"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"—Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 19, 2021
From the bishop's office
A Hub of Abundance
“For about one week at the beginning, I was worried about whether we’d have enough food,” says Pastor Sharon Schulze, pastor of South Durham Connections and Coordinator of the Parktown Food Hub. “Now it’s more like, what are we going to do with all this food? Who’s going to come get all of this?”

New Re-Gathering Guidelines
New Re-Gathering Guidelines are available. On January 12, the synod's Re-Gathering Task Group approved new guidelines for congregations through this current Executive Order (#188) which extends from January 6 to January 29, 2021.

NC Synod Shared Worship
Did you know that each week the synod offers options for Shared Worship for those who are not gathering for worship? Each week you can: (1)
Watch a livestreamed Sunday morning worship on the synod's Facebook page (times vary), (2) Watch that Facebook recording later on Sunday—or any day of the week, (3) Listen to the sermon by phone. Call 833-924-1988 and press 1, or (4) Use a bishop's staff recorded sermon for your own congregation's worship recording.
Let's Talk about Women's Groups!
Join a FREE online conversation, "Let's Talk about Women's Groups" on Thursday, January 21, at 3:00 p.m. During this pandemic, women’s groups may have dwindled. Join PRC (Practical Resources for Churches) to discuss doing hybrid and virtual women’s groups. Share what you have done, look for new ideas, and brainstorm with us to keep these groups vibrant and ongoing.

Connected, Generous, Free to Serve
In her January/February column for Living Lutheran, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton reflects on the past year and looks toward 2021. The pandemic has taught us a lot about our church and about ourselves. We are connected. We are generous. We are freed to serve.

Sunday Night 12-Steps on Zoom
This new meeting for mainline Christians on Zoom is open to anyone in 12-step recovery of any kind and is also open to those interested in learning more about 12-step recovery. The Center of Addiction and Faith and the Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy host this meeting, offered every Sunday night at 8 p.m. All are welcome. Share with a friend.

Lutheran Men in Mission Gathering
The 98th "virtual" Gathering of the North Carolina Lutheran Men in Mission NCLMIM will be held on Saturday, March 6. First, Lexington will host the Gathering virtually by Zoom. The theme this year is "Anchored in Christ." No matter the storm we are grounded in the Gospel. We invite all men around the state to join us.

2021 IRS Mileage Allowance
The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2021 mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and charitable, medical, or moving purposes. Beginning Jan. 1, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups, or panel trucks) include:
• 56 cents per mile driven for business use, down 1.5 cents from the rate for 2020, and
• 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, (unchanged from 2020).

Rostered minister transitions
All are invited to the Installation of Pastor Tim Poston on Sunday, January 24, at 3:00 p.m. via Zoom. (Use this link to join the meeting; Meeting ID: 824 9273 5475). Pastor Tim serves as pastor at St. Philip, Raleigh.

Pastor Beth Woodard has transferred to the Virginia Synod effective 1/8/21.
Pastor Dave Fox and Deacon Elizabeth Fox have transferred to the Virginia Synod effective 1/11/21.
Pastor Zach Harris has transferred to the Virginia Synod effective 2/1/21.
Pastor Karen L. Battle, Southwestern PA Synod, is transferring to the NC Synod and will be living in the Charlotte area.
Of mourning
Megan Clark, the 37-year-old daughter of Pastor John (retired, Lincolnton) and Cindy Duncan, died suddenly on Saturday, January 9. We mourn with her family. Read the full obituary.
Evelyn Ridenhour, the mother of Pastor Steve Ridenhour (chaplain, Trinity View, Arden), died on January 10. We mourn with her family. Read the full obituary.

Of healing
Deacon Laura Buff Alexander (Westminster Presbyterian, Greensboro) broke her collarbone in a serious car wreck last week.
Pastor Mary Miller-Zurell (Faith, Conover, and St. Timothy, Conover) had her gallbladder removed on January 11.

Of celebration
Clara Santana, the wife of Pastor German Antonio Santana (Arbol de Vida, Durham), became a citizen of the United States of America on January 7.
Pastor Matt Hoffman (campus pastor, Warren Wilson College) and his wife, Samantha Gonzalez-Block, welcomed a son, Javier John Gonzalez-Hoffman, to the world on January 10. Matt reports that Javi (or JJ) and his mama and papa are doing well.
Our New NC Synod Website was launched on January 14. (That's kinda like a baby... right!?)
Pastor Ann Kelly (Trinity, Sanford) married Richard Sullins on January 17. Congrats!

