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                                                                                          JANUARY 2019  
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

VICPP merges with
environmental body
            Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Poliicy (VICPP) has merged with Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, state affiliate of a national organization dedicated to bringing together all faith communities to mobilize a religious response to climate change through energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.Their merged goal is to advocate social, justice across the state.
            A VICPP report said that this new partnership "strengthens our commitment to environmental issues and helps to magnify the impact of our two well-known and effective faith-based advocacy organizations."
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
A college play about faith.
Transforming Community at 2019 camp.
Be safe in Norfolk
He keeps his eye on the prize
Wilsons report on events in Japan
28 girls are Scout Troop
Rostered females will meet.
Redeemer, Pearisburg, holds closing service
Goodlatte gives portrait.
LARCUM partners gather
Tastes like Epiphany.
Lutherans in the news
Julie Swanson  with Hurunessa Fariad
              Julie Swanson, news retired chief executive of Lutheran Family Services, has been elected president of the board of Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Swanson, in photo with Hurunessa Fariad, outreach interfaith coordinator for the All Dutiesea Muslim Society in Virginia, is a member of Christ, Roanoke. She was elected at the annual VICPP meeting in Richmond. The center plans its annual Day for All People at the General Assembly in Richmond on Jan. 22. Participants will review issues and meet with legislators. Individual registration is $30 before Jan. 1.  
Dr. Cynda Johnson
            Dr. Cynda Johnson, St. Philip, Roanoke, has been honored on retirement as founding dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke. She was recognized as a "champion of research-intensive education (and one who has) personally influenced more than 200 Virginia Tech Carilion physician graduates (who are) reaching hundreds of thousands of patients around the globe." She was commended by the Clinic for her "thoughtful leadership." At St Philip, Dr. Johnson was described as "a faithful member," who serves on a search team for a pastor.
             Dr. Paul and Ellen Hinlicky, College Lutheran, Salem,  have received the Virginia BNP (Best Management Practices) Forestry Award for their work on 100 acres at St. Gall Farm, "rejuvenated, stable and protected soils and farmland" in the Catawba Valley of Roanoke County. Paul Hinlicky, recognized for accomplishments in forestry and wildlife conservation, continues as Tice Professor of Religion at Roanoke College.           
            Another farm recognized for protection of soil and water is owned by the family of nity,  Wythe "Bucky" Sharitz, Holy Trinity,  Wytheville. David, Dan and Jacob Sharitz received the Virginia   Clean Water Farm Grand Basin Award, as nominated by the Big Walker Soil and Water District. Jacob Sharitz is a sixth generation farmer.
            Pastor Bill Stewart, Charlottesville, is completing his service as mobility consultant, helping locate and evaluate potential pastor and deacon candidates outside the Synod. Becky Walls, Synod call process coordinator, oversees the congregations and candidates engaged in the call process. She is available at 540-389-1000 for questions about retirement, supply preaching, interim ministry, professional mobility or congregational transitions.
            First Lutheran, Norfolk, will celebrate its 125th anniversary on May 19 under the theme, "On Our Way Rejoicing." Special events will "feature a community that knows we are built on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ and that our past and present moves us forward with joy," according to The Contact, newsletter.          
            The congregation of Grace, Chesapeake, has been invited to the wedding of Pastor Leslie Scanlon and Jacob Weber at First Lutheran, Norfolk, on Saturday, Jan. 12.
            Retired Pastor Ken Ruppar, Richmond, has been interviewed twice by Living Lutheran magazine and he said he was accepted by the Secret Service. He volunteers with Chesterfield Police Department.
            Edy McGoff, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, is the new parish nurse at Bethel, Winchester. She served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
            Remington Willis, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, is serving as a member of the Lutheran Episopal Volunteer Network in California.           
            On Jan. 19, a dozen members of Christ the King, Richmond, and six friends will travel to El Salvador for the congregations's sixth mission trip working on two homes for a Humanity/Thrivent global village project near the City of Santa Anna and on the home of a sister congregation , Iglesa Luterano Cristo Rey.
            Betty Bowers  and her daughter, Lavelva Stevens, Trinity, Pulaski, obtained a
grant from Thrivent Financial to buy 12 new coats for the Rescue Mission in Roanoke.
            Grace, Winchester, was the host for Peter Mayer. guitarist and singer, in a concert on his annual Stars and Promises Christmas tour on Dec. 12. The theme was "A Junkman's Christmas.:
            At Resurrection, Arlington, the Hospitality Team asked members. "Are you planning to spend holidays alone?" If they knew of someone who would be alone on a special day as a host or a guest, they were asked to sign a "Holiday Gathering" sheet.
            St. Philip. Roanoke, will open a monthly Faith in Real Life adult forum with a video message by ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on how her faith has impacted her daily life. Another speaker will be Penny Felts, owner of a coffee firm.
            On Epiphany Sunday, Holy Trinity, Wytheville, plans a potluck meal and games with a collection of quilts and blankets to be sent to an area of California evacuated by recent fires.
            Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, will bid farewell to two interim pastors,the Rev. Mark Radecke and the Rev. Paul Weber on Dec. 31. An offering will be donated to a Children's School in Nicaragua in honor of Radecke and to the a capella choir at Lenoir-Rhyne University for Weber. Pastor Lauren Miller has accepted a call to serve at Muhlenberg. The congregation celebrated its 170th anniversary on Dec. 16 with a hymn written by Pastor Weber.

