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

Virginians plan 

"God's Work, Our Hands"


           Members of the Synod staff will put on yellow ELCA t-shirts proclaiming "God's Work, Our Hands" and go to the Brandon Oaks nursing center to visit residents during the ELCA Week of Service in the first week of September. They will be joined in service by members of more than half of the Synod's congregations.

            Members of First English, Richmond, plan "to go out into the neighborhood to complete random acts of kindness." A team from Peace, Charlottesville, will paint a house. Members of Mt. Tabor and Redeemer, Middlebrook, will work on a Habitat house. A team from St. Mark's, Roanoke, will serve food at the Rescue Mission. Others will prepare backpacks for weekend snacks and visit nursing homes.

            For more information on "God's Work. Our hands." Sunday, click the Quick Link at right.

In This Issue
"God's Work, Our Hands"
Lutherans in the news
PNG Lutherans endangered by volcano
Divine Foolishness-Bp Eaton
Bittle "a remarkable guy"
Caroline Furnace launches campaign
Freshmen build Habitat house
Candidates for ministry approved
Malawi rich in love
Peace builds
Transforming children in Ecuador
Smiley is VP of WELCA
Synod malaria goal met
Women make 2,600 dresses for Africa
Wheatland celebrates 150 years
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news


            Three Virginia Synod seminary graduates are being ordained, two pastors have moved to new calls in the state and two others have been called to other synods.

            Dr. Phyllis Milton (left) was ordained on Aug. 23 at Gloria Dei, Hampton, where she has been called as associate pastor, serving with the Rev. Charles Bang, senior pastor. She will continue as synodical minister for Christian formation and lead chapel services and provide pastoral care for faculty, staff and children at Gloria Dei School.

Barbara Krumm (right), former director of the St. John Lutheran School, Norfolk, will be ordained on Sept. 12 at St. John Church. A Norfolk native, graduate of Old Dominion University and Gettysburg Seminary, she has accepted a call to Martin Luther, Bergton, and she and her husband, Dale, will move to Bergton.

             Andrew Tucker (left), an Orrville, Ohio native who studied at Ashland University, earned master's degrees at Duke Divinity School and Southern Seminary, will be ordained Sept. 5 at St. Paul Lutheran, Durham, N.C., where he has been campus pastor. He also served as campus minister at Duke University and the University of South Carolina. Tucker has accepted a call to Christ, Radford. His wife is Michelle Tucker.

             Curtis Black (left) was ordained at his home church, St. Andrew, Portsmouth, on Aug. 24. He has accepted a call to St. Paul Lutheran, Olean, Ind.

Julie P. Recher (right) of Christ the King, Richmond, a graduate of Roanoke College and Philadelphia Seminary, will be ordained Sept.27 at Atonement Lutheran, Wyomissing, Pa., where she will be installed as associate pastor. She has been active in youth events in the Synod. She has a spouse, Johanna.

            Pastor Chris Carr, formerly of Salem, Mount Sidney, has accepted a call to Christ the King, Richmond. Carr had served at Salem for 11 years.

            Pastor John Ericson, Living Water, Kilmarnock, accepted a call to Reformation, Newport News. Pastor Bob Maier will serve as interim at Living Water.

            Pastor Terry Edwards has resigned at Immanuel, Bluefield, W. Va. in the Immanuel Central Parish to accept a call to Prince of  Peace Lutheran, Mount Vernon, Ill. He previously served at Mount Tabor, Staunton, and Martin Luther, Bergton.

            Pastor Candis O'Meara resigned at St. James, Chilhowie, to accept a call to

St. Paul Lutheran, LaGrange, Tex. She also has served at St. Matthew, Konnarock, and Faith, Whitetop.

             Pastor Rod Ronneberg (left) has moved from Maryland to Staunton where he has accepted a call to part-time service at Faith and St. Peter's, Churchville.

