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

This Luther traveled all year 
Luther visited the science museum. 
            During the past year, youth at Messiah, Mechanicsville, were provided with a Traveling Luther, a flat caricature of Martin Luther, (distributed around the Synod) to be their boon companion during the 500th\ Anniversary year of the Reformation.
            The traveling youngsters submitted selfies with pictures of their Traveling Luther in sometimes ordinary or often peculiar places. With the help of family and friends , Traveling Luthers made it to locations close to home as well as throughout the U. S., the Caribbean, Mexico and even India.
            As All Souls Episcopal and Messiah Lutheran gathered to commemorate the Reformation anniversary, Max Williams, aged 7, was awarded the grand prize, a plush Martin Luther, for his photo taken at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Bishop Eaton's column.
Derrick to be bishop's assistant
Roanoke College at 175
Chrismons are 60 years old!..
Lutherans, Catholics worship together
Ministerium Gathering..a time to connect with colleagues
Taylor to lead ACTS
Youth on a mission
Lutherans in the news
            Pastor Ingrid Chenoweth has moved to Good Shepherd, Front Royal, after serving a three-point parish in the Allegheny Synod of Pennsulvania for five years. A former teacher, she's a graduate of Southern Seminary. She and her husband, Rob, have a son, Curtis, and two daughters, Meg, a student at Virginia Tech, and Summer, a high school exchange student in Germany.
Retired Pastor Ken Ruppar, Richmond, received the David E. White Leadership Award of the Military Officers Association (MOAA) given with the Military Chaplains Association (MCA). It was presented at the October meeting of the chaplains organization in Newport News. The award recognizes lifetime commitment as a chaplain, vision for joint service and inter-agency collaboration and overall ministry professionalism. Ruppar is secretary of the MCA; he expands MOAA service, leads seminars and serves as national secretary of the chaplains organization and board member for local and state chapters. Ruppar retired from Our Saviour, North Chesterfield, and is chaplain for Chesterfield County Police Department and executive director for the National Association of Lutheran Interim Pastors.
            Grace, Winchester, has employed a new music director/organist, W. Dudley Oakes, who has taught at Shenandoah University, Virgfnia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Thiel College in Pennsylvania and other schools. He also is vice president of a Quebec pipe organ company. Also, scholarships will be offered church music and music education students at Shenandoah University who will participate in Grace choirs.
            St. Philip, Roanoke, has a new tagline, "Live like that: Love, Feed, Serve" and a new logo that the congregation hopes will give "direction and inspiration to our discipleship and faith." The congregation provided a Thanksgiving meal for about 350 people last month.  
            Visitors from Bethania Kids mission in India spoke at Bethel, Winchester, on Nov. 12. They described the work of the girls home and care centers, helping more than 1,000 people. Pastor David Young of Bethel gave them a check for $37,133for the new Shalom Home for Girls.

Disengage the autopilot 
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton
            I was driving to work one day thinking about my schedule-the meetings I needed to attend, reports I needed to finish, preparations still to be completed for upcoming travel, email I needed to answer, phone calls I absolutely had to make, and compiling a grocery list in my head so I would pick up what I needed for supper on the way home from work. All of a sudden I found myself pulling into the parking garage at the Lutheran Center. I had driven the 9 miles to work and had no idea how I got there. I didn't remember the traffic lights, the turns, the scenery-nothing. I had been so absorbed in what was coming up that I was completely oblivious to the present. 
           I think this experience is not unique to me. We set part of our lives on autopilot and set the planning, list-making, what-if scheduling part on overdrive. Our culture actually encourages this. When do back-to-school sales start showing up in stores? When do Christmas decorations appear in town squares and at the mall? We have already seen evidence that the next presidential campaign is underway. It can be light all the time now. Burgers or tacos at your favorite fast-food emporium are available around the clock. It's disorienting. We're thrown out of rhythm.
            I remember how confused I became when I first started my call as synod bishop. Gone were the familiar patterns of parish ministry: Monday I got organized for the week, Wednesday night was catechism, Thursday night was choir practice, and everything pointed toward Sunday. The year made sense: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost. As synod bishop and in my current call, we plan so far in advance that I'm not always sure what time of year it is-and there are so many time zones!
Now, planning is a good and necessary thing. One ought to be aware of what is coming up, what needs to be done, and where one needs to be. But I found that I was so driven by all of the contingencies and possibilities that I was everywhere all of the time and therefore not anywhere at all.
            I asked my spiritual director about this and she recommended that I meditate on these four words: "Just this. Just now." It's a simple discipline, but not an easy one. It can alleviate all that anticipatory stress, but only if we are willing to quiet down. Near the end of Psalm 46, after descriptions of tumult and uproar, the Lord says, "Be still and know that I am God." 
            Here we are in Advent. This season doesn't exist in secular culture, where everything is barreling toward Christmas. No time to wait, no time to notice, no time to be present. Not this. Not now. All of a sudden we will find ourselves on the day after Christmas not knowing how we got there.
            Advent is a holy season, a season that bids us to be present, to be still. So much is evoked in this season-hope, longing, the bittersweet awareness that the world is beautiful and broken. Consider all of these things. Sit with them. Pray with them. Be aware of this time of great promise that comes, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, when night is longest. "In a momentary meeting of eternity and time, Mary learned she would carry both the mortal and divine" (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 258). Disengage the autopilot. Notice.
            The rest of that Advent hymn invites us to be present:
We are called to ponder mystery and await the coming Christ, to embody God's compassion for each fragile human life.
           God is with us in our longing to bring healing to the earth, while we watch with joy and wonder for the promised Savior's birth.
           Just this. Just now.  
A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: This column originally appeared in the December issue of Living Lutheran. Reprinted with permission.
Pastor Kelly Derrick to be bishop's assistant

