June 1, 2020
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 Sermon and Resources for Trinity Sunday
Due to events across our nation, Bishop Eaton has decided to redo her sermon  which had been filmed in advance. As soon as the sermon and supporting resources are made available we will share them with you, as we do not currently have an estimated deadline at this time.

The video will be available to view and download at YouTube.com/ELCA  and  Vimeo.com/ELCA

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.

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 June 3, 2020
The Virginia Synod Ministerium will gather by Zoom for a Service of Word and Prayer on  Wednesday, June 3 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 Trinity Sunday:
Payroll Protection Loan Resources
PPP Loan Survey
The Virginia Synod is conducting a quick 4 question survey to determine which congregations received a PPP Loan and what resources you may be interested in having to support the application for loan forgiveness. Use the link below to complete the survey. Thank You!
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
Bloom! Children's Ministry
Bloom! Children's Ministry Curriculum will be $50 for all congregations this fall due to the financial impacts of COVID-19 on so many of us. To support you more in the event of sheltering-in-place again, we'll also include a Story Intro video that you can send to families to use at home. It can stand alone or you can use it as an introduction to other Bloom! activities that you can put together for families to use as well. I'll also be making Children's Sermon videos that you can either edit into a worship video, or that you can use to get ideas from. Bloom! follows the Narrative Lectionary for our Bible story sequence, though it is great for all congregations. We offer ideas for PreK-6th grade (in sections of PreK, K&1, 2&3, 4-6) as well as for large group and a Christmas program. Check out more about it at  www.bloominfaith.com
Government Communications
Governor Northam Issues Guidance on Face Coverings
Last week, Governor Northam signed Executive Order Sixty-Three, requiring Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Section "A" of the Order, Number "6" states that "Any other indoor place shared by groups of people who are in close proximity to each other. . . . Face coverings may be removed to participate in a religious ritual."

While the Governor has not issued any clarification on this order, it appears that the intent is that any group gathering again for in-person worship will be required to wear face coverings. The face coverings can be removed to participate in a religious ritual where the face covering makes participation impossible, for example communion, but otherwise should be worn inside the church.
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, June 3, at 1:00 PM Central.

Rev. Jeff Thieman, President and CEO of Portico Benefit Services, will join us on June 3 to share a perspective on the current state of emotional well-being of ELCA leaders, a dive into aggregate data, and a look at the implications for holistic wellness. This will include resources available to ELCA Benefit Plan Members, as well as to the general public.  

Meeting ID: 180 439 412
Password: 648160

Dial by your location
    +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
    +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
6 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 6 helpful articles gleaned from those emails and blog posts over the last two weeks. This edition has several articles that focus on emerging trends in response to COVID-19 and gathering again in-person.
We Are Church Together for the Sake of the World
Virginia Synod $250 Daily Bread Matching Grants
Because of COVID-19, the number of individuals experiencing food insecurity has risen steadily in Virginia. To assist congregations as they respond to this increasing need, the Virginia Synod will be offering $250 matching grants to support community feeding ministries . Thanks to generous donations to the Virginia Synod Disaster Relief Fund, the Synod will be able to offer 20 grants beginning on June 8, 2020 . The grants will be funded on a first come, first serve basis. The grants will provide a dollar for dollar match up to $250.

To apply beginning on June 8 at 10 AM, visit: vasynod.formstack.com/forms/daily_bread_matching_grant_application

For questions, contact Pastor John Wertz, Jr at: wertz@vasynod.org .
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.