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

Hunger isn't going away    
           "We know the enormity of hunger" and it isn't going away, said Dorothy McAuliffe, wife of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, at a Roanoke Feeding America conference. "Our tax dollars must come back to help," she said apparently in reference to her husband's unsuccessful efforts to win General Assembly approval of application for federal Medicaid funding for Virginia.
            "Hunger doesn't know a political party...It's not a political football. By working together, we can make hunger part of Virginia's past."
            As an active advocate for many hunger projects across the state, the first lady has participated in many activities, such as the launching of a "foodie truck" to serve summer meals in the Roanoke Valley.
            McAuliffe has joined Bishop Emeritus Jim Mauney in pointing to the need to provide food for over 300,000 Virginia children who go to bed hungry every night.
Bishop Humphrey
needs our prayers

            Bishop Robert F. Humphrey needs the prayers of Virginia Synod members. "He can't do it alone. You need to pray for each other," said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as she installed the new bishop in Waynesboro on Sept. 9.
            More than 600 Lutherans, including six ELCA synod bishops and officials of Episcopal, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, Mennonite churches and the Virginia Council of Churches, gathered at First Presbyterian Church for the service, followed by a festive
reception at Grace Lutheran, two blocks away. Over 90 Synod pastors joined in the procession.
            Bishop Eaton, who preached and led the installation, complimented Bishop Emeritus Jim Mauney, highly regarded in the ELCA Council of Bishops as "Sir James." He has served "faithfully and well" in three terms, she said.
            After the traditional laying on of hands by the participating bishops in historic succession and applause from the congregation, Bishop Humphrey began his six-year term by expressing thanks and calling for prayers of those assembled.
            The bishops taking part in the service: Rev. Timothy Smith, North Carolina Synod; Rev. Herman Yoos, South Carolina; Rev. Michael Rhyne, Allegheny; Rev. Richard Graham, Metropolitan Washington, D.C.; Rev. William Gohl, Delaware-Maryland, and Rev. Matthew Riegel, West Virginia-Western Maryland.
            "Nothing we do as Christians, do we keep to ourselves. Lutherans do not withdraw from the world but engage in it...We are all complicit in a broken world," Eaton said. "You can tell those who are marginalized that the Lord is with you. This synod will be flush with missions for God, I hope."
            Music was led by a combined choir from Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, Grace, Waynesboro, and Christ, Staunton, and a group of instrumentalists. Afterward, the assembly moved two blocks to Grace Lutheran for a reception under a large tent.
In This Issue
Bishop Humphrey needs our prayers.
October calendar is full of Reformation events.
Lutherans in the news.
Bishop Eaton's column.
Feed hungry kids.
Burks is new Brandon Oaks director.
Celebrating quilts.
Mattox: "Keep the faith and remain faithful."
12 congregations feed Fluvanna.
Women talk about renewing spirit.
Lutherans pray for unity.
Two parish alignments.
Two Lenten worship events.
Why bless animals?
October calendar is full of Reformation events

