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November
2013      
                         The Virginia 
                      LUTHERAN 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

Pastor Paul Huddle

recalls 73 years of service

 

              Retired Pastor Paul Huddle recalled his long career of service as a missionary to Japan and India, as an Army chaplain and field pastor in Europe, Africa and the Mid-East, as president of Luther College in New Jersey and many sermons as a supply pastor in an engaging talk for a professional series at Brandon Oaks on Oct. 18.

              A resident of Brandon Oaks since 1996, he said he has traveled 111,000 miles as a supply pastor throughout western Virginia in the last 10 years. Huddle, who will be 97 on Nov. 21, said he has preached in 13 countries and 25 states. He and his wife, Martha Conrad Bame Huddle, were married 60 years before her death. Both of their parents-Rev. M. D. Huddle and Rev. P. J. Bame-were Virginia Synod pastors.

              In the first of three tours in Japan, the Huddles were the last missionaries to arrive there before Pearl Harbor in 1941. They soon were assigned to India where he traveled by bicycle and oxcart, supervising a parish of five churches and four elementary schools. On a later tour to Japan, he led in construction of a church, still operating today, and led a daily message on Japanese radio. He has compiled several genealogical books on the Huddle family "but right now I'm retired."
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
New college chaplain
Hugs and kisses
In the name of love
How do we use our time?
Columbarium dedication
Roanoke College news
Martinsville Lutherans cooperate
Thrivent gives $15 million
Congregation visits
Shelors' service celebrated
Gathering of the Ministerium
Malawi Lutherans grow
Pastor Horton dies
Thanks from PNG
Quick Links

   

Lutherans in the news

 

Myers Family

             Jon Myers has accepted a call to the Bedford mission, starting Dec. 1, and he will be ordained in a service at Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, on Friday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. At the same service, his wife, Jennie Myers, sister of the ELCA Deaconess Community, will be consecrated. She is serving as administrator for the mission. Jon, a Maryland native and the son and grandson of Lutheran pastors, is a graduate of Duke University and Princeton Theological Seminary. He was an intern at Holy Trinity, Wytheville, last year. Sister Jennie, a deaconess since 2008, studied children, youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary in Minnesota. Her mother is a member of Trinity Ecumenical Parish.

Anne Jones
         Anne Jones, an intern at Christ Fredericksburg, for the past year, has accepted a call to serve with Pastor Richard Carbaugh at Christ Church, and she will be ordained there on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m. A native of Conover, N.C., she is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College and she earned a master of divinity degree from Wake Forest School of Divinity and a master of sacred theology at Southern Seminary.  She worked in an Alzheimer's care center at the Lutheran Home in Hickory, N.C., for two years.

              Christine Rowe is working at St. Stephen, Williamsburg, to fulfill her teaching parish training as part of seminary preparation for consecration as a diaconal minister.  She will assist with worship leadership, teach, preach and learn about congregation leaders' service. St. Stephen is one of 20 churches and faith-based organizations in the Greater Williamsburg Outreach Mission, helping homeless people and those at risk of being homeless.     

              Pastor Cecee Mills, St. Timothy, Norfolk, is scheduled to serve on a discussion panel for the annual meeting of Virginia Council of Churches at First African Baptist Church, Richmond, on Nov. 7. The theme will be "We Want to See Jesus: Christ in the Midst of the Most Segregated hour."             

 A mission team from Peace and St. Mark, Charlottesville, has completed another trip, taking clothing and food to the Binns-Counts Community Center at Nora in Dickenson County in far Southwest Virginia. The center, located in a poverty area, is seeking funds to relocate to a vacant building.

              Members of 12 congregations in the Central Valley Conference made 288 quilts, two fabric kits, 23 baby care kits, 342 personal care kits and two school kits which were delivered to a warehouse at New Windsor, Md., to be distributed by Lutheran World Relief.

