Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.
repair Texas homes
A team of Senior Youth from Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, spent a week in June doing a mission project in Corpus Christi, Texas, where they worked on two homes that had been devastated by Hurricane Harvey last August.
Directed by "Heart for Texas" staff, the first day's work was scraping and painting floors. The following four and one-half days were spent gutting a second home in preparation for putting up new walls. Both homeowners had their homes destroyed by wind and water, but even more disheartening was that they had been taken advantage of financially by contractors and denied payment from their insurance companies.
The work was hard and the weather hot and humid, but each team member put forward her or his best effort as they lived out the congregation's mission "to care actively in the name of Jesus Christ." The group was housed and fed by Trinity Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi.
Lutherans in the news
Rev. Cameron Keyser has taken disability retirement after serving at
Trinity, Stephens City, for seven years. Retired
Pastor George Sims has been named interim pastor. Keyser, a native of Charleston, WVA, worked in broadcasting in Raleigh and Charlotte, NC, for 20 years before graduating from
Southern Seminary. He was ordained in 1992 and served congregations in Allen, SC, Mt. Holly, NC, and was interim pastor in Charlotte and at
Gloria Dei, Hampton, before he was called to Trinity. He and his wife,
Ronda, have two children,
Ashley. and four grandchildren. Members of his congregation wore yellow hats to church after he lost his hair as a result of lung cancer.
Pastor Ken Albright has accepted a call from a church in Florida after serving 12 years at Grace and Glory, Fluvanna County. Albright, first pastor of the congregation, led in construction of a new building and the church "has grown spiritually and in numbers with a vibrant mission," according to Pam Hokanson, congregation president..
Pastor Wesley W. Smith
Zion Lutheran, Saddlebrook, NJ,
where he has served for 14 years.. A native of Salem, MA, he graduated from Evangel College and earned bachelor and doctoral degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary. He was an adjunct professor at Princeton and New Brunswick Theological Seminary and served at Bethel, Trenton, N.J., before he was called to
He and his wife,
have a son,
Rev. Wesley Smith III,
Bendersville Lutheran, Bendersville, PA.
World Refugee Day on July 15,
Alyssa Powell, a student at Union Theological Seminary, led a Sunday School class discussion of immigration issues at
First Lutheran, Norfolk. She is concentrating on Christian ethics, focusing on theological responses to immigration.
Christ, Fredericksburg, plans a campaign to raise $30,000 to replace its deteriorating church steeple.
Retired Pastor Richard Carbaugh and his wife,
Cindy, gave $10,000 to start the fund. The wood is rotting and the glass is falling out. The church was built in the 1980s. A memorial event on July 21 raised funds for three scholarships in memory of Christ member
Brendan Downey, son of
Kami Downey, who died last year.
Trinity, Pulaski, were asked to volunteer to help God's Pit Crew, a Danville disaster response/relief organization which distributes blessing buckets to people in need after a natural disaster. In the last year and a half, the crew has distributed over 13,000 blessing buckets.
The company of
Randy Kleiber, St. Paul's, Hampton, was recognized as the Best Roofing Company on the Peninsula by Coastal Virginia Magazine.
St. Mark, Charlottesville, has "a new way of giving to God." Members who donate electronically may feel left out when the offering plate is passed so they are invited to pick up a new virtual offering coin as they enter the sanctuary and drop it into the offering plate. "Giving when the plate is passed teaches the habit of weekly giving to the children in our pews. The giving we bring forward during worship is blessed," according to Crossmarks, the congregation newsletter. St, Mark also has a new trinity labyrinth for prayer. Three taped circles represent the trinity, offering a simple space to enter and reflect on the Easter joy and prepare for advent.
Resurrection, Fredericksburg, has a new Sunday adult course, "Food for Thought,"offering a lively, respectful discussion of contemporary topics, such as
#MeToo, racism, immigration, poverty and hunger."
Highlands Conference will hold its annual corn roast at
Hungry Mother Lutheran Reteat Center, near Marion, next Sunday, Aug. 5, at 4 p.m. Worship, music and a brief business session are planned, according to Conference Dean Jonathan Hamman. A Christmas tree will be decorated with cards for items needed by the Retreat Center.
First Lutheran, Norfolk, Pastor Rick Goeres said council members at each meeting name one blessing "you have experienced this month as a part of the ministry at First in worship, learning, service or fellowship." Some of Goeres' blessings:
Faithful worship attendance, joyful conversation, desire to deepen faith through learning, fun fellowship activities and support of ministries inside and outside the congregation.
