Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.
405 travel to Youth Gathering
405 Virginia Lutheran youth and chaperones are enjoying the ELCA Naional Youith Gathering of more than 30,000 people at Hoston,TX, under the theme, "This Changes Everything." They will return, changed, on July 2-3. Many Lutherans at home are watching the event as it is streamed online.
Teresa Shafferman of Grace, Winchester, coordinator for the trip, said they took an emergency room doctor, to cover any emergency.
The Synod youth collected over $300 to buy books for children in Houston, whose parents cannot afford to buy needed books.
Lutherans in the news
Suzanne Stierwalt has been called to
St. Andrew, Portsmouth, and she will be ordained on July 28 at
St Mark, Yorktown, where she previously was a vicar.
Stierwalt came from
, and graduated from Virginia Wesleyan and Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, and studied at the former
While supplying at St. Andrew for two years, she reported that church attendance has doubled. She and her husband, Joe, a Naval officer, have two daughters,
and a new granddaughter,
Pastor Shelby DePriest
will retire July 30 after serving at
Faith, Fort Valley,
16 years. Before ordination in 2002, she was a licensed professional counselor in private practice at Lake Oswego, Oregon. She also worked as an accountant at industries in Virginia, New Jersey and Indiana. Her husband is the
Rev. J. Paul Balas,
professor emeritus of pastoral theology at the former Gettysburg Seminary
Pastor Bill Nabers has accepted a call to the
Valley Mountain Parish, comprised of
Trinity, Keezletown, and
Spaders, St. Jacobs, Mt. Crawford. He follows former
Pastor Evan Davis. Nabors previouly served at
St. Paul, Strasburg, for five years and at
Spaders for three years,.
Pastor Harry Griffith, Our Saviour, Virginia Beach, has been appointed dean of
Tidewater Conference, following
Pastor Cathy Mims, First Lutheran, Norfolk.
Pastor Paul Henrickson, retired
Roanoke College chaplain, will be interim pastor at
St. Michael, Blacksburg, after
Pastor John Wertz Jr. was named to the new post of director of evangelical mission and assistant to the bishop.
Pastor Jeff May has been named vice pastor of the
Stoneyman Parish, where
Pastor Alex Zuber has resigned.
Pastor Gerald Strek, a retired pastor, has moved from East Berlin, Pa. in the
Lower Susquehanna Synod to the
Roanoke College Chaplain Chris Bowen, and
Dr. Paul Hinlicky, of the college faculty, accompanied four Roanoke students to a Baltimore conference of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology.
Anna Derrick, Harrisonburg, and
Allison Tice, Hickory, N.C., are Lutherans. Nathaniel Willis, Bedford, and Matthew McKinney, Roanoke, also attended the conference.
Pastor Chris Carr
will be on sabbatical leave from Christ the King, Richmond, from June 17 to Sept. 23. He plans Bible study, work in biblical story-telling and a study retreat.
Jim Anderson, Grace, Winchester, received a Compassionate Service Award from
Winchester-Frederick-Clarke Habitat for Humanity for over 100 hours of service as coordination of Habitat house construction for a refugee family.
Lessa Mayfield of
Grace received a Special Project Award as the architect who designed the Habitat house.
The congregation council of
Epiphany, Richmond, has approved a construction budget of $2.6 million for expansion and restoration of church facilities with an additional $600,000-$800,000 for soft costs of furniture and furnishings, security wiring and hiring a construction manager. Epiphany also is planning sermon-based small groups of about 10 members as a "way for a large community to be made smaller."
Tom Powell, new director of Camp Caroline Furnace, and his wife,
Lee Ann Powell have issued a challenge for eight families to donate $250 to replace a cabin roofing at the camp. Part of the cost was met with a
Thrivent Action Plan.
The hiking club at
Redeemer, Bristol, planned a walk across Roan Mountain in North Carolina and Tennessee "to enjoy fellowship with each other and the beauty of God's creation which is so evident here in the Southern Appalachian mountains."
At St. Michael, Virginia Beach, larners are a group of dedicated women who meet to recycle grocery bags into mats for those who are in need of a warm, dry place to sleep. For seven years, they have met to knit the bags by hand while sharing fellowship.
Messiah, Mechanicsville, scheduled a 50th anniversary picnic, to be followed by a congregational picture taken by a drone as members gathered in the shape of 50.
Mount Calvary, Mt. Jackson, celebrated its seventh annual church music Sunday.
Darren Steadman, son of
Diana Steadman of Mount Calvary, was to be ordained June 1 after he accepted a call to serve as assistant rector at
Christ Episcopal Church, Glen Allen.
Our Saviour, Norge, the
WELCA organization sponsored an Affinity Group discussion, "A Conversation on Race," moderated by
All Together Williamsburg, a community organization bridging racial, ethnic and cultural lines.
