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                                                                                             March 2015
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

Students retreat in the mountains

College students' retreat.


"The mountains are calling"--that's the tagline printed on Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp's t-shirts. For 40 college students from across the state of Virginia, it wasn't just the mountains that were calling them to gather for a weekend retreat; it was the fellowship, the escape from campus, and the promise of spiritual renewal.

The students came from Virginia Tech, Radford, Christopher Newport, Roanoke College, James Madison and Mary Washington, representing their campus ministry groups. The retreat's theme was one of journey.

 Friday night. students watched the Disney Pixar movie, "Up," which follows the journey of several memorable characters and their pursuit of accomplishing their individual goals.

After the movie discussion on Saturday morning, students went on an outdoor prayer journey, stopping at four prayer stations where they met the woman at the well, doubting Thomas, the woman suffering from bleeding, and the paralyzed man. The prayer journey led them into worship, where students received personal absolution and communion. After enjoying lunch and saying many "see you laters," the groups departed for their journeys back to campuses across the state. 

In This Issue
Students' retreat at Caroline Furnace Campt
Lutherans in the news
Subtle shift to works righteousness
Making our voices heard in Richmond
Stewardship opportunities
ACTS course on forgotten new testament history
Fund campaign to be determined in September
Carilion chief is commencement speaker
Men will hear of challenge
Solar power at Roanoke College
St. Timothy celebrates its 60th anniversary
Rehab Center.opens at Brandon Oaks
Tanzania support is vital mission of Bethel
What youth events mean to me


Lutherans in the news



            Kathryn Laura Pocalyko will be ordained and installed as pastor of Our Saviour, Richmond, at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 14. A graduate of Fairfax County schools, and magna cum laude at Princeton University, she studied at Universidad de Leon in Spain, worked in Budapest and earned a M.Div. degree from Yale Divinity School. She worked in rural ministry in the Page Conference, spent time in a monastic cloister and served as vicar of Advent Lutheran, New York City. She descended from two lines of Protestant pastors and is married to Daniel Silverman.
           Philip Yancey, author of What's so Amazing about Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew, will give the Capps Lecture in Christian Theology on Sunday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia.

            The Rev. Dennis Jacobsen, a Lutheran pastor from Milwaukee, is scheduled to teach the basics of congregation-based community organizing at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, on Saturday, March 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.The host for the training will be Faith in Action, a new coalition of congregations that will be using community organizing practices to work toward solutions.   

            The Wagner College choir is scheduled for a concert at St. Mark, Yorktown,  on Friday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. The 50-voice choir, conducted by Dr. Roger Wesby, will be on a tour through Virginia and Maryland. Through St. Mark's Adopt-a-Child program, Jose Cepeda, a recent graduate of the Refugio De Los Suenos, Quito, Ecuador, has decided to enter a seminary to become a priest. Eleven young people have graduated from a university or institute of higher learning and four have graduated from high school at the Refugio, supported by St. Mark.

            Fritz Heckel, formerly of Hebron, Madison, planned to marry Sara, from Finland, at an outdoor wedding inside the Arctic Circle last month.

            Amy Wagner, vicar at Holy Trinity, Wytheville, has started Holy Brews, a weekly discussion of topics ranging from faith to world problems, each Tuesday afternoon at Starbucks in Wytheville.

            Christ, Radford, is joining Catholic, Presbyterian and Episcopal congregations in Sunday evening Lenten services focusing on forms of art that wrestle with Christ's road to the cross.

            Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, scheduled a February 15 talk on "With God on our Side: Reflections on Faith in the Civil War Era," by Christy Coleman, co-chief executive

of the American Civil War Museum/Historic Tredegar in Richmond.

            A spring work weekend has been scheduled at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp for March 13-15. Jobs for all ages and abilities, from cleaning and clearing to building and painting are offered. Meals will be provided.

