From Land Down Under 
This Thursday we're taking a moment to look to the global church with an article by one of our Virginia Young Adults in Global Mission, Emily Edmunds, of Rural Retreat. Emily is currently serving in Queensland, Australia in Aboriginal communities of Hope Vale and Wujal Wujal.
"For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do."  (Romans  7:19 )
During the holiday season, I was given the opportunity to travel around a bit and interact with people from all over Australia and beyond. I realized anytime I was faced with the question of how I ended up in Australia, my answer would usually be, "I am a volunteer in an Aboriginal community in far North Queensland." That brief statement is all that is required from me and would be met with nods of understanding so I found it to be an "easy way out". I soon realized that what I was saying, or rather what I was not saying, encouraged the assumptions and reputations surrounding the Aboriginal people. I felt ashamed that not only was I missing opportunities to expand people's opinions of Indigenous people but also by not saying more, I was helping to perpetuate the thought that, "Indigenous peoples live troubled lives so would always require outside help." My incomplete explanation of what brought me to Australia relies on the prevailing opinion of a whole people group and thus comes the need for change and action. Stereotypes exist for all people groups and it can be difficult to question them after a while. In this letter, I will seek to expand upon the common stereotypes of Aboriginal peoples using what I have witnessed in my own community.
1. Lazy/unreliable:
Time moves differently here. The rush of life and pressure for constant efficiency seem quite absent. It is very common for an event or gathering scheduled for a certain time to be two or three hours late at least. Most people here won't worry or get in a hurry over complying with any perceived social norms surrounding time. In addition, work isn't the highest priority like it is in westernized areas. People here are willing to come late, leave early or not come at all if there is a family need. Relaxing and taking the time to enjoy life are very important and the concept of simply living a life not defined by work (or scheduled around it) is very present here yet seems so foreign to the modern world. A lot of people say Aboriginals are lazy, but I think that having a different work ethic doesn't mean they should be labeled as unwilling to work. Most are simply not used to the 40+ hour work week and place a greater importance upon their personal lives.
2. Alcohol:
One of the most prevalent and deep-seated stereotypes about indigenous peoples in Australia is that they are all alcoholics. However, in 2011, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released a report detailing substance abuse statistics which cited a previous study saying, "The proportion of Indigenous (15%) and non-Indigenous peoples (14%) who drank at long-term, risky or high-risk levels was similar." The same report details how Indigenous peoples are more likely to binge drink yet also have a greater percentage of people who abstain from alcohol altogether. There are many communities which ban alcohol consumption (as in Wujal Wujal) or put restrictions on the amount brought in (as in HopeVale) to combat alcoholism among those who struggle with it. Alcohol does pose a problem (as any addictive substance does), but it is far from being an exclusively Aboriginal problem, or as widespread as it may seem.
3. All Aboriginals look the same/are the same: 
Most people have a picture in their minds of dark skinned, brown eyed Aboriginals sitting around a bonfire playing the didgeridoo. That is a very romanticized version of the truth. Some play the traditional didgeridoo, but most people in my community play the guitar (I even know 3 women who play the spoons, harp, and organ respectively). Aboriginal people can have very dark skin or be as pale as I am with blue eyes to boot! Someone's status as an indigenous person is not defined by physical features, but instead by relationships, culture and their own sense of identity. Before the Europeans came to Australia, there were over 250 distinct languages throughout the country and an estimated 600 dialects. This is just one example of the amazing diversity found throughout the country (though sadly most of the languages are now lost due to European oppression). Various people groups structure families differently and have unique traditions. Just as people from different regions of the US are culturally different so to are the customs and culture surrounding the different Indigenous groups throughout this country. 

The Challenge: 
I hope that these few examples have shown the incomplete stories surrounding the Aboriginal people. There is great danger in not seeking the full story, as the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in one of her speeches, "That is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing and only one thing over and over again and that is what they become." She goes on to say, "The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. " I know I have felt annoyed by the stereotypes surrounding those from the Appalachian region and the American people as a whole. I often feel a similar frustration when I see the persecution that the Syrian people and anyone who even looks middle eastern must face. Not all Americans are consumed by greed, materialism, and hatred of diversity. Not all middle easterners are Muslims, and not all Muslims are terrorists that live lives of poverty and abuse. Not all Aboriginals are uneducated, violent and drink to excess. Most importantly, not all those living lives contrary to the Westernized world, need a shining white hero to "save them". I would challenge us all to question assumptions, seek always the individual human lives behind the reputations, and to not settle for the single story of any place or people group.
The danger of a single story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
If you would like to learn more about Aboriginal Culture in the modern world, check out CreativeSpirits.info for some neat information and resources. 
Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday
The Season of Lent is upon us! As we prepare to feast on Shrove Tuesday, and worship on Ash Wednesday, share with the Virginia Synod how you and your congregation gather, using the hashtags #VirtualShroveVA and #AshtagVAor emailing stories and photos to Emily Pilat at pilat@vasynod.orgThese posts and stories will be shared in next week's Weekly!
Do You have an announcement, upcoming event or news story idea? Send it to Emily Pilat at pilat@vasynod.org and make sure to follow our
Announcements
7th Day 2017

7th Day is our annual overnight event for youth in 5th and 6th grades and their adult advisors. During the weekend participants are part if a “Shepherd Group” with other youth and adult leaders and explore a story of the Bible through drama, games, crafts, and music. In the evening youth and adults will have time to relax in their Cottages with their congregation and other congregations from Virginia and discuss how 7th Day is going.

