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                                                                                             February 2014
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.


Glade Creek's kindness

is recalled 64 years later


             A Christmas letter from an Idaho doctor to the congregation of Glade Creek at Blue Ridge in Botetourt County renewed a 64-year friendship.  Dr. Jack Bandrevics, a radiologist, recalled that he spent his first Christmas in the U.S. as a child at Blue Ridge. He grew up, went to Ohio State University and moved west.

               The Bandrevics family came from Latvia through a German labor camp to Blue Ridge in 1949. "We had arrived as post-World War II refugees and pretty much penniless. Your congregation was so kind and giving. They found us a small house and pretty much furnished it with all the things we needed...I am grateful for the kindness you showed my family," he wrote.  And, he enclosed a check.

In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
A hard truth
College poll results
Advent candle stand given
Holy Land tour is a gift
LFS needs SMART Boards
Todd to lead Caroline Furnace
Virginia Lutherans serve
Healthy Congregations growing
Mayo Health Assessment underway
Malaria Sunday-April 27
United Lutheran Appeal
Church's most segregated hour
Next after ecumenical fervor?
St. Peter's receives grant


Lutherans in the news


           Residents of a dozen apartments displaced in a Blacksburg fire Thursday afternoon were taken to a 24-hour shelter set up at nearby Luther Memorial on Prices Fork Road in Blacksburg. A number of those residents were Virginia Tech students.


           Pastor Cheryl Griffin has accepted a call to serve as co-pastor with Pastor Andy Ballentine at St. Stephen, Williamsburg. She formerly served at Reformation and Trinity, Newport News. Ballentine said Griffin will be visiting in the congregation, at public places and establishing relationships with others "who are seeking God."

            Pastor Phillip Martin has accepted a call to become senior pastor at Epiphany, Richmond, after serving five years as associate with


Pastor Chris Price, who recently retired from Epiphany. Martin, a graduate of North Carolina State University and Southern Seminary, formerly served at Emanuel's Lutheran, Pittsburgh.

            Bryan Jester will join Bethel, Winchester, this month as director of youth and faith formation.

            Nicole Bruch has been named corporate marketing director and Emily Rudolph is the new development director at Virginia Lutheran Homes, according to Heather Neff, chief executive. Bruch will represent all aspects of communication, including the website and social media, and Rudolph will be updating the VLH information data base, working with the residents' endowment committee and writing grants, Neff said.

            Two new board members of Lutheran Family Services are Robert Burger of Epiphany, Richmond, first vice president and senior counsel of SunTrust Bank, Richmond, and Pastor Louis A. Florio, Messiah, Mechanicsville. Both were elected to three-year terms. Burger, a graduate of Washington and Lee University and a law graduate of the University of Richmond, joined the bank in 2012. Florio, a former Alexandria policeman and graduate of Virginia Military Institute and Gettysburg Seminary, also holds two master's degrees from Union Theological Seminary.

            Synod Council approved the appointment of Pastor William Bolden to represent the synod on ELCA Ministries in Chaplaincy, Pastoral Counseling and Clinical Education. Bolden is chaplain at the Village at Orchard Ridge, Winchester.

            Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Moneta, is planning an ecumenical celebration of Pastor Gary Scheidt's 20 years at Trinity on Oct. 12, followed by a celebration of the 40th anniversary of his ordination on Oct. 19. Scheidt is retiring on Nov. 1. Lutheran and Episcopal bishops and the Presbyterians' general presbyter will participate in the ecumenical event.

            Rob McClintock, Epiphany, Richmond,was elected chairman of the board of Chaplain Service of Virginia. Sue Pickett, St. Mark, Charlottesville, elected to a second three-year term on the board, serves as chair of the nominating committee. Farrell Newman, Our Saviour, Richmond, left the board after serving several terms.

            Pastor Steve Ridenhour, Holy Trinity, Wytheville, is the leader for a Thrivent Builds Habitat for Humanity trip to El Salvador in the first week of February.        

The world premiere of a cantata by Steve Brown, music director at Our Saviour, Christiansburg, was presented.

Chris McCulloch, Holy Trinity, Martinsville, was selected as Outstanding Fireman for Henry County Public Safety.

Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, dedicated a Habitat house for the family of Nakia Haythe. The congregation has a 23-year history of working on Habitat homes. Holy Trinity also planned a winter seminar on "Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith" on Jan. 29, Feb. 5 and Feb. 12. Dr. Jo Ellen Parker, president of Sweet Briar College, was scheduled to speak on "Exploring Artificial Intelligence" on Jan. 19.

Peace, Charlottesville, will be host for the Chamber Choir of Concordia College, Bronxville, N.Y. , at concert on March 22. The choir is directed by Dr. Jason Thomas.

Trinity, Pulaski, accepted the gift of a house and land at 515 North Washington Street, north of the church, from the estate of Walter Paulson.

            At Grace and Glory, Palmyra, Cameron O'Dell has proposed to build a garden with boxwoods, flowers, a walkway and benches at the church for an Eagle Scout project.


Learning to speak a hard truth-

needle barely moved on ELCA

     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton


Bishop Eaton


            Consider this: how many of you are left-handed? Of those of you who are, how many times a day are you reminded that you are left-handed? At every meal when you sit next to a right-handed person and bump elbows? When you use scissors? When you write? When you shake hands?

Now, how many of you are right-handed? Chances are you never have to think about being right-handed. Most of us are right-handed. The world is set up for right-handed people. This isn't necessarily bad. It just is.

            The problem starts when the practical application of an economy of scale slides into a value judgment, when the majority's physical characteristic shifts from an objective fact to a subjective model of what is proper and good.

            Right-handed people become a privileged group. Left-handedness becomes not a simple handedness but something of less value, limited accessibility in the right-handed world, and sometimes even a character flaw. We speak of "left-handed compliments," the word "sinister" derives from the Latin for "left," and some of us are old enough to remember when parents and teachers would try to force left-handed children to use their right hands.

I use this illustration as a way to start to look at some of the complicated issues involved in this church's uneven, and still incomplete, effort to be a truly diverse and multicultural people.

             We see the glorious vision of redeemed humanity "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9), but do not see this reflected in our communities of faith. The U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse. Your children's or your grandchildren's soccer team might more accurately reflect local demographics than Sunday mornings at church.

             We are an overwhelmingly white denomination in a culture that is still majority European American. Those of us who are white almost never have to think about being white. We can consider ourselves the norm. People of color, then, are implicitly expected to adapt. This, in and of itself, doesn't mean that we who are white are bad people. It's a system and reality that is already in place. We didn't create it. In fact, many of us can point to our own persecuted ancestors who came to America to have an opportunity for a better life.

           But no matter where we came from or why we had to come, the mere physical characteristic of being white admits us to a certain degree of privilege, just as being right-handed is easier than being left-handed in our culture.

              I believe this church truly longs for the realization of the vision in Revelation, or at least the glorious company of multicultural young people on a hillside meadow singing the 1970's Coca Cola jingle "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony." I yearn, not for a color-blind world, but for a color-amazed world where distinctiveness and diversity aren't washed out but are noticed and treasured as God's gracious gift. The only norm is that we are all children of God and sisters and brothers to one another.

            We aren't there yet. In the first 25 years of the ELCA's existence we've barely moved the needle on the percentage of our members who are people of color or whose primary language is not English. We have a beautiful theology of justification and grace, we point to the crucified Christ as clear expression of God's love for all people, we are realistic about human brokenness-surely this is good news for anyone and everyone. And yet ....

              At the 2013 Churchwide Assembly we declared that the church is "Always being made new." Perhaps now is the time for us to begin to talk to one another. This is Epiphany, the season of the church year when the person and ministry of Christ are revealed to us in powerful Gospel stories each Sunday, a good season to start.

            We can begin by contemplating a Messiah who renounced privilege to love us (Philippians 2:5-11). And, trusting that we are forgiven sinners, we can even speak the hard truth..


College poll finds support

for Sen. Warner, mental health


              A recent Roanoke College poll found that U.S. Sen. Mark Warner leads  Republican challenger Ed Gillespie by 50 percent to 21 percent and respondents reported strong support for mental health and ethics reform. The poll interviewed 633 residents across the state.

