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                                                                                             APRIL, 2018
                         The Virginia 
Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921.

Olivier named chaplain
of Virginia Lutheran Homes 
       Pastor Keith A. Olivier of St. John, Norfolk, will start as chaplain of Virginia Lutheran Homes on April 30, following Pastor Bob Ward, who has retired. Olivier has served as pastor and school headmaster at the Norfolk congregation since 2006. He will serve as chaplain for Brandon Oaks retirement, nursing and rehabilitation facilities in Roanoke and residential operations at New Market and Virginia Beach.             A native of Delaware, Olivier is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Philadelphia Seminary and he completed hospice training through Westminster Canterbury at Virginia Beach. He previously served at Glade Creek, Blue Ridge, and two congregations in Pennsylvania and as a church musician for 20 years. His wife is Christine Dugan Olivier.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
From Bishop Eaton
Serving children in Nicaragua
ELCA Campaign Director will speak to Synod Assembly
Bishop will speak at Men's Gathering
Building relationships
Walking across Spain in Lent
Planning for the ELCA Youth gathering
Common sense needed for gun talks
Scholar gives Benne's book high marks
Ecumenical gathering
Synod records moved
Julie Sawnson with Noah Foley
Lutherans in the news

             Pastor Charles D. Bang has announced that he will retire on Sept. 1 after serving as senior pastor and headmaster at Gloria Dei, Hampton, for over seven years. A New Jersey native, he's graduate of Hartwick College, Pacific Lutheran Seminary and Graduate Theological Union. He has served Lutheran congregations in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, CA.,Liverpool and Buffalo, NY. He and his wife, Debbie, have two daughters, Kathryn and Sarah,  
            Pastor David Drebes of Prince of Peace, Basye-Orkney
Springs, has accepted a call to serve at College, Salem, beginning in May.   Drebes, named coordinator of Power in the Spirit last year, came to Prince of Peace in 2010, after graduating from Roanoke College, earning graduate degrees at Philadelphia and Princeton Seminaries and serving as interim Lutheran chaplain at Princeton University. He grew up in Resurrection, Fredericksburg.  
            Lisa Geiger, church operations manager at First Lutheran,
Norfolk, will be consecrated as a deacon and she has accepted a Synod Council call to additional service as candidacy process administrator for the Synod. Working with the Candidacy Committee, she will provide administrative oversight to the candidacy process. She is an adjunct religion instructor for Saint Leo University Center for Online Education and an advocate for scriptural and theological education. She will be consecrated by Bishop Bob Humphrey at St. Michael, Virginia Beach, on Sunday, May 6, at 3 p.m.
            Members of Trinity, Stephens City, shared "Palms to go" with passing motorists on Palm Sunday morning. Standing on Main Street (U.S. Rt. 11), they distributed palms and a card explaining the Christian tradition.  
            The congregation council of Grace, Winchester, has appointed a task force to develop a preliminary scope of work for renovation of the sanctuary. The congregation has approved expenditure of $331,000 for refinishing floors, interior painting, lighting improvements and stained glass window restoration.
            First Lutheran, Norfolk, is focusing on"Mission and Ministry Renewal" as it prepares for observance of its 125th anniversary next year. The Council will lead the congregation in "listening to one another and listening to the community to hear the Spirit's prompting that guides us "
             Dr. Phylis Castens Wiederhoeft, executive director of ALDE (formerly Association of Lutheran Deveopment Executives, was scheduled to speak at Resurrection, Fredericksburg, on March 18. She is a consultant for the church's campaign.
             Christine Osheim has been named administrative assistant at St. Mark, Charlottesville. She owns the Mobius Keramik, producing pots and teaching clay
and she organized the C-ville Art Posse,
            Pastor Joel Neubauer has invited members of his congregation, St. Mark, Yorktown, to join in sponsoring children in Ecuador who need spiritual, educational and medical care. For $10 or $25 a month, "we have the chance to change circumstances for the better and to encourage the youth of Ecuador to grow confidently as God's children," he said.