Rev. Rachel Menke, new associate pastor at
St Mark, Yorktown, grew up in Uncasville, CT, and worked in marketing for the WNBA basketball team, the Connecticut Sun. This was incorrectly reported in the June Virginia Lutheran.
Assembly celebrates $2.6 million
in gifts for ForwardingFaith Campaign
Some 350 voting members and guests celebrated the $2.6 million raised for the
ForwardingFaith campaign, talked about building bridges from a rich past to a promising future and explored the theme, "Only by Grace Can We Stand" at the 31st annual Virginia Synod Assembly at Roanoke College June 8-10.
The campaign, surpassing a goal of $2.5 million, insures continuation of youth events recognized across the church, also supports faith formation for adults. Of the synod's 150 congregations, 37 have participated and the campaign continues. Bishop Bob Humphrey said, "I think we can reach $3 million, $4 million or even $5 million."
Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, director of the Campaign for the ELCA and the ELCA representative, spoke of the synod's generosity in giving $698,703 for ELCA mission support, almost a quarter-million dollars for ELCA World Hunger and over $268,000 to the ELCA Campaign. "Lutherans stay 'til the job is done," he said.
In several keynote talks based on building bridges, Bishop Humphrey said that despite "the conflicts that divide us...Can we speak to one another in love? ..Sinful labels do not define us..I pray that the world might know God's incredible love...The church is one of the few places where people with differences can meet together no matter where they come from." After each talk, small groups discussed the theme. One topic was format of the Assembly. Some suggested shorter meetings and different locations.
The Assembly approved a memorial celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women next year. An amendment calls on the church to establish goals and
strategies to achieve comparable compensation for ordained women with that of ordained men as soon as reasonable.
Judy Casteele of Good Shepherd, Lexington, said hearings are being scheduled for comment on the draft of the ELCA Women and Justice Social Statement. In her work, she has heard "story after story of violence against women." Comments will go to a task force and then to the next ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
ELCA faces leadership shortage
Dr. David Ratke of Southern Seminary spoke of the serious leadership shortage in the church. Only one pastoral candidate is available for every three or four vacancies, he said. He asked the Assembly to consider "perhaps God is calling you." Ratke cited a biblical reference, "the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few."
That call was echoed by Pastor Ruth Hamilton, ELCA Region 9 candidacy and leadership manager. "This church needs all kinds of leaders," she said. Challenging the Assembly, she asked, "The call is for every one of you..Have you ever thought about being a pastor?" She urged voting members to reach out and encourage candidates for ministry.
The Assembly approved a 2019 spending plan of $2,041,430 against anticipated revenue of $2,030,000, resulting in a small deficit projected budget, 2 percent greater than in 2018. The projection follows two years of strong congregational support, said George "Skip" Zubrod, interim treasurer. The new budget contains a slight increase in ELCA support from 42 percent to 42.5 percent. Last year, synod congregations gave $1,734,257, which was $3,000 better than budgeted.
Kahill elected synod treasurer
Dan Kahill of Christ Lutheran, Roanoke, was elected to a three-year term as treasurer of the Virginia Synod at the annual Assembly June 8-10. He was elected without opposition to succeed Evan Davis. George "Skip" Zubrod has been serving as interim treasurer after Davis moved out of state.
Kahill, retired purchasing manager for Roanoke Cement Co., is on the finance committee of the board of Virginia Lutheran Homes and chair of the finance committee of his congregation.
Other elections were held for Synod Council and voting members of the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee. Those elected to Synod Council:
Tyler Wertman, Grace, Waynesboro; Rev. Jonathan Boynton, Grace, Waynesboro; the Rev. Leslie Scanlon, Grace, Chesapeake, and the Rev. Lauren Miller, Peace, Charlottesville. Persons for lay and youth representative slots will be appointed by Synod Council.
Voting members of the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee will be:
Pastors Kathryn Pocalyko, Our Saviour, Richmond; Martha Miller Sims, Grace, Winchester; Phyllis Milton, Gloria Dei, Hannpton, and Timothy Crummitt, St. Paul's, Hampton; Mycah McNutt, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg; Hunter Simpkins, Grace, Chesapeake; Megan Crummitt, St. Paul's, Hampton, and Deacon Christy Huffman, St. Michael, Virginia Beach.
"Newness of Life" is Power theme
"Walking in Newness of Life" will be the theme of Power in the Spirit on July 12-14 on the Roanoke College campus. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, a pastor who works on Lutheran dialogue with Orthodoxy and Pentecostal churches at the Institute for Ecumenical Research at Strasbourg, France.
