Weekly Update
Announcements From Around the Virginia Synod
Chrismons: See the Reason for the Season
By Emily Pilat, Director of Communications for the Virginia Synod
For some, the start of the Christmas season begins as soon as they see their first Christmas ad on TV. For others, the season returns as they watch the Advent Wreath lit. For me, it's always been about the Christmas tree. Something about seeing the lights twinkling on a real live tree and the smell of it filling a living room sends my heart pounding as I turn towards a season of hope and beginning.

This week I had the chance to indulge in my love for Christmas greenery as I experienced part of the assembly and heard the history of the world famous Chrismon tree at Ascension Lutheran in Danville. It was on this second Sunday of Advent, that the 60th Chrismon tree at Ascension Danville declared loud and clear the coming of Christmas.

I learned from Pastor Meredith Williams, as well as many members of Ascension Danville, the history of their famous Chrismon tree. Chrismon ornaments originated at Ascension Danville in 1957. They were created by  Mrs. Frances Kipps Spencer, a church member. Her designs were  monograms of and symbols for Jesus Christ. The church still uses original Chrismons ornaments made by Mrs. Spencer. Those original Chrismons ornaments make up just a part of the church's collection of an estimated 2,000 Chrismons. 

Anyone can make Chrismons of their own with any material they'd like. Styrofoam, wire, colored beads, wood, and paper are just some of the many supplies often used to make Chrismons. The main guideline for Chrismon crafting is to only use gold and white materials so the ornament can share Christ's story. The color combination of white and gold symbolizes the purity and majesty of the Son of God and the Son of Man. Some ornaments feature small amounts of color other than white or gold, but this is for specific purposes deemed significant enough in telling Christ's story. For example, red is used to remind us of Christ's shedding blood for us on the cross.

It takes a full week to decorate the tree at Ascension Danville, and with just a glance you can see why. This 60th tree is a massive live cedar that stands at well over 20 feet tall. To reach the top of the tree requires a cherry picker driven into the church to manage hard to reach decorating. Some Chrismons are so heavy that several branches must be bound together with wire to hold the ornament in place. It takes time and dedication to fully decorate this Chrismons tree, but a perfect opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ to visitors from near or far.

Because of Mrs. Spencer's Chrismons ministry, countless churches around the world have joined in creating their own using old and new patterns alike. The global impact of these Chrismons has returned to Ascension Danville time and time again. Their tree boasts a dedicated collection of gifted Chrismons received from around the world over the years, each Chrismons honoring the story of Jesus Christ with many unique interpretations.
Becca and the Chrismon she created
For me, the most interesting aspect of this ministry was seeing the personal connection creators have for their Chrismons. As the Ascension Danville church members present during the decoration process explained, Chrismons designers link their own lives to that of scripture and the story of God's love for his people in the ornaments they create. With every Chrismons unwrapped, I heard countless parables that held personal importance for the Crimson creator, who had no doubt poured time and energy into making the ornament. Pastor William's daughter, Becca was one such example of this passion. During my visit she was elated to show me the Chrismons she had personally designed and created, showing me how scripture poured into Chrismons holds personal significance long after the ornament is created.

It was a true joy to see the passion and excited for Chirstmas that is alive and well at Ascension Danville! If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to see the finished tree. Chrismons Tree viewings at Ascension Lutheran in Danville are occurring from December 11th through the 24th on Monday through Saturday evenings from 7 PM to 9 PM as well as Sunday Afternoons 3 PM to 5 PM and Sunday evenings from 7 PM to 9 PM. Groups are also welcome to contact the  church to schedule a weekday visit.

Now that you've learned about the origins of Chrismons and the Chrismons ministry, here's your chance to show off you or your congregation's own greenery by entering the 2016 Virginia Synod Christmas Tree Decoration Contest!  Here's how to enter:
  1. Send the best photo of your or your congregation's Christmas or Chirsmons tree to pilat@vasynod.org from now until December the 20th
  2. Congregations and individuals are both welcome to submit their best tree photos!
  3. With your entry, please include your full name, as well as your congregation's name and location.
  4. On December 22nd two randomly selected winners will be announced in that week's Weekly Update, and receive a special prize!

Best of luck to all who enter!

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
A nnouncements
Winter Celebration

Winter Celebration is our annual weekend retreat for youth in grades 9 through 12 and their adult advisers.  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 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.

For more information, and to register for Winter Celebration  click here!
Virginia Synod Bishop Election Feedback Requested

It is an exciting time in our synod as we approach the election of a new bishop at our 2017 Synod Assembly. Many of you already know that Bishop Mauney has announced his retirement next year and, so, we are preparing for the tenure of a new leader.
We need the help of congregational members and leaders - that's you! In much the same way as we prepare to call a new pastor in our congregations, we want to prepare to call a new bishop with as much attention and prayer as possible.
These survey results will be helpful for those who are potential nominees, which are determined by ecclesial ballot, to know how we see the ministry needs in our synod. It will also help the 2017 Synod Assembly voting members to know the mind of the Virginia church as they enter into the election process. 
Give the Gift of Camp for Christmas!
Registration is open for another exciting season of summer camp at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp! Tucked away in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley, Caroline Furnace welcomes children from grades 1 to 12.

Giving camp for Christmas to your child, grandchild, niece or nephew replaces texts and TV with playing in the great outdoors, singing around a campfire, embracing new friendships, and enjoying daily Bible studies. It's a gift of lifelong memories.

Go to carolinefurnace.org for more information and to sign up your campers!
A Community Wide Service of Lessons and Carols
Save the Date! December 11th at 3 PM
All are invited to our 4th Annual Event, come hear the Christmas Story through Music and Scripture and stay for refreshments! Several local churches will be participating! 

On December 11th at 3 PM at Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer 1769 South Sycamore Street Petersburg, VA  www.LCOR.net
Carols By Candlelight
Celebrate the seasons of Advent and Christmas with readings, anthems, and carols that tell the story of the prophecy, nativity, and adoration of the Christ Child.

St. Mark's is proud to announce that this sixth annual presentation of Carols By Candlelight will benefit Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley.  The community is warmly invited to attend. An offering will be received, 100% of which will go to support Habitat's vital work. For information, please call 540-344-9051
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 500 th  anniversary of the Reformation and in coordination with the 175 th  anniversary of the college's founding.

For more information on this and future events from Roanoke College celebrating the Reformation- click here!
The Experience at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS)
The name The Experience was chosen because LTSS believes what you, as a prospective student, experiences is the most appropriate and influential way to determine which seminary is the right place to earn your theological education. During your time with us, we will show you our community and the community surrounding us. You will experience life with our current students and the heartbeat of campus. Also, our faculty will offer you a glimpse of the classroom experience that is essential to your theological formation. We look forward to welcoming you to The Experience!
Jenn Casey, an alum of LTSS and our Enrollment Director reflects, "I remember having a lot of questions during my discernment process and I often wondered if I was the only person with those questions. I also thought I must be crazy for thinking that God was calling me into ordained ministry. I now know I wasn't the only one, but it can be a confusing process!"
We have four opportunities, click on each on for registration information.

Questions? Contact Kohl Friery at 803- 461-3296 or  kohl.friery@lr.edu . If you want to visit LTSS but these events don't work, email Kohl and set up a private visit!
Job Opportunities
All posts can also be found online at  www.vasynod.org/job-opportunities. If you have job opening you would like posted, email pilat@vasynod.org
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