Do Justice
Welcome to Do Justice, a bi-monthly newsletter of the Virginia Synod, lifting up God’s call and command that we, God’s people, do justice. You will find helpful info about justice ministries in congregations, around Virginia, and through the ELCA. If you have stories of justice to share from your congregation, please share those with me at so I can share them with others in the synod!

The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick
Assistant to the Bishop
The [Judean leadership] had [the disciples] stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in [Jesus'] name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority." (Acts 5.27-29)  
“Knowing Your Neighbor Iftar.” at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
On May 27th Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Winchester offered fellowship hall and kitchen space to the Islamic Society of Winchester for a “Knowing Your Neighbor Iftar.” Iftar is the meal that Muslims eat after sundown during Ramadan. They fast from sun up to sundown for the whole month of Ramadan. During that time they give food or money to the poor that they would have otherwise eaten that month. The Islamic Society of Winchester is trying to be intentional about getting to know their neighbors by practicing their hospitality of sharing a meal. Grace has been connected with the Muslim community through lay leadership in Refugee Resettlement of a Syrian Family in 2016.

Individuals in Winchester were invited to join the Muslim community as they broke their fast that evening. Community leaders spoke to the gathering of Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others. Some of those leaders represented were a city official, dean of the Business school at Shenandoah University, Muslim leaders, the President of the local Interfaith Council and Pastor Jonathan Boynton of Grace Lutheran, Winchester.
Gathering together to share a meal and sitting with one another to have conversation gave opportunities to get to know neighbors. Pastor Boynton told the group gathered that “conversations surrounding religions outside our own personal experience offer us new insight in our own faith journeys. Conversations around a dinner table offer a way to enrich our lives in meeting individuals who don’t share our Christian faith. Getting to know our neighbor is the first step to caring for our neighbor. Getting to know our neighbor is a step in the direction of standing up for one another. Getting to know our neighbor is a step in the direction of supporting one another. Getting to know our neighbor is a step toward loving one another.” The evening opened the door for conversation with our Muslim brothers and sisters. ICNA (Islamic Relief Agency) shared that they worked alongside Lutheran World Relief and Catholic Charities following Hurricane Harvey near Galveston, Texas. Christians and Muslims working alongside for good in our country and around the world is a reminder that society is stronger when we work together for good.

Those gathered learned that our community, country and world are better off when we know our neighbors, work together and care for one another.
First female African-descent synod bishops elected
On May 5, Patricia Davenport (shown top left) was elected to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod. She is the first African-descent woman to be elected as a synod bishop.

Less than 24 hours later, the ELCA again made history by electing a second female synod bishop of African descent, Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld (shown bottom right). She was elected to serve a six-year term as bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin.

Great News from Around the Virginia Synod
Look at all these quilts!! Ninety-seven (97!!) quilts for Lutheran World Relief made by faithful servants of Mt. Zion, New Market

Members of First Lutheran, Norfolk, met on May 20 to write their representatives and senators, encouraging them to urge the immigration services to increase the number of refugees admitted to the United States. Last September, the administration said the U.S. would reduce refugee arrivals to 45,000 for the 2018 fiscal year. At mid-year, fewer than 10,000 had been admitted.

Members of  St. Paul's, Jerome, and other congregations have been
preparing Lutheran World Relief personal cadre and baby care kits to be delivered to a collection point in June.
Virginia's ELCA Hunger Fellow
Amanda Silcox is our ELCA Hunger Fellow serving at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy in Richmond. Amanda is from the Northeast Ohio Synod. she recently spoke at the Ohio Synod talking about her work here in Virginia. To watch her 15 minute presentation, click here.
Connect with the Virginia Synod