            Trinity, Pulaski, dedicated property adjoining the church given by the family of Betty and Walter Paulson. The family's wish was that this will become part of the church's property and mission.

            As part of a Parish Nurse Education Series at Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, the

Rev. Mark Beck, a counselor and mental health consultant, was scheduled to talk on
The Health Benefits of Forgiveness." 


Subtle shift to works righteousness

        by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton



Jesus didn't die to change

behaviors, political systems, institutions.


            We are in the middle of Lent-the season of spiritual warfare, or at least really good intentions. Many of us now engage in some form of Lenten discipline. We give up something: chocolate or coffee or FreeCell. Or we add something: Scripture reading, midweek worship or service projects. This seems normal and familiar to us just as the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday or crossing ourselves has become normal and familiar in many of our congregations.

        I remember a time when none of these practices would be considered Lutheran by large segments of our church. Too works righteous, too showy, too ... Roman Catholic! We didn't need to, nor could we make ourselves holy or righteous. That was the whole point of justification by grace through faith apart from works of the law (Romans 3:21-28, Article IV of the Augsburg Confession)

            We overcorrected. Fasting, prayer, Scripture study, acts of service, imposition of ashes and making the sign of the cross are classical spiritual disciplines that not only have an ancient history in Christian practice but also serve to engage our whole selves in devotion to God. These practices serve to draw us closer to and make us more aware of the love of God shown through Jesus' death and resurrection that justifies sinners, but they aren't what justifies us.

           As scrupulous as we have been in proclaiming grace and eschewing works in our faith practices, I've noticed the not so subtle shift to works righteousness in the work we do as the church. This exists in all three expressions-congregations, synods and churchwide-and all across the cultural spectrum. Jesus' invitation to repentance and discipleship have become a kind of transaction between us and God where we figure out what we have done wrong, promise to work really hard to be better people, and then God forgives us. What we see as the moral wrongs that must be repented depends largely on our place on the cultural spectrum. The cultural right is preoccupied with private mores and behavior and the cultural left is preoccupied with political rights and the activities of government and business institutions.

           Here's how that plays out. While driving through the Smoky Mountains on a family road trip, I saw a billboard that declared: "No smoking, drinking, card playing, dancing, movie going, swearing ... there is no sin within 7 miles of our church!" Wow. There must not have been any people within 7 miles of that church. That is the works righteousness of the right.

The works righteousness of the left plays out a little differently. If there are enough sit-ins or protests, or boycotts or enough petitions, we could inaugurate the kingdom of God. Then we could extricate ourselves from this bondage to sin. We could build a perfect world.

          There is a purveyor of high-end, organic, locally sourced groceries that is the temple of this persuasion. You can buy veal there without guilt because its source of veal is the little calf that, after gamboling across the fields, turns itself in to the butcher and declares (quoting Charles Dickens): "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done." No. Something has to die so we can live. We are complicit in the world's brokenness.

          We may work for justice or righteousness with the best intentions, and God knows there is plenty of work to do. But Jesus didn't die to change behaviors or political systems or institutions. Jesus died to end the fundamental brokenness and estrangement from God that is the result of human sin, our rebellion against God that infects every aspect of our lives.

          Just as Jesus' miracles in the Gospel of John are called signs that point to the new thing God is doing in Christ, so should our work for justice be signs that point to the new life we have in Christ. We're pointing in the wrong direction if our work becomes the new life instead of a sign of the new life.

         Lent can be a time to ponder this priceless gift. The death and resurrection of Christ has changed everything, a change no human effort could ever bring about.  


A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: This column originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of The Lutheran. Reprinted with permission.


