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                                                                                             APRIL 2017
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

Muhlenburg quilts dedicated
The pews of Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, were filled with dozens of home-made quilts on the annual Quilt Dedication Sunday, March 26.  As the Chimes newsletter explained: "We will worship surrounded with the handmade "comforts" on each pew and bless them before they are sent to warm and bless people locally and around the world.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Bishop's column-Living and Dying
ELCA's Padilla to oversee bishop's election
Bold Women celebrated
Bring on the children's books
Pine Ridge condominiums sold out
Katie Price dies at 33
Labor leader honored
Luther and the Jews
Mission work on a volcano island
Palms to go
Reformation play to be staged
Three anniversaries to be celebrated
Lutherans in the news
           Pastor Wanda Childs, a North Carolina native who has served at St. Luke, Beckley, WV for 18 years, has accepted a call to Our Saviour, Christiansburg. Retired Pastor Paul Henrickson has been interim pastor there since Pastor Fred Hodges moved to eastern Virginia.  Childs, who has three sons at West Virginia University, formerly served German Lutheran Church in the Susquehanna Synod.  She holds degrees from Furman University and Southeastern Theological Seminary and she studied at Southern Seminary. She has been a church organist, mental health chaplain and federal prison chaplain and she lived in Brazil for two years. Her parents, Doris and Lawrence Childs live in Hillsville
            A Festival of Luther Hymns celebrating the 500 th anniversary of the Reformation, will be held on Pentecost Sunday, June 4, at 4 p.m. at Grace. Winchester. The leaderswill be Dr. Paul Weber, retired director of the a cappella choir of Lenoir-Rhyne University, and his wife, Florence Jones, an accomplished organist. A combined group of choirs will sing and a reception will follow.
            A new organ installed at Trinity Ecumenical Parish in January will be dedicated on Wednesday, April 19, at 7 p.m. with a recital by Aaron Garber, director of music ministry at Trinity.
            A new organ at Mount Nebo , Rochelle, was given by Joyce Kipps "to the glory of God and for the enrichment of worship."
Members of Bethel , Winchester, have been asked to support a capital campaign to build a Shalom Home for Girls in Batlagundu, India, a mission partner of Bethel. The girls, homeless since the 2004 tsunami, have been living in limited, rental space. Bethel members have been invited to spend Good Friday on such work projects as cleaning and simple repairs for people in the community who need a helping hand. A Global Mission Fair offering information about missions the congregation supports in the Philippines, India and Tanzania will be held April 23.
On Wednesdays in  Lent, Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, is offering "This is most certainly true," reflections on Luther's Small Catechism along with music by Bach. An early piano and voice recital will be given at Holy Trinity on Sunday, April 2, at 4 p.m. by Dr. Patrick Hawkins, director of music at Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church, West Columbia, S.C., and Dr. Brittnee Siemon, professor of voice at Brevard College.
On Sunday, May 7, The Book Club of First, Norfolk, will discuss "Seeking Refuge," a portrait of the plight of refugees and the opportunity "we have to love our neighbors as ourselves." Matthew Soerens, co-author of the book, will speak at a public forum at First Presbyterian Church, Norfolk, on Sunday, April 23, co-sponsored by First Lutheran.
Glade Creek, Blue Ridge, will be the charter organization for Boy Scout Troop 136 and Cub Pack 136,  once sponsored there years ago. Both returning units will meet on Tuesdays.
Youths from Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach, joined other Lutheran youth around Tidewater and Richmond for a Hunger Rumble in which they fasted for a day and participated in learning and service activities around the theme of hunger. The Ocean Lakes High School Chamber Orchestra will present a spring concert at Good Shepherd on Sunday, April 23.
Messiah, Mechanicsville, is collecting creative pictures for its "Traveling Martin Luther" contest. Children have been offered a cardboard standing Luther figure to accompany them during Lent and through Reformation Sunday next fall. Participating families will receive additional items each month to help their children grow in knowledge of Luther and the Reformation. Messiah is one of five Hanover County congregations hosting a monthly 500 Years of the Reformation speaker series. On April 27, at 7 p.m., Joe Lenow, a doctoral candidate in religion at the University of Virginia, will speak at Messiah.
Lutheran youth in the 6 th grade and older in the Blacksburg area will meet for a Fools for Christ Lock-In at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, on Friday and Saturday,  April 5-6.
In a late report on Winter Celebration, Jean Getz, St. Paul's, Jerome Parish, w rote, "I liked seeing both old and new friends! We met in both small and large groups. Our theme this year was from Psalm 121. Throughout the weekend, we focused on hearing the echo, God's voice, not only while we walked the ridgeline but anywhere!"

