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

Jo Fintel died on Aug. 30
Jo and Norm Fintel
     Jo Fintel, wife of the late Dr. Norman Fintel, died Aug. 30. She is remembered for serving as a partner with her husband when he was president of Roanoke College for 14 years.
     Norm Fintel died in April, 2017 on the morning of the college's Alumni Day. Jo Fintel paid tribute to her husband at a luncheon that day.
     She is survived by two daughters, Peggy Horn and Barbara Collins, and a son, Dr. William Fintel.

     Memorial services to be determined.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
297 campers enjoyed Caroline Furnace!
Godspeed to Pr. Ken Albright.
Katz is new campus minister
Cobb helps Baltimore merger
The power of the cross
A close look at dementia
Eagle Scout builds pathway
Ecumenical conference planned
Epiphany's Rolling River Rampage
"God's Work, Our Hands"
Pastor Cameron P. Keyser dies
Record 582 freshmen enter Roanoke College
Meaningful events in Charlottesville
Service Projects at the Water's Edge
Women encouraged at convention.
Lutherans in the news
            Pastor Nathan Huffman will leave his post as associate pastor at St. Michael, Virginia Beach, on Sept. 16 to serve as a Navy chaplain. After training in Rhode Island, his first billet will be at Coronado, CA. A former Marine and policeman, he came to St. Michael after graduating from Gettysburg Seminary in 2016.
            Pastor Kirk Shipley, Harisonburg, has accepted a call to Bethel, Edinburg. He formerly served as interim pastor at St. Jacobs, Mt. Crawford, and Trinity, Keezletown.
            Bishop Bob Humphrey has named three retired pastors for interim congregations with vacant pulpits. Among them are: Pastor Sandy Wisco, Grace and Glory, Palmyra; Pastor Judy Cobb, Apostles, Gloucester; Pastor Mary Louise Brown, St. Paul, Strasburg.
            Charles "Chuck" Miller, lay pastor at Wheatland, Botetourt County, will be ordained on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 28.
            Two installations are scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16. Pastor Suzanne Stierwalt will be installed at St. Andrew, Portsmouth, at 3 p.m. and Pastor Rachel Manke will be installed at St. Mark, Yorktown, at 4 p.m.
            Pastor Patricia Covington, retired from Hebron, Madison, has transferred to the South Carolina Synod.
            Kevin Barger, directior of music ministry at Epiphany, Richmond, and the president-elect of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, recently talked about the organization on a radio program with a theme, "Martin Luther with eyes of faith" on a Houston, TX station.
           Kate Minnick has started work as administrative assistant/communications at First Lutheran, Norfolk.
            Tennile Cyphers is the new director of St. John Lutheran Church School, Norfolk. She formerly worked in early education at Norfolk and Virginia Beach libraries.
St. John will be celebrating its 65th anniversary with a picnic on Sept. 16. Members are asked to bring a gift of $65 for the anniversary.
            St. Michael, Blacksburg, will mark its 50th anniversary with several events, starting with an open house and an historical service on Sept. 9. Bishop Bob Humphrey will be a special guest, along with former Pastors John Wertz and Linda Mitchell Motley. Batches of 50 flower bulbs will be planted around the church property on Sunday, Sept. 23. St. Michael stands on the site of a Lutheran church built about 1750, said to be the first Lutheran church in western Virginia. It was first called St. Michael's Church and later as Price's and St. Peter's Church. A school later stood there.
            Lakeside Lutheran, Littleton, NC, will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Sept. 8 by planting a commemorative tree, followed by a picnic with Christian music. And special worship service the next day, Sept. 9. Memories of founding members are being collected for publication in a book.
            The annual Lutheran Visit Day at Roanoke College will be Saturday, Sept. 1.High school students and parents will have an opportunity to consider the process of selecting a college. From 10:30 to 2:30, participants will meet students, hear about campus life and learn about the admissions and financial aid process. 
            St. Philip, Roanoke, has a new faith formation program. On first Sundays, a God Moment will integrate faith with daily life; Bible studies for all generations will be on second Sundays and guest speakers will be heard on third Sundays.
            Members of Grace, Winchester, are planning a bus trip to see the new Bible Museum in Washington on Oct. 13.
            Members of St. Mark, Charlottesville, were asked to participate in an International Neighbors August Great Neighbor Gathering by donating back-to-school items and clothing for resettled refugees.

