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                                                                                             AUGUST, 2019  
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

Correction: In the August edition of the Virginia Lutheran we incorrect spelled Mycah McNett's name in two articles. We apologize for these errors and any confusion it may have caused.

Dozen  Virginians
head to Milwaukee
Bishop Bob Humphrey
        Bishop Bob Humphrey will lead a group of 11 from the Synod for the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee, Aug 5-10. They will be among 927 voting members from across the nation.  Ten voting members are Pastor Tim and Megan Crummitt, St. Paul's, Hampton;  Charles Downs Jr., Christ, Roanoke; Christine Van O'Linda Huffman, St. Michael, Virginia Beach; Mycah McNett, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg; Rev. Phyllis Milton, Gloria Dei, Hampton; Rev. Katie Pocalyko, Our Saviour, Richmond; Tod Recupero, Trinity, Newport News;; Hunter Simpkins, Grace, Chesapeake, youth representative, and Rev. Martha Sims, Grace, Winchester. Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick, assistant to the bishop, will be visitors.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Bishop Eaton's column.
Gender identity explored.
Power explores childen's faith
Women are welcome at the table.
Information needed for 2019 graduates
Faiths are more alike.
LFS fingerprints 600 refugees.
Julie's Abundance Project.
LIRS needs help for families leaving detention.
Lynchburg house sale benefits endowment
Lutheran/Episcopal Event
First Norfolk, exceeds quilt goal.
New Testament is fall ACTS course.
Resurrection renovates sanctuary

Lutherans in the news
             Pastor Monica Weber, a former advertising and marketing writer who has 
served at Epiphany Lutheran, Memphis, TN, for more than three years, has accepted a call to Luther Memorial, Blacksburg. Weber, a radio-TV-film graduate of the University of Texas,, led LadyBug Publishing for 10 years and won a copywriting award and an award in scholarly writing in Biblical studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School where she earned a master of divinity degree. A graduate of Trinity Lutheran Seminary, she was a hospice chaplain and is pursuing spiritual direction certification at Southern Seminary. Weber will start i
n September, following interim service of Pastor Rosemary Backer.
             Laura Dunklin  has accepted a call to serve as associate pastor with Pastor David Derrick at St. Philip, Roanoke.  She will be ordained on Sept. 7 at St. Luke Lutheran, Florence, SC.  A South Carolina native, she's a graduate of the University of South Carolina and United Lutheran Seminary. She has worked at Camp Lutheridge, UNC Rex Healthcare and Christus Victor Lutheran, Naples, FL.
              Pastor Meredith Williams has accepted a call to Grace and Glory, Palmyra, after serving at Ascension, 
Danville, for 13 years and  Immanuel , Bluefield, WVA , for six years. She's a gradu ate of Southern Seminary and a member of the Synod Council. She follows Pastor Ken Albright , who moved to a church in Florida.        
              Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, reports two candidates for ministry will enter seminary this fall. Remington Willis will enter Trinity Seminary, Columbus, Ohio, while Mycah McNett will go to United Lutheran Seminary, Philadelphia. They will lead worship at Muhlenberg on Seminary Sunday, Aug. 4. Muhlenberg is helping a third Rwandan student, Aaron Cyusa, with a scholarship at the Rwamagana School, started by missionary Robin Strickler. The congregation supports the school.
            Pastor Leila M. Ortiz has been elected bishop of the Metropolitan Washington D.C. Synod, to succeed Bishop Richard Graham who is retiring after 12 years in office. Ortiz was pastor at Holy Cross, Herndon, VA, in 2013-2014.   
            Former vicar, now Pastor Melissa Woeppel  Peace, Charlottesville, married Bryan Miles, accepted a call to Lutheran of the Living Christ, Florisssant, MO. She was ordained July 12.
            Members of St. Mark, Charlottesville, were invited to see a film, "Moral Debt: The Legacy of Slavery in the USA," to be followed by a discussion of racial inequality
on July 31.
            Virginia Interfaith Power and Light will hold a Climate for Justice training session on Saturday, Aug. 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gathering Place in Harrison burg. Those attending will learn about the connection between climate change, environmental justice and faith. Retired Pastors Jim and Judy Cobb, Williamsburg, have been appointed interim pastors at Christ Lutheran (Inner Harbor), Baltimore, beginning Oct. 1, for at least a year.
            Highlands Conference members are preparing for their annual corn roast at Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center on Sunday, Aug. 4, ar 4 p.m. A quilt raffle
will benefit the retreat center.
            Members of Messiah, Mechanicsville, were invited to participate in Advent in July, a program to collect food for Mechanicsville Churches Emergency Function at a time when food donations decline in summer.
            At St. Michael, Blacksburg, Fran Shepherd was recognized as Women of the ELCA Bold Woman of the Year. Dickie Shepherd and Doug Smiley were cited as Bold Men of the Year for their service to the congregation.
            Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach, collected new shoes for homeless children, to be donated to ForKids, a Hampton Roads organization devoted to helping homeless children and their families.
            At Trinity, Newport News, gifts were made to Heifer International in honor of senior saints, those 80 or older. The gifts, "for families who don't have enough to eat," included an alpaca, flock of geese, honey bees, flocks of chicks and ducks and a trio of rabbits.
            Members of First Lutheran, Norfolk, bought school supplies to help the Christian Service Committee fill 150 school bags for Lutheran World Relief.
            Bethel, Winchester, will hold a blessing for new drivers on Sunday, Aug. 25. The blessing will mark a meaningful milestone in their lives. Also, the congregation plans only one Sunday morning service at 9:30 a.m, in the fall, instead of the previous custom of two services.