Wilson, also editor of the Lutheran Forum, and her husband, Dr. Andrew Wilson, are on their way to Japan where she will be associate pastor of Tokyo Lutheran Church and he will teach church history at Japan Lutheran College and Seminary. Andrew Wilson will lead a course on a 1910 walk following Martin Luther's pilgrimage to Rome. Sarah Wilson is the daughter of Dr. Paul and Ellen Hinlicky.
The Bible study will be led by Dr. Mark Allen Powell, New Testament professor at Trinity Seminary, an internationally known biblical scholar and a familiar speaker in the synod. He will lead BIble study on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
A program for children, aged 3 to 10,will be led by Renee Durieux of Peace, Charlottesville. Two service projects will be offered: Helping to provide a variety of play equipment for students of Minnick schools and working with Pastor Paul Henrickson on a Habitat construction project in Roanoke. Play equipment or money may be donated for the schools. A conference choir will sing Thursday evening and at the closing worship service Saturday.
Among the 28 courses to be offered will be studies of "loving Jesus in a complicated world," Nazi persecution of the church, Biblical story-telling, how to come a reconciling in Christ congregation, Bishop Bob Humphrey talking about building bridges, the agrarian message of Amos, Hosea and Micah and Arab Christians in the Holy Land.
Daniel and Sarah Hess start internship
Daniel and Sarah Lyon Hess will be serving as interns in the Rural Retreat Parish and also working with the Walker Mountain Parish of Wythe County in the coming year.
Working with Pastor Jonathan Hamman of Rural Retreat, they will serve St. Luke, Holy Advent and Lebanon in the Walker Mountain Parish. They follow Melissa May, who has served there in the past year.
The couple met as counselors at Lutheran Camp Caroline Furnace and married at St. John's Chapel at the camp in January. Daniel Hess, a native of Ashland, was a member of Epiphany, Richmond, and an environmental science graduate of Bridgewater College and United Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg. At camp, he worked as an out-trip wilderness guide. Through leading worship and Bible studies, he discerned a call to the ministry..
Sarah Hess grew up in Northern Virginia, attending King of Kings Lutheran in Fairfax. A sociology major at James Madison University, she also attended United Seminary. She was program director at Caroline Furnace and youth director at King of Kings Church.
Pastor Thord Einarsen dies at 73
Pastor Thord David Einarsen, 73, died April 22. He was ordained in 1973 and served at Wheatland in Botetourt County and Our Saviour's, Norge, before retiring at Williamsburg.
A native of Teaneck, N.J.,he grew up in Harrisonburg, graduated from Eastern Mennonite University and Southern Seminary. Surviving are his wife, Karen Einarsen; a son, Christopher Thord Einarsen; brother-in-law, Gene Ward, and nephews, Brian and Michael.
A memorial service was held at St. Stephen, Williamsburg, on April 25.
Women plan a "Youthful Event"
"Let Us Encourage" will be the theme for the annual gathering of Virginia Synodical Women's Organization at Bethel Lutheran, Winchester, Aug. 3-4.
Jody Smiley, VSWO president, said the gathering will be patterned after the synod youth events. Plans are for a large group with skits, singing and small sessions. She calls it a "Youthful Event."
The churchwide representative will be Lydia Davila, a board member of Women of the ELCA, . Bishop Bob Humphrey will participate. Judy Casteele will present the ELCA draft Social Statement on Women and Justice. Health kits will be assembled as a service project.
As a cost-saving effort, members have been asked to download the convention bulletin of reports and bring this on a portable device. All women pastors in the synod have been invited to attend,
Solomon, Quicksburg, is 225 years old
Solomon Lutheran at Quicksburg marks its 225th anniversary this year, leading the list of celebration recognized at the Synod Assembly. Bishop Bob Humphrey preached at a service of Thanksgiving on June 3. Joel Walkley, a supply pastor, presided. A covered dish lunch followed the service.
Other congregational anniversaries celebrated this year: St. Jacobs-Spaders, Mt. Crawford, 175 years; Grace, Waynesboro, 125 years; St. Michael, Blacksburg, Messiah, Mechanicsville, and St. Mark, Yorktown, 50 years, and St. Thomas, Bealetown, 25 years.
The Rev, Hugo M. Rathkamp Jr., Williamsburg, was recognized for the 65th anniversary of his ordination. Those honored for the 60th anniversary of ordination:
Pastors C. Marcus Engdahl, Virginia Beach; Cliffod Olsen, Portsmouth; John F. Taylor Jr., Edinbug L. Warren Strickleer, Gaithersburg, MD;. And Malcolm L. Minnick Jr., Wayzata, MN. Paastor Henry "Hank" Boschenm, Huddleston, and Waldron A. Rosheim, Locust Grove, 55 years.
