Virginia Synod Logo New


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

Nigerians worship
at St. Mark's Roanoke
Flag of Nigeria
            The traditional Sunday morning worship at St. Mark's Roanoke, was "interrupted" on May 27 by a procession of fellow Christians from Nigeria who sang their way up the center aisle, bearing wine for communion. Many clad in colorful native dress came from places as far away as Texas and New Jersey for an annual gathering of African families who have moved to the U.S.
            "There's no doubt that the Holy Spirit is here," said Pastor James Armentrout. The gathering was arranged by Sabina Ugochukwu of St. Mark's.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Camp promises to be exciting!.
Kahill nominated for synod treasurer
Collecting books for Houston.
ELCA faces "dire leadership shortage"
Wertz named to new mission post
Praying around the cross
St. Mark, Yorktown, marks 50 years
LFS announces awards
Lutherans in the news

           Pastor Rachel Manke has accepted a call to serve as associate pastor at St. Mark,  Yorktown. A native of Lincasville, CN,she's a graduate of the University of Rhode Island  and the former Philadelphia Seminary and she served in a mission redevelopment site at  First Lutheran, Malden MA. She did an internship at National Broadcasting Co. and a  Connecticut newspaper. She has been doing ecumenical work in Richmond.
            Pastor Wesley Smith has come from Zion Lutheran, Saddle River, NJ, to serve at  Zion, Waynesboro .
Pastor Bill King
is retiring after 34 years as a member, campus pastor and pastor  at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg. He worked for the ELCA as deployed staff campus  ministry, including service at Virginia Tech. King plans to continue editing the Faith Lens 
publication for the ELCA. Gail King, his wife, has retired from teaching.
Pastor James Larsen will retire from Apostles, Gloucester. July 1. After graduating f
rom the College of William and Mary and a career as a CPA and hospital financial officer, e arned a MDiv degree from Southern Seminary and served at Hebron, Madison, for eight  years and at Apostles 13 years. He was treasurer of the Lutheran Family Services board  a nd an ACTS small group leader. Larsen will continue as treasurer of a free clinic and food pantry.           
            Pastor Linda Motley has announced that she will retire Aug. 31 from the Floyd-Willis Parish after 18 years of service. A graduate of Virginia Tech and Southern Seminary, she earned a master's at JMU, Motley previously served as an associate at Christ, Roanoke, campus minister at the University of South Carolina, director annual giving at Southern Seminary, St. Michael, Blacksburg, Redeemer,. Pearisburg, and at Floyd-Willis for the last nine years. She and her husband, Billy Motley, plan to retire in Panama.
            Pastor Alex Zuber has applied for on leave from call at the Stoneyman Parish-Grace and Beth Eden, Page County. He recently married Renna Nouwairi and she is beginning a Ph.D program at the University of Virginia.
            Pastor Keith Olivier is sharing duties with Pastor Kathleen Miko as co-chaplains for Virginia Lutheran Homes. Olivier follows Pastor Bob Ward, who retired after 20 years with VLH. Olivier and Miko are providing spiritual resources to residents, family members and staff of Brandon Oaks. Olivier said he looks forward to the diversity at Brandon Oaks. "We come from different places but share a unified vision of community, so we're all waking together, all of part of something greater." Heather Neff, president and CEO, said Brandon Oaks residents have benefited from the co-chaplaincy program.                        Diane Milburn, Bethel, Winchester, is hiking the Appalachian Trail to raise money for the Bright Futures-Frederick, Winchester, program supporting a weekend food pack program serving about 900 students in 14 schools. She hopes to raise funds to support food packs in 13 other area schools. A link to her fund-raising page:
            Members of First Lutheran, Norfolk, met on May 20 to write their representatives and senators, encouraging them to urge the immigration services to increase the number of refugees admitted to the United States. Last September, the administration said the U.S. would reduce refugee arrivals to 45,000 for the 2018 fiscal year. At mid-year, fewer than 10,000 had been admitted.
            Pastor Lou Florio, Messiah, Mechanicsville, received a Medal of Merit as part of the National Sheriff's Association Chaplain of the Year Award. He was recognized for his "contribution to your community and the field of law enforcement and criminal justice."
            The congregation of Hebron, Madison, is preparing for the 61sdy annual   conference and reunion of the Germanna Foundation, meeting at Fort Germanna. Participants are descendants of the Germanna settlers who founded Hebron in 1717.
            The summer music series at the Oak Grove Pavilion of Zion, Floyd, will open with a concert by the Whitetop Mountain Band on Saturday, June 13. In more than 20 years, the series has collected over $65,000 in offerings, cake walks and canteen sales for the benefit of a number of Floyd area organizations.
            Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Moneta, is assembling a list of professional helps to be available for seniors who need a particular service. For example, a lawyer might provide legal advice.
            Members of St. Paul's, Jerome, and other congregations have been
preparing Lutheran World Relief personal cadre and baby care kits to be delivered to a collection point in June.