297 campers enjoyed Caroline Furnace!
              In an end-of-summer report, Car oline Furnace Lutheran Camp leaders say they have been "blessed with an incredible summer camp season. With the help of God, as well as the communities and individuals that support this ministry, we had eight weeks filled with faith, fun and friendships that will last a lifetime. The theme was 'This changes everything.'
            "A total of 297 campers came to Caroline Furnace this summer. Of those 297, over 100 campers had financial support from their congregation, an outside organization or from our camper scholarship fund. God's love and grace are tangible here and the magic of camp really does change everything.
            "At the end of summer, counselors are going out to serve the Lord in new places. Zach will move to St. Paul, MN, to attend Luther Seminary. Shannon will begin work with the Americorps in January. Noah is moving to Oregon to intern at Washington Family Ranch, a Young Life camp. Rachel plans to serve in the Peace Corps, beginning in January. Nick will begin an internship at Pine Lake in Wisconsin. Justin, Erin, Andy, Maddie, Ashley, Caroline, Callie, Johnny, Kara and Chris are returning to school. Laura will continue to work at Caroline Furnace until October.
The 2018 summer staff
            "Although summer camp is over, there are still many opportunities to stay involved with Caroline Furnace. Join us this fall for Work Weekend, Fall Fest or our Wild Women: Wine Retreat. Bring your small or large group to the Farmhouse, Cabin Village, Sukkah Village or Buttonwood Lodge for a retreat!
            "We would love to help you plan a retreat for your youth group, men's or women's group, church council, confirmation group or hobby-based group. Let's plan a family reunion, school field or scouting trip. Learn more at"

Godspeed to Pr. Ken Albright

           Pastor Ken Albright (kneeling, center), of Grace and Glory, Palmyra, received well wishes from his Germanna Conference friends at a luncheon before he left for a call to a Florida church. "They finished with a Godspeed," according to Pastor Sandy Wisco, conference dean.

Katz is new campus minister

            Bryan Katz, associate professor of practice in civil engineering at Virginia Tech, has started as lay campus minister at the Blacksburg university. He has been accepted into the candidacy process to become a deacon.
            Katz has taken course work through the Institute of Lutheran Theology and Luther Seminary. He will continue a program of worship, service, study and fellowship on campus. "People are looking for a faith community. I feel the power of the word," he said. He follows the work of retired Pastor Bill King, who served in campus ministry for many years.
            Katz has a double career. He received an Alumni Teaching Excellence Award for his work in traffic engineering, transportation safety and operations and traffic control devices. A native of Haymarket, he earned bachelor, master's and doctoral degrees from Virginia Tech. He and his wife, Katie, have two children. She teaches nursing at Radford University.

Cobb helps Baltimore merger

           Retired Pastor Jim Cobb, Williamsburg, directed the policy writing for a Lutheran-Episcopal federated congregation in Baltimore. Cobb (right) is shown with Episcopal Rector Stewart Lewis, whose congregation voted nearly unanimously for the document describing a type of merger allowed by the full communion agreement between Lutherans and Episcopalians.  

