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                                                                                          DECEMBER 2016
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

Giving thanks for Christ, Roanoke

          Marion Kerfoot, a member of Christ, Roanoke, gave this answer to the question, "For what are you thankful?" posed by Mike Casey in his column in The Roanoke Times on Thanksgiving Day.
            "I am so thankful for my church family, Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2011 Brandon Ave. They have been a special blessing in my life. I am an 86-year-old widow and living in my own home. My church family has been weeding, mulching and doing lots of yard work for me. I walk with a cane and am not able to physically do much any more.
            "Men, women and children show up at my house wearing yellow T-shirts that read in black letters, "God's work, our hands." I am so thankful for all they do for me. My love and blessings to them."
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Welcome to Advent by Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Pastor Paul Huddle celebrates his 100th
St. Stephen plans for 500th with festivals, theologians, plays and more
Trinity members do God's work on Reformation Sunday
Micah's Backpack guidebook published.
Martin Luther vs. the evangelicals.
New stewardship resource available
Quick Links
Lutherans in the news
            Trinity congregation in Newport News will vote Sunday, Dec. 4, on a primary candidate for pastor and members of Holy Trinity, Wytheville, will vote on a candidate on Sunday, Dec. 11. Trinity has been served by Pastor Jim Cobb as interim since Pastor Fred Guy retired and Pastor Jim Bangle has been the interim pastor at Holy Trinity since the retirement of Pastor Steve Ridenhour.
            The three-year term call for Pastor Jon and Sister Jennie Myers at the Bedford Mission was not renewed so the mission will return to part-time pastoral support for the time being and the Myers are seeking a call. Services have been held at several places during renovation of the Bower Center for the Arts, the main worship site. Under a slogan, "A Church with a Heart," the mission commissioned an altar, podium, communion ware and candle stands from local artists. Quilters created paraments.
Fulfilling a promise, Pastor Rick Goeres shaved his beard in response to the "generous response" of the congregation of First, Norfolk, to a building fund and intention for the 2017 church financial program.
            Emily Kircheval was recognized as "a great asset" in the newsletter of St. John, Norfolk. Now 91, she was a charter member of St. John when it was organized in 1957. She was president of the Lutheran Council of Tidewater and is currently coordinator of Lutheran Women of Tidewater. She has worked with Girl Scouts for 70 years; she exercises with
three senior groups; she recently painted two rooms and she has traveled to 30 countries and 15 islands. Kircheval and her late husband, John Kircheval, a Navy veteran of 25 years, were married 43 years. She has a son and a daughter, three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
            Members of St. Philip, Roanoke, joined Abundant Grace Assembly congregation in serving 700 turkey dinners two days after Thanksgiving. St. Philip also is assembling Blessing Bags of essential items like socks, food and toiletry items for members to carry in their cars in order to distribute them to persons in need along the road. St. Philip has joined other community partners in preparing Elijah's Backpacks of weekend food for 60 school children.
            Ascension, Danville, is preparing for the annual observance of its chrismon tree, starting with public viewing on Sunday, Dec. 11. Chrismons were first displayed at Ascension 60 years ago. The Ascension tree may be seen weekdays from 7 to 9 p.m., Dec. 11-24 and on Sundays from 3 to 5 and from 7 to 9 p.m.
            German Christmas services will be held at Messiah, Mechanicsville. on Dec. 18 at 4 p.m. and at Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.. Pastor Dennis Roberts will lead the Lynchburg service and Pastor Vic Schmick will preach at Messiah, assisted by Pastor Lou Florio. Messiah congregation has voted to lease office space to Hanover Cares, a coalition working in awareness and reduction of substance abuse issues.
            Carols by Candlelight , a festival service of lessons and carols, will be held at St. Mark's. Roanoke, on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 5 p.m. The service, featuring a festival chorus, the Roanoke Chamber Brass and Amy Coffield, soprano, will benefit Habitat for Humanity.
            Members of First English, Richmond, collected 630 food items for FeedMore, an organization which coordinates the work of a food bank, community kitchen and Meals on Wheels throughout metropolitan Richmond. The collection, a social ministry project as part of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, surpassed a goal of 500.