Jeanette Bergeron has retired after serving as director of the James R. Crumley Jr. Archives of Region 9, ELCA. The Archives board said Bergeron "presided over a significant period of expansion for the archives...By caring so diligently for the precious legacy of the past, she had left an important legacy for future archivists and historians to appreciate and to study." During a search for a successor, volunteers and a part-time interim archivist will manage the work of the office at Southern Seminary. 

Mike Agee (right) has succeeded veteran Keith Brown as the Synod's financial consultant. Agee retired from AT&T and Lucent Technologies and worked as an administrator at St. John Lutheran, Roanoke, for 10 years.

            Rogathe ("Roggy") John Tippe, (left) a Tanzanian student supported by St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Williamsburg through Godparents for Tanzania, will be visiting in the Virginia Synod in the next month. He has graduated from Sokoine University with a degree in wildlife management.

            Martin Barstow a Norfolk native, has moved from Pittsburgh to serve as director of music at St. Stephen, Williamsburg. He is certified by the American Guild of Organists and he also works as a pharmacy technician.

            In the 21 years since Pastor Gary Scheidt and his wife, Liz, began serving Trinity Ecumenical Parish near Smith Mountain Lake, the congregation has grown from about 100 worshiping at Resurrection Catholic Church to more than 800 members with an average of over 350 worshippers each week, according to Ecumni News, the parish paper. The congregation's building was completed in 1997 and expanded in 2003.

Scheidt is retiring in November.

            A spokesperson for the Lutheran Student Movement at East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tenn., asks that contact information about any Virginia Synod student attending the school be sent to Pastor Ed Myers at


PNG Lutherans

endangered by volcanic eruption 


 Bishop Jim Mauney has called for prayers for the people of Papua New Guinea after an early Friday morning volcanic eruption endangered the companion synod in the New Guinea Islands District. A district conference meeting was interrupted by the action.

Mt. Tavurvur

            A message from PNG said delegates to the conference were evacuated to Kokopo on safe grounds and they were seeking a new location for an important election of district executives after the eruption of Mt. Tavurvur. This is the same volcano that destroyed Rabaul in 1994 when it erupted simultaneously with Mount Vulcan nearby, Mauney said.

            The bishop said, "let us join in prayer for safety and wisdom in decisions. Give to government and church leaders a loving concern for all, especially the most vulnerable." Mauney said he is seeking contact with Islands District President Tobey Eleasar. He expressed concern for the whole PNG population as they seek shelter and food.


Divine Foolishness

        by Elizabeth A. Eaton

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton


Christ crucified is God's clearest and most complete act of love.


For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart (1 Corinthians 1:18-19).

Paul wrote this to the Corinthians who were going astray. They were quite smitten with the elegant formulas of the Greek philosophers. The wisdom of the wise was a good thing. Foolishness, on the other hand, was considered a moral defect. They had become boastful, and Paul had to remind them that not many of them were wise or powerful or noble according to the standards of the world.

            The Corinthians had begun to believe that their own effort and understanding was the basis of their life and faith. It's clear they had not read Martin Luther's explanation of the third article of the Apostles' Creed.

            Their cultural context is not so different from our own. We value knowledge and power and privilege. And while it might have been true that not many in the Corinthian church were "wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth" (verse 26) we are now. We can't claim to be the 99 percent. We are the 1 percent. So what does that mean for the church today?

            I remember the moment in a lecture hall in divinity school when I came to the abrupt and shocking realization that theology was not rocket science. This was quite disappointing because I was in a university full of actual rocket scientists. How could I hope to be taken seriously by other disciplines in the university-by the law school, the medical school, the business school-when what I was studying was the life and times of a Galilean preacher? I longed for a lab coat, a briefcase, even a calculator-anything that would demonstrate that my discipline was just as sophisticated, and therefore valuable, as any other.

            I wonder, sometimes, if the church is a little embarrassed by the foolishness of the cross. The foolishness is not just that the brutal and humiliating crucifixion of Jesus is actually the way God's love was manifested, but that God's love is so complete. This is the overwhelming simplicity of God. God loves us completely. There is no way or any need to dress that up. It just is.