The power of the cross
by Joyce Lawrence
            Something interesting happened during our yard sale that I would like to share with our family at Peace. As we sorted through the many boxes and bags of items, we found a cross.
            It was nothing fancy..just a plain, slim, metal cross. It was moved from place to place to make room for other items until I finally felt the need to give it a home. I picked up a piece of white cardboard and wrote on it, "Free To A Good Home."
            I taped the cross to the cardboard and asked each of my team members to sign their name on it. I also included a small reference to Peace Lutheran Church. I placed it on a table in the center of the room and wondered if anyone would notice it.
             On Friday, somebody did. I had arranged for our friends in the AA group to shop after their meeting that day. A large group came through, looking at all of our treasures and making many purchases. One particular lady came up to our table to pay for her purchases. She had her items in one hand and the cardboard with the cross on it in the other. She was a tall, slender lady, without much expression. She was not sure if the cross was for sale or, really free. She said she would like to have it.
            I told her it was definitely free and we wanted her to have it with blessings from Peace Lutheran Church. She paid for her other items and went on her way. She came back a few minutes later, asking if she could shop some more, and of course, we said, yes. It was at this time that I asked what she planned to do with the cross. She said she was going to put it with some memorial items she kept for her husband and son who both died in the same year, 2015. By now, we were all teary-eyed.
            She went around and bought a few more items and left. She came back to our table a third time to pay for some very colorful cloth carrying bags that she said she loved. She was talking excitedly about the bags, their beautiful color and smiling all the time. She thanked us for allowing her to shop and wished us all a good day.
            We were all quiet for a few seconds. We all knew what had just happened. She felt a healing presence in our midst. The power of the cross.
A close look at dementia
            Living with dementia has become a frequent problem in elderly households.
            The Rev. Janet Ramsey, a retired seminary professor, therapist and caregiver, has addressed the problem head on in a new Fortress Press book, Dignity and Grace, Wisdom for Caregivers and Those Living with Dementia.
            Ramsey returned to Roanoke after 10 years of teaching congregational care leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. Earlier, she worked in pastoral counseling, as pastor at St. Timothy, Vinton, and chaplain for Virginia Lutheran Homes.
            She said she wrote the book at the request of Fortress Press. It's primarily for laypeople, caregivers, those dealing with early memory loss. Drawing on her own experience and interviews with eight caregivers, Ramsey offers useful advice and emotional and spiritual guidance,
            She helps the reader with an understanding of dementia and Al;zheimer's. Dementia is an umbrella term covering separate illnesses that can all lead to problems with thinking and memory, Alzheimer's disease, one form of dementia, is closely associated in our culture with the indignities of old age---helplessness, confusion and decline. A defining moment came years ago when an elderly man in a nursing home told her, "I'm a stranger in a strange land."                                                                                                    Ramsey explores the needs of dementia patients, such basic qualities as respect, dignity and hope. And she shows caregivers "how the Holy Spirit can awaken their imagination and understanding while they discover how to live with dementia."
            She would add one word to the traditional funeral liturgy, to read: "..neither death nor life nor dementia...will be able to separate us from the love of God" Her comment is that "there is no way that dementia is going to get the last word or separate us from God's love."
            The 178-page book contains a useful glossary and bibliography of writing on related subjects. It's priced at $18.99. An easy read on a difficult subject.
Eagle Scout builds pathway

            At St. Andrew, Portsmouth, Andrew Peterson, 14, was awarded the Boy Scout rank of
Eagle for completing 38 community service hours, 69 nights of camping and 27.5 hours on an Eagle project of leading volunteers to build a brick pathway (right) connecting the Nancy Hauer Memorial Garden with the front of St. Andrew Church. He is a member of the Order of the Arrow, an active church member and a straight A student.
Ecumenical conference planned
           "Living Unity: Ecumenical Shared Ministries" will be the theme of the annual conference of the North American Academy of Ecumenists (NAAE) at the Cyrstal City Hilton, adjacent to Reagan National Airport, Arlington.
            Papers and presentation will discuss local parishes in which two or more traditions share space, clergy and programming, such as Lutheran-Episcopal joint congregations. A panel discussion will feature members and clergy from a variety of ecumenical congregations discussing their histories and answering questions about "how we do it." A banquet, worship and book table will be offered.
              Registration may be completed at The Academy is an organization of clergy, laity, academics and others passionate about Christian unity, according to Dr. William McDonald, religion professor at Tennessee Weselyan University and pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Vonore, TN, who is president.
Epiphany's Rolling River Rampage
(This report on the vacation Bible school at Epiphany, Richmond, comes from the congregation's newsletter. Pastor Phillip Martin said about half of the 145 youngsters attending came from Epiphany.)
Some River Rampage Participants

