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

Nearing the goal!

      by Eric Carlson, Team 2017


The Virginia Synod has given over $225,000 to the ELCA Malaria Campaign! That is only 500 nets short of the ELCA goal!

            Go to and donate $10 to buy a net to help protect kids from malaria.

           Every time you mash a mosquito this summer, think about how you'd feel wondering if this very mosquito just brought you malaria? Or the one that just bit your four-year-old?

            100 percent of your gift through Team 2017 in the Virginia Synod is sent to the ELCA Malaria Campaign. Once we reach our goal, your recurring contributions will continue to be used to bring life and hope to families facing malaria, hunger and catastrophic disasters both at home and throughout the world.  NONE of your contributions are used by Team 2017 for administrative or advertising fees. All of it is sent where it is needed.

            So go ahead and set up a recurring monthly on-line gift of just $20.17 as we near the 500th anniversary of the Reformation! You'll be glad you did!

In This Issue
Nearing the goal!
Lutherans in the news
Leaving a healthy, safe world
New communications director
Pack the Park!
Fuller dies at 81
When the unimaginable happens
Busy quilters in Abingdon
SW Minnesota Synod floods
Synod VBS photo contest
Triplet, twins confirmed
Synod's stewarship specialists
Women to meet
From the Presiding Bishop
College razes Bowman Hall
College Poll finds optimism
Marion alumnae mark anniversary
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news


           Pastor Jonathan Mark Boynton has resigned at St. Stephen, Strasburg, to accept a call as associate pastor at Grace, Winchester.  His first work at Grace will be spent with the youth of Grace at confirmation camp at Lutheridge, Arden, N. C.

            The 300th anniversary of the 1714 arrival of the first colony of Germans who established Hebron, Madison, three years later, will be celebrated at Hebron this month. An organ recital by Sarah Leathers Martin, a Germanna descendant who lives in Georgia, will be held Friday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m. John Blankenbaker, Hebron historian, will speak on the congregation's history on Sunday, July 20, at the 8:30 and 10 a.m. services. Hebron is the oldest Lutheran congregation in the nation, holding continuous services since 1717.

          The 2014 goal of the Synod's United Lutheran Appeal is $100,000, according to Ellen Hinlicky, director of Lutheran Partners in Mission, which operates the appeal for the benefit of Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center, Hungry  Mother Lutheran Retreat Center, Roanoke College, Southern Seminary, National Lutheran Communities and Services, Virginia Lutheran Homes, Chaplain Service Prison Ministries of Virginia and Lutheran Family Services of Virginia.

            An anonymous donor has made a $5,000 challenge to members of Trinity Ecumenical Parish to match toward the completion of the second floor of the church's educational wing in honor of retiring Pastor Gary Scheidt and his wife, Liz Scheidt. Completion of this space will provide additional classrooms and new facilities for youth.

Trinity is offering a summer Nature Camp for rising 6th through 8th graders. The congregation is participating in the annual Offering of Letters by Bread for the World, an interdenominational organization advocating for the poor and the hungry. Plans are being made at Trinity for a "hands-on" mission trip to Guatemala in January or February, working on a ministry for clean water by making clean filters.

            Five women from St. Philip, Roanoke, led by Pastor Kelly Derrick, are preparing for a mission trip to Malawi on July 25. They will take 150 health kits, contributed by members of St. Philip, St. Michael, Blacksburg, and Holy Trinity, Martinsville. They plan to make bricks for a parish center, do plaster work for a church, lead Bible studies, visit congregations and take a one-day safari on their African trip..

            Lutheran Family Services has 28 youngsters participating in a camp for a therapeutic day treatment program in Winchester. They receive breakfast, a snack and lunch provided by Bethel, Winchester.

            Youth from Christ, Roanoke, will take a mission trip to Topsail Island, N.C., with Team Effort Youth Ministries on July 6-12, working with those in need in the Wilmington area, as well as time on the beach with other Christians.

            St. Stephen, Williamsburg, is one of 10 congregations who serve hot meals at two motels every Friday night. One night they fed 53 adults, four kids, six dogs and two cats. Two teams of 35 members are serving in the motel ministry. Emily Rossiter, St. Stephen, has been asked to join the board of Avalon, a Center for Women and Children. Doug Cummings of St. Stephen has written a book, Heads Up, Platoon Leader, about battles with Islamic insurgents in East Africa.

