Church Family News
AUG 25

You are invited to a picnic on the playground immediately following church on Sunday August 25th. 

We will provide the main dish (grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, along with vegetarian options) but ask that you provide a side dish to share. So bring your sunscreen, blanket and chairs and invite a friend! All are welcome! 

There will be a sign-up sheet in the narthex. 

If you have any questions please contact Christa Escobar.

We look forward to seeing you there! 

As we continue to explore what this means at St. Mark, we are engaged in a training that is provided to area churches.  Our core group going through the training.

If you would like to join the safe church team for any or all of the training sessions, you would be warmly welcomed.  Just let Carolyn Brumbaugh or Pastor VIktoria know so that we can make sure you have the information you need.

The corner stone of our thinking about a safe church community is starting with our faith. God’s holy word is our guide as we form our policies, design our children programs and describe who we are as St. Mark community. 

Below is our theological statement that we were asked to work on as a safe church community where children are protected. The two scripture readings that we especially lifted up are from the New and Old Testament:

Psalm 36:7
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

Matthew 18:10
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

Our God, who is our heavenly adoptive parent in baptism, loves us unconditionally and walks with us throughout our lives from conception until death and beyond. God calls us to love, bless, care and protect all our children. We are entrusted with the sacred responsibility to provide children with a safe home and church, give them voice in need, and fight against the sin of abuse, neglect and any kind of violence and harm. 

At our training we worked together with the Vineyard and the Point churches who are also participating in a year long Safe Church process which began in May and will conclude next spring.  

Lead by the staff of the Sexual Abuse Resource Agency (SARA), the program provides training in prevention of child sexual abuse and in ministering to the victims of such abuse.  Along the way, the process walks the team through a review and update of our Child Protection Policy (CPP).  

The safe church team has completed two of the six group training sessions included in the overall program. 
  1. During our first session, we learned about the dynamics of child abuse and the need for adults to take responsibility for the safety of the children in our congregation.  
  2. And in our second session, we learned about the lifelong impact of trauma on the victims of sexual abuse and the need to support and minister to adult survivors, as well.  

We also just recently completed a walk through and evaluation of the St. Mark facility from a child safety perspective and identified some areas that may need to be addressed.  We will soon provide this assessment to the property committee to allow them time to consider these enhancements for inclusion in future budgets. 

 In addition to four more training sessions, the Safe Church program will conduct a congregational education session some time this fall to let the St. Mark congregation know in more detail what we have been doing.

A final meeting with the congregation to report what the safe church team has accomplished, and a training aimed at teens and their parents.  

Additionally, there will be a one day survivors’ retreat next year for victims of abuse hosted by trauma therapists.
God’s Work our Hands-2019
“God’s Work, Our Hands” week will take place September 8-September 15.  One of the missions that we are focusing on this year is the Special Olympics Pepsi 10k and 2 mile walk which will take place on September 14th. We would love to get a team of St. Mark members to either run the 10K, participate in the 2 mile walk or volunteer to cheer and help at food tables and other jobs.   
The money raised from this run goes directly to the Local Area 3 Special Olympics.  There are no paid positions at the local level and all the coaches and staff are volunteers.  All funds are used to pay for equipment, uniforms, travel to competitions and educational materials about Special Olympics.
Come, have fun, and mingle with some of the best runners in Charlottesville and several UVa Athletic teams and Special Guest, our very own "COSMO" the famous sheep dog.  
To sign up for the run/walk you can go to the website, .  If you are interested in participating as a family and would like to get a discounted family rate, please talk to or email Pastor Viktoria ( ), David Zentmyer or Marcy Wisbauer. Scholarships are also available for individuals.

Mr. Witt Whitten came to share his love for African Drumming with the preschool children.

He brings ALL of his drums with him and everyone gets to use their own drum!

All preschool children enjoy playing and learning.
Virginia Synod and ELCA News
Save the Date: ACTS Fall Course

Save the date! The ACTS Fall Course on The New Testament will be led by The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick on September 21 and November 2, 2019. Registration information will be released in the coming weeks! For more information about ACTS,  click here .

