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                                                                                JANUARY, 2020
                         The Virginia 
~Bringing you news of the Virginia Synod since 1921~

St. Paul's Hampton, issues 
Souper Bowl challenge to 
St. John's Episcopal Church
Pastor Timothy Crummitt of St. Paul's, Hampton, has challenged the neighboring St. John's Episcopal Church for the largest number of supplies for the Souper Bowl of Caring on Feb. 2. Crummitt calls it "a good, old-fashioned competition between our respective communities."
            It is necessary to warn St. John's that St. Paul's collected over 1,000 cans of soup in January last year, he said. "We do not count cheap, unhealthy soup," Crummitt said, and "we do not start collecting before January."
In This Issue
Lutherans in the news
The miracle of light
A family faith book for children
Erika Johnson needs a kidney
Finding Christmas
Photo updates
LFSVA works to improve outcomes
Lutherans gather with LARCUM partners

Lutherans in the news

            Daniel and Sarah Lyon Hess  (left) ,Virginia natives and recent graduates of United Lutheran  Seminary, Gettysburg, have accepted calls to Southwest Virginia churches   and they will be ordained early in the new year. Sarah Hess has been called to Redeemer, Bristol , and she will be ordained Saturday, Jan. 4, at King of King's Lutheran Church, Fairfax. Daniel Hess has been called to Ebenezer, Marion, and he will be ordained at his home church, Epiphany, Richmond, on Saturday, Jan. 18. Sarah is a graduate of James Madison University and Daniel graduated from Bridgewater College. Both served their intern year at Rural Retreat and Walker Mountain parishes and both served as counselors at Caroline Furnace. She was program director and he was a wilderness guide. She also was youth director at King of King's. They will live in Abingdon.
Pastor Ken Lane (right) has announced his retirement on Easter Sunday after almost 30 years of service at Trinity, Roanoke. As dean of the Southern Conference, he has been a leader  in s ynod ministries, as well as Roanoke Valley community programs. He came from a post at Washington & Lee University and Rockbridge Area Community Services before he was ordained in 1988. he was chair of the former Mission Partners Committee, Roanoke Area Lutheran Cooperative Ministries, Roanoke Area Ministries, Roanoke Valley Crop Walk and co-founder of Roanoke Area Emergency Services Providers. He and his wife, Deborah Lane , plan to move to North Carolina where their son, Kevin, is a dairy/cheese-making farmer. A daughter, Christina, is a professor at the University of Miami.
Maxey (center) with Terri Maxey (left) and Peggy Shiflett (right)
Roanoke College President Mike Maxey received a Humanitarian Award from the Salem Kiwanis club. The award is given in recognition of "selfless dedication to fellow human beings in their time of need. Maxey "leads from his heart," said Peggy Shiflett, a past club president. The club expressed "appreciation for all that he and Roanoke College do for the local community."
            Pastor Viktoria Parvin, St. Mark, Charlottesville, and other pastors visited the new space where an interfaith center will be established at the University of Virginia. The center will serve as a meditation, counseling and prayer space for all faiths. Students and religious leaders helped to design the space on the third floor of Newcomb Hall. The tour was led by Vicki Gist, associate dean of students.  
            Pastor Leslie Weber started an initiative at Grace, Chesapeake, encouraging members "to notice and name where we see God at work in our world, where God's kingdom is breaking in, where GRACE HAPPENS. Throughout the year, she asked, take photos, write about the experience, draw a picture, save a news story, whatever, and then share them with me." Her hope is that by the end of 2020, "we have a ton of examples of God's presence in our lives." Grace congregation welcomed a new minister of music, Morgan N. Hatfield, a composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer-song-writer. A graduate of Old Dominion University, he has played piano, trumpet, French horn, sung in choirs, acted in musical dramas and led worship.
            Bethel, Winchester, will mark its 200 th anniversary with "special remembrances" in 2020. Bishop Bob Humphrey will preach at a celebration and former pastors will participate on Sept. 27. the congregation dates from Jan. 1, 1829, when a service was held in a schoolhouse built by a group of men six miles north of Winchester, probably led by Pastor Abraham Reck, Grace, Winchester.
            For the 37 th consecutive year, the Rural Retreat Parish has joined Rural Retreat United Methodist Church to present the nativity story in a barn on Christmas Eve. Live animals joined the holy family, along with a host of angels, shepherds and wise men, with music, to tell the Christmas story. A service of carols and candlelight also was held at Grace Lutheran, Rural Retreat.
            Members of Muhlenberg, Harrisnburg, will celebrate Epiphany with burning of the greens, chalking of the door and a chili cookoff on Sunday, Jan. 5.
            GraceInside, the state prison chaplain ministry, has received an Impact 1890 grant of $45,000 to support chaplain services for the elderly inmate population at Deerfield Correctional Facility in Southampton County.
            The Winchester chapter of the American Guild of Organists sponsored a concert at Grace, Winchester, on Sunday, Dec. 29, to benefit Winchester Rescue Mission and WATTS. An Historical Tidbits column in Tidings, Grace newsletter, recalls a Sept. 25, 1945, service at Grace, led by Dr. W. E. Eisenberg, for 45 German prisoners of war. On Christmas morning, 1945, a truck-load of 50 German prisoners under guard came for a special holiday service. Eisenberg spoke German and led the service in that language.
            St. Philip, Roanoke, plans an Open Doors Digital Service on Wednesday, Jan. 8.  A recording of the Sunday worship service will be presented in an interactive online format. Pastor Laura Dunklin announced an Anti-Scamming Seminar at St. Philip on Feb. 15.

