July, 2013
                 The Virginia


Synod Assembly runs the 5K for knowing others


Assembly tables were arranged for discussion.
Assembly tables were 
arranged for discussion
     Running the 5K of knowing neighborhoods, colleagues, people, Martin Luther, the Confessions, Jesus and the Scriptures through relationships was the theme of the 25th annual Synod Assembly at Roanoke College June 7-9.

     Dr. Tony Everett, retired Southern Seminary professor, said "knowing your relationship starts with Jesus and continues with the flocks."  The Rev. Deborah Stehlin from the Minnesota Synod asked the Assembly "to know your neighborhood and God's mission in it." Dr. Marcus Miller, retired president of Southern Seminary, said colleagues are "a great source of encouragement." Dr. Paul Hinlicky of the Roanoke College faculty said Martin Luther is "iconic" in Europe but often "the object of indifference" in the U.S. (After writing essays about

Bishop Mauney speaking at 2013 Assembly
Bishop Mauney makes a point.

 Luther's hymns, he plans to write on the lectionary.)  Dr. Shauna Hannan of the Southern Seminary faculty said, "We know Jesus through the cross...We want a Jesus who can kick butt around here." After each "know" lecture, members of the Youth Assembly joined voting members for discussion at tables.

     After debate on several gun control resolutions, the Assembly voted to postpone indefinitely a proposal opposing the "culture of violence" but a second resolution asking for advocacy to restrict the sale of military-style weapons was sent to a committee to be named by Synod Council. Several speakers questioned the accuracy of the advocacy resolution and called for research on the use of accurate wording. Others pointed to the Virginia Tech shootings and urged immediate action. The Assembly appeared to be divided on the issue.

     The Assembly approved resolutions encouraging support of people living in isolation and for expansion of cross-cultural conversations in communities. That action asks for training of leaders to extend conversations with Latino and African-American people. A resolution asking that the ELCA consider moving its main office from Chicago to a more central location was referred to the Synod Council.

ELCA rep Rev Duran with Rev Williams
ELCA representative Rev. Ruben Duran talks with Rev. Meredith Williams

     The Rev. Ruben Duran, director of new congregational development for the ELCA, said the national church is reaching out to more than 100 countries and is planning a churchwide day of service on Sunday, Sept. 8. Duran said he finds "a feeling for the Gospel in this Synod..We are missional in our thinking. Every member of the ELCA is a missionary of grace."

     Bishop Jim Mauney said the voting members at the

Bishop Mauney with Dr. Marcus Miller
Bishop Mauney stands 
with Dr. Marcus Miller

Assembly are "intentional about the leadership we bring into the Synod."  He announced receipt of $119,000 toward a Synod goal of $250,000 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. Virginia ranks 28th among ELCA synods in the campaign, he said. The bishop was recognized by Dr. Marcus Miller, representing the ELCA, for the 35th anniversary of his ordination.

Dr. Phyllis Milton, installed as Director of Christian Formation
Dr. Phyllis Milton, installed as 
Director of Christian Formation

     Dr. Phyllis Milton, the Synod's new minister for Christian formation, was installed at the annual festive service at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke. Bishop Mauney preached at the service, celebrating the Synod's 25th anniversary.




Youth singing at Youth Assembly
Youth sing at Youth Assembly
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In This Issue
Assembly remembers 25 years
Lutherans in the news
Former VA pastor becomes new NJ Bishop
Youthful Global Ambassador
Kairos and LAUNCH events this summer
9 Virginias head to ELCA
Orchard Ridge Grand Opening
ULA Update
Malaria Campaign
Thrivent Financial in VA
Brandon Oaks Expansion
St. Mark's Food Truck
St. John's honors Veterans
Retiring a College Legend
New Beginnings for Chaplain Service
Quick Links

Synod Assembly remembers 25 years  


     Amid reports of ministries and institutions, the Synod Assembly heard reports of what has happened since the Synod and the ELCA were formed a quarter-century ago. Pastor Jim Utt, recently retired at Grace, Winchester, gave a series of history moments gleaned from his current work on a 25-year history.