Pastors Jack D. Kingsbury and Richard Olsen, Richmond, marked their 50th anniversaries. Three who were recognized on the 25th anniversary of ordination were Pastors Cameron Keyer, Trinity, Stephens City; Paul H. Pingel, Grace, Waynesboro, and Richard Mott.
How Good Shepherd, Lexington
became a reconciling congregation
by Pastor Lyndon Sayers
(Good Shepherd, Lexington, has joined St. Mark, Charlottesville, and Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, as a reconciling congregation)
"What would it take for Good Shepherd to become a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation?" Turk McCleskey, lay delegate at Virginia Synod Assembly 2016, asked and this got the ball rolling.
Judy Casteele, another lay delegate, Turk and I had just heard Pr. Sandy Wisco speak about RIC. She had recently retired from St. Mark Lutheran in Charlottesville, another RIC congregation. Judy and I were enthusiastic about the idea but we were not sure it would work in our congregation in Lexington. And yet the Holy Spirit was at work among us. Later, we continued the conversation with church council, invited Pr. Wisco to speak to council about the RIC process in 2017, and we began public discussions this past Advent about becoming a congregation overtly welcoming the LGBTQIA+ community.
Like many of our congregations, we have had people active in our church who openly identify as queer (a word that the community has reclaimed in recent years as something positive). I remember one Sunday several years ago, celebrating graduating students from Washington & Lee University. One student gave words of appreciation before the congregation during coffee hour, thanking everyone at Good Shepherd for creating a welcoming space for him at church during his time of coming out on campus. That was a courageous act on his part and spoke to the trust he had developed among us and the relationships he had built over his four years.
We have also had a faculty member at W&L who identifies as queer, share with us his perspective, and accompany us on our RIC journey, offering us honest feedback. He has also served on church council, lending his voice as to why overt welcome to members of the LGBTQIA+ is still needed.
Sometimes people think the church is already beyond the need for overt welcome, but that's not the case when you talk to people who identify as queer. For them church is largely a place of exclusion, so no amount of "all are welcome" signs really convinces them that it applies to people like them.
In Advent 2017 we launched the first of five monthly public discussions about the RIC process, which met during our Bible study hour before Sunday worship. The first discussion centered around a Bible study about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Soon we sensed a restlessness among some who wanted to discuss the issues of welcoming our queer siblings in Christ more directly.
We invited our youth group and leaders to lead the second session, which centered around a brainstorming session. We looked at samples of RIC welcome statements other congregations had adopted, writing down words, phrases, Biblical images, and passages of scripture that spoke to us. We tasked a core group with shaping these ideas into our own draft statement, which better represented the body of Christ incarnate at Good Shepherd.
Discerning when to call the vote was also important, making sure we had the vast majority of the congregation's support. We recognized that we had a lot of momentum behind us after only six months of our public process. Rather than delay or defer the vote, we decided to hold it on Day of Pentecost 2018. There was a sense most people were ready to vote. As a result we voted on Pentecost Sunday and 80% of those present at our special congregation meeting voted in favor becoming a RIC congregation.
Our work continues. Turk and I spoke to the Synod Youth Assembly in June, inviting the youth gathered to craft their own RIC welcome statements. We are also interested in reaching out and helping other congregations wanting to begin the RIC process. At least a half-dozen congregations in the Virginia Synod are eager to begin or continue RIC conversations. Maybe yours is as well.
Consider that while the RIC welcome extends an overt welcome to the LGBTQIA+ community, it also extends to the table of welcome to other groups on the margins. Check out Good Shepherd's statement and those of other RIC congregations for inspiration:
Welcome to God's house at Good Shepherd. We strive to live by Jesus' command: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). Just as Jesus first called all humankind in grace and love, so too we offer you a seat at God's table. We all are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27), so we believe God loves people of all ages, abilities, and races.
God loves all of us, including those who are transgender, non-binary, queer, or straight. God loves our many types of families, in their immense diversity. God loves us without regard for our education, wealth, or faith. Join us in worship today; join us in welcoming a newcomer tomorrow. United, we reflect God's infinite image!
reconcilingworks.org (check out menu selections: "Reconciling in Christ (RIC)" and then "Building an Inclusive Church" as well as the "Resources" tab).
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries for accompanying congregations calling openly queer rostered leaders and for queer seminarians and rostered leaders
queertheology.com offering theological and Biblical background on queer issues, including articles and podcasts
For More Information Contact:
Rev. Lyndon Sayers: firstname.lastname@example.org
Col. Turk McCleskey, VMI history professor and retired Marine officer:
Also check out Tapestry, the VA Synod's social justice team:
THE VIRGINIA LUTHERAN
A MONTHLY NEWS PUBLICATION OF THE VIRGINIA SYNOD, ELCA
Editor: George Kegley
Voice: 540-366-4607; Email: email@example.com
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.