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

Refugee ceiling is low
           Refuge resettlement is in danger, according to the Global Concerns Committee of First Lutheran, Norfolk.
            The national administration has planned to set the ceiling for refugees at 30,000, the lowest figure in the history of refugee resettlement. The ceiling will not be final until authorized by the president. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee service officials and a few leaders in Congress may play a role in amending this decision.
            For Fiscal year 2018, President Trump authorized 45,000 refugee admissions. However, as of Aug. 1, only 18,214 had actually been admitted. We are in the midst of the worst global displacement crisis in history.
            Thousands of refugees and migrants seeking freedom from persecution and violence need our help, the committee said. "Call your senators/representatives and demand a higher ceiling. Donate to help support the advocacy work of LIRS. See
            Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.---Proverbs 31:8-9.
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
Family Circle of Prayer.
God's Work, Our Hands.
Pilgrimage of Transformation in Charlottesville
Pastors will gather at Virginia Beach.
Pastor Goranson dies at 97.
Hopwood argues for prison reform.
St. Michael is 50 and 200+
Wengert is ACTS leader on Confessions
Quick Links
Lutherans in the news
            Pastor Scott Benson has told his congregation, Faith, Suffolk, that he will retire at the end of the year. A graduate of Trinity Seminary in 1983, he served at Bethel, Long Beach, CA, and St. Mary's Pine, Mt. Jackson, before he was called to Faith in 2000. He and Babs Benson have two daughters and two grandsons.. Benson has coordinated conference events and worked on Synod youth programs for 20 years. Babs Benson will continue working for Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters.
            Pastor Rosemary Backer is the new interim pastor at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg , following the retirement of  Pastor Bill King.  She comes from Gloria Dei, Holmes Beach, FL., where she has served for 12 years.  Backer, a Maryland native, worked for Verizon for 25 years before
graduating from the former Gettysburg Seminary. She formerly served at Bethlehem, Lynchburg.
            The Rev. David P. Casey is the new young adult missioner for Christ, Fredericksburg, St. George's Episcopal Church and Trinity Episcopal Church in a new position sponsored by the three churches, Virginia Synod and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. He also serves as the chaplain for the Episcopal Lutheran Campus Ministries at the University of Mary Washington. He was ordained as an Episcopal priest in June.
            Deacon Lisa Geiger is the new ACTS (Ambassadors Community for Theological Study) director, following Pastor Karen Taylor. Geiger will continue as candidacy process administrator for the Synod and church operations manager at First Lutheran, Norfolk.
            Pastor Suzanne Stierwalt, St. Andrew, Portsmouth, has been named director of Roots & Wings, a Synod ministry for families of children from birth through 5th grade.
            Jeannie Coffman has resigned as Faith Community nurse in Shenandoah County for health reasons. Coffman wrote Model of Healthy Living articles for congregations.
            Charles Leiser, treasurer of St. Mark's Roanoke, has advanced to financial consultant with the Blue Ridge Group of Thrivent Financial in Roanoke. He had to meet a set of qualifications and requirements.
           Redeemer, Bristol, is teaming with Immanuel Lutheran in nearby Blountville, TN, in a program called Building Bridges: Two by Two. A team of two volunteers will deliver a monthly box of breakfast, lunch and dinner items to five homebound people in the Highway 126 corridor that runs between the two churches. The homebound people were identified by a community service agency.
            Christ, Fredericksburg, is focusing on a theme of "Abundant Blessing" this fall. A blessing for the day will be emphasized each Sunday. "The goal will be to give thanks to God for the many ways He blesses us and to lift up the spiritual practice of blessing one another and our neighbors." The schedule will start with blessing of students, blessing of educators, blessing of daily work and blessing of animals. Micah Ministries at Christ is seeking bicycles for use by the homeless in Fredericksburg. If repairs are needed, the bikes will be fixed.
            Members of Luther Memorial, Blacksburg, are gathering financial support for the flood-stricken community of Goldsboro, NC, where Pastor Joanna Stallings, formerly of Luther Memorial, serves Good Shepherd Lutheran. Her church property had some damage, covered by insurance, but the community was badly damaged and many families have no home.
            Youth of Our Saviour, Warrenton, raised $20,000 in a 30-hour famine event to get a small sample of the starvation that takes place around the world. The funds will be used to help stamp out hunger.
            A fundraiser at Our Saviour, Richmond, is planned for Oct. 1-15 to raise money for a scholarship fund to provide tuition assistance for families with preschool children.
            Our Saviour, Christiansburg, has invited the community to join its 25th annual Harvest Festival on Oct. 20. Funds raised at a raffle, bake sale and lunch will be given to the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance program.
            Dr. Crystal M. Edwards, Lynchburg school superintendent, will talk about the need for reinvestment in the public school system at a third Sunday program at Holy Trinity, Lynchburg, on Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.
            Pastor Emeritus Jim Utt was scheduled to talk about the history of Grace, Winchester, at the Old Wall in Hebron Cemetery on Sept. 22.
            Members of Christ the King, Richmond, are collecting 200+ new or gently used books for students of Peter Paul Development Center and neighborhood children. A decline in reading was reported in Richmond and the state.
            At Bethel, Winchester, Mikah Meyer, a singer-traveler, will speak on Oct. 21 about his three-year road trip to 417 National Park Service sites. He's attempting to set a world record as the youngest person to visit the entire National Park system. He also has a message about breaking stereotypes about LGBT Christians.
            Members of First Lutheran, Norfolk, will participate in Bread for the World's annual Offering of Letters on Oct. 21. They will write letters to senators and representatives encouraging them to support policies that combat hunger in the U./S. and around the world. First Lutheran has children's church for 4-year-olds through 2nd grade. They worship together. The goal is worshiping at this level builds faith.
            Roanoke College will hold its third annual Out of the Darkness walk for suicide prevention on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 10 a.m.