            Thirteen pilgrims from St. Mark, Yorktown, spent the last week walking on the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James, in Spain. They were scheduled to walk more than 70 miles.

            In June, Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, sheltered 32 cyclicists who were riding across the nation to California to raise money to combat multiple sclerosis. They came from all over the country and England.

Members of Holy Trinity, Wytheville, recently shipped 50 tubes of toothpaste for Christmas health kits at the Village of Hope, a school near Port au Prince, Haiti.        

Roger Milliken, Grace, Courtland, was re-elected to Branchville Town Council and his granddaughter, Dawn Hayes, was elected to a first term on the council.

The congregation of Reformation, Newport News, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the ordination of Pastor David Gunderlach at a luncheon.

Twins Andy and Matt Jones, St. Mark's, Roanoke, earned the Eagle Scout award for building window well screens and and a paved walk in service projects at their church. Emanuel Scere, Roanoke Times Timesland Boys Soccer Player of the Year, is a member of the Harris and Janet Scere family of Liberian refugees sponsored by St. Mark's. He won a soccer scholarship to the University of Virginia.

At Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, Alex Howell is raising money to build mobile shelving units in the church's emergency food pantry for an Eagle Scout award.


Leaving our grandchildren a healthy, safe world 

     by Bishop Jim Mauney



(Bishop Mauney wrote this opinion piece, published in The Roanoke Times on June 13.)


Are you, like me, becoming more and more concerned about the world your grandchildren will inherit? In 20 years, we could be four degrees warmer globally.

As a grandfather and a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America serving the Virginia Synod, I also worry about the impact that the choices we make today will have on our grandchildren and the most vulnerable of our neighbors tomorrow.

We are told by scientists that future odds for a flourishing life grow worse in our changing global climate. This is being caused in part by our use of fossil fuels, including coal, to generate electricity.

We know that climate change has many other public health impacts, and those impacts fall hardest on those who are most vulnerable, including children, the elderly and those who live in poverty.

Climate change is already affecting global agriculture, and with it, food supplies and prices. Reducing hunger and alleviating global poverty are key concerns among faith traditions and many organizations. As we look to our future, that work faces a daunting problem: We will need to address hunger and poverty in an ever more challenging climate.

The ELCA and our congregations, together with communities of faith around the country, are working to reduce our own energy use in recognition of the growing threat of climate change; however, we also know that what each of us does out of faith and a sense of stewardship is not enough.

To reduce our nation's significant contribution to global carbon dioxide emissions, we must act collectively to reduce emissions from power plants, refineries and other major sources.

On June 3, the Environmental Protection Agency announced rules that will ask states to create and implement plans to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other green-house gases from existing power plants.

If we are going to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and protect communities around the world, reducing carbon emissions from power plants must be a top priority for our country.

States, including Virginia, will have a great deal of flexibility in creating these plans. This will provide the room for finding ways to help workers in the coal and power industries adapt, as well as ensure consumers, particularly low-income consumers, avoid significant increases in their energy costs.

Climate change is real and it affects all of us.  But mostly, it will affect our children, our grandchildren and our most vulnerable neighbors if we fail to take bold action now to curb its worst impacts.

We have a moral obligation to leave our grandchildren a healthy and safe world; these rules are a first step on the path to meeting that obligation.


Kayla Fuller is new synod comunications director



Kayla Fuller, a recent Roanoke College graduate and a Damascus native has joined the Synod staff as director of communications. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts in communication studies.

Her major responsibilities in the new position include social media, website maintenance, writing articles about life in the synod, photographing events, attracting positive media attention, strengthening the relationship with Papua New Guinea, and assisting the Bishop with the goal to feed every child in Virginia by Oct. 31, 2017.

Fuller said she is passionate about connecting people and believes that communication is a key part to doing ministry. "I firmly believe that we are called to live in loving relationships with one another," she said. "It's hard for good relationships to exist without frequent, quality communication."

As she learns about the synod, she took the daily pictures from Kairos posted to Facebook and the VBS photo contest and she wants to share stories about how Lutherans in Virginia are acting as ambassadors for Christ in their communities.

During college, Fuller was a writer for the public relations office where she has had over 30 articles published on the college's blog, website and in the College Magazine.  She has interned with the Hodges Partnership, a Richmond public relations firm and she worked at the Salem-Times Register as a reporter, editor and photographer.

