Virginia Synod Logo New


                                                                                             APRIL 2016
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

Reading Dr. Seuss in Spanish

     For a Read Across America event at Reid Elementary School in Richmond, Pastor Katie Pocalyko, of Our Saviour, (left) read Dr. Seuss in Spanish and Pastor Caitlin Deyerle of Southminster Presbyterian Church, read in English.
 This was Dr. Seuss's birthday.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Why knowing 'Why" is important
Fuel for political firebrands
Helping Syrian refugees
Palm Sunday walk
Trinity travelers
Trip to Macedonia
Malaria-fighting Support
College plans graduation for 455
Visiting ancient sites
Supported employment
Noah's ark in the nursery
God's grace is for all.
Our Saviour has a full calendar.
Quick Links
Lutherans in the news

            Jennie Hodge, manager of the highly successful Micah's Backpack weekend feeding program at St. Michael, Blacksburg, for nine years, will be moving with her family to Greensboro at the end of the school year. In a thank-you note to fellow volunteers, she said, "Together we responded with grace to the weekend hunger needs of 1,000s of kids in Blacksburg and Montgomery County." In February, they provided 6,336 meals for children. Grants of $2,800 from the ELCA Domestic Hunger Fund and $1,600 from Feeding America Southwest Virginia were received through her work.The program expanded to Micah's Garden, Micah's Closet and Micah's Soup for Seniors.
            Pastor Aaron Fuller has been called to active duty as a chaplain with the Navy Reserve for one year at Norfolk Naval Station. He is resigning as pastor of St. Andrew and interim pastor at Holy Communion, Portsmouth. He will be ministering to people who return from deployments all over the world but he will continue to work with the Tapestry Outreach Team and serve as a supply pastor.      
            Pastor Lance Braun, who is in interim service at Salem, Mount Sidney, has been named to the part-time post of chaplain at the Legacy at North Augusta, Staunton, a National Lutheran Community..
            Pastor Marilu Thomas transferred from a Minnesota Synod and is accepting an ecumenical call to serve at Christ Episcopal, Charlottesville.
            A Region 9 Networks for Mission Event will have a theme of "We Are Church Together" in Atlanta on April 28-30.
            Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach, has received a $2,500 grant from the ELCA Domestic Hunger Fund for its food pantry, Tabitha's Backpack and the 2016 Winter Shelter. At Easter, Good Shepherd collected donations for chicks, 10 for $10, through the ELCA Good Gifts program. As they grow, the chickens lay eggs for hungry families.
            Dr. Martha E. Stortz, a professor of religion and vocation at Augsburg College, will lead the spring ACTS course on "A World According to God: Practices for Discipleship" in two large-group sessions at Grace, Waynesboro, on April 9 and May 14. Simulcast locations will be St. Luke, Richmond, and Holy Trinity, Wytheville.
            The choirs of Our Saviour, Richmond, will present an Easter Concert and Cantata on Sunday, April 10, at 6 p.m.  Jennifer Ripley is the director and Michelle Huang is the pianist for the concert.
            The choir of St. Mark's, Roanoke, led by Steve Lawrence, will present Choral Evensong, a service of sung evening prayer, on Sunday, April 17, at 5 p.m. Pastor Paul Henrickson, church relations director at Roanoke College, will be the speaker.
            The Carthage College Choir was scheduled to sing at St. Mark, Yorktown, on Saturday and Sunday, March 19-29, The choir, directed by Dr. Eduardo Garcia-Novelli, was on a spring tour through Virginia and Maryland.
            A Nicaragua Mission group, supported by Bethlehem, Lynchburg, was scheduled to leave March 11 to take school supplies to Somatillo, Nicaragua. The supplies were taken to half of the 920 children. Those on a second trip in July will take supplies for the other half of the children. Bethlehem also received a check for $1,502 for participation in the Lynchburg CROP Walk.
            A St. Patrick  Day supper was held at St. Mary's Pine for the benefit of a community emergency needs fund.
            Virginia Hummel, oldest member of First English, Richmond, celebrated her 100th birthday on March 20. She was honored at a reception at Westminster Canterbury retirement center on March 29.
            St. John's Winchester, has sold the 100th copy of its history, "It Is a Good Work." Proceeds from the sale have been used for charitable causes.         
            As a way for families of Resurrection, Fredericksburg, to get connected, a Tables of 8 program has been planned for eight members to gather for a meal with a host. "The promise of Tables of 8 is that you will get to know those at your table in a more intimate setting; acquaintances will become friends and Sunday morning greetings will be much more personal," according to the congregation newsletter. Also, an Adult Forum at Resurrection will begin a small group study of the Muslim faith, starting April 3.
            The youth of St. Stephen, Williamsburg, are planning to raise funds to attend the July 2018 National Youth Gathering in Houston, Texas. St. Stephen is planning a celebration of its 60th anniversary in December.                    