            For Lutherans, the October calendar is full of Reformation 500 events from musical concerts to plays, addresses, studies and television documentaries across the Synod and the ELCA, commemorating Martin Luther's 95 Theses and the start of the Protestant Reformation.
Roanoke College Choir 
The Roanoke College choir will sing across the state, presenting seven concerts in six days with a program of organ, orchestra and choir music, highlighting contemporary composers of Luther who were influenced by the Reformation proclamation. "A Mighty Fortress: Luther in Music" will be the theme for the tour, led by Dr. Jeffrey Sandborg, choir director. The schedule:
            Oct. 16, 7 p.m. , First Lutheran, Norfolk
            Oct. 17, 7 p.m., Epiphany Lutheran, Richmond
            Oct. 18, 7 p.m., Dodd Auditorium, Mary Washington University, Fredericksburg,
                           Sponsored by Christ Lutheran, Fredericksburg
            Oct. 19, 2 p.m., The Village at Orchard Ridge, Winchester
            Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m., Christ Lutheran, Staunton
            Oct, 20, 7 p.m., Holy Trinity, Lutheran, Lynchburg
            Oct. 21, 2 p.m., Second Presbyterian, Roanoke
            The choir also will be featured at the Reformation service of the Metro DC Synod on Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. at National Cathedral, Washington.
            Another musical offering, "A Mighty Fortress: Musical Reformation," will be presented by the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra choir and brass quintet at College Lutheran, Salem, Oct. 30, at 6:30om. They will present chorales and secular selections for chorus and brass. David Wiley of Christ Lutheran conducts the orchestra and John Hugo is the chorus master. That concert is part of the orchestra's Destination Series.
            The Public Broadcasting System film, "Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World," was shown by the network on Sept. 12 and it will have several local showings in October.
            Most of the 11 conferences have planned special Reformation services. Tidewater Conference Lutherans will meet at First, Norfolk, on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 4 p.m. Also in Norfolk, Dr. Merry Wiesner- Hanks, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwauke, and formerly at Augustana College, Rock Island, will speak at Old Dominion University on Nov. 2, at 12:30 p.m., on "To the Ends of the Earth: Religious Transformation in the Age of Reformation."
            A Roanoke Valley Reformation Festival Choir will sing, accompanied by a brass quintet, and Monsignor Joe Lehman of Our Lady Catholic Church will preach at a festival service at St. Mark's, Roanoke, on Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. An Oktoberfest will follow in the Miller Garden, featuring German fare and Weiss beer brewed by Pastor David Derrick.
            The Mt. Olivet Choir from Arlington will present a Reformation concert, sponsored by Central Valley Conference at St. Paul, Strasburg, on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 3 p.m. A reception will follow.
             Bethel, Winchester, has a devotional offering, "95 Days with the 95 Theses" by Pastor David Young. Also, an Oktoberfest is planned for Oct. 8 for the benefit of Lutheran Disaster Response Hurricane Fund. On Oct. 8, Bishop Bob Humphrey will preach and a piano concert on Sunday afternoon on the theme, "Reformation Recital German Masterworks."          
            For the Theologian in Residence program at St. Stephen, Williamsburg, Dr. Kathryn Johnson, director of ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the ELCA, and Catholic Bishop Denis Madden, Baltimore, will discuss "The Reformation for Lutherans and Roman Catholics: Where We Were 500 Years ago, Where We Are Today, Where We Are Going in the Future."           
            Lutheran churches in Richmond continue to rotate a collection of blood to celebrate the Reformation. A festival of Luther hymns was held at Epiphany, Richmond, on Sept. 10. An adult forum at Messiah, Mechanicsville, is studying Luther and his anti-Semitism views. Trinity, Pulaski, will feature a Reformation organ and piano concert by Jane MacAdoo, music director at Trinity, Lavelva Stevens, director of music at Holy Trinity, Wytheville, and Linda Hawks, pianist at Draper Valley Presbyterian Church.
Lutherans in the news
           Julie Swanson, chief executive officer of Lutheran Family Services for 12 years, has announced her retirement next spring. Swanson is credited with raising the agency to a new level with 450 employees in statewide operations in its Minnick Education Centers for students with complex needs, foster care, adoption and services for older adults and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The LFS board has a search for a new CEO. Swanson said she will continue to work"with passion and commitment" until a successor is found.
            Four Synod pastors retiring later this year are Pastors Bob Ward, Jim Nickols, Jim Pence and Mark Briehl. Pastor Chris Price, assistant to the bishop, earlier announced his retirement Dec. 31.
Ward, chaplain for Virginia Lutheran Homes since 1996, formerly served as associate pastor at College, Salem, and in the Rapidan Parish. A New Jersey native, he's a graduate of Thiel College and Gettysburg Seminary.He married Carolyn Brandt. His retirement is effective Dec. 1.
            Nickols, a Navy chaplain for more than 24 years, has
served  at Our Saviour's, Norge, for six years and formerly at Reformation, Newport News.   A graduate of Concordia Bronxville and Concordia Senior College and Christ Seminary, Saint Louis, he served a Missouri Synod Lutheran church before joining the former Lutheran Church in America. Nickols married janell Osborne, also a Navy chaplain. He is president of Colonial Heritage Community Foundation and a former school board chair. He retires Dec. 31.
          Pence, pastor of Zion, Waynesboro, for 24 years, served a Pennsylvania church and as campus pastor at St. Mark, Charlottesville, before his call to Zion. For more than a decade, he served in the Augusta County Lutheran Partnership among Zion, Bethlehem, Waynesboro, and St. James, Fishersville. A native of Lakewood, Ohio, Pence is a graduate of Trinity Lutheran Seminary, he was ordained by the former American Lutheran Church. His wife is Dr. Marcia Decker. He retires Nov. 1 after 41 years of ministry.
