon included stories of Gen. Stonewall Jackson and Chaplain Beverly Tucker Lacey. Jackson was wounded, his arm was amputated and buried nearby, and he died at Guinea Station, a few miles south of Fredericksburg. Lacey ministered to him and conducted his funeral.

            Resurrection's observance was part of the 10-day observance of the 150th anniversary of the Chancellorsville Battle. About 4,000 re-enactors participated and thousands of visitors joined tours, lectures, demonstrations and concerts in the area.


Synod Assembly will "run the 5K"


            In a new format, the annual Virginia Synod Assembly on June 7-9 will feature five sessions around the theme, Ambassadors for Christ: "Running the 5K (Knows)," at Roanoke College. The Rev. Ruben Durand, director for new and evangelizing congregations for the ELCA, will speak for the national church.

            The 5K speakers will be followed by voting members' discussion at tables. The leaders and their topics:

            Rev. Deborah Stehlin, director of evangelical mission in the Minnesota Synod, "Know your neighborhood and God's mission for it"

            Dr. Marcus Miller, retired president of Southern Seminary, "Know your colleagues"

            Dr. Tony Everett, professor of pastoral care at Southern Seminary, "Know your people/disciples of your faith community"

            Dr. Paul Hinlicky, Roanoke College religion professor, "Know Luther and the confessions"

            Dr. Shauna Hannan, homiletics professor at Southern Seminary, "Know Jesus and the scriptures"

            Members of the Youth Assembly will participate in the 5K sessions. Several business sessions are scheduled for reports of officers and institutions and approval of a budget. Elections will be held for five seats on the Synod council and five slots on the Committee for Discipline. Pastor Paul Henrickson, retiring chaplain of Roanoke College, will be the Assembly chaplain. Bishop Jim Mauney will preach at the annual Saturday night service at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke.

            At the end of May, two resolutions were submitted to the Synod office, encouraging prayer for isolated persons and proposing that the ELCA offices in Chicago be moved to a more central location.

Retired Pastor Dennis Gillespie dies at 82


           Retired Pastor Dennis Gillespie, 82, died April 8 at a Harrisonburg nursing home. He served Methodist congregations for seven years and Lutheran churches for 39 years.

            A native of Tazewell, he was a graduate of Emory and Henry College and Drew Theological Seminary. He served churches in Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia. In retirement, he had been a supply pastor for congregations in the Southern and Central conferences.

            A graveside service was held at Eastlawn Memorial Gardens, Harrisonburg, on April 10. Carrie Gillespie, his wife of 55 years, died in 2010. Surviving are two sons, Clay and Chris Gillespie, a daughter, Beth Mathis, four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Bishop Moyer honored with an anthem



            The congregation of Grace, Waynesboro, has commissioned a choral anthem, with viola accompaniment, in honor of Bishop Emeritus V. A. "Buck " Moyer, who lives across the street from the church in retirement. He is 92.

            The anthem is entitled, "For V. A. Moyer Jr., child of God; son of Grace; Pastor, President, Bishop in the Virginia Synod, LCA and ELCA." The composer is Wayne Wold, associate professor of music/college organist/chair of the Music Department of Hood College, Frederick, Md. He has completed more than 200 compositions.

            The anthem was offered Sunday, May 5, at the 10 a.m. worship service at Grace, performed by the church choir, led by Mike Meyers, Grace director of music. Joelle Miller, a member of Grace, was featured as violist. The anthem is based on a favorite hymn, "O Love That Will Not Let Me Go," which was in the Lutheran Book of Worship but not in the later hymnal.

            Pastor Paul Pingel of Grace said Bishop Moyer "has been a blessing to Grace for many years and it was my joy to ride the waves of Grace's desire to honor him."

            Moyer, a native of Waynesboro, retired in 1987 after serving as pastor at Ascension, Danville; Mt. Jackson Parish; Christ, Radford; St. Peter, Shenandoah, and Grace, Winchester, as well as assistant to the Synod president from 1959 to 1968, as president, 1976-1981, and bishop, 1981-1987.

Creative ways to raise funds for mosquito nets 


              Members of College, Salem, have purchased 300 mosquito nets in the ELCA Malaria Campaign, leading Synod contributions which passed $86,000 in May. Many congregations have creative ways to raise funds to buy the $10 nets which are effective in the campaign against malaria. A goal of $1,000 a month toward a challenge of $250,000 has been established by the Synod Malaria Task Group.

            College workers used the ELCA Malaria Campaign Congregation Kit materials with a "Miss Quito" and 200 "skeeters."  Members of the congregation were challenged to remove the "skeeters" at $10 for a net. With matching funds from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Care Abounds in Communities, they raised $3,000.

Mosquito nets
Pastor Dwayne Westermann, head of Godparents for Tanzania, demonstrates the use of a mosquito net for children at College Salem.