Can we answer the question, 'Why?' 
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton 
Knowing the 'why' is important 
for the church's future directions

          Once for continuing education I signed up for an introduction to philosophy course at the community college. I was a music education major in college and never had any philosophy courses. Since philosophy and theology are so closely related, I thought it was about time that I became better acquainted with the Western philosophical tradition. So off I went to learn how the great philosophers have addressed the questions of human existence.
           It was an interesting experience. As we marched through the centuries of Western philosophy, it seemed that the philosophers changed the approach to addressing the "big questions"-meaning, transcendence, suffering, the role of the will. The whole process was led by a professor who described himself as a lapsed Mormon who, I believe, never quite made it out of the protest milieu of the 1960s.
            This convergence of a professor working through the rejection of his tradition and the philosophical systems that paid more attention to "how" versus "why" was uncomfortable. I didn't buy into determinism, especially when one student used it to explain a rather unfortunate choice that involved drinking and driving (no one was injured). What was a Lutheran girl to do?
            My chance came when the professor assigned a paper to be written about our understanding of any of the philosophies covered in class. I dove in. This was an extra credit assignment designed to give a second chance to those who were in some danger of not passing the course. As I was not in that category, I immediately became one of "those students" (I'm sure my classmates used earthier language).
           I titled my paper "How or Why: Newtonian Mechanics vs. A Quantum Metaphysics." Pretty much over the top, but I was on a mission. I wanted to make the point to my professor that there is more in life than the "how" of things, that there is meaning and transcendence even if we can't by reason or human understanding perceive it. I wanted to give witness to my conviction that there is more going on than a life of just mechanics and technique on the way to some deterministic conclusion. And I wanted to point to the truth I had experienced-that there is a loving and relational being who cares about us and about the creation.
           Needless to say the professor was mystified by the amount of effort I put into the project, and he did take five points off because I used a contraction. But the point then, as it is now, is that we as a culture and a church have become proficient at talking about the "how" of things. For the church this means "how" has become the question that determines where we focus, how we live, where we allocate resources. We have developed programs-beautiful programs-on how to do Christian education, worship, stewardship, advocacy, justice, evangelism, global ministry and youth ministry. Don't neglect any of these.
            But can we, as a church, answer the question why?
            As we engage in conversation about the future direction and priorities of this church this year, this is the question we must answer. If we can't answer this question clearly and with conviction, I don't see a lot of change for us.
            In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther gives us some direction:
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father in eternity, and also true human being, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has  redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. He has done all this in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he has risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally.
          This is most certainly true. 

