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

Seek right balance
between rights and protection
     by Bishop Bob Humphrey      
           Jesus...asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist, others Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:27-29a1 NRSV)

            It has been a remarkable two weeks since the murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. 
                  (Continued. See "Right balance" below)
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
ELCA Bishop's column
Right Balance...(continued).
LFS offers service award again
Solar units for PR
Random acts of kindness
History of Holy Trinity, Lynchburg
Youth report on Winter Celebration.
A tribute to parents
17 apply for synod mission post
Hungary Mother Camp plans for summer.
Quilt ingathering locations announced
Bishop Humphrey visits Wythe County
Lutherans in the news

             Julie Swanson, recently retired chief executive of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, will receive a national service award this month. The Nationwide Association of Lutheran Development Executives, will present her with its Outstanding Executives Award at its annual banquet in Minneapolis. The organization cited her visionary and inspirational leadership, effectiveness in management and fund-raising, her example of Christian stewardship and commitment to the church during her 12 years at LFS. In her tenure, programs were launched and the agency expanded from nine locations funded by a $9 million budget to 36 locations and a budget of $35 million.
            Rebeccca Wicker has joined the staff as a vicar at St. Michael, Blacksburg, and Christ, Radford, for four months. A member of Good Shepherd Lutheran, Waterboro, SC, she is in the call process. She is working with children, youth and families at St. Michael and leading worship and working with campus ministry during the pastoral vacancy at Christ, Radford.
            Tony Marbury has been named director of youth and family ministry at St. Mark, Charlottesville. A leader in the congregation since 2000, he is retired from Air Force service of providing secure airborne communications support for the president, vice president and secretaries of state and defense.   
            Whitney Huff has been employed as music director at Grace and Glory, Palmyra.
            Kara Yates, College, Salem, has signed to play lacrosse at Lynchburg College next year. She is the only girl who completed four levels of welding instruction at her school.
             A Lenten series at Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, is featuring "Bumper Sticker Theology." Some of the topics: "If you pray hard enough, God will answer," "God never gives you more than you can use," "Our faith gets us to God," "It's all part of God's plan" and "Salvation is about getting into heaven."
            Youth and adults from Grace and Glory, Palmyra, traveled to Our Saviour, Warrenton, for a 30-hour weekend famine. All funds raised were for World Vision.
            In a March Madness basketball event at Bethel, Winchester, money will be raised for malaria nets by a group attempting to make 1,000 free throws in an hour. All donations will be matched. In Lent 4 Losers at Bethel, "The focus is on finding ways to lose ourselves and find new life in following Jesus."
            Peace, Charlottesville, issued a call for worship servants---ushers, assisting ministers, nursery helpers, projectionists, sound managers, cantors, offering counters and communion setter-uppers. "These good folk add to the richness of worship and help us to engage in community worship each week."
            Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, has started a Friday lunch program, offering a hot meal and conversation to members of the community.
            At Apostles, Gloucester, Pete and Betsy Liljeberg are planning another mission trip to the Maya village of Xojola, Guatemala. A team of 15 to 20 volunteers will provide medical care and supplies and install cook stoves. They have made this trip for eight years.

God's irresistible call 
     by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop Eaton 
           When first elected presiding bishop, I was often asked what it meant to be the first woman entrusted with this call. I didn't like that question then. I'm still ambivalent about it now.
           Why, in the 21st century, did my gender matter? Why, in 2013, was the election of a woman historic? I didn't understand all the fuss. My parents had raised me to believe that if I worked hard enough I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. My maternal grandmother was a businesswoman in the 1930s. My pediatrician was a woman. My high school biology teacher had her doctorate. All in the last century. However, "the question" does draw me to reflect on my journey in Word and Sacrament ministry.
           We had a faithful home. Church was an important part of our lives. Sunday school, Sunday worship, vacation Bible school (I'm pretty adept at illustrating salvation history with pipe cleaners and Popsicle sticks), the seasons of the church year all shaped my life. God was real and close. So, when asked by my junior high guidance counselor what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered: "A Lutheran pastor." Women can't be pastors, he told me, and that was that.
            During my senior year in high school, my father had open-heart surgery. In 1973 this was a serious and risky procedure. My faith was shaken, and it caused me to ask all of the existential questions: Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is omnipotent and loving, why is there suffering? Is there a God? What does life mean? I presented these questions to my pastor, John Evans, and waited for answers. Instead of lecturing me, he gave me the space and the grace to think even more deeply. Then I went off to college.