     Utt asked the voting members to list six significant programs of the past 25 years and six proposed for the next 25 years. Most important from the past 25 years were youth ministry, ACTS, Power in the Spirit, Healthy Congregations, Companion Synod an Ministerium gatherings. Other "very close" activities were the Malaria Campaign, United Lutheran Appeal, Roots & Wings and ordination of women.

     Proposed as most important for the next 25 years are mission outreach to new congregations, recruiting and training young adults, greater diversity, youth events, celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 and biblical and confessional life.

     The assembly approved a 2014 spending plan of $1.7 million, an increase of 5.01 percent from the current budget. Churchwide support was raised slightly and compensation for the bishop and staff was raised 5 percent. George "Skip" Zubrod,  treasurer, said the Synod hopes to fill the office of the bishop-east as soon as financing is available. Zubrod handled arrangements for the Assembly, a task of the late Pastor Chip Gunsten for many years.

     Gunsten, who died in December, was often recalled at the Assembly. A memorial fund in his name was used for two torches at Synod worship and for scholarships for pastors to attend Power in the Spirit and for the Leadership for Mission fund for seminarians.

     Five Synod Council members elected are Robert Burger, Epiphany, Richmond; Barry  Proctor, Redeemer, Bristol; Rosemarie Booker, First, Norfolk; Debbie Mintiens, Emanuel, Woodstock, and Jody Smiley, St. Michael, Blacksburg. Three members elected to the Committee on Discipline are Charles Downs, Christ, Roanoke; Keith Robertson, Salem, Mt. Sidney, and the Rev. Steven Ridenhour, Holy Trinity, Wytheville.

     Amanda Downs of Grace and Glory, Palmyra, completing a term as president of the Synod's Lutheran Youth Organization, said the young people have learned that adults "really care about the importance of youth." Will Southard of Salem, Mt. Sidney, is the new LYO president.

     The Rev. Clay Schmitt, new provost at Southern Seminary, reported "an amazingly good year" following the merger with Lenoir-Rhyne University. He said Southern is "leading the way for ELCA seminaries in every category. Schmitt said the 21 ELCA students who will enter Southern this fall are three times as many as last year. He said an estimated 4,000 ELCA pastors will retire in the next 10 years-"Imagine the leadership that creates."

     Roanoke College President Michael Maxey said the planned Cregger Center will have a Luther Plaza, providing a grand entrance court with "a statement about Lutheran support for quality education at Roanoke."

     The Assembly approved a Synod Council recommendation that the 2014 minimum base salary of a Synod pastor be set at $40,428 for a pastor with a parsonage and at $50,980 for a pastor with housing allowance. This is a 1.5 percent increase.

     Synod Council has ratified appointment of deans of the 11 conferences:

Pastors Cathy Mims, Tidewater; Andy Ballentine, Peninsula; William Stewart, Germanna; Robert Jones, Northern Valley; James Baseler, Central Valley; Nick Eichelberger, Page;  Ken Lane, Southern; Bill King, New River; Jonathan Hamman, Highland; Eric Moehring, Richmond, and JoAnn Bunn, Southern Valley.


Lutherans in the news


     Bishop Jim Mauney will participate in the consecration of Bishop Mark Bouralkas of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia  at Roanoke Civic Center on July 20. This will be the third time he has taken part in an Episcopal consecration.

