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

Hikers helped at Waynesboro
              A line of Appalachian Trail walkers found the "hiker hostel" at Grace, Waynesboro, last week, continuing a long tradition established by Irma and Woody Graf .
             During the month of June, the Grafs and other hosts greet the through hikers with supplies---donations of milk, orange juice, fruit and especially home-baked goods. Other items provided include cereal, bread, jam, peanut butter, snacks, tooth paste, tooth brushes and laundry detergent. Some hikers stay overnight.
            Long-time hiker helpers are Marit Anderson and Mark Trail of Crozet, Jill Byrd of Crimora, Jean Morgan, Linda Meyer and Marge Cloutier.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Caroline Furnace is ready for summer.
Circle of Grace
Keys to the Kingdom at Bethel
Bishop's letter on abortion
Foxtrot at 100!
Strickler dies at 90
Roanoke junior honored.
VBS programs are in the works
Zion, Floyd, is recognized.
101 pints of blood donated
Lutherans in the news

          Pastor Andy Ballentine, St. Stephen, Williamsburg, will retire Aug. 1 after 18 years in that parish. After earning master's degrees at the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, and Philadelphia Seminary, he served at Ascension, Towson, MD,  Emmanuel, Virginia Beach, and St. Stephen's, Wilmington, DE, before a call to Williamsburg. He has been conference dean, chaplain to candidates and chair of the Commission on Ministry. Ballentine and his wife, Patty, have a son, Nathan, a police sergeant in Chsterfield County, and a daughter, Emily, music director at St, Mark Lutheran, Conshohocken, PA.
Pastors Jason and Jessica Darty and Isaac
            Pastor Jason Allen Darty was installed at Hebron, Madison, on April 28 and his wife, Pastor Jessica Skinner Darty, was installed at St. Luke, Culpeper, on May 5. They moved from parishes in Eastern North Dakota Synod. He is a novice on a path to become a spiritual director in the Order of Luther Franciscans. The Dartys have a son, Isaac, and expect a daughter to be born in July.
            Pastor Scott Mims, Good Shepherd, Virginia Beach, has started a three-month sabbatical. He said he plans a retreat at Holden Village in Washington State. At the Water's Edge, an annual junior high servant event, is planned for July 21-26 at Good Shepherd. Youth in grades 6-8 will have a week of learning, worshiping, serving and having fun.
            Pastor Patsy Koeneke has come from Arizona to be interim pastor at Emmanuel, Virginia Beach. She follows Pastor Aaron DeBenedetto, who moved away.
            Pastor Meredith Williams, Ascension, Danville, was among faith leaders who objected to a proposed gambling casino in Danville. She said a casino would pose a risk for those struggling with gambling addiction and would tempt poor people into spending money to try to strike it rich, according to the Danville Register and Bee. "It's a risk to those who are vulnerable," she said. Danville city leaders support the proposal because they say the resulting tax revenue would meet local needs.
            At St. Stephen, Williamsburg, a reading of The Gospel According to Mark was presented by Acting Pastor Shannon Rye Walk, 1st Congregational Church, New Milford, Ct., on May 4  
            Pastor Lauren Miller, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, married Nate Eanes on May 26.
            At Luther Memorial, Blackskburg, Gail King, organist, and   Tom Wilson, choirmaster, are retiring after more than 30 years of service. A retirement celebration for them is planned for June 23. Cooper Neeble of Luther Memorial was named Class 3 male athlete of the year by the Virginia High School League, a recognition for students who have excelled in the classroom, communities and athletic and academic activities. He plans to attend Roanoke College in the fall.
            In commemoration of the 125th anniversary of First Lutheran, Norfolk, members will receive a stained glass piece recalling the Melcher window in the church given by the late John Hackney in memory of his wife, Jo Melcher Hackney in 1961. Trina Winfield has started work as office administrator/bookkeeper at First.  She formerly worked for Baltimore City Health Department and Black Charities. The Contact, newsletter of First Lutheran, also reports that in the past year the congregation helped the neighboring Ghent Area Ministry  by 2,194 visits, utility assistance for 75 families, prescriptions for 78 clients, food for 340 households, 308 lunch bags for the homeless, 525 client visits to a clothes closet and 978 bus passes.
            Grace, Waynesboro, invited friends from Christ Tabernacle Church for a service and a sermon by Pastor C. D. Brown, followed by a potluck meal on May 5.
            Mary Barb received the Lamb Award for contributions to scouting at St.  Paul's, Jerome. The award was presented by the Stonewall Jackson Boy Scout Council.
