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

Couple reunited after 58 years


Happy couple stands with Brandon Oaks Chaplain Kathleen Miko

 Romance is blooming at Brandon Oaks Retirement Community in Roanoke.

            Bess Rhodes, almost 78, and Nick Salem, 80, were reunited April 25, some 58 years after they dated in their hometown of Point Pleasant, W.Va.

They lost contact for over a half-century until Salem spotted Rhodes' name in a Point Pleasant obituary and they found each other again."We feel that this is God's plan," said the bride.

            Salem proposed to Rhodes in West Virginia but she said "No" so he joined the Air Force. During his military service, he continued to write to her but her mother intercepted the letters and she never saw them. They went separate ways and both had "wonderful marriages" until their spouses died, she said.

            Over a half-century had passed when Salem, living in California with his daughter, noticed Rhodes' name in an obituary when her brother-in-law died at Point Pleasant. Through a computer search, he found her and they began talking by Skype.

            Rhodes had lived in Roanoke, Columbus, Ohio, and a Georgia retirement home until she moved to Brandon Oaks about eight months ago.

            When the next proposal was accepted, Salem flew to Roanoke and they had a service of blessing the relationship at St. Mark's Lutheran in Roanoke. After a two-week honeymoon to Chicago and Florida, they plan to settle at Brandon Oaks. She has been a member of Disciples of Christ and Salem is Catholic but they agreed to compromise and join St. Mark's.

In This Issue
Couple reunited after 58 years
Lutherans in the news
Worship is the heart of all we do
Help combat malaria in PNG
450 will graduate from Roanoke College
Worship for people of all abilities
Cultural shifts and church attendance
Hougan invites prayerful looking and listening
Learning from the Sermon on the Mount
Palestinian ambassador calls for peace
Pences show spaniels at Westminster
2015 Power in the Spirit
von Bora house rededicated
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news


            Retired Bishop Ted Schneider of the Metro Washington Synod and his wife, Doris Schneider, received the Roanoke College Medal on April 10. Schneider, who grew up in First Lutheran, Portsmouth, and his wife are both Roanoke graduates.


            Pastor Steve Ridenhour, Holy Trinity, Wytheville, will retire in July after 33 years in the Shenandoah Parish, Page County, Trinity, Pulaski, and Holy Trinity, Wytheville. He will serve as part-time chaplain at Trinity View Retirement Center, Arden, N.C., following his late father, Pastor Ernest Ridenhour. Trinity View is a part of Lutheran Services of the Carolinas.

            Marco Grimaldo has resigned as chief executive of Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, an advocacy organization supported by the Virginia Synod. Grimaldo is moving to Washington to continue the work in hunger and poverty he left three years ago. He will be followed by the Rev. Charles Swadley as interim director. Swadley, a retired pastor and past chair of the VICPP board, is chair of the Commission on Interfaith Relations for the Virginia Council of Churches. Swadley will receive the annual Faith in Action Award from the Virginia Council of Churches at an event at College, Salem, Tuesday, May 12.          

philip boughknight
Garber (right), Bouknight (center)
            Dr. Philip Bouknight, Trinity Ecumenical Parish, has earned a doctorate in biblical preaching from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. Aaron Garber, music director at Trinity, has been commissioned to compose a work highlighting the Romanian revolution that will be presented at Trinity on May 2, at Lynchburg College on May 30 and at Virginia Heights Baptist Church in Roanoke on May 31. Melia Garber, the composer's wife, was raised in communist Romania and will be a pianist for the performances. Bouknight will be a soloist.

            Dr. Ned Wisnefske of Christ, Roanoke, religion and philosophy professor at Roanoke College, has written apicture book, "The Ought," which  looks into the ethics of young adults. It's written for young adults "who wonder where morals originate and why they vary among individuals." Renae Dower, a Roanoke graduate, illustrated the book. Wisnefske  wrote under the name, Prof. Wiz.

At St. Michael, Blacksburg, Jan Helge Bohn an associate professor in the College of Engineering, Virginia Tech, received the Alumni award for Excellence in International Education. Margaret Christle was named Teacher of the Year at Auburn Middle School and Eric Young was selected as Teacher of the Year at Price's Fork Elementary School. Olivia Hodge was recognized as Leading Lights  high school student volunteer of the year.

            John Vance, a lay chaplain at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women at Goochland, is the new operations director at Grace Inside, formerly Virginia Chaplain's Service, supported by the Virginia Synod.

            Roanoke College Chaplain Chris Bowen and his wife, Cynthia Bowen, will lead a workshop on "Laughing Your Way into a Happier Marriage" at Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center near Marion, on May 16.

