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


Two Roanoke graduates work

in ELCA Global Missions program


             Molly Beyer and Jill Disbro,  May graduates of Roanoke College, have been accepted as Young Adults in Global Mission of the ELCA.  Beyer, a member of Bethel, Winchester, will go to Madagascar and Disbro, a native of Columbus, Ohio, has been placed in Mexico.

            Beyer said she will teach English, work with the Lutheran church, sing in the choir and live with a host family in Madagascar. "The program is pretty open to let us get involved in the culture," she said. On Aug. 13, all of the record number of applicants will go to Chicago for a week of training before leaving for more training in their countries.

           She was not accepted for the program at first but she was placed after someone dropped out. At Bethel, she sings in the choir, helps with the youth group and works with a new program for young adults.


            Disbro, who grew up in Redeemer Lutheran Church in Columbus, majored in Spanish and traveled to Nicaragua for a spring break service trip, to India for May term and studied in Chile for a semester. She has a "really strong connection with Latin America" after travel, studying with Mexican professors and teaching English to Mexican and Puerto Rican immigrants in Roanoke. In Mexico, she expects to work with a non-profit organization and live with a family.

            Disbro has been "really involved with the church" and at Roanoke she "realized just how important my faith and having a connection the ELCA is to me." College Chaplains Paul Henrickson and Chris Bowen have been an "important influence" and she had a philosophy degree, based on "my love for exploring life's biggest questions from different perspectives."

            One requirement for the Young Adults in Global Mission Program is that each participant raise $4,000. Donations may be sent to the ELCA at P.O. Box 71764, Chicago, IL  60694-1764. Notations on the memo line of checks should state YAGM-Molly Beyer-GCS3101 or YAGM-Jillanne Disbro-GCS3106.

In This Issue
Roanoke graduates serve in ELCA Global Missions program
Lutherans in the news
Synod Assembly summary
Shout-out for Team ELCA
Help needed with future pastors
Harris Fisher completes Eagle Scout project
Hiking the Appalachian Trail and preaching
Mayo assessment saves Synod $39,000
Go East! on the road
Tidewater Church Media Conference is successful
St. Luke, Culpeper dedicates time capsule
Virginia Synod Fund for Leaders: $14,750 in grants!
St. Paul, Hampton serves lunches with love
Winchester retirement village starts Phase II
Being faithful is hard work.
Dr. Howard S. Rhyne dies at 92
Boundary training workshops held
Our Saviour celebrates moms, native Americans, vets
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news


 and wife, Lindsay


         Richard Goeres, president of the student body at Southern Seminary, graduated in May and received a $20,000 David H. C. Read Preacher/Scholar Award from the congregation of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City. The award is given annually to a student in a master of divinity program at a Protestant seminary who shows exceptional distinction in preaching and biblical scholarship and is committed to parish ministry. Goeres, shown with his wife, Lindsay, has accepted a call to the Augsburg Parish, Winston-Salem, N.C. He will be ordained in late June. He is a son of Pastor Richard and Neva Goeres, First, Norfolk.


            Sonya Williams-Giersch, ordained at Synod Assembly Saturday night, left a professional career in the telecom and consulting industry to become commissioned as an associate in ministry (AIM). She's a graduate of Bridgewater College and earned a master's degree from University of Maryland University College and a certificate from Gettysburg Seminary. A Shenandoah Valley native and a member of the county school board, she and her husband, Richard, and daughter, Gabrielle, a May graduate of Roanoke College, live in Strasburg. She accepted a call to Gravel Springs/St, John's, where she has served as a lay minister.

            Dr. Phyllis Blair Milton, synodical minister for faith formation, has accepted a call as associate pastor at Gloria Dei, Hampton, and she will be ordained and installed on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 4 p.m. at the church. She has been serving as vicar, working in pastoral care with school families and staff other responsibilities at the church. She will continue with her synodical duties of leadership for ACTS courses, Roots and Wings and Christian formation conversations.


            Alex Berryman, Trinity, Pulaski, a Roanoke College junior, recently presented his research on a transportation project at the Southern Sociological Society annual meeting in Charlotte. His topic was "Managing Transportation and Economic Volatility: What Can Policymakers Learn from Rural Low-Income Families?" He said he chose to study transportation inequality because he wants to contribute to social change that is personally meaningful.