            A contemporary Christian mystic said, "The relationship with God is so simple and deep and true and the church just wants to glitz it up."  Because this simple, deep, true relationship does not rise to the level of a complicated, technical, theoretical system.

We often obscure God with our "realistic," "wise" and "clever" schemes. So we set about launching programs. We develop five-year plans. We make sure that all of our congregations are fitted with correct signage. We look for synergies and metrics. Then we think out of the box, push the envelope, put language to it and circle back so that, at the end of the day, we've achieved a critical mass.

            This is not to discount secular best practices or expertise. Heaven knows the church can learn a lot from the business world. But it is to say that our starting point is our helplessness. Our starting point is to get human agency out of the way.

            In a sense, Paul's letter to the Corinthians is a "come to Jesus moment." Do we want wisdom? Well, here it is-Christ crucified, God's clearest and most complete act of love. Come to Jesus. Do we believe it? Can we live it? This is what people are looking for-to be completely loved by the One who knows us completely.

            Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that discipleship is "not hero worship but intimacy with Christ." Strangely, that intimacy actually propels us out into the world. In God's love we have been given our life so that, in love, we can give our life away. That is a divine foolishness.  


This column originally appeared in The Lutheran's September issue. Reprinted by permission.


Dr. David Bittle was "a remarkable guy"


           Dr. David Bittle, first president of Roanoke College and a longtime Lutheran pastor in the Roanoke Valley, was "a gigantic man and a powerful public speaker," said Dr. Bob Benne, retired Roanoke College professor, in a talk to Salem Historical Society on Aug. 24. Benne is researching past presidents of the college as material for a book.

            Benne said he found several surprises in Bittle's life. He was president from 1852 until his death after a prayer at a home missions meeting in 1876. Bittle was "thoroughly evangelical without much trace of Lutheran content in the education, rather a conversionist."  The college president held revivals and believed that "every student should be able to say when he was converted."

            Bittle, also one of the first pastors of College, Salem, "a remarkable guy," lived a scholarly life, kept the college open during the Civil War and left a library of 5,000 volumes.  When he died, a cortege of mourners a mile long followed to East Hill Cemetery in Salem where he was buried.

            In honor of the first Roanoke president, many Southwest Virginians have been named Bittle, said John Long, director of the historical society.


Caroline Furnace launches 100 for 50 campaign

       Lutheran Camp Caroline Furnace has started a 100 for 50 campaign with a goal of finding 100 people, pairs or groups who will commit to giving $50 a month.

            Reuben Todd, new director, said he believes the camp is vital in the faith journey of campers because "spiritual growth happens outside your normal routine." The summer camp has had a positive impact on the lives of many youngsters who have been coming there for years, he said.


College freshmen build Habitat house,

School is named to best college list


College Chaplain Chris Bowen is flanked by Dylan White (left) and Alex Weant at house construction site.

            About 560 Roanoke College freshmen and 80 transfer students were driving nails, placing roof sheathing and raising walls on the ninth annual R House, constructed with Habitat for Humanity, on the weekend of Aug. 24.They strapped on hard hats and work gloves, working in shifts. All freshmen are required to participate in the annual tradition. The house will be moved into Roanoke for completion by Habitat volunteers.

            Roanoke has been named one of the best colleges in the nation in a listing of 379 colleges and universities for an annual publication of the Princeton Review. The guide said a student survey described Roanoke as a school that "guides students in exploring relevant studies and teaches them how to carefully evaluate important issues in society." The college has made this ranking previously.

            The new students began by signing their names in the college's record books and they traveled into Roanoke on Sunday night and Salem on Monday night to visit restaurants and shops. Classes began Aug. 27.


Four candidates for ministry approved


 The Synod Candidacy Committee granted four positive entrance decisions for ministry at its annual Vocations Conference at Eagle Eyrie, near Lynchburg, on Aug.4-5.

            The four candidates are Ellen Clough, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, who is attending Southern Seminary; Charles "Chuck" Miller, Wheatland, Botetourt County, TEEM 

(Theological Education for Emerging Ministries); Alex Zuber, Christ, Roanoke, attending Philadelphia Seminary, and Robert Carr, Salem, Mt. Sidney, attending Gettysburg Seminary.