"As we move into a new era where people are much more likely to open a bible app on their IPhone than a bible in the back of a pew," she said, "we need to start thinking about how we can change the way we tell the amazing story of Jesus Christ. Our context has changed and so have the tools that are available to us." Fuller hopes to utilize technology and connection to help the Virginia Synod share the Gospel.


Pack the Park pays for 30 iPads


The Pack the Park for Minnick Schools event of Lutheran Family Services at a Salem Red Sox baseball game on May 7 brought in $8,500 to purchase 30 iPads for Minnick classrooms. The Salem Red Sox won, too!

(From left) Mary Wilson, autism coordinator, and Julie Swanson, LFS chief executive officer, hold a symbolic check for $8,500.

           Thanks to support from Roanoke area Lutheran congregations, the event provided students and individuals served by LFS an opportunity to enjoy a ballgame and raise money to purchase innovative learning technology for Minnick. With this new techno-

logy, students are able to keep up with their public school peers, learn skills through special apps and take part in fun, interactive activities.

            LFS thanked donors and said it welcomes donations from others who were unable to attend but who would like to help students with challenges learn skills that will help them live full and abundant lives. For more information about Minnick schools, visit


Pastor Harold Fuller dies at 81



            Retired Pastor Harold F. Fuller Jr., 81, a veteran of more than 46 years of ordained ministry, died June 25 at his home in Staunton. He had served Gravel Springs, Shenandoah and Quicksburg parishes, Mt. Tabor and Faith, Staunton, as well as congregations in South Carolina and Florida. Surviving are his wife, Mary Hankla Fuller; three daughters, Shanna Fuller and Sonya Byerly, Staunton, and Rebecca McLenigan, Clifton, and five grandchildren.

            The funeral was conducted by Bishop Jim Mauney and Pastor JoAnn Bunn at Mt. Tabor on June 27. Interment was at  Mt.Tabor Cemetery.


When the unimaginable happens

     by Mindi Reynolds


Did you ever think it was possible for a group of people who "just loved working with children" to slowly infiltrate your church, first by becoming new members, then by assuming leadership roles of your children and youth ministries? Did you believe it was possible this group could be members of a cult and end up molesting the very children they claim to love on an "altar" in a house across the street during the sermon hour?

Did you ever think these very people could then threaten to kill the children's parents if the children told their parents what had been done to them?  If your answer was "heavens to betsy, no, not in my church" - think again.

             This scenario, along with many other real life stories, was shared during a two-day training event called "Safe Sanctuaries."  The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church sponsored the training June 18-19 at the Hampton Convention Center.

           The General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church described the program: Safe Sanctuaries is more than guidelines, policies and procedures implemented to create an environment in which children, youths and the adults who work with them have boundaries of safe space. Safe Sanctuaries is an overt expression of a faith community in making a congregation a safe place where children, youths, seniors and vulnerable adults may experience the abiding love of God and fellowship within the community of faith.

"God calls us to make our churches safe places, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from abuse. We are also called to make off-site venues or activities such as Volunteer-in-Mission trips and retreats as safe as possible."

Among those attending the Safe Sanctuaries training were (from left) Teresa Lehman and Pastor Martha Sims, Grace Winchester; Dr. Joy Melton, training leader; Christy Huffman, diaconal minister at Epiphany, Richmond, and Mindy Reynolds.

Dr. Joy Melton, leader of the training and an attorney and a pastor in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, has devoted her law practice and ministry to the protection of vulnerable individuals---children, youths and older adults, detailed sessions presented current statistics and research highlighting the issues in the different age groups, and discussed practical strategies and ways to reduce the risk of abuse in the Church by developing policies and procedures to minimize isolation and secrecy in the ministry life of one's congregation.

Those attending found this training to be powerful and sobering. Look for more information in the future about possible training events in our synod.


Abingdon quilters are busy

Quilts on display at St. John, Abingdon.


The Quilters of St John, Abingdon, have made 130 quilts this year and more than 2000 since the group formed about 14 years ago.  Most Tuesday mornings will find eight or ten women in the fellowship hall assembling the colorful, sturdy quilts

            Some of the work -- cutting fabric, sewing the quilt tops, collecting sheets for the quilt

backs -- is done by members of the group throughout the week.  At worship on May 18, the quilts made this year were displayed throughout the sanctuary for a celebration and dedication.

High school seniors in the congregation were invited to choose a quilt as a tangible

reminder of the love and support of their St. John family as they go forward to work or college.  Other quilts had already been given to local charities, or to those in the congregation facing illness or other personal crises. Most, however, will be sent to Lutheran World Relief for distribution throughout the world.  Each year, LWR receives over 400,000 quilts from ELCA congregations and with other mission partners ships them to areas experiencing natural disasters, conflict, or extreme poverty.

SW Minnesota Synod homes, farms flooded


Heavy rains of 10 to 12 inches fell on members of the Southwest Minnesota Synod---Virginia's companion synod---in mid-June, flooding homes and ruining crop land in the heavily-agricultural region.

            Bishop Jon Anderson, a recent speaker at the May Synod Assembly, told Bishop Jim Mauney that his basement, containing a bedroom, living room and his wife's art studio, was flooded for the first time in 30 years. Many families, like the Andersons, "went to sleep in sounds of very heavy rain and woke to step into flooded rooms of water with carpets covered in mire and odor up to their necks." In many homes, flooring has been ripped out, carpets pulled out, baseboards pried off, drywall acting like sponge walls, removed to prevent mold.

           Mauney asked Anderson how the Virginia Synod "might walk with them and respond to them in this time."  Anderson replied that the farmers had hopes of responsive crop insurance and homeowners the hope of their insurance as ways to being able to move forward. "He asked for our prayers for so many across their region," Mauney said.

Synod VBS photo contest planned


Photos of vacation Bible school activities may be entered in a Synod VBS Photo Contest from June 23 to Aug. 11. Pictures should be sent to the Virginia Synod Facebook page by Thursday noon to determine weekly members. All pictures for that week will be compiled in a facebook album on Friday morning. On Aug. 15, all weekly winners will be entered in competition for a mystery prize.


Triplets, twins confirmed 

at First English, Richmond


            On Pentecost Sunday, nine young people at First English, Richmond---the largest class in 30 years---were confirmed. Among them were triplets Ellie, Kirk and Nate Fenerty, and twins Parker and Spencer Vida. Others in the photo above are Jake Hamilton, Cassidy Hoke, Amanda Jarvis and Sydney Stricker.                   This was a day of great rejoicing at First English, said Pastor John Schweitzer. 


Synod has two stewardship specialists

Cary Mangus (left) and Pastor Jim Kniseley share stewardship duties.

Cary Mangus and Jim Kniseley are the two part-time stewardship specialists for the Virginia Synod.  Jim has been serving in this position since 2010.  Cary served in this post from 2005 to 2010 and he has returned at the invitation of Bishop Jim Mauney to serve congregations in the western part of the synod and Jim will serve congregations in the eastern part.

            Cary has been married to Jeanne for 45 years and they have two married sons and five grandchildren. He retired in the fall of 2004 from CMT Sporting Goods, a five-store chain which he founded with three other partners in 1970. He is a member of Christ, Roanoke, and is a graduate of Roanoke College.

            Jim has shared pastoral responsibilities with his wife, Carol at Resurrection, Fredericksburg. since 2000.  He is a graduate of UCLA and Claremont School of Theology in California.  Jim and Carol have a family---son Joe and daughter-in-law Heidi and granddaughters, Emma and Lily, in San Diego.

            Both Jim and Cary are trained in leading the Ventures in Christian Stewardship Workshops.  They are delighted to work with congregation councils and stewardship teams in developing and enhancing the year-round ministry of stewardship.  They are gifted in leading Consecration Sundays and in preaching on stewardship themes.

            You may contact Cary at  Jim can be reached at


Women to meet at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg




Among speakers at the annual convention of Virginia Synod Women of the ELCA at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg,on Aug. 15-16, will be Betsy Baghun of the churchwide organization; Ellen Hinlicky, director of the synod's Lutheran Partners in Mission, and Pastor Brett Davis, associate pastor at Muhlenberg.

          The women will dedicate a number of pillowcase dresses made for povert-stricken children in Africa and participate in a "Love to Learn and Serve" session. Hinlicky will speak on "Well-behaved women rarely make (church) history" at a banquet.


Big look at Small Catechism

      by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton




             Several years ago, my husband's presiding bishop tried initiating a diocese-wide call to the catechumenate to engage those preparing for confirmation in a period of study and formation. We call it confirmation class or catechism, something generations of Lutherans have gone through. But this was a new experience for the Episcopalians in his diocese. He set about developing a curriculum for prospective confirmands, only to encounter resistance. How do Lutherans get participation in multiyear catechetical instruction? I told him : "Five hundred years of hazing."