Making our voices heard in Richmond

       by Joe Shaver, Grace & Glory, Palmyra

  viccp logo

Eight folks from Grace and Glory; Pastor Albright, Joe Shaver, Paul and Jan Crowther, Jean DeMarco, Helen Ida Moyer, Wayne Harlow and Rosann Hill made the journey down I-64 to Richmond on Jan. 20, joined by Pastor Sandy Wisco of St. Mark, Charlottesville, and Deborah Nixon of Grace Episcopal,  Church to participate in the Day for the annual All People event sponsored by the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

 As in the past, the VICPP gathers people of all faiths and denominations to lobby with their respective legislators on behalf of those without a voice nor the means to have lobbyists to represent them.  After gathering at the  Richmond Convention Center, we then walked or were bused over to the legislative office building for appointments with delegates, senators or their staff members. .

 The agenda of topics to be covered, developed through a poll of the membership of VICPP, was:  Legislative Redistricting, Medicaid Expansion, Minimum Wage Increase, SNAP (Food Stamps) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  After a tour of the capitol building itself, we returned to the convention center for a box lunch and hearing from members of the group as to their experience of the day.  While we may at times wonder what real effect our visit has with our legislators, it still is a tremendous feeling to make our voices heard for the "least of these" and to put our Faith into Action.  We hope you may wish to join us next year.


Stewardship opportunities


Jim Kniseley and Cary Mangus have been working with the stewardship team of the ELCA and the ELCA has agreed to provide workshops in three different venues in the Virginia Synod.

The workshop outline calls for two three-hour sessions to be presented in the western part of our state by Neil Bullock, the director of the Macedonia Project for the ELCA and in the eastern part by Keith Mundy, director of Stewardship for the ELCA. 

            These workshops are a product of the Macedonia Project of the ELCA.  This project was created using the backdrop of that story from 2 Corinthians, Chapter 7-9, where the early church was raising money for a church in Jerusalem that was quite poor.  The wealthy Corinthian church had embraced this opportunity of support with great excitement.  However, their support had waned and they had fallen short of their promised support of the church.  On the other hand, the church in Macedonia, who was itself quite poor, had responded with great generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2 says "their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity". 

            These workshops are packed with valuable tools on how to implement and maintain stewardship ministry in congregations.  The dates and venues are as follows:

            St. Mark - Yorktown - East

Saturday, May 16, 1-4 p.m. 

Saturday, Aug 151-4 p.m.

            Christ - Staunton - West

Saturday - May 16,  1-4 p.m.

Reformation-New Market-West 

          Saturday, Aug. 15, 1-4 p.m.

            St.  Michael, - Blacksburg-West 

Sunday, May 17, 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 16, 1:30-4:30 p.m.

More information to come on this opportunity in stewardship.  Save the dates for the leaders of your church and plan on joining us. the is FREE!!!

ACTS course to focus

on forgotten New Testament history

ACTS letterhead 2012  

            "In the Shadows of the New Testament" will be the theme of the spring ACTS course to be led by Dr. Katherine A. Shaner, assistant professor of New Testament at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, on March 14 and April 25.

            The course will look at New Testament texts in historical context, focusing on those often forgotten by history, such as women, slaves, persons living in poverty and those who are culturally different. Participants will be asked to think about how this history changes our individual and community expressions of faith.

            Two Saturday classes and five evening sessions will be held. The course will be live at Grace, Waynesboro, and simulcast by Skype at St. Mark, Yorktown, and Holy Trinity, Wytheville. 


Fund campaign to be determined in September


            The Synod Council has voted to pursue a fund raising campaign over the next several years and leaders will be determining realistic goals and discerning the most helpful way to move forward with the campaign during the next six months.

            After interviews with more than 40 people, a feasibility study reported that complete funding for all the projects that were suggested is not likely, although a

significant amount of funding is available. A campaign steering committee will be assembled and the members will meet with Synod Council in September to finalize campaign details, create a timeline and set an achievable goal.

            Some of the findings from the feasibility study:

           > The Virginia Synod is beloved by many and it enjoys a strong image by those who are a part of its ministry. Members have a strong sense of pride in being part of the Synod.

            >People believe the youth program is the best in the ELCA and that it leads many to ordained ministry. 