     Planning has started for a second annual Tidewater Church Media Conference to be at St. Timothy, Norfolk, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, Pastor Aaron DeBenedetto said participants will learn about bridging the technology gap, webpages, church marketing, advertising, media editing and posting, logo design, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, texting, youth and media, worship music and media, online storage and copyright considerations. To register, go to, click on Events. For information go to

     A youth group from Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, and the Bedford mission is taking a 25th Anniversary Lutheran Heritage Tour to Germany from June 23 through July 10. This marks the anniversary of a sister congregation partnership with a church in Holzminden, Germany. Members of both congregations have visited back and forth. Led by Pastor Dennis Roberts, they will stay with host families and travel across Germany and Austria. Also at Holy Trinity, a team of 24 youth and four chaperones will renovate homes with Rebuilding Together Lynchburg, July 28-31. They will work on wheelchair ramps, painting and cleaning walls.

     At St. Philip, Roanoke, 127 units of blood were collected in the congregation's 40th Red Cross blood drive. A record 52 members of St. Philip donated blood. The congregation consistently leads among Red Cross collection points. "A lot of people's lives have been saved due to your efforts. It feels good to save a life," said Margaret Mitchell, a longtime leader of the program, in the church newsletter.

     At Calvary, Mt. Jackson, a $115,000 roofing project involves repairs to a bell tower for a bell made in a Baltimore foundry in 1885. The copper roofing on the church steeple and the shingled roof on the sanctuary will be replaced.

     A re-roofing project, gutter installation and updating restrooms at Reformation, Newport News, is planned, financed in part by a grant from the ELCA Mission Investment Fund.  Also at Reformation, Eleanor Bornholdt won a gold medal in a swimming event and Joyce Gunderlach earned a silver medal in bowling at Virginia Senior Games, hosted by the Newport News Parks and Recreation Center. A FaithWeaverFriends after-school program, started at Reformation in 2004, has ended because Newport News public schools will start whole days in September. Many program helpers took children on day trips, cookouts, played games and made crafts.     

     Our Saviour, Norge, plans an Oktoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 1 to 7 p.m. in support of the renovation of the parish hall kitchen to improve ministries to the community, such as sheltering homeless people in winter months, with area churches.

     At Christ the King, Richmond, Daoud Nassar, founder of Tent of Nations, Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine, was scheduled to speak June 25 about his organization which hosts visitors from around the world to discuss peace strategies and learn organic farming.

     At Gloria Dei, Hampton, Walter C. Engelund was selected as chief engineer at Langley Air Force Base. Engelund is a nationally recognized expert on launch and entry vehicle aerodynamics, atmospheric flight and entry, descent and landing systems.

     The Central Virginia chapter, Leadership Program for Musicians, is accepting registrations for the 2013-2014 continuing education program in church music, worship and liturgy, beginning Sept.13-14 at Church of the Holy Comforter in Richmond. The organization is sponsored by the ELCA and the Episcopal Church. Details of the program are at

     Youth of Christ, Roanoke, led by Pastor David Skole, Deb McCorkindale, Roni and Colin Arnold, will take a summer mission trip to New Jersey for Hurricane Sandy relief work July 7-14.

     Janis Bondurant has been employed as minister of music at Trinity, Roanoke. The congregation also planned a cookout with a Seventh Day Adventist congregation which has requested use of Trinity's sanctuary for Saturday worship.


Rev. Tracie Bartholomew elected New Jersey bishop


     The Rev. Tracie Bartholomew, a former Virginia Synod pastor, has been elected bishop

Bishop Tracie Bartholomew with Rev Riley
Bishop-Elect Tracie Bartholomew and Bishop Roy Riley

 of the New Jersey Synod. She served as associate pastor of St. Mark's, Roanoke, from 1989 to 1991 and as pastor of Good Shepherd, Lexington, from 1991 to 1993.

     She has been one of three assistants to Bishop E. Roy Riley since 1998. She was elected on the fifth ballot during the synod's assembly on June 6-8 in East Brunswick, N.J. She will be installed on Sept. 29. New Jersey Synod has 184 congregations with 60,854 baptized members.

     "I ask for prayers for me and for our congregations as we transition into this new chapter in our synod," Bartholomew said. "I can't wait to see what new adventures lay ahead."