Camp promises to be exciting!
            Summer 2018 at Caroline Furnace promises to be exciting! The theme verse is Ephesians 2:8 - For by GRACE you have been saved through FAITH, and this is not your own doing; it is the GIFT of God. Camper life is centered around building community through daily worship, Bible study, and new experiences. Campers aged 1st through 12th grade can choose from activities such as horseback riding, caving, archery, culinary, backpacking, canoeing, crafting, fishing and more.
            In addition to the excitement of upcoming summer camp, Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center has a new executive director! Tom Powell began his new role at Caroline Furnace on February 1, after years as a summer staff parent, active volunteer, retreat participant and leader, and member of the Board of Directors.
            Tom leads Caroline Furnace with over 32 years of professional leadership experience in the military and the consulting industry. His background in training and adult learning, ability to manage budgets and motivate employee teams, and dedication demonstrated by 20 years of faithful service in the National Guard, have perfectly equipped him to guide Caroline Furnace forward. Combined with his deep personal faith, warm personality, and intimate knowledge of Caroline Furnace, Tom has potential to deepen and expand the ability of Caroline Furnace to serve its communities and spread the good news.
            Campers can expect to see several familiar faces at camp this summer, Laura, Maddie, Zach, Shannon, Caroline, Rachel, and Ashley.
            Laura is returning to Caroline Furnace for her third year on staff, and will be serving as the program director. She is graduating from Bridgewater College with a degree in communications and minors in English and cultural studies. She is most excited for creek walking, lake time, and campfire worship! Laura loves camp, loves the Lord, and is always excited to dive deeper into faith and hard questions with the campers.
            Caroline is returning to camp for her second year on staff. She is attending Queens University in Charlotte and is a double major in music and human service studies. Caroline is passionate about pouring her love into the people around her and teaching the campers more about God through her words and actions. Caroline is excited for the opportunity to return to camp this summer, to continue sharing God's love with campers and simply have fun!
            Justin, a business major at West Virginia University, is gearing up for his first summer on staff- - though he's no stranger to camp! Throughout his childhood Justin attended camp for 12 years and has volunteered at camp for a week the past two summers. This summer, Justin is looking forward to fulfilling his lifelong dream of being a counselor at Caroline Furnace, where his favorite things include the people who fill the property, as well as our evening rec games!
            Each of our counselors has an exciting story to share., and they hope you'll join us this summer as a camper, volunteer, or chaplain! Learn more at
Kahill nominated for synod treasurer  
           Dan Kahill of Christ, Roanoke, has been nominated for election as synod treasurer at the Synod Assembly at Roanoke College on June 8-10. A retired financial executive at Roanoke Cement Co., Kahill is a North Caroina native and a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University. If elected, he will follow George "Skip" Zubrod, interim treasurer, who has served since Evan Davis left the post in 2016.
            The only resolution (?) submitted for the Assembly by then end of May was for recognition of the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women in the ELCA.
            Under the theme, "Only by Grace Can We Stand," the keynote address will be given by Bishop Bob Humphrey at the opening session. The ELCA representative will be the Rev. Ronald Glusenkamp, director of the ELCA Campaign.
            Voting members also will elect five synod council members and 11 voting members of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly at Milwaukee, WI, next year. Pastor Scott Mims of Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach, will be assembly chaplain, assisted by new pastors in the synod.
            The ELCA Campaign is seeking to raise $198 million to advance the work and strengths of the entire ELCA. Receipts reached 74 percent of the goal, at last report. The theme is "Always Being Made New."
  Collecting books for Houston
              More than 400 Virginia youths and adults are collecting books to take to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Houston, TX, on June 27-July 1.