            Dr. Steve McSwain, author of the book, The Enoch Factor;The Sacred Art of knowing God, challenged members of Grace & Glory, Palmyra, to think differently about their faith and more fully examine their understanding of the Gospel message with an eye on the need to truly follow Jesus rather than to simply worship him. He encouraged them to open their minds to other beliefs.
            Holy Trinity, Wytheville, was host for a community concert honoring first responders from the sheriff's, police and rescue squad offices. A handbell choir and a combined community choir from Holy Trinity and two other churches sang.
            The Virginia Handbell Consort will present a Christmas program, "Deck the Halls with Bronze" at St. Mark, Yorktown, on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 7p.m..
            Gloria Dei Lutheran School at Hampton, was one of five recipients of the Green School Award from the Hampton Clean City Commission. The awards are given for environmental programs.
            The council of Trinity, Roanoke, has approved a plan for a kindness rock garden, in memory of J. D. Seneff, a leader in Habitat for Humanity programs.

Welcome to Advent   
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton 
Hear the Good News
            But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.
            Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour (Matthew 24:36-44).
           This is the Gospel lesson for the first Sunday in Advent this year. This warning from Jesus comes after his words about the end of the world. The apocalypse is upon us, there will be tribulation and the world will see the day of God's vengeance on human sin. How perky. This doesn't quite fit with Christmas decorations, lovely carols and the relentless merriness that has been in stores, in advertisements and in the media since Labor Day.
And what about our Lord's admonition to be awake, be aware, be ever-vigilant? We won't know the hour. We might be left behind. At the very least it's exhausting to be on watch all day every day. 
            How is this passage from Matthew good news and how is it good news at this time of year? How does this text help us to know that we are liberated by God's grace? It sounds like law to me. It seems to be about what we need to do to be ready on that great and terrible day, so that we will be taken and not left behind. Blessed Advent? Bah humbug!
           There is a secular counterpart to this apocalypse. We have long frightened children into good behavior in the weeks before Christmas by singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." You know the words to the song, the admonition that children remain cheerful, obedient and on the ready. The day is drawing nigh. And if that isn't enough to instill dread and the possible need for future therapy into the hearts of children, the song continues with the specter of the omniscient Claus-sleeping or waking children are never beyond his gaze.
            It's interesting that pop culture can give voice to the prevailing theology of many in our congregations. We don't trust that God's promised grace is real and for us. So we come to believe and act that the word of God is not gracious, but vengeful and punishing. Through that lens there is no way we can see the gospel for the first Sunday in Advent as the announcement that we are liberated by God's grace.
            But hear the good news. Jesus was announcing the end of the world-a world in bondage to sin and death, a world that believes in a god of "what have you done for me lately?" It's the day of God's vengeance. And this is what God's vengeance looks like-a helpless baby in a stable in Bethlehem, a helpless man on a cross outside of Jerusalem.
Matthew 24:36-44 is God's word of promise, a gift to us that we might open ourselves, our eyes, our lives to the incredible, surprising, immeasurable and intimate love of God. It's right there in front of us-two men working in a field, two women grinding meal, in the ordinary, in the everyday. God doesn't want us to miss it. God wants us to watch.
A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This article first appeared in Living Lutheran's December- 2016 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Pastor Paul Huddle celebrates his 100th   

            The congregation of St Mark's, Roanoke, sang "Happy Birthday!" and more than 100 friends and family gathered at Brandon Oaks to celebrate the 100th birthday of
the Rev. Paul Huddle, oldest pastor in the Virginia Synod, on Nov. 21. An active centenarian who loves to tell of his experiences as a missionary and seminary president in Japan and as missionary in India, World War II service as an Army chaplain in Europe and the Pacific and more than 75 years' service since his ordination.
Pastor Paul Huddle enjoyed his 100th birthday.  
            Brandon Oaks Chaplain Bob Ward prayed for "blessings and joy over your faithful servant, Paul," on that special day.
            Bishop Jim Mauney was unable to attend but he sent a message to the celebration: "Paul Huddle has been a true Ambassador of Christ, not only as a local pastor but as a pastor around the world, a global missionary, an overseer of missionaries. At every place he has been, he has proclaimed Christ. It isn't that he is a world traveler, but everywhere he has gone in the world, he has traveled with Christ."
            Huddle helped organize the Brandon Oaks Balladeers Chorus when he moved to Brandon Oaks in 1996. The Chorus sang, "Great is Thy Faithfulness," at the birthday event and friends and family celebrated with champagne and cake..