            At Bethel, Winchester, "high school youth, skeptics, doubters and wanderers" are invited to a "cosmic adventure," to be led by Dr. Paul Wallace, an astronomer, professor, theologian and self-proclaimed science nerd, on Tuesday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m.
            Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, is planning a Luther Heritage Tour to sites in Austria and Germany and a visit to a sister congregation, Luther Church, in Holzminden, Germany, on Aug. 1-31.
            Members of Christ, Fredericksburg, can record their own faith journey on video on Sundays of April 29 and May 6.  

It all started with such promise
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton 
            It all started with such promise - the angel announcing to Mary that the child she would bear would be called Son of the Most High; the conviction of Mary that this child would be the embodiment of God's promised justice, that the hungry would be filled with good things and the rich sent away empty; angels announcing his birth; thousands being fed; the sick healed; the dead raised.
            And then, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It was over. The world hadn't changed. Might still made right. How ridiculously na├»ve to believe that any reversal of the old order could come about. Hope is for the gullible. Looking at this broken man hanging utterly helpless, naked and broken on a cross, the powers and principalities, earthly and spiritual, death and the devil must have said, "You fool."
            This, as St. Paul reminds us, is the wisdom of the world. And the world can present plenty of hard evidence that it is right: children killing children in horrific school shootings, 60 million displaced people - all of this supported by our rebellion against God, our idolatrous claim that we are in control and the world is ours. In the face of this and all of the suffering others cause and we cause others, we, too, might cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
            I believe that the beginning of Psalm 22 expresses the anguish of the psalmist and the anguish of our Lord, but there is more going on here. Citing the first words of a text was, in the tradition of the time, a way of identifying an entire passage. The psalm ends this way: "All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. ... Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it." This is the wisdom of God. Jesus' crucifixion is the death of our death. His innocent suffering has reconciled all of creation to God. He has done it. We stake our lives on this.
            This year, Easter falls on April 1. We shall have come through the Lenten desert to the Easter garden. We shall say, "Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!" And we shall confess this and live this in the face of worldly wisdom that is based on death. Life wins. Love wins. And, if the world wants to call us April fools, we are glad to claim that title.
A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: This article originally appeared in Living Lutheran's April 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Serving children in Nicaragua 
     by Pastor Mark Wm. Radecke
            From February 16-25, 14 members and associates of Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, Harrisonburg, enjoyed a week of service and solidarity with children and staff at the Nicaraguan Christian Children's Center (CICRIN) on Ometepe, a volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua. Lodging, eating and working on CICRIN's 80-acre campus, participants divided into three work teams: dentistry, construction, and Vacation Bible School.
            This was the seventh trip for dental hygienist Libby Sieber (Christ, Roanoke). She
Libby Sieber cleans teeth 
has always loved the children's smiles and takes great pleasure in seeing that those smiles are healthier now because of the annual cleanings, examinations, fluoride treatments and dental education she has provided. Dentist J C Owens, Shamokin, PA, has joined her for the last two years, enhancing the dental services by providing fillings, extractions, and sealants. This year, the two saw more than 100 patients.
            CICRIN is currently transitioning from a residential refuge for abused, abandoned and neglected children to a pre-K through grade 12 high school enrolling 200 students, while continuing a limited residential program for 12 children who have no safe home to which to go. (For more about CICRIN visit .)
             Along with the expansion of services come needs for facility improvements, so the
Mission team stands by
a Nicaraguan waterfall. 
construction team worked with skilled local workers on the school cafeteria and several other campus buildings. The VBS team explored "Historias del Amor de Dios" - Stories of God's Love - in an open air classroom by the lakeshore. The mission team also explored Ometepe Island, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and hiked with 13 of CICRIN's students part-way up the Maderas Volcano to a beautiful waterfall.
            Team leaders Mark and Tami Radecke have taken 19 teams totaling more than 400 short-term missionaries to CICRIN since beginning the trips in 1999. Through 2014, the trips were part of a national award-winning service-learning course Pr. Radecke taught while serving as University Chaplain and associate professor at Susquehanna University, a college of the ELCA. 
