April 27, 2020
Weekly Resource and Update Email

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 vasynod.org/covid-19 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 wertz@vasynod.org.
Reflection from Bishop Humphrey
In addition to all the remarkable resources being provided as resources on our COVID-19 Website Tab , I want you to occasionally reflect on this crisis and what it may mean for our church.

Do you ever read a passage of scripture and hear it in a new way? I usually find that to be true when I am preparing to preach, teach, and in personal devotions. Today I was struck by this passage: Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness… I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31: 2-3 NRSV)

Our Virginia Synod Vision is FAITHFUL + BOLD + SERVING . When we embraced these three words as descriptive of the Biblical witness to our Trinitarian God as well as our calling, we had no idea we would find ourselves in a pandemic, under legal, moral and health restrictions to stay in our homes, away from many friends and loved ones, jobs lost or at risk, the economy reeling and congregation worship spaces empty Sunday after Sunday. But… aren’t these powerful descriptors for this moment in history?!

Because God is faithful, bold, and serving – so we can follow in the way of Jesus and lose our (normal) lives for the sake of the world. I believe the Holy Spirit led us to this Vision and is now calling us to remain and grow in our passion and commitment to be FAITHFUL + BOLD + SERVING! Especially now…

So, we also find grace in the wilderness! I know these are hard times. I can only imagine the pain and sorrow of the sick and dying and the grief of families unable to visit loved ones in need… or a hundred other painful realities many are facing right now. I have my own stories and I know you have yours. But, in the midst of this wilderness, where do you find grace these days? Where do you see new potential to worship, learn, serve, support, and witness to God’s amazing Grace? Where are you finding peace?

Remember always, God loves us with an everlasting love. God continues to be faithful. And, nothing can separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ! (Romans 8:31) And the people of God said… “Amen!”

-Bishop Bob Humphrey
Worship and Community
How “Social Distancing Works” in a Worship Context & Guidance
The Office of the Governor, has provided a guiding document for faith communities to how to practice social distancing in Virginia covering and covering common questions.
Tracking Attendance for Form A Guidelines from the ELCA
This period of “social distancing” has created the need for congregations to come up with creative online solutions for gathering the community in worship, whether through livestreaming, posting of recorded services, or both. This has led to many questions about how to track and report attendance when it comes time to fill out ELCA Form A next year. The button below provides a link to the initial guidance from our Churchwide organization. For more discussion about online attendance, download this week's 5 Helpful Ideas for April 27, 2020 with links to blogs and videos discussing the topic.
ELCA Worship News for April 2020
The latest edition of ELCA Worship News for the month of April shared opportunities for worship in the home, upcoming webinars, and more. To view these resources, click here .
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 Fourth Sunday in Easter
Stewardship and Financial Resources
Stewardship in Uncertain Times Webinar
On Thursday, April 30 from 10-11 AM , Rev. Mike Ward, Certified Fund Raising Executive and author of Abundance: Creating Cultures of Generosity is offering a one-hour virtual opportunity to explore stewardship in uncertain times. He will share tangible ideas for responding during this crisis and help you put in place the infrastructure to keep generosity flowing to your congregations. Mike will also point out messaging that you should avoid during this time. A portion of the program will be dedicated to questions from participants. This workshop is suggested for pastors, stewardship leaders, council members and others engaged in congregational leadership.

Meeting ID : 943 9586 4520
Password : 455353

Dial by your location
    +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
    +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Generosity Workshop from LEAD
LEAD ( waytolead.org ) is offering FREE 60-minute sessions that provide both encouragement and practical take-aways to help you inspire generosity through times of seeming scarcity.

These sessions, led by Pastor Kristen Capel, will be in small group format, allowing ample time for questions related to your particular context. While LEAD can’t promise all of the answers, they can offer some tried and true tools, lots of encouragement, and idea generation tailored to your ministry setting. To sign up for one of the available sessions, use the button below.
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.

From food pantries to health clinics, from refugee resettlement to sustainable agriculture, ELCA World Hunger supports work that addresses immediate needs and the root causes of hunger in more than 60 countries, including the United States. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, this work is more important than ever. Join Petra Rickertsen and Ryan Cumming on Wednesday, April 29, at 1:00 PM Central to learn more about ELCA World Hunger, including some of the ways we are responding to hunger in the midst of the pandemic as church together – and ways individuals, congregations, and synods can be part of this response.

Meeting ID : 180 439 412
Password : 648160

Dial by your location
    +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
    +1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
Government Information
Guidance for Faith Communities from Governor Northram's Office
Governor Northam's Office has now issued two documents to provide specific guidance for faith communities in Virginia who are trying to navigate the impact of COVID-19. The documents provides information on requirements for "Drive-In" worship, addresses concerns about funerals, and comments on unemployment benefits for church workers.
Leadership In Uncertain Times
Considerations for Returning to In-Person Ministry
Last week, Governor Northam released "Forward Virginia," a plan to outline the benchmarks for beginning to relax social distancing. You can download the presentation using the button below.

While it is impossible to predict exactly when congregations will be able to gather again in-person, some congregations are beginning to consider what changes and accommodations will be necessary to gather in-person safely whenever that moment arrives.

The Virginia Synod has begun compiling a list of helpful questions for leaders to consider and links to resources that may prove helpful whenever congregations moving forward. This document will be updated as new questions and resources are identified.
5 Helpful Ideas from Leadership Blogs and Emails
Each week, we receive a flurry of "Leading in a Crisis" emails flooding our inboxes. Here are 5 helpful ideas gleaned from those emails and blog posts last week. This edition has several articles on " Return to Worship " and " Measuring Online Attendance ".
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: wertz@vasynod.org . Thank you for sharing your gifts to proclaim God’s love to the world!
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.