     She is a political science graduate of James Madison University and she holds a master of divinity degree from Southern Seminary. Her husband, the Rev. Dan Whitener, is pastor of Abiding Presence, Ewing, N.J. He formerly served at Wheatland, Botetourt County. They have two children.


Elisa Mangubat, a youthful global ambassador 

Elisa Mangubat
Elisa Mangubat


Elisa Mangubat, the Diamond Service Award winner in the youth category of the 2013 Hearts and Hands program of Lutheran Family Services, is described as "an effervescent yoga practitioner, veteran participant, planner and leader of Synod youth events and now an international school partner." A member of First Lutheran, Norfolk, she is making the dream of school come alive for children in Haiti.

     She has been traveling to Jacmel, Haiti, where she is committed to helping the community realize its dream of a Montessori school. Her mother was a Montessori teacher and her grandmother was a headmistress at a Montessori school.

     Two years ago, Mangubat was invited to participate in a challenge by a yoga organization to raise $20,000 for children in Haiti. Her creative fund-raising collected $8,000, not enough to win a prize of a trip to Haiti. But a friend in the yoga community later invited her to travel with a group to Haiti in March 2012. In five days, she met children whose needs aroused her passion to help. Junie, 12, took her hand and said, "We are best friends."  A little boy who had never seen crayons started coloring when she gave him a coloring book.

     On a second trip to Haiti, Mangubat met with leaders of an orphanage who plan to build a home for orphaned children, a community center and a Montessori school.  She is scheduled to return to Haiti this summer to help decide how much money will be needed for supplies and to hire a teacher trained in the Montessori curriculum.

     She combines an awareness of fund-raising with stories of people in the Haitian community and performances by local musicians and bake sales. To support the center, she has sold jewelry purchased from tent cities in Port Au Prince.

     At First Lutheran, she's an active youth adviser, helping young people become more globally-minded. She's considering intergenerational mission trips to Haiti or any country in need. With a degree in therapeutic recreation from Virginia Wesleyan College, she's applied to a graduate school in global development.

     Pastor Rick Goeres of First Lutheran said, "Elisa's passion is to journey with people and discover with them ways to enrich their lives. She has a deep passion for people in developing countries, is hungry to learn and is a joyful ambassador for the programs of which she is a part." 


220 attend Kairos, LAUNCH is July 7-11


     A good week was reported by the 172 youth and 50 adults who participated in Kairos, an event for rising 9th-12th graders on the Roanoke College campus, Jun 22-27.

     Next comes LAUNCH, a transitional event for newly-graduated high school seniors who are preparing for their next venture in life-work force, college, military or public service. It is a chance for young people to see where they have come at this point in their lives and to think ahead to some of the faith, lifestyle and vocational challenges. It will be at Roanoke College July 7-11.

     Lutheran Visit Day for high school youth and parents to consider a Christian calling to higher education will be at Roanoke College on Sept. 7. Lost & Found for 7th and 8th graders and adult advisers will be held at Eagle Eyrie, near Lynchburg on Nov. 22-24.


Nine Virginians will go to ELCA Assembly 


     The Synod's delegation to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly at Pittsburgh in August will consist of Bishop Jim Mauney, Charles Poston, vice president, Pastors Karen Taylor of Bethlehem, Waynesboro, and Philip Martin, Epiphany, Richmond, three laywomen and two laymen.  The lay voting members will be Rose Stevens-Booker, First, Norfolk; Lizzie Frantz, St. Philip, Roanoke; Nancy Reed, St. Mark, Luray; Rob Martin, Resurrection, Fredericksburg, and Matt Wertman, Grace, Waynesboro.


Village at Orchard Ridge has grand opening 


     More than 25 years in the making, The Village at Orchard Ridge-A National Lutheran Community (TVOR), became a reality in Winchester on June 17.  The continuing care retirement community commemorated a milestone with a community-wide grand opening celebration featuring caregiving and wellness advocate Joan Lunden.