            In a roasting, Ward said Huddle is so old, "That when he was a child, rainbows  
were in black and white; that his Social Security number is the Roman Numeral X; when he got his first driver's license,his first vehicle was a chariot; that Methuselah's middle name was Huddle and he is so old that Moses parted the Red Sea so he could walk to school." 
            Many of his family attended the celebration. Huddle and his late wife, Martha Bame Huddle, had five children, Ben, Patricia Anne, Frederick Henry, James Robert and Charles Edward. One of his prized possessions is a cross he has worn constantly since he was ordained at Richmond in 1940.
            Huddle served as president of Luther College in New Jersey, pastor of two Tennessee churches, retired as an Army colonel and served as a supply pastor for many
years. He's a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College and Southern Seminary and he studied at Chicago Seminary and Temple University. His membership is at St. Paul, Rural Retreat, near his birthplace when his father, the Rev. Marion D. Huddle, was a Wythe County pastor.
St. Stephen plans hymn festival, theologian,
play, for 500th anniversary of the Reformation 
            A hymn festival weekend celebrating the Week of Christian Unity and commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is planned at
St. Stephen, Williamsburg, on Jan. 28-29. Presenters will be Dr. David Cherwien, organist/cantor aat Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, and Susan Palo
Cherwien, hymn text writer and poet.
            Other features planned for the 500th Anniversary in 2017: A book study of the new biography, Martin Luther, Visionary Reformer, by Scott Hendrix, on Monday evenings and Thursday afternoons in January and February: Lenten book study of Luther's Large Catechism on Monday evenings and Thursday afternoons during Lent, and a women's retreat led by Ellen Hinlicky of the Synod staff on Women of the Reformation, March 25.
            On April 28, a play, "Reformation's Rib: Celebrating Katherine von Bora," by Pastor Jim Cobb, will be performed in an evening of food and theater, starting at 6:30 p.m. Cobb will be the narrator and Danya Zimbauer will play Katie Luther and Joe Phillipoom will play Martin Luther.
            Pastor Andy Ballentine also reported a theologian in residence event will join with St. Bede Roman Catholic Church on the theme, "The reformation for Lutherans and Roman Catholics: Where We Aare Today, AWHere We Are Going in the Future." The Lutheran presenter will be Dr. Kathryn Johnson, director of ecumenical and interreligious relations for the ELCA. The Catholic presenter will be Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore.
Trinity members do God's
work on Reformation Sunday
            Members of Trinity, Stephens City, celebrated Reformation Sunday in jeans, shorts and yellow shirts proclaiming "God's Work...Our Hands," as they trimmed hedges, did household repairs and yard work and served lunch at Winchester Rescue Mission. In church, they had no sermon or offering but they celebrated communion, sang "A Mighty Fortress" and went to work.
Carolyn Gregory (left) and Eli and Becca trim brush on Reformation Sunday. 
They reflected on the continuing reformation of the church by spreading into the community for a day of service. Trinity workers with rakes, bags, mowers, paint brushes, hammer and nails, blowers and cleaning rags, tackled a dozen projects for needy members of the community.
            They packed 50 bags of items for cancer patients at Winchester Oncology and they prepared over 70 bags of essential items for members and friends to hand to those in need of assistance. Over 50 winter scarves were placed on a fence outside the church for passers by.
           After work, they gathered for a light luncheon and shared experiences. Carolyn Gregory, a crew chief, said, "We discovered a common thread...Every person who participated felt they had received more than they had given---in hugs, words of thanks and the huge smiles we encountered...this may become a Reformation Day tradition for our congregation."
            The church, especially the Lutheran church, continues to re-form, Pastor Cameron Keyser of Trinity said. "We thought this would be a very visual and specific way to share our faith in the way Christ has called us to do."
Backpack guidebook published 
Cover of the backpack guide book.
              From St.Michael, Blacksburg, a pioneer in the growing field of weekend feeding low-income families, comes a valuable book, Changing the World One Backpack at a Time, by Jennie Hodge and Nancy Frantz, two founders of the program.
              They wrote a guide book that provides encouragement and inspiring information for community organizers planning a helping program or improving their current outreach. Readers will find this book an easy-to-read and encouraging road map for developing, implementing, growing, and assessing community engagement projects.