            At St. Stephen, Williamsburg, about 25 members of the new 1956 Society, an endowment group, held their charter dinner with a goal of raising $1.2 million in time for the congregation's 60th anniversary in 2016. The congregation observed its annual "Be Prepared" disaster preparedness event with information placed on display tables on May 18.

            Sue Clark is retiring after more than 30 years of service as a secretary at First, Norfolk, and the Virginia Synod office in Salem.

            Work has started on a renovation project of hanging of acoustic panels, painting and installing new flooring at St. Philip, Roanoke.

St. Mark, Yorktown, is creating a prayer network as a place where members can call a concern for prayer, a person to pray for or any cause or need.

            The Tidewater Concert Band of volunteer musicians presented a concert at an ice cream social at Reformation, News on May 17. Plans have been announced for a special Music and the Brain Conference at Reformation on Sunday, Sept. 7, featuring Kamal R. Chemall, M.D., a neurologist, and Prisca Benoit, a concert pianist.

            A second annual golf tournament for the Philip Michael Smythe Scholarship Foundation was held at Holston Hills Community Golf Course, Marion, on May 17.

The tournament, raising funds for a high school scholarship, honors the late husband of Elizabeth Smythe, Marion.


Virginia Synod Assembly Summary


Faith formation has challenges in a changing world


            Bishop Jon Anderson of Southwest Minnesota Synod, official ELCA representative, set the stage for the 27th annual Virginia Synod Assembly by recalling his synod's recent work on Christian formation "to sustain our faith and pass it on to others." He was one of four speakers exploring the theme, "Ambassadors for Christ: Christian Formation, 2017 and Beyond."

            "God is working to reform us as individuals and communities in the Christian tradition. Our heritage should serve as apostolic fuel to drive us to engage in mission," Anderson told about 400 Lutherans at the Roanoke College weekend event.

            Dr. Susan McArver, a church historian who teaches at Southern Seminary, said that in today's changing world, "history gives us less of a blueprint than a story...At home and in church everything we do is faith formation...Formation of faith must be holistic, lifelong, relational and done in partnership. We must all work together."

            Dr. David Lose, a teacher of Biblical preaching at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., who soon will become president of Philadelphia Seminary, talked about faith formation in "the age of digital pluralism."  He told of the universal decline in church attendance and emphasized, "This is not your fault..You are just as hard-working, creative and faithful as generations before." But after many changes in the world, "we have reached our limit in information (and) stuff only makes sense in stories today...But we don't know our stories very well." Biblical stories shape our values, help us understand things and make sense in our lives, he said.

 Dr. Andrew Root, youth and family professor at Luther Seminary, said families were once the center of activities but the world has changed and parents don't understand their children so "how can they pass the faith along?" Since parents and children have fewer meaningful hours together, faith formation is more difficult. "We need to articulate our own experiences and share them at church."

Bishop Jim Mauney said the synod has four years to get ready for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. People will be asking "What does it mean to be a Lutheran" Reporting on the ELCA Malaria Campaign, he said over $211,000 has been raised in the synod toward a $250,000 goal to provide mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria. As promised, he gave jars of chocolate "kisses" to 15 congregations who raised $1,000 or more for the malaria program. Their representatives also received a hug from a 2017 Committee member.

At the Saturday night ordination of Sonia Williams-Giersch in the annual festive service at St.Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke, Mauney said Christ can be found in our neighbor as "we see our neighbor as a child of God."  Telling everybody of the good news about our heavenly father is Christian formation, he added. Williams-Giersch, a candidate of the ELCA Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) program was ordained. She has been a lay minister at Gravel Springs/St. John's Parish, near Winchester, where she will serve as pastor. Pastor Chris Price, retired at Richmond, was installed as a part-time assistant to the bishop. 

Bishop Jon Anderson and Gwen Arneson of Southwest Minnesota Synod speak at the dedication of the Chip Gunsten memorialo tree.

