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                                                                                             January, 2018
   
                         The Virginia 
                      LUTHERAN 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.


Synod exceeds PNG
mosquito net goal of $50,000 

              After many months of contributions, the Synod has exceeded its $50,000 goal to provide mosquito nets for the people in the companion synod of the Islands District of the Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea. A total of $52,319 was reached in early December. Also, Synod contributions to a fund to pay school fees for PNG pastors' children has been under way for 13 years. The pastors often are unable to pay the fees.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Bishop Eaton's column.
Tom Powell will direct camp
Lutherans gather with LARCUM partners
Chrismons have international designs.
Pastor Lundin, Prof. Matthews die
VICPP has busy schedule
   
Lutherans in the news
 
            The congregation of Christ, Fredericksburg, has voted to call Pastor Anne Jones Martin and she will be installed on Sunday, Jan,. 28, at 3 p.m. She has been serving with Senior Pastor Richard Carbaugh, who has retired.
            Members of St. Mark, Yorktown, have been challenged to join in a thank offering of 200 gifts of $200 in 200 days between the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the 50th anniversary of St. Mark Church. Together, these gifts will provide $40,000 to be given to ministries of the Virginia Synod, ELCA, Lutheran World Federation and in the community around the church. "God has gifted us generously," said Pastor Joel Neubauer in  his invitation to the congregation for the thank offering.
          St. Stephen, Williamsburg, and St. Martin's Episcopal, Williamsburg, will start a joint book study on Mondays and Thursdays from January through March. They will talk about the basics of Christian faith, using books by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams: Being Christians: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer and Being Disciples: Essentials of the Christian Life. Since the ELCA and the Episcopal Church have enjoyed full communion since 1999, "let's build on our relationship," said Pastor Andy Ballentine of St Stephen.
            Yolanda Shea, First Lutheran, Norfolk, was featured in a display as part of 100 years at NASA Langley.
            Susan Kish is the new music director of Our Saviour, Richmond. She formerly was choral director for Manchester High School.
`           Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Smith Mountain Lake, held its second annual Messiah Sing-Along on Dec. 23.
            At Apostles, Gloucester, Karen and Art Stark have raised over $3,800 in walking to raise awareness of and research for multiple sclerosis. Their team of 12 raised over $28,000.
            The Roanoke chapter of Roanoke College Alumni Association, worked on a Habitat house and served at Roanoke Rescue Mission for a day of service, a new tradition at the college, in November.
            Members of St. Philip, Roanoke, were urged to write a expression of their daily living on the back of a new hashtag stating "Live like that, love, feed, serve" and place it on a cross in the gathering area of the church. Pastor David Derrick said the new hashtag is "not a slogan, it is mission, it is purpose and it is identity."
            Gary and Dinah Pattison, St. Luke, Walker Mountain Parish in Wythe County, have been making four or five trips a year to deliver food and other household items to the Binns-Counts Center in Dickenson County, a poverty area of Southwest Virginia. "We get joy out of this," Pattison told the Wytheville Enterprise.
            Among several events on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 15, will be an event at Peace, Charlottesville, featuring story-telling, conversation, celebration and music by the Children's Choir of Central Virginia.
            Charles Leiser, St. Mark's, Roanoke, is marking his 10th anniversary with Thrivent Financial. He is a chartered financial consultant.