              Gloria Dei Lutheran School, Hampton, received the Peninsula Silver Award for the best private school category. In the concert series of Gloria Dei, Brad Sherrill will present "Red Letter Jesus," performing the words of Jesus accompanied by multimedia imagery from the Holy Land, on   Saturday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. Ladies of Eggcellence at Gloria Dei took orders for care packages for college students.

Our Saviour, Christiansburg, has set up a turkey tree to raise funds to benefit youth at New River Valley Detention Home. Each turkey has a dollar amount written on the back and donors are asked to pick one and write a check for that amount.            

On the ELCA Day of Caring, Sept. 8, 45 members of St. Mark, Charlottesville, divided into groups to work on projects benefiting people in the area. Some created homemade cards and baked cookies for shut-ins at an assisted living home and others worked at a food bank and made backpack bags. For the Christmas season, St. Mark is seeking nativity sets of ceramic, wooden, tin, fine art, folk art or children's art to be displayed at a Nativities of St. Mark fellowship event on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

            Bethel, Winchester, reports support for a facility in Arusha, Tanzaniawhich houses children who come to the city for surgery. The congregation also supports Concordia Children's Service in the Philippines which is upgrading its facility and planning for a sustainable future. Bethel's support helped bring poor children of Manila into a cleaner, safer environment.            
          At Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, the choir from St. George Church, Glauchau, Germany, Lynchburg's German sister city, sang at a Reformation Sunday Festival Service on Oct. 27. A fall seminar at Holy Trinity on Wednesday evenings in October and November features a discussion of "Painting the Stars, Science, Religion and an

Evolving Faith."

            Members of Trinity, Pulaski, started a 40-day Journey for World Hunger on Oct. 6. Hunger offering banks were distributed to members who were asked to be "especially mindful of our neighbors in the world who suffer from issues related to poverty and hunger."           

           Christ, Fredericksburg, one of nine churches supporting Micah Ministry's Community Housing Fund which has a goal of raising $100,000 to help those renters who do not have sufficient funds to meet payment deadlines.            
          The newsletter of St. Paul ,Hampton, reports that November is Good Nutrition Month, Vegan Month and National Peanut Butter Lovers' Month. Also, Nov. 3 is National Sandwich Day and Nov. 15 is Pack Your Mom's Lunch Day.              
           College, Salem, is offering a variety of choir robes, "seeking a new home," according to Karen Adams, music director.  She can be contacted at karenadams@collegelutheran.org or 540-389-4963.  

 

College Chaplain Chris Bowen

wants to wear his shoes out

 

(For a Roanoke College blog, Kayla Fuller, Class of 2014, interviewed new Chaplain Chris Bowen on his life and campus mission)

 
Chaplain Bowen relaxes in a rocker.

              Most members of the Roanoke College community have probably seen the College's new chaplain hanging out around campus. The Rev.Chris Bowen, known to many as "Chaplain Chris," can be found eating in the Commons, cheering on the soccer team at Kerr Stadium or talking with students at Mac and Bob's. Bowen's wife, Cynthia, and their three children, Carolina, 10, Courtney, 9, and Croix, 3, are also becoming familiar faces around Roanoke.

Bowen was born in Rock Springs, Wyo., but he moved frequently as a child, living in six different states before he was 11 years old. He moved to North Carolina for college where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Lenoir-Rhyne University. Before he entered seminary, Bowen planned to study genetics in graduate school and become a scientist. "I knew that I could be successful at being a scientist, but it wasn't really my passion," Bowen said.

Before Roanoke, Bowen worked in Virginia Beach at St. Michael Lutheran Church for nine years, first as the associate pastor and then as the senior pastor.

He received his invitation to come to Roanoke College in a meeting with President Mike Maxey shortly after the College's May Commencement. By the first week of July, the Bowen family was settling into Salem, and Bowen was getting his own Roanoke orientation.

"There has been a lot to learn and a lot of people to meet," he said. "I am trying to learn names and figure out where things are on campus, just like freshmen do."