Bishop Anderson led a dedication of a tree planted outside the synod office in memory of the late Pastor Chip Gunsten, his close seminary friend who was assistant to Bishop Mauney. He was accompanied by Gwen Arneson, vice president of the Southwest Minnesota Synod, a companion synod to Virginia.

Bishop Mauney presented retirement plaques to Keith Brown and Sue Dugas, veteran synod staff members. Brown, longtime financial adviser, worked for the synod for 27 years and Dugas was office manager for 20 years.

Keith Brown, veteran finance man, and Sue Dugas, synod office administrator, retired after long service.

The Assembly passed a 2015 budget of $1.77 million, an increase of 1.95 percent from the current schedule, based mainly on slight growth in the 38.2 percent sent to ELCA, according to George "Skip" Zubrod, synod treasurer. He said he believes the synod has "turned a corner" in financial contributions.

Two resolutions approved call for congregational programs to prevent child/youth sexual abuse in churches and for nurturing ministries for senior members.  The resolution on aging was amended to memorialize the ELCA Church Council to update the 1978 statement on aging as a social message to address the challenges for seniors in the 21st century.

The synod received a report from Synod Council stating it was unable to make a recommendation on a task force proposal on gun violence referred by the 2013 Assembly because of "the range of issues" so Council plans to discuss the issues at a fall retreat and anticipates submitting a report to the 2015 Synod Assembly.

Three new members were elected to three-year terms on Synod Council and Dana Cornett, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, was re-elected. The new members are Pastors Chris Carr, Salem, Mt. Sidney; Kelly Derrick, St. Philip.Roanoke, and Meredith Williams, Ascension, Danville.

Will Southard of Salem, Mt. Sidney, retiring president of the Synod's Lutheran Youth Organization board, said the Youth Assembly listens to speakers, discusses them and then makes decisions. He was succeeded as president by Maren Corliss, of St. Timothy, Norfolk.

Roanoke College Michael Maxey said over $375,000 has been raised toward a goal of $500,000 for a Luther Plaza, to be the main entrance to a large Cregger center under construction on the campus. He said the Assembly probably can meet there in several years.

In the annual recognition, Mauney announced five pastors have reached the 60th anniversary of their ordination. He presented plaques to Pastors Harold Harter, Newport News, and Robert Walker, Burlington, N.C. Others recognized in absentia were Pastors Crockett Huddle, Woodstock; John D. Keister, Strasburg, and Joseph Shumate, Wythe County. Recognition also was given to those with 55th, 50th, 35th and 25th anniversaries. Mt. Tabor, Augusta County, is celebrating its 175th anniversary and Wheatland, Botetourt County is 150 years old. 



Virginia-ELCA links reported


  As the official representative of the ELCA at the May 30-June 1 Virginia Synod assembly, Bishop John Anderson of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod reported on "what we all accomplished together as a church in 2013" as well as Virgnia's own activities.

--The ELCA planted 41 new congregations and launched renewal efforts in 155

--The ELCA supported 224 students at eight seminaries

--Sent 60 young adults into global service

--Awarded 61 scholarships to young leaders from global companion churches

--Supported solutions to hunger and poverty in nearly 60 countries and over 350 programs in the U.S.

--Virginia Synod raised $257,500 toward a total of $18.6 million contributed for ELCA World Hunger. Eight ELCA Domestic Hunger grants for $15,700 were awarded in Virginia, serving over $150,000 "food insecure people"

--Eighteen ELCA Mission Investment loans for $13.4 million are at work in Virginia; 126 individuals and 51 congregations have invested more than $46 million in the Investment Fund

--Synod collected $109,500 for a total of $9.9 million given for Lutheran Disaster Response from Grace, Winchester, ELCA Church Council; Bishop Jim Mauney, ELCA Ecclesiology Task Force; Jody Smiley, St. Michael, Blacksburg, Women oif the ELCA board; Bruce E. Johnson, St. Philip, Roanoke, ELCA Board of Pensions; Nancy Reed, St. Mark, Luray, ELCA Committee on Discipline, and Rich White, Northern Virginia, Metro D.C. Synod, president ELCA Lutheran Men in MIssion.