            The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick of St. Philip, Roanoke, has accepted a call to serve as assistant to the bishop, serving in the southwest area of synod. As Bishop Bob Humphrey fills out his new staff, a nationwide posting has gone out for a director for evangelical mission/assistant to the bishop, living in the east.
             Pastor Dave Delaney will focus on the synod's trademark ministries and institutions serving youth and young adults. Deacon Mindy Reynolds will be leaving the post of synodical minister for healthy leadership and wellness. Pastor Chris Price is retiring as assistant to the bishop in the east. Lisa Aliagas is leaving the synod support staff at Salem.
            These changes, effective Jan. 1, are part of a new plan "designed to provide as much support as possible in helping congregations, rostered ministers, institutions, agencies and the wider church meet the challenges and take advantage of new ministry and mission opportuniies. We are excited about and committed to building bridges that connect the richness of our past with the amazing potential God has in store for our future."
            Derrick grew up in Mechanicsville and graduated from the University of Virginia and Gettysburg Seminary. She was ordained in 2007 and serves at St. Philip with her husband, Pastor David Derrick. She teaches at Hollins University and she was re-elected to Synod Council in June. The Derricks have three sons, Tyler, a Roanoke College student; Drew and Reece, who attend Northside High School. Derrick's mother is Diane Bayer, Christian formation minister at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg. Derrick's sister is Kristi Downs, whose husband is Charles Downs, vice president of Synod.
            Bishop Humphrey said Derrick is "committed to and an innovative leader in ministries of social justice, equality, accompaniment globally and locally, Christian formation and faith." She has "complementary skills, perspectives and experiences that will significantly expand and enhance our mission and ministry in the Virginia Synod."
           In seven years of service, Deacon Mindy Reynolds, diaconal minister for healthy leadership and wellness, organized "key ministries for building and supporting healthy leaders and churches in the Synod through the re-introduction of the Healthy Congregations Initiative and Pastoral leadership Consulting Groups.
Roanoke College is 175 

          Last Monday, hundreds iof Roanoke College students and four photographers collaborated to form the numbers---175--on the school's soccer/hockey field to mark the 175th anniversary year in a promotional photograph.
Chrismons are 60 years old! 
            The 60th anniversary of the creation of chrismons by the late Frances Kipps Spenser of Ascension, Danville, will be observed on Sunday, Dec. 10.
            Ascension's classic chrismon tree, a model for churches around the world, will be on display from Dec. 10 to 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. daily, and on Sundays from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Groups planning a visit may contact the church office at Ascension at 434-792-5795.

