June 8, 2020
Reflection from Bishop Humphrey
We are in the midst of responding to two crises at the same time and there are points at which they conflict with one another, like wanting to attend a public rally where people are too close together, yelling or singing, and not everyone is masked. I understand the need to be together in these times.

So, now that most of us have entered Phase 2 in the Virginia Forward Plan and we begin to consider how best to safely return to in-person contact with the outside world, (not just worship, but going to the grocery store, etc), we are all engaging in the practice of risk management (health/science-speak) and also loving our neighbor (Bible/theology-speak). I want to strongly urge using both the best available health/science as well as The Bible and our theology to orient our thinking and actions.

Here are some helpful considerations offered by Bishop Jim Gonia of the Rocky Mountain Synod, ELCA “When thinking about how and why we gather for worship, (consider):

What is safe?
What is meaningful?
What is accessible?
What is sustainable?

At this time, our worship using digital/online platforms offers us a much greater opportunity to gather in ways that are safe, meaningful, accessible and sustainable. When in-person gatherings for worship can provide greater levels in each of these areas, that will be the time to reassess current practice.”

Jesus reminds us, we are in the world, but not of the world. (cf John 17:15-16) Many voices are encouraging us to return to in-person worship and other gatherings as soon as possible. Your Virginia Synod Office of the Bishop continues to urge you to wait (until at least Virginia Forward Phase 3) and to plan for returning very carefully and following ALL the guidelines . Let’s not allow others’ opinions or our own deep longings to be together lead us to make hasty decisions. Instead, acting out of our deep love and desire to protect those for whom the coronavirus could literally be a death sentence, let us be patient.

I know, I know – fear not! But, this is not a “fear vs faith” test of our character and trust in God. Our Lord reminds us we are to be “as wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” (Matthew 10:17) So, please – let’s take the science seriously and base our decisions on looking not to our own interests, but to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). At least, consider safe alternatives to meeting inside – e.g. Some are meeting, but staying in their cars in the church parking lot. (Barbra and I attended a service in our neighborhood like this yesterday…)

So, as you go - whenever you decide God is calling you to be in public, whether for worship, rallies or another reason - Go in Peace, wash your hands, wear your mask, keep your distance, and Serve the Lord! Thanks be to God!

-Bishop Bob Humphrey
Worship and Community
Virginia Synod Office of the Bishop Providing Summer Sermon Series
The Virginia Synod Office of the Bishop will be providing sermons each Sunday starting  June 14th, 2020  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 our social media accounts each Sunday.
Virginia Synod Rostered Minister Prayer Service Gathering June 10, 2020
The Virginia Synod Ministerium will gather by Zoom for a Service of Word and Prayer on  Wednesday, June 10 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)
Payroll Protection Loan Resources
PPP Loan Forgiveness White Paper
As congregations prepare to seek forgiveness for PPP Loans, the SBA is issuing more guidance on the process. For example, it now appears that payroll costs that are incurred during the forgiveness period, paid during the forgiveness period, and incurred and paid during the forgiveness period are all eligible for forgiveness. To read, a white paper on PPP forgiveness from CapenCrouse Consulting, use the link below.
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
Government Communications
Governor Northam Issues Phase 2 Guidance
Last week, Governor Northam issued guidance on Phase 2 Safer at Home.

While the Virginia Synod continues to recommend that congregations refrain from gathering again in-person until at least Phase 3, the guidance from the Governor includes specific rules and best practices for congregations that choose to gather again in-person during Phase 2. The section on Religious Services begins on page 37.
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 10, 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)
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 articles gleaned from those emails and blog posts over the last week. This edition articles focused on leading in the midst of division and looking to the future.
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 today, 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 today 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.