May 26, 2020
Reflection from Bishop Humphrey
As we move from this past Thursday’s celebration of The Ascension of our Lord to a second major festival this Sunday, Pentecost – I realize we are still only 50 days removed from Easter and it was just a bit more than two months ago when we recommended we no longer gather in-person while in the shadow of COVID-19. Wow! So much has happened and is still happening in such a short span of time.
 
Most of us will have missed being together in-person for 3 major festivals! Even when we are timidly gathering in-person, it has little resemblance to the joy and ease with which we gathered in February. In many ways we have lost a lot. We need to take time to grieve and share each other’s pain.
 
I don’t want to “steal any thunder” from the wonderful sermons many of you are preparing or those you will hear from others preaching on Pentecost – but, I do want to point out that rapid change and huge loss are not unique to us or new to our church.
 
Those early followers were huddled together in fear after the resurrection. Peter had denied Jesus because he was so afraid. A short time later the risen Jesus had spent time with them before ascending into heaven. Soon the word had spread far and wide and they were together again. 
 
Suddenly, through the power of the Holy Spirit they embraced people they did not know and previously could not understand; Peter’s fear was replaced with faith and he boldly preached, even to those in power. Later, in Acts 17:6 the writer says the inspired church was “turning the world upside down”!
 
Dear siblings in Christ, I can’t help but pray and hope that The Holy Spirit will once again use a time of traumatic loss and rapid change to empower and transform God’s church; to embrace and learn from those we do not understand, and to boldly proclaim to the world the liberating grace of Jesus. 
 
I pray this time, in which we are forced to reflect and change, will not just be hard but will also be liberating and renewing. I can’t wait to see what God is doing to once again “turn the world upside down” – and there is no one with whom I’d rather be in this time of Pentecost than you!

-Bishop Bob Humphrey
Office of the Bishop Statement
on Gathering Again
May 14, 2020 - Due to the highly infectious nature of COVID-19, the lack of available testing, the absence of an effective treatment for the disease, and the time needed to prepare for gathering again leads the  Bishop’s Office to recommend abstaining from in-person gatherings through Forward Virginia Safer at Home Phase 1, Phase 2, and possibly beyond.  As each new Phase of reopening occurs in Virginia, congregational leaders will need to consider how to protect the health and well-being of the entire community, not simply do what is allowable or legal. 

Use the links below to access the recommendations from the Office of the Bishop on Gathering Again, resources from the ELCA on Returning to In-Person Worship, and the Forward Virginia website from the Governor Northam’s Office. Please carefully review the information found in the four links as you begin preparations for gathering again.

Worship and Community
Bishop Eaton to Provide Sermon for Trinity Sunday
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton will record a sermon which congregations and synods can include in their worship services on Sunday, June 7, The Holy Trinity. The video will be available to view and download on May 31 at  YouTube.com/ELCA  and  Vimeo.com/ELCA . Bishop Eaton will read the gospel appointed for this day prior to the sermon. Local decisions can be made to use the reading on the video or invite another person to read the gospel instead.
 
ELCA Worship will provide a resource that includes texts for a Service of the Word, appointed readings, corporate Prayers of Intercession, and hymn and song suggestions. Synods or congregations may adapt and use this resource to produce online worship offerings to surround Bishop Eaton’s sermon. This material will be available on May 26.
 
ELCA Worship will continue to provide “Worship in the Home” via the ELCA Worship blog ( blogs.ELCA.org/Worship ) for those who make use of these resources for individual/family home devotions each week. On June 7th, “Worship in the Home” will include a link to watch Bishop Eaton’s sermon as part of these home devotions.
Virginia Synod Rostered Minister Prayer Service Gathering May 27, 2020
The Virginia Synod Ministerium will gather by Zoom for a Service of Word and Prayer on  Wednesday, May 27 at 1 PM  and following that a time of conversation with the Synod staff at  1:30 PM . In this time of physical distancing, we look forward to gathering rostered ministers together to hear God's Word and join in prayer for one another and for the world.

The link below will work for tomorrow's service as well as  all future Wednesday prayer services and gatherings .

  • Join Zoom Meeting
  • Meeting ID: 541 796 597
  • Password: 719750
  • Dial in by location:
  • +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
  • +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Accompaniments for Hymns
Below are links to downloadable mp3 audio files providing organ accompaniments for hymns that are appropriate for use during your worship services. All are in the public domain, so there are no copyright restrictions on playing the mp3 for your streaming worship or posting the words on your video feed or an accompanying bulletin. (Thanks to Nancy Delaney and Christ L utheran Church in Roanoke for providing these.)