Lutherans, Catholics worship together
Brenden Paget lit a candle during the All Saints service in Richmond. 
            On All Saints Day, some 360 Richmond area Lutherans and Roman Catholic members gathered to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at Epiphnay Lutheran Church. The.service was based on the joint Lutheran World Federation-Catholic event with Pope Francis in Sweden last year.
            During the service, representative families and individuals signifying different segments of the faith communities read the Five Ecumenical Imperatives for Catholics and Lutherans and lit candles. These Imperatives were agreed in "From Conflict and Communion," a joint document of the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican.Pastor Louis Florio of Messiah, Mechanicsville, dean of the Richmond Conference, presided at the service. Other Lutherans participating were the Rev. Phillip Martin and Graham Boyle of the host church, the; Revs. Kim Triplett and Elizabeth Yates. Kevin Barger, director of music at Epiphany, led a combined choir from Epiphany and Christ Lutheran.  
Ministerium Gathering:    
a time to connect with colleagues  
     by Pastor Ken Albright, Grace and Glory, Palmyra 
            The annual Gathering of the Ministerium was held in Virginia Beach at the
Holiday Inn, October 9-11. While the intent of the gathering is clear, to provide opportunity for rostered leaders to support one another in their vocation, and be renewed through worship and education for the work of ministry, the beauty of this event is truly in the eye of the beholder.
            The Rev. Lauren Miller, pastor of Peace, Charlottesville, who preached at one of the gathering's worship opportunities, said she finds the Gathering to be one of the most "well-rounded events" she attends in the course of the year. "It's a time to connect with colleagues, who are in the trenches with us, and support each other through the highs and lows of ministry." Pastor Miller appreciates the fact that it "provides opportunity to engage the head through academics, the heart, through worship, and a chance to just relax with a walk on the beach."
            Another beholder of the Gathering was retired Pastor Lillian Russell-Nicolai who is serving as the vice pastor for Hebron, Madison. She appreciated the "mini sabbatical, to learn and relax, and worship together for a few days." She also found this year's lectures, presented by Dr. Michael DeJonge, associate professor of religious studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa to be "a fresh and insightful perspective on 'Reading Luther With Bonhoeffer.' Over all he presented his thesis with enthusiasm and kept the interest of his listeners."
            This particular gathering offered the opportunity for some Q &A with our new bishop, the Rev. Bob Humphrey, who conveyed a strong sense of vision for the future, along with a well-grounded understanding that we walk the road together, a thankful heart, and a conviction that this is a great time to be the church for the sake of the world.
Pastor Karen Taylor to lead ACTS

            Pastor Karen Taylor of Bethlehem, Waynesboro, has been called by Synod Council to lead the successful ACTS program, following the retirement of Dr. Phyllis Milton, who led it for five years. Milton is a pastor at Gloria Dei, Hampton.
            Pastor Taylor came from Pittsburgh in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod to serve at Hebron, Madison, from 2005 to 2010 when she was called to a part=time position at Bethlehem. A second career pastor, she is a graduate of the former Gettysburg Seminary, now part of United Lutheran Seminary.
            Her hope for the ACTS program is to continue the good work that is underway in the expansion of the diversity of the pool of presenters and allow them increasing creativity in teaching the courses. Beyond that, she said she hopes to work through the ACTS Steering Committee to find new ways to increase the visibility of the ACTS program in the congregations of Synod and to encourage participation in this valuable resource for lay people and pastors.
            "One of the main tasks of a pastor's call is to equip the saints for ministry," Taylor said. "We all try to do that as faithfully as we can but, honestly, we often are not sure whether we're being very successful. When I look into the faces of participants in any ACTS class, I see clearly that in this program we are doing something right for that task. I think that's why our presenters so enjoy being a part of ACTS and I know that's one of the reasons I love this process."
            Taylor and her husband, Ron, are the parents of three grown children and the grandparents of a 10-year old grand daughter, Katie, who is the light of their lives.
Youth on a mission 
             Hundreds of Virginia Synod youth will be returning home from synod-wide youth events this fall and early next year on a mission.  Their mission is to find out what their congregations are doing to support the ForwardingFaith Campaign and to offer their help. 
        As these young people learned at Lost&Found this fall and will hear at Winter Celebration and other youth events next year, ForwardingFaith is the synod-wide appeal to establish a fund which will ensure there is adequate funding and staff support for the Synod's several youth events as well as other adult events where the faith is forwarded such as Power in the Spirit. \
As for youth, here is what is happening across our synod, from a high school senior:  
           "My first event was Lost&Found. I was reluctant to go because singing and learning about the Bible sounded like a chore. Little did I know that weekend would ignite my faith and rearrange my views on life.  Fast forward to now, 10 events later, and synod events are the best weekends of my life and my faith can only grow stronger.  I look forward to being a youth event leader in the future. Johnny S.  
           This is what we call ForwardingFaith!  We hope the young members of every congregation across our synod are having their faith "ignited" at Virginia Synod youth events and in their own congregations.
Please contact us for more information about the ForwardingFaith Campaign: 
Call Pastor Dwayne Westermann, Campaign Manager (540)353-6341




Editor:  George Kegley   
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