            Pastors Randy Lohr and Chris Carr of Christ the King, Richmond, renewed an old tradition of "beating the bounds" on May 30 when they visited the edges of their church territory, stopping for breakfast, coffee, lunch and beer and hymns in Midlothian, Ashland, Mechanicsville and other Richmond suburbs. Also, at Christ the King, volunteers delivered 223 quilts, 81 health care kits and supplies for 82 school kits to Lutheran World Relief warehouse in Maryland.
            Members of Trinity, Roanoke, raised a whopping $2,476 to buy three farms, including three cows, six goats, 26 chicks, six pigs, farm tools, seeds, training and support, a fruit tree nursery, six honey bee hives and three roosters for the ELCA Good Gifts Program.
             For Mother's Day, members of Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, held a special appeal to support single-area homeless families with children under 18.  
            Members of Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Moneta, have been invited to Sounds of Silence, a guided meditation beginning a day of personal reflection, led by Vicar Shea Berbaum, on Saturday, June 15, from 8:45 a.m. 1 p.m. This day apart "allows us to put aside the busyness of our daily lives and simply 'be,'" according to the parish newsletter.  
            The Islamic Society of Winchester and Valley Interfaith Council thanked the congregation of Grace, Winchester, for its hospitality in hosting an interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of shootings in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
            Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, held a mini-recital by J. William Greene, organist-choirmaster, on Ascension Day, May 30.    
             A summer camp for youngsters from third grade up will be held at Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center from Sunday, June 30 through Friday, July 5. For information, contact Chris at 276-655-3796 or  A quilt made by Edie Hildebite, St. John, Abingdon , will be sold as a raffle for the camp. Also, the camp has adopted the Clyburn Hollow Trail in nearby Hungry Mother State Park "in the spirit of being good stewards of the land."
            A serenity garden was dedicated at Our Saviour, Norge, in memory of Gloria B, Stratton. A dinner-dance-raffle event with music by the Premiere Band at Our Saviour on Saturday, July 6, will be a fundraiser for Williamsburg Faith in Action.            
Faithful+Bold+Serving is Assembly theme
            More than 300 voting members will sit down in the new Cregger Center at Roanoke College Friday at 12:30 for the 32nd annual Virginia Synod Assembly under the theme of Faithful+Bold+Serving, a 24-hour session ending Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
            Highlights of the Assembly will be a report from Dr. Sandy Chrostowski, ELCA representative, a Friday night sermon by Bishop Bob Humphrey, and elections for the posts of vice president, secretary and six seats on Synod Council. Chrostowski is director of Evangelical Mission relationships for the ELCA. A Youth Assembly for the Lutheran Youth Organization will be held at the same time at the college.
            Elections will be held for vice president and secretary. Both Charles Downs
vice president, and Blythe Scott, secretary, said they are open for re-election to another four-year term. Downs is a member of Christ, Roanoke, and Scott is a member of First Lutheran, Norfolk. Six members of Synod Council will be elected.
           A resolution seeking support of the Tent of Nations, a Palestinian farm near Bethlehem, submitted by members of Christ the King, Richmond, and St. Mark, Charlottesville, will be considered by the Reference and Council Committee, headed by Darrell Short, a Synod Council member. Pastor Keith Olivier, Virginia Lutheran Homes chaplain, will be Assembly chaplain.
Caroline Furnace is ready for summer
            The staff at Camp Caroline Furnace is preparing for 10 weeks of summer fun, beginning June 23, with a theme of "Transforming Community."
            At the end of May, four camps---Classic Camp, girls cabin, and Horse Camp, both week 1; Classic Camp, girls cabin, week 4, and Classic Camp, week 7---were full. Nine other camps were almost full.
            The camp is seeking volunteers to share their skills and passion for the outdoors. The cabin village has been reopened and renovation and repairs have been completed for the wastewater treatment plant.
            The camp has booked a series of retreats and events for the rest of the year.
Circle of Grace created at St. Michael, Blacksburg
            Circle of Grace provides a final resting place for cremated remains and creates a place of solace for those who grieve at St. Michael, Blacksburg. Under construction for several years, it is upgraded with pathways, benches and landscaping.
            The Circle is located in the side yard of St. Michael, in front of a historic cemetery, next to a memorial garden. As the site of the congregation's Easter sunrise service, it is a beautiful setting for worship, contemplation and remembrance. As a circle, it has no beginning or end, so it serves as a reminder of God's eternal, unending love.
Bethel, Winchester, starts
88 Keys to the Kingdom drive 

