Weekly Update
Announcements From Around the Virginia Synod
From Madagascar to Southwest VA
If your pastor was out of town this past week, chances are you would have found him or her down at Virginia Beach for Gathering of the Ministerium. This annual event, hosted by the Virginia Synod, is a time for the rostered leaders of our synod to come together to build community, to worship, and to learn, all while overlooking the ocean. During the large group sessions they heard from our guest speaker, Linda Mercadante, about what people mean when they say that they are "spiritual but not religious."

There were over 100 rostered leaders in the crowd but only one had just moved to Virginia from Madagascar.   

This summer Pastor Austin Propst traveled with his wife Tanya and their dog Puba halfway across the world to answer the call to become the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bristol Virginia.

For the past three years Austin and Tanya lived in Madagascar as the Country Coordinators for Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM). YAGM (pronounced Yag-um) is a program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that invites young adults, ages 21-29, into a transformative, year-long journey in international service.

"YAGM provides an opportunity to send young people into the world to see what God is up to in a different context," Austin said. "The key is that people come back to tell these stories and that's what Jesus did-he told stories."

Now young adults who want to apply for YAGM have the possibility of being placed in any of the nine countries where programs currently exist. Just 4 years ago, Madagascar wouldn't have been on that list.

Tanya and Austin Propst with their dog Puba at Andringitra National Park in Madagascar.
After attending Wartburg Theological Seminiary and getting married, Austin started the process of finding his first call. In the meantime the couple decided to look into global mission options through the ELCA.

"I originally was filling out an application for Kenya and the application asked for the spouse to fill out a section," said Austin.

The Global Mission Office of the ELCA responded quickly and asked if the couple had ever thought about the YAGM program. At that point there was an opening for a brand new country program.

One major stimuli for that initial call was Tanya's section of the application. While Austin had a seminary degree, she also had her own credentials. After volunteering with the Peace Corps at a nonprofit in South Africa for two years, Tanya had gained international experience with building relationships and working in new communities.

 "It really did fit both of our skills," said Tanya. We fit the mold of what they needed for this program."

When they arrived in Madagascar, they started from scratch. The YAGM program sends 6-10 volunteers to each country who are each assigned to a different town or community. With no community partners, there could be no placements.

"We initially had to meet all the church leaders," Austin said. "Our dear friends Sthela and Hasina helped to take us around the country and introduce us to many of the church leaders in the Malagasy Lutheran Church."

Molly Beyer, a young adult from the Virginia Synod, was one of the 2014 YAGM volunteers in Madagascar 
As Tanya and Austin made connections they were careful to ask questions about what leaders needed for their community and to communicate messages of collaboration.

"We always wanted to enter into what was already going on and what was really needed," Austin said. "We weren't called to say 'come to me, I want to show you Jesus.' It was more like 'let's walk together and see where Christ takes us.'"

After finding community partners, six young adults arrived the first year, eager to serve and learn more about the country. With the volunteers in Madagascar, Austin and Tanya worked together as a team, using their gifts to make the program a success. Austin handled pastoral care and retreats while Tanya was able to take on the logistics and finances.

While the couple settled into their roles, the transition to a new country is still a major change. Everything from the language to transportation, and even the food, was different.

"In Madagascar, rice is the main event," Tanya said. She explained that the rice was so much more than most Americans can even imagine because it is prepared differently than in the U.S. where we may use rice as a small side dish. In Madagascar for each meal you are presented with a "mountain of rice."

There weren't just external, tangible differences between the U.S. and Madagascar. Austin described going to get groceries as more of a community gathering instead of just an errand.

While Madagascar is known for lemurs, they could usually only be found in the National Parks where the YAGM group would go on retreats
We would go to the market and we knew the person who grew the vegetables. We had a relationship with the woman who grew our bananas. In Madagascar we had an intimate relationship with the community."
After three years of building up the Madagascar YAGM program, Austin and Tanya are transitioning again. This time the Holy Spirit led them to Southwest Virginia.

"In Madagascar, people don't just stumble upon your group or your community of faith. It takes a brother in Christ inviting a sister in Christ to be a part of that community. Redeemer in Bristol does an awesome job of inviting people."

The Propsts have not only seen the relational nature of their church members, but also of fellow rostered leaders.

"Austin has boasted about the Highlands Conference and how close all the pastors are," Tanya said. "When they have their conference meeting he always comes back really encouraged. I was really impressed-that's a community."

Austin and Tanya will be coming back to Virginia Beach this week to a place with more NASCAR fans than lemurs but the lessons they have learned will continue to translate over well. The importance of knowing your community and inviting others into to body of Christ is important to sharing the Gospel in every culture. 