           Briehl retires Dec. 31 after serving as interim pastor of Pleasant View, Staunton; St. Luke, St. Paul and St. Peter, Page County cooperative congregations; Rader and St. Paul in the Timberville Parish; Our Saviour, Christiansburg; Gloria Dei, Hampton; St. Peter, Shenandoah, and a Missouri Synod congregation in Maryland. He's a graduate of Christ Seminary, St. Louis. He is married to Pam Briehl.
            The Synod Candidacy Committee approved Lisa Geiger, operations manager at First, Norfolk, for ministry as a deacon, formerly associate in ministry (AIM). The committee also endorsed Charles "Chuck" Miller of Wheatland, Botetourt County, as a candidate for word and sacrament ministry.       
            Avalon, a Williamsburg agency started in the basement of St. Stephen over 35 years ago, as a resource for battered women, is still working to end domestic and sexual violence. A program for youth in schools has been added and plans are made for elder abuse education. The congregation still supports the agency.
            Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, has a full Fine Arts schedule for the coming year. Major events are: Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Sept. 19; Roanoke College Choir, Oct. 20; organ recital by Frederick Hoffman, Oct. 22; harpsichord recital by Judy Bevans, Nov. 5; Opera Showcase, young artists, Nov. 17; Christmas concert, Jan. 7; classical guitar recital, Feb. 11; organ recital, April 15, and music for baroque strings and keyboard, May 13.
            Marie Bliss, new organist-choirmaster at Gloria Dei, Hampton, quotes Martin Luther: "He who sings prays twice."
            Carolyn Huntley, Epiphany, Richmond, donated a needlework piece of the church seasons designed and stitched by her late husband, Rev. Joe Huntley.
            At Gloria Dei, Hampton, the Ladies of Eggcellence are taking orders for "care" packages for college students. They contain snacks, homemade goodies and novelties.
            College, Salem, has a challenge to raise $40,000 to complete repairs and beautification in the nave. Half the amount was donated and council approved a campaign for $500 pledges in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Oct. 32 and Beyound    
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton
            This is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. For the past year it has been "All Reformation All the Time!" Everything Martin Luther. The really observant have branched out to Philipp Melanchthon and Johannes Bugenhagen. True believers will dress their children up as Martin and Katie for Halloween, or if they tend toward the fear factor, Johann Tetzel.
            Bring in the extra brass. Fire up the choir. Sing the fight song ("A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"). Dress in red. Binge-watch every Luther film and documentary. (I particularly liked Joseph Fiennes as the young, hot Luther.) This is our year!
            Oct. 32.
            Now what? 
            When I am out and about the church, I like to ask people what it means to be Lutheran-what is distinctive about the Lutheran movement. Grace is almost always mentioned, along with justification. Some will say we are ecclesia semper reformanda-the church always being reformed. Others point to our work for disaster relief, ELCA World Hunger, advocacy and other work for justice. Most of this is part of the Lutheran experience, but not unique to us. What then, did Luther uncover and what relevance does it have now?
            Interestingly, Luther did not give his greatest emphasis to reform or to reforming the church. Semper reformanda-always reforming-was actually coined in 1947 by Karl Barth, a Reformed theologian. Liberation in Christ through faith was the freedom that transformed Luther. This freedom is what he wrote about most frequently and most passionately. The Freedom of a Christian, a short and accessible treatise, is probably most familiar. I commend it to you. In this brief work and in others, Luther makes the case that liberation in Christ is both a freedom from and a freedom for.
             Freedom from is liberation from all spiritual bondage. We are set free from being trapped in ourselves, consumed by ourselves, from the belief or terror that we can and must save ourselves, that our self is the center of the universe. Life in Christ is not an inward-dwelling experience. We are free to get over ourselves. Freedom from is liberation from the law's accusation and judgment. We are liberated from terror and despair, which are soul-crushing. We are liberated from the incessant and impossible task of measuring up. Freedom from liberates us from estrangement from God and God's creatures. Caught in sin and standing before a God who demands righteousness, when we believe we are responsible for our salvation, breeds resentment toward God and the objectification of others.
            Freedom for means that in Christ we are set free for loving and serving others. Freedom is a relationship, not a new set of activities or the demands of a new law.
           Luther put it this way: "Faith, however, is a divine work in us which changes us and makes us to be born anew of God. It kills the old Adam and makes us altogether different people, in heart and spirit and mind and powers; and it brings with it the Holy Spirit. O, it is a living, busy, active mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly. ... And this is the work which the Holy Spirit performs in faith. Because of it, without compulsion, a person is ready to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, out of love and praise to God who has shown them this grace" (Luther's Works, 35:370-1).
             No longer is God transactional and others a means to an end. This freedom is scandalous because it is based on unconditional grace. It is a gift. Think about it-do we feel the burden being lifted? Think about it-do we feel the complete love of God? Think about it-do we now see others through God's eyes, free and beloved children?
           On Reformation Sunday we will hear Jesus' promise: "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:32).
            On Oct. 32 and beyond let us live in that freedom. 

