A Visit to Keen Mountain Correctional Center
This week we're hearing from The Rev. Colleen Montgomery, Pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church about her recent visit to Keen Mountain Correctional Center and the important ministry GraceInside provides.
On Monday, October 1st, Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick and I visited the Keen Mountain Correctional Center in Oakwood, Virginia, on the invitation of GraceInside. GraceInside’s mission is to provide chaplains to all of Virginia’s state prisons. The Virginia Synod is a founding member of GraceInside and continues to support their ministry. Pastor Kelly and I went to listen, to learn, to witness, and to represent our synod. We were both changed by the hours we spent inside.
We met with two staff members from GraceInside, Chaplain Paul Ritter and The Rev. Lynn Litchfield. Chaplain Ritter serves as chaplain to the over 700+ men who live within the walls of Keen Mountain and was our guide for the day. Rev. Litchfield, the director of development at GraceInside, also accompanied us and provided insight into the big picture of the statewide ministry.

We were escorted into the prison and met with four inmates in the chapel on the Level 4 side of the prison. The men on this side of the facility live in cells that are furnished with two beds, two desks, one toilet, and one sink. They eat in the chow hall and have time for outside recreation each day. Each of the men who we met had his own story, but the underlying theme was the same. The opportunities to worship, grow in faith, and gather with other Christians were life-changing for them. God’s grace has changed their daily life inside the prison and gives them hope for life beyond the bars.

Then we were escorted to the other side of the facility, the Level 2 dormitory. This was a single large room that up to 200 men live and sleep in. Though the dormitory had very high ceilings, with 100 bunk beds, 200 lockers, and 200 chairs, the space was full. Men had access to a dormitory-style bathroom. They also ate in the chow hall and had time for outside recreation. Some men also had jobs that paid between 25 cents and 45 cents an hour.
Here we met with two men who are active in the church there. (They call their small group of fellow believers their church.) They told us about their bible studies, worship services, and morning prayer. They were planning a ramen potluck to reach out to some of the other men who read their bibles but did not participate in the church activities. Being a Christian in the dorm carries with it the stigma of being weak, dependent, or not sufficiently masculine. They want to erase this stigma share the hope found in Christ with more men.

In addition to leading worship and bible studies in both parts of the facility (Level 2 and Level 4 offenders are not to interact), Chaplain Ritter supervises the religious gatherings of 12 other faith groups. Religious gatherings must be supervised by either the chaplain or an approved volunteer. Because Keen Mountain is a remote facility, there are no local volunteers who come into the prison to help lead these other groups. So this responsibility falls to Chaplain Ritter.

Another important aspect of Chaplain Ritter’s ministry is visiting with offenders who are in segregation. He is able to have one on one conversations with men who are isolated from the rest of the prison population. We did not visit the segregation area or meet with any men who were currently in segregation. However, I am certain that those conversations are sure and certain signs of God’s grace and presence with the men there.
There is a lot to be said about the state of the United States criminal justice system, however, one thing that I knew and now have witnessed is that prison chaplains are beacons of light in the darkness. Their work is difficult, particular, and irreplaceable.

The Commonwealth of Virginia does not provide any funding to the chaplaincy program. GraceInside provides all of the funds to support the chaplains across the state prisons. Currently, they have a contract with the Department of Corrections that funnel some of the funds from the commissary to support faith-based services. However, this small amount is not able to support full-time chaplain work.
In order for Chaplain Ritter to continue his life-changing work at forty hours a week at Keen Mountain, GraceInside needs $22,000 more by the end of the year. I invite you prayerfully consider supporting this ministry with a contribution to GraceInside designated for Keen Mountain.

Donations can be made by check mailed to the Western Office of the Bishop at P.O. Box 70 Salem, VA 24153. Please send checks to the attention of Richard Hoffman at the Synod Office with “Keen Mountain” written in the memo line. You may also choose to support a chaplain that is closer to your home.

You can learn more about GraceInside and how to further support their important work here: graceinside.org/get-involved. Donations can also be mailed GraceInside at 2828 Emerywood Parkway Richmond, VA 23294
September Sermons
Sermons are available one month prior to the Sunday service they are to be shared during. View all the sermons shared  on the Virginia Synod website.
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
Fall 2018 ACTS Course
This year's spring ACTS course will be held October 20th and November 10th at Grace Evangelical Lutheran in Waynesboro (or at two Simulcast locations). The Rev. Dr. Timothy Wengert will present on Lutheran Confessions.

For more information on the Fall ACTS course and to register for this fall's course,  click here .
2018 Lost and Found
Lost and Found is our annual weekend retreat for youth in 7th and 8th grade and their adult advisors. We have Large Group gatherings that consist of singing, energy, comedy, worship and a presentation on our event theme. After each Large Group gathering each person is part of a Small Group made up of about 8 youth and a couple adult leaders where participants will get to know other Lutheran youth from Virginia and discuss life, faith and other topics that arise throughout the weekend. On Saturday afternoon there is large chunk of Free Time during which we will also hold out annual Talent Show. In the evenings you will relax in your Cottage and talk with other youth and adults from your congregation and other congregations about how the weekend is going.

