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September, 2013      
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

Children's Home picnic
marks 125th anniversary


            Alumni of the Lutheran Children's Home of the South-now Lutheran Family Services-will hold a special Homecoming Weekend picnic on Saturday, Sept. 21, on the grounds of the former home, now the Elizabeth Campus of Roanoke College. The event comes in the 125th anniversary year of the home.


            A barbecue picnic and music by a bluegrass band will be features of the afternoon. LFS is honoring the alumni, their families and the people "who did their best to provide a place of safety, learning and care." 


            As part of the anniversary celebration, LFS has been collecting the home's history on a website (click here). Photos from the archives are also posted (click here).        

In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Eaton to head ELCA
Eighth Thrivent/Habitat house dedicated
Calling all Ecumenical Groups
Pastor serves as fire department chaplain
Over 550 freshman enroll at Roanoke College
New pickup for camp
Annual Lutheran Visit Day
Day as a prison chaplain
Celebrating the churches of Churchville
Power in the Spirit was full of joy
Dr. David Lose to speak
Trip to El Salvador
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news


             Evan Davis, a May graduate of Philadelphia Seminary, has accepted a call to serve at St. Jacob's-Spaders, near Harrisonburg, and he will be ordained there on Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. A former Presbyterian, Davis visited St. Stephen, Williamsburg, and then joined St. Paul, Washington, and completed his candidacy through the Metro Washington Synod. His wife, Pastor Brett Davis, serves at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg.

           Pastor Bill Boldin, who has served as chaplain for several Norfolk area hospitals, has been called as chaplain of the new Village at Orchard Ridge, a National Lutheran Retirement Community at Winchester. A Richmond native, he was the last synod pastor to be ordained in the former Lutheran Church in America in 1987. He served at St. Peter, Shenandoah, and Grace, Chesapeake, and later at Retreat Doctor's Hospital, Norfolk, since 2003. He's a graduate of Roanoke College and Gettysburg Seminary and he earned a D.Min. degree from Union Seminary, Richmond.

            Dr. John Hoffmeyer, professor of systematic theology at Philadelphia Seminary who has roots in Virginia, is looking forward to teaching a new curriculum, closely tied to the Seminary's Gospel-oriented mission statement based on "Centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

            Ariana Grace Robinson, daughter of Pastor Nate and Kylene Robinson, arrived at Winchester Medical Center Aug. 5. Her father is pastor of Emanuel, Woodstock.

            Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Smith Mountain Lake, is discontinuing Sunday School in its traditional form for children and starting Children's Worship, helping pre-school children through 5th grade transition into worship with scripture readings by older children while parents are in worship. Parents are trending toward coming to church for only one hour on Sunday, leaving a choice between Sunday School or worship, said David Fox, Christian formation director.

            At Gloria Dei, Hampton, Pastor Charles D. Bang said he would like to offer a program to train and equip deacons, not only to serve within the worship service, but also equip some saints for preaching. The congregation will be working "to strengthen, if not reimagine, our Diaconate Program," he said.

            Registration is still open for a fall course on the New Testament in the ACTS ministry to be led by Dr. Brian Peterson, a former Synod pastor and now on Southern Seminary faculty. Course participants will meet on Sept. 14 and Nov. 9.

            The annual fall bazaar of Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Auxiliary will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The bazaar will be a memorial for two dedicated workers, Edwina Keith and Joyce Firing.

            The Highlands Conference scheduled a  Servant Camp for youth at Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center in late July, featuring a week of community service and fellowship.

            The youth group at St. Luke, Richmond, participated in The Gathering, an ecumenical outreach project. They passed out hygiene supplies for the homeless and needy after a Sunday afternoon church service led by an Episcopal deacon. 


Synod Bishop Elizabeth Eaton to head ELCA

Bishop-Elect Elizabeth Eaton


           Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton of the Northeastern Ohio Synod will be installed as presiding bishop of the ELCA in Chicago on Oct. 5 and she will begin her six-year term on Nov. 1. Bishop Eaton was elected on the fifth ballot by voting members at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh Aug. 12-17. She received 600 votes while Bishop Mark Hanson, who is completing his second six-year term, had 287 votes.

            The election of Bishop Eaton, the first woman to lead the 4-million+ member ELCA, was unexpected. A Cleveland native, she's a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the College of Wooster in Ohio. Her husband is an Episcopal priest and they have two daughters.

            After her election, she urged the Assembly to be welcoming to newcomers in their churches. "We are a church that is overwhelmingly European in a culture that is increasingly pluralistic," she said. "We need to welcome the gifts of those who come from different places, that is a conversation we need to have as a church."