ELCA Campaign Director
will speak to Synod Assembly
           The Rev. Ronald Glusenkamp, director of the ELCA Campaign, will be the ELCA representative for the annual Synod Assembly at Roanoke College on June 8-10 and the theme will be "Only by Grace Can We Stand."
            Glusenkamp formerly was vice president for customer outreach for the ELCA Board of Pensions, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran, Cherry Hills Village, CO., also serving congregations in Missouri and Kansas and a media consultant for non-profits.
            He's a graduate of Concordia Senior College and Christ Seminary-Seminex.
            Meeting at the Bast Center at the college, the Assembly will elect a treasurer, five 
Synod Council members and 11 voting members for the ELCA Churchwide Assembly at
Milwaukee,WI, in August 2019, Bishop Bob Humphrey will give the keynote address at the opening session.                          
            "Always Being Made New" is the theme of the $198 million ELCA campaign aimed to glorify God by advancing the important work and strengths of the entire denomination.
Bishop will speak at Men's Gathering 
           Bishop Bob Humphrey will speak on the theme, "Call to Reflection, Reconciliation and Renewal in a Time of Conflict" for the annual Gathering of Virginia Synod Lutheran Men in Mission at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond on Saturday and Sunday, April 7-8. Pastor Andrew Bansemer, Ebenezer, Marion, will be the chaplain.
Building relationships
in Manchester and Harrisonburg
            Mycah McNutt wrote for the Stories of Faith Lenten Devotional Series at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg.
            Before I came to Muhlenberg, I was living in Manchester, England, doing a year of service at a church through the Global Mission unit of the ELCA. I had moved there, knowing no one, jumping off the airplane, having had only a few email exchanges with the pastor who I would be working with.
            I did not even know what the person picking me up was going to be like! The first couple months of living in Manchester are a blur of new faces, names and places that I worked tirelessly to remember (and now will never forget).
            I learned so much about my faith in God by being open to build up a whole new community around me in Manchester. For a year, I lived, laughed, did some crying and a lot of growing with the pastors I worked with, the close-knit congregation who took me in as one of the flock and the other young adults who were there serving in similar capacities around the United Kingdom.
            These relationships are still important to me. I learned so much about God's Grace when I felt lonely and reached out to ask if my friend, Alan, would go to lunch with me, or when he would invite me to go on a long walk among the many canals in the countryside surrounding the city. Or when Penny would have me over to her home for a movie night with take-out. Or when Pastor Ian and Pastor Kim would invite me over for dinner when I was particularly missing home (and spend time with their kids because I missed my own siblings who were 6 and 7 years old at the time).
            God comforted me in my time of need through the people who I lived alongside, when I could have felt very lonely and isolated instead. When I moved to Harrisonburg from Manchester, I remembered how blessed I was to feel that same welcoming spirit and joy in building new relationships at Muhlenberg as I did when serving in England. I thank God for this church, and the Global Church, for forming me by relationships into the faithful young woman I am today.
Walking across Spain in Lent
     by Retired Pastor Harold Burnette 
Burnette on the road
            The first time-lapse films I ever saw were fascinating. One showed a flower going through its entire life cycle in less than one minute. Another, a butterfly egg becoming a caterpillar, then a pupa and finally, a new butterfly emerged, all in a matter of seconds.
            Those cycles of birth, rebirth and new life help to describe a recent, five-week-long, 708-kilometer Lenten pilgrimage that I undertook on Spain's 768-kilometer Camino de Sureste, starting on Feb. 1. That experience produced a brand new perspective on the Lenten Journey, which I want to share.
            The Camino de Suerste is a well-marked, but circuitous pathway stretching from the city of Alicante on Spain's Mediterranean Coast to the city of Benavente in Northwest Spain.
            I think of those time-lapse films when I recall the stages involved in preparing for and completing such a pilgrimage. Purpose, preparation, time, growth, development and fulfillment all are involved in beginning, participating in and completing such a trek.