For more information, and to register for 7th Day click here
Register Now for the Spring 2017 ACTS Course
Join us March 11th and April 1st at Grace Evangelical Lutheran in Waynesboro (or at two Simulcast locations). Hear the Rev. Dave Delaney present an introduction to the Old Testament, providing participants a broad view of the history of Ancient Israel and how their scriptures came to be.

For more information, and to register for the Spring ACTS course, click here
Reformation 500 Observances
As the second oldest Lutheran college in the USA, the mission statement of Roanoke College declares that we "honor our Christian heritage by nurturing a dialogue between faith and reason." In this spirit, Roanoke College announces a series of special academic events from late 2016 through the anniversary year 2017 in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and in coordination with the 175th anniversary of the college's founding.

For more information on this and future events from Roanoke College celebrating the Reformation click here
Keyboards, Percussion, Guitars, Oh My! Alternative Expressions of Praise and Worship
The workshop will be led by Christ Church Episcopal Music Director Keith Tan and Rector Shirely Smith Graham.

March 11, 2017 at Church of the Messiah, 12201 Spotswood Furnace Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407

For the Spring workshop registration flyer click here
The Lutheran Church in the Shendandoah Valley of Virginia Where We’ve Come From – Where We’re Going
As we celebrate the 500th year Commemoration of the Reformation, our own Virginia Lutheran history can help us as we move forward as Christ’s Church in the 21st Century.  Dr. Susan McArver, Professor of History and Educational Ministry Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, will help guide us to look for the ways God continues to Reform Christ’s Church. Join us!

Saturday, March 18, 2017 from 1:30-3:00 PM at Grace Lutheran Church 500 S. Wayne Avenue Waynesboro, VA

For more information, and to download a bulletin insert, click here
All Bach Palm Sunday Concert at Luther Memorial, Blacksburg
Please join us for an all Bach concert, April 9, 2017 at 3:00 PM, in the Luther Memorial sanctuary.  This concert is part of year-long observance of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation.  This event is free;  an offering wil be taken

For more information, click here
Significant Events form for 2017 Synod Assembly
Submit your congregation's significant events to Debbie Worley at  worley@vasynod.org . To be included in the Bulletin of reports, the form must be submitted by May 9, 2017.

To download the Significant Events form for 2017, click here
Nominations for Synod Council and Committees

For Synod Council, we will be electing one lay member (male or female). and four rostered ministers(1 to fill a vacancy in the class of 2018; 1 male, 1 female, and 1 of either gender for three year terms)

We will be electing 8 new members for the Consultation Committee that can potentially be involved in settling arbitrational matters that might arise in the life of the synod. They will serve a six-year term until 2023.

We will be electing 12 new members for the Committee on Discipline: 2 Lay, 2 Clergy for a two-year term; 2 Lay, 2 Clergy for a four-year term; 2 Lay, 2 Clergy for a six-year term.


To download the position description for the Synod Council and committee positions, click here

To download the nomination form, click here
Job Opportunities

The Village at Orchard Ridge, a National Lutheran Community

Philanthropy Director Winchester, VA

National Lutheran Communities & Services (NLCS) is recruiting for a Philanthropy Director in Winchester, VA. Reporting to the Chief Philanthropy Officer, the Philanthropy Director is an integral position within the organization, serving as lead in all areas related to philanthropic programs at The Village at Orchard Ridge. Responsible for cultivation and stewardship programs in support of the fundraising goals established by National Lutheran Communities & Services (NLCS) and The Village at Orchard Ridge—A National Lutheran Community including capital campaigns. Assures that the institutional fundraising efforts follow excellent management and stewardship practices in stewarding donors and gifts made to The Village at Orchard Ridge. Designs, implements and/or maintains a comprehensive fundraising program including annual giving, major gifts, endowment and capital campaigns, fundraising events and other special projects of The Village at Orchard Ridge supportive of and in accordance with the overall NLCS goals and objectives 

Job Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Business, Communications, Human Services or related field is required. 
  • Visibility requires maintaining a professional appearance and providing a positive image of NLCS. 
  • Must possess strong written and oral communication skills; able to maintain confidential information. 
  • Must be able to develop presentations and documents. 
  • Must have strong computer skills, including proficient in Microsoft Office and willing to learn the donor databases. 

For more information or to submit a resume, please email Annette Damron  adamron@nationallutheran.org
All job postings can also be found online at  www.vasynod.org/job-opportunities . If you have a position opening you would like posted, please email Emily Pilat at  pilat@vasynod.org