        Pastor Jim Utt, recently retired, pastor emeritus of Grace, Winchester, was elected as the Virginia Synod representative to the 65 member ELCA Churchwide Council. He will serve a six year term beginning with the Council's first meeting in November.

       The Assembly also elected a new ELCA secretary, approved a proposal for its first major fund-raising campaign and adopted a social statement on criminal justice.

            The Rev. Wm. Chris Boerger of Seattle, Wash., was elected to a six-year term as ELCA secretary, following David Swartling, who is retiring after six years of service.

            By a vote of 671 to 242, the Assembly approved a proposal for a five-year campaign to raise $198 million to renew and start new congregations, educate and develop leaders, bolster global  mission efforts and expand the impact of its relief and development work. Bishop-Elect Eaton spoke for the campaign. "This is an exciting step for the ELCA. Even though I'm inheriting it, I say let's go for it."

            Amendments were approved to add $4 million to encourage and recognize lay youth and young adult leaders and another $4 million as a stretch goal for disability ministry.  By approving the campaign, the Assembly invited every congregation, synod, related ministry and individual member to make a contribution.

            The social statement on criminal justice calls ELCA members to ministry and compassion through such practices as hearing the cries of the afflicted, accompaniment, hospitality and advocacy. It asks members to recommit themselves to visiting the prisoner, correct the flawed criminal justice system and participate in God's work with hands and hearts.  

Eighth Thrivent/Habitat house dedicated


            The eighth Roanoke Valley Habitat house supported by Thrivent Builds was dedicated at 1926 Rorer Ave., SW, Roanoke on Aug. 10. "We hope to continue this partnership with 10 Roanoke Valley Lutheran churches," said Jim McCarthy, Thrivent chapter specialist and coordinator for the construction. Building the steel frame house was a learning experience, he said. Alicia Thompson and her fiancÚ, Ricky Mann, live in the new house.

            Since 1986, Habitat crews have completed 174 houses in the Roanoke Valley, serving 184 families and 1,692 people.  These homeowners pay over $156,000 in annual taxes. By the end of this year, Thrivent Financial will have committed more than $180 million to build 1,922 Habitat houses in the nation. Thrivent Builds volunteers will have committed more than 2.5 million hours in construction.


Marissa Harris Krey is approved for ordination


            Marissa Harris Krey, a Roanoke native who has been working as an intern at a Pennsylvania church, has been approved for ordination by the Synod Candidacy Committee, subject to a call.

            The committee met at the annual Vocations Conference at Eagle Eyrie, near Lynchburg, as inquirers explored facets of rostered ministry in the ELCA and a seminary professor spoke on the theme, "Wanted: A New Leader in Mission."

            Marissa Krey, daughter of Sue Harris, Christ, Roanoke, is a graduate of Virginia Tech and Philadelphia Seminary, with a master of divinity degree. She has worked for Lutheran Advocacy of Pennsylvania and has been an intern at God's Love Lutheran Church, Newtown, Pa. Her husband, the Rev. Ben Krey, is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran in Philadelphia.

            Dr. Mary Sue Dreier, who is moving from Luther Seminary at St. Paul, Minn., to Southern Seminary, wove aspects from a Region 9 Candidacy Pilot Project into three presentations that engaged participants in emerging missional leadership styles and opportunities.

            The committee welcomed two new members:  Alonzo Batson, Warrenton, and Dr. Ned Wisnefske of the Roanoke College religion faculty. Endorsement and approval decisions of seminarians will be considered at the committee's next meeting in December.


Conference will feature media and ministry


            Church marketing and advertising, webpage work, media editing and posting will be on the agenda at the second annual Tidewater Church Media Conference on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Timothy, Norfolk.

            The day-long conference is for churches of all kinds to learn about the intersection of ministry and media, according to Pastor Aaron DeBenedetto of Emmanuel, Virginia Beach, conference organizer. Registration is open on a facebook page, Tidewater Church Media Conference. A $20 fee may be paid by credit card. Registration also may be completed at the Virginia Synod East office through Lenae Osmondson at 757-622-9421 or

            Other topics to be discussed will be YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, texting, worship music and media considerations, QR codes, online storage applications such as Dropbox and copyright considerations.


Over 550 freshman enroll at Roanoke College 

Dr. Joshua Rubongoya and Adrian Gillem, a college junior, prepare to ring a bell at Roanoke College commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King's speech

            A freshman class of 553 and 73 transfer students enrolled at Roanoke College last weekend. Of that number, 35 are Lutherans, 32 are from other countries and they come from 30 states. Also, 41 percent are male and 59 percent are female.

