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

Moyer dies at 94

Bishop Emeritus
V.A. Moyer, Jr.


         The Rev. V.A. "Buck" Moyer, Jr. D.D., 94, of Waynesboro, VA, died on June 1, 2015.  He was Bishop Emeritus of the Virginia Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

             He is survived by his wife, Julie Moyer; son Keith Moyer and daughter-in-law Suzanne Smith Moyer; two granddaughters, and two great grandsons, and, siblings, Agness Jones; Anne Broyles; Jean Brower; Frannie Knicely; Joseph Moyer and wife, Minnie; Ellen Moyer; Fred Moyer and wife, Judy; Robert Moyer; and, many nieces and nephews.

          Pastor Buck will be remembered by all as a loving husband, father and grandfather, and as a faithful pastor of the highest integrity and compassion. 

                                                                 Read More
In This Issue
Moyer dies at 94
Lutherans in the news
Luther's quote got it right
Synod's 25-year history is published
Downs, Scott nominated
Grants support senior projects
Stevens is new director
Leadership Program for Musicians
Many hands spread mulch
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news


             Pastor John Austin Propst
has accepted a call to move from a Global Mission program in Madagascar to serve at Redeemer, Bristol, in September. Propst and his wife Tanya, have been country coordinators for Young Adults in Global Mission in Madagascar since December 2011. A native of the Asheville, N.C. area, Propst is a graduate of Appalachian State University and Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa. Before seminary, he was assistant program director for the Lutheridge Conference Center and Camp at Arden, N.C. Propst follows Pastor Gary Chenoweth, who retired sometime ago.

            After serving at St. Paul's, Hampton, for over 15 years, Pastor Chris Farrow  has accepted a call to Zion Lutheran, McGregor, Texas. St. Paul's congregation has sheltered the homeless, supplied a food pantry, helped veterans, provide space for programs for the disabled, offered aid during weather crises, received an ELCA Disability Award, the Hampton Clean Business Award; grounds and facilities have been improved; new organ pipes were installed during her service.


           Pastors Judy and Jim Cobb have retired from Ascension, Baltimore, to return to Virginia at St. Stephen, Williamsburg. Both received Gettysburg Seminary's Alumni Award for distinguished service in parish ministry. Jim Cobb served at Christ, Fredericksburg, and as an associate dean at Gettysburg Seminary and both served at Trinity, Grand Rapids, MI, and First, Norfolk. Judy Cobb also was coordinator of ELCA Region 8.

Ellen Hinlicky, Synod director for Lutheran Partners in Mission, has assumed the additional post of stewardship coordinator, held by Pastor Jim Kniseley, Resurrection, Fredericksburg, who is retiring. Hinlicky will work with Cary Mangus, stewardship coordinator for the western area of Synod, in a second session of Macedonia Workshops, stewardship events, in August.  Kniseley led a Macedonia Workshop in Yorktown and Mangus led others in Staunton and Blacksburg.


            Retired Pastor Ken Ruppar, also a retiredArmy chaplain, participated in the annual appreciation lunch of the Virginia Council of Chapters of the Military Officers Association of America in Washington on May 21. Ruppar is chaplain for the state organization and the local chapter. He also offered the memorial prayer at a Memorial Day ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.


Three Winchester coaches

           Three Winchester area coaches recognized by the Winchester Star as Coaches of the Year are members of Bethel, Winchester. They are (from left) Will Sigler, swimming, Milbrook High School; Bill Hall, football, Sherando High School; Mike McKiernan, track and field, Handley High School, and Pastor David Young, Bethel.  

At St.Michael, Blacksburg, Lori Anne Kirk graduated from Philadelphia Seminary with a master of divinity degree with concentration in multicultural, interfaith and urban ministry. She plans to continue work in congregational ministry and chaplaincy. Also, Doug Smiley, radiation safety officer at Virginia Tech, was nominated for the Governor's Innovative Award for saving the university nearly $1 million in the disposal of high-level radioactive source in the College of Veterinary Medicine Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease.


