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

Pastor Paul Huddle cited

for 75 years of ordination

Retired Pastor Paul Huddle


 The highlight of the annual recognition of anniversaries at the Synod Assembly was the presentation to Pastor Paul Huddle of Roanoke for the 75th anniversary of his ordination. Huddle, 98, lives in retirement at Brandon Oaks Retirement Community, Roanoke. He served as a missionary to Japan and India, as an Army chaplain in Europe, North Africa and the Near East and as president of Luther College in New Jersey and pastor of two Tennessee churches.

            Other pastors recognized on anniversaries of their ordination: Pastors Ivar Holmquist, Timonium, MD; Martin Saarinen, formerly of Wytheville; Michael Viise, Charlottesville; K. Roy Nilsen, Edinburg, and Rudolf Keyl, formerly of Winchester, for their 60th anniversary of ordination.

            Pastors John Derrick, Harrisonburg; Stephen Schulz, Lynchburg, and Thomas Warme, Moneta, were cited for 55 years;  Pastors Cecil Bradfield, Bridgewater, and Howard Ratcliffe, Staunton, 50 years; Pastors William King, Blacksburg; John McCandlish, Radford; James Ritchie Jr., Raeford, NC; Charles Bang, Hampton, and Bill Nabers, Strasburg,, 35 years.

            Four pastors have retired in the past year: Pastors Gary Scheidt, Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Moneta; Mary Louise Brown, St.Luke, Woodstock; Ken Nilsen, Bethel, Hamburg, and Richard Krasneck, St. James, Hudson Crossing.

            Six congregations were recognized for anniversaries: Trinity, Stephens City, and Rader, Timberville, for 250 years; St. Mark, Buchanan, 200 years; Holy Advent, Wytheville, 100 years; Gloria Dei, Hampton, and Christ the King, Richmond, 50 years. 

In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Unglamorous yet vital-money a spiritual issue
Assembly 2015 Report-$2 million for endowed position
Assembly 2015 Report-Keynote and theme speakers
Huffman, Stierwalt start vicar year
Meeting the needs of the poor in Honduras
Pastor Barney Troutman dies at 87
Sayers honored for LGBTQ work
Pleasant Hill youth send kits to LWR
NCIS offers grants for senior projects
Scriptures come alive in Israel tour
Cards for prisoners asked at Power in the Spirit
PNG malaria fund and prayer requested for Papua New Guinea
Synod youth work for Detroit trip
Zion, Waynesboro, plans Nicaragua trip
Quick Links


Lutherans in the news



After 13 years of service at Holy Trinity, Martinsville, Pastor Lynn Bechdolt has been approved by the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church to serve Fork Mountain United Methodist Church at Bassett,  as a Lutheran clergy-on-loan. Pastor Meredith Williams of Ascension, Danville, has been assigned as vice pastor of Holy Trinity. Pastor Ron Mateer, former pastor of First United Methodist Church, Martinsville, has been employed as supply pastor for the remainder of 2015.

At St. Philip, Roanoke, Margaret Mitchell received the Clara Barton Award, highest honor a volunteer can received from the Red Cross. She has been a leader in the congregation's record collection of 5,000 pints of blood in 20 years. St. Philip was recognized as an official Red Cross Partner and  Nancy Shadix  and Ruth Farmer received Special Citations of Exceptional Volunteer Service in Biomedical/Hospital Services.

Michael Samerdyke, lay leader at Christ, Wise, won first place for his adult essay in the writing contest at the annual Chautauqua Festival at Wytheville.

Grace, Winchester, contributed $2,000 from a Mission Endowment Fund for the work of Erin Cottos promoting nutrition and exercise at a clinic in Haiti to prevent the incidence of a stroke.

A 100-year-old, newly-restored organ at Trinity, Stephens City, was dedicated on June 28. Four area organists participated in the dedication.

Fifty-five God's Gems, the title bestowed on members of St. Paul, Strasburg, who are 75 or older, were recognized for their contributions at a dinner-celebration. "Many enthusiastic and dedicated members gave of themselves in time and talents," according to the St. Paul Courier.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, will be the Theologian in Residence at St. Stephen, Williamsburg, on Nov. 8.