            At the start, one's legs, feet and mind are fresh and strong. The spirit is eager, hopes are high, determination is strong and the pace is upbeat. All is well. Life is good. As the walk progresses, all of those important, much needed aspects of trekking wane, grow weary, become frayed and tired. Doubts begin to set in. Feelings of pessimism, defeat, low energy and listlessness increase and one wants to quit.
            But, in time there comes renewal, rejuvenation and the assurance of reaching the goal. Nearing the end, new liveliness arises from the anguish and strain of nearly two months of moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-in, week-out walking. And, upon completing the pilgrimage, feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction arise and help to erase all of the former troubles, doubts and misgivings. One feels renewed, refreshed, enlivened and upon returning home, the journey of everyday life resumes with a renewed promise for a successful completion of that pilgrimage.
            As ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton recently commented on her faith journey, I would like to describe my Camino pilgrimage, using similar words. "We said 'yes' to the pilgrimage because the call was irresistible, because of the joy of being served and serving others and because of the great privilege of walking with people as the love of Jesus: The Way, The Truth and The Life; become more real to us."
            Afterward, I thank my Pennsylvania-based trekking friend, Paul Labounty, for his help before, during and after this endeavor. I also thank the people in Spain who helped so much on The Way, city and town leaders, mayors, Guardia Cival personnel, police officers and all whom we met there for being so incredibly generous, helpful and hospitable. More than just hospitable, they were genuinely happy that we had walked into their lives and communities. Buen Camino!
Planning for the Youth Gathering 
            (Pastor Jeff May of St. Paul, Jerome, led a planning team who went to Houston in late January as part of the synod coordinators training workshops for the national Youth Gathering in June. May reports on the trip.)

            Once again, the "Houston Six" of Jerome gathered to prepare for the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston . The "Getting Ready" materials are an incredible resource in helping our youth grow closer to each other.
            This month, we focused on self-image, thinking about how we see ourselves. Using three video links, we affirmed that we are created in the image of God and discussed the question, "If you could change one thing about your self, what would it be?" We are building an incredible community of faith.
            We also made some decisions and shared information. We saw pictures of our hotel and decided to attend the Houston Astros baseball game on the eve of the Gathering. Information about our flights to and from Houston was shared with family.
We will drive a day early in order to register and get acclimated.
Common sense needed for gun talks   
            Deborah Davis, a member of Christ, Fredericksburg and a retired school teacher, called for "a commonsense approach" to the gun control issue after she stood in the midst of the big March for Our Lives in Washington last week.
            Davis said she joined the march to honor the young people who lost their lives in the Virginia Tech shooting 11 years ago. Her son, daughter and son-in-law were at the university when the shooting occurred. "I wanted to remember those who were killed at Virginia Tech."
            She supports the young people "who are working for change in the gun laws," like background checks and requiring a license" for ownership. "It won't hurt anyone to have a license to buy a gun. They have a license to drive a car," Davis said she's not for taking away guns,
            "I want to have a safe world for my grandchildren," she said, She moved to Fredericksburg in 1975 and she helps with the weekend snack program for children and attends Christ church.
            Will there be a change in gun laws? "Wait 'till after November to answer that question." Protests following the Florida shootings "have forced people to talk about the issues in a civilized way." The proposal to arm teachers in classrooms is "a very bad idea," said the former teacher. If a policeman walked in after a shooting, how would know who did it.
           Davis said the Washington crowd was "a cross-section of America. Gun violence affects all ages and they came from Chicago an all over the country. A newspaper account estimated that 2 milllion people, 70 percent women and the average age about 49, participate.
Scholar gives Benne's book high marks 
            A California scholar gives high marks for Bob Benne's recent book, "Keeping the Soul in Christian Higher Education: A History of Roanoke College," in the Los Angeles review of Books. Paul W. Gleason said the book raises questions about mainline institutions' future and purpose. Benne has retired from Roanoke's religion and philosophy faculty.