Family Circle of Prayer
     by Pastor Fred Marcoux 
           Last newsletter I related the story of the man whose wife died after child birth because he didn't have the insurance or cash to pay the ambulance ride to the hospital. He is now part of what I call my Family Circle of Prayer. Today, I have added another person to this circle. I met him at the DaVita dialysis center where I take my wife, Lesley three times a week.
            He is an elderly man, very thin and in obvious poor health. However, after a few visits, we started to know each other better and I heard about another problem that he faces. He does not have a car nor anyone in his family to take him to dialysis. Fortunately, Medicare pays for this transportation so we might see this as a good use of taxpayer funds. But there is more to the story.
             There have been several times when the transportation has arrived late which results in throwing off the schedule at the dialysis center. And on one occasion when he was having difficulty leaving his house with his walker, the driver of the truck never looked to see his plight and while looking away assumed that he was not going to need a ride and left the poor man on his doorstep. When this man returned inside his house, he called the transportation company and was told he would have to wait until tomorrow because the driver's schedule was filled for the day.
           This man is now part of what I call my Family Circle of Prayer. There are others there too, most of them are the people who have to fight for their dignity as human beings.
So, I want to recommend to you our own Family Circle of Prayer. You don't have to look far, they are in the news or even ahead of you in a grocery checkout line. It costs nothing and can bring you ever deeper into seeing the face of Jesus in those who struggle every day to survive.
(Pastor Fred Marcoux wrote this message for the St. Luke Messenger, his congregation's newsletter.)

God's Work, Our Hands
at Christ Lutheran, Roanoke
Cleaning a playground-one of six projects. 
            On Sunday, Sept. 9, over 80 of you went out to do the work of God with your hands. We spruced up our community playground, built handicapped accessible picnic tables for the Lutheran Family Services Adult Care Center, baked and packaged cookies for the Congregations in Action ministry for inner-city youth, knitted prayer shawls, cleaned and updated an outreach house for the homeless and played bingo with the residents of a nearby nursing center.
            All this was done to the glory of God and to witness to God's love for all. We touched the hearts of so many with the efforts of all of you. Way to go for God!
            All of us have the capacity to share the love that God has given us through the outpouring of the love of Christ. Our Lord shows us the way to love and the Holy Spirit empowers us to share and care. Continue in service to God and all creatures, great and small. There is so much work to be done with your hands. Let the Lord empower you and guide you in all you say and do.
            (Pastor David Skole wrote this message for Christ's Communique, the newsletter at Christ, Lutheran, Roanoke.)