Church speak 
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
 
Bishop Eaton
          A colleague at the Lutheran Center related this story. An unchurched friend of hers was visiting and noticed her Advent calendar. "What is Advent?" she asked. A simple question. But my colleague soon discovered it wasn't that easy to explain Advent to someone who had never heard of it, but who also had no frame of reference for it.
            My colleague talked about a season of hope, longing and preparation, about the coming of the Christ child. Noticing her friend's puzzled look, she stopped short of talking about the eschatological and hermeneutical possibilities presented by the season.
            It's not that my colleague lacks an understanding of Advent or isn't herself a faithful person. Nor are her communication skills deficient-she is wicked bright and funny, and relates well to people. No. She had come face-to-face with the reality that a growing segment of our population has had little or no connection with the church or any other religious tradition. They don't speak our language. They don't know our stories. They don't measure time the way we do-Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost. They literally don't know what we are talking about.  
            You might have had a similar experience-not just an encounter with someone from another religious tradition, but with someone with no religious tradition. How do we talk to them? How do we tell them about the intimate, abiding, deep love that God has shown to us in Jesus? How do we even tell them about Jesus? How do we explain Jesus and the incarnation, the crucifixion and the resurrection?
            We know what we are talking about, but we can't assume that others do. Many people don't even know that they need to know Jesus-or that the Jesus they think they know isn't the Jesus they need to know.
              I once asked a group of our pastors and deacons to explain the gospel in a tweet without using the words sin, grace or gospel. A tweet then was 140 characters-it's now 280 characters, but I don't think that would make the assignment any easier.
             Those of us (myself included) who have spent our lives in the church live in a kind of bubble. We do speak the same language-church speak. We know what we mean, we understand key phrases and metaphors. We know what makes sense to us. But for those who have either no experience with the church or a painful one, we speak an unintelligible language.
            So where do we start? I believe we should start from the conviction that Jesus has the words of eternal life, that he is the way to truth and hope and life. Can we even explain that to ourselves? Do we have the words that speak to our own hearts? Can we explain the Christian tradition to ourselves, and do we believe it? When we are able to confess, live and breathe that we live, move and have our being in God, we then need to find the language that speaks to those outside of the church bubble.
            We can't cede the public space to the popular culture or to a distortion of the Christian message. It's hard to take that both Harry Potter and the Marine Corps (I'm a huge fan of both) have a more compelling exposition of the gospel ("It's all about love, Harry") or of koinonia ("Serving something greater than themselves"). We are missionaries again. Without diluting the gospel or in any way pandering for popularity, it falls to us to commend the faith within us clearly and genuinely.
            I know we stake our lives on the truth of Jesus' death and resurrection. This brings freedom and life to us so we can invite others into God's freedom and life.  
 
A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: bishop@elca.org. This column originally appeared in the January issue of Living Lutheran. Reprinted with permission.

Tom Powell named executive director of camp

            Tom Powell, longtime supporter of Lutheran Camp Caroline Furnace and Conference Center, has been named executive director of the facility, effective Feb. 1. He follows Reuben Todd, who left the post last summer to work at a New York State camp.
            Powell is a past board president of the camp,
Powell
father of a former staff member and volunteer at work weekends. He will be welcomed and Heather Lutz, interim director, will be recognized at a service at St. John Chapel at the camp on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 10 a.m. Powell has been an active member of Christ the King in Richmond and St. John's Lutheran in Gore. He's been congregation council president, youth adviser and a Sunday School teacher.
            Powell has over 32 years of professional leadership experience in consulting and in the National Guard. His background is in training and adult learning and ability to manage budgets and motivate employee teams.
             Registration for the summer camp season, starting in June, is available on the camp's website and several events have been planned there this winter. A family camp was scheduled Dec. 28-29. A beer-Reformation retreat on Jan. 19-21 is planned for a time of "faith, education, fun and fellowship," along with the art of brewing and surroundings in the Shenandoah Valley. A wine retreat in the wild women series on Jan. 26-28 will feature a visit to local wineries, study of Jesus's first miracle and creative craft work.
 
Lutherans gather with 
LARCUM  partners  in Richmond
     by Pastor Eric Moehring
 
            On December 1-2 in Richmond,  Lutherans from the Virginia and Metro-D.C. synods met at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and St. Bridget Catholic Church with those of the Episcopal, Roman Catholic and United Methodist (UMC) traditions to mark the third of a three year observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.
            Over 90 laypersons and pastors worshiped, networked and listened to Sister Susan Wood, a professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, speak on the topic, "500 Years Later: Ecumenical Dialogue as Gift and Call." Once again, there was a contagious spirit of unity, reunion and welcoming new participants at this LARCUM Conference.
            Sister Susan answered the question of how we got to where we are by noting several differences between the 2017 commemoration and previous ones. She is observing a visible lessening of a "church ghetto" mentality that promoted little interaction and great suspicion and an acknowledgment that reform was necessary in the 1500s and that Luther is no longer viewed as a heretic.
             Also, today's ecumenical spirit in the commemoration comes from a Vatican II that viewed itself as having an ecumenical purpose and a mission to promote the priesthood of the baptized resulting in the offering of both elements at the Eucharist, the necessity for biblical study among all members, the confession that the "priests needed to do a better job at preaching," and worship in the vernacular.
            Sister Susan closed the session by saying that the key to living together means we get over our stereotypes of each other and that we don't read each other through those stereotypes. She also offered a helpful view of one of the reasons why Catholics and Lutherans are not able to receive the Holy Communion together. For Catholics, the Eucharist is a sign of unity; for Lutherans it is a means toward that unity.
            On Saturday, Sister Susan described the context the Church has found itself in, that we are no longer living in a "Christendom" world, but instead we are called to be Church in a missionary context much like that of the early Church. Among her many points that day, she stressed that doctrine is important, but unity is paramount; too often we still say, "I am what you are not"; and ecumenism is a charism, a gift from the Holy Spirit for the up-building of the Church.
  