            The focus of the conference was on what considerations go into discerning a call at different stages of  rostered ministry. Speakers were Pastor Brett Davis, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, ordained less than five years ago; Pastor Paul Tolke, St. Peter, Stafford, ordained about 10 years ago, and Pastor David Skole, Christ, Roanoke, ordained about 20 years ago.  More than 45 committee members, candidates and inquirers attended the conference. 

Malawi, a country whose people are rich in love

     by Selise Miller

Malawian women dancing


On July 25, Abusa (Pastor) Kelly Derrick, Lizzie Franz, Kathleen Radtke and Selise Miller from St. Philip, Roanoke, and Heidi Speakman from Trinity, Martinsville, begin their journey to Malawi, arriving in Lilongwe on the campus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi (ELCM) on Sunday, July 26. We traveled over the country of Malawi until Aug. 11 before heading back to Virginia.

We visited the Mponela Parish where we made about 1500 bricks for a future parish center and the Chitenje Parish where we laid bricks for the new vestry. We had Bible studies with adults and children at both locations, giving the children a mirror so they could see themselves---many for the first time.

We were at Mponela for the dedication of a bore-hole well and a feeding center, a joint effort between Habitat for Humanity, Thrivent Builds, St. Philip and the ELCM. This center will provide a meal for kids under the age of 5, a porridge made from corn and soy flour, oil and water, possibly the only meal they have for the day. The well, a gift from St. Philip, provides clean, safe water for drinking and cooking.

This three-hour celebration of singing, dancing, skits and speeches gave great praise to God. We attended church in Mponela, with Abusa Kelly taking part in the service and ordination of three new pastors. We were in church for six hours that day but the music provided by all the choirs was beautiful, a true testimony of their love for God.

In the second week, we traveled to different villages. We visited the Chigumukrie feeding center where they have been self-sustaining since 2009. They grow their own corn and soybeans, feeding an average of about 50 kids, six days a week, year-round. We gave health kits containing a towel, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and Vaseline to the children. Thanks to the churches of St. Philip, Trinity and St. Michael's,Blacksburg and two monetary gifts from individuals, we made 150 health kits and left supplies for more.

 Many of the young kids were afraid of the Azungus (white people) but with the help of the older kids they came up. We left this village just as we were greeted with lots of singing and dancing.

We visited Liwonde National Park and saw a wide variety of God's creations in their natural habitat. We saw elephants, hippos, baboons, kudus, impalas, warthogs. crocodiles, hartebeests, guinea fowls, peacocks, mongoose and bushbucks. We arrived at Luther Cottage on Lake Malawi for a very restful and serene sitting, spending two nights and awakening to lapping water and giving thanks for another of God's wonderful works. 

We visited the Malembo Health Clinic to talk about malaria. After a simple finger prick, patients are told in 20 minutes if they have the disease or not. They are given medicine (if available) and told to follow up if symptoms should not improve. Patients could have walked as far as 12-15 miles. Pregnant women and a baby are given a mosquito net. John Bvumbe, an ELCM worker in the HIV/AIDS-Malaria program, says that through educational programs they have seen a drop in malaria cases but still have a long way to go.

John took us to the village of Malembo where we were greeted with singing and dancing, These are very joyful souls. Villagers have established a "savings and loan program" where they can buy shares, receive dividends monthly and take out loans that have to be repaid in 30 days. From this, many members have opened a small business,  selling rice, oil, sodas, cookies, or goats with their small loan. They are able to buy netting to sleep under, improvements to their home, such as metal roofing, or donate money to the Health Clinic with their profits.

The drive from Luther Cottage to Lilongwe was beautiful. We traveled up mountains with unbelievable turns and thanks to our great driver, Dereck, we arrived back in Lilongwe safely on Saturday, Aug. 9.