A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: This article originally appeared in the April issue of Living Lutheran.
Don't be welcoming fuel for political firebrands 
     by Pastor Bill King  
   It's not the lightning; it's the tinder.
            During the wildfire season in the West, we often hear a news story about why fires are getting bigger and hotter. Most wildfires in remote areas are caused by lightning strikes. The number of strikes has not radically changed in recent years. Lightning has been setting forests and plains on fire since long before there were humans to see it.
            What has changed is what's on the ground when the strike hits. Drought, logging practices which leave a lot of debris and combustible small plants on the forest floor, along with our reluctance to let smaller fires burn, have ensured there is abundant fuel when lightning strikes. Formerly, lightning might strike a tree and cause a fire. But it usually burned itself out fairly quickly because there wasn't enough fuel to sustain a wildfire. Now those random strikes decimate whole forests and the communities which border them. Forests are increasingly receptive to becoming an inferno.
           It's not the lightning; it's the tinder.
           Surely, what we hear daily from political candidates is appalling and should not be ignored or condoned. I have not personally heard such naked appeals to racism, bigotry, and fear-mongering since my South Carolina high school was desegregated in 1970. Candidates slander one another and appeal to our most base selves. We dare not minimize the culpability of those who manipulate the fearful. We need to take them seriously-as seriously as you'd take a cranky toddler with an Uzi. It's not that he has anything intelligent to say, but he can cause a lot of harm. However, when you get to the heart of the matter, these muck miners are not the problem.
             There have been and will always be those who incite to hatred. We can no more stop them than we can stop lightning from striking the forest. The most terrifying reality is not those who spew fire, but that they are finding tinder eager to be inflamed in our country. We cannot wish the lightning away, but we do not have to be welcoming fuel for firebrands. That we can control. Christians can say in no uncertain terms that we follow the one who said, "Let not your hearts be troubled" and "Love one another as I have loved you" and "Come unto me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest" and "Love your enemies."
             If we do not want to do that, then let's at least stop claiming our goal is return our country to a mythical Christian Eden-because clearly we would be holding in contempt all that Jesus taught and died to proclaim.
            Rejecting rage tactics is not enough. We must accompany our firm condemnation of prejudice with an equal measure of compassion for those who hurting so badly that scape-goating makes perverse sense. We make little progress if we simply hate haters. All the evidence says that we are in for a lot of lightning strikes in the next few months. We can't stop that. But perhaps we can make sure that our little corner of the forest is so soggy with the waters of our baptism that the fire does not take hold in our lives or in the lives of those we have the power to influence. It's hard to burn with hate if you are awash in the awareness of God's love. 
Helping Syrian refugees in Hungary
  by Pastor Viktoria Parvin 
           As the weather is becoming nicer, I start to worry more and wonder about the people I met last year. I was visiting Budapest, Hungary, where I grew up, and trying to find a group or a church that I could join to help the refugees who were walking through Europe, on the very streets where I grew up.
            As soon as I arrived, the first thing I encountered was fear and anger from the people who lived in Budapest and heard the constant reports on the Hungarian media about "violent, dirty, Muslim hordes."
            I went to the Keleti train station where thousands of refugees were trying to get on trains, camping around the underground in tents that a volunteer group handed out every night. I didn't have to ask what to do because there was so much help that was needed.
Pastor Parvin (center) and volunteers from England and Ireland, take a break from distributing donations at Migration Aid, a volunteer group in Budapest.
         Men and women and children, mainly from Syria, were arriving dirty, wet and cold with their feet breaking up soft from all the walking in rain. I walked up to a man and a child about six years old whom I assumed was disabled. I tried to ask with limited English what they needed, and he explained that his child was all right but that he had to make him walk all day because he just could not carry him anymore.