            Ben Higgins has been named administrator of Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, following Lucas Snipes, who has retired. A graduate of James Madison University, Higgins has been administrator of Liberty Ridge Health and Rehabilitation Center at Lynchburg. He formerly was regional vice president of operations at American Healthcare.


           A Red Cross blood drive in honor of George Keck, an active member at Holy Trinity, Wytheville, collected 38 pints on May 29. He has had health problems.

St. James, Fishersville, held a blessing of the fields around the church and nearby Barren Ridge Vinyards and flower planning on Sunday, May 17. 


            To celebrate the 121st anniversary of First, Norfolk, on May 4, members were invited to contribute to a Down With the Debt building fund campaign, planned to retire a loan by 2017. For the 121st birthday, members were asked to give $1.21 or $12.10 or $121 or $1,210.


            For an annual Star City Motor Madness event on Friday, June 26, members of Trinity, Roanoke, will offer hot dogs, drinks and chips on their front lawn. Participants in the event cruise up and down Williamson Road, Roanoke, in old and unusual cars.


            Members of care groups at St. Stephen, Williamsburg, provide care for one another in times of need, such as providing meals for persons temporarily incapacitated, weeding gardens, providing transportation or picking up prescriptions.


Luther's quote got it right

        by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton


Presiding Bishop Eaton


We've fallen but are also raised up- 

           -a prescription against paralysis           

          The account of the Ascension in Acts has two great questions. The disciples ask Jesus, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" (1:6). Then, as the disciples watch the Lord ascending to heaven, the angels ask the disciples, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?" (1:11).

      The disciples had walked with Jesus, they had experienced the crushing defeat of his crucifixion, they had seen the risen Christ, and yet they seem to be afflicted by nearsightedness and farsightedness at the same time. They are looking for a restored kingdom and a vanishing Messiah.

         I wonder what we as the church want to have restored. Do we get a little nearsighted or shortsighted about the church and about the earth-shattering, life-changing power of the death and resurrection of Christ? When we long for some remembered golden age are we blind to this new thing that God is doing in the church?

          We are in the middle of a seismic shift in the church. In her book The Great Emergence (Baker Books, 2012), author and lecturer Phyllis Tickle points out that every 500 years or so the church goes through a major upheaval.

           I think that's where we are now. And while it is interesting to read of church upheavals in the past, living through one can be pretty uncomfortable. What is emerging? What is falling away? When will we know that the new thing has come into being? What is going to happen to us?

            But hey, take heart, I don't think anyone woke up on June 7, 1518, and said, "How's the Reformation going today?"

              When we ask that the kingdom be restored to the church, we are really asking for the kind of certainty that arises from human need. We want clear, measurable, tangible signs that our world will be ordered to our specifications. That certainty will never be achieved this side of heaven. That is not the certainty we really need and it is not the certainty God has given us in our new life in Christ.

              Which leads to the second question, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?" Or more to the point, "People of God, why do we stand looking up toward heaven?" Maybe because a vision of glory is a lot more appealing than what we have facing us right now. But that is not what we are called to do.

            We are not called to be the church of the past nor the church of some distant future, but to be the church right now. For whatever reason, we are the ones God is using at this time, in this messiness. We are not going to get it right all of the time. We are broken and sinful creatures, but we are also redeemed creatures. In baptism we have already died the only death that really matters. Can we start to live like we believe that?

            Martin Luther is often quoted as saying "sin boldly." He actually said, "Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly." It's an honest acknowledgement that we have fallen, but is an even more joyful acknowledgement that we have been raised up. It's a prescription against paralysis. It is not up to us to fix the church or the world-that has already been done in Christ.

                 And since the victory has been won we are free in this in-between time to live into the new life God has brought about in this world.