            On the ethics issue, 60 percent said gifts to eected officials should be limited to $250 in value and two-thirds said gifts to officials' families should be limited. Reform of the state's mental health procedures by extending the length of time for emergency custody is supported by 81 percent of those participating. The same number favor creating an  electronic registry of available beds in psychiatric facilities and 70 percent said $38 million should be added for mental health care, in addition to former Gov. Bob McDonnell's  proposed budget.

            Only 36 percent said the War on Poverty was successful and 63 percent said it was either not very or not at all successful. Respondents said an average of 42 percent are in poverty through no fault of their own. One-third said the Medicaid program should be expanded in Virginia only when it is reformed to be more efficient; 30 percent said it should be expanded now while 26 percent oppose any expansion.

             On refugee issues, 46 percent favor granting in-state tuition to undocumented students who have graduated from a Virginia high school and lived in the state at least three years; 41 percent oppose. Residents are split on the question of eliminating Standards of Learning (SOLs) and restoration of voting rights to non-violent felons who have completed their sentence. A strong 60 percent support a proposal for Virginia governors to run for consecutive terms of office.

             Strong majorities of 85 percent support background checks for all firearm purchases at gun shows and 75 percent are in favor of universal background checks for firearm purchases, including private transactions. About 26 percent favor banning all guns while they are evenly split on banning all semi-automatic refles.

The poll found a 47 percent approval rating for President Barack Obama; ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell drew approval from 43 percent; Gov. Terry McAuliffe, 36 percent; Sen. Mark Warner, 47 percent, and Sen. Tim Kaine, 40 percent.


Kiblers contribute Advent candle stand






Ricky and Melissa Kibler of St. John's, Winchester, are shown with Pastor Sonya Williams-Giersch and the Advent candle stand they contributed to the church.  The Kiblers are leaders in the Sunday School, committees and projects at St. John's. 


Holy Land tour is a gift, a living story

     by Nathan Huffman


It is obviously an experience of a lifetime to take a trip to the Holy Land, but I had no idea what the experience would be like to just prepare to take a trip to the Holy Land! "Aren't you afraid to go there?" is just one of the many questions one is confronted with as they prepare to journey to Israel and the West Bank.

Dr. Monte Luker (wearing hat) talks to tour group atop Herod's ancient fortress at Masada.

          This past January several seminarians, parishioners, and pastors traveled together with Dr. Monte Luker to see the land, the ancient holy sites, and most importantly the living stones of the Holy Land. Many of our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters refer to the people as the living stones of the Holy Land. Truly these people are the living stones and they showed us why during our journey.

            The trip was carefully arranged to not only provide the privilege of watching the story of our sacred texts come to life, but also to immerse ourselves in the culture and issues of the land as well. Many of the seminarians, including myself, were taking part in this journey to fulfill a multi-cultural credit required for coursework towards our Master's in Divinity degree. We engaged in lectures and discussions with authors, scholars, religious leaders and many others who graciously provided the opportunity to listen, learn and share.

Out of all the living stones we had the opportunity to engage with, my personal favorite was our tour bus driver, a Palestinian Muslim with special reverence for Elvis Presley. Towards the end of our journey I had purchased some Arabic coffee for my theology professor who had lived in Palestine during his studies. I asked our driver how to brew the coffee because it is quite different from the coffee we are accustomed to in the United States. He explained to me that a portion is poured into a pot of already boiling water and it is then "cooked" for ten minutes. The thick sweet black tar-like substance is then served in a small glass cup after meals. It is considered a beverage of hospitality and he explained it is used to welcome any and all strangers. Hospitality is a Bedouin custom that is still strongly rooted in the Middle East today. We were given the opportunity to witness that hospitality first hand among many of the living stones.

            We were also privileged to see the stones where Jesus walked, Roman ruins and the fortifications that made Israel a mighty nation. As we walked the land, the story came to life. Upon my return home I met with my Hebrew professor who exclaimed that I had now had the opportunity to witness the fifth Gospel. He advised that when you can see the land, smell the trees, and taste the olives the story blossoms in a whole new light. He is correct in his assessment; the land paints a picture that complements the words we bear witness to on Sundays, in Bible studies, and in our classrooms. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was crucified, Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked who his disciples thought he was, and of course Bethlehem, the site of Christ's birth.