A college play about faith
            "The Christians," a play about faith in America, will be presented by Theatre Roanoke at Antrim Chapel on the  Roanoke College campus Jan. 18-19, at 7:30 p.m. The staged reading, co-Sponsored by College Chaplain Chris Bowen, will have talkbacks by local pastors.
            Among other events at the college in the new year will be a multimedia presentation of "Quartet for the End of Time," in the "Reflections on Eternity" concert series" by the Kandinsky Trio on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at Olin Theater.
            On Monday, Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Day, Dr. Brad Braxton, director for the study of African American Religious Life and supervisory curator of religion at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, will speak at 7:30 in the college's Wortman Ballroom.
            A lecture on "Human Exploration from Earth to Mars: Becoming Interplanetary,"
will be given Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 pm.m. at Antrim Chapel by Dr. Dava Newman, Apollo Program professor of aeronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
            Beth Macy, Roanoke author, will talk about her popular book, "Dopesick, " on the opiod crisis, on  Wedensday, Fev. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Bast Center. 

Transforming Community at 2019 camp
            "Transforming Community" will be the theme for the 2019 camp season at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center. The theme verse is Romans12:2:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God...what is good and acceptable and perfect.
            The season runs seven weeks from June 23 to Aug. 9. New this summer are specialty camps: History Camp, Bike Hike Zip Camp, Hammock Hangout, Performing Arts Camp and Archery, Caving, Fishing Camp. Other features are a Synod Confirmation Camp, June 16-21; a Family Camp-out trip on the Shenandoah River, July24-26 and a Family Camp, July 30-Aug. 2. A half-week option is available for Family and Explore camps. Discounts include $15 off for early registration by March 1, a sibling reduction of $25 for registrations $25 to $50 o after the first camper and off for multi-week registrations. Information is available at

Be safe in Norfolk
            In an end-of-the-year message to members of First, Norfolk, Pastors Rick Goeres and Cathy Mims said in part:
            307 is the number of mass shootings in the United States this year. We mourn for those who died and pray for the injured, the families and all affected by the violence. Our hearts ache with our siblings in faith who gather for worship (Pennsylvania), exercise (Florida) and cheer for their favorite college teams (California). In the midst of our fear and sadness, we also wonder about our own safety when we gather with others at worship, work or play.
            Our Council and Executive Committee have explored matters related to active shooter situations. We encourage everyone to be mindful of where exits are in the buildings you occupy. Run. Hide. Fight is the refrain for the best practice that comes from experts in the area of safety.