We are pleased to announce that a new prayer book resource is available through Augsburg Fortress. "Hear My Voice" is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Augsburg Fortress. This enduring and conveniently sized book, designed to be permitted in prisons, is enhanced with beautiful color artwork and provides prayers for many times and circumstances.

To read more about " Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book ", check out a blog post by Deacon Mitzi Budde.
Border Crisis Resources for Congregations
(from ELCA Advocacy)

The God-given dignity in all people and value of family unity have been cornerstones of ELCA faith-based advocacy, and we understand that many of us, immigrants as well as families and neighbors, are both afraid and confused by recent developments. Ways to take action can be found in  our latest blog post , which includes worship resources, Action Alert links, meaningful  ELCA Ammparo   strategy ministries,  Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service   tools and more.
How the Bible Actually Works
Wisdom and Reimagining God

In the book " The Great Spiritual Migration ," author Brian McLaren compares the evolution of thinking about God to that of a computer operating system, starting with the first release, God 1.0, and unfolding one version at a time to our current need for God 5.0. Paul R. Smith, in his book " Integral Christianity ," outlines the progression of what he calls stages in spiritual development, starting with the tribal and warrior phases, then moving to traditional, modern, post-modern and finally integral phases. Both of these frameworks are ways to think about how we have and continue to reimagine God.

Theologian Peter Enns argues that this kind of reimagining is a feature of the diverse books and voices that make up our sacred Scriptures. In " How the Bible Actually Works ," Enns writes that the Bible was never intended to be a rule book providing clear, straightforward answers for every decision and choice we need to make. Because the Bible contains distinct, ambiguous, and sometimes contradictory perspectives of people reimagining God, the Bible is an invitation to wisdom and discernment, not a source of neat and tidy solutions. Said another way, the Bible is not a book that reflects one point of view. 

For example, you may have noticed the Bible contains more than a few unfortunate passages that connect God with ideas we no longer accept, things such as killing enemies in God’s name, child sacrifice, owning slaves and God thinking more highly of men than of women. It’s also possible to find passages of Scripture that imply that wealth is a blessing, and others that imply wealth is a curse. So which is it? Jesus himself reimagines God and the tradition by saying, "You have heard it said ... but I say to you ..." 

In the end, reimagining God is nothing more or less than asking what God is like here and now. To further explore these ideas, check out the book " How the Bible Actually Works " or watch Peter Enns in his recent  TheoEd Talk .  
Listen, God is Calling!  

OK, but for what? how? when? where? All of these are questions that come up as we all discern God's call in our lives. If you feel God might just maybe, perhaps be calling you to be a pastor or deacon in the church, you are invited to the Virginia Synod Vocations Conference, where we will talk about " How to become a Pastor or Deacon ." You'll hear about the basic Candidacy Process (which is how you become a pastor or deacon!), meet others who are also discerning God's call, and meet the Virginia Synod Candidacy Committee (who will walk this journey with you). Pastor Jason Darty will lead us in the practice of Spiritual Direction. You'll have time to ask questions and to learn new questions that you hadn't even considered before!

The Vocations Conference is Friday, August 16, 12pm – Saturday, August 17 , 1pm at Eagle Eyrie Conference Center near Lynchburg. Although Candidacy Committee members will meet Thursday, August 16 at 12:00 pm., the Vocations Conference does not begin until Friday.

Cost for the Vocations Conference:
  • Candidates, pastors, and Candidacy Committee members: the Virginia Synod will be cover double-occupancy lodging accommodations
  • Inquirers (those not yet officially Entranced into Candidacy): $75 [Congregations are encouraged to cover this cost of their Inquirers.]
  • Guests/Spouses of Candidates or Inquirers: $75
  • If you prefer to have a single-occupancy room, please note that at registration; you will be responsible to pay an additional $25 for a single-occupancy room.
  • Friday lunch and dinner and Saturday breakfast will be provided at Eagle Eyrie; and the Conference will end before lunch on Saturday.

About Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

At the close of the Second World War, one in five Lutherans worldwide had no home. “Displaced persons,” refugees from a continent ravaged by war, fleeing poverty, disease and likely death, many sought a new hope in the United States.