Prayer for the leaders of Island District, Papua New Guinea


            Gracious Saviour, we pray that the Island District leaders of Papua New Guinea, numbering around 40, who will be participating in a homiletics course June 15-21, will receive good instruction, gain confidence and be inspired to preach the Gospel and experience safe travel as they come together from great distances. May these lay leaders be a blessing to their sisters and brothers in Christ throughout their congregations. Amen!


Shout-out for Team ELCA

     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton



               We are in the middle of synod assembly season. All synods will meet, vote, discuss, worship and sing.  I will be at five of these and can assure you that, though there are delightful flavors, they will be remarkably similar. If we were to take a voting member from the Pacific Synod meeting in Hawaii this year and plunk her down in the hills of Pennsylvania at the Allegheny Synod Assembly she would recognize what was going on.

            Each year from April to June a remarkable thing happens across the church. We come together. Members of synods participate together in the work of the ELCA and like it! Congregations see the work we do together as the ELCA all across this country and around the world and have a sense that they are part of something greater than themselves and are proud of it. For a few shining days we believe and live the words of Paul: :"So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another" (Romans 12:).

            And then we go home.

            In the Dr. Seuss story Horizon Hears a Who! There is an entire civilization existing on a speck of dust. The moral of this story is that, though it might not be part of our experience, we shouldn't discount the experience of another. After all, "a person's a person no matter how small." But I think there is another less perky lesson to be drawn, and that is, until they got into trouble, the citizens of Whoville were quite content to believe their speck of dust was the whole world.

            We're not so different. Congregations can, and often do, fall into the trap of believing that they are the church, the whole church, all by themselves. Coupled with some of the most frequently asked questions usually raised around budget time-"What do we get from the synod?" and "What does the synod do for us?"-this understanding of church becomes what I call "Transactional Whoville Ecclesiology."

            Transactional because the motivation for participating in a relationship is what can be gotten out of it. Whoville because the individual or the congregation or the synod or the region or the churchwide organization believes it is entirely the church.

            I'm not sure which part of Transactional Whoville Ecclesiology is most distressing. This ecclesiology arises from a transactional understanding of our relationship with God. If I go to church, if I keep the commandments, if I follow Jesus, then God will do something for me. The gift of resurrection itself becomes a transaction. It's like someone saying to his or her spouse, "I love you honey, but I'm only in this marriage to get your pension when you die." It's the opposite of "We love you because (God) first loved us" (I John4:19). It's "we love so God will love us." This is a grace-less ecclesiology.

            The question should not be "What does the synod do for us?" or "What do we get from the synod?" Rather, transformed by the love of God in the death and resurrection of Christ, the question should be "What are we able to do together as synod?" or "What do we get to do as synod or as the ELCA?"

            Whoville ecclesiology is isolating. It's also really American.We celebrate the concept of the rugged individual. We value self-determination. Autonomy is prized. We are suspicious of claims on us by a greater whole. The concept of church as the body of Christ and that we are members one of another, then, is very countercultural.

            But the baptized aren't just a collection of individuals in the church for what they can get out of it. We have been claimed by Christ. Paul reminds us, "You are not your own" (I Cornithians 6;19). The Marine Corps has billboards that proclaim, "Serving something greater than themselves." How is it that they are better at articulating what it means to be church together than we are?

            This isn't a plug for institutional survival or mindless loyalty. It's a call to each of us and all of us to greater, deeper and unapologetic participation in the part of the church known as the ELCA. We can have a little pride in who are without irony. I believe I've established my theological heft so I am allowed a little hokeyness. Here it is: We are Team ELCA.


Yikes! I need your help with future pastors!

     by Pastor Chris Price, Assistant to the Bishop




Pastors and congregations, I need your help with Candidacy - our ELCA ministry to and for those considering service as a pastor, diaconal minister or associate in ministry.  If a person in your congregation expresses interest in going to seminary and preparing for public ministry in the Church, first rejoice with them, and then please get them to contact our Virginia Synod Candidacy Committee or me before he or she starts looking at seminaries! 

To do its job well, our Candidacy Committee wants to have 13 months of relationship with an applicant before he or she enters seminary.  Future candidates do not necessarily know this; so they'll need pastors and congregations who do. 