A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: This column originally appeared in the October issue of Living Lutheran. Reprinted with permission.
Feed hungry kids   

            While observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on Oct. 31, the Synod Childhood Hunger Task Group urged Virginia Lutherans "to start the next 500 years by making sure every child in Virginia gets something good to eat on that day"
            The Task Group suggests a community meal, breakfast, lunch or supper, on Oct. 31. "Invite the community to break bread with you, with special emphasis on the theme, "Kids Hungry? Come to Church. We'll Feed the Whole Family."
            Another opportunity is to work together to find and feed hungry kids on Halloween. The Task Group issued a challenge: "let's commit ourselves to working diligently to eliminate food insecurity across the Commonwealth of Virginia by working   together with schools and governmental organizations as well as the interfaith community. More ideas are on the website
Ben Burks is new Brandon Oaks director 

            Ben Burks, NHA, is the new executive director of Brandon Oaks life plan community in Roanoke, effective September 25, 2017. Burks previously served as executive director of The Glebe in Daleville. Botetourt County. As a high-performing executive in the senior living field, Burks brings 14 years of experience in the continuing care retirement community (CCRC) industry.
               "We couldn't be happier to have Ben join our team," said Heather Neff, president and CEO of Virginia Lutheran Homes, Brandon Oaks' parent organization. "He brings with him a depth of knowledge in managing CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities), but, most importantly, the understanding that our residents are our highest priority."
               "I am pleased to be joining a community with such a stellar staff and solid reputation," Burks said. "I look forward to becoming an integral part of the team and of the retirement community." He follows Joe Hoff, who moved to a similar post with Friendship Retirement Communities in Roanoke.
Brandon Oaks, a non-profit life plan community, operates under the sponsorship of Virginia Lutheran Homes. Brandon Oaks offers residents independent living, assisted living, nursing care and therapy.  

