April 6, 2020
Weekly Resource and Update Email

Each Monday, the Virginia Synod sends send the best resources and updates we have collected during the last week.

We continues to update the COVID-19 webpage at  vasynod.org/covid-19 sharing updated 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.
Synod Assembly 2020 Canceled
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Synod Council voted on Wednesday April 1, 2020 to cancel our 2020 Synod Assembly, scheduled for June 12-13, 2020.

If you have already registered for the Assembly, information on refunds will be forthcoming.
Worship and Community
Accompaniments for Hymns During Holy Week
Below are links to downloadable mp3 audio files providing organ accompaniments for hymns that are appropriate for use during Holy Week. 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 Lutheran Church in Roanoke for providing these.)

Hymns for Maundy Thursday:

Hymns for Easter Sunday and Easter Season
Life of Faith Introduction Video and Resources
While our buildings may be shuttered to combat COVID-19, it’s vital that we live into the reality that the church is not closed. We have just gone deep into the flip side of our existence as God’s people scattered into the world.

Could it be that this is a kairos moment to reconnect with and support our God-given vocations among our families, friends, and community? In this dangerous and unwanted situation, our vocations among family and friends are even more important.

The ELCA’s Life of Faith Initiative is a grass-roots movement that provides resources and networking to make our many and varied forms of service to neighbors a vital part of our reason for existence. Watch our new introductory video at lifeoffaith.info , then check out the resources on the rest of the site.

Those who want to embed the video in their website can click here .
Holy Week Liturgy Digital Resource from LEAD
Traditional (ELCA) Lutheran liturgies presented in full sets of PowerPoint slides for your use during Holy Week worship have been adapted to accommodate social distancing and shelter in place directives. They remain true to the day, but use creative adaptations to communicate the significance of the days and rites for the time we are in.

For more information on these slides, and how to use them as you plan Holy Week worship, visit waytolead.org/holy-week
Online and at Home Resources and Ideas for Holy Week from the Wisconsin Council of Churches
The Wisconsin Council of Churches has assembled a number of helpful resources and planning ideas for Holy Week at home for families. To view the full list of resources, click here .
Devotional for Life During COVID-19
Built around "Faith 5",  Pandemic Hope is a Devotional for families that focuses on the new realities we are all living in each day. It provides daily readings and activities for 8 weeks to work along side those who you are isolating alongside. To read and download this devotional, click here .
Online Worship Opportunities
Are you and your congregation planning on sharing online liturgy or worship opportunities? Please share information them with Emily Pilat at  pilat@vasynod.org . We're working to share as many of these opportunities for digital worship as we can on our website at  www.vasynod.org/online-worship  and on our social media accounts, and promote them each Sunday.
Stewardship and Financial Resources
The CARES Act is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) H.R. 748 which was passed by the Federal government last week. The act is designed to provide financial relief for individuals and small businesses. The act specifically includes non-profits and churches.  O ne of the provision of the act that may have the most significant immediate impact for congregations is the Payroll Protection Loan which can be converted to a grant. The Payroll Protection Loan is intended to allow small businesses (churches) to retain and pay their staff for two months from the date the loan is received.

You can find more information about the CARES Act and Payroll Protection loans on the Virginia Synod website: vasynod.org/covid-19 under the 'Preparedness and Response Resources" tab.

If you have questions about the CARES Act, Pastor John Wertz, is available for additional conversation. You can contact him at wertz@vasynod.org .
Offering Ideas for Online Worship
As worship is adapting to a digital space, congregations have an opportunity to be more intentional about making the connection between offerings and ministry. Now more than ever, it is important to lift up the ways that gifts of time, talents, and financial resources make ministry happen.
Generosity Matters: Stewardship & Financial Resources
To help you talk to your congregation about generosity in the midst of these turbulent times, the Virginia Synod has produced a series of resources called Generosity Matters March 2020 Update.