The first decision our Candidacy Committee has to make is the "entrance decision," which registers our belief as to whether the applicant has the gifts and is in the right place in his or her life to benefit from the seminary experience.

 Seminary represents a huge commitment of time and resources on the part of a candidate and the Candidacy Committee wants to be as certain as it can be that a seminary experience is indeed right for the gifts of an applicant, lest precious time and resources be wasted.  The Candidacy Committee also wants to ascertain how best to support, challenge, and encourage a candidate during his or her seminary career.

  In short, it takes time for the Candidacy Committee to get to know an applicant, and to serve her or him with the quality of ministry that the applicant deserves.

Thank you!


Harris Fisher completes Eagle Scout project


            Harris Fisher, a 21-year-old member of Holy Trinity, Newport News, didn't let his Down Syndrome problems keep him from completing an Eagle Scout project-providing benches for Nannsemond River High, his school. He considered giving up several times but a member of his Boy Scout troop at Beech Grove United Methodist always called and kept him interested.

            Fisher was manager of the junior varsity team and later a batboy.  He loves baseball, said George Fisher, his father. The coaches have been very supportive, George Fisher said. After Harris Fisher made his plans, volunteers helped him work on the benches. Harris could have taken shortcuts, given his condition, but he wanted to earn it, said Dennis Garrett, chairman of the troop committee. Harris's project was the subject of a feature story in the Suffolk News-Herald.


Hiking the Appalachian Trail and preaching


            While hiking the Appalachian Trail with father and son, Tom and Matt Troyano from New Jersey, on Sunday morning, May 4, retired Pastor Harold Burnette took a four-mile side trip to preach at Sharon, a Lutheran church without a pastor at Ceres in Bland County. G. H. and Becky Peery, members of Sharon, had parked a vehicle at the trail crossing for Burnette to travel to the church.

Chestnut Knob shelter.

            This event was inspired by a conversation Burnette had with Bishop Jim Mauney in 2009.  Burnette told Mauney of his plan to hike the trail and the bishop said, "A pastor hiking on the A.T. should go to preach at a congregation near the trail."

            Burnette had planned to continue walking after the service but he took a day off to go with Perry to Red Oak Lutheran nearby where another retired pastor, Rev. Ed Schaack, was preaching. After that service, they went to Wytheville for Burnette's "much needed lunch" and they met former Southern Seminary Prof. Marty Saarinen. They drove Burnette to another trail crossing at Atkins, Smyth County, where he continued his hike with Harvey Dennenberg of Crofton, Md., and Frederick Riman, Chambersburg, Pa.

            Burnette said a lot of people cooperated to ensure that his weekend preaching took place. An Atkins restaurant manager agreed for a car to be parked there; the Ceres Ruritan Club allowed the hikers to sleep under a pavilion; the congregation changed its meeting time and the Peerys left the vehicle at the right spot.

            But the most important ingredient for the preaching opportunity, Burnette said, was "the need and desire of numerous, small, relatively remote, rural Virginia Synod congregations to engage pastors who are amenable to traveling to parishes many would consider off the beaten path to do ministry...Many small, rural Virginia congregations are in need of creative, dedicated preachers who are willing to go out of their way just as the Sharon congregation went out of the way to accommodate and make ministry happen."  


Mayo assessment saves Synod $39,000   

     by Mindy S. Reynolds
          Synodical Minister for Healthy Leadership and Wellness


As of April 30th, 101 persons completed the Mayo Clinic Assessment for a final participation rate of 71.63%. This resulted in a savings of $39,000 in health contributions for our synod.

The assessment is a wellness activity that identifies personal health strengths and risks and provides steps to improve health. If 65 percent of eligible plan members---rostered leaders and spouses---take the assessment, ELCA employers in the Synod earn a 2 percent discount on health contributions, amounting to $39,000 this year.

 In 2014, 97% of ELCA organizations earned the 2% discount, including all 50 synods that achieved it in 2013, as well as 13 additional synods, 11 of which earned it for the first time.

            While we achieved our 65% goal by March, we must note that this year we had 20 fewer people complete the assessment than last year. In 2013, the Virginia Synod was the second highest participating synod in the ELCA, with an 85.33% participation rate.