A celebration of Pastor Steve Ridenhour's 21 years of ministry at Holy Trinity, Wytheville, will be held on July 26. He is retiring after service at Shenandoah and Trinity, Pulaski, before moving to Wytheville.

Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina and Newberry College in South Carolina have entered into an articulation agreement to enable students to easily transition from undergraduate programs at Newberry to graduate programs at Lenoir-Rhyne. Both are Lutheran institutions.

Members of Christ, Fredericksburg, plan to work withThrivent Financial and Habitat to build a home for a Burundi family on Saturday, Sept. 12, God's Work, Our Hands day of service in the ELCA. Paintings of the life of Christ by Fredericksburg artist Johnny Johnson have been placed in the narthex and welcome hall of Christ Church.

Our Saviour, Norge, has a Buy-a-Key program to purchase a grand piano in the church for a price of $10,000.

Nets for Nets,  a basketball fundraiser for the Malaria campaign was held in the Strasburg High School gym on June 28. 

At Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, a group of riders in Bike the US for Multiple Sclerosis rested on a trip to raise money for the disease while cycling across the nation. Members of Luther Memorial have been invited to a Death Café event where people "can talk freely about a hard subject." The event, associated with the Funeral Consumers Alliance, will be at Lucie Monroe's Café in Christiansburg on July 28 at 7 p.m.

College Lutheran, Salem, and Salem Presbyterian Church joined in a week of High School Mini-Missions for rising 9th-12th graders on June 29-July 2. They started with a short Bible study and then went into the community to serve others. 


Unglamorous yet vital

        by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton


Presiding Bishop Eaton


Our relationship with money is

a profoundly spiritual issue. 


           A church in the Northeastern Ohio Synod describes itself as a "50/50" congregation. It gives away half of offerings received. A significant portion goes to mission support, but the congregation also supports local projects and ministries. I visited this congregation on the day it was bringing in offerings for a special appeal. One by one, somber parishioners came forward and placed their offerings in a basket before the altar.

            Farther back in the congregation I noticed a girl, maybe 5 years old, sitting on her father's lap. She squirmed and wriggled until he gave her his offering and set her loose. She came tearing down the aisle, check held high, looking for all the world as if she had won the lottery. As she returned to her seat, I pointed out the joy of giving this little girl embodied. Someone from the congregation quipped, "It's not her money." I waited for a minute and then said, "No, it's her Father's money."

            We have a conflicted relationship with money. We claim that it can't buy us love or happiness on the one hand but measure our worth and security by it on the other. We don't like to talk about money in church. We've talked about human sexuality in this church for years, but we don't talk about money. It's just beyond the pale.

            I remember an interview with a call committee where I asked to see the treasurer's reports. I was told: "Oh no, pastor, you worry about spiritual matters and we'll worry about the finances." But our relationship with money is a profoundly spiritual issue. Our peculiar relationship with money can hold us in a kind of bondage. Jesus knew this when he encountered a rich man who claimed to have kept the commandments from his youth but still felt something was missing. When Jesus told him to sell everything he had, give it to the poor and follow him, he "was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions" (Mark 10:17-22).  He was possessed.

            Giving is a spiritual discipline. It's a way for us to learn to live by faith. It's a way to participate in God's generosity and abundance. It's a way to move beyond ourselves. It's also a way for us to be connected one to another. Responding to the grace and prodigal love of God expressed in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, our giving is a communal act. Giving isn't a private thing any more than worship is. It's part of our life together. I'm not talking about the ostentatious and self-serving giving that Jesus warns against in Matthew 6:2-4, but the intentional and, in her case, extravagant offering of the widow at the temple (Mark 12:41-44). Hers was a public act of faith and participation in the corporate life of the community.

            How often does your congregation talk about money? At the annual fall stewardship campaign? In adult forums? Ever? Does your congregation have stewardship education and an annual stewardship program? Your bishops, synod staffs and directors for evangelical mission are ready and eager to work with you. Call them.         