             >Bishop Jim Mauney is well-known and well-loved by rostered leaders and lay people and the image of the Synod and its leadership is healthy. Ministry of the Synod is appreciated and its management is affirmed.

            >The need to sustain the Synod's ministry through a fund raising campaign is understood and affirmed. The study found energy behind all projects outlined in the campaign prospectus.

            >Widespread support was found to bring the plans presented into reality through a fund raising campaign. This willingness is evident across the Synod although some areas struggle with high unemployment and economic distress.

            The Council said it was grateful for participants in the study whose "interest, energy and commitment to our Lord have given confidence that a campaign undertaken at this time will be successful."


Carilion chief Nancy Agee 

is commencement speaker


            Nancy Agee, president and chief executive of Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, will speak to approximately 450 Roanoke College graduates at commencement on Saturday, May 2, Agee will receive an honorary degree with Makoto Fujimura, a New York artist and writer. College Chaplain Chris Bowen will be the baccalaureate speaker on Friday, May 1.

            Agee, who lives in Salem, heads Roanoke Valley's largest employer, a health care organization serving almost 1 million people through hospitals, outpatient specialty centers and advanced primary care practices. Starting as a candy stripe volunteer, Agee began a nursing career in the 1970s, received a nursing degree from the University of Virginia and a master's degree in nursing from Emory University and she studied business at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University. She was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Carilion from 2001 to 2011.

            Fujimura received a Religion and the Arts award from the American Academy of Religion last year and he was a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts. He is recognized as a world culture shaper. 


Men will hear of challenge message 



            "Ambassadors for Christ: The Challenge Message of Jesus" will be the theme o f the annual gathering of Virginia Lutheran Men in Mission at Roslyn Episcopal Conference Center in Richmond on Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26.

            The Rev. John Herman, retired pastor of Peace, Charlottesville, and president of Adult Lutherans Organized for Action, will present the theme and Pastor Andrew Bansemer of Ebenezer, Marion, will be returning as chaplain for the third year.

            Herman, a frequent speaker at workshops and author on discipleship, also heads an organization committed to assisting congregations in developing ministry with middle-aged and older adults. He has written a five-volume discipleship curriculum.  He holds degrees from Princeton, Trinity and Philadelphia Seminaries and he has been an adjunct professor at Philadelphia.

            The Gathering schedule has been revised from three to two days, starting at noon on Saturday and ending Sunday afternoon. Registration for double occupancy will be $160 and the commuter fee will be $115. Registration payment should be made to the Virginia Synod and sent to Dolph Moller, 1442 Tannery Circle, Midlothian, VA 23113-2644.The registration deadline is April 6.

 Bible study, small group discussions, presentations and a blend of contemporary and traditional music are planned. 


Roanoke has funds for solar power study


            Roanoke College is scheduled to have solar energy within five years under a federally-funded program for 15 Virginia colleges to create and implement a solar energy plan. The SunShot Initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy is providing more than $807,000 for the program, according to the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia.

            The goal is to break down procedural, administrative, financial and legal barriers in the colleges' localities to pave the way for solar power.

            The college is "pleased to join this effort to reduce our carbon footprint and continue to work toward a more sustainable and efficient energy production," said Mark Noftsinger, vice president of business affairs at Roanoke. He said the program will provide opportunities for faculty and students to work together to test and see how other forms of energy production can be utilized and not negatively impact the environment.

The initiative is designed to create a learning network accessible by other organizations considering solar power.

            When the framework is in place and the colleges are ready to begin installing solar power, a global consulting firm will develop a request for proposals so companies may bid to install solar energy equipment that schools choose.


