March 30, 2020
Weekly Resource and Update Email

Each Monday morning, we'll send our Rostered Ministers the best resources and updates we have collected during the last week. We know your inbox is being overwhelmed with updates, articles, and resources, so unless there is a critical update, we'll try and consolidate our COVID-19 Updates into this weekly email.

The Virginia Synod continues to update the COVID-19 webpage at sharing updated information from the ELCA, CDC, and covering a number of  prepardness resources, as well as  liturgical resources.

If you have suggestions for needed resources, please contact Pastor John Wertz at
Synod Assembly 2020
Many have asked whether this year's Synod Assembly will be postponed or canceled. The Synod Office is working with our Synod attorney, the ELCA Office of the Secretary, Roanoke College, and the Synod Council to ensure that whatever decision we make is legal and constitutional. We hope to have a decision made by mid-April. For now, if you have not yet registered, please wait until we announce a decision about the Assembly. (If you have already registered, the announcement will include info about refunds.)
Worship and Community
Guidance on Funeral Practices during COVID-19
The ELCA has provided guidance to help congregations and rostered ministers minister to the grieved during a public health crisis. The document can be downloaded using the button below.
Accompaniments for Hymns on Palm Sunday
Below are links to downloadable mp3 audio files providing organ accompaniments for six hymns that are appropriate for use on Palm Sunday. All six 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.)

Triduum Resources from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria
I lift up to you these resources from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, for planning worship services for Holy Week and Easter during this time of COVID19 distancing. Several of your colleagues participated in the webinars and asked that this info be shared with all of you. They particularly lift up the webinars video themselves as well as the document, The Three Days for Home, found in the Triduum Under Quarantine Google Drive (in the Home-Sacred Space folder).

Blessings to you as you continue to lead God's people in worship during this holy season of Lent.
Resources for Victims
Many members of our congregations are sheltering-in-place or isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recommendation of increased social distancing from the public will bring increased stress levels in many homes along with less access to helpful resources. As the coronavirus spreads, the message has been clear: home is the safest place to be. And, yet for victims of intimate partner violence and child abuse, nothing could be further from the truth. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has already reported getting calls from victims whose abusers are using the coronavirus as another excuse to isolate and harm family members. Victims of violence in Virginia can access support and services 24-hours a day by contacting the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. Services are available by phone, text or chat. All services are free and confidential.

VSDVAA Hotline
Toll-free: 1-800-838-8238
Text: 804-793-9999

Virginia LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline
Toll-free: 1-866-356-6998
Text: 804-793-9999
Live Streaming and Digital Communications
Last Thursday we hosted a brief moderated conversation about live streaming and digital communications in congregations. The conversation covered some common questions pertaining to copyright when live streaming, as well some basic starting points for how to live stream for your congregation. To view the recorded conversation, 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 . We're working to share as many of these opportunities for digital worship as we can on our website at  and on our social media accounts, and promote them each Sunday.
Stewardship and Financial Resources
Developing a Financial Communication Plan
How are you communicating your congregation's financial story? Are you telling the stories of ministry being accomplished and generosity shared? Are you painting a clear picture of the support your congregation is receiving and how that generosity is being invested in ministry?

Now is an excellent time to review your financial communications and create an intentional plan for how you want to share your congregation's story. The button below has a document to help guide you through this process.

If you are interested, Pastor John Wertz, is happen to schedule a Zoom with a team from your congregation to worship with you to develop your plan. You can contact him at .
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.
Youth Ministry and Faith Formation
Toolbox for Faith
Tool Box for Faith allows youth from across the country to engage in education and discussion together via the internet. If you're looking for resources to support confirmation online, Tool Box for Faith may be a great resource to support your confirmands.
ELCA Faith Finder Fun
The ELCA Youth Ministry team has created a YouTube channel called "Faith Finder Fun" where they post videos daily to occupy young people: Backyard Mondays, Science Fridays, and more! Visit their YouTube channel today .
Cabin Time from Novusway (Lutheridge/Lutherock)
Join Lutheridge, Lutherock, Luther Springs and Lutheranch everyday at 4 PM for Cabin Time as we sing songs, share stories, pray, and share our highs, lows and God moments for the day.

Each day we are sharing family activities, then the next day we would like for you to share in the comments your thoughts and beautiful things you created. Share this with family and friends who need a bigger cabin group right now!
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 resource below.

You can download both a color and black and white version. There is also a users guide available as well.
Government Information and Resources
Unemployment Benefits
The Virginia Synod has compiled website links and general information about unemployment benefits to help congregations who are seeking to support members of their community experiencing unemployment. The Virginia Synod is not an expert on unemployment benefits, so if you have questions please contact the Virginia Employment Commission or an employment lawyer.
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.
March 23, 2020 Guidance for Child Care Providers from the Commonwealth of Virginia
Last week, Governor Northam and the Virginia Department of Social Services released an update for Child Care providers on March 23, 2020. You can read the guidance using the button below.
Small Business Disaster Loans
In response to COVID-19, the Federal government has issued a Disaster Declaration which creates the possibility for Disaster Loan Assistance for businesses and non-profits to allow them to borrow money to continue operations and to meet payroll over the next few months. Although not specifically stated on the website, it appears that churches are eligible to apply for Disaster Loan Assistance. While these loans have relatively low interest rates and long repayment periods, remember that this is a loan, not a grant. For more information or to apply, use the button below.
Upcoming Webinars and Online Tutorials
8 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
We pray you are each well and finding the solid ground of Christ in this time of fear and confusion.Last week, we hosted an opportunity for faith leaders across the country to gather online. Our template included a time of welcome and centering in scripture, a short presentation on a specific topic related to being church in this unique time, an opportunity to join small group conversation in breakout rooms, followed by a gathering back into the large group for a short debrief and closing prayer.This was well-received, and over the course of the 3 days, we hosted approximately 300 leaders in this virtual space! (Note: we intend to post recordings of the presentations and follow-up documents on our website: )

We intend to continue offering regular opportunities to gather online to receive support and check-in with one another. We will shape the format based on the needs we are hearing from our leaders. This is meant to be a space where you can bring your fears, questions, experience and HOPE – trusting that God is with us and will equip us in “such a time as this.”

Over the next 2 weeks, here are the gatherings we are offering:
Being Church in the Time of COVID-19 - Weekly Meeting for ELCA Leaders Wednesday, April 1, 2020 1:00 PM Central Time Sharing Our Grief and Our Hope with Those We Serve
Meeting ID: 180 439 412

Click here to learn more about our guest speaker, Don Eisenhauer, with Coaching at End of Life:

Please join us knowing the discussion is not meant to be seen as the place that holds all the answers, but IS meant to be a safe -- and even brave -- space where we can bring the truth of our situation, our fears, and our hopes as we figure out the next most faithful step we can take.
Zoom Resources
Be aware of a new harmful trend, called Zoom-Bombing , your Zoom meetings could be vulnerable, so learn up on how to set up and secure your Zoom meetings, and be thoughtful in how you share your access links in order to avoid bad actors. Read the full article.

For more information and resources on using Zoom in your congregation, visit .
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 has phone calls received during office hours (8:00 AM- 4:30 PM) forwarded directly to Lenae Osmondson.

The Salem Office of the Bishop phone has 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.