            Planners for the Gathering recognized a need to encourage literacy in Houston. They found that 74 percent of students in a Houston district come from families who struggle to provide books for their children. Building a foundation of literacy starts before they enter kindergarten. Blast Off for Books is the theme of the program.
     "This Changes Everything" is the Gathering theme. 
Daily themes are
 God's call changes everything
 God's love changes everything
 God's grace changes everything
 God's hope changes everyhing and 
 Jesus changes everything.
            Two pre-events ae scheduled---A Multicultural Youth Leadership Event, primarily for youths of color and a tAble Event empowering youth with disabilities.
ELCA faces "dire leadership shortage"
              In a call for last-minute applications, a Southern Seminary spokesman said the Columbia, S.C. school expects to have a number of unclaimed scholarships available for the fall semester.
            Justin Rimbo, assistant director of enrollment management for the Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia at the parent Lenoir-Rhyne University, sent this message from Dr. David Ratke, dean of the College of Theology at Lenoir-Rhyne/Southern Seminary:
            The ELCA is facing a dire leadership shortage. Please consider attending seminary . Jesus called his disciples one or two at a time. Perhaps you're being called. Even if you're merely thinking about ministry, please consider Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and start a conversation with your synod representative. Thanks to generous donors and alumni, qualified ministry candidates studying at LTSS can receive up to fulltime scholarships if they are fulltime students.
             LTSS students are preparing for a variety of ministries, so even if a Master of Divinity isn't a part of your perceived call, there are other options. The newly launched MA in religiouis leadership ---a fully online program---is aimed at students who want to enhance their theological ability so as to strengthen their vocation and ministry is a place where they may already be serving.
            The Certificate in Lutheran Studies is aimed at students who want to deepen their understanding of Lutheran theology or who are thinking about a seminary degree program but who are not quite ready to make that full commitment. If you're
curious and want to follow Christ into leadership, please contact Deacon Justin Riombo at or start the application process online at
Pastor John Wertz named to new mission post
            The Rev. John Wertz Jr., pastor of St. Michael, Blacksburg, for 14 years, has been named to the new post of ELCA director for evangelical mission/assistant to the bishop as of July 1.
            In his primary role as director of evangelical mission, Wertz will focus on developing generous stewardship, new and renewing congregations and synod mission strategy. He will be based at the Eastern Synod office at First Lutheran, Norfolk, but he will be working with congregations across the synod.
            At St. Michael, he helped found Micah's Caring Initiative (, a community partnership which works with over 200 partner organizations to provide weekend meals for hungry students, monthly meals to low-income seniors and fresh produce in the summer to local food pantries. The Micah's program is probably the largest operation of its kind in the synod.
            A South Carolina native, Wertz is a graduate of Southern Seminary and served Good Shepherd Lutheran, Walterboro, S.C.,  in 1997-2004. He helped start Shepherd's Care, an Alzheimer's respite program, and expanded a food pantry.
            Wertz comes from a family of Lutheran pastors. His grandfather, the Rev. Lester A. Wertz, served in the Shenandoah Parish, Emmanel-St, Matthew, Shenandoah County, and the former Woman's Memorial, Pulaski, as well as Tennessee congregations in the former Knoxville Conference. His father, the Rev. John Wertz Sr., served in South Carolina and an uncle, the Rev. Allan Wertz, served at the Toms Brook Parish and Our Redeemer, Petersburg. 
            Wertz has a passion for putting God's work into action. In addition to the Micah's program, he served on the Synod Executive Council and presently is on the board of National Lutheran  Communities and Servixces, ELCA Region 9 Stewardship Council and the Synod Tapestry Team. He has experience and training in consulting with congegations and organizations on church leadership, fund-raising and developing community-based ministries.
