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

Day for all people set for Jan. 25
  viccp logo
            The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy will hold its annual Day for All People when people from across the state visit their legislators in the General Assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The event will start with registration at Centenary United Methodist Church.
            Participants will be able to see the Assembly in session and to visit their delegate or senator. They will hear from experts in important areas of legislative action and meet
supporters of the advocacy work of the Interfaith Center.
            Registration, covering breakfast and lunch and the all-day event, is $30, with a $5 discount for response by Jan. 11. Student registration is $15. Click here to complete your registration online.                   
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Bed nets for Papua, New Guinea
Grants for $147,000 awarded
LARCUM explores Reformations
Micah's Backpack guidebook published.
Martin Luther vs. the evangelicals.
New stewardship resource available
Synod receives hunger award
Quick Links

Lutherans in the news
            Pastor Tina Melusky has come from Pennsylvania to accept a call to Trinity, Newport News, following Pastor Fred Guy, who has retired.   A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Gettysburg College and Gettysburg Seminary, she has served Grace, Red Lion, Pa., and Good Shepherd, Fox Chapel, Pa. and she worked as an advancement  associate and archives assistant at Gettysburg Seminary and interned at Mellingers, Schoeneck, Pa.
             A special anthem was commissioned at Redeemer, Bristol, in recognition of  10  years of service by Marcia Cooper as director of music at Redeemer, Bristol, and earlier service to the wider church. She served with her husband, the late Pastor John J. Cooper, as a Lutheran missionary to Thailand and at Christ, Radford. She was a music graduate of Roanoke College and she holds a master's degree from Kent State University. The anthem was composed by Dr. Carl Schalk, professor emeritus of church music at Concordia University, Chicago. He is the author of more than 100 hymn tunes and carols and of several books on Lutheran music and hymnody.
            Pastor Joanna Stallings has resigned as associate pastor of Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, to accept a call to serve at Good Shepherd, Goldsboro, N.C. Ordained as a United Methodist pastor, she has served at Luther Memorial for 18 years. She has been associate pastor and active in campus ministry. Her service will be recognized at a reception on Jan. 8.
            Christmas in a Barn, an annual tradition at Grace, Rural Retreat, and Bethel, Winchester, was celebrated by both congregations on Christmas eve. The timeless story was retold in a barn, recalling the events in a Bethlehem stable long ago.
            At the start of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a program about Martin Luther will be featured on Public Broadcasting System Thursday, Jan. 5, at 10 p.m.  The program will be led by Rick Steeve, a popular travel show host and an ELCA member.
            Roanoke College's Reformation 500 observance in 2017 will begin on Thursday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m. with a lecture by Dr. Richard Lischer of Duke Divinity School on "The 'Martin Luther' in Martin Luther King Jr." in the college's Colket Center. The Kandinsky Trio, based at the college, will present a Martin Luther Year Celebration Concert, featuring works of Bach and Leibniz, on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Olin Hall at the college.
            At St. Peter's, Stafford, Micah Ministries held a Remembrance ceremony remembering homeless people in the community who died in the past year.
            At St. Mark's, Roanoke, Pastor James Armentrout burned a note  at a Christmas morning service, retiring the debt on a garden and columbarium. The Miller Garden was dedicated in honor of Sidney and Wanda Miller, leaders in the congregation.
            A special Roanoke College alumni fund raised $167,822 in 10  days to help more than 600 students receive hands-on learning opportunities. The fund will support research, internships, creative works, service learning, study away and scholarships.
            Members of Hebron, Madison, made 50 quilts which were dedicated and sent to Church World Service at New Windsor, Md. For distribution.
            To commemorate the Reformation anniversary, Grace, Winchester, plans to restore a 1790 Bremen, Germany bell which hung in the original church steeple in what is now Mount Hebron cemetery. A new clapper, support bolts, pulley and rope are needed. A blue chasuble for the pastors of Grace was donated by Pastor Bill and Brenda Bolden and made by Norma Fredrickson, a Grace member.
            For the Reformation anniversary year,  Bethel, Winchester, will be host for a concert by the Thiel College choir from Greenville, Pa., March  10 at 7 p.m. Excerpts from Martin Luther's writing will be part of the narrative. With an emphasis on scripture, Bethel members will be reading the Bible in a one-year plan and the adult forum will explore key themes of the Reformation.
            A Hymn Festival Weekend celebrating Reformation 500 and the Week of Christian Unity will be sponsored by St. Stephen, Williamsubrg, and Saint Bede Catholic Church on Jan. 28-29 at Saint Bede with Dr. David Cherwien, a Lutheran composer and organist/cantor at Mt. Olive Lutheran, Minneapolis, and Susan Palo Cherwien, hymn text writer and poet.