            Recently, Bishop James Hazelwood of the New England Synod polled rostered and lay members about mission support. He discovered that about 10 percent knew what mission support is. It's the financial support congregations send to synods to enable and further the work of the greater church. A percentage is forwarded to the churchwide organization to support the ELCA's work at home and around the world. Some synods send as much as 55 percent of mission support received. All of our synods are generous, even sacrificial, in their giving. This is work we do together-no single congregation or synod could do this alone. And synods also support ministries on their territories-seminaries, camps, colleges, social ministry organizations, new congregations and much more.

            Giving patterns have changed. I understand that people want to give to specific projects or local causes. That's great. Keep doing that. In fact, check out Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. You can designate to vital ministries to your heart's content. But be a part of faithful, liberating, connecting mission support. It might not be glamorous, but it makes a difference.  


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



$2 Million asked for youth/Christian formation post


          Lead gifts will be sought in the next year for a $2 million project to fund a Synod

endowed youth ministry/Christian formation position, Bishop Jim Mauney told the June Synod Assembly he and his wife, Lynda, have pledged $25,000 for the project from their fathers' estates.

            At an Assembly workshop, Bishop Mauney said he hopes the funded project will provide a stream of support, a way of working with congregations and homes with funding for youth ministry, the ACTs program and Power in the Spirit. "We hope to have over half pledged in the first year" and pledges will be taken from three to five years, Mauney added. He said this will be a fulltime equivalent post.

            Rev. Mike Ward of GSB Consulting said 39 personal interviews and 69 online responses showed that the Synod is healthy, that it has a good reputation, that Bishop Mauney is well respected and there is a strong passion for youth programs. A goal of  "at least $2 million is very reachable," Ward said. He said he has found potential for several gifts in the range of $25,000 to $50,000. After individual donors are contacted in the first phase, Ward said the second phase "will reach out to congregations for their interest and support."

            George "Skip" Zubrod, Synod treasurer, said the Synod is in a good financial position and overall revenue projections for 2916 are up over $100,000 or 4.5 percent as the result of increased giving and better investment. Projected revenue for 2016 is $1,924,703..ELCA support will be increased slightly to 39 percent with a goal of 50 percent as was once practiced.

            A Synod Council recommendation was approved for a 1.7 percent increase in the minimum base salary of a pastor to $41,732 for a pastor with a parsonage and $52.628 for a pastor with a housing allowance.

Poston (left) and Downs

           Both Charles Downs Jr., a Roanoke lawyer elected vice president and Blythe Scott, a Norfolk lawyer named secretary, were selected without opposition. Downs is a member of Christ, Roanoke, and Scott is a member of First, Norfolk. They follow Charles Poston, First, Norfolk, and Janet Gomez, Living Water, Kilmarnock, secretary. Both served eight years.

            In other elections, Pastors Cheryl Griffin, St. Stephen, Williamsburg, and Matt Wertman, Grace, Waynesboro, were re-elected and Pastor Evan Davis, St. Jacob's-Spaders and Trinity, Keezletown, was elected to Synod Council. Voting members elected for the 2016 ELCA Assembly in New Orleans are Elizabeth Franz, St. Philip, Roanoke; Jody Smiley, St. Michael, Blacksburg; Christy Huffman, Epiphany, Richmond; Richard Corliss, St. Timothy, Norfolk; David Raecke, Our Saviour, Warrenton; Christopher Mumaw, St. Peter, Toms Brook, and Pastors Linda Motley, Floyd-Willis Parish, and Jonathan Boynton, Grace, Winchester. 

After debate, the Assembly approved a resolution calling for a detailed plan for "study, discernment and identifying possible nominees" by the Synod Council 60 days before the 2017 Assembly when Bishop Jim Mauney will retire. Several speakers opposed the proposal to identify possible nominees. Bishop Emeritus Richard Bansemer said the current plan of ecclesiastical voting works "just fine." Use of the ELCA Toolkit for Bishop Elections was urged. Voting members defeated a resolution on "defending our faith" which called for a response "in a Christian manner" to actions or statements which demean faith.

            Mary Corliss, St. Timothy, Norfolk, retiring president of the Synod's Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO), reported on the program for the Youth Assembly, attended by 65 young people. From their theme, "The Social Neighborhood," she said they learned that "God's neighborhood is everyone you meet." Her successor as 12th grade representative and LYO president is Wyatt Grettka, Gloria Dei, Hampton.