Now that Bowen has had some time to settle into his new role, we spoke with him about his life and his plans as Roanoke's new chaplain.

RC News Blog: What were you like as a college student?

Chaplain Chris: Well, I was on scholarship, so most of my friends would have described me as a rather serious student. I was part of the honors program at Lenoir-Rhyne at that time, and I spent a lot of time studying. I was a TA [teaching assistant] in the biology department, so helping set up labs and those sorts of things were part of my experience. I was also in Greek life. I was part of Theta Chi, which is a Greek social fraternity at Lenoir-Rhyne. That was an important part of my time there. I was vice president of the chapter. I also participated in campus ministry. I did Lutheran student movement events and retreats.

I got involved in a lot of things, so I wasn't just a serious student. I wasn't just Greek. I tried to be serious but also be well rounded. That's one of the nice things about being part of a liberal arts college. You get to try a lot of things and not fall into any particular clique

RC News Blog: How did you meet your wife?

Chaplain Chris: Well, just as Maroon Corps helps move freshmen students in here, at Lenoir-Rhyne there was a group of us who helped move in incoming students. My wife was one of those incoming students, and I helped move her into her dorm room.  Between move-in day and the start of the school year, we always had an opening school year dance at Lenoir-Rhyne, so I asked her to go to the dance with me. Three and a half years later we got married.

RC News Blog: What is the most important thing on your desk right now?

Chaplain Chris: I have a number of pictures that are important. They are pictures of my family starting with my grandparents through my kids. It's really a way to remember who I am and where I come from. Family is a really important part of my life.

RC News Blog: What new ideas are you bringing to Roanoke, and what is your vision for the campus?

Chaplain Chris: We live in a time where I think that not just interfaith dialogue, but also relationships are important. I will be working with the interfaith council, which is a really new part of our campus, to help grow and strengthen that part of the college community.

When it comes to the campus worship, I am going to be finding some ways to update the chapel and find ways to welcome more folks into the worshiping community. I also want to find ways to strengthen the campus ministries. I have created a campus ministry council already that will involve all of the campus ministry supervisors and a student leader from each group.

Part of it is also just doing a lot of analysis. What are the things that we are doing well when it comes to campus spirituality? And also asking the question, what are the new things that we are doing to help our students discern their vocational life? One of the things that I am probably most excited about is to develop a little bit more deeply how we help our students develop their sense of direction and purpose in life. That falls under what we as Lutherans would call their vocation. Vocation includes career, but it's not just their career, it's what kind of issues and ideas and movements that they want to commit themselves to and be a part of. What is their purpose in life? What kind of family life would they like to have?

I want to help them frame the questions, not so much give them the answers that they should have. It's really to provide an environment where they can wrestle with and seek to answer what I call the big five questions - Who am I? Whose am I? (What kind of communities do I engage with?) What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose in life? What kind of world do I want to help to create and sustain?

RC News Blog: What kind of chaplain do you want to be here at Roanoke?

Chaplain Chris: Approachable, curious and out there. I have told folks that it is my goal to wear my shoes out. I don't want to be known as the chaplain that sat in the Chaplain's Office and waited for people. I want to go out and be engaged in the community as a whole. In some ways, I want to do what I did in college.  I want to make sure that I am not just the chaplain for a portion of the campus.

 

Hugs and kisses offered in Malaria Net Challenge 

  logo malaria

            The churchwide Malaria campaign got a boost from Bishop Jim Mauney when he announced a 100 Malaria Net Challenge. The bishop is offering 100 hugs (Hershey's chocolate) to every congregation or parish which raises enough money to purchase 100 malaria nets at $10 apiece.

            As an additional incentive, the bishop will give a big kiss (also chocolate) to the congregation or parish which raises the most money per active member for the Malaria Campaign. The prizes will be presented at the June 2014 Synod Assembly. Donations will be counted from Reformation Sunday, Oct. 27, through World Malaria Sunday, next April 27. Funds should be marked "Malaria Campaign" and sent to the Synod office.