            A mother showed me some baby formula and asked for warm water, which I couldn't find. Her baby was born on the road while traveling. I wondered what country that child could claim as his birthplace?
            I walked up to a group of young men who might have left their country because they did not want to fight for a bad government or they might have been simply the person their family chose to make the travel. Their shoes were falling apart, and I handed them some socks that I bought on the way to the train station. I handed them five but there were six men. They looked at each other, and the socks went around in a circle as each tried to gave theirs to the next one.
           "How much?" they asked me.  "It's free," I said.  It's free unlike everything else as they were shaken down and beaten on the way crossing borders. Because of that they had no money left for food or for train tickets.
            I learned that many people had already spent years in refugee camps with bad conditions. Thousands of people arrived each night to rely on a very small number of volunteers and doctors and nurses helping out. Hundreds of other people would just stand by taking pictures. Tourists stopped by from the US and other countries to help, telling me that they were on vacation and instead of going to a museum they came to help. 'God bless you," I heard many times and I said the same.
            Each moment I thought of God, who no doubt was present in the interaction of two broken human beings trying to be good and loving toward each other. Each time I thought about God in Christ, who came down in our mess and violence and never turned away from those who needed healing, feeding, forgiving and saving.  Faith was born and strengthened through those interactions with Christ.
            Borders are closed today; refugees are still escaping each day trying to find a home; terrorists frighten people pretending to enter countries as refugees and everyone is trying to find answers to what can be done. And all this is just one corner of the world that desperately needs help. One can do nothing out of fear, but there is always the possibility to do something out of faith.
     Pastor Viktoria H. Parvin formerly served as interim pastor at Peace, Charlottesville.
Palm Sunday walk continues in Richmond   
            A longstanding Richmond tradition continued on Palm Sunday when members of five Stuart Circle Parish churches held a brief service on the steps of First English Lutheran before parading up and down Monument Avenue. Each group walked into its church as they pass.
            In the photo above, Pastor Linda Higgins of United Church of Christ is reading the lesson. Nearby are Pastors John Schweitzer of First English; Carmen Germino and Randolph Hollerith, St. James Episcopal; Bobby Hulme-Lippert, Grace Covenant Presbyterian, and Monsignor Patrick Golden, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The Palm Sunday march has been held every year since the parish was formed in1970, except for one year when it was cancelled in bad weather, according to Pastor Schweitzer.
T4Teens, theology week 
for teens set for July 24-31
            Roanoke College will use a grant of $102,374 to establish Theology for a Teens summer institute, T4Teens, a week-long residential summer program July 24-31, will introduce high school students to biblical and theological scholarship and helping them engage in contemporary  challenges.
            T4Teens will be led by faculty members of the college Religion Department with Chaplain Chris Bowen, in partnership with Pastor Dave Dalaney assistant to the bishop for youth ministry. College students will be leaders for the program. High school students interested in attending T4Teens may register at
            Students "will encounter the thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who engaged momentous problems of his time from the Lutheran tradition, grapple with current social issues and engage with other faith communities," said Dr. Ned Wisnefske, chair of the college Religion and Philosophy Department.
            T4Teens, a partnership with the Virginia Synod, will be funded as part of the Lilly Endowment Inc. High School Youth Theology Institute initiative. That effort seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service. The program is expected to cultivate future leaders and give students the opportunity to discuss current cultural and social problems from the perspective of their faith. 
Trinity travelers visit 25 countries  
            At Trinity, Newport News, travelers are invited to bring a cross from countries they visited and place them on a painting of a globe on a school corridor wall. The globe has 55 crosses from 25 countries, a visual reminder of the global church, Interim Pastor Jim Cobb reported.