The miracle of light
     by Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, ELCA
Bishop Eaton

December 30, 2019 

             Today is the last day of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. As our Jewish siblings lighted the menorah, they sang this blessing: 
              We kindle these lights because of the wondrous deliverance You performed for our ancestors. During these eight days of Hanukkah, these lights are sacred; we are not to use them but only to behold them, so that their glow may rouse us to give thanks for Your wondrous acts of deliverance.
            Tragically, several acts of anti-Semitic hatred, bigotry and violence in New York during these days have marred the joyful festivities in Jewish communities across this country and around the world. Within the last year, we have witnessed the broader surge of anti-Semitism from Pittsburgh to Poway in which these most recent incidents have occurred. Our Jewish neighbors are living in pain, grief and fear. 
             Twenty-five years ago, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America joined other Lutheran Christians worldwide in repudiating anti-Judaism within our own tradition. In our 1994 "Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community"  we affirmed that "we recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and affront to the Gospel, a violation of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circles and in the society around us."
             This will require more of us than repeated statements. It will require building bridges of inter-religious understanding in our communities. It will require reaching out to our Jewish neighbors to offer our care, support, love and protection. It will require our persistence in addressing the root causes of anti-Semitism and its menacing companions of white supremacy and xenophobia.  
              In different ways, and for different reasons, this is a time of year when Jews and Christians celebrate the miracle of light. In our prayers and actions, may we be a living presence of God's sacred light that rouses us all to resistance and righteousness.

In peace,
Elizabeth Eaton

A family faith book for children

Cathy Dudley of St. Philip, Roanoke, has done it again for children. What she has done is to write a second book presenting the good news of the gospel for children to enjoy throughout the year.
  Faith Family & Fun provides Monthly Lessons to Color and Connect with God's Love. Her purpose is "to make it easy to have a fun family night with a focus on Jesus."
Here are stories for every month with bonuses for Christmas and Easter.
            An example:
  Janey was jogging down the street when she heard someone yell,  "Hi there, Sunshine!" She turned around and saw her best friend waving. Janey waved back, flashing her sweet smile.
It's not unusual to give someone a name that describes their personality  or character. Since Janey was always loving and kind, the name, Sunshine, fit her perfectly. Maybe you know a boy or girl whose nickname is  Goofy, because he or she likes to act silly.
Long ago, the Hebrews gave God many different names. They were trying  to describe God's character. One name is Elohim, which means Creator God.
  Each month, the book contains a Bible verse, prayer, suggested activity and
advice for every day-living. The lessons are accompanied by a black and white drawing, ready for coloring. The drawings were prepared by Kyle Edgell, an accomplished Roanoke illustrator.
        Dudley said this is an opportunity for parents to lead, telling their children how much God loves them. She recalls her first book, Toddler Theology, A childlike Faith for Everyone, published almost five years ago.
          Faith Family & Fun is available from Amazon and at Roanoke area bookstores for $14.99

Erika Johnson needs a kidney

The congregation of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Hampton, Virginia is looking for a kidney donor for a daughter of the congregation; Erika Johnson (left). Erika (47) was diagnosed with Iga Nephropathy, also known as Berger's disease, almost 20 years ago and her kidney function has declined over the years. Erika is the daughter of Jack Nussen, who served as the pastor at St. Paul's from 1978-1983, and Judith Green, who serves as the current secretary of the board for Lutheran Family Services of Virginia. Erika, who currently resides in Cary, North Carolina, has deep roots in the congregation. "It's always wonderful to see Erika when she visits family for holidays. It's not every day that you get to chat with a PK (pastor's kid) from the same congregation!" said Pastor Tim Crummitt.
          Erika has a long road ahead. Her best option is a kidney from a living donor. Unfortunately, it is up to the patient (Erika) and her family to find a donor. If you or a family member are willing to potentially save a life, please reach out! There is absolutely no cost for the donor, Erika, her family, and her insurance will cover all the costs.
          For more information, please visit where you can learn about whether you might be a potential donor for Erika or even someone else in need!

