June 29, 2020
Reflection from Bishop Bob Humohrey
Dear siblings in Christ,

This continues to be a challenging time and a wonderful opportunity to be followers of Jesus and to show true servant-leadership from the church to our communities. I continue to be amazed by your resilience and creativity. 

Thank you for all you are doing to proclaim the Gospel, care for one another and serve the communities in which you are located. Each congregation in our Synod has a unique context and exciting mission opportunities.

You have received our Office of the Bishop Guidance for Virginia Forward Phase 3. In it we acknowledge both the desire/need to gather again in-person for visits, meetings and worship as well as the genuine threats posed by doing so. 

As you prayerfully consider whether to gather in-person at all, and if so, when and why, please evaluate your context and especially your most vulnerable members - not just those who are ready to return, but those who are not. Remember those who will be visited or cared for by those present for any in-person gathering (meetings or worship). Keep your focus on them, rather than those most anxious to return and certainly not those who are disputing the consensus scientific and health advice.

The recent spikes in infections and hospitalizations are worrisome. Stay informed, stay vigilant, faithfully follow ALL of the guidelines and know that all of us in the Office of the Bishop will do whatever we can to support you and your congregations. 

Finally, please know this is truly a very stressful time on several levels. Take time to immerse yourselves in Scripture, prayer, rest and recreation - whatever it is that offers you renewal and perspective in healthy ways. We are in this together for the long haul and we are never alone, right? Our God is FAITHFUL + BOLD + SERVING!

—Bishop Bob Humphrey
Worship and Community
Virginia Synod Office of the Bishop Providing Summer Sermon Series
The Virginia Synod Office of the Bishop has started providing sermons for each Sunday lasting   through  August 30, 2020  for use in congregations. These sermons will be presented by Bishop Bob Humphrey, The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick, The Rev. John Wertz Jr., and The Rev. Dave Delaney on a rotating basis.

The sermons will be shared on the Synod's website at  vasynod.org/resources/pulpit-supply , as well as on Facebook Page each Sunday.
The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online
The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online is a free e-book that attempts to "bring people together who are struggling with and studying what it means to do church online into some sort of organized conversation."

Heidi A Campbell, the editor of the book from Texas A&M University, in includes essays from ministry leaders and scholars from all over the world. The book has two sections "Lessons from the Online Trenches: Church Leaders Stories of Going Online" and "Wisdom from Scholars of Digital Religion and Theology: Research Reflections on Doing Religion Online." You can download the book using the button below.
Virginia Synod Rostered Minister Prayer Service Gathering July 1, 2020
The Virginia Synod Ministerium will gather by Zoom for a Service of Word and Prayer on  Wednesday, July 1st 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 Wednesday'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)
Organ Accompaniments for Hymns for Upcoming Sundays
Below are links to downloadable mp3 audio files providing organ accompaniments for hymns for upcoming Sundays. All tunes are either in the public domain or copyrighted by Augsburg-Fortress, so there are no 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 Lutheran Church in Roanoke for providing these.)

Hymns for July 2020- 5th Sunday after Pentecost (Lectionary 14A)
Payroll Protection Loan Resources
LSA PPP Loan Forgiveness Webinar - July 1, 2020
Lutheran Services in America and the ELCA Churchwide Unit are offering a webinar on PPP Loan Forgiveness on Wednesday, July 1 at 1 PM. The webinar is free and is designed for congregational leaders who are responsible for the PPP program in their congregation. The webinar will be interactive and respond to your questions about the PPP and how to make informed decisions to maximize loan forgiveness.
Government Communications
Free Face Coverings for Churches
The Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives at HHS is offering face coverings to faith and community partners in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. The face coverings, produced and delivered in partnership with USPS and the National Council of Textile Organizations, are being made available to community-based organizations at no cost (and while supplies last). 
Governor Northam Issues Phase 3 Guidance
While the date for Phase 3 of Virginia Forward has not been set, the Governor's office has released their Safer at Home guidelines for stage three. The section on Religious Services begins on page 32.
Leadership in Uncertain Times
5 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 5 helpful articles gleaned from those emails and blog posts over the last week. Articles in this edition focus digital worship and addressing change in your congregation's ministry.
Church Mutual Insurance Gathering Again Resources
Any plan for reopening needs to have the health and safety of worshippers as its top priority.

With that in mind, the ELCA has partnered with Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. to bring you safeguards and recommendations around Safely Returning to Worship. Please follow the link below to view a Webinar Church Mutual created with that thought in mind. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you will see the webinar, handouts, and a copy of the powerpoint.
Congregational Survey: Responses to Pandemic
To assist congregations “check your congregation’s pulse or temperature” during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Research and Evaluation team at Churchwide created a survey instrument you can adapt and use. The document has instructions for how to use the survey on SurveyMonkey, but you could also use the survey with Google Forms or the Gloo.us free survey tool.
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, July 1, at 1:00 PM Central. For July 1, we will hear from Rev. Paul Andrew Johnson about serving a Native American congregation as a white, gay, cisgender male pastor.

Meeting ID: 180 439 412
Password: 648160

Dial by your location
    +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
    +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
We Are Church Together for the Sake of the World
Lutheran Disaster Response Grants Through the Virginia Synod
Lutheran Disaster Response has provided funding to the Virginia Synod to assist congregations as they respond to COVID-19.

  • Summer Backpack Feeding Programs
  • Ministry with those Experiencing Homelessness
  • Direct Support for Feeding Ministries (pantry or hot meal programs)
  • Cleaning Supply or Household Good Ministries
  • New Ministries that meet a Need that has Emerged because of COVID-19

If you are responding to a ministry in a way that fits into one of the categories above, please email Pastor John Wertz: wertz@vasynod.org for more information on the grant.
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.