Bishop Humphrey signs 
the LARCUM Covenant
          On Friday evening the participants gathered for worship and the signing of the LARCUM Covenant by three new bishops: Bishop Michael Burbidge (Catholic Diocese of Arlington); Bishop Shannon Johnston (Virginia Conference, UMC); and our own Bishop Robert Humphrey who closed the conference with his own reflections on his ecumenical journey. These bishops were together on Friday afternoon with those other bishops of most of the seven LARCUM judicatories at Epiphany Lutheran Church to strengthen their bonds and offer suggestions for going forward as a conference.
            The Virginia LARCUM Conference is a yearly event and usually takes place on the first Friday and Saturday of December.

 Pastor Eric Moehring is the ecumenical representative of the Synod.
 
Chrismons have international designs 
            While Christmas memories are fresh in our minds, we look at the dimensions of the chrismon tree at Ascension, Danville, where the tradition began 60 years ago. The Ascension 2017 tree is 22 feet tall and 15 feet in diameter.
           The tree holds over 600 chrismons and approximately 2,000 energy efficient LED lights. It is decorated with chrismon ornaments from as far back as 1957 up to brand new ornaments made by the congregation or received as gifts. More than 50 members of the congregation participate in cutting, transporting and decorating the tree. The process takes about a week. Chrismon designs use art forms from over 45 countries and cultures.
 

Pastor Lundin, Prof. Matthews die
            
            Two deaths have been reported.  Pastor Holger Lundin, served at Christ, Staunton, from 1972 to 1980. He was a member of the board of Virginia Lutheran Homes and he also served congregations in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. He died Sept. 2 at the age of 79 at Wethersfield, CT.
            William R. Matthews, 97,a member of Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, and a long-time contributor to The Lutheran, died Sept. 28. He was an English professor and administrator at Wittenberg University and Augustana College.
 
VICPP has busy schedule
                       
            viccp logo The annual Day for All People,  the advocacy day of Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, has been scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the State Capitol, St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the Powhatan Building in Richmond. Informative speakers will tell of key legislative issues before the General Assembly and participants will have an opportunity to meet with delegates and senators and attend committee hearings. Tickets are $25 if registered before Jan. 11 and $15 for students.
            Registration is also open for the VICPP Witness at the Capitol program, started last year. Volunteers are sought to serve as citizen advocates on VICPP priority issues during the General Assembly session from mid-January to mid-March. Volunteers are asked to commit for a week and they will have a short training session. They should be people of faith who are comfortable talking about the faith dimensions of the issues.
            On the VICPP busy schedule were two timely meetings in December. Kim Bobo, VICPP executive director, led a workshop on wage theft at St. Luke . Breakout sessions were held on student loan debt, affordable housing and the future of health care. Participants learned of the tools necessary to effectively advocate for economic justice reform.
            The New River Valley chapter of VICPP presented a panel discussion on the criminal justice system and the opioid epidemic on Sunday, Dec. 10, at Asbury United Methodist Church, Christiansburg.  Scheduled speakers were Victoria Cochran, deputy secretary of public safety and homeland security in the governor's offiee; Robert L. Trestman and Paul Stromberg from Carilion Clinic; Laura Nelson, who works in human development at Virginia Tech, and a Blacksburg narcotics policeman.
            VICPP has Lutheran support.
 

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