To aid them, church founded Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in 1939. Eighty years later, LIRS remains a leader in its field. It is one of nine refugee resettlement agencies working with the Office of Refugee Resettlement and one of only two that serves unaccompanied refugee minors. LIRS also advocates for just policies and practices relating to immigration and detention.

Lutherans were not new to ministry among immigrants and refugees. For decades in the 1800s, our churches had established hostels and settlement houses near the great port cities of the East Coast. We were then, even more than we are now, a church built by newcomers to this nation, with a deep commitment to helping our bothers and sisters become part of the American mosaic.

Today, LIRS’s work embraces new Americans from many nations and religious traditions. But the fundamental tasks have not changed. LIRS provides refugee resettlement, foster care services, and family reunification. It works with new American communities to help them find work and foster welcoming workplaces, as well as teaching them to tell their own stories and advocate for their own rights.

LIRS remains a faith-based organization, which grows out of the distinctive experience of Lutherans in America, and which has touched the lives of nearly 400,000 people in need – and counting.

Offerings were collected at our Power in the Spirit communion services and will go to support the mission and ministry of LIRS. To learn more, visit:
United Methodist Immigration Task Force Call to Action  

The United Methodist Immigration Task Force recently issued this call to action for United Methodist congregations. 

The list of actions items is excellent, including supporting the Charlottesville United Methodist congregation offering sanctuary. 


We are pleased to announce the debut of the   Virginia Interfaith Center YouTube Channel  and the launch of a short video that tells our story. 
Visit and subscribe to our channel  to see videos highlighting our priority issues, marches and rallies, and messages from our board members and community leaders.  Please share this link  with your network and encourage people to subscribe.

Special thanks to the video producers who donated their time and creative ideas: Julian Pozzi, Wells Hanley and Tania Fernandez of Stillpoint Studio, and to Professor Pozzi's students in VCU's Advanced Media Technology Production class of 2019: Sarah Kerndt, Kahlil Shepard, Ellis Warner, Chetara Hooker, Daniel Davis, Daniel Adams, Crixelle Matthews Austin Schnarrs.

We also thank those of you who participated in our marches, Day for all People, forums, and other events – this video is about YOU and it’s for YOU.

In Appreciation,
Kim Bobo and Pastor Rodney Hunter
Co-Executive Directors
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Community News
Intern with the IRC - THE DEADLINE IS TODAY!

This school year The IRC in Charlottesville is currently accepting applications for academic year internships.

Interns learn first-hand about resettlement, gain valued skills, and support refugees in the community. Apply by August 1, 2019 .
MLK Commission Work Group
Spotlights the History of Lynching in Virginia

In February, Virginia became the first state to pass a resolution acknowledging the tragedy of past lynchings. The History of Lynching Work Group is working with researchers and descendants of victims to better understand this overlooked chapter in Virginia’s past

Habitat is currently recruiting for our high school  2019-2020 Youth Leadership Team!

The Habitat Youth Leadership Team (HYLT) is a group of 12-15 high school volunteers selected to educate, advocate, and fundraise on behalf of affordable housing initiatives. Participating youth are leaders, planners, fundraisers, advocates, and, if old enough, builders (ages 16 and up). As a member of the Habitat Youth Leadership Team students can earn service hours, hone new skills, and make friends across the community. Additionally, they will act as communicators of the Habitat for Humanity mission to peers, teachers, and parents, and play a vital role in planning and supporting HFH events. 

The application (attached) has a little more information about the HYLT.

If you know a student(s) who might be interested, please pass along their email and/or phone number, and we would be happy to reach out to them with more information.  We recruit primarily based on referrals.

Thanks in advance for considering who might be a good fit!

In Partnership,

SUPPORT THE IRC (International Rescue Committee)

Donate supplies for students returning to school

This fall, refugee students will return to school, many for the first time in the US. Help students start their school year with the right tools. Donate backpacks in gender-neutral themes and colors, school supplies, children's socks and underwear (new, please), and shoes to the IRC.  

Donations can be dropped off at the IRC office (609 E Market St) Mondays and Wednesdays 9am-12pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays 2-5pm, or Fridays 9am-5pm. Please email if you have questions about donating.

What can we do in Virginia? 