              Bethel, Winchester, has started an effort to raise $25,000 for a new, grand piano as part of its 200th anniversary celebration next year. 88 Keys to the Kingdom is "an opportunity for all of us to contribute to a new instrument which will support our vibrant music program for many years to come," according to Bethel's newsletter. Donors may buy a piano key or join others to contribute. A piano has been in use for 40 years.
Bishop's letter on abortion
     by Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
               (Bishop Elizabeth Eaton's message on abortion was distributed May 30)
Dear Beloved in Christ,
            As most of you are well aware, many states have passed or are considering legislation to restrict access to legal abortion. Talking about abortion has never been easy in this country, and the same holds true in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The members of this church have divergent beliefs and opinions about whether or not abortion should be legal.
            No matter what your views on abortion are, as a church we are made up of members who have had abortions and members who have chosen not to. Among us are pastors, deacons, loved ones and others who have counseled with women, girls and others they love. We are friends, loved ones and relatives of people who have had to decide whether or not to get an abortion. We are all affected by the divisive discourse and the legal changes.
            I commend you to study and discuss the ELCA social statement, Abortion. Through this social teaching and policy statement, this church seeks to travel a moderating path by supporting abortion as a last resort.
            Amid the legislative challenges to access to abortion, we must remember that this church supports ongoing access to legal abortion as well as access to abortion services and reproductive health care that is not restricted by economic factors.
            I urge each of you to read, to study, to listen, to discern and to discuss as church together.
Foxtrot at 100!

             When Pastor David Skole, Christ, Roanoke, asked his member, Helen Perdue, what she wanted for her 100th birthday on June 10, she said she would like to foxtrot. So, Skole, a caring pastor, started taking dance lessons so he can join her in a dance at a birthday party.
Pastor Warren Strickler dies at 90
            The Rev. Luther Warren Strickler II, a third-generation pastor, died April 29 in Gathersburg, MD. He was 90.
            He was a son of Pastor Luther W. Strickler, who served First Lutheran, Norfolk, and led a Synod home missions program in which 39 congregations were organized. His grandfather, Pastor J. W. Strickler, served many congregations across the synod in the late 1890s and early 1900s.
            Pastor Warren Strickler served at Good Shepherd, Lexington, and Christ, Richmond, in addition to work as campus chaplain at Rutgers and Cornell universities and a congregation at Kearny, NJ. In retirement, he supplied at St. Paul's., Mount Solon. A native of Norfolk, he was a graduate of Granby High School, where he was president of the student body, and the University of Virginia. After three years of Naval service he graduated from Philadelphia Seminary.
            Surviving are his wife, Joan Oren Strickler, and three daughters, Robin, Alison and Laura and five grandchildren. Robin, who is married to John Rutsindintwarane, is a missionary in Rwanda, East Africa. She is the fourth generation of the family in church
            A memorial service was held at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, on May 18. Memorials for Pastor Strickler may be made to the Rwanda School Project at
Roanoke junior honored
                                                                                                                     Olivia Kitt, a Roanoke College junior, has been selected to receive the Dr. Nancy D. Joyner Spirit Award of the Lutheran College Washington Semester She is the fourth Roanoke student to received the recognition in the Washington program matching internships with students from 13 Lutheran colleges and universities, providing an opportunity to explore the nation's capital.
            The honor is named for the spirit and enthusiasm of the first and longest-serving dean of the program. Dr. Douglas Clark, dean and executive director of the program, said Kitt was a "standout student...a natural born leader (and) a natural choice for this award."
            Kitt, who is studying political science and sociology at Roanoke, interned in the office of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. After graduating next year, she plans to go to graduate school to study law and policy.  
VBS programs are in the works 