          The campaign was supported by Pastor Dwayne Westermann, retired College Lutheran pastor and president of Godparents for Tanzania, who told the congregation about the dangers of malaria he has seen on his frequent trips to East Africa. He told of a Godparents student who was thrilled to get a high school scholarship "but spends days shaking and shivering in a sweat-soaked  bed away from her classes because malaria has attacked her again."

            Malaria is the leading cause of death in Africa, claiming the life of a child every 45 seconds. One bite from an infected mosquito will cause a person to come down with malaria. Almost 800,000 people die from malaria each year.

            The Synod Task Group has collected other success stories about fund-raising. Zion, Floyd, has raised funds for 200 nets and Living Water, Kilmarnock, has raised more than $600 for the nets. At Epiphany, Richmond, a youth group made net corsages and sold them on World Malaria Sunday in honor of their retiring pastor, the Rev. Chris Price, and Sunday School classes collected loose change for a malaria offering.

            At Resurrection, Spotsylvania, children took a malaria bed net down the aisles to gather donations for the campaign after a children's sermon about a visit to Africa. Pastor David Young of Bethel, Winchester, organized a free throw competition in a gym, raising $400 in an hour for a total of over $2,000 from the congregation for the campaign.

            In April, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans matched funds given on line for the campaign.

Women enjoy spiritual fulfillment

     by Rev. Kathleen Miko
Women rostered leaders
Rostered leaders gather for a group photo.


It happens every time!  I sign up for a retreat excited and looking forward to getting away for a day or two, but as the day approaches I can come up with a thousand reasons not to go. The Virginia Synod's Rostered Women's Retreat was no exception. 

  However, when I arrived at the Virginia Diocesan Center at Roslyn in Richmond, I immediately experienced a feeling of serenity. This was my first visit to Roslyn and I'm confident it will not be the last. The grounds are absolutely beautiful, the rooms simple and peaceful, the meals satisfying and tasty, the chapel serene with breathtaking views, and our colleagues - the best.  I am so glad I did not miss out on this gift of two days of rest, laughter, singing, spiritual fulfillment, and spending time with ministry colleagues.

On Tuesday, April 30th and Wednesday, May 1st, 26 women rostered leaders of our synod gathered at Rosyln Center.  Our guest speaker was the Reverend Dr. April Ulring Larson, bishop emeritus and senior pastor, First Lutheran Church, Duluth, MN.  She was the first woman bishop in the ELCA, having served three terms as bishop of the La Cross Area Synod; she is the second Lutheran woman bishop in the world.

Before Bishop Larson arrived, she made the effort to find out something about each of us in preparation for the retreat.  As we shared our names and places of call she was able to put a face to questionnaire responses she had reviewed.  She used the Book of Ruth as her platform to share her stories of ministry as well as her personal faith stories.  Following each session we broke into small groups for personal discussion of the material presented.  I also must mention that we were blessed by Bishop Larson's musical gifts, which she used to lead us in singing hymns and rounds, and even some a cappella before a few of our study sessions. 

We were additionally blessed by the insights and sharing of our colleagues serving in the Virginia Synod. Pastors Jean Bozeman, CeCee Mills, and Kate Costa, each one focusing on a woman of the Bible, conducted brilliant,thought-provoking, and relevant devotions.  Rev. Larson conducted closing worship with Holy Communion, and we gathered for lunch before returning home.

            It was a delightful two days.  Mindy Reynolds did an exceptional job putting this retreat together, and, she even spoiled us with an unexpected 'welcome gift bag' that included a candle and mints.  It was truly an enjoyable two days.

Dialogue with other faiths is critical


            One hundred percent of congregations say they are welcoming but most of the time that means they are welcoming to people just like them, said Dr. Kristin Largen of the Gettysburg Seminary faculty in a weekend as visiting theologian at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg.  Her theme for several presentations was "Finding God Among our Neighbors: Christian Theology and Interreligious Dialogue." 
            Largen spent much time making the most basic case for dialogue, essentially an apology for why Christians need to take other faiths seriously. Her rationale:
  • We need to be in dialogue because we need to understand the religious beliefs of those globalization makes it impossible for us to ignore. Once the Muslim (or Buddhist) was a distant abstraction; now she is the soccer mom down the street and the chairperson for the local Relay for Life.
  • We need to be in dialogue because other faiths have insights and emphases from which we could benefit.
  • We need to be in dialogue because we will discover depths and nuances of our own tradition as we articulate it to others and then have them reflect what they hear back to us.

             The end of dialogue is therefore not necessarily conversion but greater understanding of the other in a world where we are dangerously afraid of those beyond our tribe.

 Hearts & Hands winners touch many lives

LFS logo new   

           Once again the Hearts and Hands Service Awards have uncovered stories of grace and service. The awards, which were created in 2008, honor members of the Lutheran community whose passion, energy and delight in service are restoring life's rich promise to those who need us most. Now five years later, in honor of 125 years of service, Lutheran Family Services is delighted to honor the individuals below. Winners will be recognized at the Synod Assembly at Roanoke College on June 8.