For more information on Lost and Found and to register for the even,  click here .
“Ask, Thank, Tell” Generosity & Stewardship Resources for Virginia Synod Congregations
I look forward to supporting the stewardship ministries of the Virginia Synod though resourcing and collaboration. Below you will find this month's collection of resources to provide assistance to Stewardship Teams through the end of the year. You can download a pdf version of the resources listed below here:  Ask Thank Tell Stewardship Resources October 2018

If you or someone in your congregation is interested in being on the  "Virginia Synod Stewards"  newsletter list, please sign up here:  bit.ly/2M8vXmK .

If you are interested in being a part of the newly forming Virginia Synod Stewards Table, please email me at:  wertz@vasynod.org  for more information.

Peace and hope,
Pastor John Wertz, Jr.
Director for Evangelical Mission
Assistant to the Bishop, VA Synod
Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center Upcoming Events
Need a home for the Holidays?
Plan a reunion or family retreat at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center! Buttonwood Lodge is a wonderful place to catch up by the fireplace with your college friends or adult relatives, and the Farmhouse is a perfect family space for up to 25. Meals and activities can be provided upon request. (Meals that you don't have to cook, and activities that you don't have to plan!)

Call (540)-449-0012 or email  julie@carolinefurnace.org  to learn more.
Fall Fest and Camp-out: October 27-28 2018
Fall Fest is held in the field at St. John's Chapel and features a bluegrass worship service, provided picnic lunch, field games, and pumpkin carving. All are welcome! This is a fun opportunity to come see us at Caroline Furnace, either for the first time ever or the first time in awhile. Please RSVP for Fall Fest on the Facebook event posting if you are able, and sign up online or call us to reserve your space for the camp-out.

For an event flyer, click here, and to sign up for the camp out click here.

*Youth leaders: contact us for more information on the youth group camp-out in the main field on Saturday night!
Wild Women: Wine Retreat: November 2-4 2018
Join us for a weekend of relaxation and fellowship! This retreat is hosted in the Farmhouse, and we will visit local wineries on Saturday afternoon. Feel free to bring a book, your latest crafting project, and your favorite wine to share. Registration closes October 19.

For an event flyer, click here, and to sign up for the camp out click here.
Oktobertfest at Bethel Lutheran, Winchester
Saturday, October 6th from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM Bethel Lutheran Church, 2077 N Frederick Pike, Winchester, VA is hosting an Oktoberfest celebration! Rain or shine come out for food and drinks, German/Austrian Band, local craft beer, free inflatables for all ages, and yard games. Authentic wear is encouraged! Cost is $10 per person. Tickets available at the church, or online at:
www.bethelwinchester.com for will call.

To download a flyer for the event, click here.
Vocal Ensemble Lyra From St. Petersburg Russia in Concert at College Lutheran, Salem
Chants of Russian Orthodox church and folk songs from Russia will be in concert at College Lutheran Church, 210 South College Ave, Salem VA, on Thursday, October 11 at 7 PM. This concert is open to all, with a free-will offering.

Please contact Karen at 540-389-4963 or karenadams@collegelutheran.org for more information.
Luther Manor Celebrates Over 30 Year with their Annual Oktoberfest!
Luther Manor Auxiliary will hold their annual Oktoberfest Bazaar on Saturday, October 14 from 10 AM until 3 PM at Luther Manor, 350 Malibu Drive, Virginia Beach. There will be crafts for sale, a bake sale, 2 cake walks, door prizes, a Silent Auction, Raffle items, and a flea market, German Lunch ($8.50) will be held at noon as well as hot dogs, chips and sodas available for purchase in the courtyard. Vendor Tables may be rented for $15 by calling Luther Manor office at 757-463-3510.
Lutheran featured on Today Show speaking in Virginia
Road Trip and National Parks expert Mikah Meyer has been named a "Social Media Warrior" by MTV and featured by The Today Show, NPR, and Upworthy for becoming the youngest person to visit all 400+ units of the National Park Service and the sole person to do it in one continuous trip. As an openly gay outdoorsman, Mikah has been called a "Sexy Travel Guru" by GayCities, and has been preaching and singing around the world-as showcased by Living Lutheran and the ELCA-sharing a gospel of inclusion for LGBT Christians and those outside the church mainstream. Come learn about his advocacy and travel world records during this humor-filled presentation of adventure!

This October that journey comes to the Virginia Synod as Mikah makes appearances at Shenandoah University, Winchester's Bethel Lutheran Church, and Roanoke College.

Shenandoah University - October 17
2 PM - 2:50 PM - Presentation in Halpin-Harrison Hall, Stimpson Auditorium. Mikah presenting to first year students.
9 PM - 10PM - Higher Ground worship in Goodson Chapel - Mikah delivering brief message.  

Bethel Lutheran Winchester - October 21
8:30am & 11am services - Mikah sings
10am - 10:45am adult forum - Mikah speaks with pics/vids

Roanoke College - October 23 at 6:30 PM in Massengill Auditorium This event is free and open to the public.