            College isn't always conducive to church attendance. Having Sunday morning come after Saturday night on a college campus is not the best arrangement. I drifted, but I still had my list of questions. Then something unexpected happened-I went to a fine Presbyterian college and the assistant campus chaplain was a woman! So I sent her my list, and she also encouraged me to question, doubt and explore. I wasn't the only one. She invited several of us to meet with her. We called ourselves the Heretics Group.
            By my senior year I knew I didn't want to be a band director. I applied to divinity school and was accepted! By now the Lutheran Church in America (an ELCA predecessor) had been ordaining women for seven years. By the end of my first year of div school I felt deeply called to Word and Sacrament ministry. I contacted my bishop and let him know. That's not how the process works. One meets with one's bishop before one attends seminary. Oops. Nevertheless, Kenneth Sauer, then bishop of the Southern Ohio Synod, brought me into the fold and I was a model candidate after that. I was ordained in 1981.
          The 37 years I have served have been a blessing. I was encouraged by my pastors, supported by my church, and have been extended calls from congregations. But the 37 years have not been without difficulty. Early on I was often the only woman at clergy gatherings. The legitimacy of my call was challenged. My compensation was less than my male colleagues. In every congregation I served, people left because they couldn't accept a woman pastor. Once, while pumping gas in my clerics, a shocked man exclaimed, "I've never seen a woman before!" A pastor told me that I was no bishop of his.
            In this issue of Living Lutheran, you have read the stories of remarkable women living out their baptismal vocation as laypeople, pastors and deacons. We didn't say yes to God's call because we wanted to be pioneers, or trailblazers or to make some kind of a statement. We said yes because God's call was irresistible, because of the joy of serving the gospel, because of the great privilege of walking with people as the deep love of Jesus becomes real for them. These are our call stories.
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 March 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Right Balance (continued)
            Once again violence has touched the lives of most Americans and reignited the ongoing debate about what legal controls are needed for firearms and other weapons in our country.
            These are important questions. They deserve our prayerful attention and response as Christians, and as Americans. We have learned that gun violence in this country far exceeds gun violence in many other countries around the world. We urgently need to find the right balance between our individual rights and liberties on the one hand and the protection of innocent people in our society on the other.
            For us, as Christians, this conversation begins, ends and is wrapped in prayer and careful discernment, based on our understanding of who Jesus is and how we can most faithfully follow Jesus. The danger is that, like the disciples, we become distracted by the competing voices and sound bites of others.
            Who do we say Jesus is? Jesus is the One we are called to follow and emulate. No one else will do...So, in addition to our prayers for the victims, their families and communities, we are called to prayerfully engage with one another in study and respectful conversation that leads us to faithful responses as we lift our voices, send our emails, call our representatives, engage in public witness and advocate in the way of Jesus. What better place than our congregations to offer ongoing faithful dialogue and support?
            To share the Gospel with the world is our unique calling, and in times like these, is also a truly helpful perspective to offer our democracy, as together we search for justice and peace in a broken, deeply divided and often confusing world..
            Let us hold one another in prayer as we journey together in support of all victims, peacemaking, advocacy and the bold proclamation of the Gospel.
LFS offers service award again   
            As part of a 130th anniversary observance, Lutheran Family Services will sponsor its Hearts & Hands service award again. As celebrated in 2008 and 2013, the award will recognize individuals whose passion, energy and delight in service are changing lives and creating brighter future for many people.
            The awards will be presented to Lutherans who through their job or as a volunteer exemplify outstanding service to their church a history of advocacy dedication to improving services or commitment to a collective effort by engaging others to work toward a common goal. Nominations may be sent to Debbie Steele at
            Also at LFS, two executives have moved into new leadership positions. Lisa Morgan is the new chief operating officer and Tresha Lafon is the first chief quality officer. Both were vice presidents of program operations.
            LFS also is participating in Roanoke Valley Gives, an annual online, 24-hour program for charities to raise funds for services, on March 14. The goal is $20,000. Last year, LFS raised $16,000. The funds will be used to support group homes, day support center and the Minnick Schools.
Virginia solar units for Puerto Rico
     by Marie Acevedo 
Marie Acevedo 
            I am Marie Acevedo and I live in Fairfax Station, and I'm a member of Living Savior Lutheran Church. My parents are from the historic town of San German, Puerto Rico (PR).