On the last full day in Malawi, we worshiped at the Cathedral Church on the ELCM campus. Again the music was beautiful--youth choirs singing and drums playing. Music truly is a part of this nation. Abusa Kelly delivered a wonderful sermon with an interpreter speaking in Chichewa. After lunch we started packing to head home and hoping the suitcases were under the weight limit. We gathered after dinner to reflect on our trip and talk about plans for a 2016 trip.

Malawi is not a country rich in wealth but the people are rich in the love of each other, their country and customs. Malawi so long, we will keep you in our prayers.

Mulungu akudalitseni (God bless you)

You can read more about our trip at If you would like to travel with us or support this mission. please contact St. Philip Lutheran, Roanoke or

Peace builds, adds Sunday p.m. service


Peace, Charlottesville, is working on a building project of renovating old kitchen space and finishing a basement to complete an addition of two years ago. Also, a 5 p.m. Sunday service will start in October to accommodate those who travel or are on business Sunday morning. More creative contributions and involvement are expected.

            The construction will provide a multipurpose/resource room, narthex area and more comfortable space in the basement, said Pastor Lauren Miller. The goal is to provide a functional room for youth, she said. More than $70,000 has been raised toward the total cost of up to $80,000 for the project.

            The Sunday afternoon service will combine the best of ancient tradition and fresh, new expressions of faith. Music will draw from old and new sources and sermons will be more of a community engagement with the Word, Miller said. 


Tranforming children's lives in Ecuador

      by Susette Goff


St. Mark Lutheran Church in Yorktown is playing an incredible role in the

transformation of the lives of children at the Refugio de Los Suenos (Place where dreams come true) in Quito, Ecuador.

            These children suffer from not only the danger of the streets but also from

abuse, abandonment and extreme poverty.  Many of the adults in their lives are alcoholics, drug addicts and prostitutes or simply extremely poor.

Lauren Rossi, youth volunteer from St. Mark, was surrounded by Ecuadorian children.

Through the love and generosity of St. Mark, 150 children are being provided the opportunity to go to school, to receive medical and dental attention, to have therapy available to them and to receive a daily meal (for many, their only meal).            Additionally, St. Mark is helping children with special needs such as medication for epilepsy and other severe illnesses and special schooling for a deaf mute child.  This requirement continues to grow.

            Fourteen former Refugio children, now young adults, are in the process of obtaining or have completed a higher education thanks to the higher education sponsorship program.  They include a policeman, a law student, teachers and a young man who now runs a Refugio similar to the Refugio de Los Suenos.  Many children have been trained in vocational areas at the Refugio and are now carpenters, bakers, painters, childcare workers, hair stylists and delivery workers. 

The true measurement of success is the high percentage of the Refugio children who have become successful adults and return to the Refugio to give back in the form of their time and talents.  Most importantly, the children of these young adults will no longer have to survive on the streets.

            St. Mark also works with a local church near the Refugio, called the La Iglesia de San Juan.  By supplying materials and Bibles they have helped to establish a successful Catechism Program for the children.  Over 80 children have been able to complete their religious instruction thanks to St. Mark's help.

            As a result of the St. Mark commitment to the Ecuadorian children, there has been a monumental transformation in the lives of the children at the Refugio de Los Suenos but the work continues. 

A freelance writer visiting the Refugio said, "Meeting the children of the Refugio is a heart-making, heart-breaking experience. Heart-making because you can feel the genuine love and appreciation from the children for the help they receive...along with lots of hugs.  Heart-breaking knowing the difficulties and horrors these children have suffered though."

St. Mark continues to be committed to those children who show up at the doors of the Refugio with sad faces and heart-breaking stories.  Please join us in keeping them in your prayers.


Jody Smiley is VP of Women of ELCA


The Ninth Triennial Convention of the Women of the ELCA took place at the Charlotte Convention Center July 22-24.  360 delegates elected by each of the 64 synodical women's organizations elected new officers and executive board members who will serve a three-year term concluding in 2017. The new officers include:

    - Patti Austin, president. Austin is a member of All Saints Lutheran in Lilburn, Ga.