Finding Christmas
      by Pastor Cheryl Ann Griffin

What does Christmas look like? We envision nicely browned turkeys on the table and gravy with no lumps. Our family will be sitting around the dinner table, light-hearted and laughing. Our presents will be neatly wrapped under a tree speckled with evenly spaced ornaments. We dream of a peaceful Christmas, of drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire and of holding hands while standing around the tree singing Christmas carols.
Our reality can be different. We find heavy traffic and self-absorbed drivers, crowds that suck the breath out of our lungs and children whose Christmas lists are longer than our pocketbook is deep. We are reminded that we aren't speaking to "those people" who live next door. And as for sitting around the dinner table laughing, someone once wrote, "The worst part of Christmas is dinner with the family when you realize how truly mutated and crippled is the gene stock from which you sprang." There is so much expected of us at this time of year. Christmas can be so draining!
Christmas can drain not just our energy, but our bank accounts. It's been said that "Christmas begins about the first of December with an office party and ends when you finally realize what you spent, around April fifteenth of the next year.."
The Christmas we dream of and the Christmas we get are not always the same. If we are lucky, we've had Christmases full of the smell of fresh cut pine trees and warm pecan pies. We remember wading through piles of torn-up wrapping paper that covered the floors. We see again Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe kissing under the mistletoe. For some of us, though, Christmas brings with it dreams of what could have been, or should be. It brings with it the realities of Christmases we'd soon forget---that year without a job and the gifts that weren't under the tree. Or maybe this Christmas reminds us that there will be an empty chair at the table.
The birth of Christ is for those of us who long for what was, or could be, for those who hope for the best. What happens at Christmas is more than what we could hope for because anything that we could possibly hope for would be a human thing. If we were to choose our Savior, we would have someone who would crush our enemies and rule with unbeatable power. We would crown him king with gold and jewels, put him in a palace to sleep in silk sheets and cashmere blankets. It is into this, our fleshy mess, our distorted values and our sinfulness, that God chooses to come as a baby.
            God, in God's wisdom, did not leave the choice of a savior up to us. What happens at Christmas is a God thing. No longer can we view God as an all-powerful force that remains up in the heavens, distant from us. The gift of Christmas is God in the form of a baby. Emmanuel, God with us. In these frazzled and holy days of preparation, take moments to breathe in the Holy Spirit. Where you find love, kindness, justice and forgiveness, you have found Christ.       
Pastor Cheryl Ann Griffin wrote this column for The Quill at St. Stephen, Williamsburg.

Photo updates

Jaime Kokkenen shares a sip with a friend at Madagascar. Her report on her mission work appeared in the December Virginia Lutheran.  Her photo did not arrive in time for the December issue.

When a Christmas tree photo ran in the December issue of the Virginia Lutheran, a member of Ascension, Danville, sent a picture of this year's tree, complete with chrismons.

LFSVA works to improve 
outcomes for youth in foster care
     by Ray Ratke, Chief Executive Officer
          Lutheran Family Services of Virginnia