            Trinity Ecumenical Parish is buying polo and t-shirts designed to let the community know that "Trinity is Community Strong!" Members will be asked to wear the shirts at any service organization event.  "Help our community understand that we care deeply about them by giving our time, our service and our love," said Pastor Philip Bouknight in Ecumeni News, the parish newsletter.

             "Take a swing for Caroline Furnace" is the promotion for a Caroline Furnace Golf Tournament to be held at Shenvalee Golf Resort at New Market on Saturday, June 13, starting at 9 a.m. This will be an 18-hole captain's choice tournament

            The Virginia Gazette at Williamsburg featured a story about the first year of the Innovative Senior Champion Program at Our Saviour, Norge. The program brings pre-school children and seniors together in mutually enriching activities. "The seniors light up when the kids come and when they engage with them," said Pastor Jim Nickols of Our Saviour. A five-year grant has allowed the program to start in Albemarle, Louisa, Caroline and James City counties.


Worship is the heart of all we do

        by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton


Presiding Bishop Eaton


Given competition,

is it 'hub of our week,

space of our regrouping'?


            There is a Seattle-based caffeinated beverage company that goes to great lengths to provide excellent customer service. Its campaign is to make itself everyone's "Third Place." "First Place" is home, "Second Place" is work and "Third Place" is the local coffeehouse. There is meticulous training for employees, relentless market research and creative adaptability employed by the company to retain customers.

             Employees practice the "hand-off plane" where they are taught to make eye contact when handing over the vente mocha latte to the customer. This is so the customer will have a transformative experience while sipping a cup of joe. And it works. In a letter to thank the staff a woman wrote: "You are the hub of our week, the space of our regrouping," and she went on to describe a multigenerational, multicultural, multi-socioeconomic community where she and her family found comfort and a sense of belonging.

This is our competition.

            We are church. At the heart of what we do is worship, and at the heart of our worship is the crucified and risen Christ. Everything else we do is formed, nourished, sustained and transformed by our life as a faith community gathered around word and sacrament, abiding in the love of God. Without this intentional, regular communion with God and each other it's not possible for us to speak an authentic word of hope to a broken world-the world God so loves.

            When we gather for worship we hear God's word of promise; we confess our helplessness; receive forgiveness; we pray; and we welcome new brothers and sisters through baptism, promising to support them in their walk in faith. We are fed with the bread of life and receive our Lord poured out for us. And then we are sent back into the world. Worship is essential for the church's life and service.

             But how much attention do we pay to the preparation and execution of our corporate worship? Is it the "hub of our week, the space of our regrouping"? Do we expect to have a transformative experience? The Third Commandment (Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy) and Martin Luther's explanation (We are to fear and love God so that we do not neglect his word and the preaching of it, but regard it as holy and gladly hear and learn it) remind us that worship is central in the life of faith. Worship is not just another item on the list of programs and activities in a congregation. It is the heart.

             Sometimes worship can become a sort of lived-in room-everything has become so familiar that we don't notice the frayed furniture. What if we entered worship as if it were our first experience of it? What if we saw the congregation and the liturgy through the eyes of a guest? Is the building clean? Where is the real front door? Does anyone greet us? Is the bulletin easy to navigate? Where are the nursery and the restrooms? Are instructions for communion clear?

            And what about the worship service itself? We are a liturgical church. There is a certain humility and beautiful communion in not trying to reinvent the service each time, but to join with brothers and sisters throughout the world and across the centuries. And please, please do not rewrite the creeds. It took the church a couple of centuries to come up with the Nicene Creed. Why do we think we can do better knocking it out on our laptop?

            This has nothing to do with styles of music-there is a breadth of hymnody in Evangelical Lutheran Worship and related resources. Gospel, Bach, contemporary and world music are all powerful ways of hearing God's word and singing praise. It's good to be fluent in the musical vernacular of our communities and to try those of others.

            Most of all we should come to worship expecting to be changed. We are touching, tasting, feeling, hearing and seeing the one who knows us and loves us completely. Our lives are restored. We are set free. Fed for the journey we are set loose to go in peace and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God. 


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


Help combat malaria in Papua New Guinea

     by Diane Giessler


           Two years ago the Virginia Synod had a goal of raising $230,000 towards the ELCA's goal of $15 million to fight Malaria in Africa.  It has raised around $247,000, exceeding its goal.

            Now the Synod is turning its attention towards its Companion Synod, the New Guinea Islands District of Papua New Guinea. Our PNG partners face the horror of malaria every day.  It is their number one health problem and we can help protect them from this disease that ravages their people. 