                 So here we are dear church. Living in the absolute certainty that we and all of creation have been redeemed, we don't have to fret about getting it right. We don't have to chart a perfectly accurate course. We don't have to conserve our assets, physical or financial. We don't have to worry about saving our lives.

                     What a powerful freedom the certainty of God has given us in this uncertain time. Let's not waste this gift. 


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


Synod's 25-year history is published

             "Journey Together: A History of the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutrheran Church in America 1988-2012," a new 25-year history of the Synod by retired Pastor Jim Utt of Grace, Winchester, will be available at the Synod Assembly next weekend. A copy of the hard-bound book of almost 300 pages will be distributed to each congregation and others will be available for $30. 

   Utt, active in many leadership roles, draws from his experience in the times of Bishops Richard Bansemer and Jim Mauney during the first quarter-century of the ELCA. He tells of the complexity of putting together members of three Lutheran bodies on the local and regional level.

Histories of congregations, organizations and institutions and the roles of lay leaders are reported. Utt was assisted by George Kegley, Virginia Lutheran editor, who collected congregational histories, and Pastor Jean Bozeman, retired assistant to the bishop,  who assembled almost 100 photographs for the history. 

Bishop Jim Mauney asked for the history because, he said, "It is too easy to quickly forget the great commitment of thousands of Lutherans in Virginia. We want to cling to that history and always have it for our generations to come." The book was made possible by a grant from Grace, Winchester.

This is the third history of a synod which traces its origins back almost three centuries to the formation of Hebron, Madison, in 1717.  Dr. William Eisenberg wrote "The Lutheran Church in Virginia 1717-1962," and former Synod secretary George Handley produced "Lutherans in Virginia, 1962-1987," in two volumes. Handley also compiled "Biographical Sketches of Lutheran Pastors in Virginia, 1820-1997."


Downs, Scott nominated for election



            Charles L. Downs Jr., a Roanoke lawyer and former member of Synod Council, has been nominated by the Council for election to a four-year term. As Synod vice president, to succeed retired Judge Charles Poston of Norfolk, who is stepping down after serving two terms in the synod's top lay office.


            Blythe Scott, a lawyer, member of the Council and a member of First, Norfolk, has been nominated for election as synod secretary,. Following Janet Gomez, who is retiring. Nominations will be opened from the floor before elections at the Synod Assembly next Friday-Sunday.

            Downs, who has practiced law in Roanoke for the past 13 years and in Norfolk for three years before that, is a member of Christ, Roanoke. His practice is related to medical malpractice defense of health care providers and he often speaks on health care issues.

            Assembly voting members also will elect four members to Synod Council-one lay female, one lay male and two clergy members, as well as eight voting members for the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans.

            Two resolutions have been submitted to a committee for a recommendation on action at the Assembly.


Community grants support senior projects


Seniors at St. Timothy, Norfolk
are into laughing yoga.

Assistance for caregivers and people in daycare, provision of housing services for low income seniors and nursing programs in rural areas of the Virginia Synod are supported by Community Impact Grants totaling over $96,000 to seven Virginia agencies by National Lutheran Communities and Services (NLCS), announced earlier this year. 

The new program of the former National Lutheran Home stems from recognition that "to effectively reach seniors beyond our walls, we need to partner with other organizations and nonprofits that are equally passionate about serving seniors beyond our walls," said Courtney Malengo, communications director for NLCS.  The organization recognizes that approximately 95 percent of seniors will never live in a retirement community or senior housing.


The Virginia grants:

Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County
$ 5,000
Colonial Heritage Community Foundation, Williamsburg
St. Timothy Lutheran, Norfolk
Our Saviour Lutheran, Warrenton
Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging, Winchester
Valley Program for Aging Services, Buena Vista
$  8,778
Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries, Toms Brook







"What a remarkable work of supporting generosity!" said Bishop Jim Mauney. "National Lutheran Communities and Services is helping more than 30 ministries in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., wanting to enhance the work of congregations and groups of congregations and agencies! They are undergirding our dreams and giving a hand to so many who are in need. Thank you!." 

