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

German youth visit Lynchburg

            Seventeen German youth from Luther Church in Holzminden, Germany, accompanied by retired Pastor Rudiger Schmidt and his wife, Claudia, came to Lynchburg in late June for a two-week visit with the senior youth of Holy Trinity, a sister congregation. A variety of educational, historical and social events and fellowship were enjoyed by both groups.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
The Laborers
Reformation brought a clear look
Barker to lead Bonhoeffer ACTS
Barnyard Roundup for VCS.
Bishop Harold Weiss
Celebrating Reformation's 500th
Praying for peace and unity.
Learning to serve.
Lutherans in the news

            Pastor Paul St.Clair, an assistant to Pastor Kenneth Albright at Grace and Glory, Palmyra, for four years, has accepted a call to St. Paul Lutheran, Statesville, N.C., effective Aug. 1.
            Retired Pastor Jim Kniseley has been named interim pastor of Christ, Richmond, following the resignation of Pastor Eric Moehring.
            Fourth of July greetings were received by  St. Peter's Stafford , from  Gennadiy Kopytov , deacon of a sister congregation, Church of Redemption, Krasnotourinsk, Russia He sent greetings from his members on the national holiday "with many sincere expressions of his feeling for the meaning of American independence to the world." Greetings also came from members of Lyra, a Russian Christian chorus who has performed twice at St. Peter's and will sing again on Oct. 14. Also, St. Peter's members observed National French Fry and National Franks'n' Beans Day with a Thankful Thursday dinner on July 13 and a Thankful Thursday dinner will be held on National Watermelon Day, Aug. 3.
            Jacob Dunlap, Martin Luther, Bergton, will be serving in Argentina and Uruguay this year in the ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission program. The Local & Global Mission Team at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, is contributing $500 toward the $5,000 Dunlap must raise for the program.
            Grace Casola has started work as coordinator of children, youth and family ministry at College Lutheran, Salem. She's a recent graduate and former campus ministry president at the University of Virginia and a former group leader at Synod youth events. Retired Pastor Dwayne Westermann is the interim pastor at College.
            Pastor Shannon Anderson, daughter of Mel and Peggy Anderson, St. Mark, Yorktown, was installed as pastor of Peace Lutheran, Waldorf, Md.  She is the first member of St. Mark to be ordained. This is her third church since she was ordained in 1996 and her husband is pastor of Good Samaritan Lutheran, Lexington Park, Md.
            The names of Chaplain William Boldin, Winchester, and Retired Pastor Ken Ruppar, Richmond, were omitted from the list  in the July Virginia Lutheran of those elected to the Committee on Discipline at the Synod Assembly.   
            A vacation Bible School project for First English, Richmond, was a food drive for FEEDMORE, bringing hunger relief to 34 counties and cities in central Virginia by acquiring food and distributing it through a network of 320 partner agencies. The organization provides nearly 51,000 meals every day.
            A golf tournament to benefit the homeless will be sponsored by the Shepherd's Hand Ministry of Mt. Zion, New Market, at Shenvalee Golf Resort on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 9:30 a.m.   
            Members of Grace, Waynesboro, will be assembling and packaging dehydrated meals with a goal of 10,000 meals in a Rise Against Hunger event on Saturday, Sept. 16. Other Southern Valley Conference member will join in the God's Work/Our Hands Day of Service. Members of St. Luke, Richmond, will work on a similar project for Rise Against Hunger on Sept. 9. with a goal of preparing 13,000 meals and raising $3,500 for hunger.
            The CURRENTS group at Redeemer, Bristol, planted a community garden on the church grounds to provide fresh produce for the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry, continuing the congregation's mission to provide food for the hungry.
            Eight youths from Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, spent a week working on a children's program in Brooklyn, N.Y.
            The Good Shepherd ministry of Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries is providing basic needs for 23 seniors who are living at poverty levels. Many receive Meals on Wheels.
            Members of Good Shepherd, Rapidan Parish, collected money for the Military Service Dog K9 care package service project. Dogs provide protection and companionship for service personnel. An electronic organ has been donated by Joyce Kipps for Mt. Nebo, in the Rapidan Parish.
            A youth group at  Epiphany, Richmond, led by Pastor Joseph Bolick,  planned a trip to Philadelphia for a service project with Youth Works. In early July, the youth group sang and played games for people in local nursing homes.
            St. Luke, Richmond, held a Summer Music Camp for Youth on July17-21.
A performance of "Malice in the Palace," on July 21 was a musical for young voices, telling the biblical story of Esther with the message that the smallest person acting bravely can make an enormous difference.
            Rick Melhein, "part comedian, part teacher and world changer," will lead an event at Bethel, Winchester, Aug. 19, "to discover the future of building up faith formation in the church."
            The Walker Mountain Parish in Wythe County planned an ice cream supper at Lebanon Church for the benefit of the ForwardingFaith campaign.
            Members of St Philip, Roanoke, planned a picnic for the residents of Melrose Towers. Games and music are planned.                                        