Our common witness
     by Elizabeth A. Eaton

            One of the distinct privileges of this call as presiding bishop is seeing the church at work at home and around the world. The Lutheran movement is alive and well, speaking the gospel in a distinctive voice. Sunday after Sunday the good news is proclaimed in accordance with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. In hundreds of languages and dialects, God's promise of grace, reconciliation and freedom is received and celebrated in places Martin Luther never knew existed. We are part of a worldwide family.
            In many ways, and in the most important ways, we are alike. The cross is our center. Faith, grace and Scripture alone are our guides. A clear understanding of human brokenness and our inability to save ourselves sets us apart from societal and even some theological pressures that would try to draw us away from the source of our life and freedom. A world built on works and individualism promises salvation based on our own effort and denies salvation if we fail. The Lutheran movement points to another way. This is our common witness.
            There are also glorious expressions particular to regions, countries and history: governance; organization; the role of laity, deacons, pastors and bishops; and the age for first communion, to name a few. And that's just the ELCA! Around the world the expression of Lutheranism takes on many different flavors-literally and figuratively.
            In the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, porridge is a staple at all meals, so they pray, "Give us today our daily porridge." Spiritual healers are an important part of the life and ministry in the Lutheran church in Madagascar. Lutherans in Mexico celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which falls just a day away from the Swedish celebration of Santa Lucia. Lutherans around the world hold fast to the core and adapt to make the gospel accessible.
            Part of Luther's genius was to make Scripture, preaching and worship available in the language of the people. All these variations make the Lutheran movement richer, especially when we share across borders and cultures.
             Just two years ago we commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It was interesting to see the different ways congregations and synods marked the event. Luther roses sprang up everywhere, even on an NCIS episode. There were Luther movies and Luther seminars. Ecumenical worship services were held, notably with Roman Catholics. I think the Small Catechism made the best-seller list. I can almost imagine a Lutheran Y2K-like montage of celebrations as the sun rose on Oct. 31, 2017, across the globe. If Lutherans are allowed to be proud, we were.
            Now it's time to move forward. It's good to remember the events of the 16th century, but we shouldn't get stuck there. We need to ask what it means to be Lutheran in the 21st century. What it means for the Lutheran World Federation's 148 member churches, representing over 75.5 million members in 99 countries, that are exploring Lutheran identity. For some member churches with a state church tradition-Sweden, for example-Lutheran identity is a novel concept. The Lutheran church was "The Church," and there was no need to think about identity. Now many churches in Africa and Asia are forging an indigenous expression of what it means to be Lutheran. Yes, they still sing hymns set to German, Swedish and American hymn tunes, but they are also developing music and worship using traditional instruments and styles.
            What will our Lutheran identity be in the ELCA? We still treasure our immigrant roots-and we should. But if our ethnic identities become synonymous with Lutheran identity, we are missing the mark. The gospel, and Luther's clear exposition of it, transcends human boundaries. When a single culture's vernacular becomes the established language of the people, we hinder the gospel's free course in the world. We can become an alternative face of Christianity in the culture-one that moves across divisions, is meant for all, and that is a free and liberating gift.
A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: This column originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Living Lutheran. Reprinted with permission.