            When I was asked to write an article describing the Virginia Synod's trip to the Holy Land I was torn. How could I describe the journey, the land, the people, the Word, as I see it now? In all honesty I cannot describe it to you in an article. There are many books that attempt to describe it but I truly believe they all fall short. There is not a book that can complement the Bible and help you envision the land like seeing the land yourself. What I can describe is the joy that filled our hearts in witnessing the fifth Gospel as the Word came to life.

            We spent many nights at dinners with bottles of wine and plates of local flatbread sharing our intense joy with one another. The trip gave many of us new insights into the Word, into our faith. The trip also gave us the opportunity to welcome new brothers and sisters into our lives as friends. It was a blessing to share in this experience with so many wonderful seminarians, parishioners, and pastors. It was a blessing to share in the experience with the living stones. I believe the trip changed many of our lives. I know it changed the very reverence I hold for my Bible when I hold it in my hand. It was a gift of a story that is now truly a living story that I can now touch, taste, and feel. I am grateful for that gift and I hope that you can experience that gift one day if you so desire.

            Now that I am home I pray for a gift in return for that beautiful land. I pray for the healing of our Israeli and Palestinian brothers and sisters. I pray for the reconciliation of enemies that they may again be neighbors. I also pray that the word comes to life in that land, the way the land brought the word to life in my head and my heart.

            Peace, Shalom, and Salām,


            Nathan Huffman, of Richmond, is a student at Southern Seminary.


LFS seeks funds for 35 SMART Boards


             Lutheran Family  Services is seeking to raise $87,500 for 35 SMART Boards, interactive white boards for 35 classrooms in five Minnick schools. With this technology, teachers can present math, reading, vocabulary and social studies concepts to a wide variety of learners, many with high needs or complex learning challenges.

              The boards are described as part projector, computer and touch screen, 5 feet across and 4 feet high. If students cannot use a pen or pencil, teachers say they can write with their fingers.

               Each SMART Board costs $2,500. LFS estimates this project will transform learning for at least 750 students over the next five years. Persons interested in contributing to the project may contact Ellen Bushman at 757-722-4707, extension 1302, or at


Reuben Todd will lead Caroline Furnace

Caroline Furnace  

            Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp has a new executive director---Reuben Todd, who has recently led Crossroads Camp & Conference Center at Lowesville, Amherst County in his 11 years of camp and conference center management experience. He starts work on Monday, Feb. 3.



            Todd, a layman with a Christian background in Anglican, Brethren and Baptist faith communities, follows Pastor Wayne Shelor, who moved to a Northern Virginia church after 12 years at Caroline Furnace. The camp board voted unanimously to select Todd after a "thorough process."

               Tom Powell, camp board chairman, said Todd's "proven experience in building strong volunteer programs, donor campaigns, facility management  and program creation made him a perfect match" for the position. His professional experience and personal passion toward hospitality  and guest care add to the reasons why the board "feels confident that his leadership will ensure a vibrant, successful next chapter of the ministry at Caroline Furnace," he added. Powell commended Todd's "warmth, his openness and his eagerness to engage in direct, productive communication."

               In a work weekend, camp board members and other supporters cleaned and repainted the interior of the director's home at the camp and finished with a blessing for the home and the ministry. Todd is bringing his wife, Nicole, and their three children, Caleb, Sarah and David to the camp.

                 The camp board reported that its members were impressed with Todd's "strong personal faith" and his belief "that faith is not found in clinging to black and white statements but more fully in the middle ground where the individual wrestles with God  to find  truth."  He is being supported by a group of pastors, including several on the board, as he learns about Lutheran heritage and theology.

                 Todd said the health of a volunteer program is a thermometer for the health of the overall ministry. He has experience supervising paid staff and managing a healthy , productive relationship among staff and volunteers.