             It is told in the first person with real life anecdotes and illustrations."Nancy and I wanted to convey the possibilities for anyone who has big dreams of making a positive impact in their community," said Hodge, former director of Micah's Backpack. "By telling the history and philosophy of Micah's Backpack we hope to inspire others to action!" Hodge and her family have moved to Summerfield, NC. Frantz now lives in Ames, IA.
              "This book appeals to community builders and organizers of all ages and backgrounds who want to experience long-term impacts through positive disruption. Our story is especially compelling for those working to decrease hunger or improve food security, residents of college towns seeking ways to engage higher education in community based projects, and interfaith organizations looking for new and meaningful ways to connect with their local and broader community," Hodge said.
            To date, Micah's Backpack has shared over 350,000 meals with kids from low-resource families in Blacksburg and Montgomery County. Micah's Backpack works with more than 250 community partners, including 10 local schools, to ensure that hungry children have food to eat and the knowledge that their community cares about them. Four years ago the program expanded to summertime to include Micah's Mobile Backpack, a kids' food pantry on wheels. In addition to weekend meals it delivers fresh produce and teachers volunteer to distribute summer reading materials.
            Jennie grew up a well-fed child although she listened to her dad recall eating mayonnaise sandwiches and sometimes going hungry. Those stories and others led her to advocate for children's food programs. In 2011, she transitioned from a volunteer to director of Micah's Backpack. In 2012, she started Micah's Garden, a community garden co-op. She went on to create Micah's Mobile Backpack, which broadened the scope of the food program.
            Frantz. a veteran of 33 years with the Cooperative Extension Service as a faculty member and administrator in adult and youth development, loves nurturing community, organizational, and leadership development. She enjoys volunteering, outdoor pursuits, gardening and reading.
           For more information about the book, click here, or contact Jennie Hodge at 540-953-2225. A portion of all proceeds will be invested in Micah's Caring Initiative.
Martin Luther vs. the evangelicals   

          "A lot in modern evanglicalism would have driven Martin Luther bananas," said Dr. Molly Worthen, an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina, 
Chapel Hill, on Nov. 29 in the opening lecture of Reformation 500, a series at Roanoke College. A journalist and an historian, she recently wrote
Apostles of Reason: the Crises of Authority in Evangelicalism.
            Luther would have no part of such evangelical concerns as numbers of church members, she added. Her lecture compared and contrasted the differences between North American evangelicalism
and Luther, who advocated the doctrine of justification by faith. Luther was not a systematic theologian, he had a lot of ambiguity, Worthen said.
            Luther would have been thrilled by the recent election when a woman ran for president. He would have understood but he may not have approved the outcome.
            She said the church was very important in unifying faith but faith was "very difficult to grasp."
            A panel of of four college professors responded to Worth's comments. Dr. Paul Hinlicky, professor of Lutheran studies at the college and host for the Reformation 500 series, said a lot of walls have been built in the 500 years since the start of the Reformation. "This should be a time when the concern of all of us is building bridges." he said.
            The next lecture in the series will be a talk on "The 'Martin Luther' in Martin Luther King Jr.," by Dr, Richard Lischer, who teaches at Duke Divinity School.
New stewardship resource available
     by Cary Mangus
            Bishop Craig A. Satterlee of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod has developed a wonderful set of resources for stewardship. The first is a book he has written,entitled "Preaching and Stewardship: Proclaiming God's Invitation to Grow." This book is available through Amazon for $20.
             The second is a DVD produced through the Macedonia Project of the ELCA which can be used independently or in conjunction with the book. This DVD is entitled "Preaching Stewardship - a Resource for Rostered and Lay Leaders" and can also be purchased through Amazon for $16. Subjects included in the resources are 1) A preaching stewardship overview, 2) Myths and strategies concerning stewardship, 3) How should we give, 4) Why should we give, 5) Teachings on the power of money, and 6) Challenging congregational norms. All subjects are examined through the lens of scripture.
             I have personal experience with this resource as I used the section on "How should we give?" in a Sunday school session at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lynchburg in October. The session generated a great deal of conversation, and that conversation was open, honest and easy. Folks, when we can get a bunch of Lutherans talking about stewardship in this manner - I think we are on to something!!!!





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