     The day's celebration began with a dedication and communion service in the Chapel at Orchard Ridge-a center for faith and community life, that was attended by residents, staff, local clergy and board members. Bishop James Mauney presided over the service, along with assisting ministers, Pastor Martha M. Sims of Grace, Winchester, and retired Pastor William Hall, II.  Bishop Wolfgang Herz-Lane of the Delaware-Maryland Synod and Bishop Richard Graham of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod also participated, along with the community's newly appointed Chaplain William W. Boldin.

     Guests heard 10 tips from Lunden on aging well and living a healthy lifestyle. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by a champagne and hors d'oeuvres reception with live jazz and tours of the community and its new Orchard Woods Health Center. Residents and John Midolo, executive director, planted two apple trees-a Pound Sweet and Pristine-to enjoy for years to come. 

     "This day celebrates years of planning and represents our ministry's commitment to seniors and the greater community," Midolo said. "We look forward to serving seniors in the Shenandoah Valley for many years to come."

     The community welcomed its first residents in February and completed phase one of construction in May. Approximately 224 residents are now at home there.The community offers independent living cottage homes and apartments with access to home-based assisted services, assisted living memory care, and skilled nursing care options and short-term rehabilitation, coming soon. For more information, visit

Ribbon cutting at Orchard Ridge
Ribbon cutting at Orchard Ridge (Photo by Merrissa Hill)



United Lutheran Appeal passes $44,000 at midpoint


     At the halfway point in the 2013 United Lutheran Appeal, $44,017.38 has been contributed in designated and undesignated gifts from 56 of the Synod's 155 congregations for the eight Mission Partners. If a church has not yet participated in the Appeal, information is posted on the Synod's website, Contributions may also be made online.


Lynchburg dinner supported Malaria Campaign


     The ELCA Malaria Campaign will be the recipient of over $5,000 from a gala dinner held at Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, in late April. That amount was one-third of the proceeds and special gifts from the congregation's Café Dennis, a triennial benefit dinner that features the culinary creations of Pastor Dennis Roberts.

     Bishop James F. Mauney was special guest for the evening which also included music by the James River Swing and Sway Band, dancing, and live and sealed bid auctions. Another third of the money raised was designated for hygiene bags to be distributed through the Rivermont Area Emergency Food Pantry located at Holy Trinity, while the final third will be used for the congregation's next Habitat for Humanity building project. In addition, the Holy Trinity senior youth, who served as wait staff for the dinner, received over $1,100 in tips in support of their Luther Heritage Tour to Germany this summer.


Thrivent Financial gives $1.2 million in Virginia!

Ellen Hinlicky, Director, Lutheran Partners in Mission


      Here are some facts about the fraternal side of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans:  Because Thrivent isn't just a financial services firm, but also a fraternal organization, it gives back through its members into our communities and congregations.

  • In 2012, 788 activities were held by Thrivent chapters in Virginia. Through these activities, a total of $760,344 was raised to support a wide range of charitable purposes.
  • The Thrivent Choice program, which allows Thrivent members to designate charitable funds to nonprofit organizations (including congregations!), contributed $381,065 in 2012 to 280 congregations and organizations.
  • Thrivent also partners with Habitat for Humanity in Virginia. In 2012, Lutherans and Thrivent contributed $66,795 to build one home; an additional 79 homes were repaired and improved.

     Altogether, that means Thrivent's charitable impact in Virginia totaled $1,220,794-in just one year!

     If a congregation hasn't signed up to receive contributions through Thrivent Choice, this is an easy process. Just go to and click on "Membership and Benefits" at the top, and choose "Thrivent Choice" from the drop-down menu. The site will walk you through the application process.

Expansion planned for Brandon Oaks nursing center


     A groundbreaking for a major $7.9 million expansion of the Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Roanoke is expected to be held in December. The work will be done in two phases over about two years, said Heather Neff, president and chief executive of the parent Virginia Lutheran Homes.