             The starting goal for the VA Synod is to raise $50,000 by the end of 2015.  This will enable us to provide 5,000 treated mosquito nets to Lutheran families in our companion district.  The distribution points will be at several centrally located Lutheran churches.

            There are two ways to contribute:

            1 - Go online to  On-going monthly contributions are encouraged. .

            2-  Write a check to VIRGINIA SYNOD, ELCA and in the memo line write

"Malaria, PNG" and mail it to: Virginia Synod, ELCA, P. O. Box 70, Attn: Mike Agee, Salem, VA 24153-0070.

            If  everyone helps some, collectively we will meet our goal and truly make a life-saving difference for a Papua New Guinea sister or brother in Christ.


450 students will graduate from Roanoke College

Roanoke College  

         Diplomas will be handed to 450 Roanoke College graduates on Saturday, May 2. Nancy Agee, president and chief executive of Carilion Clinic, based in Roanoke, will be the commencement speaker. College Chaplain Chris Bowen will speak at the annual baccalaureate service on Friday, May 1.

            Agee and Makoto Fujimura, a New York artist and writer will receive honorary degrees at the commencement exercise.

Event offers worship for people of all abilities


            Pastor Drew Tucker of Christ, Radford, has started "Across the Spectrum," a worship and fellowship event for people of all abilities and learning styles. It started with a desire to provide a safe place of worship for people of all learning styles and persons on the autism spectrum, as well as their loved ones.

            The worship will expand to St. Michael, Blacksburg, on June 7 at 3 p.m.. Three features offer multiple access points so all people, regardless of ability, can find ways to engage God.

            The spectrum has multi-sensory stations that help to engage with words, pictures, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. Participants worship at their own pace in order to provide comfortable, accessible opportunities to learn more about God. There are no required activities, only an invitation to participate as God leads. Image-driven bulletins show people of all abilities what activities are available.


How do cultural shifts affect church attendance?


           Philadelphia Seminary President David Lose challenged an audience at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, to consider "Why do you go to church?" and "How much are you willing to change?"  His theme for his April 12 presentation was "Why don't my grandchildren (and children) go to church? And what can I do about it?"

            Lose's research focuses on how current cultural shifts affect the decline in church attendance. He asked such provocative questions as "How much do your wine glasses cost? Where do you shop for groceries? Where do you get your news? What does that have to do with passing our faith on to others?"

            Recalling his familiar theme of telling stories in his keynote address at last year's Synod Assembly, he invited parents and grandparents to listen to their kids' and grandkids' stories. He also encouraged everyone to become comfortable with telling their own story.

            The Lose talk is online at




Pastor Marshall Mauney dies at 94


            The Rev. Dr. Marshall Mauney, 94, a Lutheran leader in the Virginia Synod and the church at large, died April 12. A memorial service will be held May 8 at 6 p.m. at First Lutheran Church, Norfolk, where he served for 20 years before his retirement in 1987.

            Born in Augusta, Ga., he was a son of the late Rev. John D. Mauney Sr. and Bessie Miller Mauney. He came from a long line of Lutheran pastors, including his father and his brothers, the late Synod President J.Luther Mauney and John Mauney Jr., his son, Bishop James Mauney, and his nephew, the Rev. Luther Mauney Jr.

            A graduate of Lenoir Rhyne College and Southern Seminary, he held an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Roanoke College. He served at Toms Brook, Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, and Mt. Tabor in West Columbia, S.C., before moving to First, Norfolk.

            Mauney served on the boards of Virginia Synod, Southern Seminary, Virginia Lutheran Homes and Newberry College and as editor of the Virginia Lutheran. He was a member of the Lutheran Church in America Executive Council, as president of Lutheran World Ministry, chaplain for the ninth biennial convention of the LCA and as preacher on the Lutheran series of the Protestant Hour. He held the Paul Harris Award of the Rotary Club. He was recognized for public speaking and he memorized every sermon he preached. He performed with a musical family and he wrote poetry.

            He was preceded in death by his wives, Virginia Foltz Mauney and Annie Warren Mauney, and a daughter, Carol Robinson. Surviving in addition to Bishop Mauney are a daughter, Ginny Fox, Virginia Beach; a son, Bobby Mauney, Charlotte, N.C.; eight grandchildren  and three great-grandchildren.

            In lieu of flowers, the family suggested that gifts may be made in honor of Pastor Mauney, in care of First Lutheran Church, 1301 Colley Ave., Norfolk, VA 23517.


Pastor James R. Crumley dies at 90


            A funeral service was held at Bethel Lutheran Church, White Rock, S.C., on April 11 for former Bishop James R. Crumley Jr., a son of the Virginia Synod, who died April 7 of complications from a fall. Crumley, who was 90, served as secretary, president and bishop of the former Lutheran Church in America from 1974 to 1987.