We can:
1 - Share information with our immigrant friends, neighbors and family members about their rights. The Immigrant Defense Project has immigrant rights information in 16 languages. It also suggests ways local communities can implement policies to welcome immigrants and avoid collaborating with ICE.   See these resources  
2 -  Sign our petition  to show your support for two Virginia policies to welcome immigrants: 
Driver’s Privilege Card and In-state Tuition for DACA students.
3 -  Download and share our fact sheet  about In-state tuition. 
4 - Invite a speaker to your congregation and host a conversation at your home. Do your part to dispel myths about immigrants.  Email Yanet Limon-Amado  to arrange for a speaker.
We are living in challenging times. Many immigrant families in our midst are afraid to go to work, school or religious services. Let us pray and take action to stop this now!

In Solidarity, Kim Bobo Co-Executive Director
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy


Ever wonder what your faith has to do with climate change? How climate disruption affects different groups in your community? What work to care for Creation is being done in Harrisonburg? How can you get involved and take action to care for nature and our neighbors? 
Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (VAIPL) invites you to come find your place at the table!

On  Saturday, August 3rd from 11am to 4pm, VAIPL will host a Climate for Justice training at The Gathering Place in Harrisonburg that will answer these questions and more. 

Who: New and seasoned environmental advocates
What: Climate for Justice Training
When: Saturday, August 3rd from 11am-4pm
Where: The Gathering Place, 841 Mount Clinton Pike ( MAP )
Why: Learn about connections between climate change, environmental justice, and faith; focus on energy justice concerns and activism; and get plugged into climate justice efforts ongoing in the area.

This training is open to anyone in The Valley interested in engaging with faith and spirituality to care for Creation. It will feature a session on connections between faith and climate change, a lunchtime panel focused on energy, a workship on storytelling for advocacy, all led by experts in the region. 
Lunch will be provided at this event. To help defray costs associated with the training, there is a registration fee of $10 (free for students). If this registration fee provides a barrier to your participation, please don’t hesitate to contact Laura at

Addressing climate change and environmental justice is our moral responsibility as people of faith. We hope you (and your faith community) can join us!  RSVP now.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out Laura at  or (704) 724-5943.

Click here to spread the word  on Facebook !
Moral Debt: The Legacy of Slavery in the USA: A film screening and discussion ( A Unity Days event )

Wednesday, July 31, 5:00 to 7:00 pm, Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center, 233 4th Street

Join the Charlottesville chapter of   Coming to the Table  and the DOR History Action Team for a screening of the documentary, “A Moral Debt: The Legacy of Slavery in the USA” followed by a panel discussion about the film’s themes of racial inequality, tolerance, and healing. This event is free and open to the public; light refreshments will be served. Part of Unity Days events.    More information here .

Pastor Viktoria will hold office hours any time by appointment. 

Please leave a message at 434-293-3311  
Sunday Aug 4
Welcome:  Tom Hecmanczuk
Greeter:  Gail and Jack Milligan
Ushers:  Dick Sundberg & Marco Escobar
Crucifer/Acolyte/Chalice:   Crosby Horton
Assisting Minister:  Paul Shepherd
Children Moment:  Christa Escobar
Lector:   Kara McClurken
Cantor:  Paul Shepherd
Altar Guild:  Linda Imhoff
Snack:  Margy Roache & David/Will Zentmyer
Coffee/Clean up:  Gail Milligan
Counters:  Greg Wichelns & Mark Giesecke
Sunday August 11
Welcome:   Howard Imhoff                        
Greeter:   Duane Osheim              
Ushers:  Marcy Wisbauer & Will and Leo Abrahamson
Crucifer/Acolyte/Chalice:   Izzie Hecmanczuk     
Assisting Minister:   Jack Milligan
Children Moment:   Tony Marbury
Lector:   Helen Ida Moyer
Cantor:   Helen Ida Moyer
Altar Guild: Jessica Ney-Grimm
Snack:      Heidi & Madeleine Jones and Patty Marbury
Coffee/Clean up:  Kara McClurken
Counters:  Pat Dwiggins & Lois Shepherd
St. Mark Lutheran Church (ELCA) of Charlottesville, VA
(434) 293-3311 |