            Team 2017, the Synod's Malaria Task Group, suggested that congregations raise donations for the campaign through such special events as a silent auction, community concert, theology on tap, at Sunday schools and among youth groups.

 

"In the Name of Love" is Day of Service theme

 

Planning is underway for a Day of Service under the theme, "In the Name of Love," on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 20. Congregations are invited to move out into their neighborhoods to serve people in need and to share God's compassion with the world. Hands-on projects are recommended.

            Such projects may include helping organize a a blood drive, assembling health kits, taking a meal to first responders or working on the grounds at Hungry Mother Camp. A timeline has been established for congregations to gather a team to consider projects and plan for the day.

            Information about this new ministry and a step-by-step planning guide are on the Synod's website,  http://www.vasynod.org/day-of-service/

 

How do we use our time?

  

(Pastor Bill King wrote this Bread for the Journey column for the newsletter of Luther Memorial, Blacksburg.)

 

Last week, I was at the ELCA's pre-retirement seminar (No, this is not an oblique

announcement of my resignation; when you became a "person of a certain age," you go).  I was talking with a friend of many years.  "So how much longer before you hang up your cleats," I asked him; "are there things you want to see happen at the congregation before you leave?" 

"I'll go as long as I feel like I am being effective.  I have no illusions about how indispensible I am.  The day I walk out the door, the good folks at St John's by the Gas Pumps will be on to someone else.  You know what they say: Put your hand in a bucket of water, take it out, and see how big a hole you left."

            A little bit of gallows humor, I suspect, to keep at bay the fear of irrelevancy which we all share.  Yet often there is wisdom in humor, dark or otherwise.  Perhaps the most important choice we make each day is how we will use our time.  Will we hit the gym, read a book, write a paper, call a friend, plan a presentation, read to our child, go to a meeting, or opt for one of the hundreds of other possibilities we have?  We want our lives to matter, but we do not want to be slaves to a schedule we hate.  The choices are seldom straight forward.

            So how do we make those choices?  I've lived long enough to realize that sometimes the choices feel impossible.  Do you spend time with your son or work the extra shift which means you will have the money to feed, clothe, and house, and educate that same beloved child.  We need to be gentle with ourselves when either choice provokes guilt. 

            That being said I think there is one principle worth keeping in mind:  You are all the world to someone-or several people-for others, you are just valuable.  When push comes to shove it is those primary people who should get the first bite of the apple which is your life. 

Yes, history is filled with people who sacrificed their families, their health, and their friends because they felt a compelling need to work for a cure, abolish slavery, or take the gospel to the far corners of the earth.  If your work is truly that important, then go for it and humbly ask forgiveness of those you use, abuse, and ignore.  For the vast majority of us, that is not the case.  More often we spend our lives sacrificing the important to the merely urgent, and then regretting it.

            Pondering that bucket of water and the hole we do not make can be rather depressing-life as "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."  But it can also be liberating to realize that it does not all depend on us.  God is acting in the cracks of life, has been acting long before we came on the scene and will be doing so after we depart the stage.  Our task is not necessarily to change the world by ourselves, not to be perfect, not to work until we drop in a harness which some other mule will fill tomorrow.  Sometimes it is enough to be the world to just one person at a critical moment.   There is a difference between sloth and sanity; the better we learn to distinguish the two, the happier and more fulfilled we are.

 

Our Saviour, Virginia Beach, 

dedicates columbarium

 

    

             The congregation of Our Saviour, Virginia Beach, planned a dedication of a columbarium for All Saints Sunday, Nov. 3. The columbarium is on the south side of a courtyard, enclosed in brick and centered on a wooden cross. A paved meditation area with benches and a garden will be nearby. Names of those interred there will be etched into stone panels.

 

Kenneth Baum (left) finishes the columbarium installation.