            Although PR has a long history of being in the path of hurricanes and most homes are made of concrete blocks to withstand hurricanes, in September 2017, Hurricane Maria blasted the island at an incredible 250 miles an hour, knocking out electrical power by breaking down electrical towers, telephone poles, causing floods, and leaving a large portion of the island in the dark. In today's newspaper it says that nearly 250,000 energy customers in PR remain without power more than 5 months after Hurricane Maria. This is the longest blackout in U.S. history. Today 1/3 of the island is still without power. I have a cousin named Ulysses, who lives on the outskirts of San German and he just got power for his house restored after 144 days!
           I'm grateful to have partnered with Steve Van Stee and his company SolarCrate, which specializes in designing and building battery-based solar generators in Edinburg. These stand-alone units are perfect for disaster relief efforts because they are highly mobile, reliable, and don't need any fuel other than the sun.
            Together we are trying to raise $75,000 to send 3 mobile solar units and 2 "pick-up truck" solar units to PR. The plan is to assemble the units, caravan to Jacksonville, FL, and load them on a cargo ship to San Juan, PR. We will provide them to people in need, who still don't have power and provide one to the fire department for Search and Rescue. We have a network in PR ready to accept the units and get them to those in need.
            We've set up a Go Fund Me page for those of you who wish to donate:
     For those who wish to write a check, we have teamed up with Ambiente de Gracia Baptist Church (Ambiente), a Hispanic congregation with a mission to assist Puerto Rico, led by Pastor Julio Ruiz. Ambiente has agreed to hold the funds donated and they will be combined with the Go Fund Me donations. If you wish to donate:
       Make your check out to: Ambiente de Gracia. In the FOR line, please write: Solar Panels for PR. Mail your check to: Solar Panels for PR, PO Box 7173, Fairfax Station, VA   22039
     En el nombre de Jesus Cristo, Gracias. In the name of Jesus Christ, thank you. You may contact me at:
Random acts of kindness 
Nyla,Heine and her brother, Owen, help Pastor Caspersen prepare gifts for teachers. 
            Pastor Karen Caspersen of Emanuel, Woodstock, wanted to recognize teachers and school staff so she began giving them small tokens of appreciation in a "Just Because" project. She is giving baked goods, notes, popcorn, lanyards, hand lotion and seasonal items and she plans to expand the list to spring flowers, note pads, stationery and gift cards.
            She told the Northern Virginia Daily, "As a mother of two teachers and having a lot of friends who are teachers in this district, I'm well aware of how unappreciated and unsupported they are." "If we can't make a financial change, I wanted to create a program that might boost their morale with a little surprise once a month."
            Caspersen and a group of volunteers have donated over 150 random acts of kindness in mailboxes at W. W. Robinson Elementary School and they intend to add another school. She said the teachers have thanked her tenfold. "Just as little thank-you note once a month can brighten anyone's day."
            Caspersen came from the Upstate New York Synod five years ago and she often supplies at Shenandoah County churches.
History of Holy Trinity, Lynchburg recorded    
            The first successful effort to start a Lutheran congregation in Lynchburg began at a service at the YMCA on Oct. 12, 1892, when 27 people gathered and collected an offering of $4.20. A mission committee was appointed and the process of organizing Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was set in motion.
            That's the beginning described in a new 160-page history of Holy Trinity, started by Cecil Spotswood Stevens Mullen and completed by Marjorie K. Hunter and Pastor Dennis Roberts. Many photographs add to the stories of the congregation's three buildings, its pastors and its ministries. The service of such leading pastors as Drs. Homer Anderson, M. L. Minnick and Marshall Mauney is recorded here.
            The German influence through a sister congregation in Germany and a strong music ministry, work with Habitat, service at a food pantry and other forms of outreach and ecumenical ministry are hallmarks of Lynchburg history.
            The book, priced at $10, is available at the church office.
Youth report on Winter Celebration    
            A dozen youth from First Lutheran, Norfolk, gave their thoughts on the Winter Celebration for their congregation newsletter. Not by Bread Alone was the theme, based on the temptation story in Matthew 4.
            The gathering of youth and adults at Eagle Eyrie, near Lynchburg, highlighted the truth that Jesus is with us in all of the temptations and challenges of life, with strength, forgiveness and guidance.
            Laurene Silsdorf wrote, "I learned that temptation can be overcome by believing in God. I liked my small group, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends. Winter Cel is about reconnecting with God and, for me, escaping life's temptations and stress."
            Max Kelly said, "The event was based on the temptation of Jesus by the Devil and also about growing our faith and connection with God. I liked my small group the most out of everything. I learned that I should put more faith in God."
            Grace McGhee said, "I learned how to share my faith with new people. I loved singing songs in a large group. Winter Cel was all about sharing our faith and teaching people about God's word."