Falling and not afraid
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton 
 Our living and our dying
are great mysteries.

            Not long ago a young reporter contacted me wanting to talk about death. She had suddenly come to the realization that she would one day die. She wanted to know what happens to us when we die, was there life after death and what did Scripture say about heaven? These are meta-questions.
            I know how I felt when I was 28. I didn't want to die. My whole life was ahead of me. I couldn't accept that there was a limit to my time on earth. And there was a bit of a fear factor. What would happen to me? What if there was not a resurrection? Would death be painful? Did my life have meaning? I felt a little guilty about these doubts and fears because I was already ordained-I should be steadfast in my faith and have no doubts about my ultimate future. But I did.
            Here is what I learned from my experience at that time in my life: Life is precious and beautiful and, even in its painfulness, something to be fiercely protected. Also, doubt is not the opposite of faith but is part of faith. Doubt and questions can lead us to clearer understanding and deeper faith.
            Based on our tradition's conviction that it is God's gracious will to be merciful, that God intends good for all people and all creation, that no amount of good deeds or of bad will determine God's relationship with us, or our eternal future-this is God's work, God's grace-I tried to answer the reporter's questions.
            Lutheran Christians do believe in life after this earthly one. Paul wrote: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his (Romans 6:3-5).
            There are many passages in Scripture that speak about heaven-beautiful descriptions of reconciled humanity singing praises to God, the end of mourning and crying and pain and death, and the beauty of the heavenly city. And we hear God's fulfilled promise: "See, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:5). 
            Our living and our dying are great mysteries. The images of heaven we read in Scripture are the best and inspired efforts of the finite to describe the infinite. Human language and understanding are too small. But I am sure of this: God is love. God's love is infinite and complete. In this life we only get a foretaste of that. When our earthly life is done we will be enfolded in that love and loved completely by the one who knows us completely.
              Paul put it this way: "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known"        (1 Corinthians 13:12).
          My spiritual director told me this story. There was a woman who missed her footing in the dark and fell out of an open hotel room window. She clung desperately to the ledge all night, only to see at sunrise that she was 6 inches from the ground the whole time.
Our lives are like that-trying to hold on no matter what, not believing that God is there ready to receive us.
            I thought about that for a while and only later came to realize that I am falling and not afraid. I don't know what will come next in this life. I can't definitively describe heaven. But I do know that my life is in God's hands. 

A monthly message from the presiding bishop
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Her email address is
ELCA executive Rev. Raphael Padilla
     to oversee election of synod bishop  
"Ambassadors for Christ: Forwarding Faith" will be the theme of the historic Virginia Synod Assembly meeting in the Bast Center at Roanoke College on June 8-11. A highlight of the annual gathering of more than 500 voting members will be the election of a successor to retiring Bishop Jim Mauney, who has held the post for three six-year terms. At least 100 visitors are expected to attend also.
              The Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for the ELCA Division for Global Mission will oversee the election, starting with the first ballot on Friday afternoon. Padilla, a frequent visitor to the Synod, will also be the official ELCA representative for the assembly. He oversees a global program in approximately 70 countries with 309 missionaries and volunteers, a staff of 47 in Chicago and an annual budget of $28.2 million. Padilla also will report on the work of the ELCA.
              The assembly will have four minor themes: Globally, Ecumenically, Into the Future and Into Our Daily Living.  They will be carried out in worship led by Navy Chaplain Carl Trost, who will be the assembly chaplain.
              For the election of a bishop, after the first nominating ballot, the top seven persons nominated and any tied will be on the second ballot, explained Skip Zubrod, who handles arrangements for the assembly. Before a third ballot, the top seven persons nominated for bishop will speak for five minutes. The top three will answer questions if a fourth ballot is required. And if a fifth ballot is needed, it will have two names. Meetings have been held throughout the synod to explain the election process..
              Other elections will be held for five seats on the Synod Council, 12 to be elected to the Committee on Discipline and eight for the Committee on Consultation. A banquet honoring retiring Bishop Mauney will be held at the new Cregger Center on Friday night. Mauney will preach at the festive Saturday night service at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke.
Bold Women celebrated 
              Bold Women of the Reformation were celebrated by members of Martin Luther Evangelical Lutheran in Bergton on Feb. 19.  Four women were portrayed in costume through brief monologues.
              Marge Peevy appeared as Katharina Schutz; Barbara Stover played the role of Argula von Grumbach; Carole Terry was Olivia Fulvia Morata, and Faye Smith was Katharina Von Bora. The service and quotes were a project of Pastor Barbara Krumm of Martin Luther and a fellow seminarian, Pastor Donna Rutman of Peace Lutheran, Poplar, Wis. Information about using the service is available from Pastor Krumm at
(At left) Marge Peevy as Katharina Schutz (lady in red hat);
Barbara Stover acted as Argula von Grumbach
Bring on the children's books
A Harrisonburg reader
What do Alexander Bopp, Frankie Pickle and the crew of the space ship Tunafish have in common? All are story book characters in book series that kids simply love. And how could they not love books with titles like "Champ of the Meat-Eating Vegetables" or "Space Penguins-Meteor Madness" or "Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom"?
Students at the Harrisonburg Minnick School moved into their new Virginia Avenue location in September but they still need a library to supplement smaller, well-worn collections in class rooms. The school, one of five Minnick schools managed by Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, has about 30 students who need extra behavioral and academic assistance.
The school will happily accept donations of the books and is hoping that the library will be completed in time for the beginning of the next school year. To make it as easy as possible for students to receive new books, an Amazon Wish List has been set up just for the Harrisonburg Minnick School.
12 Pine Ridge condominiums 
        sold out at Brandon Oaks