Partnerships "are so extremely valuable to who we are and what we do," said Larry Bradshaw, president and CEO of NLCS. "When we collectively harness our talents and gifts together, we can amplify our impact for the greater good of seniors," he added.

NLCS awarded almost $200,000 in grants for senior services in Virginia, Delaware-Maryland and Metropolitan Washington synods for 2014-2015.



   Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries is using its $22,000, largest of the seven, to employ Jeannie Coffman part-time as its first faith community nurse to work with five Shenandoah County congregations. Faith community nursing is a wholistic approach to care with the nurse caring for the body, mind and spirit of an individual.She will be available to speak about the program. Coffman, a registered nurse with 34 years of experience, is a member of St. Paul Lutheran, Jerome. She holds degrees from Wheeling Jesuit College and Radford University. A goal of the new program is to have additional faith community nurses serving more congregations.

St. Timothy, Norfolk, is providing socialization engagement opportunities for seniors and early-to-mid-stage dementia care partners in the Tidewater area. With the support of its grant, St. Timothy offers seniors times of reminiscence with a comedian, music therapy, helping pack backpacks for a weekend program and housing the homeless and field trips to museums.  Research has shown that an active social lifestyle helps seniors maintain a sharp mind and remain connected with the world around them.

            The Shenandoah Area Agency, based in Front Royal, is using its grant to support six week-long workshops on chronic disease, incorporating techniques to manage illnesses such as breathing exercises, physical fitness plans and sleeping and nutrition advice. In a model established at Stanford University, people who participate in the workshops demonstrate significant improvements in exercise and cognitive symptom management and spend fewer days in the hospital afterward. The first workshop on "Cancer: Thriving and Striving," was held in February and March at Reformation, New Market.

            Grace Network of Martinsville is assisting clients with financial help with rent or mortgage evictions or utility cut-off notices and assistance with food pantry items. In the current fiscal year, the network helped 188 clients aged 60 or older.

            The Valley Program for Aging Services at Buena Vista has established a training program for rural church leaders to assist seniors. The training in 30 churches in the Rockbridge-Bath County area provides education for caregivers.

            Our Saviour, Warrenton, provides programming for residents of low-income senior housing. Colonial Heritage Community Foundation in Williamsburg provides adult daycare and respite services.

Chris Stevens is new

director at Hungry Mother Center

Chris and Leslie Stevens


Chris Stevens, new executive director of Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center near Marion, said a new feature will be hosting four different youth/adult groups participating in local servant events through Project Crossroads. The annual youth camp will be highlighted by a bicycle trip down the Virginia Creeper Trail from Mt. Rogers to Damascus.

Through a partnership with Sprouting Hope Garden, opportunities will be offered for volunteers to help plant and harvest crops donated to local food pantries. A Lutheran day of service will be held at the garden. He said he is "extremely excited about all that God can do through us at Hungry Mother."

Stevens, a member of Ebenezer, Marion, follows Mike Mucha, who retired after leading the retreat center for nine years. Stevens, a native of Pittsburgh, came from Central Florida to Marion with his wife, Leslie, in 2012. He has worked in servant-based ministry, taking mission trips as far as Latvia, as well as five trips rebuilding communities affected by storms in Florida and Georgia.




 Kniseleys are retiring at Fredericksburg
Pastors Jim and Carol Kniseley

            After 15 years as co-pastors at Resurrection, Fredericksburg, Pastors Jim and Carol Kniseley are retiring on June 21. They came east from service as co-pastors of Lutheran Church in the Foothills at La Canada, Cal.

            Jim Kinseley has served on Synod Council and as a parttime stewardship specialist. Carol Kniseley has been on the Synod Candidacy Committee. Jim Kniseley previously served at Ascension, San Diego, CA, Linsborg, KS, and Glendale, CA and as director of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries of Southern California. The Kniseleys plan to divide their time in retirement between Knoxville, Tenn., and San Diego. . Jim Kniseley has completed training to be an intentional interim pastor and Carol Kniseley , a former medical illustrator, will be returning to a renewed career in art.