            Bishop Bob Humphrey said he is "honored and excited to have Pastor Wertz join the ELCA and Virginia Synod staff and look forward to the ways he can use his gifts to help support and strengthen congregationa;.Virginia Synod and ELCA ministry and mission." 
Praying around the cross
Taize brothers praying
            On April 27-28, two brothers from the Ecumenical Community of TaizĂ©, located in Burgundy province, France, led a retreat at Messiah, Mechanicsville, for young adult guests from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, and all across Virginia. Participants were Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox Christians.
             During the weekend, registrants and others who came just for the famous meditative, musical worship gathered four times for prayer as in France. This included prayer around the cross, a practice developed in Eastern Europe during the Cold War and which continues in their village in France each Friday evening.
            The brothers also shared two bible reflections followed by small group discussions. During a "Signs of Hope" portion of the program, participants reflected upon Inexhaustible Joy, this year's letter from the community's prior, Br. Alois, sharing four proposals potentially leading to greater reconciliation, trust, justice and solidarity among peoples of the world. They also learned about local signs of hope such as Messiah Lutheran and All Souls Episcopal's shared ecumenical ministry, the Richmond Hill Ecumenical Community's racial reconciliation and justice efforts, and the community life of L'Arche Metro Richmond which brings together in shared life those with intellectual and physical disabilities and those more abled. Portions of a new movie about the community's founder, Br. Roger, and his legacy were also shown.
St. Mark, Yorktown, marks 50 years
St. Mark 50th Anniversary luncheon
            Bishop Bob Humphrey, former pastors and former members gathere to celebrate the 50th anniversary of St. Mark, Yorktown, in May. Many shared stories of past memories and all looked to the next 50 years, excited for where the ministries will lead them.
            Former Pastors Robert Anderson, Dave Delaney and Wayne Shelor joined former vicars, Pastor Ben Sloss, Margaret Ashby and Suzanne Stierwalt. Also attending were three former members now ordained-Pastors Laura Olsen, Theresa P. Hannon and Shannon Anderson. An anthem for the anniversary was composed by Christy Lumm, a member of the choir.                
LFS announces Hearts and Hands awards
            Karen Murphy of Bethlehem, Lynchburg, is the first-place winner in the annual Hearts & Hands Service Awards conducted by Lutheran Family Services of Virginia. Her work is in the Helping Hands Clothes Closet at Bethlehem.
            LFS started the awards in 2008, finding stories of grace and service. They honor members of the Lutheran community whose passion, energy and delight in service are creating abundance in the lives of brothers and sisters in the church. In honor of its 130 years of service, LFS will recognize them at the Synod Assembly on June 9.
Second place winner is Jane Perry, Zion, Edinburg, for her work at Spring Forward, an after-school program. Third is Kim Begnaud, Trinity, Stephens City, cited for service in several social ministry programs. Information and pictures of their ministries are at
            Honorable mention awards are announced for Bob Ballard, Holy Trinity, Wytheville; Rick Sizemore, Mt. Tabor, Staunton, and Donna Wright, St. Philip, Roanoke.
            LFS thanked many members pf the Lutheran community who submitted nominations.    
A defining moment  in 
Virginia Synod youth ministry
     by Pastor Dwayne J. Westermann
            It was something of an experiment way back in 1982, the first year of Lost&Found, the synod's new youth event for middle school age kids (then junior highs grades 7-9), modeled on Winter Celebration for senior high youth. We knew that senior highs were quite capable of dealing with abstract concepts around which much of our learning plans were based for older kids: God's love, forgiveness, relationships, hope, peace, etc.    
           For this first Lost&Found, we were at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp. We had only 35 kids plus their adult advisors. As we had done with senior highs, we held large group sessions in the lodge and small group sessions on the cabin porches. The weather cooperated, so on a beautiful Saturday morning, I found myself with nine junior highs, six girls and three boys, sitting on the porch of Cabin #3. They had already proven themselves to be fun kids, laughing and joking with one another. There was one exception-Alex. He was the smallest member of the group yet to hit that adolescent growth spurt that most of the others were in the midst of. And, he was quiet, very quiet, not singing with the rest in the large group and sitting apart, the only one who came from his Virginia Synod congregation.