Pilgrimage of Transformation Planned 
            History will unfold in a Charlottesville to Jamestown Pilgrimage of Transformation, sponsored by the Charlottesville Clergy Collective on Oct. 6-13.
            Participants on the walk will hear the stories and untold histories of the enslaved at Monticello, the Monacan Indians, Christianity and the doctrine of discovery, the arduous walk of the enslaved in Richmond and the first Africans landing at Jamestown/Fort Monroe.
            Retired Pastor Sandy Wisco gave this description of the event:
            Racism reared its ugly head in Charlottesville in July-August 2017. It has always been here. The faith community is committed to understand, recognize and correct our racist behavior. It is a lifetime commitment.
            Oct. 6-13 is eight days of opportunities to learn more, grow in understanding and begin to repent for our systemic racism that has been supported with faith and biblical claims for centuries. We have our first day of Pilgrimage-like walking through Charlottesville, then up the Monticello trail to pray and honor the enslaved people buried at Monticello. Descendants of Thomas Jefferson will speak.  
            Many options will be offered. The week will finish with a guided walk n Richmond and then a Saturday pilgrimage to Jamestown State Park and Fort Monroe. Also, the landing of the first ship bringing enslaved Africans to this land. Please join us on a journey toward healing.
            For information about registration and events, visit the website,  
            For the walk from Jefferson School to Monticello, 92 had registered in late September; 26 had registered for the Pilgrimage to Richmond and 11 registered for the Pailgrimage to Jamestown nd Fort Monroe.
            Dr. Karenne Wood, a member of the Monacan Indian Nation and an anthropologist, will speak on the history of American Indian presence in Virginia on Oct. 8 in Charlottesville. Mark Charles, a Navajo Christian and a Washington columnist for Native News Online, will speak on "The Heresy of Christian Empire and the Trauma of the Doctrine of Discovery" at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, Charlottesville, on Oct 11.

Pastors will gather at Virginia Beach
              On Monday, Oct. 15, many Virginia Synod clergy and rostered leaders will head for Virginia Beach for the annual Gathering of the Ministerium---three days of
gathering "to meet, reconnect, worship, relax, learn, sing, pray and play together while overlooking the ocean."
The theme, "Cultivating Brave Spaces: Ministry, Leadership and Incarnational Conversation," will be explored by Dr. Jill Y. Crainshaw, professor of worship and liturgy at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. An ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, she directs the school's clergy leadership program, facilitates healthy boundary training for clergy and her teaching focuses on intersections between religious leadership and sustainability, social justice and grounded human experiences.
            Dr. Crainshaw is expected to facilitate dialogue, helping church leaders to engage in difficult conversations in helpful, faithful and grace-filled ways.
            Among the free time activities will be a service project at Luther Manor, a unit of Virginia Lutheran Homes, golf and a corn hole tournament.