Celebrating quilts

            (Here are excerpts from a sermon by the Rev. Terri Church at Our Saviour, Warrenton, on Aug. 14 before the quilts were sent to Lutheran World Relief.)
Quilts on display at
Our Saviour, Warrenton
      Wow! It is an amazing treat to come to worship on this particular weekend each year. I mean, where else do we see the place adorned so beautifully, feel the comfort of padding working through so many different hands in the past year?! Yes, it's the Blessing of the Quilts at Our Saviour again, and we are here to celebrate.
            Let us celebrate the hands that cut the 12-inch squares of the donated fabric, to those that sewed them together, to the pins and batting, backing and tying, the hands that ironed, to the hands that typed announcements and schedules-Oh! How beautiful are the hands of those who bring good news! Thank you, Quilters, for your ministry to those most in need.!
            Let us celebrate all the women (and the men) who made these quilts and all the many ones before them! But even more so, let us celebrate that these quilts are not just beautiful and comfortable but that they are useful. As they have been for so many years, since even before Lutheran World Relief was founded in 1945, these quilts will travel across the globe to those in need.
Pastor Church and Marian
are sewing quilts
            LWR writes "The ultimate purpose of a quilt is to provide warmth, an essential need for people in every addition to being a cozy, clean, new bed cover, it can be a baby carrier, tied around a mother's back, a market display, spread on the ground and piled with vegetables; a sun shade and most importantly, a constant reminder that someone, far away, cares a lot."
Mattox: "Keep the faith and remain faithful."
            Christian calling will always stand on tension, said Dr. Mickey Mattox at the annual Crumley Lecture at Roanoke College, "but the trick is to keep the faith and remain faithful." Mattox, an expert on Martin Luther and an historical theologian who teaches at Marquette University, was raised as a Baptist and converted to Catholicism. He spoke on"Scholarship as a Christian Calling" on Sept.19.
            Catholics and Lutherans are "working together" to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the protestant Reformation, he said. In the 1980s, there was talk of unity, "how to bring us together but it didn't happen."  
            Mattox said, "We're in a complicated time...(with) challenges ahead of us...For Christian scholars, wherever the truth is, we would fix it."
            In response, Dr. Gary Hollis. Roanoke chemistry professor and a member of College Lutheran, speaking as a scientist, said, "Everybody has a spiritual calling...Truth needs to be understood. Respect needs to be shown on both sides." 
            The annual lecture honors the late Dr. James R. Crumley, a Roanoke College graduate and former Virginia Synod pastor, who became bishop of the former Lutheran
Church in America. 
12 congregations feed Fluvanna
     by Joe Shaver   