 

 

College choir sings at National Cathedral

Trustee Bruce Melchor dies at 64

 

            The Roanoke College choir sang at a Reformation Sunday service at the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 27, and at the Sunday morning service at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Springfield. Dr. Jeffery Sandborg leads the 55-member choir.

            In other college news, Bruce E. Melchor III, of Norfolk, the longest serving trustee of the college, died on Oct. 6. Melchor, who served on the board for 39 years, was a member of the council at First Lutheran, Norfolk. He was 64 and a 1972 graduate of the college, president of the student body and a member of the Society of 1842 at the college.  Melchor was president of a Norfolk wholesale distribution business, a longtime board member of Tidewater Community College and president of its educational foundation. Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth Fife Melchor; parents, Bruce E. Melchor Jr. and Patricia Boyd Melchor, and two children, Douglas Melchor and Margaret.Elizabeth Melchor..

            Dr. James Peterson, Schumann Professor of Ethics, has been invited to join the International Society for Science and Religon, an organization founded in 2002 to promote education by facilitating communication between the ideas of science and religion. Peterson is president of Scientific Christian Affiliation and editor of a peer review, Perspectives of Christian Faith. He taught health sciences at McMaster University in Canada.

            Four Roanoke College student interns in the Lutheran College Washington Semester program volunteered with non-profit organizations and advocacy groups during the October shutdown of the federal government. Since many buildings were closed, the students visited the National Building Museum and met for a briefing by Ambassador Jan Eliasson, deputy secretary general of the United Nations. 


Martinsville Lutherans

cooperate with United Methodists

    by Pastor Lynn Bechdolt, Holy Trinity, Martinsville

 

A year ago, on World Communion Sunday, we had a clergy visitor, the Rev. Janine Howard, the district supervisor of the Danville District of the United Methodist Church (UMC). Shortly after she visited, I began to hear that there were several congregations in town struggling to support themselves.

 I also began to consider that Ed Burch had been among us as a retired UMC clergy and fit right in.  Somewhere, a light bulb went on.  I thought: "Why are we competing with each other when we should be joining forces?"

            As I have visited with clergy about the idea of forming some sort of ecumenical partnership with a congregation of another Christian tradition, I hear the same story.  We mainline traditions have been breaking down the barriers between us.  At our last council meeting, Wendy Shook, formerly of Trinity Ecumenical Parish, told us that many of their confirmands refused to join one of the three traditions.  They were quite content to be ecumenical Christians at home in Episcopal, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches.

            Recently, we have discovered that we can work and worship well with the good folks of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church.  On Sept. 23, a few of us from each congregation met to entertain the ladies of Cottage Place and included Pastor Steve Greer's daughter, who is  intellectually disabled.  We all had a wonderful time.

            On Oct. 6 at 5 p.m., at Holy Trinity, our members of both congregations shared Holy Communion together, because we could.  We stood shoulder to shoulder receiving communion together from the same cup and the same bread administered by both pastors.  We left overjoyed at the experience of sharing God's reconciliation and purpose.  We hope it is just the start of willing cooperation between both of our congregations.  Together, we can do more. 


Thrivent is contributing $15 million to churches 

 

            Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is contributing up to $15 million this fall in a Thrivent Choice Double Direction Church Campaign. Eligible members of Thrivent may recommend where some of the firm's financial charitable dollars are distributed.

            Near the end of October, 58,586 members had directed $12,170,506 Choice Dollars. Thrivent is doubling all Choice Dollars directions made to churches during the campaign, scheduled to end by Nov. 30 or sooner if the $15 million goal is reached.

            To make directions, members may go to Thrivent.com/thriventchoice or call

800-THRIVENT (800-847-4836) and say, "Thrivent Choice."

 

Conference deans asked

to make congregation visits

 

Bishop Jim Mauney has asked the deans of the Synod's 11 conferences and a group of retired pastors to make an annual visitation of every congregation "in a high quality way filled with thanksgiving for the work of the parish."