This 20 person decrease, combined with 13 additional synods achieving or exceeding the minimum 65% completion rate, caused our final ranking to drop from second place in 2013 to 42nd place this year, and was accompanied by a 13.70% decrease in participation.

Go East! on the road

     by Pastor Chris Price, Assistant to the Bishop


"Go west, young man!"  Well, Bishop Mauney's charge to me has been more like, "Go east, old man!"  And honored by the call to serve as his assistant, I have been heading out to meet congregations and pastors in the eastern part of the synod.

I have to admit that I hadn't gotten out much.  Over the past several years, I was busy trying to keep up in the congregation that I was serving-Epiphany, Richmond.  But now, as the Bishop's assistant for the "Synod-East," I am on the road again!

 I have to be honest: dealing with the traffic on the roads and the drivers on the interstates has not done that much for me - or my Christian vocabulary.  And recently making my way in, between, and out of Norfolk and Virginia Beach led me to overflow in thanksgiving to God...for a GPS navigation system!  My experience has been the inverse of a popular adage: the journey is not the most important part, the destinations are!  And the destinations have been engaging, welcoming, thought-provoking, and worth it. 

The pastors and congregational leaders with whom I have spoken are aware of considerable challenges before them and us.  The decline of "church-going" in our culture, tighter fiscal resources, and competing expectations of a pastor and a congregation - these were all mentioned and discussed.  Any one or combination of these challenges can be divisive...and exhausting.

 So what has surprised and heartened me has been the spirit (and certainly the Spirit) evidenced in several congregations.  The pastors and leaders of these congregations speak of sensing a new day.  They speak of emerging from past anxiety and conflicted-ness, and of embracing a new hope.  The challenges are still there and known, but much of the anxiety and fear has been put in the Lord's hands.

 The results are a new spirit to work together and affirm one another, AND a new commitment to serve others without having to be obsessed with getting members.  Don't get me wrong: all of the congregations I have visited want new members.  But more of them now realize that what they to be in ministry to others.  They are joyfully refocusing on what their congregation can do for others and can mean to others because they are the Body of Christ in the world.

 As long as God gives them time and opportunity, they are going to focus by God on the blessings of being brothers and sisters in Christ, of serving others in need, and of finding some new ways to share the faith in Christ that is their strength and joy.  The journey is still demanding, mind you; but it's being made with a greater sense of Promise. 

Many pastors seem particularly aware of the great opportunity and challenge that will be before us in 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  They know that we will then have precious moments of the world's attention, and wonder what we need to communicate about our cause and how we need to do it.  Most pastors know that we need to communicate our passion for justification by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

 But what makes this so challenging is that our great reformation slogan is now a string of words utterly foreign to the vast majority of people, if not Lutherans!  "Grace" is either something people say before a meal, or the name of a certain relative.  "Faith" for a world that shies away from trusting anyone is now something like one's decision for Christ - and so a "work."  And "justification?"   Most people have never even used the word. 

So what's a Lutheran church to do?  "God's Work, Our Hands" has certainly served us well of late; but the core Reformation cause demands something else (yet just as concise!)  I find myself stimulated by the conversation and the challenge; and I find myself believing in the Spirit "who calls, gathers, and enlightens" the Church of Jesus Christ.  As the travels and conversations continue, I'll try to keep you posted on what I hear, learn, and wonder.

Peace and joy in Christ Jesus our Living Lord.

Tidewater Church Media

Conference is successful in second year

      by Pastor Aaron DeBenedetto


The Tidewater Church Media Conference or TidewaterCMC was a day-long conference for church leaders and laity to learn about the crossroads of ministry and multimedia resources on May 3.  This year's theme was "Social Media and Mobile Marketing."

 Lendora W. Johnson, web/new media specialist at Lutheran Family Services, was the keynote speaker for the second annual event.. Participants worshipped and went to workshops that ranged in topics: website considerations, e-mail marketing and best practices, going tech in worship, Google Docs and Dropbox, helpful resources for pastors, the importance of social media in church ministry and more.  