            One of the first events for the new college session was a bell-ringing ceremony at 3 p.m. on Aug. 28, marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's famous speech in Washington. Dr. Joshua Rubongoya  spoke, several students read excerpts from the speech and Chaplain Chris Bowen offered a prayer before the bell ringing.

            For the seventh year, new students put on hard hats and work gloves to help build a Habitat for Humanity house on a parking lot. They helped raise walls and hammered roof sheathing before the house was moved to its final site in Roanoke.

            Jonathan Reckford, chief executive of Habitat for Humanity, will speak about the Habitat organization and the impact of its global mission on Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Bast Gymnasium.

            Following tradition, an induction ceremony was held for new students and they visited downtown Roanoke on a Sunday evening and downtown Salem on Monday.

            Of the 553 freshmen, 77 percent were in the top half of their high school graduating class and 194 participated in Scholars Competition, the most ever. Average financial aid given the students by the college was $19,437, highest ever.         

A friend helps to buy a pickup for camp 


Camp crew enjoys a pickup


            Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp has a needed pickup truck through the generosity of Bonnie McQuillan of Our Saviour, Warrenton, a longtime friend of the camp. She noticed a longstanding request for a truck and encouraged others in her congregation who raised $2,500 by mid-summer. A friend found a 2002 Dodge, bought it and delivered it to the camp.

            "It is amazing how the generosity of one person can spread through a community of faith and generate a gift for ministry that is simply amazing," said Vikki Shelor of the camp staff.

Annual Lutheran Visit Day 

at Roanoke College, Sept. 7


            On Saturday, Sept. 7, the annual Lutheran Visit Day at Roanoke College, high school students and their parents will visit the campus to consider the process of selecting a college. Starting at 10:30 a.m., participants will hear talks on how to select a college, student life, campus activities and how to plan financially for a college education.

A day as a prison chaplain

     by Chaplain Rod Wicker


( Chaplain Rod Wicker, who serves the Keen Mountain Correctional Center in Dickenson County tells about a typical day in his life as a prison chaplain.)


             To begin the day, before getting to the correctional center, I pray, and try to begin with devotions, asking for help and depending on the Lord for wisdom and strength is necessary to be effective in this ministry.

            The day begins by picking up the mail. I take the mail to the front search officer, letting him or her check for any contraband. Then the same officer searches my body for weapons or drugs, and then I pass through a metal detector. Only then am I ready to go to my office.

             I go through the mail and sort it into stacks, finding requests for greeting cards, requests for books or devotionals and Christian magazines. Some of the other stacks are requests to be added to the master pass lists (which are mandatory to attend religious services, mandated by the Department of Corrections), requests for marriage, requests to have a session to talk with the chaplain, requests to work in the chaplain's office, and last but not least, prayer requests.

            All these requests have to be signed and dated and returned to the inmate. All the time I am doing this there are inmates stopping by and talking and requesting things they need. Also I have responsibility for the Religious Fund. This fund is available for all groups to donate into, and can be used to order books, communion supplies, CDs, DVDs.

            Before all these things are the spiritual duties or opportunities. One of the duties is to gently and lovingly inform inmates of death of a loved one, or about a major sickness. An opportunity which I look forward to is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the undeserved love He has for us all. This last is my major job duty for staff members as well as inmates.

            Thank you to the members of the Virginia Synod who support prison chaplains through the United Lutheran Appeal, which helps me to offer spiritual care to the 984 inmates here at Keen Mountain Correctional Center. God bless you in all your efforts.  

Celebrating the churches of Churchville


             A new booklet, "The Churches of Churchville," features St. Peter Lutheran, dating from the first baptism about 1790, the oldest congregation in the Augusta County village west of Staunton.

            The booklet, by Donald W. Houser Jr., a Churchville native who lives in Fort Worth, TX, reports that a deed signed by Ludwig Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, was for a meeting house, a burying ground and a school house. That first meeting house was replaced by the first brick church in 1850 and that was replaced by the present structure in 1920.

            The booklet tells of the origins of the United Methodist Presbyterian and Brethren congregations in the 1800s but Houser writes, "While membership numbers increase and dip over time, it seems clear that religion has been an important factor in this village for more than 200 years." He reports an approximate total of 44 pastors for St. Peter and a total of about 200 pastors serving the four churches during two centuries.

            Some of the earliest tombstone inscriptions in the church cemetery are in German, dating from 1788 when Samuel Schmidt was born to Heinrich and Margreta Schmidt. Early church records were in German and a Bible was purchased for 18 shillings in1797.

            Brick from the 1850 church were cleaned and recycled for the current building. Old members recall that members of the congregation built much of the structure and women of the church saved money from selling eggs to use for church expenses. 