Trinity, Newport News, features Walking Worship Wednesdays "in God's amazing creation" along the Noland Trail of 2 to 3 miles, starting at 6 p.m. Throughout the walk, they share different section of a worship service, ending with communion.
Grace, Winchester, a new pipe organ was installed in the Christian Streit Room which is being transformed into a chapel. The organ, made in Texas in 2002, was donated by
Jon Gossett, Washington, D.C. It is a mechanical or tracker key action, a style used by organ builders in the 1600s and 1700s.
Bethel, Winchester, will share pies, garden produce, baked goods, crafts and flowwrs in support of
Lutheran World Relief on its 17th annual Harvest Sunday Aug. 12. High school graduates at Bethel will be wrapped in quilts Sunday, Aug. 5, "to properly celebrate the power of Jesus in their lives."
Messiah,Mechanicsville, Orthodox Priest Adam Sexton, Episcopal Priest Nic Forti and
Pastor Lou Florio, Messiah, will meet on Aug. 13 to discuss "What does it mean to be saved? How do I know I am?"
Honduras Mission Team at
Peace, Chalrottesville, will report on their trip to
Gerazim, Honduras, on Global Mission Sunday, Aug. 12.
At Apostles, Gloucester, volunteers have helped repair a house damaged by flooding in West Virginia, built a porch with Gloucester Housing Partnership and helped pick corn for the Bread for Life food pantry.
New ELCA storytelling podcast launched
Typically, it's said there are two sides to every story. But often a middle or third side of the story is revealed, providing another perspective to consider.
Strategic Communications is very excited to launch a new storytelling platform for the ELCA, the
Three Sides podcast.
is a monthly podcast that will present diverse voices from across all the expressions of this church. Hosted by our very own Churchwide voices, Shanna Crawford, Phil LaDeur and Andrew Steele, the first episode is available everywhere you access podcasts - Itunes, Stitcher and multiple other channels, or visit
and listen to the first episode, "Welcome to the
Podcast" to learn more about our hosts. You'll also hear a preview of our first full episode, "Women who lead" coming
10,000 in ten years
Each year, the Virginia Synod ACTS community and Power in the Spirit touch the lives of 300 adults and Virginia Synod Youth Ministry shares the good news about Jesus with 700 youth and adults. Over the next 10 years, that means that these Virginia Synod ministries will share the good news of God's love with over 10,000 youth, young adults and adults.
With the help of the ForwardingFaith Campaign, the Virginia Synod will continue these vital ministries and be able to expand opportunities for faith formation ministry for everyone from children to senior adults.
The ForwardingFaith Campaign officially started in 2015 with a basic goal of $2.5 million. This spring, we passed our basic goal and are well within reach of our challenge goals of $3 million to $3.5 million. This is a remarkable accomplishment that is only possible thanks to the generous gifts of individuals and congregations around the Virginia Synod.
As we move into the congregational phase of the ForwardingFaith Campaign, congregations around the Synod are sharing the story of ForwardingFaith and getting a powerful response. If you go to https://www.forwardingfaith.org/news/, you can read the stories of generosity and passion for ministry in congregations like St. Timothy, Norfolk, Grace, Waynesboro, and Holy Trinity, Wytheville. As more congregations share the story of Forwarding Faith over the next few months, their new gifts combined with the gifts
already received will secure the future of faith formation ministry within the Virginia Synod.
If you have any questions about ForwardingFaith or need help sharing the story of ForwardingFaith in your congregation, please contact our new director for Evangelical Mission, Pastor John Wertz, Jr. You can email Pastor John at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at the Eastern Synod Office at: 757.622.9421.
Pastor John Wertz Jr.,
Director for Evangelical Mission, also directs ForwardingFaith.
Power in the Spirit leads to marriage
Babs Benson of Faith, Suffolk, an expert match-maker, introduced a couple at Power in the Spirit 10 years ago and they have been happily married ever since.
She invited Mike Chambers, a shipyard engineer who played bass guitar in the praise band at Faith, to join her and her husband, Pastor Scott Benson, to a Power event.
The Bensons also invited Melisa Thomas from St. Mary's Pine at Mt. Jackson where they had served previously. Melisa recalls that she was not happy but Mike was "fine because it was several days off work."