            A ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening for Pine Ridge, 12 luxury condominiums at Brandon Oaks Life Plan Community was held on March 23. Visitors  took a tour of the newest addition to the campus.
              The new project is sold out, indicating the popularity of this type of accommodation in the senior living industry. Twenty-two new residents came from all over Virginia, including Roanoke, Botetourt County, Smith Mountain Lake, Mississippi and even New Zealand, according to Carter Hanna, director of sales and marketing for Brandon Oaks.
              Other growth here in recent years has included Pine Crest in 2010, opening of a state-of-the-art rehabilitation expansion at Brandon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in 2014 and opening of home and health care in the greater Roanoke community.
              Joe Hoff, Brandon Oaks executive director, said, "As a well respected provider of senior living and health care, it is our duty to provide the best quality living accommodations for our current and future residents. Our continued growth is proof of our commitment to hospitality and innovation in senior living."
Katie Price dies at 33
              Katherine Ann "Katie" Price, 33, daughter of Assistant to the Bishop, retired Pastor Chris and Terry Price of Midlothian, died March 20 after a long struggle with addiction.
              The funeral was held at Hebron, Madison, with burial in the church cemetery. Synod Bishop Jim Mauney preached the funeral sermon. In many condolences, she was mentioned for "the ways she touched others' lives through her compassion, generosity and sensitivity."
              Also surviving are her sister and brother-in-law, Megan and Robert Ragusa, and a niece, Stella Ragusa. Memorial gifts may be made to the McShin Foundation, Richmond, or to the synod's campaign.   
Labor leader honored 
Doris Crouse-Mays (left) with Melissa Swain and Larry Crouse at the Rural Retreat reception.
Doris Crouse-Mays, president of Virginia AFL-CIO and a Rural Retreat native with connection to Grace Rural Retreat, is one of eight Women in History recognized by the Library of Virginia. She was honored at a reception at Grace on March 24.
              The Library recognized the achievements of women, past and present, who have contributed to the history of the state.  Crouse-Mayes is the first woman to hold an executive office with the state labor organization.  She started work as a telephone operator and joined the labor movement as a shop steward and worked for several unions before she became Virginia field director for the national AFL-CIO in 1997. She also served as state coordinator for the AFL-CIO political program and as political director and secretary-treasurer of the state organization.
Luther and the Jews  
            Luther's contradictory stance toward the Jews.

             The history of a "multi-faceted and changeable Luther" was traced by a Chicago Jewish scholar on the topic, "A Lenten Penitence: Martin Luther and the Jews," at Roanoke College on March 14.  The lecture was part of the college's Reformation 500 series.
              Dr. Dean Bell of the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership talked about the nature of anti-Judaism in medieval Christianity and in the time of Luther. He reported Luther's early support for the Jews and later strong opposition. Dr. Paul Hinlicky of the college's religion faculty responded with a report on the recent statement of repentance issued by two German church bodies on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
              Talking about "the good Luther," Bell quotes Luther: "If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads (fools, the popes, bishops, sophists and monks) govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian. They have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs, rather than human beings." Luther even suggested that "I might perhaps win some Jews to the Christian faith."
              But in his later years, Luther's language toward the Jews turned extremely harsh. In his "unfortunate" recommendations, he gave a seven-point program for dealing with the Jews: "synagogues should be burned, houses should be razed and destroyed, idolatrous prayer books should be taken, rabbis should be forbidden from teaching; privileges of safe conduct should be abolished, their monetary possession should be confiscated and they should be forced to earn their keep by the sweat of their brow."
              In response, Hinlicky told of a recent Declaration from the 12th Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany and the bishops' conference of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany which stated that the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is "an opportunity to take further steps of repentance and renewal" for Luther's comments about the Jews. The Germans said the Declaration "exemplifies the necessary acknowledgment of Luther's sin against the Jews."
              The Declaration spoke of Luther's "contradictory stance toward the Jews" and the challenge "of not falling into disparaging anti-Judaic stereotypes."
              In 1994, an ELCA Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations prepared a statement in which "the church repudiated Luther's anti-Semitic writings" and later spoke of the need "to foster sensitivity to Jewish-Christian relationships both in North America and globally."       
Mission work on a volcano island