Trip to Macedonia at Salem, Mt. Sidney   
            The Stewardship of Life Committee at Salem Lutheran Church in Mt. Sidney held a two-day event on March 5-6, entitled "A Trip to Macedonia."  The event consisted of two duplicate three-hour sessions so congregants could choose the time that best suited their respective schedules.
             The materials used for the workshop came from the Rediscover Macedonia material provided through the ELCA.  The Bible study used from this resource was Stewardship Principles, by Rev. Serena Sellers.  These were "gratitude, generosity, abundant joy, give freely, sacrifice, share, and commitment."  These principles are found in the first five verses of 2 Corinthians, Chapter 8.
            Cary Mangus, stewardship coordinator for the Virginia Synod, opened the presentation with a brief history of Macedonia followed by a reading of Chapters 8 and 9 of Second Corinthians and an overview of what was going on in this reading.  Then, the attendees were split into six small groups led by lay leaders that "unpacked" six of the stewardship principles.  The attendees rotated into the different small groups in 15- minute increments.  Following the small groups, everyone came together and Mangus presented the 7th  principle, gratitude, and made closing remarks.
             This "Trip to Macedonia," led by lay members, proved to be a wonderful learning experience for all who attended. Interim Pastor Lance Braun highly commended this committee for its hard work and great promotion.  Over 125 people participated in the event. Any churches that would want to hold a similar event are asked to contact either Mangus in the western part of the synod or Ellen Hinlicky in the eastern part of the synod for more details.  
Malaria-fighting Support for Papua New Guinea
     by Eric Carlson 
            Malaria Sunday is April 24th and we ask that you consider making this Papua New Guinea Malaria Sunday in your congregation. Raise awareness and prayer for our international partners in PNG!
            President Tobby Eleasar made a request for 5,000 nets for the children of his district, which would cost $50,000. Each net only costs $10. Consider rallying your congregation or purchasing two nets yourself for $20. Those two nets could save the lives of two children in Papua New Guinea. On March 11th, Bishop Mauney reported that $3,000 had already been raised.  We can now report that total giving is up over $8,000!
             If you would like to support this goal financially, you or your congregation may donate by checks made to the Virginia Synod marked "Mosquito nets for PNG." and mail to Virginia Synod, P.O. Box 70 Salem, VA 24153 or you can click here to donate online  or give on-line through
            In a recent message, President Eleasar said malaria affects nearly everyone in PNG. If someone starts to shiver or has joint and body pains and a high fever, they basically know they have high fever. In rural areas where there are no facilities to test blood, doctors and nurses will treat the patient with those symptoms with malaria tablets.
            First. If the patient fails to get better, they they are referred to the hospital for blood tests, Drugs used to treat malaria patients are becoming less effective.
            In villages where it is hard to get mosquito nets, we make fires so the smoke can keep the mosquitoes away. In my area we use part of the tree which when dried and is lit, produces smoke which is a good mosquito repellent. But you have to wake many times a night to replace it to keep producing the smoke.
             Eleazar said he had malaria two months before his last trip to Virginia. He was bitten by mosquitoes at a synod meeting and could not travel home. Fortunately, he was treated at a clinic for three days. His son got malaria while away in school and he had to bring him home. A pastor could not return from a trip because he had malaria.
            "Everyone here has a story to tell about malaria because everyone has had it sometime in his/her life or knows of a family member who has. Having treated mosquito nets will help us a lot to prevent malaria."
College plans graduation for 455
        Israel-Palestine Peace Month
            At Roanoke College, plans were announced for the graduation of 455 seniors and observance of a second annual Israel-Palestine Peace Month began.
            Michael Rhodin, senior vice president of Watson Business Development for IBM, will be the commencement speaker on Saturday, May 7, and his daughter, Oliva Rhodin, will be one of the graduates. Dean of the Chapel Christopher Bowen will be the baccalaureate speaker on Friday, May 6.
            Rhodin, a graduate of the University of Michigan, joined IBM in 1984. He has worked on research in artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as solutions in such high-growth areas as business analytics, smarter commerce, smarter cities and social business. He is a leader in two IBM business units---Watson and Watson Health.
            Honorary doctoral degrees will be awarded Rhodin and Dr. Elizabeth Gantt, a plant biologist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, who is a research associate at the college.
            For the Peace Month, speakers, music and a narrative exhibition are being used for conversation and to raise awareness of the conflict, focusing on refugees. Stories of refugee experiences, a teach-in by three college professors, a concert by a band of Israeli and Palestinian musicians and a talk on multi-faith  global health activism will be featured. 
Visiting the ancient sites of Israel
     by retired Pastor Sandy Wisco
            A group of eight from St. Mark Charlottesville, experienced a week in the Holy Land of Israel during Spring Break with students of University of Virginia. Paul Shepherd planned and led this group with the help of Duane Osheim. We first drove to Migdal and visited the Sea of Galilee near sunset, then to Tiberius for dinner. The food was fabulous! 
         The next day we drove to Nazareth by way of Cana. The churches and markets were unique and fascinating. The art depictions of Mary and the Holy Family were some we had never seen, like the Holy Family and Joseph's visitation.
            The variety of scenery from lush to rocky and dry, from flat to mountainous, sand to rocky to grassy to tree and shrub filled, from desolate to crowded, from arid to oasis, and from + 500 meters above to 432 meters below sea level, all in the area covered in a couple of hours was surprising. Clearly, walking in some of the places Jesus walked touched us deeply.
            The weather was perfect and the sites were easily reached and viewed. We spent three nights in Jerusalem at the Abraham Hostel and visited the Temple Mount, took the tunnel tour along the outer wall, visited the Wailing Wall and walked down to the Garden of Gethsemane from the Mount of Olives. The next day we visited the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book and many other exhibits. 
            We stayed near the Dead Sea and were able to watch the sun rise over the mountains of Jordan .that surrounded the east side of the Dead Sea. Both the Dead Sea and the Masada sites were surrounded by barren land that was very rocky and mountainous.        
Supported employment services
     by Carole Todd  
          Real jobs, real wages, real experience for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities
            Earning a paycheck. Enjoying the feeling of a job well done. These are things that promote independence, well-being and community connection. Lutheran Family Services of Virginia has launched a new program in the Roanoke area to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities find jobs at competitive wages.
            An employment specialist working through our Supported Employment program will help individuals develop a career path, prepare for the job search and hone interviewing and job skills. Once they are on the job, the employment specialist will provide as much coaching as is required for the individual to be successful.
           As new employees gain in skills and confidence, we step back to allow them to build a community of support on the job. And, to make sure that the partnership is a success, we will communicate regularly with employers to gather input and monitor satisfaction.
           Supported employment means real jobs at real wages, and it is one more way to create more abundant lives for the people we serve. Find out more about supported employment at the LFSVA web site.For more information, call 1.800.359.3834,.or email
Noah's ark in the nursery at St. Paul, Hampton  