            A native of Bluff City, Tenn., he was a graduate of Roanoke College and Southern Seminary. He was pastor of two East Tennessee churches for a total of 15 years when they were part of the former Virginia Synod. He served a Savanna, Ga. Church for eight years before he was elected LCA secretary. He held honorary degrees from Roanoke and eight other colleges.

            He was a member of the executive committee of the Lutheran World Federation, a member of the central committee of thew World Council of Churches, president of Lutheran World Ministries, second vice president of National Council of Churches and a member of the Commission for a New Lutheran Church which planned the merger of three bodies to form the ELCA. He met and exchanged letters with Pope John Paul II, affirming the mutual understanding that had emerged from the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue.

            ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said that Crumey, through experiences with national and world church bodies, "demonstrated in manifold ways his ecumenical insight and commitment...As the years passed and honors accumulated, Dr. Crumley remained the same gracious gentleman who had been raised in the mountains of Tennessee but was called by the church to ministry throughout this nation and the world."

At the funeral, Bishop Eaton noted that even when Crumley disagreed with the church's decisions, he remained loyal to the ELCA.

            During the funeral service, Bishop Herman Yoos of South Carolina Synod told a story of Crumley  who came from his family farm to the Massanetta Summer Assembly where he met the late Dr.Charles Smith, Roanoke College president. Smith told him he should attend Roanoke but Crumley replied that he couldn't afford it. The president said he had a bit of a budget surplus because Roanoke had eliminated its football program. In later years, Crumley boasted that he went to Roanoke College on a football scholarship and he never went to practice.

            Crumley married Annette Bodie in 1950 and they had three children, Frances Holman, James Crumley III and the late Jeanane Lindemann, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.


Hougen invites prayerful looking and listening



            With consummate skill, Pastor John Hougen explored poetry and visual art as pathways to experiencing spiritual reality which is hidden in plain sight.  Hougen was serving as the latest in a series of Visiting Theologians at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg. 

            During his time in Blacksburg, he preached at Sunday worship and offered a seminar in an adult class.  In addition, Hougen facilitated an all-day workshop in which participants were invited to prayerfully consider literature and the arts.

            In the workshop, Hougen offered participants some basic tools for examining poetry and paintings, then invited them to allow God to speak through the works of art.  "Most of the time we come to reading seeking information," Hougen said.  "This process is different.  Here we are asked to slow down and let God speak in often soft and subtle ways.  This demands a certain patience and willingness to receive what may be offered."  In a similar vein he invited participants to linger before works of art, noting that a recent study showed that gallery goers spend an average of 20 seconds in front of a painting.

            Hougen's sermon, entitled "Vision Correction," used a piece of art which he had created as part of a spiritual direction discipline to illustrate how changing our perspective can radically alter how we perceive God's presence in a situation.  "One lesson in many of the Easter gospel lessons is that seeing with new eyes is essential.  That can happen in many ways, such as scripture and the sacraments.  Art and literature may also be means of grace which surprise us when they offer us new insight."

            "This was a great experience for our congregation," said Luther Memorial Pastor Bill King, "John is incredibly gifted in inviting folks into what is sometimes intimidating territory.  This is the sort of program which can benefit just about everyone.  I wish many of our congregations would invite him to share what he gave us."

            Hougen served in Rural Retreat, as campus pastor at the University of Virginia, and on Churchwide staff in campus ministry.  He has recently retired from a parish in the Philadelphia area and spends some of his time painting, writing and as a docent at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 


Learning from the Sermon on the Mount


            Retired Pastor John Herman and Chaplain Andrew Bansemer brought new meaning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount for the annual Virginia Lutheran Men in Mission Gathering at Roslyn Center in Richmond April 25-26. The theme of the Gathering was "Ambassadors for Christ: The Challenge Message of Jesus."

            Herman talked about Jesus' vision of a new world, a new community and what the new world looks like. Drawing from the text in Matthew, he spoke of challenge to the way things are, to conventional piety, to our trust in other things and to live the words of Jesus. Small groups discussed questions related to the challenges. Herman is writing and speaking about discipleship after retiring from Peace, Charlottesville.

            Bansemer, pastor of Ebenezer, Marion, talked about God's remarkable words in the book of Matthew. "Our Lord still speaks to us today," he added.

            The men are considering service projects at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center and Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center.  The board re-elected John Lasher, as president, and Orville Walters, vice president, both from Christ, Staunton, and Richard Niedermayer, Christ the King, Richmond, secretary. Dolph Moller, Christ the King, Richmond, continues as treasurer.