Gender identity explored

            On July 15, 23 members and pastors from First Lutheran, Norfolk, St. Andrew, Portsmouth, and St. Mark, Charlottesville, enjoyed a lively discussion of gender issues, led by Ayden Petrone, a pastoral candidate from the Virginia Synod.
            We learned that we can help those who don't fit into the traditional binary system by being advocates for them and by treating them with respect. Ayden gave us a variation on the Golden Rule---rather than treating others as we would want to be treated, we should treat others as THEY would want to be treated.
            Thank you to Merrie Jo Milner and theYouth Committee for sponsoring this truly though-provoking evening.
            (From The Contact, newsletter of First Lutheran, Norfolk,)

Power explores childen's faith

            More than 150 Virginia Lutherans and friends went home from Power in the Spirit convinced that they were "Children of the Same Heavenly Father," the theme of the annual inspirational event at Roanoke College on July 11-13.
           "Do not underestimate the power of love for a child," said Dr. Dawn Rundman, an expert in children's faith development and keynote speaker. Her recent book "Little Steps, Big Faith," was so popular that it sold out the first day.
            Early words of faith and songs are important for children. "A baby has more brain cells than we do." Relationships help a child know God's love, she said, and what we do as congregations makes a difference. Rundeman asked her audience to recall words of faith they learned as a child---"You are a child of God.".
           Dr. Rolf Jacobson, Bible study leader, recommended that "all things we do in worship, learn how to do them in daily life...Learn to praise God in the world."
Jacobson, Old Testament professor at Luther Seminary and a popular three-time speaker at Power in the Spirit, described Psalms as "preaching the faith out loud..a handbook for Christian life..Praise tells who God is by describing what God has done."
The best thing we can do is to find time to be thankful to God. Being thankful is the most powerful, spiritual thing you can do.
            God takes justice injustice so seriously, he said, but he asked, have we accommodated so much to injustice that we no longer get mad?
            Courses explored a wide variety of topics---the book of Joshua, children in worship, baking bread and breaking bread, books reflecting worlds different from our own, Deuteronomy and the gift of biblical storytelling.
            Two service projects were work on a Habitat house, led by retired Pastor Paul Henrickson, and preparation of welcoming cards for refugees and immigrants. A Little Free Library offered varied books.
            Music led by George Donovan of Bethel, Winchester, and helped by musicians and a choir, was an important part of the event. Pastor David Drebes coordinated the diverse program.
            Caption: At evening worship during Power, Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick preached and Pastor Paul Toelke, St. Peter, Stafford, and Deacon Lisa Geiger, St. Michael, Virginia Beach, led the service.       

Women are welcome at the table

            Women from across the state will be meeting at the Virginia Synodical Women's Organization convention at First Lutheran,Norfolk, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2-3, under the theme, "All Are Welcome at the Table."
            Barbara Tormondson, Rye Brook, NJ, will be the official representative of the Churchwide Women's Organization. Convention chaplains will be Pastors Leslie Weber, Grace, Chesapeake, and Suzanne Stierwalt, St. Andrew, Portsmouth. Retired Pastor Jean Bozeman will preach at the Saturday worship service.
            Women have been asked to bring school supplies needed in Norfolk schools. They also have an option of supporting Knots of Love or Case for Smiles, local projects.
Three workshops are scheduled on "deskercise," reviving congregational units and improving the use of social media and communications.
          At a business session, elections will be held for president, treasurer, four board members and three delegates to a national Triennial convention. Jody Smiley, St. Michael, Blacksburg, is president. Pastor John Wertz, synod evangelical mission director, will be a guest.

Information needed for 2019 graduates

            Pastor Dave Delaney, director for youth and young adult ministries, is looking for information on Lutheran young people who graduated from high school this year. He said this will enable his office to stay in contact for young adult ministries as well as communicate with campus ministry sites for those who are headed to college.
            For each graduate, he wants as much contact information as available: name, fall plans (entering work force, off to military or other service, staying local for college or name of residential college), and a cell number and either current or updated email address, if available. If only name or some of that information is available, his office can follow-up.

Faiths are more alike
     by Alex Wilson
Pastor Pocalyko (l) talks with Rabbis Patrick Beaulier and Michael Knopf