            Following the Assembly theme of "knowing our neighborhoods," voting members joined in a demographic study, going online through zip codes to check the occupants of neighborhoods around their churches. They talked about the numbers of members who live near their church, about opportunities for mission/ministry growth and the neighbors who are lonely or in need..They questioned   "how could we get to know our neighborhood better?

            Copies of "Journey Together," a new history of the Synod in the ELCA days from 1988 to 2012, written by retired Pastor Jim Utt of Grace, Winchester, were presented to each congregation.   

            Roanoke College President Michael Maxey said he hopes the Synod will meet in the Cregger Center after construction is completed in the fall of 2016. A Luther Plaza will be at the entry way for the building which will house athletic, academic and community events. Maxey said Roanoke is "a better college because we are committed to you (the Synod)."

            Southern Seminary is engaged in a $2 million campaign for a fulltime endowed chair in Lutheran Studies, Pastor Paul Summer, executive director for advancement at the seminary, told a luncheon gathering of friends of the seminary. The chair of Lutheran Studies will teach a core Lutheran denominational course and engage in research on the most pressing questions of the day, he said.

            Eric Carlson and Dr. Charles Hayes described the ongoing malaria campaign which is seeking $50,000 for mosquito nets in Papua New Guinea after $252,304 was raised for nets in Africa. Carlson said the mortality rate from malaria in Africa has declined 58 percent since 2000. Synod support provided over 50,000 nets, Hayes said.

            Speaking for the Synod Inclusive Outreach Team, Pastor Aaron Fuller, St. Andrew and Holy Communion, Portsmouth, said, "We need to have conversation about race. We need to hear stories about people." Fuller, who is of Asian ancestry, said, "the worst thing we can say is that race doesn't matter."



Churches should look outside their buildings



Speakers talked about many ways congregations can extend their mission and ministry to the neighborhoods around their churches at the annual Virginia Synod Assembly at Roanoke College June 5-7. "We focus on beautiful buildings, programs and procedures" rather than the work of Christ in the community, said Dr. Mary Sue Dreier, missiology professor at Southern Seminary and keynote speaker.

            "Get out of the church buildings to where the people are. The people you're concerned about in the neighborhood," Dreier said, following the Assembly theme,

"Ambassadors for Christ: Knowing our Congregational Neighborhoodsto do God's Will."

Pr. Raphael Malpica Padilla administers sacrament to Bishop Mauney. 

          Pastor Rafael Malpica-Padilla, executive director of the ELCA Division of Global Mission and the ELCA representative, said, the "whole world has come to our neighborhoods," He pointed to three goals of global missions: To seek understanding of other cultures and differences, to build relationships of trust and to seek peaceful coexistence by living together as God intended.

            The ELCA wants a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestine problem, a two-state solution following United Nations guidelines, Malpica-Padilla said. "We envision a shared Jerusalem  by Christians, Jews and Muslims. The ELCA is working

with local groups to help the huge number of refugees in Europe. "You are present in many places," he told the Assembly.

Nancy Delaney at the organ at St. Andrew's.

            The Rev. Warren Lesane Jr., stated clerk of the Mid-Atlantic Presbyterian Church, USA, said people are "polarized as liberals or conservataives, red or blue but congregations seek a third way...Something deeper is needed." He listed four points for the church: Evangelism has to start with us before we go out. We need to have gospel for ourselves. The message is about God. Scripture---is it for family history or do we read it? We need to de-professionalize theology. It's left to professionals rather than people in the pews. with local groups to help the huge number of refugees in Europe. "You are present in many places," he told the Assembly.

           At the annual festive service at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke, Bishop Jim Mauney said, "God has come down into the depths of our lives.. We ask what is Jesus doing down here in this house?" The whole church is Christ's neighborhood, he added. "You are connected to the body of Christ..Jesus is in the 'hood, the house. 

Huffman, Stierwalt start vicar year



            Suzanne Czernik Stierwalt will spend a vicar/intern year at Our Saviour, Norge, and Nathan James Huffman will serve as a vicar at St. Mark, Yorktown.