Virginia Lutherans roll up their sleeves for service

     by Pastor John Wertz, St. Michael, Blacksburg


In the Name of Love: A Day of Service and Sharing God's Love took place on Monday, January 20.  Lutherans across the state joined with others on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to reach out into their communities and witness to God's love for the world.

The Day of Service, created through a partnership between the Virginia Synod and the Lutheran Partners in Mission, was a huge success.  Reports from the Day of Service are still coming in, but as of January 29, nearly 800 volunteers in 25 congregation and two Lutheran Partners in Mission participated in 38 different service projects.

             Congregations across the state undertook projects like food drives for local food pantries, assembling care packages and health kits, repairs and painting.  At Grace Lutheran in Waynesboro, volunteers wrapped 500 utensil packs for be used at Disciple's Kitchen and participated in three other projects.

Portsmouth Lutherans assembling skill kits for
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia.

In Portsmouth, five congregations,  St. Andrew, Portsmouth, Holy Communion, Portsmouth, First, Portsmouth, Trinity, Norfolk and First, Norfolk, came together to assemble 100 skill kits for a new Day Support Program opened by Lutheran Family Services of Virginia.   Youth and adults from Epiphany in Richmond, undertook three projects including work at the Coal Pit School helping clean and organize. In Winchester, members of Grace Lutheran and Bethel Lutheran joined with residents of The Village at Orchard Ridge to assemble care packages for the Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter and other area helping organizations.

Folks at St. John in Abingdon, sorted and distributed food for Abingdon Faith in Action.  Members of St. Timothy, Norfolk  collected food and donations for their food pantry.   Volunteers from St. Philip, Roanoke painted the offices of Lutheran Family Services of Virginis in Bedford.  Nearly 40 members of St. Stephen, Williamsburg participated in the Community of Faith Mission sheltering and feeding those in need.  At Muhlenburg, Harrisonburg, approximately 150 people participated in 16 projects including knitting prayer shawls, helping neighbors with yard work, and creating care packages for deployed servicemen/women.

The congregations of the North Mountain Parish, St. Peter, Toms Brook, St. Matthew, Toms Brook and St. Stephen, Strasburg, assembled 100 toiletry and laundry kits for the homeless. The Rural Retreat Parish, St. Paul and Grace, took on a painting project at the Lutheran Family Services Minnick Center in Wytheville. Volunteers from Holy Trinity, Wytheville, worked at the Community Food Kitchen.  60 people from Luther Memorial Blacksburg, New Mt. Zion, Blacksburg, St. Michael, Blacksburg, and Our Saviour, Christiansburg came together for four projects including assembling health kits for the Lutheran Church in Malawi and a food drive for the Interfaith Food Pantry.

More information about other Day of Service projects and pictures from around the Synod will be posted at: If you have not yet shared the story of your congregation's Day of Service projects, please send the information and pictures to:

Healthy Congregations Initiative is growing


Sixty-one rostered and lay leaders from six different churches in the Tidewater Conference gathered on January 11th to participate in the third of six workshops as part of  Dr. Peter Steinke's Healthy Congregation initiative. The workshop, entitled Leadership in Healthy Congregations was facilitated by Mindy Reynolds, synodical minister for Healthy Leadership and Wellness, and the Rev. Charles Reynolds, elder and executive director for Wellness Ministries in the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church.  A year ago, many in this group of pastors and church councils participated in workshop number one, Creating Healthy Congregations.

             A major premise of this workshop is that leaders promote health through their presence and functioning, rather than programs or skills. The workshop focuses on leadership through the lens of the leader's ability to challenge and strengthen the congregation, by developing a healthy "differentiation of self".

                Using a combination of lecture presentations, video teaching segments from classes taught by Dr. Steinke, study guides and group discussions, participants learned what makes this style of leadership different from many traditional models.

                A number of other churches around the synod are engaging in Healthy Congregations workshops. For more information about conducting one or more of these in your congregation, contact Mindy Reynolds at or 540-942-4330.


2014 Mayo Clinic Health Assessment underway


Every year eligible health plan participants in  ELCA synods and institutions have an opportunity to conduct a check-up on their health and wellness by completing an assessment designed by the Mayo Clinic and administered through Portico Benefit Services.  Questions on a variety of topics related to a person's physical and emotional health are intended not solely to alert an individual about risks and areas for improvement, but to identify those places where there are strengths.