            In a letter to the deans and retired pastors, the bishop said Sunday morning is the "best time to be visibly present for most congregations to thank them for their life and witness, to tell the story of the ministries of this church, to listen to the council speak about their joys, challenges and concerns." Sunday is "by far the best opportunity to meet the largest number of our people."

            Mauney said the deans have "long and gifted service (and are) known as good listeners." For a visit, he asked the deans to call the pastor of the congregation and offer to bring a greeting of appreciation, give a children's talk about the church, preach, have a morning class about the work of the wider church, meet with the council to listen about the congregation, take the pastor and family out to eat and highlight a favorite institution.

            The Synod's 110 parishes will be divided so each can be visited once a year. "The parish could feel listened to and respected by the wider church about their life as a parish." The council might have specific questions, he added. Mauney said he would meet with the deans twice a year for insights, feedback and suggestions from what they hear during the visits. The deans will be paid for this additional duty. The bishop said visitation in this way will allow him to continue to be present for anniversaries, ground-breakings, ordination, pastoral care emergencies and Synod events "while having every parish of the Synod know of its valued partnership within the life of the church."

            The bishop scheduled a meeting with the deans to plan the visitation on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at St. Mark's, Charlottesville.  

 

Wayne and Vikki Shelor's service to be celebrated

 

            A service celebrating the 13 years of service of Pastor Wayne Shelor and his wife, Vikki Shelor, at Lutheran Camp Caroline Furnace will be held in the Upper Room of the camp on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 3 p.m., followed by a reception in Moyer dining hall.

            Wayne Shelor has accepted a call to interim ministry at Hope Lutheran Church, Annandale, in the Metropolitan Washington Synod. Vikki Shelor has been communications director and registrar for the camp.

            Tom Powell, president of the Caroline Furnace board, said the Shelors will be "greatly missed ...Their service and dedication over the past 13 years has been a gift to us all."  He said a selection committee has been established to find a successor as executive director. The board and staff have been working diligently to ensure there is a smooth transition during the vacancy and selection of a replacement, Powell said.

             In a closing letter to Synod members, Wayne Shelor recalled that he worked with over 230 summer camp staff, over 4,000 campers and an "enormous number" of retreat guests. "It has been such a privilege to see God touch the lives of so many in such meaningful ways," he added.

            The camp has a "well-defined and soundly developed" pathway, he said, as he listed a remarkable board, energized summer staff alumni, over 274 acres of pristine land and wonderful facilities which allows us to dream of many new opportunities" The camp has finished "one pretty good run," Shelor said, but it "needs a really good push to be epic...Your gift of any size helps 'Caroline' get going with great energy and possibility as she begins her next run."

 

What is the Ministerium?

     by Pastor David Derrick, St. Philip, Roanoke

 

Each October rostered leaders from around the Virginia Synod gather for an annual event called the Gathering of the Ministerium.   The word,  ministerium, itself has roots dating back to the colonial church in North America and is used to describe ministry done in collaboration and partnership.

 In an effort to build and maintain collegial relationship and to foster collaboration and partnership this gathering takes place as one part of connecting rostered leaders with one another but also churches with one another.  So for three days in October at Virginia Beach, pastors and rostered leaders are reminded that we need one another to most faithfully serve in our particular contexts.

While acknowledging that partnership, collaboration and collegial relationship are important you may be asking the question - "But what do you do?"  Several components are a part of the gathering every year. 

               We worship.  We confess, we sing, we hear God's Word, we are fed by the sacrament. 

              We talk theology and practice; we ask how is God active not only in congregations but in the whole church. We exchange resources and ideas.  Some of the very best ideas and ministry are already being done somewhere else.

              We share our joys and concerns.  Often times someone with similar experiences is able to empathize more fully. 

              We play.  For some it is reading a book on the beach, for others it is a brisk walk along the boardwalk, for others it is a round of golf, for others it is a nap.