     The construction will add more private rooms, increase therapy space three-fold and provide space for a separate dining room for people in rehabilitation, Neff said.

     Also, in personnel changes, Joe Hoff, former administrator of the Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for more than nine years, has followed Andy Dickenson as executive director of Brandon Oaks Retirement Center. Lucas Snipes came from Carrington Place in Botetourt County to succeed Hoff at the Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

     Michael Bird has come from Connecticut to serve as chief financial officer of Virginia Lutheran Homes. He was chief financial officer of a similar organization and also worked as chief executive of several retirement homes in the Catholic Diocese in Connecticut.   

St. Mark, Charlottesville, buys a food truck  


     The congregation of St. Mark, Charlottesville, held a blessing on Sunday, June 23, for a refrigerated truck for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank which was purchased with the help of a $92,000 donation received from the estate of John G. Miller, a member of St. Mark. The Food Bank, based in Verona, Augusta County, serves Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Verona and Winchester.

Food Truck at St. Mark's
St. Mark members stand by 
the new refrigerated truck

     "We could have let the money (from the Miller estate) sit in the Memorial Fund or we could have financed the new HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system we have to install this year or we could have done many other wonderful things congregants suggested that fit our mission statement," said Pastor Sandy Wisco of St. Mark. "The final decision was made, after many months of discernment and prayerful consideration, to send a tithe of 10 percent to the Virginia Synod and to invest most of this gift we received in the local fight against hunger in a way that brings nutritious, fresh produce to people who need food assistance to supplement their resources."

St. John's, Winchester, honors veterans  


St. John's Memorial
Soldiers carry the colors in Memorial Day service.

     Continuing a tradition of more than 80 years, a Memorial Day service was held at St. John's, Winchester, to remember the veterans resting in the church cemetery. The service, geared toward veterans' families, pays tribute to those who served in the armed forces in defense of their country. Pastor Sonya Williams-Giersch stood by a 

table filled with a photo display of veterans.

     The grave of Sgt. Michael White, a soldier in the Continental Army in the 18th century was marked in a ceremony. Darleene White DeLee of Texas, a descendant of White and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of Descendants of Washington's Army at Valley Forge, unveiled commemorative brass plaques from the two organizations. The White family gave the land where the church was planted and the sergeant was baptized at the church. Over 40 members of the White family, including four veterans, are buried in the cemetery. The service ended with the presentation of colors and a salute by the color guard of the Virginia chapter of Sons of the American Revolution.


Retiring Chaplain Paul Henrickson is a college legend


     Retiring College Chaplain Paul Henrickson has become a legend on the Roanoke campus for hanging out with students, listening as a friend not a preacher, and influencing thousands of young women and men in a busy 30 years.

     Henrickson, who retired at the end of June, has a long list of deeds-Leading Habitat construction in houses on campus and in South Carolina, engaging with students in Theology on Tap at Mac & Bob's restaurant, a late-night Men's Breakfast, Faith and Free Pizza, Evensong service, daily electronic devotions called First Word and First Look, noon meetings of a D  (discernment) Group, pig roasts, overnight retreats, canoe trips and travel to churches for Sunday services. He's been a friend and counselor for students in trouble with family problems or alcohol, in dormitories and hospital emergency rooms. He's often conducted marriages, funerals and baptisms for students, faculty and staff.

     His successor as college chaplain is Pastor Chris Bowen, who comes from nine years of service at St. Michael, Virginia Beach. He was ordained in 2001.    

     When Henrickson once taught both religion and physics, College President Michael Maxey said this was the first time in the 171-year history of the college that "we have had a combination of these skills." His training as a NASA engineer and at a Lutheran seminary "makes him a chaplain for all seasons," Maxey said.

     The chaplain has been "transparently Lutheran and simultaneously ecumenical and inclusive. His sermons are memorable and challenging. His prayers for the community bring comfort, focus and faith into our work here."  The president said Henrickson will go down in history "among Roanoke's great leaders."