Pastor Goranson dies at 97
             The Rev. Brinkley Craft Goranson, 97, who served churches in Pennsylvania and lived at Virginia Beach in retirement, died Sept. 6. She was a member of First Lutheran, Norfolk.
            A North Carolina native, she married a Navy officer, Capt. Harold Theodore Goranson, who died in a plane crash in 1960. She was a graduate of Virginias Wesleyan College and Harvard Divinity School. After ordination, she served ELCA congregations in Ashland, Gordon, Colebrook and Arendtsville, PA. In retirement, she served as a hospital chaplain and supply preacher.
            The funeral was at First Lutheran on Sept. 12. Burial was at the Naval Academy in Annapolis MD. Surviving are five children, Harold Theodore Goranson and Zoe Goranson, Virginia Beach; Kristin Congdon, Winter Park, FL; Stephen Goranson, Durham, NC, and Jon Goranson, Ringgold, GA, five grandchildren and one step-grandchild.
Hopwood argues for prison reform  
            Shon Hopwood, a former bank robber who turned his life around to become a Georgetown University law professor, made a strong appeal for prison reform in a Rev. Dr. James R. Crumley Lecture at Roanoke College on Sept. 20.
            "All we want to do is punish people, not help them...The system leaves a message that a prisoner is worthless...Vengeance is not good public policy," said Hopwood, who spent 11 years in prison for robbing four banks.
            Against all odds, he studied law and became a jailhouse lawyer, winning cases for fellow prisoners, even two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. After prison, he earned degrees and was accepted by the bar. Many people helped him along the way. "I found that I enjoyed helping other people and that changed my life."
            Arguing against mandatory sentencing for long terms, Hopwood said the U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of prison population; 40 percent of the people who get out go back to prison and one on three black men go to prison  at some time in their life. "We know that's not fair."
            There is so much untapped potential in prison and a lot of people in prison have the ability to change. People do change,he said. Speaking for a second chance for prisoners, Hopwood said the country "has to have more forgiveness and grace."
            Not long ago there were 400 federal crimes but the list has grown to over 5,000 and counting, Hopwood said. A lot of people are making money on mass incarceration through private prisons, keeping people coming back. "I would replace officers with social workers..If you cut prison sentences, you will reduce recidivism."
            For justice, five years should be sufficient punishment, according to Hopwood. "It's hard to rehabilitate people with 20-year sentences." He encouraged the public "to think differently about the criminal justice system." When asked what the public can do, he said, "teach a class in prison."
            The annual lecture honors the late Bishop James R. Crumley Jr., a Roanoke graduate and former Virginia Synod pastor, who later led the former Lutheran Church in America.
St. Michael is 50 and 200+

            More than two centuries of German Lutheran heritage and a 50-year history was celebrated at St. Michael, Blacksburg last month.
            A special historical worship with an open house and music by the Altman Family Singers was held on Sept. 9, Bishop Bob Humphrey and former Pastors John Wertz Jr. and Linda Mitchell Motley came for a celebration luncheon on Sept. 16. The Clergy Mountain Band played and 50 flower bulbs were planted on Sept. 23.
Bishop Bob Humphrey celebrated St. Michael's anniversary  with Pastor Linda Motley (left),  Paul Henrickson and John Wertz Jr.
St. Michael became an active congregation on Sept. 15, 1968. But Interim Pastor Paul Henrickson recalled that the original St. Michael Lutheran began on Oct. 16, 1796 when German pioneers settled in the New River Valley and worshiped in a log cabin, one of the first Lutheran churches in the state.  
            Leonard Schnell, a Moravian missionary, wrote in his diary about traveling from Madison County westward, swimming the James River, "met a wolf" and arrived to preach at a settlement on the New River in 1749. A St. Michael's Lutheran Church there was followed by Price's Church and then St. Peter's which merged with St. Mark's to become New St. Peter. For a time, three Lutheran congregations were in the New River Parish until New St. Peter and St. Mark merged to form the present St. Michael.
            The modern St. Michael was built in 1971. Today, St. Michael and its partners in over 200 local community groups operate Micah's Caring Initiative which provides over 300 weekend meals to students in Blacksburg, operates a community garden providing produce for local food panties, delivers meals to low-income seniors, donates clothes and offers dinners to the community on Thanksgiving Day.
Caption: Bishop Bob Humphrey celebrated
St. Michael's anniversary with Pastor Linda Motley (left), Paul Henrickson and John Wertz Jr.

Wengert is ACTS leader on Confessions
            Oct. 5 is the registration deadline for the fall ACTS course on Lutheran Confessions to be led by Dr.Timothy Wengert, professor emeritus of Philadelphia Seminary. Wengert, a frequent teacher and preacher in the Synod, co-edited the 2000 translation of the Book of Concord and has lectured and written extensively on Lutheran theology and history.
            The course will explore how the Lutheran confessions , especially the Augsburg Confessions and Luther's Small Catechism can transform lives and congregations in the 21st century. "The Book of Concord," a Fortress Press book by Wengert and Robert Kolb, is required reading for the course.
            The course will be offered at Grace, Waynesboro, with simulcast locations at Gloria Dei, Hampton, and Holy Trinity, Wytheville, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.on Oct. 20 and Nov. 10. Registration cost is $175.




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