            St. Peter and Pleasant View congregations formed one parish from 1882 to 1940 when Mt. Herman and St. Mark merged as Redeemer Church and joined the Churchville parish. In 1987, St. Peter and Redeemer severed ties and each called a part-time pastor.

            Rt. 250, running west from Staunton, was widened in front of St. Peter about 1940 and this required removal of a number of oak trees in the church yard. A stone wall, fronting the street, replaced a wrought iron fence. A pump organ was replaced by an electronic organ.   

            Houser, the author and collector of history, works for American Airlines in Fort Worth. The book is available at Bookworks in Staunton.

Poll: Slow growth expected, poor are struggling


            A Roanoke College telephone poll of 604 Virginians in August found a 5 percent increase in the Virginia Index of Consumer Sentiment since the second quarter and more than a 13 percent rise for the year. The index rose to 85.1, the highest value since the measure was first reported in November 2011. But low income families are pessimistic.

            Sentiment about the future economy and household finances grew at a slower pace than earlier this year. More than 36 percent believe their finances will improve this year and more than 41 percent expect improving business conditions. One-third believe the next five years will be a time of prosperity while 37 percent anticipate a period of economic recession.

            Disparities in consumer opinion persist across the state. Close to 45 percent in the Tidewater region believe the near future will be a time of economic prosperity while almost half of those in Southwest Virginia said they believe the next 5 to 10 years will bring economic recession and high unemployment.

            Low income households-those earning $20,000 or less-are significantly more pessimistic about their finances and the economy, now and in the future. The index for this group fell 12 percent since May, suggesting that these households are feeling the brunt of the struggling labor market. Middle income (earning $25,000 to $75,000) and high income people (earning more than $75,000) are considerably more favorable about the economy.

            The poll found that the labor market is likely the "most significant burden on Virginia sentiment."  State unemployment rose from 5.3 percent to 5.7 percent between May and July as the labor force declined by 3,500 people.  The biggest job losses were in construction, manufacturing, education and health services and government. Significant employment growth was reported in finance and professional services.  

 Dr. David Lose to speak on "Abundant Life"


            Dr. David J. Lose, who holds the chair in Biblical teaching at Luther Seminary in Minnesota, will speak on "At the Intersection of Faith and Community Life: Living an Abundant Life" at a congregational event for rostered and lay leaders at the Chapel at Orchard Ridge on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 2:30 p.m.

            Abundant life is one of the central promises of scripture and the Christian faith but in recent years people have been more likely to seek abundance at a shopping mall rather than a sanctuary. Lose raises the question, "Why, what has happened and most importantly, how do we invite people to lives that are generous and full?" He said that "in our time together, we highlight the challenges and opportunities of living abundantly and the critical role faith communities play in promoting and sharing the promises of the abundant life."

            Lose, who also serves as director of the Center of Biblical Preaching, is the author of Making Sense of the Christian Faith, Making Sense of Scripture and Confessing Jesus Christ: Preaching in a Post-Modern World. He has lectured and led workshops on leadership, preaching, stewardship, the Bible and congregational vitality in the U.S. and abroad.

Trip to El Salvador with Thrivent Builds and

Habitat for Humanity planned for Feb. 1-9, 2014


     The mission of Habitat for Humanity is to eliminate poverty housing worldwide.  Pastor Steve Ridenhour of Holy Trinity in Wytheville will be leading a trip to El Salvador, February 1-9.  Pastor Ridenhour traveled to El Salvador in October of 2011.  He received team leadership training through Habitat for Humanity International last May in Atlanta.

      This is a premier location for Thrivent Financial who sends multiple teams each year.  Accommodations are provided at local guesthouses or resorts.  Once we arrive, meals, bottled water and transportation are provided.  We found accommodations to be very nice, comfortable and safe.

       The week will feature home construction work, with task for all skill levels.   Likewise there will be many opportunities to learn new skills.  The week will also include worship at a Lutheran Congregation, site seeing and visits to completed Thrivent sponsored communities.

       The cost for the trip will be $675.00 for Thrivent Members and $1030.00 for non-Thrivent members, plus airfare to San Salvador, El Salvador.  The cost of the flight will likely be some where between $700 and $900 per person depending upon flight origination. Travelers will be encouraged to purchase trip interruption insurance. A non-refundable deposit of  $350.00 is required at registration.          

       The trip will also generate a contribution of $8000 to the local affiliate for further home construction.  Participants will also be encouraged to raise additional contributions for the Habitat affiliate, prior to departing on the trip.

        If you are interested in making this exciting journey, please contact Pastor Steve Ridenhour for more information as soon as possible. He may be reached at or at 276-223-0126.  





Editor:  George Kegley   
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