     Tall, lean and graying at 66, Henrickson has a laid-back style, a hearty laugh and a high-5, a hug or a handshake for anybody he sees on campus. He says an hour with students in the cafeteria is better than six hours in his office.

     A Pennsylvania native, he moved with his family to Salem in the late 1960s when his father, Roy Henrickson, a droll, committed Lutheran layman of Swedish descent, directed the Lutheran Children's Home. His mother, Ruth Henrickson, is remembered as a hard-working member of College, Salem. He has two siblings, Judith, who lives in Tennessee, and Mark, a Salem contractor.


Space work is challenging, exciting

     Paul Henrickson graduated from Andrew Lewis High School in Salem, earned an aerospace engineering degree at Virginia Tech and worked at NASA's Manned Space Center in Houston. "I enjoyed the work (engineering). It was challenging and exciting," he said, "but I was confused about what I wanted to do." He applied for a seminary fellowship and that led him to Hamma Divinity School, in Ohio. "That was God calling...That was the place I needed to be, the right move."

     For much of his career, Henrickson has talked about calling, his and that of his students. Associates say Henrickson saw his job as a calling, a mission to be available for students, to establish a relationship with them.

     After seminary, Henrickson was called to Bethel Lutheran, Manassas. After five years, he came to Roanoke to work under Chaplain Tim Swanson and then succeeded him when he moved to a church in Kansas three years later.

     Early in his college work, he made a contact in Columbia, S.C., and that led to 27 student spring trips and 13 in the fall to work on Columbia houses. "We thought we were God's gift to construction" in the beginning. After these trips and others to Louisiana, mucking out houses in the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina, Henrickson said the students need to be outdoors after time on campus. "For me, it's an opportunity to hang out with students in an out-of-the-ordinary setting. We get to know one another."

     Henrickson described his style on campus as "less organizational and more conversational." Meeting with students, "you have to be able to show up where they are and when they are there." In late night sessions, he led talks about "what it means to be a man of faith." Students talk to him, "he's changed the campus for better," said Kelli Bush, a senior from Norfolk.  

     He listened as students talked about their joys and concerns. Their lives are "more complicated and more stressed today...Most are from some kind of complicated family background." Their joys may be about dating relationships "going in the right direction, internships or doing well on a paper. They want to tell somebody." Walking around campus, he often had a conversation with anybody, students, faculty, people who work on grounds crews or in the kitchen.


Henrickson doing the Worm?

Chaplain Henrickson at Roanoke College
Henrickson speaking at Roanoke College commencement


     Henrickson has a deep sense of humor, a playful side that once led him to a clown ministry and often sharing a funny story. At an alumni celebration of his retirement, he said there's "a rumor that I did the Worm on Bourbon Street (in New Orleans) but that's not true. My father used to say, 'I know you're lying but I love it.'" 

     Some students "don't know if they need to be in college," he said. For some, "a light bulb goes off and they say 'The stuff I learned in 6th grade Sunday School isn't enough.'".Gabrielle Giersch, a senior from Strasburg, who enjoyed Theology on Tap, said "we discussed heaven and hell and their existence and we had an atheist there who was not keen on the topic but Paul always handles disagreements with grace and gives you more knowledge about the topic while asking you important questions about your beliefs." William Greer, college director of church relations, said the chaplain "has a wonderful ability to walk his faith by meeting students where they are."   

      When he hears praise for his work, as he did at retirement events at the end of the 2012-2013 session, Henrickson said, "Don't make me a saint!"  Of the "saint" description, Jennifer, Henrickson's wife of 12 years, added facetiously, "Somebody should tell the truth." 

     When Jennifer and Paul first met, coincidentally, both were married to Lutheran pastors. Later, Jennifer's daughter, Emily, married James Brown, both in the Roanoke Class of 1994, and they had a daughter, Julia, baptized at College Church. By this time, both first marriages of Paul and Jennifer had ended. During the baptism service, "I thought he was looking at the baby but he was looking at me," she said.