He keeps his eye on the prize
     by Pastor Dwayne Westermann, President
          Godparents for Tanzania, Inc.
Wilfred sporting a pair of sunglasses he received at last year's annual student interview. His sunglasses reflect his hope for the future (look closely).
            He is single-minded. He keeps his eye on the prize. The prize for Wilfred Thomas Erro is a college education.
            When I first met Wilfred, he was around 12 or 13. He lived with his grandmother and younger siblings in a remote village. Their one room house was constructed of sticks and mud for walls, a leaky thatch roof, and a dirt floor. No electricity, water, or sanitation.
            Because hyenas often prowl nearby at night, it was Wilfred's job to bring the few animals they owned into their small house overnight, a cow, a few goats and a half-dozen chickens. These were Wilfred's "housemates" as he tried his best to do his homework by the light of a smoky kerosene lantern, or by candles if they couldn't afford the kerosene. He did the necessary clean-up in the mornings as well. Another of our African students visiting with us said, "I didn't know such terrible conditions exit even in my own country!"
            Having just completed primary school, Wilfred was walking three miles a day to the nearest secondary school. Like so many schools in Tanzania, it was overcrowded and under resourced. T here were not enough teachers, desks, or textbooks. Because this was not a school for anyone who wanted to complete his college education, Wilfred jumped at the chance when we were able to offer him a scholarship to a residential secondary school.
Wilfred with his American sponsor, 
            Wilfred is now in Form 6-A Level (equivalent to our first year of college). He will begin college next year and has yet to decide what his major will be. Whatever it is, we have no doubt he will keep his eye on that "prize" with the same commitment, determination, and enthusiasm he has shown so far.
            Yes, indeed, we are proud of you  Wilfred!

G odparents for Tanzania is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides scholarships to promising students in northern Tanzania. For more information including annual Safaris to Tanzania, please visit .

The Wilsons report on events in Japan.
The Wilsons
( Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, her husband, Andrew Wilson, and son, Zeke, reported on their work in Japan in a letter to First English, Richmond, a sponsor. Here are excerpts from the letter.)
            The Wilsons have been in Japan for just about three months now, and it's hard to pack in all that has happened. We've lived through our six or seven typhoons and our first (very modest) earthquake. We've learned how to navigate Shinjuku, the busiest train station on the planet, and squeeze into extremely packed train cars.
         We've managed to grocery shop despite near-total illiteracy and have fallen in love with onigiri, rice balls filled with sour plums or tuna and wrapped in seaweed, which cost all of fifty cents at our local store. There have been many trips to Ikea-and its local equivalents-and we've emptied out countless cardboard boxes, and (best of all) our books are now on the shelves, ready for reading!
             Of course, there is something faintly ridiculous about all the time and effort we've had to put into setting up our new home. The Gospel lesson on Sarah's very first Sunday at Tokyo Lutheran Church was Mark 6, where Jesus sends out his first missionaries: "He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in their belts-but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics."
           We could not possibly have adopted a more opposite strategy! It has served to radically adjust our perspective, however, when the business of moving threatened to overwhelm our consciousness. We are not here for the sake of the house or our comfort or our pleasure. We have been called here to serve, and to serve the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
            The church must be the only organization on earth that hires people for a job when they can't speak the language the job requires! It's an amazing act of trust, and every day we are grateful for it. Andrew started studying Japanese even before we arrived, but now in the immersion situation he has ratcheted up his daily study program. He's even sitting in on religion classes at Japan Lutheran College & Seminary-where we live and eventually he'll teach-and delighted to find that he can already understand a good deal of what's being said... even while being humbled at how far there is to go.  And yet to communicate the gospel, mastery is required, and that's what we're here to do.