This event is sponsored by the Biology and Environmental Studies departments, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Chaplain's Office, the Associate Dean's Office, and Undergraduate Research.
Meditation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders (MSTI) November 12-16, 2018
On November 12-16, 2018 at First Mennonite Church 601 East Parham Road Richmond, VA will host Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders (MSTI)

This 5-day, 32-hour training includes lectures, discussion, and guided practice in role plays. Led by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center (LMPC), and active and practical in focus, the sessions emphasize hands-on skills training and real-life role-plays based on conflicts faced by participants. This training is useful for pastors and lay leaders alike. Sign up today for the workshop that a previous participant has called “the best continuing education I ever took!”

For further information call LMPC at 630-627-0507 or email us at admin@LMPeaceCenter.org. Detailed brochures with a registration form are available at lmpeacecenter.org/brochures. To register online via Brown Paper Tickets, visit our website at www.LMPeaceCenter.org/registration. It’s not too late to receive a $200 discount if you sign up no later than Oct. 12, 2018.
Spiritual Direction Certification Program
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary at
Lenoir-Rhyne University
Holy Listening – We believe holy listening is at the core of spiritual direction. It’s listening to one another, and most attentively to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The real and most genuine spiritual director is always the Holy Spirit.

Everyone is Welcome to Apply – Our primary purpose is to train people who feel called to be such spiritual friends, spiritual companions; however, those who are interested in deepening their own spiritual practices are also welcome.

Within the Christian Tradition – Ours is an experience in spiritual direction grounded in Trinitarian faith. However, we recognize that there is deep spiritual wisdom that can be found in other faith traditions. We will draw on those traditions and will integrate them from a Christian perspective.

  • four intensives, always from Wednesday noon until Saturday noon
  • small cohorts, each with its own mentor

Between the intensives
  • read key books and short reaction papers
  • participate in a closed Facebook group with your cohort and mentor
  • find and meet regularly with a spiritual director
  • find a willing person to be their spiritual directee

  • new intensive groups begin in January of each year
  • application deadline is December 22
  • intensives are held in January and June over a two year period
  • the next cycle of intensives is January 17-20, 2018; June 13-16, 2018; January 16-19, 2019; June 12-15, 2019

  • total cost for the program is $3,000 (price includes tuition and food)
  • participants find their own lodging (limited on-campus housing is available for $25 a night)

Interested? We’d love to hear from you:
Director: Pastor Gary Dreier ( Gary.Dreier@lr.edu ) 803-461-3222
Administrative Coordinator: Pastor Merianna Harrelson ( Merianna.harrelson@lr.edu  or  Spiritual.Direction@lr.edu ) 803-461-3217

Application available at: www.lr.edu/ltss/afl (under the “Certification Programs” tab)
Job Opportunities
ELCA Career Listings
Explore and apply for opportunities available with the churchwide organization or global service on the ELCA Job Board at elca.atsondemand.com
ELCA Foundation Director of Gift Planning
T here are two key responsibilities for this leadership position:
  • Through the direct supervision of a national staff of about 20 regional gift planners (coaching and managing), lead and manage a robust fund-raising program to identify, cultivate, solicit and steward prospective donors of current and planned gifts;
  • Manage the business relationships with ministry partner organizations through on-site visits.
This position is located in Chicago and reports to the Executive Vice President of the Foundation. It requires about 30% travel, visiting regional gift planners, donors, and ministry partnerships.
Application, resume and cover letter  should be  submitted through the ELCA job board . Inquiries about the position may be directed, in confidence, to  Gaye Lindfors of Significant Solutions, Inc . , the consultant assisting with this search.
ELCA Executive Director for Domestic Mission
This senior leadership position brings decisive and visionary leadership to this unit charged with wide-ranging work and relationships with churchwide units, synods, congregations, and other partners. The work involves equipping synods and congregations; developing new ministries, seeking to renew strategic ministries; and working with synods and congregations in programs and strategies for evangelical outreach.
Reporting to the presiding bishop, this position requires about 25% travel. It is located in Chicago.
Application, resume and cover letter  should be  submitted through the ELCA job board . Inquiries about the position may be directed, in confidence, to  Gaye Lindfors of Significant Solutions, Inc . , the consultant assisting with this search.
Prison Chaplain
Do you know someone who might be called by God to serve as our next Chaplain at Marion Correctional Treatment Center? Would you help us find the ONE? Please help us by spreading the news - just ten hours a week!

To learn more, click here .
Organist Position, St. John Lutheran in Abingdon
St. John Lutheran Church, Abingdon. is seeking an Organist/Pianist, primarily for the 11:00 AM Worship Service. We are a small, friendly congregation and music is a very important part of the ministry. Part-time duties include playing for Sunday morning Worship at 11:00 AM and a 10:00 am Sunday morning Choir rehearsal and occasionally a Wednesday evening rehearsal. The Organ is a three manual Allen Digital Organ. If interested please contact the church office at 276-692-6215 or email: stjohnlutheran@stjohnabingdon.comcastbiz.net
If you have a position opening you would like posted, please email Emily Pilat at  pilat@vasynod.org