Stierwalt, a native of Havelock, NC, grew up in a Marine Corps household and is a member of Faith, Suffolk. She married Joseph Stierwalt, a Naval officer, in 1997 and they have two daughters, Lainey, who lives in Washington State, and Jillian, who will start in high school at Suffolk. A graduate of Virginia Wesleyan College, Stierwalt recently received a master's in divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary while completing Lutheran studies at Gettysburg Seminary. She expects to work in spiritual direction and pastoral care.


Huffman, a graduate of Davis & Elkins College, served as a Richmond policeman in a specialized law enforcement unit for eight years. He served as a Marine infantry team leader in combat operations in Iraq. In 2011, he discerned a call to ministry and studied at Union Theological Seminary and then he transferred to Gettysburg Seminary. He has been commissioned in the Navy Chaplain Candidate Officer Program and he hopes to serve in the Navy Chaplain Corps after ordination. His wife is Christine V. Hufman, diaconal minister at Epiphany, Richmond.  They have three children.   

Pending approval by the Synod Candidacy Committee, they will be ordained, subject to a call to service.


Meeting the needs of the poor 

in Honduras for seven years

     by Dr. Nancy Schmitz


Peace mission team stands in Honduras.

Peace Lutheran Church, Charlottesville, sent a mission team of 10 people to Tegucigalpa, Honduras June 13-10, 2015 to bring vital medicines and spiritual encouragement to people in the small villages and barrios that surround that capitol city. This year marked Peace's seventh mission trip over the past decade in partnership with Centro Cristiano Gerizim, a vibrant Christian community in the outskirts of Tegucigalpa.

Led by Dr. Nancy Schmitz, the trip's focus was medical, with 640 adults and children served in five locations: La Joya, Villa Real, El Terrero, Gerizim, and Neuvo Danli. Over 1900 prescriptions of antibiotics, blood pressure medicine, diabetes medicine, anti-parasite, vitamins, eye drops, cough and cold treatment were filled from 250 pounds of medicines brought down in suitcases.           

Also serving in the medical brigades were Christie Ridenhour, Irene Cernik, Irina McCay-Pedrick, Margie Taylor-Maddox, Auna Sobeck, and a support team of Hondurans, including Dr. Ana, nurse Reyna, 4 translators, and numerous leaders at each location.

Peace's mission statement is "God loves us and calls us to Love God, Love One Another, Grow in Christ, and Go in Christ." These mission trips are a visible, active means of expressing God's love and being his "hand and feet" in ministry in His name. Team members are trained and prepared to walk alongside their hosts, and to give themselves over to God's work through the Spirit. Sometimes this means being there just to pray over someone for whom medicines are not enough.

Elizabeth McKay makes bracelets
with Honduran children.

One such woman was seen last year, with a badly wounded foot that had been left untreated for so long she should have lost it. She was tended to with prayer, given bandages and ointments and this year the team was fortunate to see her again, her foot completely healed. This story is one of dozens encountered each trip, and gives ample testimony to how God blesses each of us to bless one another.

The team also engaged in light construction, children's ministry, and support for the Gerizim School serving the poor community surrounding the church. ElizaBeth McCay, who is a school principal, headed up the children's ministry and delighted hundreds of children waiting during the medical clinics with games, music, coloring, bead-making and many other activities. She also connected with the leadership and teachers of the school at Gerizim.

One of the highlights of this particular trip was the inaugural use of a Mission Home that has been in visioning, planning, and construction for several years. Mike Cernik, Russ Melton, and Rob Sobeck helped to outfit the new building with shelves, bathroom fixtures, a closet and cabinetry. The team used the new facility as a meeting place, dining area, and sleeping space. When completed, the Mission Home will serve multiple purposes, housing guest teachers and visiting mission teams, and serving as a training facility and dormitory for country pastors affiliated with Gerizim's ministry to the people of Honduras. Gerizim has home churches all over Tegucigalpa, as well as over a hundred other churches throughout Honduras and Central America.

While 10 members went, the ministry was embraced and supported by the entire congregation, through raising funds for the medicines and team support, knitting prayer shawls and prayer bears that the team took with them, pre-counting and packaging medicines and through prayers and spiritual encouragement.