              From a purely financial perspective, those synods and institutions that achieve a 65% or greater participation rate in the health assessment from January 1 to April 30 earn a 2% discount on all of their health contributions for 2014.

               More importantly, tending to health is a theological matter. Life is a gift from God, and the health of bodies, minds, and spirits matters to God. Ultimately, the way in which we treat the gift of life God has given us says more about our relationship with the Giver than is revealed by how much money is saved.

           To complete your assessment today, please go to: 



Three months until Malaria Sunday - April 27!


For the Week of January 26th -- The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?

They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets.  Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.  Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people!

             The following congregations have already met the Bishop's 100 Net Challenge by raising over $1000 since Reformation Sunday (the challenge continues until Malaria Sunday 27 April 2014):

                        * St. Luke, Culpeper

* Holy Trinity, Wytheville

* St. Luke, Richmond

Virginia Lutherans are now giving $1,000 per month in on-line giving through Team 2017!  We've given over $170,000, which comes to almost $5 for each baptized member.  Let's raise that to $10 (one net) per member!  Go to our Current Status page to learn more!


Get ready for another Nets-4-Nets Challenge during March Madness 2014!

Team 2017 provides a means for people to provide sustained on-line giving of $20.17 per month as we near the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in the year 2017.  Your contributions given online through this site support current and future projects of love and compassion around the world.

             Come join your sisters and brothers at in giving $20.17 per month on-line to support works of faith from Virginia for the sake of the world!


United Appeal raises $62,134-lower amount

ULA Logo for Journey  

 The United Lutheran Appeal for 2013 has closed with a total of $62,134 reported, lower than in past years, according to Ellen Hinlicky, director of Lutheran Partners in Mission.

              To encourage giving this year, she said she is working with a development consultant and graphics design firm to update the Appeal's message and look. Appeal materials for 2014 should be ready to send to all synod congregations in early February, Hinlicky said.

               From her office she reported recent events from some of the Mission Partners:

National Lutheran Communities and Services, owner of the Village at Orchard Ridge at Winchester and the Legacy at North Augusta in Staunton, is now managing Fellowship Square Foundation, which provides housing to over 900 low income seniors in Northern Virginia and Prince Georges County, Md.

         Virginia Lutheran Homes is seeking congregational partners to be involved with their residents. Pastor Kathleen Miko at Brandon Oaks and Mary Park at Luther Manor have more information. The VLH website is

               Virginia Prison Chaplain Service has a goal of a fulltime  chaplain in every prison but due to funding cutbacks, they are able to pay chaplains for part-time service only.

Southern Seminary enrolled three times as many Lutheran students for the 2013-2014 year as in the previous year. The Seminary is seeking an executive development director to replace Ron Walrath.


The church's "most segregated hour"


On Thursday November 7 the Virginia Council of Churches gathered to celebrate its 69th Anniversary under the theme "We Want to See Jesus: Christ in the Midst of the Most Segregated Hour."

The day began with the annual meeting of the coordinating cabinet.  Many events were held to keep ecumenical conversation and action amongst Virginia Christians.  There was also clear opportunity to reinvigorate the mission and ministry of the Virginia Council of Churches by creating a team to audit the current structure and bring fresh recommendations.

There were eight representatives from the Virgina Synod including the current president, Bishop Jim Mauney and the newly elected secretary Pastor Kate Costa.  The business was followed by a vibrant worship service with a sermon that gave sound theological and biblical foundations to the Christian call to inclusive worship. The group enjoyed lunch where many more participants gathered for food, networking and lunchtime conversation.

The curator for African American History at the Virginia Historical Society gave a dynamic overview of the history of churches that shed light on how American churches have had intentional and unintentional cultural patterns in regards to segregated and inclusive worship practices.

Following that a four-person panel including the Synod's own Pastor Lucille "CeCee" Mills answered questions from a moderator and from the attendees on the theme.  Attendees also shared stories from their life including worship practices and dealings with racism.  An open conversation and a benediction concluded the day with promises by the moderator to continue the story.