Neither had been married and both had experienced unhappy dating relationships. Babs Benson said she thought these two had a lot in common and would probably like each other if they ever met. "I introduced them and hardly saw the two the whole weekend. They hit it off immediately,"
Melissa and Mike
on their front porch.
Both commuted on the four-hour drive from Suffolk to Mt. Jackson on weekends until Mike moved to the Valley. He proposed "and the rest is history." They were married at St. Mary's Pine by Pastors Karen Van Stee and Scott Benson. Melisa, a retired kindergarten teacher and the pianist at St. Mary's Pine, lived with her mother in the house where she grew up so she didn't want to move and Mike loved Mt. Jackson, away from the city..Melisa discovered that her cousin, Rev. O. T. Zirkle, baptized Mike.
"We lost Mike from our congregation but one can't argue with love," Babs Benson said. Melisa and Mike came back to Power in the Spirit the last two years.
Walking in newness of light for three days
Bishop Bob Humphrey (center) led installation of (from left) Pastors John Wertz Jr. as Director for Evangelical Mission and Dave Delaney, Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Charles Downs, Synod Vice President (at right)
Some 180 inspired Lutherans walked "in newness of life" after hearing from Dr. Sarah Hinlicky-Wilson and Bible scholar Dr. Mark.Allan Powell at Power in the Spirit at Roanoke College in mid-July.
Hinlicky-Wilson, an ELCA pastor who is moving from ecumenical research in France to serving in a church in Japan, talked about saints and holiness---"God's business, his work in us...A saint is a person who offers Christ to others."
As keynote speaker and class leader, she had a lot to say about holiness . "Holiness is about being 100 percent without doubt." It's "about being set apart by God through baptism..Holiness separates us from sin...Once God has done his part, it's up to us to finish the job...Learn to receive God's holiness as a gift." She described Lutheran saints in a class, a subject for a book she is writing,.
Powell, a New Testament Professor at Trinity Seminary and a popular speaker in Virginia, discussed relationships. He spoke of "relationship with God through Jesus Christ, realizing his presence among us. The church is not a Jesus Christ appreciation society....It's not like any other relationship."
In a second talk, he spoke of the absence of Jesus. "a surprisingly prominent biblical theme...He is not with us now as he used to be or as he will be in the future...The absence of Jesus means a great deal to the church. It almost defines what we do." Powell said, "We expect Jesus to come any day now...It's like being in love with someone who has been away and is coming back."
During a variety of worship experiences, Bishop Bob Humphrey preached at an evening eucharist, saying, " The church must speak clearly and the church must live lives boldly in order to proclaim God's love and mercy in this very troubled and divided world." The bishop also installed Pastor John Wertz Jr., in the new post of director for evangelical mission and assistant to the bishop, and Pastor Dave Delaney as director for youth and young adult ministries. A beer and hymns social hour followed.
At a closing service, Pastor Colleen Montgomery of Holy Trinity, Wytheville, spoke of walking in newness of life by overcoming prejudice and doing justice, "a tall order in today's world." But God's call is still there after baptism, she said. Pastor Michael Church of Our Saviour, Warrenton, gave "Reflections on Today's Saints."
Stirring music was led each day by Sally Moore and the St. Peter's Praise Band from Stafford. Two service projects were offered. Retired Roanoke College Chaplain Paul Henrickson led volunteers who worked on a Habitat for Humanity house in Roanoke. Pastor Harvey Atkins of Mt. Rogers Parish led a collection of playground equipment for students in Minnick Schools. A separate program was provided for children.
About 30 concurrent sessions offered discussion of a wide variety of subjects.
Participants heard about hospice and end of life concerns, Nazi persecution of the Lutheran church, biblical story-telling, Psalms in worship, how to become a reconciling congregation, a family in the Holy Land, hymns and faith development, the seven deadly sins of discrimination and many more topics.
Prayer, Sing Out planned for Charlottesville
As the Aug.12 one-year anniversary of the tragic events involving a statue removal plan in Charlottesville approaches, prayer gatherings and a Charlottesville Sing Out are planned together.
The Charlottesville Clergy Collective will hold 30-minute prayer gatherings Monday through Friday, Aug. 6-10, at 6 a.m. and 12 noon at Market Street Park in Charlottesville, according to retired Pastor Sandy Wisco.
On Thursday, Aug. 9, at 7 p;m., an interfaith service on the theme, "Making Our Way Together: A Service of Gratitude, Repentance and Hope" will be held The Haven, 112 Market Street. A Shabbat service is planned for Congregation Beth Israel, followed by a candlelight vigil A Service for Repair will be held at First Presbyterian Church on Friday. The Rev. Al Sharpton, a national civil rights leader, will preach at Mt. Zion African-American Baptist Church on Sunday.
On Sunday, Aug. 12, at 4 p.m., the Martin Luther King Jtr. Community Choir is organizing "a big sing-out intended to bring our community ogether or healing, harmony and fun" IX Art Park. Rehearsal will be at 2 p.m. at Mt. Zion First Afican-American Baptist Church. "All are invited to sing," the sponsors said.
Who do I want to be?
by Pastor Jeffrey Sonafelt, Reformation, New Market
Are you feeling angry? Frustrated? Anxious? As I speak with colleagues, I hear over and over again that the people in their congregations are highly stressed, anxious, and fearful. "The anxiety level of the people in my congregation right now is through the roof," said one of my good friends at the Virginia Synod Assembly in June.
And like pastors, health care professionals are also noticing that people are unusually stressed, anxious, and afraid. Acquaintances who work as counselors and doctors have asked me, "Have you noticed just how worked up people are right now? I am certainly experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety in those who are coming into my office in recent months." They often close with, "I've never seen anything like this before: the anxiety I'm seeing in one client/patient after another is off the charts right now. It's stressing me out!"
All of this is true to my experience here at Reformation in the last year or so: many of you are feeling anxious, stressed, and even fearful (and while some of you are able to give specific reasons for these feelings, for many, the anxiety is free floating). I've kept track of that last word: fear. It's a word that seems to be creeping into more and more emails and texts and conversations: I am afraid, Pastor ... afraid of the course of national and world events, afraid of the growing divide in our country between political parties and our inability to compromise and get anything of substance done, afraid of our growing unwillingness to address pressing problems (like climate change), afraid of gun violence. And I frequently hear in conclusion, "I'm afraid for my children and my grandchildren, Pastor. What kind of country and world are they going to inherit?" More than one person has said, "I worry that there may not be a country or even a world for them to inherit."
It wouldn't be fruitful for me to speculate about the reasons for the increased anxiety, stress, and fear: it's really very complicated (as most things in life are), and any "answer" I offered here would be simplistic and inadequate. What we can agree on, however, is that we are, indeed, more anxious, more angry, more frustrated, more stressed out, and more fearful, both as individuals and as a society. If you can't see it in yourself, I'll bet you can see it in your spouse, children, neighbors, and friends. So ... what can we do? How can we better handle these destructive feelings, feelings that can make us absolutely miserable?
I think it would be helpful for each of us to ask ourselves two questions:
* What can I control?
* Who do I want to be?
Let's look at these two questions one at a time.
First, "What can I control?" Well ... I can control myself - can't I? To a great extent I can.
I can control,
* what I watch,
* what I read,
* the conversations I choose to engage in, the social media I view.
I can control,
* what I eat,
* whether or not I exercise,
* the amount of medication and alcohol I consume.
I can control,
* whom I vote for,
* how socially and politically active I am,
* what groups and organizations I belong to and to which I give my time/money/energy.
Concomitantly, I cannot control,
* my spouse,
* my sister or brother,
* my neighbor,
* my best friend,
and what any of these people choose to watch, read, or talk about ... or how they choose to express themselves and conduct their lives.
I cannot control,
* the person driving the vehicle in front of me,
* the person talking on TV,
* any of our elected officials (or world leaders).
This may seem self-evident, but the truth is that it is not only illogical, but also absurd to worry about something over which we have no control. Yet we do - don't we? Much of our anxiety and stress is directly related to what others are saying and doing and our belief that they shouldn't be saying or doing these things! But ... we have no control, whatsoever, over how others choose to live and express themselves. One of the hardest things in life is learning that I really only have control over my own life: period, end of sentence. And as much as I might like for others to conform to me and to my way of thinking, other people are totally outside of my control.
This means, of course, that I need to regulate my anxiety. That's something that is in my control, too: the ability to regulate my anxiety. This means taking control of myself and being responsible for my own interior life. I need to manage my own feelings and emotions rather than projecting these feelings onto others (which we do whenever we repeatedly vent our anger and frustration to our spouse/friends/every person we
encounter on the street - as some people do - or when we deride, target, or scapegoat others). This doesn't mean that I stand alone. It simply means that I accept the responsibility to cultivate healthy behaviors and seek healthy sources of help if I need it.
So how specifically, do we manage our own feelings and emotions in healthy ways? We can do that through good self-care:
* eating well;
* getting enough sleep;
* seeing a counselor;
* choosing not to engage with the 24-hour news cycle all day long;
* choosing not to listen to those on TV or on the radio who are quite clearly trying to create a sense of anger and/or fear in us;
* spending time doing things that feed us (reading, golfing, gardening, playing bridge with friends, taking a grandchild to the library, whatever it might be for us);
* choosing not to engage in conversations with those who are not dealing in facts, who are beyond reason, and who are intractably locked into a position (conversations, in other words, that will go nowhere and end up making us angry and frustrated).
We can still watch the news, talk with friends about current events, engage in social and political activities, advocate - through appropriate channels - positions that are important to us. Indeed, it is critical that we do so. But we should do so in a measured and balanced way that is effective and meaningful, rather than in a way that simply amounts to us spinning our wheels in anger and frustration.
So that's first: it is crucial for us to recognize what we can control and what we cannot control in our lives and to act on this knowledge, not expecting others to conform to our expectations because they will disappoint and frustrate and even anger us every time (or at least much of the time).
The second question we need to ask ourselves is, "Who do I want to be?" I cannot control others, but I can control myself. So ... what kind of person do I want to be in this crazy world of ours? As Christians, the answer, of course, is a no-brainer: "I want to be a person like Jesus!" (And if that's not your answer, then you have to ask yourself, "Why am a Christian?") To be like Jesus means to be a person who is scrupulously honest, compassionate, forgiving, kind, generous, and hospitable.
Others may shade the truth or even lie, others may turn a blind eye to the needs of their neighbors, others may hold grudges, others may feather their own nests at the expense of the vulnerable, others may close their doors to the stranger - we have no control over what others do! But, as disciples of Jesus, we choose to model ourselves on the life and teachings of Jesus. And we know what that means - don't we? We choose to "put on" and to "have the mind" of Christ - as St. Paul says. We do so not in a blind/rigid/legalistically obedient kind of way, but in a joyful and freely chosen - each and every day this is who I am and who I am going to be! - kind of way. We do so for the simple reason that we have come to honestly believe - after years of listening to Jesus and walking in his footsteps - that his way is the best way to live and to be in this world. We have come to believe that his way is, indeed, God's way.
When we have a firm sense of what we can and cannot control, when we have a firm sense of who we are and whose we are, we are more grounded and better equipped to recognize, and then let go of, the anxious feelings that rise up in us. We are certainly aware of what others are saying and doing, and we are aware of what is going on in our world, but we steadfastly hold on to who we are. We do this not in a self-righteous and judgmental kind of way, but in a clearly articulated - this is who I am and who I choose to be - kind of way.
And, amazingly, as we define ourselves and regulate our anxiety, we find that our stress and our fear dissipate. Yes, we continue to have concerns. To live in this world is to have concerns. But these concerns don't own us in the way that our anxiety owns (and often consumes) us. No, we address concerns as they arise and as we are able effectively and meaningfully to do so, and we live our lives confident in the fact that we are rooted in the witness of Jesus of Nazareth ... who is the way, the truth, and the life. Right?
Jeff Sonafelt, pastor of Reformation, New Market, wrote this article for his congregation's newsletter.
Youth Gathering was life-changing
Four young members of Grace, Winchester,and one from St. Mark's, Roanoke, came back from the National Youth Gathering in Houston full of excitement about their experience. Here are their descriptions:
Sean Marsden---Enjoying quality time together with all of the other youth and most definitely strengthening friendships with all of them. It was meaningful to finish out my senior year with the church, before leaving for college, in such a wonderful gratifying way. It was a very faith-enriching experience and something that we will all be very grateful and appreciative of both now and in the future. This opportunity was tremendously special, fun and rememberable. Every moment will not be forgotten, nor taken for granted. Thank you!
Mairi Bachman---The most meaningful experience for me on this trip was
listening to the speakers. One speaker who really stuck out to me talked about his depression, anxiety and self-harm issues. He also talked about how he got better with God's help and I feel his words will help me in the future.
Grace Dennis---The most meaningful part of the gathering was the community formed on this trip. Because of the contributions from my congregation, my experience was forever changed. It is truly life-changing to see 31,000 of our brothers and sisters in Christ in one place. During my trip, I unexpectedly got sick and had to go to the ER. The amount of love and prayers that were sent to me from my youth group was unimaginable. This group of people will never be all together again and I feel blessed to have had this time with them. Because of what you gave each of us, we were able to experience this wonderful event. There are not enough words to thank you.
Elia Norton---Something I'm taking away from this gathering is when this little 11-year-old transgender girl was telling 31,000 youths and adults how her church was accepting of her transition from a boy to a girl and how we can be the change in our community wnd that we are the future of the world.
McKinley Anders---Going to the ELCA Youth Gathering was a fantastic experience that allowed me to grow in my faith and to further bond with my fellow youth. The speakers that were featured were all fantastic, my personal favorite being Nadia Bolz-Weber, as her talk helped me to better understand the concept of grace as the Lutheran church views it, that God's grace and salvation is for all, no matter how great or numerous our sins.
The part of the trip that really stood out to me the most was on our service day, whjen we went up to this Methodist church to help paint it. The congregation was upbeat and very grateful for the work we were doing, even if a group of teenagers aren't the best painters in the world. All in all, it was a life-changing experience and I would urge any high schooler to attend.
The Seven Sins of
This is a summary of a class at Power in the Spirit, led by Sue Clemens, St. Paul's, Hampton, a member of the Synod Tapestry Team)
We Lutherans don't talk much about sin. We might be quick to point out when someone else has gone wrong, but we spend precious little time contemplating our own sinfulness. Early theologians, however, thought about sin a lot. They wondered about the roots of sin, and by the 4th century had come to agreement on what we call the Seven Deadly Sins. None of them are actions ("thou shalt not's")-instead these are the human characteristics that separate us from
God and from one another.
So what are the Seven Deadlies? Pride, envy, greed, gluttony, lust, wrath and sloth. Pride says me and my kind are better than you and your kind. Envy says your kind shouldn't have what we feel entitled to. Greed says we will take as much as we can get, leaving less for you, and gluttony means we'll consume it all, to the detriment of our health and the environment we share. Lust objectifies rather than humanizes the other. Wrath turns our opinions into weapons, and sloth is just too lazy to care. What these sins have in common is their ability to keep us from
finding beauty and worthiness in all of God's human creation.
Tapestry, the steering team for diversity and inclusion in the Virginia Synod, is a group of sinners who think we need to come clean, to take a closer look at our sinfulness, particularly when it comes to racism and other forms of discrimination. The late author James Baldwin put it
this way: "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is
So what do we do? How do we change? How do we draw closer to the God we love and
the neighbor we don't even know?
At a recent Tapestry workshop, this Bible verse gave us a pretty good idea:
"Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual
affection; outdo one another in showing honor."
And if that's too complicated, you can't go wrong by applying this rule. Some consider it
"In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you" Matthew 7:12a
Germanna settlement celebrated
"Germanna on the Frontier" was the theme of the annual reunion of descendants of the pioneers who settled at Fort Germann, near Hebron,Madison, a 1717 congregation.
Members of the Germanna Foundation came from all over the country July 12-15 for a series of event, including worship and a covered dish luncheon at Hebron. They attended a day of historical and genealogical seminars at Germanna Community College and visited Madison County farms and historical sites. Retired Pastor Chris Price, a son of Hebron, preached at the service attended by the visitors.
St. Peter's, Stafford has
hall, children's "prayground"
St. Peter's, Stafford, has a new reception hall and kitchen and a new "prayground" for children. Pastor Paul Toelke said the occupancy for an old multipurpose room was very low so the congregation constructed a hall that will fit 240 for weddings, funeral lunches and "much more." The hall is open for use by community non-profit groups and
organizations with no fee required. He said the addition "helps us fulfill our mission to be a resource to our community."
After reading an article in Living Lutheran and doing research, Toelke said the congregation put in a "prayground" for young children to be used during worship in the front of the sanctuary. The nursery is available for families if they wish, or they can sit near or with their children as the youngsters play with quiet, soft toys or color or read children's books. Families with young children have used it at every service, the pastor said.
THE VIRGINIA LUTHERAN
A MONTHLY NEWS PUBLICATION OF THE VIRGINIA SYNOD, ELCA
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