28 girls are St. Michael's Scout Troop 158

Ashley Bell took six girls on a a camping trip. She will become the girls' scoutmaster on Feb. 1.
Scout Troop 158 at St. Michael, Blacksburg, is following a new trend---28 girls are among the 100 Scouts registered, a first for scouting!
           "We were first in this region to do this and our St. Michael's program is providing leadership and paving the way as other sponsors follow," according to Ben Crawford,  a leader of the troop. About 30 adults work with the pack for younger youth, troop for middle youth and crew for older youth. Boy Scouts of America is changing the local program name from Boy Scout Troop to Scout Troop.
            Effective Feb. 1, the national program will be renamed the Scout BSA program with the enrollment of girls, according to Jan Hedge Bahn Troop 158 scoutmaster aid the Blacksburg girls were among the first in the nation to enroll. In a few years, the Blacksburg girls will be among the first to participate in the prestigious Eagle scout program.
            In this "significant outreach program," Bohn has been scoutmaster since the troop began 13 years ago. He holds weekly Scout meetings and has outdoor weekend outings every month. Every summer, the Scouts enjoy a week or longer at the 16,000-acre Scout reservation in Pulaski County. Hedge has seen that all adult leaders have youth protection training. Mike Christie, assistant scoutmaster, has led six scouts in the troop to Eagle rank. The congregation has supported the outreach youth program, Crawford said.

Rostered females will meet
         A Synod Rostered Female Gathering is planned for Feb. 24-26 at Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond. The Gathering will open on Sunday at 7 p.m. and continue until Tuesday at 11 a.m. The cost will be covered by special gifts and grants.                                                                                                                                  

Redeemer, Pearisburg, holds closing service
Beaver (left) with Seastrunk
    On Sunday, November 18, Redeemer Lutheran Church in Pearisburg gathered in worship to give thanks for nearly 60 years of ministry and to celebrate their final service as a congregation. The service, which was attended by its founding pastor, the Rev. Charles Seastrunk, and by many former members and friends, provided an opportunity to give thanks to God for Redeemer's presence in the community and to acknowledge all those who shared their gifts to make the ministry of Pearisburg possible. The worship service was followed by a meal provided by the congregation.
            After making the decision to close, the Congregation Council developed a Legacy Plan with the assistance of the Virginia Synod. A Legacy Plan provides an opportunity for the congregation to end well and to give birth to new opportunities for ministry.
            As a part of Redeemer's Legacy Plan, the Bell Tower from the congregation will be moved to Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Christiansburg, items like hymnals and furnishings will be donated to other ministries and the Redeemer Lutheran Church Scholarship will be established at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS). Historical records from the congregation will be donated to the Giles County Historical Society and placed in the James Crumley Archive at the Seminary. The building will be offered for sale and the proceeds will go to the scholarship fund.
           Pastor Buddy Beaver, vice pastor of the congregation, presided and Pastor John Wertz, Director of Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop, preached the sermon.                                                                                                                     

Rep. Goodlatte gives portrait
Portrait of Peter Muhlenberg
The Muhlenberg window
        Retiring 6th District Congresman Bob Goodlatte, donated a portrait of Peter Muhlenberg to Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, at a service on Dec. 23. Goodlatte, accompanied by his wifeMaryellen, is retiring at the end of year after 26 years of service. The congregation is named for Peter Muhlenberg. Goodlatte is a member of the Christian Science church.
             Muhlenberg, a pioneer pastor in the Shenandoah Valley, served at Emmanuel, Woodstock. A stained glass window in Muhlenberg Church depicts the legend of his sermon on Jan. 21, 1776, calling the men of his congregation to serve with him in the Revolutionary War.

Lutherans and LARCUM
partners gather in Charlottesville
by Pastor Eric Moehring

                  (Pastor Moehring is the Synod's ecumenical representative.)

           On November 30 and December 1, Lutherans from the Virginia and Metro-D.C. synods  met at First United Methodist Church, Charlottesville, with those of the Lutheran, Anglican (Episcopal), Roman Catholic, United Methodist (LARCUM) traditions. 
LARCUM participants listening to keynote speaker.
  About 80 laypersons and pastors worshiped, networked and listened to the Rev. Dr.  Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, professor of worship at Boston University, speak on the topic,  Praying, Believing, Doing: An Ecumenism of Liturgy and Life. Once again, there was a contagious spirit of unity, reunion and welcoming of new participants at this LARCUM Conference.
           At 6 pm on Friday a number of participants gathered across from the church at what is now called Market Street Park, the site of a Unite the Right rally and counter-demonstration on August 12, 2017 that ended in violence, injury and the death of one person.
Bishop Humphry (center) served with other bishops.
Bishops from the four faith traditions, including our own Bishop Bob Humphrey, offered prayers for peace, reconciliation, healing, and an end to violence as well as petitions for those who do violence and those who suffer from violence. Mingling with the prayers were the sounds of hope, joy and healing as the Grand Illumination took place a short walk away on the Downtown Mall. As the group prayed, Christmas carols were sung.