PHILIPPIANS 4:13  I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me.        


What's next after ecumenical fervor?

     by Pastor Eric Moehring


"Living out the LARCUM Covenant: The Reception of Vatican II by the Churches"


The 2013  LARCUM (Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Methodist) conference was held in three historic downtown Winchester churches---Grace Lutheran,  Christ Episcopal and Braddock Street United Methodist---on Dec. 6-7..  Even before the conference, these churches along with Sacred Heart Catholic Church have had a longstanding spirit of friendship, fellowship and cooperation in the Winchester area. 

            The primary speaker for the conference was The Most Rev. Dr. Frank T. Griswold, III, 25th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, USA.  His topics included how Vatican II was received by other LARCUM Churches; the impact of Vatican II on the worship life of other traditions,  and its contribution to the spiritual and devotional life of the wider Church.  Far from a lesson in history, Bishop Griswold continuously pressed the 129 registered lay and rostered participants to see these topics in light of the future of the Christian Church: "The first surge of ecumenical fervor has come and gone; now is the most difficult time of staying at the place...and going deeper,.' He said.

Bishop Jim Mauney preached on Friday evening, speaking  of his own ecumenical journey in Advent's themes of hope and expectation.  At the final worship service, the Rev. Young Jin Cho, bishop of the Virginia Conference of the UMC, closed the conference with the challenging question: "Are we following Jesus or are we just expecting him to follow us?"

            Always taking the opportunity to learn more about the LARCUM journey, the Rev. Dr. Mitzi Budde of the ELCA and the Rev. John Crossin, OSFS, of the Roman Catholic tradition, spent the Friday afternoon pre-conference session talking about the maturing relationships and the work of the ongoing dialogues of the four traditions. The date and place of the 2014 LARCUM Conference will be publicized soon. 


St. Peter's Lutheran receives $5,000

"Matthew 25: Neighbors in Need" grant


St.Peter's Lutheran, Churchville, recently received a $5,000 Lutheran Community "Matthew 25: Neighbors in Need" grant from the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation for "Katie's Snacks"  to aid efforts to support physical, emotional and spiritual needs in that Augusta County community. 

The funding was awarded St. Peter's based on its effectiveness in addressing physical, emotional and /or spiritual needs in the local community such as food, clothing, shelter, fellowship, and care for the sick based on Jesus' words in Matthew 25: 35-36.

            "Katie's Snacks St. Peter's Lutheran  has also elected to participate in a complementary two-to-one challenge grant program sponsored by the Foundation. For every dollar raised by "Katie's Snacks,"  St. Peter's Lutheran Church, from donors by March. 31, the Thrivent Financial Foundation will provide an additional 50 cents-up to $5,000-in support of the organization's ministry.

            "We are delighted to assist 'Katie's Snacks'  at St. Peter's Lutheran through this grant," said Richard Kleven, Thrivent  Foundation vice president. "We trust that this support will strengthen 'Katie's Snacks,'  St. Peter's outreach to those it serves."

            A Benefit Concert to raise funds to meet  the challenge grant for Katie's Snacks will be held Sunday, March 30 at 2:30 pm at Buffalo Gap High School auditorium, Swoope,. .

Donations for Katie's Snacks  may be sent to St. Peter's Lutheran Church, PO Box 303, Churchville, VA 24421.


About the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation

Founded in 1982, the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation is a private foundation that operates exclusively for charitable, educational and religious purposes. It supports the health and vitality of the Lutheran community, the Fox Cities of Wisconsin and the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Grants are provided for projects and missions that reflect Thrivent Financial for Lutherans' charitable interests. The primary charitable interest of the foundation is assisting nonprofit organizations and those they serve in achieving economic security and sustainability. To learn more about the foundation and its programs, visit:


About Thrivent Financial for Lutherans

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a faith-based financial services membership organization gives advice for nearly 2.5 million members about money and generous living. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates offer a broad range of financial products and services. As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent Financial joins with its members to create and support national outreach programs and activities that help congregations, schools, charitable organizations and individuals in need. For more information, visit and check the firm on Facebook and Twitter.





Editor:  George Kegley   
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