          Epiphany's Rolling River Rampage was RIVERTASTIC! We had an incredible ride with 145 VBS students and over 75 adult and youth volunteers! Our river journey taught us to Find Adventure, Acceptance, Joy, Rest and Peace as we Experience the Ride of a Lifetime with God!
          Through crafts, songs, games, music, science and snacks, we had so much fun learning about Jesus interacting with people he met and how the encounters changed their lives. And this year we encountered many new and familiar faces on our river journey with participants ranging from 15 months to 95 years old!
          Rafting on the River can make one quite hungry so each day we collected a specified food item for our "Grubmaster" to feed the hungry rafters! We collected 762 pounds of dry cereal, peanut butter, canned tomatoes, canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned meat and macaroni and cheese! The food has been distributed to HOPE and LAMB's Basket.
          There are not enough ways to say "Thank You!" to all the amazing volunteers, adults and youth who made thisan incredible faith-filled week as we immersed ourselves in the waters of God's love. Thank you for the many hours you spent preparing and leading our children. Our VBS Rolling River Rampage directing team spent countless hours planning and preparing for a fun, safe and successful week-Thank you Kirsty Anderson, Annnette Bates, Karen Myers and Casey Stapleton! Thank you to everyone in our congregation! Whether you decorated, donated supplies, let us use your camping equipment or kept us in your prayers throughout the week, we could not do it without you! Thank you!
          We are already looking forward to VBS 2019: To Mars and Beyond: Explore Where God's Power Can Take You!
"God's Work, Our Hands"
            Across the Synod, plans and schedules are under way for the annual God's Work, Our Hands service projects, usually in the weekend of Sept. 8-9. A variety of projects is expected to reinforce the reality that "You work every day to make your community a better place," according to the ELCA website.
            A sampling of the projects planned:
            At Holy Trinity, Wytheville, volunteers will participate in a camp work day at Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center, near Marion. They will be clearing the site of Hillside Chapel from overgrowth and downed trees in preparation for its renovation.
            In a Morning of Hope event, a team from Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach, will join other Lutherans at Mount Trashmore in a walk to raise awareness of depression and suicide. On Sunday, the congregation will create blessing bags, used by street people to contain bottled water, socks, toiletry items, tissues, tooth paste and snacks.
            Volunteers at St. Mark, Charlottesville, St. Mark's, Roanoke, and other places will be assembling birthday party kits for the adult, developmentally challenged residents of Lutheran Family Services community and students at Minnick Schools. Charlottesville workers also will shop and stock food for clients of Loaves and Fishes and fill bags for groceries.
            In Richmond, volunteers at Epiphany are collecting items purchased with Thrivent Action Team funds for people recovering from substance use disorder.
            Members of Our Saviour, Richmond, will work on their 20th annual Craft Fair. Offering arts, crafts, canned and baked goods and re-purposed furniture.
            Members of Salem, Mount Sidney, will go to Waynesboro to prepare food bags to be sent around the world in a Rise Against Hunger project.
Pastor Cameron P. Keyser dies at 67
           Pastor Cameron P. Keyser, 67. died on Aug. 10 in a Winchester hospital after a struggle with lung cancer. He had served at Trinity, Stephens City, for seven years.
            A native of Charleston, WVA, he was a second career pastor. He graduated from State University of New York and worked in broadcasting for 20 years. He graduated from Southern Seminary, was ordained in 1993 and served at Good Shepherd, Mt. Holly, NC; St. Peter's, Pawley's Island, SC and St. Matthew's, Charleston, SC, and as interim pastor at St. Luke's,Charlotte, NC, and Gloria Dei, before he was called to Trinity.
            Surviving are his wife, Ronda Ann Walker Keyser; a son, Christopher Keyser, and a daughter, Ashley Lin, and four grandchildren. A memorial service was conducted by Bishop Bob Humphrey and Pastor David Young on Aug. 18.
Record 582 freshmen enter Roanoke College
            Roanoke College welcomed a record-breaking freshman class of 582 students from 28 states on Aug. 25. They began their education with a traditional induction ceremony when they became Maroons by signing a record book.
            Starting Sunday, Aug. 26, the freshmen worked in shifts on a Habitat house at a college parking lot next to the track. They traveled by bus to downtown Roanoke for a night at local restaurants. An additional 54 transfer students came to the orientation. Six high school valedictorians were among the freshmen.
            The previous record number of freshmen was 566 in 2007.
Meaningful events in Charlottesville
by Pastor Sandy Wisco