            Elephants, a giraffe, rabbits, sheep and even skunks are on a Noah's ark mural, painted by Barbara Chisholm, in the nursery of St. Paul, Hampton. The mural was inspired by donations to a memorial fund in memory of Miles Edwards.
God's grace is for all  
by retired Pastor Sandy Wisco
            I had the pleasure to hear/experience Nadia Bolz-Weber preach. She is a self- professed theologically orthodox ELCA Lutheran pastor and author. Her preaching was invigorating to me, authentic and true."God's grace is for all people" was reinforced by what I heard. I felt blessed by the worship, Evening Prayer Vesper Service, held at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Charlottesville, with a very full congregation, including people from far away.
            The next day, at Festival of the Book, I and many, many others heard Nadia share stories and read from her books and I listened as she answered questions. Again, I felt good about what I heard (laughed, listened and cried) and I continue to be amazed by how God transforms something bad into something good by the free and constant gift of grace.
Our Saviour has a full calendar  
            Our Saviour, Williamsburg/Norge, has hosted a Jazz & Chocolate concert, a Feast of St. Patrick with a Celtic worship service and plans a Holocaust Remembrance Service on May 5. The congregation joined six other community churches for Lenten worship, supporting local charities.
            On April 24, Our Saviour will celebrate its purchase of a Boston concert grand piano with an inaugural concert by Mark Biondelillo and Benjamin Garner of Hampton. Funds to purchase the piano were donated by congregation members, community groups and a matching donor. On May 5, special music, readings, prayer and a traveling ewxhibit, "About the Children, For the Children, Art of the Holocaust," will be highlights of the Remembrance Service. The exhibit will come from the Center of Holocaust and Humanity Education in Cincinnati.
            An Irish band, Clan MacCool, was featured at the Celtic Worship Service in March. The Rebecca and Ruth circles created prayer shawls, delivered to head trauma patients at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond. During Holy Week, Scout Troop 414 provided a Palm Sunday pancake lunch. A foot washing was held on Maundy Thursday and Bach chorales and strings were featured on Good Friday. The Williamsburg Classic Swing Orchestra played for a Jazz & Chocolate concert in February for the benefit of a motel ministry, a feeding program for homeless families.   




Editor:  George Kegley   
Voice: 540-366-4607;  Email:
Post:  301 Tinker Creek Lane, NE, Roanoke, VA  24019

Deadline for submission of articles is the 15th of each month.
Articles received after the 15th will be published the following month. 

 Photographs must be separate from text and in .jpg or .png format only.


Any portion of this publication may be reprinted

for use in local church publications with appropriate credit.