            We do have a history of communicating the faith from generation to generation. Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism after the Saxon Visitation of the late 1520s, which examined the religious practices in the parishes of that part of Central Europe. He discovered a stunning lack of understanding of the basics of the Christian faith among laypeople and pastors. So in the Small Catechism he gives a concise but rich explanation of the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, the commandments, baptism, communion, the Office of the Keys and confession.

            The Small Catechism became an important part of faith formation in families. Millions of us throughout the centuries and world have studied and memorized it. It could be argued that no other experience is more universally Lutheran than studying this little book---not language, not hymnody, not cuisine, not worship style. "What does this mean?" and "This is most certainly true" are two of the most recognizable phrases in Lutheranism.

            It's been said, "Youth is wasted on the young." I'm not suggesting that studying the catechism isn't beneficial instruction to middle-school students. But confining catechetical instruction to that age group and expecting fully formed disciples at the end of the process is probably a little unrealistic.

            All of this has me wondering how we can bring our Lutheran traditions, unashamedly and gratefully, into our relationships with ecumenical and interreligious partners. The ELCA is fully committed to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. We have six full communion partners: the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church and the Moravian Church. As the ELCA, we also claim the evangelical part of our name. Set free by grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus and moved by the Spirit we want to tell everybody the good news.

            Some argue that emphasizing our Lutheran identity is an impediment to dialogue and evangelism. I would argue that if we aren't clear about who we are and what we believe, it's not possible to have deep and authentic encounters with others. It's hard to have meaningful give-and-take with mush.

            There was a time in the 1980s when church growth experts urged us to shed denominational identity in favor of more generic, and so appealing, names for congregations. St. Paul Lutheran Church became the church at Pheasant Run. It's like selling our inheritance for a mess of marketing potage. Of course we are baptized into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Of course our identity is in Christ and not in a 16th-century Augustinian monk But there is something distinctive about our Lutheran voice that needs to be heard in ecumenical and interreligious conversations and in the public square. If we aren't clear about this we run the risk of sliding into relativism.

            It might be time for all of us to dust off our Small Catechisms (or find it in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 1160) and take another look at the basics of the faith. Staff at the Lutheran Center in Chicago will be doing just that this fall. My guess is that places like Microsoft or McDonald's take great care in immersing their people into their corporate culture. We are Lutheran Christians. With great humility we can be unapologetic about being Lutheran. It would be wonderful if we at the ELCA prepared for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 by studying the Small Catechism together. We have a common language with which to talk about faith, engage Scripture and make sense of our world. Catechism is not just for the young. This is most certainly true.


(A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address:


College razes Bowman Hall for construction site


            Demolition of Bowman Hall, a residence dormitory behind the Sections on the Roanoke College campus, began at the last of June to make way for construction of a large Cregger Center. When completed in 2016, the 155,000-square-foot center will house a gymnasium seating 2,500, a field house with a 200-meter indoor track, fitness labs, classrooms, conference rooms, administrative offices and event seating for 3,500 people.

            The center will be on the space of the former main parking lot and the Bowman Hall site. The hillside at the main campus entrance is being graded for parking. Progress on construction can be followed on live webcam.


College poll finds optimism in real estate market


            Close to 60 percent of Virginia respondents to a Roanoke College poll believe the real estate market has improved in the last year but that is down 3 points from a February survey by the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. Close to 30 percent were more optimistic than pessimistic about the market. Over half predicted that conditions will improve in the next year.

            The interviews of 604 Virginians found that housing inventories, while still low, are beginning to increase in many areas of the state, including Northern and Central Virginia. Mortgage rates are moving upward over the last year but they have fallen in  recent months.                   The poll found that credit markets remain tight, deterring borrowing and buyers. Northern Virginia sellers were "extremely positive" but Southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley people interviewed were pessimistic about selling conditions. 


Marion alumnae mark 140th anniversary


Maxey, Mike


            Roanoke College President Michael Maxey spoke and Thomas W. West, last president of Marion College, was welcomed at the 140th Anniversary and Triennial Reunion of the Marion College Alumni Association at Marion in June.  About 70 alumnae and friends attended the reunion.

            West, currently a consultant on development of broadband infrastructure in California, was president of Marion, a Lutheran girls school, in 1966-1968. West, who was in charge of the closing, wrote a history of the college which operated from1873 to1967. He went on to serve in executive positions at universities in Indiana and California. The college's records are kept at Roanoke College.





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