U.S. Flooding: You Can Help
Flooding has devastated this country this week. The ELCA is providing opportunities to help our sisters and brothers affected by historic flooding in the Carolinas. Give through ELCA Disaster Response and100% of your gift goes directly to help those in need. Click here for more information

You are invited to explore Lutheran commitments to children and youth at Grace Lutheran Church in Waynesboro on October 24 from 9:00 am-2:00 pm. Marcia Bunge, a professor of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College, will be leading participants through conversations during the day with topics including central Lutheran commitments to children, twelve best practices for nurturing moral and spiritual life, and articulating our values. The cost is $25.00. Click here for the registration form.


Lost and Found Early Registration 
Lost & Found: God has Found You
Lost & Found: God has Found You

Lost and Found is our annual weekend retreat for youth in 7th and 8th grade and their adult advisors. We have Large Group gatherings that consist of singing, energy, comedy, worship and a presentation on our event theme. After each Large Group gathering each person is part of a Small Group made up of about 8 youth and a couple adult leaders where participants will get to know other Lutheran youth from Virginia and discuss life, faith and other topics that arise throughout the weekend. 
Lost and Found runs from November 20-22, 2015, from 6:30pm Friday to noon Sunday at Eagle Eyrie.  
Cost for participants:  $160 (early registration discount if postmarked on or before October 19 - $150) Click Here To Find out More and Register!

Deaconess Community's January Term Course
Are you discerning your call to ministry? Have you thought about the Word and Service Roster and wondered "What is diakonia?" Come learn together at the Deaconess Community's annual J-term course "Diaconal Ministry: History, Formation and Spirituality", offered through Luther Seminary! This course will be held January 3-8, 2016 at Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center in Farmington, MN. The Deaconess Community pays tuition for all students. The cost of housing and books is the responsibility of each student. For more information, please visit deaconesscommunity.org/j-term.

Hungry Mother Servant Summer Camp

Hungry Mother Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center has just announced the dates for their new Servant Summer Camp for 2016. Enjoy a week at the peaceful mountain facility while also volunteering with several organizations that serve the people of Southwest Virginia. 

Applications are now being accepted. Each group should consister of 5-7 youth per adult. If you will only be bringing one group, one adult male and one adult female will be required. Youth must be rising high school age and above. There will be three weeks of camp with 40 available spots for each week. The fee is $250 per person with some scholarship money available. 

Please click here for more information or email hmlrc@hungrymother.org to request an application.  

Valparaiso University Lutheran Scholarships Available
High school students across the Synod are looking at colleges right now and thanks to your affiliation to the Lutheran church, there are scholarships available! Valparaiso University has several Lutheran specific scholarships with deadlines coming up. Click here for more details


Job Opportunities

All posts can also be found online at www.vasynod.org/job-opportunities. If you have job opening you would like posted, email fuller@vasynod.org. 
Job Opportunity:
Church Operations Manager in Norfolk, VA
The Church Operations Manager will serve First Lutheran Church Norfolk by ensuring support is provided to all Rostered Staff, administering the physical, finalcial and personnel resources of FLC and providing oversight of the operations and business of FLC. A full job description is available here. Those interested should send a cover letter and resume to staffing@flcnorfolk.com. Questions should be directed to the same email. 
Job Opportunity
Director of Worship and Music--25 hours
Emmanual Lutheran, Virginia Beach
Responsibilities include planning all worship and music. Position description and salary details are available by clicking the title link above. Interested candidates should send a resume including educational training and ministry experience, a cover letter explaining your vision for worship and music ministry and references to admin@elvb.org by 10/15/15
Job Opportunity
Director of Youth and Christian Education--20 hours
Emmanual Lutheran, Virginia Beach
Responsibilities include planning and leading Sunday school and youth group activities each Sunday. Position description and salary details are available by clicking the title link above. Interested candidates should send a resume including educational training and ministry experience, a cover letter explaining your vision for youth and family ministry and references to youth@elvb.org by 10/15/15.
Job Opportunity:
Church Office Administrator--15-20 hrs/week
Faith Lutheran, Suffolk
Faith Lutheran in Suffolk is seeking a Church Office Administrator. This position includes Flexible hours.  Basic computer skills, clerical skills, and some financial skills are required. Applicants must be able to work independently, communicate well, and respect confidentiality. If interested please send resume:  faith_lutheran@verizon.net . For questions or comments, please call (757) 686-0468. 
Do You have an Announcement, upcoming event or News Story Idea? Send it to fuller@vasynod.org!
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