            At St. Mark, Yorktown, "Table for Five..Thousand! The Miracle of  the Loaves and Fishes," will presented by pre-school through high school youngsters on Sunday, Feb. 19.
            A Nighttime of Our Soul service for those enduing loss was held at First Lutheran, Norfolk, on Dec. 11. the liturgy of scripture, carols prayer and candle lighting provided an opportunity to support one another when loved ones are absent and to remember family and friends who have died.
            Members of Bethlehem, Lynchburg, participated in the Elks Home Nativity scene at Bedford Dec. 15-23.
            Over 90 winter coats were delivered by St. Philip, Roanoke, to children from seven area schools.   
Bed nets for Papua, New Guinea
by Dr. Charles Hays
Everybody Buy a Net!
            As a new year begins, we hope that you and/or your congregation will give serious consideration to the possibility of making a donation to support our synod's goal of providing 5000 bed nets to our companion synod in Papua New Guinea.  Our synod exceeded its original goal of $230,000 by donating more than $250,000 to the ELCA's Malaria Campaign, and we are very thankful for the willingness of the synod's members and congregations to provide this level of support to our national malaria campaign. 
            At the end of the campaign our synod made a decision to continue efforts to combat malaria, and established a goal of collecting $50,000 to give to our brothers and sisters in the Papua New Guinea synod for the purchase of 5000 bed nets. We wanted to support our companion synod in a similar way to the way in which our African brothers and sisters have been helped through the ELCA Malaria Campaign.
           Papua New Guinea has a very significant problem with malaria and insecticide-treated bed nets are one of the ways that has been identified to protect people from contracting malaria.  We hope to be able to reach our goal of $50,000 by the time of our 2017 Virginia Synod Assembly in June.  In 2016 we have been able to achieve a total donation of $32,662 which is more than 60% of the amount needed to reach our goal.
  In the months ahead we hope to continue this progress, and we look forward to achieving our goal in June. 
            We hope that you will join in this important activity that is going to help the Papua New Guinea Synod protect their members from acquiring malaria.  If you are interested in participating in this program, either through an individual or a congregational donation, please send a check to the Virginia Synod Office indicating on the check that the donation is for the MALARIA NETS FOR PNG Program.
            If you prefer to donate online, please go to  We want to thank you for your willingness in supporting our efforts to reduce the impact of malaria.
Grants for $147,000 awarded
to 14 senior Virginia programs
            The National Lutheran Communities & Services (NLCS) Community Impact Council has awarded 30 grants for a total of $253,500 to support programs for older adults who are aging in place in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Fourteen of the grants for $147,000 are for programs in the Virginia Synod territory for the 2017 grant year.
            The Virginia grants:
            Augusta Health Foundation, Staunton, $15,000
            Blue Ridge Hospice, Winchester, $15,000
            Colonial Heritage Community Foundation, Williamsburg, $15,000
            Grace Network, Martinsville, $5,000
            GraceInside, Richmond, $15,000
            HELP---Health Equipment Loan Program, Churchville, $2,000
            Highland Food Pantry Inc., Winchester $4,000
            Mental Health America of Fredericksburg, $10,000
            Peninsula Agency on Aging, Newport News, $10,000
            Rappannock Rapidan Community Services, Culpeper, $7,500
            Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, Norfolk, $12,500
            Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging, Front Royal, $5,000
            Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries, in partnership with Shenandoah County
                  Health Ministry Coalition, Toms Brook, $20,000
            Valley Program for Aging Services, Waynesboro, $11,000
            This was more than $30,000 greater than the amount awarded to 21 programs last year. The organization reported a significant increase in amounts requested and the number of recipients in this fourth year of the program.
            Kathryn Baerwald, chief philanthropy officer for NCIS, said the Council was "pleased to see so many high-quality proposals for 2017 containing a wide variety of programs that serve older adults...We also are well aware of the wonderful work that has been done by the 2016 grantees that have been bringing moments of grace to the lives of seniors throughout Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia and Delaware."  She expressed thanks to the NLCS trustees who made this possible.
            NLCS, based at Rockville, Md., operates the Village at Orchard Ridge and myPotential at Home in Winchester, the Legacy at North Augusta, Staunton, and retirement communities at Rockville and Annapolis, Md.
LARCUM explores Reformations, Then and Now
By Pastor Eric Moehring, Synod ecumenical representative
           Over 75 Lutherans, Anglicans, Roman Catholics and United Methodists met together in "the center of the universe," Ashland, on December 2-3 to mark the second year of LARCUM's three-year observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. 