    - Jody Smiley, vice president. Smiley is a member of St. Michael Lutheran in Blacksburg.

    - Becky Shurson, secretary. Shurson is a member of Faith Lutheran in Yucaipa, Calif.

    - Ely Smith, re-elected treasurer, is a member of Trinity Lutheran in Parkland, Wash.

Other convention business included the approval of the 2015 budget for the women's organization and the passage of memorials and resolutions dealing with such issues as financially supporting efforts to provide solar energy for Phebe Hospital in Liberia, raising awareness and prevention of human trafficking and commitment to pray for guidance and direction in the current humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children entering the United States.

Offerings taken during the convention's worship were distributed to Women of the ELCA, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and  On Eagles Wings Ministries.

The convention preceded the Ninth Triennial Gathering of Women of the ELCA, July 24-27, where more than 2,300 women of all ages shared their faith through worship, featured speakers, workshop sessions and more.  The participants spanned six generations, from 10 months to 97 years old.

The speakers at the gathering included Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton; the Rev. Susan Sparks, pastor, comedian and former attorney; the Rev. Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest who serves as chaplain at St. Augustine's chapel at Vanderbilt University and is founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms based in Nashville, Tenn., and Elaine Neuenfeldt, executive secretary for Women in the Church and Society at The Lutheran World Federation, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Women attending the gathering contributed "in-kind" gifts to support local

organizations assisting families experiencing poverty. During the Gathering, women contributed $14,785 in gift cards, 15,877 minutes in phone cards, 6,635 toilette items, 3,717 pairs of socks and underwear, 118 quilt kits, 116 quilts, and 1,508 prayer shawls.

            Agencies receiving Women of the ELCA in-kind gifts are: The Legacy Hall program of Florence Crittendon Services, the Journey Place program of the Relatives, Faith Farm of Lutheran Services Carolinas, Lutheran World Relief and Lily Pad Haven.


Virginia Synod meets initial malaria goal!

     by Eric Carlson


The Virginia Synod has now given over $234,000 to the ELCA Malaria Campaign!!  We have achieved the goal set for us by the ELCA of giving $230,000 by the year 2015!  Thank you for all of your hard work and for helping to make malaria history!  

            But we are not done!  While we have reached our ELCA goal, our internal synod goals were a bit higher -- $250,000 by 2015 and a significant sustainment effort to run indefinitely into the future.  $250,000 means that 25,000 families receive life-saving mosquito nets!  

We will not abandon our sisters and brothers in Africa nor in Papua New Guinea as they continue to work diligently to prevent and recover from this and other diseases.  Virginia Synod has given about $6.40 per baptized member, ranking 9th in giving per member of the 65 synods in the ELCA.  Let's make that $10.00 -- one net -- per baptized member!

Nuwayina Briska and Joseph Antibas distribute mosquito nets at a health clinic in Nigeria.

            Nuwayina Briska a health educator and Joseph Antibas the malaria coordinator for the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) distributed mosquito nets from the health clinic at the LCCN annual convention. The LCCN implements the Lutheran malaria program in Nigeria in cooperation with Global Health Ministries.

The ELCA Malaria Campaign has already surpassed $12.5 million in funds raised! The question that's on many minds now is:  
          What happens next?  The ELCA Malaria Campaign will continue to collect funds through the official close of fiscal year 2015 (January 2016).  When we reach $15 million, the whole church will be invited to celebrate that success together. If we raise more than $15 million by the end of 2015, then we celebrate Lutheran generosity!

            Additional malaria-related funding could be used to expand or extend existing malaria programs, or to allow companions in other countries (like Papua New Guinea) to get involved.  It's important to note that although our fund-raising campaign for malaria is ending, our commitment to walking together with our companions and supporting their health-care ministries will not end.

 Our global Lutheran partners who choose to prioritize malaria programming after 2015 will seek funding through ELCA World Hunger, which has a long history of supporting health-related programming.  