           Recently, Lutheran Church of Our Saviour, Richmond, had an interfaith "Lunch and Learn" conversation with Pastor Katie Pocalyko, Rabbi Michael Knopf and Rabbi Patrick Beaulier. They talked about topics that deal with the Christian/Jewish faith. Mainly the questions were about the similarities and differences between the religions and their views on God.
            Rabbi Beaulier read the questions while Pastor Pocalyko and Rabbi Knopf gave their opinions. Rabbi Beaulier came up with three questions that made you think about things you never questioned before.
            One of the questions was, "Twenty percent of people identify with no religion. What
would your faith offer them?" Rabbi Knopf explained what it meant to be Jewish and how it would positively affect your life. He described Jewish faith as "a practice of action not belief."
            Pastor Pocalyko took a different approach to it by explaining how "the world is a pretty  messed up place." She said that Christianity and its doing and message can have a positive impact on society as a whole. Rabbi Beaulier's next two questions dealt with topics that are difficult to answer, but we have all thought about. Rabbi Beaulier asked "What is a religious truth that no one believes except you?"
            Pastor Pocalyko and Rabbi Knopf each went on to say that they have a different view of death than most people, explaining how the beliefs of their parishioners do not always match the teachings of their traditions. Rabbi Beaulier then asked "What is the greatest proof [that] God exists?" They both said that the greatest proof God exists is life itself and the chances of it happening without a God. 
            In today's world we are very divided, and many of us think that because we have different religions we must be completely different, when in fact faiths are more alike than we think. Pastor Pocalyko and Rabbi Knopf's conversation showed that. Like anybody, there were things they had different beliefs about, but there was also plenty they agreed on. In all, the conversation made you go home and think about things you never thought of before.
Alex Wilson is a rising 11thh grader at Manchester High School and its Mass Communications Specialty Center. Edited by Kayleigh Dumont, administrative assistant/communications coordinator of Lutheran Church of Our Saviour. Both are members of Our Saviour Church in Richmond.

LFS fingerprints 600 refugees

            Lutheran Family Services has provided essential fingerprinting services for 600 refugees since January as part of a new Safe Release program operated by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS). This is a small but important role in a multi-agency effort to help reunite immigrant children with their families.
            In a Richmond office, LFS offers a central place for Virginia family members and sponsors to receive the fingerprinting required for background checks that ensure refugee children in federal custody are placed in safe and secure homes. LFS had fingerprinting equipment and expertise because of its work in foster care so it was a matter of hiring and training bilingual staff for the program.
            "Our aim is to make this fingerprinting step fast and efficient so families can more easily move through the reunification process," said Lisa Morgan chief operating officer of LFS. LFS takes the fingerprints and sends them to LIRS but the agency said it is open to doing more work with refugee services if needed.
            The program is supported by funding from the Department of Human Services, Administration for Children and Office of Refugee Settlement.

LFS starts Julie's Abundance Project
            Lutheran Family Services started Julie's Abundance Project to look for new ways to enrich the lives of people served by opening doors to opportunities, experiences and events that may not be available otherwise. It's named for Julie Swanson, retired chief executive of LFS.
            An example is Ethan McGuire, a former student at the LFS Minnick School at Wise, who has autism and recently graduated from Central High School in Wise. Under the Abundance Project, LFS is raising money for him to take a trip to the USS Constitution Museum in Boston. Ethan was challenging, said Lori Long, an educator at the school, but he was able to receive his diploma from high school.
            LFS said the goal for students is to teach them coping skills, work through behaviors while continuing to push toward academic excellence with the end result of returning to their home school. 

LIRS needs help for
families leaving detention

            Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services is providing support for families seeking asylum on the southwest border, according to information relayed by LIRS to Ann Hess, Luther Memorial, Blacksburg.
            Lutherans are invited to send financial support to LIRS to share with congregations in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico who are caring for these people.
            An humanitarian crisis is unfolding as thousands of traumatized asylum-seeking families are released from detention and abandoned on the streets, according to Marta Spangler with LIRS.
            As many as 700 families a day, many with young children or infants, are being released by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents outdoors in unfamiliar cities. Often, they have only the clothes on their backs. Sometimes, at night, unable to speak English, they desperately seek shelter, food, medical care and transportation.
            Their release is not the crisis, said Sarah Eary of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. "The crisis is the complete lack of support they receive afterward."
            Many migrant children and families are fleeing drug trafficking, gang violence and extortion in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. They have the right to seek asylum, under federal law. Since December, ICE has released more than 14,500 people who are released with no clothing, food, water or a place to stay for the night.            

Lynchburg house sale benefits endowment

            Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, received the gift of a house from Mary Ellen and Robert Lightle, members of the congregation, who moved into a retirement community. Their generosity was inspired 13 years ago when Pastor George Sims, then director of the Synod's office for planned giving, made a legacy planning presentation at Holy Trinity.
            The house will be sold and the proceeds will be used to establish the Lightle Endowment Fund for Mission and Ministry.