            The presenter, Dr. Joseph Small, former director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Theology and Worship and author of Fire and Wind: The Holy Spirit in the Church Today, began the conference with the session, "The Body Lies Bleeding: Wounds of the Divided Church." He ably described the moments of division in the Church and honestly assessed that it's "all we've ever known and have come to expect." Dr. Small concluded that this has led to a "self-sufficiency" that encourages church shopping and the need to "sell ourselves," offering our individual churches and denominations as "better than the others." So today there is a change in the proclamation of the Church from Paul's words, "We proclaim Christ and him crucified" to an advertised promotion of "ourselves as a consumer's choice." We indeed left that session better understanding that "the Body lies bleeding."
            Over that evening and the next day, Dr. Small then fleshed out the Christ at its best as, "Not self-generating, self-sustaining or self-directed." He concluded that the Church is not its own; the Church is the Body of Christ..."not a triumphant Church, nor does it live in power and glory, but is in Christ's mission and Christ's suffering." Dr. Small concluded on a hopeful note as he described this Church that needs to be lived out in our Secular Age.
            At Morning Prayer on Saturday, Bishop Jim Mauney gave what is his final reflection to the LARCUM Conference as bishop. Using Acts 9 as the basis for his remarks, he asked two questions, "Why did Ananias risk it all for Saul? And why did Christ risk it all for the world?" His answer: "To make the road straight." That, he said, is the purpose of the Ecumenical Movement.
            Father Don Rooney, a member of the State LARCUM Steering Committee, then thanked Bishop Mauney and said that he has been the heart of LARCUM and the Virginia Council of Churches. During the course of the conference, Bishop Paul Loverde, retiring bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, was also recognized for his work on behalf of the Ecumenical Movement, especially for his building relationships among all those connected with LARCUM.
            The Virginia LARCUM Conference is a yearly event for all interested laity and rostered leaders to foster cooperation, develop relationships and provide an opportunity to learn together. Our next conference will take place on Friday and Saturday, December 1 and 2, 2017 in Salem, to continue the theme of reformation and reforming the Church today.
Hurt and hate
    By Pastor Bill King, Luther Memorial, Blacksburg 
 "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with their pain."

            These words from writer and social critic James Baldwin begin a chapter in Jonathan Sacks' wonderful book Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence (perhaps the best theology I have read in the last five years).  I have been reflecting on them a lot lately.  Wherever I turn-whether to my Facebook feed, the morning paper, radio news as I drive around, or personal conversations-I am struck by how much anger and distrust is out there these days.  You have to go back to the era of Viet Nam war protests and Civil Rights marches to find a time when there was such polarization.  It seems to me that the task is two-fold, understanding what is going on and finding a way forward that moves us beyond a bunker mentality, where we view those with whom we disagree as malevolent.
            It is incredibly hard to do, but as Baldwin implies, the first step may be to consider that those we perceive as haters are hurting-and then making an honest effort to understand their pain.  Hate is at bottom a desperate effort to blame someone else for my misfortune, to bolster my sense of self by dismissing another as unworthy of concern.  But when I sense that you are taking my pain seriously, that you want to see the world through my eyes, it is harder to see you as the enemy.
            I am not saying we should gloss over injustice or excuse bad behavior simply because someone is hurting.  We do not do that in parenting and we should not do it in our life together.  But can't we make an effort to understand the frustrations and fears which might prompt another to lash out?  Can't we do that; particularly if the alternative is continuing to stoke a cauldron of bitterness which will bubble over and scald us all?
            This Bread appears the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, between celebrating the Prince of Peace's birth and the festival of fresh beginnings.  What better way to mark this week than to resolve to see others through eyes more interested in understanding than condemning.
St. John, Winchester receives book award
David Berger, Seminary professor emeritus gave John Crone a commendation certificate.
(Photo by Rev. Todd Kittlow) 
            St. John's Winchester has received an honor for its history released in 2015. The Concordia  Historical Institute of St. Louis, Missouri presented researcher John C. Crone with an Award  of Commendation at its annual Awards Banquet on November 10. Crone, volunteer historian at St. John's,   spent four years compiling and researching the congregational history.
            The commendation reads, "In recognition of your significant contribution to literature and research in the field of Lutheran archives and history in North America for 'It Is A Good Work,'  Saint John's Lutheran Church: Winchester-Frederick County, Virginia, Our First One Hundred and Fifty Years-From 1787 to 1937. A thoroughly documented account of early Lutherans in post-Revolutionary Virginia that provides relevant biographical information, pictures, and maps, as well as an abundance of historical context."
            This award was one of 17 presented at a banquet at the seminary. Published works across several categories were recognized; including journal articles, major publications, congregational histories, histories of Lutheran organizations and non-print media.
            St. John's is led by the Rev. Sonya Williams-Giersch who announced that a companion volume to this award winning book is already in the works by Crone and a host of members. She compliments the congregation in that all proceeds from the sale of this book have gone to charitable causes. The book's title was selected by member and lead editor, Shelly Andrews from a commentary by Martin Luther regarding the building of churches. Copies of the book are available by calling St. John's Church at 540-877-9407; shipping is free.