St. Timothy celebrates its 60th anniversary


                As members of St. Timothy, Norfolk, VA, we rejoice in reaching a 60-year milestone in our journey as "Ambassadors for Christ."  And it's been quite a journey!  It began on February 6, 1955, in a Fire Station, moved to a small House Chapel, then to the first-phase church building with Samsonite chairs, a "kitchen" wall at one end of our fellowship hall, and limited classroom space.  In 1990, we moved into our current, expanded facilities with much-needed classrooms, a "real" kitchen, and a spacious, beautiful new sanctuary with towering ceilings and lovely stained glass windows.  As a congregation, we have worked within these facilities to the Glory of God by ministering both to the community as well as within our own church family. 

(From left) The Rev. Jean Bozeman, The Rev. Cathy Mims (Tidewater Conferencve Dean), The Rev. The Rev. Scott Mims, Bishop James Mauney.

         On Saturday evening we celebrated this 60-year milestone at a gala banquet filled with reminiscing, thankfulness, and joy. Our former pastor for 30 years, the Reverend Doctor Sidney Nelson, gave the keynote address, recounting examples of "faith," "hope," and "love" which he had experienced during his time with us.  We were also blessed to have the Synod Bishop James Mauney and the Reverend Jean Bozeman, along with our former Assistant Pastor Lucille (CeCee) Mills, share in our festivities.    During our festival service on Sunday morning, we were privileged hear Bishop Mauney proclaim the "Good News" to us.  We always look forward to having him worship with us; his inspirational messages always bring welcomed encouragement.  We designated our special anniversary offering towards purchasing a family farm, a bicycle ambulance, medical and school supplies, and even a few chicks from the ELCA's Good Gifts program.

            Under the shepherding of Pastor David Penman, we're now anxious to continue and expand upon our current ministries with positive attitudes and grateful hearts for all "God's Work" that has been done over the past 60 years by members of St. Timothy.

Large Fishwick Rehab 

Center opens at Brandon Oaks

Ribbon cutting at Fishwick Rehab Center.


            Virginia Lutheran Homes has opened an $8.9 million, three-story John P. Fishwick Rehabilitation Center, more than doubling the size of the attached Brandon Oaks nursing center. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Feb. 6 and the first patients entered the 23 rooms on Feb. 9.

            The center is named for the late John P. Fishwick, board chairman of the former Norfolk and Western Railway, a Roanoke native and Roanoke College graduate who was a resident of Brandon Oaks. A congressman, mayor, members of the Fishwick family and many guests attended the ribbon-cutting.

            Heather Neff, VLH president, said the new center provides "state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that reflect our 5-star quality of care." She said VLH has always been defined by its "pursuit of excellence and a promise to anticipate and meet the community's changing healthcare needs."

            The new center, creating 18 fulltime and 15 parttime jobs, uses advanced therapy technology  in a 4,500-square-foot suite for physical, occupational and speech therapy.A large rehabilitation gymnasium features a daily living suite, outdoor fresh air gym and private treatment rooms. Patients and families will learn how to accommodate their daily routines of cooking, cleaning and personal care after surgery. Rooms will have outdoor views and individual climate control.      Therapy will be available for the public, as well as Brandon Oaks residents. The Fishwick center has 63,000 square feet, compared with 29,000 square feet in the nursing home.

            Ron Hughes, therapy director at Brandon Oaks, said treatment space has tripled in size from 1,500 square feet in the nursing home to 4,500 square feet in the new building, as well as offering private patient rooms, state-of-the-art equipment such as fitness machines and special areas for practical therapies. As he oversees physical, occupational and speech therapies. he said the new operation has a "talented team of therapists who drive our patients' success." 

Tanzania support is vital 

mission of Bethel,  Winchester

     by Pastor David Young, Bethel, Winchester


            In January, nine members of Bethel, Winchester, joined friends from around the country to experience an unforgettable trip to Tanzania. Bethel has been in shared ministry with Operation Bootstrap Africa (OBA) since 1986.

            Our congregation has made significant financial contributions toward the work of OBA ever since, including building the Arusha Lutheran Medical Center (ALMC), developing the MaaSae Girls Lutheran Secondary School (where we built the Hottle House as the residence for the school chaplain), building the Plaster House (which performs surgery on needy children and allows them to stay in rehab and recover), and sponsoring the new  nursing school run by ALMC.