Women make 2,600 dresses for Africa


The Virginia Synodical Women's Organization (VSWO) held its annual convention during Aug. 15-16 at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg, with the theme of "Who are We? Bold Women of God of Many Generations."

The convention had a record-setting attendance this year with 131 participants. Much of the spark in interest in 2014 is attributed to the success of the organization's statewide mission project.

The participants of the 2013 convention were challenged by President Risse Snelgrove of Bethel, Winchester, to make 1,000 pillowcase dresses to send to Africa. At the time the challenge seemed rather daunting, but soon the excitement spread throughout congregations. At the final count of the 2014 VSWO Convention there were over 2,600 dresses.

Risse Snelgrove,Bishop Jim Mauney and an armful of pillowcase dresses.

Jody Smiley, a member of St. Michael's Lutheran Church in Blacksburg and newly elected vice president of the national Women of the ELCA was pleased with this year's convention. "I think it went really well," she said. "It was time for some new ideas and this group came up with some new ways to inspire the women."

"Women want to own and be part of what it is that they are supporting," Smiley said. "That brought in the women we saw here which was an exciting thing to see."

Besides contributing to the mission project, the participants experienced topical breakout sessions, listened to guest speaker Ellen Hinlicky give her talk, "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make (Church) History" and learned more about the Women of the ELCA and the VSWO.

             Pastor Brett Davis of Muhlenberg acted as chaplain and led the women in worship. Elizabeth Baguhn from the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin was the Churchwide Women's representative.

The new VSWO board was elected during the weekend, each member to serve a two-year term. Carol Bailey, Resurrection, Fredericksburg, was re-elected as vice president and Helen Weaver, Our Saviour, Richmond, was elected secretary. Bonnie Mantta, St. Timothy, Chesapeake, and Sarah Barb, St. Paul, Jerome, were re-elected as board members and Lisa Taglauer, Morning Star, Luray, and Annette Griffith, Our Saviour, Virginia Beach, were elected as board members for the first time.

Other board members are Risse Snelgrove, president; Peggy Baseler, Emanuel, Woodstock, treasurer; Connie Saunders, Immanuel, Bluefield;  Christel Williams, Our Saviour, Richmond; Iris Will, Epiphany, Richmond, and Anna Barb, St. Jacob's, Edinburg..

The VSWO service project for the 2015 convention was announced and is called "Stitched Full of Love." The women of Virginia are challenged to make 400 tote bags for the 400 foster children in the state.

Because there was such an outpouring of support for the service project this year, the VSWO leadership is prepared to send any excess bags to the Refugee Resettlement program of Lutheran Social Services.

For more information about the Virginia Synodical Women's Organization or the "Stitched Full of Love" service project, please email Risse Snelgrove at

 Wheatland celebrates 150 years

Pastors Jeff Marble (left) and S.L. Spangler, Jr., serve communion at Wheatland


 More than 200 people celebrated the 150th anniversary of Wheatland, a Botetourt County church known for its scenic location on a rural hilltop near Buchanan, on Sunday, Aug. 3.

 Among the former pastors present, the Rev. Jeff Marble of Morning Star, Luray, was the preacher and the Rev. S. L. Spangler Jr., of Seymour, Tenn., assisted with communion. Pastors Cecie Haxton of Georgia and Thord Einarsen of Williamsburg came for the event. The congregation, served by Pastor Ken Lane of Trinity, Roanoke, as vice pastor, currently has a pastoral vacancy.

The brick church was built in 1936, replacing a frame structure dating from the 1880s. Members and friends did much of the construction, except for the laying of 80,000 bricks.  About 700 people attended the dedication, according to a church history. The congregation was led by Pastor Peter Shickel when it began worshiping in a Luther Chapel on Little Timber Ridge, several miles west of the present site, in 1864,

An addition of more than 2,800 square feet and an elevator was completed in 2005. Wheatland, once part of a Botetourt Parish, became independent in 1963. A parsonage is located near the church. A church bell, sent from Pennsylvania for the first church, was electrified and is still in use. Planning is under way for a picnic shelter on the church grounds.





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