            In that Saturday morning's discussion, we were dealing with relationships: our relationships with others, our friends, our family and with God. The learning plan asked the kids to go and find three rocks: a "Me Rock," a "Family Rock," and a "God Rock," and, bring them back to the cabin porch. The girls said they thought this exercise was "totally stupid" because having to dig up the rocks resulted in damage to their finger nails which they had all painted for one another last night! Sorry, ladies!
            Needing to make two trips, Alex returned with only two very large rocks, almost more than he could carry! After everyone settled down, I asked them to "Share the Story of the Rocks" they had brought back by arranging the rocks to show how they felt about their relationships with Self, Family and God. With the exception of Alex, most of the kids arranged their rocks somewhat predictably, side by side, on the cabin porch, a linear model of the solar system! Their 7th Grade science teachers would have been proud!
            When it was Alex's turn, he shoved his hand into the pocket of his jeans and produced what only can be described as a pebble. He put the pebble down on the cabin porch floor. Then he maneuvered one of the large rocks on top of it! Next, he was trying to put the other even larger rock on top of that! In spite of group members coming to help him, his rock pile fell apart and his "Me Rock," that little pebble, rolled across the cabin porch, fell through the space between the wooden, floor slats and disappeared.
             I said, "Oh, really sorry, Alex!" Your 'Me Rock' fell through the cracks." Alex looked at me and said, matter-of-factly, "It's okay; that's just how my life really is." There was complete silence. Even the girls inspecting their damaged finger nails were quiet. It was amazing to see this young boy entrust himself to me and to the kids around him. And, his trust was not misplaced. The girls left their places on the cabin porch to go and sit with Alex. They hugged him and in so doing, they hugged themselves because they knew his hurt. The other two boys showed their affection and support by crawling under the porch in search of Alex's "Me Rock." One or the other, would emerge to ask, "This it?" "No, sorry, Alex would reply." Eventually, this whole search and rescue for the "Me Rock" turned into complete hilarity! Everyone waited for these two totally dirt-covered boys would bring up another little rock from under the cabin porch, only to have Alex shake his head and the whole group burst into laughter. I don't remember whether Alex's "Me Rock" was ever found, but my suspicion is that Alex hoped it would never be found as long as he was experiencing the joy of having himself found for the first time in his young life.
            If one were able to trace a defining moment in youth ministry for middle school kids in Virginia Synod youth ministry, that was it. It became clear to us that middle school kids could handle abstract reasoning in the youth event context. And, that metaphor (the "Me Rock") was a tool they understood and could use themselves.
           It has been a very exciting 36 years since that first Lost&Found! We have seen our youth events expand to five or more excellent opportunities for over a thousand youth every year. Many of those kids who sat on cabin porches at Caroline Furnace may well be sending their own kids to Virginia Synod Youth Events.
We simply must continue this legacy for all the kids like Alex and have the synod staff available to continue to coordinate these events far into the future. That's what ForwardingFaith is all about.
          Here is an opportunity for each of us to help make certain that our Virginia Synod youth events continue for many years ahead. Please give as you are able. Learn more about  ForwardingFaith here.





Editor:  George Kegley   
Voice: 540-366-4607;  Email:
Post:  301 Tinker Creek Lane, NE, Roanoke, VA  24019

Deadline for submission of articles is the 15th of each month.
Articles received after the 15th will be published the following month. 

 Photographs must be separate from text and in .jpg or .png format only.


Any portion of this publication may be reprinted

for use in local church publications with appropriate credit.