(Retired Pastor Sandy Wisco reflects on events in Charlottesville a year after proposed removal of a statue turned violent.")
            The A12 (August 12, 2017) anniversary in Charlottesville was packed with meaningful events of interfaith worship of gratitude, forgiveness, and hope, a Shabbat service at Congregation Beth Israel that was packed with people of all faiths, singing (lots of singing), prayer, peaceful gatherings, more singing, a healing and repair service, some training and some reflection, some shouting and marching, some expressions of dissatisfaction with the overabundance of police and thankful expressions to and for the protective presence of the police.
            I'm very happy to say that I did not see anyone identifying as a Nazi anywhere. That was the biggest and best change from last year: no visible self-identified Nazis with weapons walking the streets and spewing hate messages.
            However, let's not be complacent. Much repair is still needed and many more conversations need to continue or begin among all in the diverse community of Charlottesville. We need to examine our own hearts. Racism is real, active, and harmful and racism is destructive for all of humanity. One motto seen around town was LOVE over Fear. Love, equality and reform were recurring themes that I saw and heard in the conversations and song and on tee shirts.
            Orion, a street busker, invited a few of us peace-keepers to become his choir and we sang our hearts out as the community gathered around and sang along. Did I mention there was singing? It's a wonderful tool to connect people into one voice. We have our (you have your) work to do to define and implement change to create real equality and a just society for all people of all skin tones and colors and abilities and nationalities and sexual orientation. (AKA - love our neighbors)
            One of our democratic ways towards change (or status quo) is by voting...... putting your voice to work on a ballot. We need to 'be informed voters' was one message I heard several times at the NAACP meeting. Let's help get the vote out. Help people give voice by voting. Let your life and vote speak your beliefs.
            The week finished with the Cville Sing-Out that rocked the rafters of Mt. Zion African Baptist Church. Thanks be to God for the healing and the love that happened this A12 weekend through the work of the Charlottesville Clergy Collective, Congregate Cville, the many clergy and faith leaders who took on leadership roles, the First United Methodist Church that made their building available for respite and safety and resources, and many local groups who pooled their resources ....and the list goes on and on. The city and state leaders, it seemed to me, worked together much more effectively this year....and this year, no visible Nazis. Thanks be to God. With joy and thanksgiving,   
Service Projects at the Water's Edge
             A report on the service projects of 35 youth and adults in the annual At the Water's Edge event for rising 7th-9th graders comes from the newsletter of Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach. They had a week of service, learning, worship and fun.
      Highlights of the July event:
            >Packing over 11,000 meals of beans and pasta through Operation Blessing.
            >Working with the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia to prepare fresh produce.
            >Helping People in Need Ministry and For Kids in their mission to serve individual  and families experiencing homelessness and poverty.
             >Participating in a simulation on the impact of government policies on the Racial  Wealth Gap.
             >Hearing about the ELCA's Young Adults in Global Mission program from two  YAGM alums.  
             >Our annual Compassion Walk, where participants get a small taste of what it means for the homeless who often must walk miles to access food and basic services.
Women encouraged at convention
          "Let Us Encourage" was the theme of the Virginia Synodical Women's Organization (VSWO) Convention held August 3-4, at Bethel Lutheran in Winchester. There was a new format for the event this year. All the business was completed on Friday afternoon followed by a gathering for the remainder of the weekend, patterned after the Virginia Synod youth everts.
          Pastor David Young, pastor at Bethel, brought greetings to the group and led opening devotions for the business sessions on Friday afternoon.   Pastors Cheryl Griffith, St. Stephen, Williamsburg; Karen Van Stee,St. Mary Pine, Mt. Jackson, and Heidi Young, Bethel, led the women in worship and learning. Bishop Bob Humphrey brought greetings on behalf of the Synod and reminded the group how important women have been and continue to be in the life of the church.
            During the business session these officers and board members were elected: Judy Wilfong, vice president; Judy Casteele, secretary; and board members Bonnie Mannta and Theresa Thomas. Continuing on the board are Jody Smiley, president; Edith Blake, treasurer; Sylvia Eley, Ellen Greene, Linda Lowry, and Michelle Poore, board members.
            Convention participants enjoyed meeting and hearing from Churchwide Representative Lydia D├ívila, executive board member and past president of the Caribbean Synod Women's Organization, and Gabriela Contreras, director for meeting planning. She briefly recapped the 2017 Triennial Convention in Minnesota and heightened the anticipation for the 2020 Triennial in Phoenix.
            Awareness Sessions presented included an Ice Breaker activity, a Bible Study based on Hebrews led by Pastor Heidi Young, "Steps for Encouraging One Another" presented by Judy Wilfong, and "Empowering the mind, body and spirit to encourage others through rhythm" offered by music therapist Becky Watson. Each session was interactive, engaging participants' minds, bodies and spirits in a variety of activities.
            Service projects for 2018 included making walker caddies and non-skid socks for residents of nursing homes and rehab facilities selected by each unit. Representative samples only were brought to Convention, and units reported a total of 265 caddies and 120 pairs of socks given to local recipients. With an unusually large number of natural disasters occurring in 2017-18, the VSWO's global project was once again personal health kits for distribution by Lutheran World Relief. The items for kits were gathered in local units and then assembled at Convention. A total of 266 kits were prepared, and "leftover" items were shared with some units' individual food and care ministries.  
In addition to the service projects, the offerings received were as follows: Worship Offering: $1662, 50% designated for VSWO and 50% designated to Women of the ELCA. Love Offering: $1302, divided between WATTS (Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter) and CCAP (Congregational Community Action Program). WATTS provides temporary shelter and other services to the homeless. CCAP offers a food pantry and clothing distribution.   There was a raffle for Women of the ELCA item with the proceeds going to the Betty Wilson Triennial Scholarship. The raffle raised $270 for the fund.
            Next year's 2-day convention/gathering will be held at First Lutheran Church in Norfolk on August 9-10. Details for the event can be found in upcoming "Visions" newsletters and the VSWO website,




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