Standing at Standing Rock
     by Paisley LeRoy
Paisley LeRoy, a seminary student from Christ, Fredericksburg, tells of her recent experience supporting Native Americans in North Dakota.
            On November 3rd I had the opportunity to partake in a solidarity action at Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. I went, answering the call for clergy (and seminarians) of all denominations and religious backgrounds that was issued by the local Episcopal Church on behalf of the Standing Rock elders.
            This call was to come and partake in "peaceful, prayerful, lawful, and non-violent action" with the water protectors who have been actively standing up against the issue of the Dakota Access Pipeline that would put the Missouri River at risk and ruin sacred burial land. However, the issue is much greater than water. This is an issue of our country failing to recognize the sovereignty of indigenous tribes by, once again, pushing at their already small territorial boundaries. This is a matter of placing corporate greed over the lives of a historically oppressed group.
            My interest in this cause began during my time at Roanoke College where I took a course in Native American History. This past summer, at Nebraska Synod Assembly that I attended while I was in Nebraska for Lutheran Volunteer Corps, I witnessed discussion on the Doctrine of Discovery and learned the Church's role in the colonization and mistreatment that indigenous people have faced.
            In August, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. As Father Floberg stated during our opening training, "they (law enforcement) are protecting a pipeline that was put into place because of a church doctrine. We are here to say that we were wrong."
           And that is precisely what we did. Following the Spirit, I travelled to Standing Rock with a group of nine other seminarians and one faculty member from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where I attend school.  At the Oceti Sakowin camp in Standing Rock we, together with over 500 religious leaders, joined the thousands of water protectors.
           Our action began with publicly reading the statements from each denomination that had repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. This was done in front of the elders of the tribes present and, afterwards, a copy of the original Doctrine was given to the elders who burnt the document, signifying their forgiveness and willingness to move forward together.
With newly established unity, we each received a sage smudging as we left the camp to walk to the site of the action, a bridge less than half a mile from Oceti Sakowin camp. There we spent time in a large circle, singing and praying together for two hours. The entire time militarized law enforcement was present across the bridge and on the hills surrounding the river. We prayed and sang louder each time the low-flying helicopter flew in a circle above us.
            In small groups many walked onto the bridge with the permission of the elders. There, against the barricade that had been established and with law enforcement right on the other side, we joined hands and offered prayers of healing and strength for all present --- water protectors and law enforcement alike. I think it is especially important to note that we prayed for law enforcement under the direct request of the water protectors. This has been, since the beginning, a peaceful, prayerful, lawful, and non-violent movement.
            I still cannot adequately describe my experience at Standing Rock. The best way to describe it is a kairos moment that emerged out of the complete chaos of a situation. I felt God's presence in every inch of the camp and action-site that day. I saw the work of the Spirit in all who were present. I would be open to sharing more about this experience so please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you would like to hear more and/or hear how you can support the water protectors as they prepare for a harsh winter camping in North Dakota. (
  VICPP presents hunger award to Synod
Bishop Jim Mauney accepting the hunger award from
Rev. David Chapman
           The Virginia Synod received the Faithful Voice Award from Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy for its "work to end hunger among Virginia's children." Bishop Mauney and Eric Carlson, chair of the Synod Childhood Hunger Task Group, accepted the award, presented by Rev. David Chapman, Executive of the General Baptist Convention, at the VICPP annual meeting in Richmond on Dec. 13.
  Carlson introduced two themes for 2017:  "One for you; and one to share" and "Are your kids hungry?  Come to Church; we'll feed the whole family!"
            VICPP, an ecumenical advocacy organization, recognized the Synod's hunger program: "Virginia Feeds Kids is an interfaith and interagency initiative of the Synod designed to help Virginians find and feed hungry children. Statistically, more than 300,000 children come to school hungry in the Commonwealth every school day. Virginia Feeds Kids includes weekend backpack feeding efforts, summer programs and advocates for expanding the state's school breakfast program with the governor and General Assembly."
            Bishop Jim Mauney's intent in chartering the effort: "By establishing the goal of feeding every child in Virginia by the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, 31 October, 2017, I intend for the Virginia Synod to learn how to work as an ecumenical partner in bringing together a diverse blend of sacred and secular organizations to identify and nourish children in need...It is my fervent hope that through meeting this challenge, we will create a sustainable working infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth that will end childhood hunger in our state."
            Other awards presented:  Dr. William Hazel, secretary of health and human resources, was selected as Policy Leader of the Year. The Rev. Charles Swadley, former interim director of VICPP, was Citizen of the Year. The Islamic Center of Virginia received the Beacon of Light Award.




Editor:  George Kegley   
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