              We renew our covenant with one another.  The Virginia Synod has a ministerium

covenant that holds us together as pastors and rostered leaders.  If you are interested in seeing what the covenant says please check it out  (click here).

At this year's Gathering of the Ministerium we particularly focused on "Knowing Martin Luther and the Confessions."  The presenters for the event included the Rev. Dr. Sammeli Juntunen who is head pastor of the Lutheran Church in Savonlinna, Finland, the Rev. Dr. Paul R. Hinlicky who is Tise professor of Lutheran Studies at Roanoke College, and Dr. Kathryn A. Kleinhans who is professor of Religion at Wartburg College.

 As we look to a 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017, we remember the history of Martin Luther proudly, while hoping to discover faithfully how theology born early in the 16th century is still meaningful and relevant in the 21st century.  Encourage your leader(s) to be a part of the Gathering of the Ministerium October 13-15 next year.

  

Malawi Lutherans grow in needs and numbers

Bishop Joseph and Maria Bvumbwe

 

           Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe visited St. Philip, Roanoke, and Luther Memorial and St. Michael, Blacksburg, last month to talk about the programs and the needs of the 150,000 Lutherans in Malawi, which has one of the four fastest growing Lutheran memberships in Africa. He was accompanied by his wife, Maria.

A poor country with a population of 14 million people, Malawi is located between Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. The bishop leads 65 pastors who travel on motorcycles to close to 450 congregations located in 65 parishes. They rely on lay leaders for some pastoral duties.

            Why is the Malawi Lutheran church growing? "One reason is that we are a church in society, where people are in challenges and difficulties. The church is there. The church is the place of the people. There is room to identify themselves with society and the church."

            Bvumbwe said, "We are a church fighting for people's rights with respect for their values." For example, "politicians politicize food (but) we as a church will make sure people must have food, not because they vote but they have a right to food. Everyone must have food."

The difference between the church and the political arena, he said, is that "we are working for peace with justice. We are compelled by the love of Christ, the mission of the church. We will help the people to lobby their government to take responsibility for caring for the poor."

The majority of the people are going hungry, he said, because they have not had enough rainfall for the maize (corn) to grow.  "The church must be part of the effort to feed the people." His church is focusing on feeding "vulnerable children...Many will suffer but the children will suffer more. The churches are feeding up to 150 children once a day. Some of this food is provided locally and donations come from a companion synod in Wisconsin and congregations like St. Philip in Roanoke.

Malawi has a lot of natural resources like coal, bauxite, tobacco, tea, coffee, cotton, rice and sugar but the raw materials are taken away for processing in other countries, leaving little income in the country, he said. "Minerals are exploited, they go to Europe for final processing, they are not manufactured in Malawi."

A typical Malawi family lives on a small plot of two or three acres, worked by hand, producing food only for its members. To produce more, they need machinery but "everything is still manual."

            Bvumbwe said 60 percent of Malawi Lutherans are under the age of 40 and their biggest challenge is education. The church supports education and skills training to enable children to finish high school. They have financial support from Germany for this program. His church helps young women improve their self-esteem and learn skills. "We hope to create a free HIV AIDS generation" and work to prevent malaria.

            Once an accountant and auditor, Bvumbwe earned a theology degree in 1985, was ordained in 1987, consecrated as bishop in 1995 and recently completed doctoral work at Luther Seminary in Minnesota.

            Support for his church may be sent to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawai, P.O. Box 650, Loilongwe, Malawai.

 

Pastor Dianna Horton died

 

                Pastor Dianna Horton died at her home at Weyers Cave in late October. She had served as pastor of St. Jacob-Spaders, near Harrisonburg, and as interim pastor at Prince of Peace, Basye and St. Peter's, Tom's Brook.

            She was also a registered nurse and she served as board chair for The Legacy in Staunton, a ministry of National Lutheran Communities and Services. She was on leave from call.The funeral was at Salem, Mt. Sidney, on Oct. 26. Surviving are her children, James, John and Tracy and her sister, Jamie Howerton. 