               Planners are completing their work for a variety of vacation Bible school programs designed for children of all ages across the synod this summer.
            At Grace, Chesapeake, "Water of Life" is the theme for the VBS on July 29-Aug. 2. Children will get "an awareness of how water and life are gifts from God." They will have splash races, water fun, music and they may choose such service projects as making fleece blankets.
            "God's Good Creation" is the theme for VBS at Bethel, Winchester, June 10-14.        
Youngsters will hear that "the earth is hurting. Together we imagine a world where God's Creation is known, healed and loved." They will encounter animals like bunnies, ponies, bees, therapy dogs, homing pigeons and goats. Local experts will tell about bee-keeping, soil, water and recycling.
            Holy Trinity, Wytheville, will host a Community VBS on "The Jesus Way," July 22-25. they will "explore how we can be imitators of Christ through feeding, forgiving, loving the neighbor, serving humbly and praying. For a mission project, four congregations will provide volunteers at the Open Door CafĂ©, a new pay-what-you-can restaurant. Walker Mountain Lutherans, Episcopalians and Presbyterians will join Holy Trinity in helping.
          "The Incredible Race, Exploring God's love for the Nations" will be the theme at First Lutheran, Norfolk, and several other congregations. "Roar, Life is Wild, God is Good" will be theme for Grace Lutheran and Christ Episcopal, Winchester.
            In Richmond, Our Saviour and St. Luke will have a joint effort on the "Roar" theme, an "epic African adventure engaging the whole herd. Kids will explore God's goodness and celebrate a ferocious faith that powers them through this wild life." Animal t-shirts, , leopard prints or zebra stripes will be in fashion.
Zion, Floyd, is recognized 
Zion's 100th anniversary photo

               An illustration of Zion, Floyd, is featured on a a calendar of the Floyd County Historical Society and the congregation has been recognized as the oldest church in the county still in operation. Lutheran worship was led in the 1790s and the congregation organized in 1813.
            Traveling pastors J. J. Scherer, John George Butler and R. J. Miller led early services. Records show that 28 children were baptized on April 30, 1805. German settlers came up the Shenandoah Valley to find land here. Some of the early families were Phlegar, Sowers, Epperly, Zentmeyer, Kitterman, Morricle and Smith. Some of their descendants remain in the county.
            The Synod of SouthwesternVirginia was organized at a meeting at Zion in May, 1842. The congregation began in a log schoolhouse, followed by a brick and stone building and the fourth and present church was built in 1898. A Sunday School and fellowship hall have been added. Olive Hill, later known as Burke's Fork, was formed out of Zion and this congregation later merged with St. Mark, Willis, organized in 1879.
            In its first century, Zion was served by 28 pastors. The church and cemetery were placed on the Virginia Historic Landmark Register. The oldest grave in the cemetery is dated at 1817. A history of the church's Ladies Aid Society, dating from 1924, states, "So we go forward and hope to do more and be of much greater help in the next 50 years than in the past."
            Following the retirement of Pastor Linda Motley, retired Pastor Terry Edwarsds is serving as interim pastor for Zion and St. Mark.
101 pints of blood donated at St. Philip, Roanoke

               Red Cross donors gave 101 pints of blood at St Philip, Roanoke, on May 5, bringing total collection of 8,876 units in the past 25 years. That high total is credited with saving 26,628 lives, according to the Red Cross.
            The semi-annual blood collection was started in 1993 by Margaret Mitchell, Ruth Farmer, Virginia Cassell and Helen Miller. The congregation of St. Philip strives to make this a community event and partnership. They provide a meal for donors. The next collection will be on Oct. 14.




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