A team of seven people from  Zion,Waynesboro, spent the week of Feb. 18 in service, fellowship with children, youth and adults in Nicaragua on a second annual mission trip to Nicaragua. They were partners with the Nicaragua Christian Children's center on Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua.
              The center is a home for 25 abused, abandoned and at-risk children and a school for them and 45 local children. Team members were Tom Dewan, retired Pastor Mark and Tami Radecke, from Zion; Libby Sieber from Christ, Roanoke, and Kristin Einsel, JC Owens and Noelle Markle, alumni and staff members from Susquhanna University, where Pastor Radecke was chaplain and religion professor, 1997-2013.
              In addition to enjoying the company of residents and students, the team worked with local foremen tiling new bathrooms for the school and constructing a breezeway to provide shade in the hot, dry season and shelter during the rainy season. Using portable dental equipment purchased with funds from the 2016 trip, dentist Owens and dental hygienist Sieber provided dental care for all of the childrin the residential program and school. They also saw a number of workers at the center.
A happy group of Nicaraguan children
 and parents pose for a picture
             Almost 100 patients received cleanings, sealants, fillings, extractions and lessons on oral hygiene. Dra Melida Luna, a local dentist, helped provide care for two days and will provide follow-up care. The team also provided temporary employment for three foremen, two translators and a van driver in a country where under-employment approaches 55 percent.
              The group brought only children's vitamins and new cotton underwear,  items difficult to find or afford on the rural volcano island, because they were aware that bringing donated goods can have negative effects on the livelihood of local merchants who lose potential sales.
              The group accompanied the children to a local beach for a Sunday afternoon of fun, visited a coffee cooperative and stopped on their way to the airport at several towns and cities, as well as peering into the lava flow of the active Masaya volcano that erupted last year.
Palms to go in Stephens City
             After offering Ashes-to-Go for about 30 people on Ash Wednesday, Pastor Cameron Keyser of Trinity, Stephens City, plans to share Palms-to-Go on Palm Sunday morning from 8:30 to 9:15. Members of Trinity will distribute palms and an explanation card to passing drivers on Rt. 11. The card explains the background and tradition of Palm Sunday and lists the church's worship and fellowship schedule.
              Keyser said evangelism style has changed. "We don't knock on doors or button-hole shoppers in the mall. Instead, we look for non-intimidating ways to introduce ourselves and the Christian gospel to our neighbors.              
Reformation play to be staged at three churches    
Pastor James Cobb holds his play.
             "Reformation's Rib," a play related to the 500 th anniversary of the Reformation, was written by Pastor James Cobb and it will be presented at St. Stephen, Williamsburg, Trinity, Newport News, and St. Mark, Yorktown.
              The 30-minute play can be used as a sermon chancel drama or a dinner theater format. It can be read by three people---a narrator, Katie Luther and Martin Luther. The play is available from CSS Publishing. 
Gathering food for the hungry 

Eager youngsters at the 7 th Day event at Eagle Eyrie lined up to collect food for a Lynchburg food pantry.

Three anniversaries to be celebrated April 29-30    
            Three anniversaries will be celebrated at historic Hebron, Madison, on the weekend of April 29-30. Rostered leaders have been invited to a Gathering of the Ministerium on Saturday to mark the 500 th anniversary of the Reformation, the 300 th anniversary of Virginia Lutherans at Hebron and the 175 th anniversary of Roanoke College. Hebron congregation will observe its 300 th anniversary on Sunday.
              ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and Bishop Jim Mauney will speak both days. President Michael Maxey of Roanoke College will talk on Saturday about the beginning of the college in Augusta County 175 years ago. Pastor Patti Covington of Hebron will speak of her congregation's 300th anniversary on Saturday and participate in the worship service on Sunday.
              Other  features of the Sunday observance will be a history of the congregation by retired Pastor William Hall, who served there from 1970 to 1980, a presentation of the church's 1802 organ, exhibits of the church glebe contract and land patents of early German families and a box lunch.




Editor:  George Kegley   
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