Generosity Matters March 2020 Update include resources like:
  • Everything you need to create a web page focused on generosity
  • An example email to encourage generosity
  • A letter to the congregation addressing the current situation
  • A document on options for giving
  • Tools for thinking about financial communications.
Mission Investment Fund and ELCA Federal Credit Union Offers of Assistance During COVID-19
Both the Mission Investment Fund and the ELCA Federal Credit Union have expressed the willingness and capacity to offer assistance to our investors and borrowers who are facing hardship during the COVID-19 crisis. Eva Roby has written to all of our customers and to synod bishops to share news of how we can help. Their website homepage message announces the assistance that they can provide – and we link to a special page, www.mif.elca.org/important-information , listing specifics of our operations at this time.
Youth Ministry and Faith Formation
Holy Week at Home: Creating a Prayer Space
Pastor Lauren from Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg and her daughter created a video sharing how to assemble an at home "Prayer Space" for Holy Week. It makes use of objects around the home, and features a craft made during 7th Day as well. To watch the video, click here .
Taking Faith Home
We are living in uncertain times and that can be scary, especially if you are little. Milestone Ministries have graciously provided us with resources that can be used at home, or digitally online to facilitate thoughtful conversations. You can download this resources with the following links:
Government Information and Programs
Information on Emergency Benefits from SNAP
Emergency benefits will be made available to Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants during the months of March and April, as part of a provision set forth by the Families First Coronavirus Responses Act of 2020. Under this provision, the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) will issue the emergency benefits to any household not already receiving the maximum benefits. For more information, click here .
Mental Illness Resources during COVID-19
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released the NAMI COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide to answer frequently asked questions regarding the intersection between Coronavirus, or COVID-19, and people affected by mental illness, their caregivers and loved ones. The guide features FAQs on a variety of topics from managing anxiety and social isolation to accessing health care and medications. Download a pdf version here: www.nami.org/covid-19
Crisis Counseling Helpline
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental or emotional distress due to the pandemic, this is a free resource to use or share. For more information, click here .
COVID-19 Community Resources Flyer
The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy has put together a helpful information sheet with contact information for resources to help with issues like unemployment, pending evictions, health care issues and hunger. The information sheet is available in English and Spanish.
Upcoming Webinars & Online Resources
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.
ELCA Coaching Weekly Zoom Conversations
ELCA's Coaching Ministry continues to offer a safe and brave space for congregational leaders across the country to gather for topical presentations, followed by a time of sharing in small groups. Please join us Wednesday of Holy Week, April 8, as we welcome Rev. Dr. Phil Hirsch, Executive Director of the Domestic Mission Unit of the ELCA, as our guest presenter. He will speak to us on the topic of "Hope and Holy Week."

We look forward to hearing an inspirational message from Phil, followed by breaking into small groups for each of us to share and discover our next faithful step in our own contexts, as we navigate together finding Hope in the midst of a Holy Week shaped by the reality of COVID-19.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 180 439 412
New Security Features for Zoom
Be aware that that ZOOM has made security changes that took effect over the weekend. For more information about these updates and to be sure your scheduled meetings are secure, click here .

For more information and resources on using Zoom in your congregation, visit  www.vasynod.org/zoom .
Zoom Background from the Virginia Synod
Looking for a new background to include as you regularly meet over Zoom? The Virginia Synod has created one that you are welcome to use! To download it, click here .

To learn how to use backgrounds on Zoom, click here .
Additional Resources
April Update from Portico Benefit Services
People of God, these are interesting times to be in ministry. As you master many new skills and carry concerns about your people, your church’s finances, and your own family, please know that Portico is here to walk with you. Portico plan members, sign in to myPortico for these timely resources:

A new hub on myPortico details financial and health resources specifically related to COVID-19,
  • updates on how the CARES Act can provide financial relief for congregations
  • telemedicine and emotional health support options for ELCA-Primary and ELCA Medicare-Primary plan members
  • answers about managing or adjusting flexible spending accounts
  • financial resources from the ELCA Retirement Plan Recordkeeping Services Provider, Fidelity

This 16-minute video (filmed March 26) offers:
  • perspective on the investment markets and how we navigate volatility
  • ways to remain emotionally grounded as retirement account balances fluctuate
  • resources Portico offers to help you through these uncertain times

Unfortunately, due to the evolving impact of COVID-19, we have made the decision to suspend our in-person educational events, including the Planning for Retirement Seminars. Videos of past webinars are available on myPortico , or ELCA Retirement Plan members are encouraged to call a Portico Financial
Planner at 800-922-4896.

Need to talk to your personal Portico Regional Representative? Barbara Debski can be reached at bdebski@porticobenefits.org
Telehealth Options Now Available for Child, Adult, and Family Counseling
During this challenging time, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia Counselors are here for you. We are changing our model to adjust to social distancing and are now offering telehealth options. The anxiety of the COVID-19 crisis can bring on new stresses or can trigger past difficulties.

From the comfort of your own home, you or your child can participate in therapy with a trained counselor. We have  IMMEDIATE OPENINGS,  and at some locations, still offer face-to-face appointments.

Our counselors have varying hours to serve children, families, and adults. They specialize in grief and loss, anxiety, depression, parenting support, and coping strategies. They also have nationally recognized, rigorous training to work with the unique needs of families who have adopted and fostered.

How to Schedule
Schedule by calling 888-841-4835 or emailing MentalHealthReferral@lfsva.org . We accept several major insurances, Medicaid, and self-pay.
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.