From supporting students at the girls' school with scholarships to providing stethoscopes to the nursing students, to paying for the medical school of  Nanyoki Masiri, the first MasaSae female doctor in Tanzania, Bethel sees this support as vital to our

congregation mission of being A congregation growing deeper in faith and wider in love.

Pastor David Young shows 
Linga, a Massae warrior, a selfie.
           Still, what we have received from those we have sought to help has dwarfed our contributions. Seeing the genuine and loving people who are truly doing "God's work" in each of these places is amazing and humbling. Seeing the young girls who attend school and find a way to grow beyond societal prejudices and into accomplished, talented women leaders was remarkable.

            Abiding with the children of the Plaster house and in the local schools we visited reassured us that we are all made in God's beautiful image. Witnessing the visionary leadership of Dr. Mark and Linda Jacobson, who have developed ALMC into a state-of-the-art medical facility and seeing how passionately they do so in the name of Christ was nothing short of transformative for us.

            This year was quite special for another reason: we went for the dual purpose of celebrating the 50th anniversary of OBA and to attend the 20th anniversary of the girls school. There are simply too many pictures and experiences to recount here. However, suffice it to say that the leaders who work so hard "on the ground" to make sure these ministries occur are "living saints."

Picking up the pieces at a Tanzania School.

            Of course, we took some time to see the sights which included elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos, zebras and birds of seemingly every stripe. Still, the greatest sight we saw

was the active work of the Holy Spirit breathing new life and new hope into and through the lives of so many incredible people. God is always up to stuff and most assuredly he is through Operation Bootstrap Africa, through the Arusha Lutheran Medical Center and the good and beautiful people of Tanznia. We at Bethel are just so pleased that God sought to bring us along for the ride!  

What youth events mean to me

    by Korin Freeman

Winter Celebration - 2015 - Eagle Eyrie


 (Korin Freeman wrote this article for the Luther Memorial News at Blacksburg.)


            When I look back on the last five years, I look all the way back to my very first youth event: Lost & Found 2010. For those of you who do not know me that well, I'm Korin Freeman, a bubbly, excited youth event and faith-driven senior at Blacksburg High School. For years, my Junes and Januarys have been filled with countdowns and long-awaited reunions with my second family in the Virginia Synod, however, as of January 25, 2015, I said my final goodbyes to the events I have come to love as a youth.

            Where I have gone in life would not have been possible without these events guiding me in the right direction and without all of you and your generous donations, I would not have these events as a solid base of my faith. I wish each one of you could join the youth when they venture to either the 7th Day, Lost & Found, Kairos or Winter Celebration to see God at work in the young people of the Synod. When each youth begins their first event, they most likely don't want to be there, I sure didn't, but by the end of the weekend or week, they don't want to leave.

            As I was standing and swaying with my friends at the final large group of the second weekend of Winter Celebration 2015, I looked around at every one, but specifically the seniors. There were about 10 different emotions spread throughout my classmates, but I only want to tell you about two of them. Some people were in tears, holding onto their close friends, not wanting this experience to end, but others, like me, weren't crying. On the ride home, I realized why.

            While I was extremely sad that my time as a youth in the Virginia Synod was ending, I realized that these events were also the reason I wasn't crying. These events

have prepared me to go out into the world, to be an Ambassador for Christ, to take on the challenges I will face. Five years ago, I would have been terrified to go out into the world, finish my senior year, graduate from high school and begin college, but now, I'm ready, all thanks to the confidence I have gained from these events.

            I cannot thank each one of you enough for supporting me throughout my high school years. It has done wonders for my faith growth and has made me who I am today and that is someone I am extremely proud of. I encourage you to continue to support the youth of our church and encourage them to attend the events. I promise it will pay off in the long run.





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