The Laborers   
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton
           Just before Jesus entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, Jesus told a very interesting parable. It's sometimes known as the "Laborers in the vineyard" (Matthew 20:1-16).
            You remember how it goes: A landowner hires laborers for his vineyard at 6 a.m., promising them that he would pay the usual daily wage. Then he hired more laborers at 9, noon, 3 and 5. When the day's work was over, the landowner paid all the laborers, starting with those who were hired last. Sure enough, they got the daily wage. Those hired first who worked the entire day got exactly the same wage. They weren't pleased.
            "Now, when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat' " (verses 10-12). Not fair!
            Jesus' parables are meant to shake us up a little bit. There is often a twist that catches us and makes us think. But it's hard to find the logic in this one, much less the good news. What's the point? And what's the point of working all day only to get paid as much as those who came last?
            A moment of confession here-I always identify with the laborers who worked all day. I am the conscientious one. I work and pay my taxes and go to church and support public radio and buy Girl Scout cookies. I use my turn signal and allow the car in front of me to merge into traffic. I am kind to animals and never remove the tag on furniture that says "Do Not Remove This Tag."
            Are reprobates and slackers really equal to me in God's eyes?   My reaction is quite telling. I am making several assumptions--that I am deserving, that other people are not deserving, and that God operates according to my standards of fairness and justice. It doesn't strike me as contradictory that I regularly confess that "I am captive to sin and cannot free myself" and, at the same time, consider myself a paragon of virtue.
            The landowner's words, "Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (verse 15) really sting. Yes, I am envious and angry. Jesus' economics don't make sense. This is not the way
to run a business. 
            I take some small comfort in the fact that I am not alone. A lot of us identify with the first laborers and expect extra credit for our good work. If this wasn't true, Jesus would not have told this parable. Funny-I preach about grace and don't like it. Oh, grace for me is fine, but not for those who don't deserve it. 
            Oops! That is the point. Grace is not something we deserve or earn or can work for. We are all utterly dependent upon God's mercy, and God is very prodigal with mercy. The grace that all the laborers received-those who worked all day and those who worked for an hour-is that they all got a job, not because of their effort but from the generosity of the landowner. The grace that we receive is that God first loved us.
            "While we were still weak ... while we were still sinners ... while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son" (Romans 5:6-10). Working hard doesn't make God love us more.
            Here is the good news in this parable: God has called us into a relationship through Christ, into God's intimate and deep love. If some of us are blessed to realize this our whole lives, give thanks. If some only come to know this at the last hour, rejoice. A graceful response to this grace is that the first are overjoyed for the last.

A monthly message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Her email address: This column originally appeared in the
August issue of Living Lutheran. Reprinted with permission.
Reformation brought a clear look at the Gospel

