The Virginia Lutheran
We Are Church Together
Welcome to the Virginia Lutheran: We Are Church Together
Welcome to the Virginia Lutheran, where for nearly 99-years this publication has worked to tell the stories and share the good news happening in congregations in our Virginia Synod . We're excited for the refreshed look for our publication, looking forward to continuing to share impactful long form stories, as well as incorporating new video storytelling as part of our monthly newsletters.

The Virginia Lutheran was previously stewarded by George Kegley , a member of St. Mark's, Roanoke. The Office of the Bishop wants to extend their great thanks and appreciation for the nearly 60 years of dedicated hard work and important ministry that George provided our Synod. Month after month George played a key role in sharing our stories throughout our Synod and with the national church publications as well.

We also share great gratitude for the work of  Pastor Dwayne Westermann who passed away on Thursday, June 4, 2020. Pastor Westermann worked in partnership with George as part of the Virginia Lutheran's online distribution. George and Pastor Dwayne's work has left us richer in our ministry, and we look forward to continuing to share the good news of the church following the good example they set forth.

Now more than ever the stories of the Synod are important to lift up as we care for and serve our communities. While the church currently looks different as we worship digitally or at a distance, we continue to serve creatively in proclaiming God's love, and that's well worth sharing. We look forward to telling stories of the faithful, bold, and serving ministries of the Virginia Synod with you each month, and celebrating how we are united together in Christ.

Emily Pilat
Director of Communication
Virginia Synod, ELCA
Summer Time Feeding at Wheatland Lutheran Church
Wheatland Lutheran Church in Buchanan and  Feeding Southwest Virginia are providing meals to children 18 and under each Friday from 11 AM - 2 PM. This is part of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a federally-funded, state-administered program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), that provides thousands of free meals to children in need. The program works to serve those in southwest Virginia, filling in meal gaps during summer months as children loose access to free or reduced-price meal programs they rely on during the school year. Wheatland Lutheran and other locations provide both pre-packaged meals and fresh produce as part of the programs food distribution. For more information about Feeding Southwest Virginia and how you can help, visit their website.
We Are Church Together Online
Each Sunday this summer through August 30th, the Virginia Synod Office of the Bishop is sharing gospel readings and sermons for digital worship service for congregations around the Virginia Synod. These gospel readings and sermons are just one example of the wonderful collaborations and partnerships happening during this time of digital worship!

In the  Highlands Conference , the congregations and leaders have joined together to create a weekly worship service combining their gifts. Each week, leaders record a different part of the service from home or their home congregation and those recorded elements are then combined into one service. The conference now has  a YouTube Channel, Highlands Conference- Virginia Synod ELCA , that features the worship service, plus daily devotions and evening prayer services. The channel currently has over 100 subscribers and 100 videos posted.

Collaboration is also taking place in Blacksburg where the Blacksburg ELCA Fellowship is uniting Luther Memorial, New Mt. Zion, Shiloh, and St. Michael to respond to the challenges of COVID-19. The congregations now produce a weekly worship service for all four congregations and worked together to offer a joint parking lot service for Easter and Pentecost.

While physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been a challenging and isolating experience for many people, it is exciting to see how congregations combining their gifts to build up the community and be the church together online.
Bishop Humphrey 2020 Report to the Virginia Synod
The Virginia Synod would have gathered for our 2020 Virginia Synod Assembly on June 12th, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this year's assembly was canceled, but we're taking a moment today to share a report from Bishop Humphrey on the state of our synod, and how we the church are acting boldly as the body of Christ.
Synod Council Gather Digitally for June Meeting
On June 27th, the Virginia Synod Council gathered digitally to conduct the business of the church,

Some highlights from the June meeting include:

Plans for the 2021 Synod Assembly
The 2021 Synod assembly has been proposed to take place on Friday June 11 and concluding Saturday June 12 at Roanoke College. The business can be accomplished in a two-day event, even without the 2020 assembly taking place.

Appointment of new Synod Council Members
Since the Assembly was not able to gather this year, the Synod Council moved to appoint members to fill the vacant terms for up to one year. Newly appointed to the Synod Council include
  • Judy Casteele as lay council member from the Blue Ridge Partnership
  • The Rev. Phillip Martin as a rostered minister council member from the Piedmont Partnership
  • The Rev. Colleen Montgomery as a rostered minister council member from the Appalachia Partnership
  • The Rev. Monica Weber as a rostered minister council member from the Appalachia Partnership
  • Isaac Wilson as the Young Adult council member

At the next assembly in 2021, all appointments made will need to be voted on.

Bedford Lutheran Church
A motion was made to receive Bedford Lutheran Church as a member congregation of the Virginia Synod to be ratified at the 2021 Virginia Synod Assembly. This marks the first new congregation in the Virginia Synod since 2001.
Helping Minnick School Students in Virginia
Recently, Assistant to the Bishop and Director for Evangelical Mission The Rev. John Wertz Jr. took part in a conversation with Ray Ratke, the CEO of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia to discuss our recent WiFi for Minnick students project, and the difference it is making in their students lives during the COVID-19 Pandemic. It's thanks to your tremendous response to be the church for the sake of the world that Virginia Synod has reached our goal of providing WiFi for 25 students to allow them to continue their education while at home!
Do You have a news story idea or article you would like to share in next month's Virginia Lutheran? Send it to Emily Pilat at and make sure to follow our Submission Guidelines