A Lutheran/Episcopal Event at Shrine Mont    
     by Pastor Eric Moehring, Synod ecumenical representative 

             What do you get when you combine 42 Lutherans and Episcopalians and a Roman Catholic at Shrine Mont? Theological discourse, exceptional worship, valuable time in a relaxing setting and multiplied conversations with old and new friends. In other words, a Church united.
              From June 24-26, the Rev. Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, ecumenist and theologian of the Anglican tradition in Canada, and Dr. Timothy Wengert, retired church historian at the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia spoke to the theme From Crib to Cross.
              Dr. Barnett-Cowan began with the general comment, "Anglicanism has a broad tent" when it comes to incarnational theology, "rooted in the goodness, beauty and integrity of creation." She illustrated that through English poetry and hymns, one being the carol, In the Bleak Midwinter, which "puts together crib and cross, incarnation and cross" because it is rarely either/or in the Church. She went on to say that "incarnation is not only in the one person (of Jesus) but in each of us."
              Dr. Wengert began with early dates of Luther's theology of the cross, offering glimpses prior to 1517. He defined it as not a theology about cross or atonement, "but the revelation of God under the appearance of the opposite. God is revealed in the last place we would look. (It is a) theology of the paradoxical revelation of God." This revelation is throughout scripture, "as in the slaves of Egypt rather than the Egyptians." And he made sure to connect the human condition with the cross: "We are stuck in a world that suffering knows no end. For such sufferers God has good news, the crucified one."
              In a session with both in dialogue, Dr. Wengert confessed, "the danger of the theology of the cross is to forget resurrection and creation." So he recited hymns that contain both crib and cross, including Luther's hymn, Christ Our Lord Came to the Jordan. Dr. Barnett-Cowan then blended with Wengert's voice when she said, "The cross is the inspiration for those who have lost hope."
              Dr. Barnett-Cowan also offered a conversation about how the Canadian experience between Lutherans and Anglicans can further efforts in our own communities. On Monday evening, Pastor Lura Kaval whose Episcopal parish in Mineral, VA contains a large number of Lutherans (calling her parish "Lutherpalian") and Pastor Steward Lucas, rector of a Lutheran/Episcopal federated parish in Baltimore, discussed living into full communion. The bishops attending (Bishop Humphrey; Bishop Graham of the Metro Washington, D.C. Synod; Bishop Riegel of the West VirginiaA-Western MD Synod; Bishop Gulick and Pastor Mary Thorpe (Diocese of Virginia) also helped participants vision leadership opportunities in the "other tradition."
              And we were fortunate to have Dr. Dudley Oakes, music director and organist of Grace Lutheran Church, Winchester, as our musician. Bishop Humphrey presided at the Eucharist. using the Book of Common Prayer, and pastors from both traditions led us in the offices.
              The conference closed with Father Joe Lehman, Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, offering reflections about the conference, stressing the importance of reception. He concluded with, "Even though your two traditions cannot share the Eucharist with Roman Catholics, we need not give up. There are so many other ways we can pray together; we just need to explore them." All of the plenary sessions were taped. The QR code is:
            (Shrine Mont is a retreat center in Shenandoah County.)                              

First Norfolk, exceeds quilt goal


Members of First Lutheran, Norfolk, exceeded their goal of making 125 quilts in recognition of the church's 125th anniversary. They were sent to the country of Georgia for distribution by the Union of Investments in Humanitarian Projects (UHIP). Quilts, personal care, school and baby care kits are delivered through soup kitchens, elder care centers and schools that serve children with special needs. Last year, more than 47,500 quilts and kits were distributed.

New Testament is fall ACTS course

            The ACTS fall course on the New Testament will be taught by Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick assistant to the bishop, on Sept. 21 and Nov. 2.  
            Derrick has described the New Testament as a choir filled with many different voices, yet all telling the same story of witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the experience of the risen Christ in the communities that follow him.
            This survey of early Christian writings and their interpretation invites listeners to different ways that each book tells the story of the encounter with Jesus. The course will explore selected gospels, epistles and writings in their historical context. Sociological methods will be used in current trends of biblical scholarship to help discern what community---historical, cultural, religious and social---shapes the text The course also will engage the meaning in a text that lies in the interplay between text and reader.
            The ACTS courses will be offered on two Saturdays, Sept 21 and Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., plus five evening sessions of two hours, at dates and locations to be decided by participants. Derrick will be at Grace, Waynesboro, and simulcast to Gloria Dei, Hampton/St. Mark, Yorktown, and Holy Trinity, Wytheville. The registration fee of $175 covers lunch. The required textbook is The People's Companion to the Bible.

Resurrection renovates sanctuary

             The congregation of Resurrection, Fredericksburg, had a celebration to start work on sanctuary renovation supported by Dream!, a capital campaign.
            The campaign raised more than $250,000 through March. Pastor Heidi Moore said members of the congregation submitted proposals for ministries. Work has started and completion is expected in September.




Editor:  George Kegley   
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