          The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is celebrated not because of the split with the Catholics but "a return of the church to a clearer interpretation of the gospel," retired Philadelphia Seminary theologian Dr. Timothy Wengert told an attentive Power in the Spirit audience at Roanoke College July 14.
           All roads led to Salem where 165 inspired Lutherans heard Wengert describe Luther's 95 Theses in depth and New Jersey Bishop Tracie Bartholomew tell the story of Joseph's interactions with his brothers in relation to family problems today. Wengert was the keynote speaker on the conference theme "On Our Way Reforming." Highway signs helped set the stage for "reforming on the way."
           Luther's intent was "neither revolution nor reformation," but indulgence preaching "was the real culprit."  The document was "wildly popular, reprinted 20 times." Wengert said the real issue, stated in Luther's letter to an archbishop, was "poopy preaching." The problem with Christian life today is that "we are righteous and sinful at the same tiem" but in the life of the faithful, "we are a baptism-centered church, God works in us.
            Bartholomew, once a Virginia Synod pastor at St. Mark's, Roanoke, and Good Shepherd, Lexington, said "God's grace is in action in the Joseph story." She talked abut the ways "God works through ordinary people."
She led in singing a couple verses from Desmond Tutu:
            "Goodness is stronger than evil
              Love is stronger than hate."
            Dysfunction "runs rampant and guilt is in our own lives (but) reconciliation is followed by repentance and forgiveness."
             In a service project led by Pastor Harvey Atkinson of St. Mattew,Konnarock, and Faith, Whitetop, over 100 sanitary kits were collected for delivery to the homeless "from  Sandbridge to Bristol."
            The audience sang along in a variety of contemporary and bluegrass songs, led by  worship leaders, Voices of Praise. from Our Saviour, Warrenton.
A variety of courses provided information on Martin Luther, biblical story telling, refugee resettlement, Synod history, music, worship, prayer, diversity and more.
Pastor David Drebes, new coordinator for the event, covered all bases while riding a small half-scooter, as the result of a foot injury.  

Barker to lead Bonhoeffer ACTS course     

            Dr. H. Gaylon Barker, an internationally known Bonhoeffer scholar, will lead the fall ACTS course on "Bonhoeffer and Responsible Discipleship: for the World..Because of change on Oct. 7 and Nov. 4 at Grace Waynesboro. Soundcast locations will be Holy Trinity, Wytheville, and Gloria Dei, Hampton.
            Barker, a former president of the International Bonhoeffer Society, English Language Section, and his wife, Pastor Carla Maier, have been interirm pastors of Good Shepherd Lutheran, Brooklyn, N.Y.  Barker,  an ELCA pastor, has written extensively about the German theologian and he formerly was direct or of the Center for Public Theology in New York and assistant to the bishop of the Metro New York Synod.
            Two required textbooks for the course are "Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works" and "Theologian of Resistance: The Life and Thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer." The cost of the course is $175 or $87.50 for first-time students.  Registration may be completed online at  
Barnyard Roundup for VCS
     by Pastor Derek Boggs, Salem, Mt. Sidney
 (A dozen youth visited farms to learn about the livestock in the VCS program. Pastor Boggs wrote about it in a blog in the church newsletter.)

            I just love Vacation Bible School.  It's a time to simply sing, listen, play and learn.  This year our theme was "Barnyard Roundup" and so it incorporated cows, sheep, chickens, donkeys, and pigs. 
            We talked about God's abundance, God's love, and God's forgiveness.  The energy in the Imagine Center each evening was incredible - loud singing, children's laughter, and occasional animal noises filled the room.  
             I had the privilege of taking our older youth out into the community each evening to visit various farms.  We went to a dairy farm, a sheep farm, a place that had donkeys, a pig farm, and finally to a farm pond where we fished.  It was a great week of learning about the symbolism of these animals in the Bible and relating this to our faith.  
Again, it was a fun-filled week.  But what really struck me is how community-minded it turned out to be.
Devon Fauls fed a calf during Vacation Bible School. Salem youth learned about their farm neighbors.
        We partnered with Pleasant View Lutheran, and together we had leaders and participants from both congregations who made the week a great success.  We had people from the community, who are not members of either congregation, come and join us.  And by going out each evening to different farms, we extended this exciting week of learning to people outside of our church walls.
            I wonder how all of this will matter to those who participated in some way.  Was a seed planted?  Did some sort of transformation happen?  How was the Holy Spirit at work in the hearts and minds of those gathered?  The answer is, we may never know.  Yet, I have to believe that VBS this year did make a difference, maybe a very significant difference in someone's life of faith.  
            So THANK YOU to everyone who helped to make this a worshipful and meaningful event in our community!  THANKS to the leaders, teachers, students, cooks, artists, drivers, singers, and helpers in any way!  But most of all, THANKS BE TO GOD for giving us the opportunity to be the church together!