A tribute to parents
     by Pastor Paul Weber 
(Members of Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, are writing Stories of Faith for a Lenten devotional series)
Psalm 145:4-5, 8
            One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
             My faith story begins and ends with my parents who were both full of faith, compassionate but strong, unconditional in their love, encouraging when challenges arose and always active in helping people in need. My Dad began his ministry as a prison and hospital chaplain and went on to become head of social ministry and world relief for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
             His preaching was filled with real-life stories of those who needed or had received help and he was able to go around the world bringing the church's resources to those in need. He even supported a food shipment to the North Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War because even then, he said, we are to love our enemies. He wrote the first handbook on how American Lutherans must work together on disaster relief.
            My mother not only raised five of us but was active in my father's ministries of outreach. She baked pies for everybody. She sought out the best piano teacher for me in high school. Later on, she encouraged me in parish ministry and in reaching my musical goals. She would feed large groups of guests all the time and was known to wash guests' cars before they could pull out of our driveway. She overcame losing her mother, being an orphan and taking care of her sisters and became a nurse before meeting my dad.
We always had family devotions together and said the Lord's Prayer every day. We could hear mom and dad say it again at night together. Moved by their strong witness, I have never lost the sense of God's presence, even during very difficult days.
            Several years ago, I had the chance to take the Lenoir-Rhyne choir to my home congregation in Baltimore and give a concert. As the choir surrounded the audience to sing our last piece, I was very moved as I remembered my parents, especially during a piece I had written. It was as if I had come full circle and the whole family was together again in that moment. Needless to say Jesus' Spirit and resurrection were swirling around. I feel extremely blessed to have had such incredible parents who were witnesses to the Dying and Risen Lord!
17 apply for synod mission post 
            Bishop Bob Humphrey has been working with synod and ELCA Domestic Mission leaders to call a director for evangelical mission (DEM)/assistant to the bishop. Seventeen applications were submitted from all over the country.
            Serving under the direction of both the ELCA and synod bishop, this leader will be responsible for mission development and redevelopment, working with rostered ministers, synod staff, congregations and institutions and agencies to find creative ways to proclaim the Gospel, grow in stewardship and foster new or renewed vitality in congregations and communities.
            The DEM will lead and support the synod in areas of mission, stewardship, evangelism, leadership development and justice. He or she also will serve as an assistant to the bishop, responding as needed throughout the synod.
            The applicants represented a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences and skills. Steps over the next couple of months will include prayerful conversations and structured interviews that hopefully lead to a call for one who is deeply inspired and truly gifted for this important ministry.Your prayers for all involved are requested.
Hungary Mother Camp plans for summer   
            An Eagle Scout project has produced five new primitive tent camp sites at Hungry Mother Retreat Center Camp, according to Chris Stevens, camp director. Five primitive tent camp sites with fire rings and picnic tables have been added in an Eagle Scout project. Donations are sought for metal frames.
            The third annual spring picnic and volleyball tournament will be held on Pentecost Sunday, May 20. Donations will be used to upgrade inadequate refrigeration in the kitchen. Both cabins need exterior repairs such as pressure washing, sealing and landscaping.
            Summer Bible camp will be held July 1-6. Registration starts in March. The fee is $250. Some limited camperships are available. A limited number of spots are available for volunteer junior counselors to work with the staff from Caroline Furnace, Stevens said..                                           
Quilt ingathering locations announced  
           Lutheran World Relief and Church World Service have announced ingathering plans for quilts at four Virginia locations this year.
            They are: Bethany Christian Church, 5400 Forest Hill Ave., Richmond 23225, March 1-April 30, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. -1 p.m. Bon Air Christian Church, 2071 Buford Rd., North Chesterfield 23235, April 2-May 15, Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-noon.
            Shenandoah District, Church of the Brethren, 1453 Westview School Rd.,
Weyers Cave 24486, April 3-May 10, Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
            Hampton Christian Church, 151 East Mercury Blvd., Hampton, 23669, year-round, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
            Download a donation form at Donors are asked to bring someone to help unload boxes.
Bishop Humphrey visits Wythe County 
            In a Wythe County visit on Sunday, Feb. 25, Bishop Bob Humphrey met with members of St. Paul and Grace, Rural Retreat. He preached, joined the youth for a selfie and collected a noisy offering for the ForwardingFaith campaign. Pastor Jonathan Hamman told him of the internship program at the former Attoway-Kimbnerlin Parish and present work with the Walker Mountain Parish. United Lutheran Seminary will be seeking internship congregations;
            The visit of the bishop and wife Barbra ended with an inspection of the goat population at the Hamman home.




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