March 23, 2020
Weekly Resource and Update Email

Beginning today, the Virginia Synod is launching the "Being Church in the Time of COVID-19" weekly resource email. Each Monday, we'll send you the best resources and updates we have collected during the last week. We know your inbox is being overwhelmed with updates, articles, and resources, so unless there is a critical update, we'll try and consolidate our COVID-19 Updates into this weekly email.

The Virginia Synod continues to update the COVID-19 webpage at sharing updated information from the ELCA, CDC, and covering a number of  prepardness resources, as well as  liturgical resources.

If you have suggestions for needed resources, please contact Pastor John Wertz at
Worship and Community
Ideas from Around the Virginia Synod For Maintaining and Building Community During COVID-19 Response
During the Conference Partnership Zoom Meetings, Leaders shared wonderful, creative ideas for maintaining and building community during a time of physical separation. As you discover what is working well in your context, please share what you have learned with your colleagues in ministry and with the Virginia Synod Office so we can continue to resource one another.
Suggestions for Video Equipment
Emily Pilat Director of Communications of the Virginia Synod and Pastor Tim Crummitt of St. Paul's, Hampton , have worked together to curate a list of equipment suggestions for those who are looking at leading worship digitally. This list of suggestions focuses in on a few main areas that congregations may want to consider improving their digital worship, such as improving sound, or sharing tripods that are fitted for phones. This list is by no means an end all be all, but rather a way to make small but noticeable improvements to your digital worship without feeling overwhelmed. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Emily at or Pastor Tim at 
Online Worship Opportunities
Are you and your congregation planning on sharing online liturgy or worship opportunities? Please share information them with Emily Pilat at . We're working to share as many of these opportunities for digital worship as we can on our website at  and on our social media accounts, and promote them each Sunday.
Stewardship and Financial Resources
Generosity Matters:
Stewardship & Financial Resources
To help you talk to your congregation about generosity in the midst of these turbulent times, the Virginia Synod has produced a series of resources called Generosity Matters March 2020 Update.

Generosity Matters March 2020 Update include resources like:
  • Everything you need to create a web page focused on generosity
  • An example email to encourage generosity
  • A letter to the congregation addressing the current situation
  • A document on options for giving
  • Tools for thinking about financial communications.

On Tuesday, March 24 at 10 AM and on Thursday, March 26 at 2 PM, you are invited to a webinar to discuss the resources. Use the Zoom information below to access the meetings.
Generosity Matters Webinars
Tuesday, March 24 at 10 AM
Dial:1 646 558 8656
Meeting ID: 642 266 989

Thursday, March 26 at 3:30 PM
Dial:1 646 558 8656
Meeting ID: 499 683 947
Seven Good Cows: Reflections on Using Reserve Funds
Over the next few weeks and months, some congregations will be having conversations about whether or not to use reserve funds to continue current levels of ministry. Here's a reflection on the story of Joseph and Pharaoh's dreams that may help to frame the conversation.
Youth Ministry and Faith Formation
Taking Faith Home
We are living in uncertain times and that can be scary, especially if you are little. Milestone Ministries have graciously provided us with resources that can be used at home, or digitally online to facilitate thoughtful conversations. You can download this resource below.
Government Communications
Guidance for Child Care Providers from the Commonwealth of Virginia
Last week, Governor Northam and the Virginia Department of Social Services released specific guidance for child care centers which may address questions for child care ministries in your congregation.
Synod Office Contacts
A reminder that the Virginia Synod Office of the Bishop has asked its staff to work remotely from their homes in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. We ask at this time should you need to contact our staff to do so directly via email (you can find all staff persons email contacts on our website ).

Should you need to phone either our offices, please know the Eastern Office of the Bishop plans to have phone calls received during office hours (8:00 AM- 4:30 PM) forwarded directly to Lenae Osmondson.

The Salem Office of the Bishop phone will have a voicemail message recorded directing callers to leave a message, or to call a separate phone number during office hours (8:00 AM- 4:30 PM). The number is 540-855-7455 and will be answered by Tammy Kasper. Messages left on the Salem Office of the Bishop phone will be checked as we are able to do so.

In addition, please do not plan to visit either the Salem or Eastern offices in person. Messages and mail will be checked regularly, but please be patient during this time.
Upcoming Webinars and Online Tutorials
8 Helpful Ideas from Leadership Blogs and Emails
Over the last week, there has been a flurry of "Leading in a Crisis" emails flooding inboxes. Here are 8 helpful ideas gleaned from those emails and blog posts.
ELCA Coaching Weekly Zoom Conversations
Last week, we hosted an opportunity for faith leaders across the country to gather online. Our template included a time of welcome and centering in scripture, a short presentation on a specific topic related to being church in this unique time, an opportunity to join small group conversation in breakout rooms, followed by a gathering back into the large group for a short debrief and closing prayer.

This was well-received, and over the course of the 3 days, we hosted approximately 300 leaders in this virtual space! (Note: we intend to post recordings of the presentations and follow-up documents on our website:  and our Facebook page:  ELCA Coaching Ministry )

We intend to continue offering regular opportunities to gather online to receive support and check-in with one another. We will shape the format based on the needs we are hearing from our leaders. This is meant to be a space where you can bring your fears, questions, experience and HOPE – trusting that God is with us and will equip us in “such a time as this.”
Over the next 2 weeks, here are the gatherings we are offering:

Being Church in the Time of COVID-19 - Weekly Meeting for ELCA Leaders Wednesday, March 25  1:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Sharing Our Grief and Our Hope with One Another As Leaders

Wednesday, April 1, 2020  1:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Sharing Our Grief and Our Hope with Those We Serve

Same login information for both dates:
Meeting ID: 180 439 412
Zoom Resources
While the realities of COVID-19 mean that social distancing is now required to slow the spread of the disease, there are digital tools available to help communities remain connected even as we are physically separated. One of the simplest tools to facilitate connection is Zoom ( ), an online service that allows you to create video conferences from your computer, phone, or tablet. Even though Zoom is relatively easy to use, it is not free. To help support congregations, the Virginia Synod will reimburse congregations for a two month Zoom subscription for a Pro Account ($30) and will provide training on how to use this tool.

For more information and resources on using Zoom in your congregation, visit . The site now includes several tutorial videos on using Zoom . One videos is from Lenae Osmondson of the Eastern Office of the Bishop and an other is from Pastor Alex Zuber at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg .