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

Katie's Pantry 
opens in Rural  Retreat
Grace youth
assembling the pantry.

          Katie's Pantry is a new roadside free pantry built and operated by the youth at Grace, Rural Retreat.  Most popular items taken from the pantry are food, laundry detergent, toilet paper and tooth paste.
            Patterned after the "little free library" concept, in which people are encouraged to take a book and also leave one in an unmanned location.  The pantry is named for Katharina Von Bora, wife of Martin Luther.
            A sign on the pantry reads, "Take what you need. Give what you can. God bless you." The pantry is open to anyone in need. Members of the youth group assembled the pantry on the edge of the church parking lot. Passersby are donating items.  Pastor Jonathan  Hamman said he is amazed at the response.
In This Issue
Reflections from the Bishop
Lutherans in the news
Bishop Eaton's column.
LARCUM will look over five centuries.
Catholic priest calls for local unity
Ratke to follow Swanson at LFS
After 500 Years: Catholic and Lutherans Together
Sharon, Bland County, is 200!.
ForwardingFaith Campaign nearing $2.5 million
Wheatland Tractor Treat
Two Richmond churches will build
What does Reformation 500 mean?
Lutheran Women tell stories.
Reflections from the Bishop
     by Bishop Robert F. Humphrey

              It's been two months of transition and eight weeks in office. I've had so many meetings, visits, and calls, as well as two trips to Chicago, one to Ohio, and spent roughly 5600 miles in the car. It has been quite a ride...
            The transition began immediately after the results of the final vote were announced. The summer was spent coming to grips with this surprising new call and the many ways it would change not only the kind of ministry in which I would engage but the way Barbra and I live. We celebrated our 40th anniversary and contemplated, as best we could, the coming changes.
            At the same time, Barbra and I said farewell to Muhlenberg, whom we love and served the past seven years. Closing out this chapter of ministry meant also celebrating and mourning the end of a delightful and productive partnership with Pastor Brett Davis who was also leaving to accept a new call.
            Meanwhile, Bishop Emeritus Jim Mauney could not have been more gracious, helpful, and encouraging as together we worked to create as smooth a transition as possible. I will be forever grateful to him and Lynda for the many ways they cared for me and Barbra.
            Our synod staff has also been simply amazing. Every one of them! Each has been so patient and truly helpful, often stepping into unfamiliar roles and tasks to help me and make sure important relationships and ministries were nurtured. I am especially grateful to Becky Walls for her support, encouragement and talented assistance.
            The Installation service was breathtaking--it literally took my breath away! I was surrounded by hundreds of family, friends and rostered colleagues in Virginia, Region 9, the ELCA and our ecumenical partners along with the prayers of so many others. The worship, music and majesty; the presence and message of Presiding Bishop Easton and the power of God's Spirit among us were palpable as the Bishop's Cross, the symbol of our Lord's call to faithful service, was placed around my neck. What a holy, humbling and deep honor it is to serve in this office.
            At the end of September, I spent eight days in Chicago. The first two days were part of the new bishop's orientation (known affectionately as "baby bishop boot camp"). The remaining six days were spent with the 64 other bishops, presiding bishop, and many other ELCA leaders. These were days filled with new insights, challenges, relationships and opportunities. The Conference of Bishops, as it is known, is an amazingly supportive group of deeply devoted servants who are very different in many ways, but genuinely committed to being as faithful as possible to our Lord, the Bible, Lutheran Confessions and the people of God we are called to serve in our synods, nation and world. I found myself both comforted and challenged throughout the week.
            In October, I had the opportunity to meet for the first time since our synod assembly with the rostered ministers, several spouses and synod staff during The Gathering of the Ministerium. Again, I was struck by the remarkable sense of shared faithfulness to core values, the people of God we have the privilege to serve, our synod and the wider church. We are blessed.
            The next big thing for me will be shaping our synod staff for the future. By the end of the year, we will say farewell to Pastor Chris Price, for whom I give thanks daily, as he moves into retirement--again! We will welcome at least one new assistant to the Bishop and ensure the staff is well prepared for a creative and effective witness to Jesus. For all this, I invite your prayers.
            One of the many privileges I have as bishop is the opportunity to travel across the synod, worship with congregations and listen to leaders from our istitutions and agencies, as well as to share our hopes and concerns with one another. I have been welcomed, supported and enveloped in prayer in every context.
             Here's the truth: whatever our differences and distinctions, we all want the church, our synod and the many expressions of our mission and ministry to not just survive, but thrive. It won't always be easy, but I truly believe God is working to accomplish amazing new things.
The Rev. Robert F. Humphrey
Bishop, Virginia Synod, ELCA
Lutherans in the news
           Pastor Ingrid Chenoweth of St. John Lutheran, Salisbury, Pa., has accepted a call to Good Shepherd, Front Royal, following Pastor Bob Jones, who has retired. She will begin serving Dec. 3.
            Pastor John Wertz, St. Michael, Blacksburg, received the Teilmann Youth Serv
ices Award from Montgomery County-Blacksburg Kiwanis Club. The award is given to an outstanding Montgomery County citizen who has made unselfish contributions to the betterment of youth for service to God, country and community. He received an engraved plaque.
            Pastor Nate Robinson, Emanuel, Woodstock, has been appointed dean of the Central Valley Conference, after the retirement of Pastor Jim Baseler.
            Pastor Eric Moehring has been named interim pastor of Christ, Fredericksburg, following the retirement of Pastor Richard Carbaugh. Moehring will continue as the synod's ecumenical representative.
            Pastor Floyd Addison, retired president of Virginia Lutheran Homes, has been named interim pastor at Bedford Lutheran. That congregation has a new outreach program. Providing food for families in Lynchburg while their relatives are treated at a hospital and cancer center. 
            Retired Pastor James G. Cobb will speak at a Lutherfest at Zion Lutheran, Baltimore, on Nov. 5, the Sunday nearest to Luther's birthday, sponsored by the Dr. Eric Gritsch Memorial Fund. His topic will be "Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Through Parish Stories."
            St Philip, Roanke, is supporting three feeding centers in Mponola Parish, Malawi. They provide  meals for 150 orphans and vulnerable children. The congregation also serves 43 children through its Elijah's Backpack program in Roanoke County schools.                                                                  
            Melissa May, new intern in Rural Retreat Parish, has started holding services at  Holy Advent, Lebanon and St. Luke in the Walker Mountain Parish.
            Members of First, Norfolk, joined in the annual Out of Darkness Community Walks on Oct. 14 and 22, during the Weekend of Walking to Prevent Suicide.       
            Worship services at Peace Charlottesville, have been placed online on a YouTube channel. When the service is recorded and posted, a corresponding link will be put on the website.
            At Epiphany, Richmond, the Epiphany Freebirds are a group of people "whose nest has been emptied, been emptied for awhile or has always been empty.' They met for a  service project in October.
            More than 20 members of College Lutheran, Salem, participated in a Summer Read and Feed project of Salem Area Ecumenical Ministries, in which over 16,000 meals were sorted, packed and delivered to elementary schools.
            "Our church rocks!" they say at St. Mark, Charlottesville. They have one rocking chair in the welcome area but they are seeking donations of more chairs. "We want more people to rock and get to know each other better," was the message in Crossmarks, congregation newsletter.

Living in a broken world 
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton
         As I write this the Gulf Coast and Florida are starting the long recovery after hurricanes Harvey and Irma; Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are mostly without electricity and running low on water, food, medicine and gasoline after Hurricane Maria. All of us are reeling from the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. There are no words. We are stunned almost to the point of numbness.
            We try to make sense out of the incomprehensible. It's climate change. It's not climate change. We need more stringent gun control. We need to protect the Second Amendment. The federal government doesn't do enough. The local government doesn't do enough. Soon we're talking at each other, not to each other.  
             Natural disasters feel chaotic and capricious. The weather service has gotten pretty sophisticated in predicting paths of hurricanes but is not completely accurate. Tornadoes strike with little warning. Is this just the way of the natural world, or is God visiting judgment upon us? There is human involvement that can make natural disasters more damaging.
            The youth group in the last parish I served went on a work-week each summer. We did cleanup and rebuilding after tornadoes, floods and hurricanes in partnership with Lutheran Disaster Response and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. I guarantee that it was the poor whose homes were in the floodplain, who did not have the resources to rebuild and had to depend on volunteer labor.
             Evil perpetrated by human beings is a great mystery. How can a good and just God allow evil? Why would a man open fire on concertgoers, killing 59 and wounding more than 500? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good things happen to bad people? There have been various theodicies trying to make sense of this throughout human existence. I confess to you that I have no conclusive answer to these questions, except that we live in a broken world.
             Paul wrote: "The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now ..." (Romans 8:21-22). Though God created the heavens and the earth and declared the creation good, this is no longer a perfect world.  
            Paul also wrote: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7).
            Both of Paul's assertions are true. We live in a broken world-natural and human made, marred by human sin-and we rejoice in the Lord who is near and guards us with God's peace.
            Bishop Terry Brandt of the Eastern North Dakota Synod reminded us of this truth and this tension in his sermon to the Conference of Bishops the morning after the Las Vegas shooting. And he reminded us that when Paul was doing all that rejoicing, he was doing it from prison, awaiting execution after already enduring beatings, shipwreck, hunger and thirst. I wouldn't describe Paul as perky, but the joy he found in Jesus made him able to live in hope and believe in life even in the face of despair and death.
            So, dear church, we pray and lament and trust and hope. We stake our lives on the belief that God's life, hope and love are not platitudes, but the truth. We are moved to action and reconciliation. And when the next disaster or massacre happens, we do not lose hope because the Crucified One has been raised from the dead. 

A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: This column originally appeared in the November issue of Living Lutheran. Reprinted with permission.
LARCUM will look over five centuries 

            "500 Years Later: Ecumenical Dialogue as Gift and Call" will be the theme of the annual Virginia LARCUM (Lutheran, Roman Catholic,Episcopal, United Methodist) Conference in Richmond on Dec. 1-2. The presenter will be Susan K. Wood, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, Kans., and professor of systematic theology at Marquette University.
            Session topics include "The 2017 Centenary: How did we get here?" "Worship of the great assembly and signing of the LARCUM Covenant" and "The 2017 Centenary: A time of vulnerability and opportunity."  The conference registration fee of $35 may be sent to Rick Caporali, registrar, 7600 Old Keene Mill Road, Springfield, CA 22152.
            Bishop Bob Humphrey will give the closing devotions and Pastor Eric Moehring, the Synod ecumenical officer, will introduce the presenter. Epiphany Lutheran is one of four participating congregations in Richmond.  
Catholic priest calls for local unity

          In an historic Roanoke Valley Reformation service, Monsignor Joe Lehman of Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church challenged Lutherans to join Catholics in "doing things together in the name of Christ." Speaking at a festive service at St. Mark's, Roanoke, Lehman said the "fruitful dialogues" between Lutherans and Catholics nationally and internationally "could be happening on the local level" in Roanoke Valley.
            The Roanoke service and an Oktoberfest afterward was one of a myriad celebrations or commemorations of the Reformation anniversary across the Synod on the weekend of Oct. 29.  Concerts, Luther videos, games and children's activities were added to lectures and sermons observing the five centuries of history and looking to the future. 
Lehman spelled out four ways the two denominations could work together. A "Declaration on the Way" from the national dialogue contains 32 statements of agreement between the two church bodies so perhaps "we could study (them) together."
            Opportunities for common prayer and socializing could be more often. He plans to invite Lutherans to his church for prayer and fellowship after a nave renovation is complete, perhaps on Pentecost Sunday next year. Lehman called for participation in the annual LARCUM ecumenical conference between Lutherans, Catholics, Episcopalians and United Methodists, to be held in Richmond Dec. 1-2,.
            Since both church bodies do a great deal for the needy, the lost and abandoned, "we could be more intentional about doing together" through joint days of service or expanded Habitat projects.
            Catholics and Lutherans "preach the same gospel and profess the one faith ..with a different accent and language. And thankfully we are on one journey of reconciliation." the priest said.
            The Roanoke College choir traveled over 1,000 miles across the state, singing seven concerts in six days on  the theme, "A Mighty Fortress: Luther in Music," and then heading to the National Cathedral in Washington for a big service. Pastor Paul Henrickson, traveling with the choir as director of church relations for the college, said "Every concert made me a better person."
Bishop Bob Humphrey preached 
at a Staunton ecumenical service.
          Bishop Bob Humphrey preached at an ecumenical "Common Commemoration of the Reformation" for the Southern Valley Conference at Christ, Staunton. The Rev. Dan Rooney, a Catholic priest, was the preacher for a Richmond Conference  service on the theme, "From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation."
 Musicians in the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra played and the Symphony Chorus sang in "A Mighty Fortress: Musical Reformation" at College Lutheran, Salem. Interim Pastor Dwayne Westermann appeared briefly as Martin Luther. Singers in the chorus included Pastor David Skole, Christ, Roanoke, and his son, Josh Skole.

Ratke to follow Swanson at LFS
            Ray Ratke, chief operating officer of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia since 2011, will move up to chief executive office in January, following Julie Swanson, who is retiring after serving for 12 years..
            Ratke, who lives in Mechanicsville, has helped steer the agency through a period of dramatic growth while raising its statewide profile as an advocate for people with disabilties.
            LFS has a 130-year history of changing lives, Ratke said. "I am proud to be a part of that legacy but firmly believe that with our fantastic leadership and staff, our  best years are in front of us." 
            Ratke came to LFS after several leadership posts in state and local government human services. He was executive director of the Hanover Community Services board, chief deputy commissioner for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and special adviser for Children's Services in the Children's Services System Transformation initiative. He also did private consulting and provided technical assistance to localities receiving federal systems of care grants.
            Under Swanson's leadership, LFS has grown from an agency with a $9 million budget and fewer than 100 employees to nine locations with a $35 million budget and more than 400 employees in 36 offices, schools, centers and group homes. Robin Crowder, LFS board chair, said, "Thousands of families, adults and children have benefited because of Swanson's vision and leadership. We are in a very different place than a decade ago." With Ratke's experience and vision, she said, "we are positioned to continue expanding the breadth, reach and quality of Lutheran Family Services." 
"After 500 Years: Catholics and
Lutherans Together on the Way"  
     by Pastor Andy Ballentine, St. Stephen, Williamsburg
Dr. Kathryn Johnson spoke in Williamsburg.
            Reverence is necessary in ecumenical conversation," according to Bishop Denis J. Madden, a uxiliary bishop of Baltimore.  "Reverence is the stance of openness to what God is doing in others," according to Dr. Kathryn Johnson, director of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations for the ELCA.  "It is to revere what God is doing in the other person."
            For its 2017 Theologian in Residence program, St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Williamsburg, worked with Williamsburg's St. Bede Roman Catholic Church to bring in Bishop Madden and Dr. Johnson to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  Both presenters are important voices.
             In anticipation of this year's anniversary, a task force of four Catholics and four Lutherans produced the document, Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, and Eucharist.  Bishop Madden was the Catholic co-chair (along with former ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson) and Dr. Johnson was one of the ELCA task force members.
            Declaration on the Way was published in 2015.  It was accepted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and by the 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA.  It is rooted in the Catholic-Lutheran dialogues that have been ongoing since 1965, stating agreements that have been reached, "remaining differences and reconciling considerations," and proposed "next steps on the way."  This provided the framework for Bishop Madden and Dr. Johnson's presentations.
            The Friday evening session was held at St. Bede this past September 29.  The next morning's session was at St. Stephen.  Approximately 150 people participated, representing two Catholic parishes, four Lutheran churches, as well as an Episcopal and a United Methodist church.
            "Previous anniversaries of the Reformation were not helpful for church unity," according to Dr. Johnson.  The Lutheran tone of those anniversaries was triumphalist.  "They re-opened the wounds of the 16th century.  What has been beyond our expectation with this anniversary is that it is helping us move forward together," Dr. Johnson said.  A deep hunger for Christian unity has become manifest.  Catholics and Lutherans are "pushing the theologians of the church to get on with it," to work towards unity.
            "Pope Francis speaks so much of creating a culture of encounter," Bishop Madden said.  "I've been thinking a great deal about the reverence that we need in ecumenism.  It sets a tone and opens the heart so that the mind can apprehend what we are finding to be at hand."
            "It has been counter-cultural: to stay at the table, to work through differences, to trust each other," Dr. Johnson said about the past 50 years of Catholic-Lutheran dialogues.  It has yielded "unexpected fruitfulness."
            "We are no longer adjudicating the 16th century in our ecumenical dialogues with each other," said Dr. Johnson.  "Instead, we are looking at what the other church is teaching today."  As a result, Declaration on the Way documents and elaborates 32 issues that are no longer church dividing!  This orients us in hope and in the progress that has been made.  From this basis of shared beliefs and mutual respect, we continue to "do the hard work" on remaining differences.
            During the Saturday session, our presenters asked us to make all of this personal.  We broke into groups of six to eight and introduced ourselves: "Share one experience of the joy of the unity of Christ's people, and one experience when you knew the pain of our separation."  Then we discussed three questions.  "What did you hear last night and this morning that was especially surprising, or exciting, or challenging?"  "What implications could the events of this anniversary year have in your setting?"  And, "What questions emerge?"
            Dr. Johnson expressed the hope she shares with Bishop Madden that this is "just the beginning.  This is an opportunity for moving forward.  But it's not inevitable."  Both Lutherans and Catholics express legitimate fears of losing our boundaries and losing our identities.  But both presenters pointed us to what is possible when we give up our practice of "defining ourselves against each other," as Dr. Johnson put it.  "We become who we are through relationships." 
Sharon, Bland County, is 200! 

Sharon members and friends
gathered for the bicentennial.
Two centuries of Lutheran worship at Sharon, Ceres, were celebrated on Oct. 22 with a sermon by Bishop Bob Humphrey and a luncheon afterward. The small Bland County congregation has been aligned with Red Oak Lutheran, nearby, and St. Matthew in the town of Bland in the past.
            The congregation has observed "Moments to Remember," by Iris Pruett, at services led by retired Pastors Murray Ziegenfuss and Jim Bangle in this anniversary year. Lutherans and Presbyterians shared a log structure, the first of three preceding buildings. The congregation ordered toast, inscribed with an image of the church, for the anniversary.
ForwardingFaith Campaign
nearing goal  of $2.5 million
             The Virginia Synod's ForwardingFaith Campaign, which seeks to provide an endowment of $2.5 million to insure the continuation of faith formation programming in our Synod, is nearing its goal with $2.1 million in pledges in hand.
            Our Synod is known across the ELCA for its exceptional synod-wide events for youth including Winter Celebration, Lost & Found, Kairos, Youth Assembly and 7th Day.  Recognizing that faith formation continues throughout life, the ForwardingFaith Campaign will also insure that opportunities for adults like Power in the Spirit and the Ambassadors' Community for Theological Study (ACTS) will be supported in the years ahead.
            Upon the retirement of Ellen Hinlicky, Pastor Dwayne Westermann has been named as the ForwardingFaith campaign manager.  He will be responsible for
encouraging all congregations of the Synod to take advantage of free training sessions which provide a clear and concise plan for fund-raising within a congregation.
 According to Westermann, "We are very happy for congregations to use this fund-raising plan for any congregational needs they may have.  Of course, we hope that the ForwardingFaith Campaign will be supported by congregations as directly benefiting their youth and adults for many years to come.  Therefore, we hope congregations will use this excellent fund-raising plan to benefit themselves and their youth and adults far into the future through the ForwardingFaith Campaign."  
            Congregations which are considering support of the ForwardingFaith Campaign and have questions, are encouraged to visit the ForwardingFaith website at: and/or contact Pastor Westermann at, or call 540-353-6341. Westermann is interim pastor at College, Salem, where he served before his retirement. 
Wheatland Tractor Treat draws 1200
Riding a hay wagon
in Wheatland County
           Fourteen farm tractors and a lot of fall fun drew 1,200 people to a Tractor Treat community gathering at Wheatland Lutheran in Botetourt County Saturday, Oct. 21.
             Wheatland members planned the gathering "to celebrate creation, community, rural setting, Halloween and wonderful fellowship," said Charles "Chuck" Miller, who is leading the congregation. The tractors pulled hay wagon rides and everybody enjoyed bouncy house, rock and face painting and food.
             "God has blessed us with a wonderful way to connect with our neighbors and we are so happy to do so," Miller said. The celebration began three years ago with five tractors and about 70 people. The congregation is already planning Tractor Treat 2018.
Two Richmond churches will build

            Two Richmond churches---Christ the King and Epiphany---have started  capital campaigns for major building projects.
            Christ the King congregation voted "overwhelmingly" to start a three-year campaign to raise $1.3 million for construction of space supporting education, youth, fellowship and outreach ministries, as well as debt reduction and other facility improvements. The "Joined Together and Growing" campaign has a preliminary plan addressing the most immediate needs. A timeline coincides with the annual stewardship campaign, allowing the congregation to plan for the short and long term. This comes after nearly four years of discussion, visioning, listening, conceptual design creation and tweaking, said Brent Kemp, Council president.
            The congregation of Epiphany approved a capital campaign for a building update and expansion for a maximum of $340,000, under the theme, "Brighten Our Future."
            An architect will develop drawings for a new floor plan after meeting with mission teams to learn their requirements, Kyle Anderson, campaign chairman, said. He commended the "passion and energy of the congregation" at the start of the campaign.
Financing and construction are expected after a congregation meeting next spring, he said.
What does Reformation 500 mean?

            What does Reformation 500 mean for Virginia Lutherans? Here are four thoughts gleaned from congregation newsletters.

            Pastor Cindy Keyser, Christ, Roanoke:
            500 years later, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a denomination descended from Luther's reforms, is doing some amazing work in the U.S. and around the world in the name of the gospel---feeding the hungry, caring for the earth, educating new generations, proclaiming the good news of Christ crucified  and risen. Yet, even now we know, as our words of confession and forgiveness remind us, that we remain in need of reformation as individuals, as congregations, as a denomination, as the global Church. As the world changes, so must the church.

            Pastor Phillip Martin, Epiphany, Richmond:
            As I've grown, I've come to realize that truly taking the Reformation to heart means much more than looking into our past and shoring up our Lutheran identity. In fact, it means looking into the future. It means paying attention to new relationship and where God is leading the church in its service to the gospel, just like Luther did. And given all of the turmoil that came from the events 500 years ago, it also means that we shouldn't really celebrate Reformation anniversaries at all. It is, rather, an event that calls for commemoration---a time for thoughtful reflection and respectful acknowledgment---but not outright joy or pride. Why? Because ultimately the Reformation did what Martin Luther didn't want it to do: help to divide the church and fellow Christians in harmful and sometimes violent ways. Thank God, that in the past several decades the Holy Spirit has enabled Lutherans and Roman Catholics to look forward together with greater intensity and to promote visible unity.

            Pastor Viktoria Parvin,  St. Mark, Charlottesville:
            What does celebrating Reformation mean to us at St. Mark? Today we receive wine with communion, we hear the Bible in English and we freely receive words of forgiveness instead of paying for it. These are just a few things we take for granted that had to be reformed in Luther's time in order to follow Christ's command.

            Pastor Jeff May, St. Paul, Jerome:
            Anniversaries are not just for looking back, but for looking ahead. Lutherans have done much to reach out to other Christian communities and focus on the central beliefs of the Christian faith. In 1999, Catholic and Lutheran representatives signed the  joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification, a doctrine dear to the heart of Luther. The ELCA has been a leader in the ecumenical movement and is in full communion with six other Protestant bodies. Lutherans also participate in interfaith dialogue with Jews and Muslims. In response to the grace and forgiveness that have been freely given to us, we respond to the needs of others. 
Lutheran Women tell stories
     by Lola Heffner 
              The All Lutheran Women's bi-annual retreat was held October 13-15th,
2017, at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House and Conference Center in Fredericksburg, Sixty women from Metro DC and Virginia Synods attended, as well as
Pastor Brett leads discussion. 
some "Lutheran women" from Maryland and Missouri Synod.
              The theme for the two-day retreat, "Important Stories and Pointless People," was ledby Pastor Brett Davis from Georgetown Lutheran Church, Washington, DC and drawing on Dan Erlander's book, Tales of the Pointless People.  This study, which emphasized the belief that we don't need to accumulate "points" to be acceptable to God was supported with Biblical Storytelling, fellowship, music, prayer and worship throughout the weekend. A special blue grass mass was led by Pastor Jim Baseler, a retired pastor.of Virginia Synod.
             All Lutheran Women are a completely independent group (not supported directly by any one synod) with the goal of coming together as Lutheran women, to fellowship, study, and worship. Our mission includes providing a retreat for ALL Lutheran women of Virginia Synod and the Metro-DC Synod, as well as our sisters in the Missouri Synod churches of our state and the area churches for the North American Lutheran Church.
             This organization started in the 1980's, when the ELCA was formed and current synod lines were drawn.  Many of the women, nearly 40 years ago, wanted to keep in contact with one another and began the retreats as a way to do that.  Over the years we have tried to become intentionally inclusive for Missouri Synod women and most recently, the NALC. We have a retreat every other year.  Our next retreat will be the fall of 2019.
            This year, the Lutheran Women collected money at the Friday night and Sunday morning services for Lutheran Disaster Response.  $2,450 was collected and was matched by Thrivent, which doubled our offering to $4,900.  And so, after a wonderful weekend of renewal, we were able to contribute to Lutheran Disaster Response very generously.  We were happy to be able to support this relief effort in this way, but realize that we don't get points for this, because we are "Pointless People".
            The next All Lutheran Women's Retreat will be held in 2019.  The planning committee for that retreat is already formed and working, so listen for the details of another wonderful weekend to come.




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