When it comes to helping children and adolescents in foster care, we have collectively missed the mark for many children. Too often, kids in the foster care system - who have typically experienced abuse or neglect in their families of origin - are further traumatized by frequent moves while in care. Thirty-five percent of youth in foster care have experienced two or more placements, which could include foster homes, group homes, or residential treatment centers.
Frequent moves are disruptive and make it harder for children to connect with adults and peers and find success in school. It should come as no surprise that these youth often experience worse outcomes in adulthood than their peers in foster care who obtain stability.
Kelly and Mary Clanahan
                fostered Nick through LFSVA's                 treatment foster care program
       before adopting him.
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia (LFSVA) is leading the One Home Initiative to improve outcomes for these youth. The goal is for each child to have only ONE placement in a foster home before being returned home or adopted. The organizations and individuals that are part of the initiative plan to make "one home" a reality for 200 youth in foster care this year.
LFSVA's effort is part of a national initiative by Lutheran Services in America to provide teaching and coaching to a variety of organizations that work with youth in foster care. LSA's goal is to dramatically improve the trajectory of the lives of 20,000 vulnerable youth in America by 2024.
Why are kids moved around so often? The short answer is that the youth's behavior is challenging and disruptive, and the foster parents request a move. To understand what's behind the behavior, the One Home Initiative partners dug a little deeper to find root causes. Youth and foster parents alike often have unrealistic expectations about living together. When a child has experienced multiple traumas, foster parents need specialized training and must remain flexible. Parenting techniques that worked for their own children might not be effective with a traumatized child who has trouble connecting with new people and may also have neurological or biological challenges. Sometimes, cultural differences lead to misunderstandings, and foster parents may not have adequate support systems to cope with challenges.
Black youth and males are moved more often than other children because their challenges are more often perceived as behavioral (and possibly dangerous) as opposed to emotionally based.
What can we do? The root causes of disruptions point to improvements that can be made by organizations such as LFSVA to better support foster parents and youth in care. The One Home Initiative is developing recommendations based on the perspectives of the participants, including representatives from treatment foster care (TFC), adoption, residential services, advocacy and outreach organizations, statewide mental health organizations, the public youth welfare system and the faith community. Importantly, the initiative includes youth who have formerly been in care.
Congregations and their members can play a vital role in supporting this effort in several ways. The One Home Initiative is seeking additional partners - whether organizations or individuals - to join in the effort. In particular, LFSVA is seeking former or current foster parents and parents who have adopted children from the foster care system. If you or someone you know would like to learn more, please contact Jeanne Hollingshead, director of treatment foster care and adoption, at .
LFSVA also welcomes financial contributions to support its foster care and adoption services. If you would like to make a one-time donation, or if your congregation would like to consider becoming a 2020 Sponsor of LFSVA's Foster Care and Adoption Program, please contact Melissa Leecy, director of development, at .
The needs of youth in foster care are complex, particularly for those who have experienced multiple traumatic events in their short lives. Working together through the One Home Initiative, caring individuals, families, and organizations can help create better outcomes and more abundant lives for these young people.

Lutherans gather with 
LARCUM  partners in Virginia Beach
      by Pastor Eric Moehring

         On November 22 and 23, Lutherans from the Virginia and Metro-D.C. synods met at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Virginia Beach, with those of the Episcopal, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, and other traditions. Over 130 laypersons and pastors worshiped, networked and heard from Fr. James Loughran, SA., a Franciscan friar of the Atonement and director of Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, producers of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity materials.
            The topic was Spiritual Ecumenism: The Soul of the Ecumenical Movement. On Friday evening, Fr. Loughran rooted Spiritual Ecumenism in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "pray without ceasing" and Christ's prayer for his disciples in John 17, "that they may be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." He said, "Christ joins us as one, so unity is already. We work to see that full unity, not uniformity, but reconciled, diversified unity. Our common prayer is the heart and soul of ecumenism." He went on to say unity is not in addition to the work of the Church, "(but) center to the life of the Church."
            Loughran described the effects of praying together (spiritual ecumenism): Koinonia
    Father James                  Loughran,
           keynote speaker
(Christian fellowship); the love we experience for and from one another; a feeling of "Why can't we do this all the time?" and regret that "We really can't because of our divisions; but we wish we could." From these can come "a growing trust that dispels our tribalism, lessens our indifference and apathy, and seeks a desire for justice."
            In Bishop Humphrey's Friday evening sermon, he described his varied religious upbringing and said, "I am rooted! My faith, my sense of who God is, who I am and who we are together I owe to a whole, rich tapestry of the Church." Then he declared, "We have work to do!" and described what we have already done to accomplish that work: Our deep-seeded need to be inclusive and the belief that we can meet the challenges we face because "we are not in charge." "What unites us is prayer, begining with the Lord's Prayer...Jesus binds us to 'love the
Bishop Bob Humphrey
Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself;' it is Jesus who prays that we will be one." Bishop Humphrey concluded with the call, "Let us show and teach the world what Jesus gave us."
            If your congregation wishes to observe the Week of Pra yer for Christian Unity (January 18-25, 2020) with other traditions, collectively you can develop your own service or contact the Graymoore Institute at to order materials. The 2020 theme is They Showed Us Unusual Kindness prepared by the Christian churches in Malta and Gozo using St. Paul's arrival at their islands as told in Acts 27 and 28.
           The Virginia LARCUM Conference is a yearly event and takes place around Thanksgiving. It is sponsored by LARCUM but open to all traditions. The cost is $35.

           Pastor Eric Moehring is the ecumenical representative for the Synod.




Editor:  George Kegley     
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