The philosophy of Peace's global ministry is to come alongside of native missionaries and help support them through partnering in prayer, resources and mission trips that connect the heart of our congregation with theirs. We endeavor to help them in the advancement of the gospel and meeting the needs of the poor and neglected in their lands. Most important, we give testimony to God's love for all His people. Over 50 different parishioners have participated directly in mission trips over the past decade.


Pastor Barney Troutman dies at 87



Pastor C. Bernard "Barney" Troutman, 87, died June 15 in Timberville, six days after the death of  Jenny Lind Hottle Troutman, his wife of 66 years. In his 34 years of active ministry, he served at Salem, Mt. Sidney; Holy Trinity, Martinsville; Hebron and Mt. Nebo, Madison County, and Reformation, New Market, where he was named pastor emeritus when he retired after 17 years there,

Troutman was chaplain of Virginia State Firefighters Association and Shenandoah Memorial Hospital. He helped establish rescue squads in Madison and New Market and he helped create a counseling center, a homeless shelter, low-income housing, support and 12 step-groups. He sang with the Shenandoah Choral Society.

Among his survivors are a son, Thomas C. Troutman Sr., Charlottesville; a daughter, Barbra Humphrey, Harrisonburg; two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The funeral was conducted by Bishop Jim Mauney and Pastor Brett Davis at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, June 22. Burial was in Toms Brook Cemetery.


Sayers honored for reaching 

out to LGBTQ community


In the midst of the recent Supreme Court decision about same-sex marriage, the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community has been at the forefront of conversation.

           One Virginia pastor, the Rev. Lyndon Sayers of Good Shepherd Lutheran, Lexington, was honored with the Pathfinder Award by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.

Pastor Lyndon Sayers (left) is pictured during the award ceremony with Col. Bill Grace, Title IX coordinator at VMI, also an award winner, and Judy Casteele executive director of Project Horizon and member of Good Shepherd.

The Pathfinder award is part of the Catalyst Awards series which encompass superior work across eight different categories and apply to program staff, community leaders, volunteers, and allied professionals. Sayers was chosen for his work to broaden the boundaries of traditional domestic and/or sexual violence work through creative outreach to the LGBTQ community. Action Alliance said in a press release that, "Lyndon has demonstrated a commitment to positive change, exceptional activism, and innovation."

Two years ago, Sayers was invited to participate in a focus group as part of a senior capstone project at Washington and Lee University about the LGBTQ Community in Lexington and Rockbridge County. The project was done in partnership with Project Horizon, whose aim is to reduce domestic, dating, and sexual violence in the Rockbridge community. Project Horizon, the organization that nominated Pastor Sayers for the Pathfinder award, said this:

"It became evident that while many members of the LGBTQ community considered themselves to be 'spiritual or religious,' many said they were ostracized by organized religion. The LGBTQA Rockbridge Alliance grew out of the initial focus group.  Sayers welcomed LGBTQ members and allies into his home as a safe space to meet for fellowship or discussion."

The LGBTQA Rockbridge Alliance, usually called "The Alliance," is a group of about a dozen people, a mix of Washington and Lee college students, VMI keydets, young adults and others in the community who meet monthly for a social gathering.  While the group is designed to give members of the LGBTQ community a safe space, other informational or advocacy events have arisen from the meetings. 

"For those who are LGBTQ there aren't a lot of opportunities for them to be themselves'" Sayers said. "With the Alliance, they can count on at least one space for them to be able to do that."

Churches across the country are making it a priority to become officially recognized as a welcoming community and many choose to be listed on the Reconciling in Christ Congregation List.

"We are called to witness to the marginalized," said Sayers. "I think this is central to how we live out this gospel."


Pleasant Hill youth send kits to LWR


Children at Pleasant Hill in Smyth County collected 22 personal care kits and sent them to the Lutheran World Relief shipping center for distribution to areas of need throughout the world. The youth group is following the path of the kits. The kits contain a towel, soap, tooth brush, nail clipper and comb.


At left, Edward Buller and Cooper Hamm carry a package of personal care kits to be mailed to Lutheran World Relief.