Of celebration for an ordination
Joshua Lewis Copeland was ordained on Wednesday, January 6, at 7:00 p.m. Pastor Copeland will serve as pastor at Our Saviour, Christiansburg, Virginia. Watch the service here.
Of celebration for an ordination
Anna Elisabeth Carter was ordained on Saturday, January 9, at 2:00 p.m. Pastor Carter will serve as pastor at Holly Grove, Lexington. Watch the service here.
A Call to Prayer for our Nation
The psalmist reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Our nation is bracing amid reports of acts of political violence planned for the coming days at state capitols and in our nation’s capital. Wherever you are, and whatever your political beliefs, we are one in Christ Jesus. On this firm foundation, as a pastor and a bishop, I invite you to join me in prayer during this time of chaos, confusion, fear and grief. For even when “the nations are in an uproar,” we are encouraged that “the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:6a, 7).
—Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton

Mighty God, our great help in trouble, as distrust, fear and violence threaten our nation and its peoples, we come to you in prayer, seeking your wisdom, strength and peace.

We pray for the health of our democracy and its leaders (especially …), that those elected to serve may utilize government structures and processes to promote human flourishing and the common good…

We pray for those who risk harm to ensure the safety of others: police officers, security guards, the National Guard and other military personnel…

We pray for an end to the evils of white supremacy, Christian nationalism, and racial violence that threatens, destroys and kills…

We pray for those experiencing trauma induced by the public display and use of hateful language and symbols, including Confederate flags, anti-Semitic language and images, and nooses…

We pray for Black, Indigenous, People of Color and historically marginalized groups traumatized by violence stemming from white supremacy: lynchings, bombings, vandalism and church burnings…

We pray for clergy and church leaders, especially for those burdened by mistrust and painful divisions in their communities. Give them and all people the courage to confront white supremacy, Christian nationalism and racist rhetoric with messages of truth, sustained by the power of your magnificent love…

We pray for people and communities struggling to discern your voice amid competing voices clamoring for attention. Direct us to listen deeply and celebrate the diversity among us. Freed in Christ, we dare to witness to your promise of abundant life and abiding peace…

In this time of great uncertainty, we pray without ceasing, trusting that your word, Holy
God, never returns empty and your mercy never fails. We pray in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Additional prayers for the nation and times of conflict, crisis and disaster can be found
in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (pages 76-77) and in All Creation Sings (pages 49-51). The Great Litany (ELW 238) and the prayers of lament in All Creation Sings would also be a helpful resource in this time (pages 61-66).

News from across the church
The Road to Redemption
From prison to Princeton to the pulpit. That is the road less traveled taken by Erich Kussman, pastor of St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church in Trenton, N.J.
It was on that road that Kussman found God, found the man he calls his father, and found himself featured on the A&E network series The Redeemed.

The Best Way to Read the Bible?
Beginning with the statement, “There is no best way to read the Bible,” Luther Seminary Professor Emeritus Mark Throntveit writes with humor and compassion about our failed resolutions to spend time regularly reading the Bible. He argues that what we need is motivation until we develop the habit of regularly reading Scripture.

LR Director Selected for National Leadership Program
Lenoir-Rhyne University is an institution that has been recognized for its work providing financial aid for its students. Now Director of Financial Aid Courtney Thompson-Ballard has been recognized and selected to participate in the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Diversity Leadership Program.

Resources for your congregation
Ignite the Church Conference 2021
Ignite the Church Conference 2021 has gone online! Join us in Adapting to a New Reality: Living into a Fresh Vision for God’s Church. These free monthly webinars are focused on key areas. The first webinar is Thursday, January 21, from 2-3:30 p.m. for the first webinar, Encouragement Beyond Fatigue, with Louise Johnson. After a year of unprecedented challenges, persevering in the spirit of Hebrews 12 has been difficult; many leaders feel overwhelmed and discouraged. So that you may not grow weary the webinar series begins with encouragement.

Community Education Online Course
Manuals help us with our appliances, computers, and automobiles, but when it comes to being human, many persons today are left to figure it out on their own. In order to address this situation, philosopher Alain de Botton founded The School of Life, which seeks to apply the intellectual resources of the humanities to the challenge of being human. Join others in Hood Seminary's six-session Community Education online course beginning the week of February 15, exploring Botton's recent work.

LWR Resources for Lent
Lutheran World Relief needs your help to bring real, tangible hope to our poorest neighbors. This Lent, your congregation can help by gathering and assembling Personal Care Kits. LWR has created an accompanying full suite of Lenten resources called “Sensing Hope,” including a 5-week sermon series and small group study guide—all of which can be used digitally or in-person to nurture hope and action in your congregation.

Did you know?
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) shares their top ten policy priorities for the Biden administration and 117th Congress. Also, LIRS has been cooking! Watch the most-recent third episode of their Culture Kitchen!
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