The event welcomed representatives of churches of other denominations as an ecumenical outreach and service.  The lunch was fabulous and the fellowship even more so.  All participants went away with positive feedback and a promise to return next year with others in tow.  Save the date for the 2015 TidewaterCMC on Saturday May 2.  See the official conference website at:


St. Luke, Culpeper dedicates time capsule


St. Luke's old cornerstone.


St. Luke Lutheran Church in Culpeper, Virginia, dedicated a new time capsule on Sunday, May 18th, at the end of the Sunday morning worship service. This blessing  marked 100 years from the dedication of the congregation's first building, located in Catalpa, just north of the current church.

            This winter, a severe cold snap caused the 1914 cornerstone to fall out, and a box containing a hymnal, King James version of the Bible and offering envelopes from 1923-25 was discovered behind the stone.This stone and box had been moved to the current location of the church in 1965, but no one can remember exactly when or why the original time capsule was placed. Unfortunately the contents were badly damaged by the elements.

            The new time capsule was set behind the original 1914 cornerstone, and will be slated to be opened in 2056, at the 150th anniversary of the founding of the congregation. The box contained notes and predictions from the youth of the congregation, an ELW hymnal, pictures of recent congregational events, bulletins from Sunday services, Easter services, and the ordination of Pastor Kate Costa, and a history of the congregation.

The dedication included a reading from 1 Peter, "Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight" as they proclaim again that Christ is indeed the cornerstone, upon which the whole church is founded.


Virginia Synod Fund for Leaders: $14,750 in grants!


Thanks to Virginia Synod members' generosity to four funds (the Virginia Synod Fund, the Holy Trinity Fund, the Mary Emma Lenker Fund and the Rev. Chip Gunsten Memorial Fund), the Virginia Synod Candidacy Committee could award to its candidates in ELCA seminaries a total of $14,750 in extra scholarship grants for 2014-15!.

 These extra grants are in addition to the $1400/year available from the synod budget for each qualifying seminarian. As good as this sounds and is, Synod members must keep in mind that tuition and room/apartment charges for one student's year at an ELCA seminary can total about $22,500.  So continuing contributions to the Virginia Synod Fund for Leaders would be most welcome!


St. Paul, Hampton serves lunches with love

Preparing lunches with love.

            "Church provides lunches with love" was the headline on a Newport News Daily Press feature about the neighborhood lunch program of St. Paul, Hampton. For more than 20 years, volunteers at St. Paul have assembled cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, cookies, an egg and a drink for 50 residents and 20 diabetics at Langley Village.

            "I think everybody that does it loves being of service," Stephanie Messick, a St. Paul volunteer, told the newspaper. "And so it's great to be giving back and being able to see the fruits of our labors by being there, because we are there with the people and we give it to them."

            Pastor Chris Farrow of St. Paul said, "Part of the key to its longevity is two-fold, the need of the community but also the dedication of the people here to serve those people who need it."

            St. Paul members deliver lunches on the fourth Saturday of each month in a HELP (Hampton Ecumenical Lodgings and Provisions) program. Several other churches take lunches to other neighborhoods.

            The residents receive Meals on Wheels food during the week and some of them have said that without these bag lunches they would have no food all weekend, said Sue Clemens of St. Paul.


Winchester retirement village starts Phase II

     by Courtney Malengo


Village at Orchard Ridge takes shape.

Just a little more than a year since opening, The Village at Orchard Ridge-A National Lutheran Community (TVOR) sitting on 132-acres in Winchester, has announced its Phase II expansion.

When this expansion is completed in mid-2016, Phase II will create 80 new apartments and 16 cottages and it will also coincide with the opening of the wellness center and the expansions of dining areas and Orchard Woods Health Center skilled nursing.

The wellness center will include an indoor aquatics center, expanded fitness facility, and a multi-purpose room for fitness classes, meetings and more. This 15,000 square foot building will become a vital piece of the community as it supports the cultural and lifestyle philosophy of lifelong learning through TVOR's Life Enrichment programs.

Currently, TVOR has more than 300 residents living in the community's 203 independent living apartments, cottages and Orchard Woods Health Center. The Orchard Woods Health Center encompasses 28 private and semi-private suites within its memory care and skilled nursing neighborhoods.