            What a great weekend it was for us at the Grace and Glory Lutheran Church of Palmyra and Fluvanna County as we found ourselves on October 9, celebrating our ELCA annual event of God's Work, Our Hands. Some months ago we began planning to have a community day at Grace and Glory.
Pastor Albright was  
doused for hunger 
     As preparations were made, we began to focus upon a question of how we could let this event be of true service to those outside our congregation in our area. In the end a decision was made to contribute the net profits for the day to our local food bank, which Grace and Glory supplies with offering each third Sunday all year long.
            As Pastor Ken Albright discussed our event with his fellow pastors here in Fluvanna County, the day became opened to extensive participation by all to lend true definition to the idea of a community day. The ecumenical response was overwhelming with 12 congregations participating. It became a joint effort of Methodists, Baptists, Catholics and Lutherans. A decision was made to charge an entry fee of at least one can of non-perishable food to be contributed to the food bank or a cash donation.
            As to activities for the day, there were vendors selling items including crafts and handmade items. There were children's games, along with more than 30 raffle items donated by local merchants as well as items contributed to a silent auction. A food vendor was available with BBQ and the kids also enjoyed some face painting.
             But a primary item was the dunking tank wherein Pastor Albright (whose picture you see here on his way into the tank) was joined by the pastors of seven other congregations in our county. When it was his scheduled time at the tank, Pastor Albright watched the line waiting to throw their balls grow during his half hour. In the end he was submerged a total of 35 times.
            So, how did we do with God's Work on this wonderful day? Two and a half pickup trucks were required to transport all the food collected for the day. And as of now we have collected $3,200 to be contributed to the food bank with more expected to be received in the near future. It is truly an uplifting experience to have that genuine feeling of servanthood.
Women talk about renewing spirit      
            "Renewal of Spirit: all anew" was the theme of the Virginia Synodical Women's Organization (VSWO) Convention held August 18-19, 2017 at St. Philip Lutheran Church in Roanoke. The convention scripture was Romans 12:1-2 and the convention hymn was "Take My Life That I May Be"
             Gwendolyn Edwards of Omaha, Nebraska brought greetings from Women of the ELCA staff and board. Bishop James Mauney served as keynote speaker. This was one of his last official appearances and his address was very inspiring.
            The VSWO are collecting funds till the end of September to be given to the ForwardingFaith Campaign in Bishop Mauney's honor. The attendees were blessed this year with the presence of The Rev. Kelly B. Derrick who served as convention chaplain.   Many thanks to St. Philip for their wonderful hospitality.
            The event was full of fun, fellowship, inspiration and ministry. Here are just a few  
highlights: The women of the Virginia Synod generously gave over $3,000 in love and convention offerings to be shared between Elijah's Backpack, Katie's Fund, Women of the ELCA and VSWO ministries. Inspiring and informative awareness sessions were offered all with themes of renewal.
Officers and board members were elected: Jody Smiley of St. Michael, Blacksburg, president; Edith Blake, treasurer; and board members Sylvia Eley, Ellen Greene, Linda Lowry, Bonnie Mannta, and Michelle Poore. Continuing on the board are Renee Ballentine, vice president; Helen Weaver, secretary; Zelda Whetzel and Judy Wilfong, Board Members. The voting members approved the 2018-2019 budget of $22,780.   Attendees heard an inspiring presidential message fro m outgoing president, Lisa Taglauer.  
            Next year's two-day convention will be held at Bethel Lutheran Church in Winchester on August 3-4, 2018. Please visit in the coming months for more details.
Lutherans pray for  
unity in Richmond protest 
(Pastor Lou Florio, dean of Richmond Conference, describes the Lutheran role in
the Sept. 16 Richmond protest by a hate group and counter-protests.)
            In August, a self-described Neo-Confederate group announced their intention to hold a protest in Richmond on Saturday, September 16. They claimed they were coming to peacefully support the preservation of the Lee statue on Monument Avenue.
             Due to the potential for violence, the Richmond mayor, Richmond police chief, VCU president, Richmond University president, and Sons of Confederate Veterans president urged people to stay away. The protesters had no permit, thus it proved hard to gauge the potential size or impact of the event. Several groups across the political spectrum, linked to anti-Semitism, racism and violence, threatened to come to Richmond. The event in a densely populated residential community posed unique challenges to law enforcement for safety. There were fears some groups might appear at other locations unannounced. Varied estimates for expected participation reached 5,000 people or more.
            In response, many in the local faith community mobilized in cooperation with city and regional authorities. Among our Richmond Conference congregations and ecumenical partners, three pastors represented the conference at a Friday night inter-faith prayer service hosted by St. Paul's Episcopal. As dean of the Richmond Conference, the Rev. Lou Florio of Messiah, Mechanicsville, was invited to help lead the service. This unifying, hope-filled event was attended by approximately 100 people of varied faith traditions and received television and print news coverage.
            First English Lutheran is located near the Jeb Stuart monument, close to the intended protest center. Historically a flashpoint of such protests, the local Stuart Circle Association of Congregations, comprised of Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian Church USA, Presbyterian Church in America, United Church of Christ, Church of God in Christ, and Baptist denominations, hoped to open for hourly prayer. For greater safety, police asked that only one church be selected with limited access offered. First English was staffed during the entire protest, serving as a place of prayer, silence, hospitality and refuge. Several congregations also served as staging areas for emergency responders or the care of potential wounded.
            Organized by the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy and other area faith and peace groups, a counter-protest of 700 to 1,000 plus people was held at the Maggie Walker statue. An optional march toward the Lee statue followed and an intercultural summit facilitated by an assistant to the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and hosted by St. Mark's Episcopal, offered "a brief history of the rise of the Confederacy," followed by panel discussions and questions and answers addressing the racial divide, white supremacy, the groups affected, and how communities of faith can stand up united against hate.A number of Virginia Synod rostered leaders and lay people participated in the counter-protests and alternative events.
             In the metro-region, the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour, Chesterfield. posted prayers for unity, reconciliation and peace. Messiah Lutheran, Mechanicsville, opened for silent and guided prayer, fellowship and discussion, using some of the Virginia Synod's Tapestry Team resources. An online course from an Episcopal resource,, regarding faithful dissent was also offered September 11-25.
            Bishop Bob Humphrey's pastoral letter, Responding to Hate in Richmond, was widely shared throughout several Richmond Conference congregations. Prayer petitions, sermons and informal discussions were utilized by several congregations to help further address the issues involved. The review and use of Tapestry materials individually or at local congregations was encouraged. The Rev. Kim Triplet, with connections to counter-protest efforts, and Pastor Florio, serving as a local volunteer law enforcement chaplain, sought to work closely together to help keep conference members informed of options for response and safety concerns.  
            In the end, over 2,000 people were reportedly involved in protests and counter-protest throughout the day. Only approximately one dozen Neo-Confederates appeared,   several with firearms. Close work and communication between Richmond City Hall, the Richmond and metro-region law enforcement and local community and faith groups appears to have helped limit and organize the crowds and allow for a mostly peaceful day with no reported injuries.
            The group behind this September protest, CSA II: New Confederate States of America, has announced its intention to hold another protest at the Lee statue on Saturday, December 9.
Two parish alignments