Palestinian ambassador calls for Israeli peace



            Maen Rashid Areikat, Palestine's ambassador to the United States, called for peace between Israel and his country in a Roanoke College talk, citing what he called a need to end construction of illegal settlements in Palestine, unlawful confiscation of his country's land and unjust treatment of refugees and civilians by Israel.

            Areikat spoke for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, based on the geographic borders established in 1967. "The only way to weaken those who oppose peace is to empower those who want peace," he said.

            To help resolve the conflict, the ambassador said, students should listen to the opinions of their peers, respect the perspectives of others and do not generalize false stereotypes, according to the Brackety-Ack, Roanoke College newspaper.

Pences show Waynesboro spaniels in New York

Jim and Marsha Pence line up for the Westminster Dog Show


             Pastor Jim Pence of Zion, Waynesboro, stepped out of his traditional role of parish pastor and joined his wife, Marcia, in trotting their Tibetan spaniels, Mary and Maya, around the course at the big Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York in February. They didn't win but they enjoyed the tough competition.

            The Pences took two of their five spaniels to the national contest after five years of showing dogs. Their next big event is hosting the national show of Tibetan spaniel owners in Waynesboro in June. At least 100 are expected.

            The Tibetan spaniels have a Lutheran background, Pence said. In 1967, Leo Kearns, sexton at Trinity Lutheran, New Haven, Conn., purchased a female spaniel from a British antique dealer. The dog was such a hit with members of the congregation that Kearns imported a male and the first American litter of that breed began.

            Pence said he is the support for his wife's work with the spaniels. Mary has won honors at many dog shows and Maya, an 18-month-old puppy won at a Canton, Ohio show.

           Marcia Pence told a Waynesboro newspaper that time and patience are needed to prepare a dog for showing. Dogs must be well-socialized, comfortable in a busy environment and must be able to stand and walk correctly in front of a judge, she said. The Tibetan spaniel is described as an intelligent, affectionate and active dog willing to go on long walks. The spaniel, originating in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet, has "a wonderful temperament," she said.

"Worship where grace happens"

is 2015 Power in the Spirit theme



           The Rev. Jay Gamelin, keynote speaker, Bishop Emeritus April Larson, Bible study leader, and Justin Rimbo, a musician, will be featured at Power in the Spirit July 9-11 at Roanoke College. "Worship where grace happens" will be the theme.

            Power in the Spirit is an inspirational summer conference offering joyous worship, Bible study, keynote addresses, workshops and fellowship. The event is designed for "everyone who wishes to explore God's call to service."

            Gamelin, pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran, Lexington, S.C., is recognized as a gifted story teller, writer and engaging leader. He has often given his perspective of communicating the work and life of Christ in the post-modern era. 


        Formerly bishop of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, the Rev. Dr. Larson and her husband, the Rev. Judd Larson, will lead Bible study. Both are serving at First Lutheran, Duluth, Minn. Rimbo, who is working toward a master's degree at Southern Seminary, has led singing events, created music and curated worship.


            The Friday evening entertainment will be Lost and Found, comprised of Michael Bridges playing a guitar and George Baum on piano. A conference choir will be directed by George Donovan of Bethel, Winchester.

            The annual service project will be support of prison chaplain ministry through Grace Inside (formerly Virginia Chaplain Service). Those attending Power in the Spirit will be asked to bring greeting cards, stationery, birthday, anniversary, Christmas, graduation, thank you, get well, Valentine, Mothers' and Fathers' Day cards for those who are in prison. They will be distributed to prison chaplains for support of those whom they serve.

Luther Memorial rededicates von Bora house

Pastor Bill King (center) leads rededication as Xavier Barnes holds baptismal bowl for water to be sprinkled on the house.


 On April 26, Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, rededicated the Katharina von Bora House as a temporary shelter for homeless families.  Katie von Bora, Luther's wife, was known for her hospitality and, thus, this ministry is named in her honor. 

            Working in partnership with New River Family Shelter, Luther Memorial provides short-term housing for families facing homelessness due to fire, abuse and other causes.  Luther Memorial has been engaged in this ministry for 13 years and constant use of the house made repairs on the facility necessary.

            Major renovations were completed by contractor Ted Heller but most of the cleaning, painting, caulking, landscaping and minor repairs were done by members of Luther Memorial, students from Lutheran Campus Ministry at Virginia Tech (The Well), and youth at "Fools for Christ," a lock-in for New River Valley Lutheran youth.  In addition, virtually all of the furnishing in the house have been replaced by donations from members of Luther Memorial.





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