Pastor Bob and
Reagen Jones

Pastor Bob Jones stepping down after 40 years 

Pastor Robert H."Bob" Jones is retiring in June 1 after 40 years of ministry and his wife, Reagan, is retiring after 37 years of teaching the first grade in Page and Warren counties. Jones, who grew up in St. James, Chilhowie, served almost seven years at Bethlehem and Morning Star near Luray and almost 33 years at Good Shepherd, Front Royal. They plan to travel, oversee home improvements and work on improving musical skills.


George Arthur retires, scholarship formed

Arthur at work

George Arthur has retired as coordinator of technical services and a teaching associate after 37 years at Roanoke College and his former students have formed the George N. Arthur Endowed Student Scholarship in Technical Theatre Arts. Arthur, an active member at St. Mark's, Roanoke, has had an important role in presentations at Olin Hall during Power in the Spirit.

            Several former shop assistants, alumni and friends in the Roanoke College community said they wanted to recognize Arthur's service, mentoring and encouragement of students who were in pursuit of excellence in technical theatre arts. The scholarship will provide financial assistance to an outstanding senior with interest in technical theatre arts. Arthur received the Dean's Council Award for his work with faculty, staff, students and artists in 1996. He was the set and lighting designer for Theatre Roanoke College events and he taught in the Elderscholar program.

Also at the college, construction crews found an old well while working on the Cregger Center. Tom Klatka, an archeologist with the State Department of Historic Resources, estimated that the well dates back to the mid-1800s. He said it was quite large for a residential well. It is about 4 feet across and 33 feet deep. The well was closed for safety reasons and its location above a structural wall.

The college also said it is preparing a new website, more visual with more photography and videos.


Leadership Program for Musicians

accepting registrations for this fall


            The Leadership Program for Musicians (LPM), a national program offering classes for church musicians and those interested in church music, is accepting registrations for the 2015-2016 year.

            Courses being offered for the 2015-2016 year are Liturgy and Music: Foundations for Christian Worship (offered online through the Center for Liturgy and Music at Virginia Theological Seminary, visit; Principles of Choral Leadership; Teaching New Music to the Congregation; and Philosophy of Church Music.

LPM gives church musicians the tools and resources to lead congregations to sing well and to participate actively in worship. LPM offers classes that cover key areas in church music and liturgical education, spiritual formation, and teach a full range of church music skills.

             For more information visit or contact Jane Barthurst online at or by calling 804-883-7112.

Many hands spread 

mulch at Newport News

Spreading mulch.


 In three hours, 16 hands spread 30 yards of mulch over the Child Care play yard at Reformation, Newport News on May 2. It has become an annual event, primarily for safety of the children around the play equipment.

            George Duda, Jerry Plassman, Ben and Amy Scarino, Bill Oshel, Linda Lamma (Child Care director) and Pastor Dave and Joyce Gunderlach are the stewards of the hands that spread the mulch.

            The mulch team interrupted their work to attend the monthly Reformation breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage, biscuits, coffee and orange juice, prepared by Mike Wagner, Don Bardell and Jim Williamson.

Moyer dies at 94 

(Continued from above)


           Many will also remember him as a Bishop who cared deeply for the pastors and congregations in his charge and did his utmost for the Church he loved and served.

           A memorial service celebrating Bishop Moyer's life will be held at Grace Lutheran Church, 500 S Wayne Ave., Waynesboro, VA on Thursday, June 4 at 11:00am.

            In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial gifts may be made to Grace Lutheran Church, Waynesboro, VA, or to Godparents for Tanzania.  Call (540) 949-8133 for memorial gift contact details.

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Editor:  George Kegley   
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