            Synod Council has approved a request from St. Jacob's-Spaders at Mt. Crawford, and Trinity, Keezletown, to form Parish of the Valley.
            Also, Mt. Tabor, Middlebrook, and Redeemer, MckInley, have formed Mt. Tabor/Redeemer Parish, and called Pastor Lance Braun, as approved by the Council. Braun will be installed on Sunday, Oct. 1. He follows Pastor JoAnn Bunn, who accepted a called Gladesboro, Carroll County.
Two Lenten worship events 

            "Worship at the Center: Journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter" is the theme of a worship education event to be held Jan. 18-29 at St. John's Lutheran, Winter Park, Fla., and St. Martin's Lutheran, Austin, Tx., Feb. 1-3. Pastor Leslie Scanlon, Grace, Chesapeake, said, "Come and be renewed to lead, preach, pray and sing the central mystery of our life together as God's people."
Why bless animals? 

(Pastor Tim Crummitt wrote this article for the newsletter at St.Paul's, Hampton.)
            On Tuesday, October 3 at 6 p.m., we will gather outside of the sanctuary at St. Paul's so that we can bless our pets. Last year, we had cats and dogs, pictures of cats and dogs and a few worms. We are going to do the service again. Why October? You might see some churches who do a blessing of the animals in the late spring or early summer. While that is a good idea, we have chosen early October.
    This is because on October 4, we celebrate the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. St.Francis is the patron saint of animals and ecology so it is a logical step for many churches to celebrate his feast day by blessing the very things that have become hallmarks of his life and ministry. Francis is by far the most popular of saints in the church; you have seen his statue in countless gardens and backyards.
            Think about it...It is a strange thing to welcome a pet into your home. House pets have been domesticated over the years so we take for granted how unique it is to have such a relationship. A professor of mine from seminary used to comment that "A well domesticated pet is a sign of the kingdom." Creatures that would be fighting each other in the wild are transformed into sources of great joy and comfort. Ned is the first dog I have ever had and I give thanks to God for his companionship.




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