May 11, 2020
Office of the Bishop Statement
on Virginia Safer at Home Phase 1
May 11, 2020 - We know everyone is eager to gather in-person for worship and that Safer at Home Phase 1 of Virginia Forward now allows for religious organizations to gather again at reduced capacity. However, 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 means the Bishop’s Office recommends abstaining from in-person gatherings through Safer at Home Phase 1 and possibly beyond

Some congregations may choose, against the recommendation of the Bishop's Office, to gather for in-person worship during Safer at Home Phase 1. If so, congregations must follow the very strict mandatory requirements detailed in Governor Northam’s guidance for Safer at Home Phase 1: Religious Services

The Bishop’s Office encourages congregations to use this time to fully prepare for potentially gathering in-person in future phases. The Office of the Bishop is currently developing guidance offering best practices for future phases of reopening under Governor Northam’s Forward Virginia Plan. This new guidance will be released as soon as possible.
Worship and Community
Power in the Spirit Cancelled
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I am sorry to share with you the news that, in consultation with the Bishop’s Office, I have decided to cancel Power in the Spirit 2020. As we all continue to respond to the COVID-19 virus, it has become increasingly clear that the risks involved in our physical gathering are simply too great. While there is good reason to believe our current restrictions will no longer be in place come July, it is likely that travel will still be discouraged. I would hate for Power in the Spirit to be a hotspot for the transmission of this dangerous virus.

And yet, I find myself thankful for how Power in the Spirit has been a “hotspot” throughout its many years. Those who attend are never the same after, and they share back home what they have experienced. You who have attended in the past know these life-changing experiences: singing new songs, baking bread, learning about worship or justice or theology, or banging nails into a Habitat for Humanity house. As sad as I am that we won’t be gathering for such experiences in person this year, I hope you know that the Spirit still unites us and there is power in knowing such things. We will make every effort to resume Power in the Spirit in 2021.

I also ask that you stay tuned for news on how the PitS Crew will reach out this summer. The ministry of Power in the Spirit will continue, even in this time of physical distancing. Until then, keep making good decisions to help keep your neighbor safe, and know that you are loved by the One who heals every ill.

Yours in Christ,
The Rev. David C. Drebes
Coordinator, Power in the Spirit
Virginia Synod, ELCA
LAUNCH 2020 Canceled
Our in-person LAUNCH event will be canceled this year. This comes as we continue to assess and do our part in the measures that may prevent a further spread of COVID-19. Please watch for online gathering opportunities for our graduating seniors later in the summer!

Stay safe and healthy,
Dave Delaney
Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministries
Virginia Synod, ELCA
Virginia Synod Rostered Minister Prayer Service Gathering May 13, 2020
The Virginia Synod Ministerium will gather by Zoom for a Service of Word and Prayer on  Wednesday, May 13 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 .

Accompaniments for Hymns During Easter Season
Below are links to downloadable mp3 audio files providing organ accompaniments for hymns that are appropriate for use during the Easter season. 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.)

Hymns for the Fifth-Seventh Sundays of Easter:
Stewardship and Financial Resources
Best Practices for Payroll Protection Program Loan Forgiveness
To date, the SBA has not issued final guidance on forgiveness for Payroll Protection Loans or the application required to file for loan forgiveness. To help congregations prepare to seek forgiveness, accountants who specialize in working with non-profits and religious organizations have looked at the available information and are offering suggestions for how to maximize Payroll Protection Loan forgiveness. You an access a summary of that information and links to webinars and articles on Payroll Protection Loan forgiveness using the button below.
Faith Formation
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.
Upcoming Webinars and Online Tutorials
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 6, at 1:00 PM Central.

Our guest speakers on May 13 will be  Bishop Paul Egensteiner with the Metropolitan New York Synod Bishop Kristen Kuempel with the Northwestern Intermountain Synod , and  Bishop Yehiel Curry with the Metropolitan Chicago Synod Each will share the unique experience of COVID-19 in their contexts and how they see their people navigating the journey of grief and hope therein.

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 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.  
Government Information
Guidance for Faith Communities from Governor Northram's Office
Last Friday, Governor Northam's Office released updated guidance for faith communities as they begin to consider gathering again in person. The document lists both mandatory requirements and suggested guidelines. You can download the document using the button below.
Leadership In Uncertain Times
7 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 7 helpful ideas gleaned from those emails and blog posts over the last two weeks. This edition has several articles inviting us to think about what we have learned over the last few months and how that might impact our ministry in the future .
Considerations for Returning to In-Person Ministry
The Virginia Synod continues to compile and update a list of helpful questions for leaders to consider and links to resources as congregations consider how to implement plans to gather again for in-person ministry. You can access the google doc using the button below.
We Are Church Together
for the Sake of the World
Virginia Synod Partners with LFSVA for WiFi for Minnick
With the pandemic impacting millions of people around the world, now is the time for us to lift up our eyes and see the opportunities that are before us to be God’s heart and hands in a hurting world. Now is the time to open our hearts, to lift up our voices, and to share our gifts and be the church together for the sake of the world .

The button below will provide resources to help you participate in our Synod Church Together for the Sake of the World Projects and assist you in developing a project in your community. Our first project is a 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: . Thank you for sharing your gifts to proclaim God’s love to the world!
Weekly Resource and Update Email
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.
Each Monday, the Virginia Synod sends the best resources and updates we have collected during the last week. Prior editions of this email are now archived at under the "COVID-19 Resource Emails" tab.

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