          "How can schools like Roanoke serve their churches? Or should they keep their old denominational ties at all," he asks. Gleason said Benne ends on a note of cautious optimism when he argues that Roanoke "can still pursue every part of its old mission (from its founding in 1842): scholarly rigor, service to community and nation and a special place for the Lutheran faith." Benne wrote about the religious beliefs of each of Roanoke's presidents.
            In his lengthy review, Gleason notes that the process of secularization, leading to the "demographic decline of the Protestant mainline churches " is a central theme in the Benne book. Benne taught for 35 years at Roanoke where he found "a microcosm of Christian higher education, at least for those schools of the Protestant mainline."
            The review closes with the observation that "colleges like Roanoke have an opportunity to look for answers and have some say in what happens next."
            Gleason is a doctoral candidate in the University of Virginia Religious Studies
Department but he lives in Los Angeles and teaches at California Lutheran University.
Prayer, meditation in Richmond
     by Pastor Eric Moehring, Synod ecumenical representative
            On March 15 at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Richmond, laity and clergy gathered with the Rt. Rev. Susan Goff, bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, for a time of prayer, worship, conversation and reflection. Bishop Goff offered three simple songs with three significant scriptural directions for our prayers.
            She began with the group singing "Jesus Loves the Little Children," and then stated, "Tribalism served humanity well; it has protected the tribe. But today, no more. Since Jesus, the call is to end tribalism." After exploring the story of the Canaanite woman who prayed a "stubborn, fierce prayer" for her daughter's healing, Bishop Goff asked, "How do you love and pray for the little children of the world and what do you have to give up to pray for them more fully?"
            Then after "Jesus Loves Me" and using the story of the lawyer asking Jesus which commandment was the greatest, she said that with God we get other people, "but as we strive love...the hardest to include is 'me.'" Then Bishop Goff had the group reflect upon the question, "What do you have to let go of to know more fully that Jesus loves you?"
            To conclude the session, all sang "He's God the Whole World," and used the 5th day of the creation story to move the group into a contemplative time of seeing humanity as caring and praying all of what God creates.
            Opening and closing with worship and having conversation around the meal table, along with ample time to both collectively and then quietly reflect on a prayer life, proved to be an important pause within a busy Lenten journey. The consensus was that "We need to do this year."
            This Day of Prayer is the third such gathering in 2017-18 (along with one in Tidewater and another in Southwest Virginia with Bishop Bansemer emeritus as facilitator) sponsored on the synod's territory by the Lutheran and Episcopal Joint Commission. This commission is now planning a conference for rostered leaders at Shrine Mont Episcopal Retreat Center, June 24-26, 2019.
Synod records moved to region archives 
Boxes of synod archives ready for shipment to South Carolina

            Becky Walls and Tammy Kasper from the synod staff hauled a truck-load of 56 boxes of synod archives to the James R. Crumley Archives at Columbia, SC. .
The Crumley Archives house the records of all of the southern synods from Virginia to Florida on the campus of Southern Seminary.
            These records were stored in the basement of the synod office. Others in the library of Roanoke College will be transported to Columbia later. Virginia has been the only southern synod retaining its archives on its own territory.
            Shannon Smith of Crumley Archives staff called this delivery of Virginia records "a seminal moment." She said the Archives "has been the Region 9 ELCA repository for Lutheran historical documents for more than 25 years. We are among the most content-rich Lutheran archives in the U.S. and we're so very pleased to make our collection full and complete as we receive the Virginia Synod's records.
            "Our archives contains material from the Caribbean, Florida-Bahamas, Southeastern and North and South Carolina synods. This is a new era in the ministry and work of the Crumley Archives, a truly seminal moment. We look forward to the relationships, projects and opportunities that will result from it, as we press forward in the preservation of Lutheran history and heritage."
            The archives is named for the late Bishop Emeritus James R. Crumley Jr., a son of Virginia Synod.
Julie Swanson with Noah Foley 

Noah Foley, an alumnus of the old Lutheran Children's Home in Salem, sits with Julie Swanson, retired CEO of Lutheran Family Services, at her retirement party on March 22.




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