Dr. Wester field Tucker spent her session on Friday evening describing how the Bible and the Church through the ages call for a connection of worship, faith and acts towards the neighbor and world. "We believe, so we pray; we pray, so we believe," she said, and noted that the root meaning of the word, "liturgy," is "people's work," which "includes liturgy to the neighbor." She closed her conversation by suggesting that full communion "is to be realized in faith, sacraments and daily life" and that "this is our common witness to the world." Afterwards, the participants gathered for worship and the signing of the LARCUM Covenant by the bishops.
Bishop Humphrey with speaker, Dr. Karen Westerfield Tucker.
On Saturday, Dr. Westerfield Tucker spent time describing worship as a way of speaking with one voice. She asked, "Why not have a common hymnal?" and reminded everyone that the first form of ecumenism was song. "Songs can translate across traditions and can serve to unify. Even using the same places in a song to take a breath proclaims the unity we have in Christ."
           Dr. Westerfield Tucker concluded, "It is helpful to sing songs of justice, reconciliation and peace as a way of celebrating a common Church that believes, prays and acts in one voice." The conference closed by doing just that. The last song in the final worship was a new hymn to most of the participants, Remember and Imagine. It contains the words, "We dream of what we hope for...we long for restoration...we strive for simple healing, but God imagines more." (Text by Adam M. L. Tice; tune by Randall Sensmeier)
           The Virginia LARCUM Conference, a yearly event, usually takes place on the first Friday and Saturday of December.

Tastes like Epiphany
by Pastor Colleen Montgomery
            Food is one of the biggest ways we mark occasions in our culture. Birthday cake. Funeral potatoes. Easter ham. Ascension crab cakes. Thanksgiving turkey. Christmas cookies. Depending on your family, dietary restrictions, and travels, your special occasion foods might look and taste a little different.
           But we all have foods that when we taste them, we say, "Tastes like Christmas." In recent years, I have had fun exploring and developing traditions that make me say, "Tastes like Epiphany."
             Epiphany is the 13th day after Christmas and is the day when the church celebrates the arrival of the wise men to Jesus. In reality, this journey would have taken more than twelve days. Getting from the far east to Ancient Israel would take a long time! It only lands on a Sunday every seven years or so. 2019 is such a lucky year, so we will be doing it up!
            Here's my short list of foods that taste like Epiphany to me:
            -Any food in the shape of a crown. As some translations call the wise men kings, crowns are one of the primary images associated with Epiphany. Crown shaped pizza, cookies, or candies are all appropriate.
            -Any food in the shape of a star or that has a star in it. Since the kings followed the star to find Jesus, stars are another important image of the holiday. Star shaped foods (again pizza, cookies or candies) or foods that have stars in it (such as an apple sliced horizontally to reveal the seeds) are festive choices!
            -Food that represents gold. While frankincense and myrrh are lovely scents, no one wants to eat them or anything that is like them. However, gold is an easier "flavor" to swallow. Chocolate coins or oranges represent this third gift of the wise men. (A chocolate orange would be the best!)
            -King Cake. This is the most important one of all. King Cakes are connected with Spanish and French Catholicism and can be made in a variety of styles with a variety of tokens baked into them. The most basic of King Cakes have one small baby Jesus baked in. Various "blessings" come along with finding baby Jesus such as the promise of a good year or the joy of getting to bake next year's King Cake. I'm going to bake us a simple King Cake in design but with lots of tokens baked in. We'll share it after worship on January 6th.
            I'm looking forward to celebrating Epiphany together and beginning the season of Epiphany together. We'll have eight weeks to explore the ways that Christ reveals his wisdom, power, glory, and grace to all he encounters.
Pastor Colleen Montgomery wrote this column for the newsletter of her congregation,Holy Trinity, Wytheville.




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