TVOR is National Lutheran Communities & Services' (NLCS) newest continuing care retirement community (CCRC).  NLCS is a faith-based, not-for-profit ministry of the Delaware-Maryland, Metropolitan Washington and Virginia synods, serving people of all beliefs. NLCS provides seniors with a variety of lifestyle, residential and health care options through retirement communities and services in Maryland and Virginia. For more information visit or


Being faithful is hard work


             Being a faithful Christian man is very hard work, said retired Roanoke College Chaplain Paul Henrickson at the annual Men's Gathering of Virginia Lutheran Men in Mission at Roslyn Center in Richmond My 15-18. The theme of the weekend gathering was "Caution: Men at Work on Their Faith."

henrickson 2

            In church today, 61 percent are female and 39 percent are male, Henrickson said. One in six men attend church yet 90 percent say they believe in God and 25 percent of women worship without their husbands. Fewer than 10 percent of U.S. churches have a vibrant men's ministry.

            Speaking of the importance of discipleship and relationships, he encouraged the men to talk about the most important man in their lives.  "You are disciples," he told them. He also asked the men to consider "how we tell other men that the life of faith is about real life."

            Pastor Andrew Bansemer of Ebenezer, Marion, gathering chaplain, joined Henrickson in an analysis of the biblical story of the prodigal son.

            The men's board voted to shorten the gathering to two days and a night next year in an effort to interest more men. The 2015 gathering is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26.


Dr. Howard S. Rhyne dies at 92


            Dr. Howard Sloan Rhyne, 92, died May 10 at Gastonia, N.C. Survivors include a daughter, Lynda Mauney, wife of Bishop Jim Mauney, Salem. Dr. Rhyne, a life member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Gastonia, practiced dentistry for 50 years until his retirement in 1997.

            Also surviving are two other daughters, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Bishop Mauney participated in the funeral on May 13. 


Boundary training workshops held

     by Mindy S. Reynolds
          Synodical Minister for Healthy Leadership and Wellness




Epiphany Lutheran Church in Richmond with 40 participants, Reformation, New Market with 51 participants and Luther Memorial, Blacksburg with 40, were hosts for the synod's Boundary Training Workshops conducted the last week of April by Barbara Keller, ELCA consultant for the prevention of sexual misconduct.  A total of 131 rostered and lay leaders attended the workshops.

The training utilizes the DVD curriculum produced by the FaithTrust Institute, a national, multi-faith, multicultural training and education organization founded in 1977 by Dr. Marie M. Fortune.  Topics addressed during the workshops: power and vulnerability, friendships, dating, dual relationships, gifts, boundary issues in the pulpit, hugs and touch, transference, sexual intimacy, work-life balance, and appropriate use of social media.  

            In addition to these workshops, time was set apart during the week for Keller, Bishop Mauney, and Mindy Reynolds to meet with those rostered leaders and community partners in the Page Conference as follow-up to last year's conversations. Ten people attended this meeting.


Our Saviour celebrates

moms, native Americans, vets

     by Gigi Paddock


            On Mother's Day, Our Saviour, Williamsburg/Norge, celebrated  moms with a lovely brunch and then they enjoyed the early American hymnody of the Cantata "Melodious Accord" by Alice Parker, for choir, soloists, brass quartet and harp.  Homemade quilts adorned the sanctuary.

            This spring the Worship Arts and Music youth embarked on a journey of "Spirit Voices." The church's youth arts group explored Native American spirituality, visited the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Reservations and learned about the "First Nations" in this area,.They met with

Sharon Sun Eagle

Sharon Sun Eagle to learn songs and stories, take a trunkful of canned goods to the Reservation Food Pantry, and  present a worship service with Native American songs and prayers, and treat the congregation to their spring art exhibit.

            On  June 6, the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the church will coordinate a community event, "I'll Be Seeing You, a Salute to Veterans." Featured is Williamsburg Classic Swing Orchestra. The dinner dance is a benefit for Honor Flight Network, the nonprofit organization that serves our most senior veterans, World War II and Kora, by transporting them to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials the nation built

for them.  The church is partnering with community businesses, civic groups, Scout groups and individuals.

 For information on the event or donating to the event ,visit 





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