     They dated long distance from her home in North Carolina but she visited her daughter, who was working at the college, and saw Paul in Salem. Jennifer Henrickson has four children and 11 grandchildren from her first marriage. Paul Henrickson's daughter, Sarah Parker, recently had a daughter, Layla Ruth, in Alexandria, his first grandchild. Together, they have a dozen grandchildren. Jennifer is a part-time nurse in the operating room at Lewis-Gale Hospital in Salem. In retirement Paul said that he doesn't know what God has in mind for him next.

     In his busy career at the college, he's also found time for much service in the Virginia Synod. He's been "an icon in our youth ministry," said Bishop Jim Mauney. For about 15 years, he was the creator of  programs and played guitar for more than 100 youth events, served on the synod council and as "a powerful and beloved pastor of the Roanoke College community..He has loved God's people and been with them in times of great joys and very deep sorrows," the bishop said. Pastor David Delaney, assistant to the bishop, said Henrickson "can come up with better ideas in 5 minutes than most of us can in 6 months.... He's always taken delight in discovering new ways to give the Gospel."

     Henrickson loves to preach and he's recognized for his pithy, articulate blessings and prayers at public events. At the college commencement in early May, he advised 461 graduates to not be confused by different voices which may call out for power, money, security or the desire to have a family and a home. "My prayer is that you'll listen to the call that gives you fullness of life."

     At the end of a busy career, he was named Timothy Pickle Jr. Dean of the Chapel Emeritus and a new fund called the Rev. R. Paul Henrickson Program Endowment for Community Service and Experiential Learning was established in his honor.


New beginnings for Chaplain Service


     After a year of problems and changes, new beginnings for the Chaplain Service Prison Ministry of Virginia are reported by Pastor Randy Myers, a Baptist minister who has succeeded the late Pastor Cecil McFarland as president of the ecumenical program, supported by the Virginia Synod. .

     The Service has 30 chaplains in 30 of the state's 40 prisons housing more than 30,000 adult offenders in correctional centers and 2,000 in juvenile facilities.

     Myers worked for the Virginia Department of Corrections for 16 years before joining the Chaplain Service in 2006 as vice president. He had served primarily as the Service's religious adviser to the Corrections Department. Joyce Minor, newly-elected vice president of the Service, formerly headed the re-entry programs for men and women through Prison Fellowship Ministries. 

Rev Myers and Joyce Minor of the Chaplain Service Prison Ministry
Rev. Randy Myers and Joyce Minor lead Chaplain Service. (Religious Herald photo)

     Virginia is the only state in the nation which does not subsidize prison chaplains. Denominational giving dropped significantly last year when the Chaplain Service learned that the IRS had revoked its tax-exempt status. But Myers said that after a year of calls and correspondence, the IRS acknowledged an error and apologized in January, according to the Religious Herald.

     Another challenge involved renewal of the Chaplain Service renewal of a contract with the Department of Corrections. During contract talks for months, financial support declined and the Service had a monthly deficit of $20,000. Chaplains' pay and hours were reduced but all of them continued to serve. A five-year contract was reached in December. Through these times of problems, Virginia Synod support through the budget and United Lutheran Appeal amounted to more than $19,000 last year, unchanged from previous years.

     Myers told the Religious Herald his immediate goals for the Service are to restore chaplains to full-time ministry and to add chaplains as necessary to adequately serve the state's prisons, as well as raising their compensation closer to the national average and to provide health coverage for them.

     To offset the decline in financial support from denominations and foundations, the Chaplain Service board approved a designated giving plan for churches and judicatory organizations at nearby facilities. Myers also plans a ministry council of volunteers at each facility.

     The spiritual aspect is a big part of rehabilitation and preparation for an offender's release with a restored life, not as a prime candidate for further criminal activity, he said.

More information on ways churches can support the Service is available at 804-358-7650 or email at





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