  President Tobby Eleasar thanks Synod for support

 

            An October visit by President Tobby Eleasar of the New Guinea Island District of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea to the Virginia Synod was cancelled because of pressing business in his country. President Eleasar sent a letter expressing his thanks for Synod support.

            Eleasar said in the letter that he has been reading on the Synod's website "about what you are doing globally. You are making other people find happiness in their lives and that is a beautiful thing to do." He said he marvels at the distance from his island country to the U.S. "Physically we are far apart, yet you make us feel your presence when you give and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you. We know you are with us and are walking with us. That is companionship." The district president said most of the children of the four pastors in his district are in colleges because of the Synod's "generous donations." Most PNG pastors cannot afford to pay school fees for their children.

            Eleasar said many new congregations are being established in his country because people are moving from the mainland to the islands and his district church is trying to do mission work in areas dominated by other churches. "We thank God that you are helping us to train pastors to come and serve in these congregations." Two seminarians will graduate this year.

            Eleasar thanked Bishop Jim Mauney for his "good leadership and support for this partnership" and he thanked Diane Giessler, coordinator of the Companion Synod program, for "the wonderful job she does in keeping us walking closely together in our companionship walk." He also thanked pastors and Synod members for their prayers and support. 

A Lutheran Revival

     by Bobbie Hartman, St. Luke, Culpeper

 

On October 6, churches in the Germanna Conference gathered for a day of revival at St. Luke, Culpeper. The third annual event drew more than 130 attendees from St. Luke, Our Savior in Warrenton, St. Peter's in Stafford, Peace and St. Mark's in Charlottesville, and Christ and Resurrection in Fredericksburg.

The theme was "All God's People," with an emphasis on the church in the greater community. The afternoon began with workshops to explore ways congregations can reach out to differing communities.

Kevin Perry, choir director at St. Peter's in Stafford, led a workshop on incorporating diverse music styles into Lutheran worship. Drawing from resources available in the Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Perry discussed reasons for incorporating different music styles and gave techniques for helping congregations learn new and different hymns.

Pastor CeeCee Mills of St. Timothy in Norfolk led a workshop on community outreach, focusing on the conversation model of outreach, emphasizing the value of getting to know our neighbors in the community as part of our evangelism efforts.

Youth of the conference were led by Pastor Kate Costa of St. Luke. Pastor Carol Kniseley and Sue Purdue of Resurrection provided activities for children.

             Following the workshops, attendees shared a meal and fellowship time together, getting to mingle and meet other Lutherans from what Germanna Conference Dean William Stewart likes to call the "fertile crescent." Given the Conference's crescent shape, Culpeper provided a central location for the gathering and St. Luke, though one of the smaller congregations involved, enjoyed hosting such a large gathering.

The afternoon culminated in a worship service featuring participants from most of the congregations, with musical soloists, choirs, familiar songs and original compositions. Pastor Mark Parker of Breath of God Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Maryland preached the sermon. Breath of God is a growing congregation in south Baltimore, begun from the roots of St. Paul, which found most of its members lived outside the neighborhood. Parker is leading efforts to reach out into the church's community, which has seen tremendous change in past decades.

"This event is such an excellent expression of the Church," said Pastor Kate Costa. "We experience the Church in our own congregations, and we experience the wider Church at Synod events and national gatherings, but the revival lets us get to know other congregations that are literally our neighbors." The day provided a chance for all participating congregations to share their gifts and to learn from one another.

The ongoing theme of the three revivals has been "Revive! Refresh! Rejoice!" and this year's event certainly lived up to that challenge. Participants came away from the day with new energy and ideas, as well as new friends in Christ.

 

THE VIRGINIA LUTHERAN

A MONTHLY NEWS PUBLICATION OF THE VIRGINIA SYNOD, ELCA

 

Editor:  George Kegley   
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