Kipps, Steve

         The top adult and youth winners are Steve Kipps, Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in New Market (adult) and Elisa Mangubat, First Lutheran in Norfolk (youth). Three individuals were runner ups in the


adult category: Jane Perry, Zion Lutheran Church in Edinburg; George Kegley, St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Roanoke; and Patty Sensabaugh, Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg. Tim Cywinski of Our Saviour in Warrenton is youth runner up. You can read more about the ministries of the winners and see some great photos here.

            Earning honorable mention awards are Wally Coffey and Sidney Miller, St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Roanoke; Connie Fauber, Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries; The Rev. Paul Henrickson, recently retired chaplain of Roanoke College; Dianne Krallman, St. Michael Lutheran Church in Blacksburg; Garry Lautenschlager, College Lutheran in Salem; The Rev. James Utt, recently retired pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Winchester; and Melissa Whetzel, Martin Luther Evangelical Church in Bergton.

           We thank the many members of the Lutheran community who submitted nominations.   

Synod ranks high in health assessment


           Last year, Virginia Synod ranked second among the 65 ELCA synods in participation by rostered leaders, spouses and lay employees in the Mayo Clinic Health Assessment. A total of 121 people completed the assessment for a participation rate of 85.21 percent, saving the synod approximately $37,500 in health contributions.

            If 65 percent of eligible plan members and spouses take the assessment, ELCA employers in the synod will earn a 2 percent discount on health contributions.

            The Mayo Clinic Assessment is a wellness activity that identifies personal health strengths and risks and provides steps to improve health. The assessment can be taken on a website, requiring less than 30 minutes to complete.

            Mindy Reynolds, synodical minister for healthy leadership and wellness, said, "Everyone is to be commended for this great result-those who completed the assessment and those who encouraged their peers to take it." 

Why come to Vacation Bible School?

     by Diane Bayer, Muhlenburg, Harrisonburg


            The sight of children playing baseball, playing softball, just playing outside in the hot summer sun and then cooling off as they run through backyard sprinklers. The sound of  a ball as it makes contact with a bat, the sound of children's laughter as they enjoy the freedom that summer brings. The smell of fresh watermelon slices, of hotdogs and hamburgers cooking on a grill.

            Yes, the sights, sounds and smells of summer bring to mind all sorts of wonderful memories and images and one of my favorite memories is that of vacation Bible school (VBS). VBS offers us a different faith-forming adventure of sight, sound and smell. VBS allows the children and all of us to welcome our friends from the neighborhood to come to Muhlenberg and learn about God's amazing love!

            The sight of children running eagerly in to learn more about how much God loves them through stories, service projects, games, music, snacks and dinner. The sounds of children singing new songs that worship God.

            Yes, VBS is about faith formation and it doesn't start the first night of VBS. It starts well beforehand with the commitment of lots of faithful members who work together to hatch important and creative ideas that will bring about a terrific faith-forming VBS for everyone!

            The sight and sounds of teachers sharing stories with the children and the wonderful questions asked and answers given. The sight, sound and smell of delightful snacks shared together that fit with the Bible stories. The sound of children's voices  singing songs praising God.


            (This was adapted from an article in The Red Door, Muhlenberg newsletter, by Diane Bayer, minister of Christian formation.)

"The Wife, The Witch and The Virgin"



            There will be special entertainment for the Virginia Synodical Women's Convention, Saturday, July 20, 1:00pm at Roanoke College.

           The stage is bathed in dim light. Soft music plays soothingly in the background. On the stage are baskets, blankets, water jars, and other items that look like what women might have used in the Middle East thousands of years ago. This impression is further confirmed when a woman enters the room dressed in flowing robes, sandals, and headdress. She begins to speak about her life, and you are transported to another time and place.

            Christian actor Anita Gutschick brings women from Old and New Testament times to life in her dramatic presentations. Through a series of monologues, the women recount their personal stories, shedding light on their lives in a dramatic and engaging way. Their stories of triumph and tragedy reach across the generations to touch our hearts today. For example, in the Old Testament, Sarah, Abraham's wife, brings us a message of faith as she leaves her home, deals with the disappointment of not having a son, and runs ahead of God's plan. In the New Testament, Martha is too busy to take the time to enjoy Jesus at her table. Jesus teaches her a valuable lesson about what is truly important in life.         

            The Virginia Women of the ELCA are fortunate to have Anita share her ministry with us at our 2013 Convention, and are grateful to Thrivent Financial for Lutherans for underwriting the cost of her appearance at Roanoke College.  Women are invited to come for the day or the afternoon to experience this special presentation.

             For more information, contact VSWO Convention Chairman, Carol Bailey at tcmtnest@comcast.net.





Editor:  George Kegley   
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