NLCS offers grants for senior projects


National Lutheran Communities & Srvices (NLCS) is again offering Community Impact grants for congregations and community social service organizations working in senior services for the 2015-2016 grant year. The grants are expected to be in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 but more or less may be awarded, depending on the merits of the proposal.

In the past year, NLCS awarded over $96,000 in seven Virginia grants for senior projects among a total of almost $200,000 in Virginia, Delaware-Maryland and Metropolitan Washington Synods.

In a survey of the most pressing issues facing older adults, NLCS found these problems: chronic disease management, navigating and accessing health care and social services, dealing with Alzheimer's disease, dementia and memory loss, social isolation and poverty and financial insecurity.

Information about submission of grant proposals, the application form, time line, recipient eligibility and grant reporting requirements can be found at Proposals were accepted after June 15.

Scriptures come alive in Israel tour    

     by Pastor Dennis Roberts, Holy Trinity, Lynchburg


Lynchburg interfaith participants gather after a pre-dawn hike up Masada, Herod the Great's northern fortress overlooking the Dead Sea.


           "We sang together, we prayed together, and we walked the hallowed grounds of Israel with a new understanding of our religions," is how Conrad and Patty Kauppi described their experience as participants in a Jewish-Christian group from Lynchburg's Chavurah Masarti, Agudath Sholom Synagogue, and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church that visited Israel and Palestine in May.

 The group of 31, led by Rabbi Michael Gillette of the Chavurah and Holy Trinity Pastor Dennis Roberts, visited a number of sites significant in the history of the Jewish and Christian traditions, as well as the modern state of Israel.

     Included in the itinerary were Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Caesarea Maritime, Tzippori, Mount Carmel, Haifa, the Bahá̓í Gardens, Akko's British Prison and crusader fortress, Nazareth's Church of the Annunciation, Sefat, the Golan Heights, Tel Dan, Caesarea Philippi, Sea of Galilee, Tabgha's Church of the Multiplication, Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Jerusalem (Western Wall, Hezekiah's Water Tunnel, South Wall excavations, Garden of Gethsemane, the Upper Room, Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Sunday worship at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Har Herzl Military Cemetery, Tomb of David, Chamber of the Holocaust, Mahane Yehuda Market), the West Bank, Efrat, Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, Masada, En Gedi Nature Reserve, the Dead Sea, and Israel's Independence Hall.

     The scriptures came alive throughout the trip. "We both enjoyed the interfaith aspect of the trip - seeing the same places through different eyes," said Meg and Leonard Cohen. "We opened our hearts and minds to each other," remarked Carole Royer. Jeffrey Kornblum shared that the days together helped clarify for him "man's eternal struggle with the meaning of life and belief in G-d."

 Rabbi Gillette, a medical ethicist who also serves as Lynchburg's mayor, observed "it was moving to see Israel through new eyes and to see parts of its culture from a new perspective." After visiting Israel many times before, "the interfaith aspect of the trip was novel," he continued.

     The trip evoked a variety of emotions, ranging "from the depths of despair to jubilation," according to Linda Kolodny as she reflected on visiting Yad Vashem one morning and then experiencing Jerusalem Day that afternoon as Israelis held their annual street festival  celebrating the reunification of the city after the 1967 Six-Day War. Also very moving was the group's Friday evening Shabbat worship service in Jerusalem. "Witnessing and being a part of the vibrant joy and obvious devotion of those honoring the Sabbath at the Western Wall was a deeply moving religious experience," said Gail Midkiff.

     The complicated cross currents of the current political situation were on display when the group met with a representative of The Parents Circle, a grassroots organization of bereaved Palestinians and Israelis that promotes reconciliation as an alternative to the violence that has claimed the lives of their children. A Palestinian Christian guided the group while in Bethlehem, followed by a stop in the West Bank Israeli settlement of Efrat for a meeting with the mayor and several residents. Ed and Ann Schneider noted that these experiences "allowed us to get a deeper understanding for the tension between the Jewish desire for a homeland and justice for the displaced Palestinians."

     Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, and the Jewish community there have a long history of interfaith cooperation, participating in Thanksgiving Day worship, Holocaust Remembrance, a neighborhood food pantry, and other outreach ministries together. Plans are underway to build upon the shared experiences of this trip with additional joint educational, worship, service, and fellowship opportunities.  


(Note in the fourth paragraph the wording, "belief in G-d." This follows Jewish tradition that the name of the Divine is too holy to spell out completely.)

Cards for prisoners asked at Power in the Spirit


In a service project at Power in the Spirit at Roanoke College July 8-11, those attending are asked to collect birthday, anniversary, thank you, get well, thinking of you, Valentine, Mother's Day and Father's Day cards to be distributed by prison chaplains to prisoners.

Participants in Power in the Spirit will be challenged to learn about the state's prison system, how lives are changing through GraceInside (formerly Chaplain Services)

and how to support the prison chaplain ministry.

            Boxes of stationery and envelopes to fit the cards are needed. More information about the project may be found at

PNG malaria fund requested


            The Synod Malaria Campaign has shifted to Papua New Guinea where malaria is the major health concern. A goal of $50,000 has been set to buy 5,000 mosquito nets by the end of the year.  A $10 donation will buy one treated mosquito net for someone in the Virginia Synod's companion synod in New Guinea Islands (NGI) District of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea.

            Two prayer requests have been received from Pastor Tobby Eleasar, president of the  NGI Church.  Eleasar asked that Virginia Lutherans pray that the NGI Project to develop a District Lutheran Center will be supported by NGI circuits and congregations.  He also asked for prayers that the Holy Spirit will lead the ELC-PNG to elect an attractive leader to serve as their next bishop.

Synod youth work creatively for a Detroit trip


            Hundreds of young people held a mulch sale, lobster bake, lasagna lunches, car washes, raffles, Valentine dinner and concerts across the Synod to raise money for a trip to the ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit July 12-19. More than 600 youth and adults from 34 Virginia congregations will ride buses, trains, planes and cars to join a throng of 30,000 young Lutherans meeting under the theme, "Rise Up Together!"

During the week in Detroit, 40 youth from Bethel, Winchester, and Muhlenberg,

Harrisonburg, plan to work on a service project through.a Detroit mission, Rippling Hope. About 11,000 youth will go out from the Gathering to practice justice in the neighborhoods. The Winchester youth have been meeting to learn "what action of love to take in response to racism found in Detroit, Charleston and in us," according to the Bethel Banner newsletter.

            In addition to service on Proclaim Justice Day, the youth will have a time of exploratory learning with others from their synod in Proclaim Story Day and they will have a time of interactive learning on Proclaim Community Day.        

Live feeds will be made daily through and the Bethel youth will have blog posts by and images/stories will be on

            Richmond youth from Christ the King, Epiphany, Christ and Our Saviour will ride a bus, starting a day early to learn about Detroit culture. An a capella group gave a concert and a bake sale and silent auction were held at Christ the King.

            Thousands of dollars were raised at First, Norfolk, at a Saturday Night Lutheran event featuring a raffle and 10 acts of entertainment. Youth at Christ, Fredericksburg, gave a skit on Youth Sunday about their plan to ride a train to the airport for a flight to Detroit. In the past three years, they provided music at lasagna lunches and delivered over 16 pallets of mulch to pay for their trip.

            Youth at Grace and St. Paul, Rural Retreat, worked a crab cake dinner, held car washes and sold Luther Rose stickers to raise travel money. At Emmanuel, Virginia Beach, lunch and breakfast fund-raisers, a chef fund-raiser and a Valentine dinner contributed to the youth's travel plans. Generous members of the congregation also helped. 

Zion, Waynesboro, plans Nicaragua trip


An information meeting about a mission trip to Nicaragua will be held at Zion, Waynesboro, on Thursday, July 23, at 7 p.m. Plans are being made for Zion's first trip in February 2016.

Retired Susquehanna University Chaplain Mark Radecke, a member of Zion and formerly of Christ, Roanoke, said the plan is to partner with a refuge for at-risk and abandoned children and youth. Radecke and his wife, Tami, have led 16 service-learning-mission trips to Nicaragua. More information about the trip is on the Zion website, Radecke said the trip is open for Virginia Lutherans.





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