For Pentecost Sunday:
Payroll Protection Loan Resources
Guidance for PPL Forgiveness Application
InsideCharity has released guidance on the SBA Loan Forgiveness Application and an extremely helpful Excel spreadsheet to help track expenses. The article addresses a few of the clarifications the SBA has issued in the Loan Forgiveness Application. The accompanying video explains how to use the Excel spreadsheet and also clarifies how some of the updates in the Loan Forgiveness Application. You can access the Inside Charity article and tools here: Inside Charity PPP Loan Forgiveness Application, Template And Video for Nonprofits .
Our Church Got a PPP Loan, Now What? Webinar
Church Law and Tax offered a two hour webinar and accompanying article for congregations who have received PPP Loans discussing how to use the loan and giving guidance on the Loan Forgiveness Application based on currently available information. In the webinar, the section on forgiveness starts around the 48 minute mark. Use the buttons below to access the webinar and the supporting article.
Faith Formation
Caroline Furnace Camp at Home
Camp at Home ($0-50) is an exciting online Summer Camp! With Camp at Home, you can see your favorite camp counselors and chaplains, spend time with your "cabin group", and join in on fun activities - all from home! PJs are optional. We can't wait to meet your pets. Bring your own snacks.  
Camp at Home will have live, small group "cabin time" once a week, plus large group and pre-recorded praise breaks, fun activities that you can do at home, Bible studies, BYOL (bring your own lunch) community time, FAITH5, and daily vlogs from our Program Directors, Andy and Caroline. Long story short, Camp at Home is guaranteed to be lots of fun!
Registration for Camp at Home is now open. Participate in Camp at Home at no cost, and sign up for Camp in a Box if you'd like to get fun camp surprises and activity supplies delivered right to your door! Camp in a Box is $50.
Check out the Camp at Home schedule . To register for Camp at Home or summer camp at Caroline Furnace, visit carolinefurnace.campbrainregistration.com
Spark Family Sunday School Available
Guess what's new from your friends at  Sparkhouse ? Each week Sunday school curriculum developer (and former summer camp Arts & Crafts director) Dr. Dawn Rundman and her family will host  Family Sunday School

Each FREE episode is a lectionary-based lesson that families can watch together. The Bible story, illustrations, and other content are based on  Spark: Activate Faith Lectionary  Sunday school lessons. You may distribute, post, and reproduce the materials for your church families in whatever way works. Look for a new lesson every Tues. for the following Sun. through Trinity Sunday, June 7, 2020.
Government Communications
CDC Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting
The CDC has "Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes." While the guidance doesn't specifically address churches, we have been told that some insurance companies are referring churches to this document to give guidance for cleaning church buildings as develop plans for gathering again in-person at some point in the future.
Leadership in Uncertain Times
ELCA Coaching Weekly Zoom Conversations
You are invited to join the ELCA Coaching weekly gathering designed to provide encouragement and support for ELCA leaders across the church and throughout society. Participants will hear topical presentations related to how we are called to be Church in the time of COVID-19, as well as an opportunity to be in small group discussions with an ELCA group coach facilitating the conversation. All of this is designed to help us process our feelings in this strange and fearful time and to create a space where we can each name our next most faithful step forward in our unique context. You are welcome to share this invitation with any other ELCA leader, rostered or lay. Join us on Wednesday, May 27, at 1:00 PM Central.


Meeting ID: 180 439 412
Password: 648160

Dial by your location
    +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
    +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
Digital Evangelism Webinar Recording
Pastor Rob James from the ELCA Churchwide Organization led a webinar on May 21 focused on Digital Evangelism for leaders in the Virginia Synod. You can watch the webinar using the button below. If you are interested in being a part of an on-going conversation about Digital Evangelism and Digital Worship, please email Pastor John Wertz at wertz@vasynod.org .
9 Helpful Ideas from Leadership Blogs and Emails
Each week, we receive a flurry of "Leading in the Midst of Change" emails flooding our inboxes. Here are 9 helpful ideas gleaned from those emails and blog posts over the last two weeks. This edition has several articles that focus on the lasting impact of the pandemic on ministry.
Digital Ministry Conference
The eFormation learning community invites you to worship, learn, and connect with digital ministry leaders at eFormation 2020. This all-day, all-online, one-day event will include 8 ecumenical presenters, worship, and conversation on  Wednesday, June 3,  from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The event will feature opportunities for prayer and small groups throughout the day.  
We Are Church Together for the Sake of the World
Virginia Synod Partners with LFSVA for WiFi for Minnick
Thank you for your tremendous response to the WiFi for Minnick students project. Thanks to your generosity the Virginia Synod has reached our goal of providing WiFi for 25 students to allow them to continue their education while at home. While we established 25 as the initial goal, with every student sponsored beyond 25, Lutheran Family Services will be able to expand this project to include more students.

If your congregation hasn’t participated yet, use the button below to find resources to help you participate in our Synod Church Together for the Sake of the World partnership with LFSVA to provide WiFi for Minnick students impacted by the closure of schools.

For questions about how you can get involved, contact Pastor John Wertz, Jr at: wertz@vasynod.org . Thank you for sharing your gifts to proclaim God’s love to the world!
Synod Office Contact Information
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.
We continues to update the Virginia Synod COVID-19 web page with information from the ELCA, CDC, and covering a number of  prepardness and response resources, as well as  liturgical resources.

If you have suggestions for needed resources, please contact Pastor John Wertz at wertz@vasynod.org.