Peace, Baa, Moo, and Oink,
Pastor Derek
Bishop Harold Weiss dies at 86
             Bishop Emeritus Harold Weiss, 86, a former Virginia Synod pastor, died at his Pennsylvania home on July 15. He served at Toms Brook from 1955 to 1961.
            After service at Fleetwood, Pa. church and as assistant to the bishop of Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, he was elected secretary and then three terms as  bishop of that synod. A memorial service was held at Muhlenberg College July 22.
Celebrating Reformation's 500th anniversary  
                A Lutheran blood drive in Richmond, a Reformation block party at Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, hand-made Christian ornaments at Grace, Winchester, a trip to Germany led by Pastor David Young of Bethel, Winchester, and a joint service of First English and Grace Covenant Presbyterian are some of the many celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation across the Synod.
            The Rev. Msgr. Joseph Lehman of our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church, Roanoke, will be the preacher for a Roanoke Valley Reformation Festival service at St. Mark's. Roanoke, on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 3 p.m.  The theme is "Reformed & Reforming." A combined Roanoke Valley Lutheran choir and a brass quintet will be featured.
            A Festival of Luther hymns was led by Dr. Paul Weber and Florence Jowers, organist, at Grace, Winchester, on Sunday, June 4. Deacon Daniel Hannemann, director of music at Grace, led a trip to the Land of Luther last October and he features a Luther hymn of the month in Sunday services. .
            A Martin Luther play was staged at St. Stephen, Williamsburg, last spring.
Praying for peace and unity  
            Shenandoah Valley  Ministries has adopted A Small Hand, a program supplying diapers, formula and other essential items for families with infants and toddlers. The program, started in 2010 by Edinburg Christian Church, was in danger of closing.
            A Small Hand serves over 300 families monthly. Volunteers are needed to help with packaging and distribution of items and meeting clients who arrive on Thursdays between 9 and 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.  For information volunteers may contact or call Lynne Nouvel at 609-315-5107.
            The program bridges the gap between government assistance for infants and the start of community support. Children and infants enrolled in WIC (government-supported women, infant and children program) may visit A Small Hand twice a month. They will be offered a two-week supply of disposable diapers and wipes and other items, such as clothes, food, formula, hygiene items, such as shampoo and lotion, as available.
            In the first five months of this year, 304 clients were served. The ministry continues at Edinburg Christian Church.          
Learning to serve
      by Pastor Scott Mims, Good Shepherd,  Virginia Beach
Gathering on the beach.

           This past week 43 participants from nine different Synod congregations attended the Junior High Servant Event - our Synod's week-long servant experience for rising 7th - 9th graders at "the water's edge, Virginia Beach."
             This annual event has been hosted in Virginia Beach by congregations of the Tidewater Conference since 2009.   Not only do participants serve directly with organizations that work to address homelessness, poverty, and hunger, but we also learn about some of the root causes of these issues.  The goal is for youth to grow in awareness, compassion, and in their motivation to return home and be a part of God's work in their own communities.
              Activities for the 2017 Junior High Servant Event included: a "Compassion Walk" that traveled the long, hot route many of the homeless in our community must walk each day to access food and basic services, gleaning peaches at a local orchard, volunteering at the Foodbank of Southeastern
Pastor John Wertz, St Michael, Blacksburg, talks to youth
Virginia for Kids  Ghent Area Ministries, and Trinity Treasures, and serving a meal at People In Need Ministry (PIN).  Oh, and of  course we also spent some time at the beach and  saw the Norfolk Tides play baseball.
            One youth said her favorite part of the week was "seeing the homeless people happy" when they were served a feast of pizza, salad and homemade ice cream at PIN Ministry.
             Participating congregations were: Faith, Suffolk; First, Norfolk;  Good Shepherd Virginia Beach; Grace and Glory, Palmyra; Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg; Our Saviour, Warrenton[ St. Michael, Blacksburg; St. Michael, Virginia Beach, and St. Timothy Lutheran, Norfolk.   Dates for 2018 have been set.  Join us from July 15 -20, 2018 At the Water's Edge.   




Editor:  George Kegley   
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