Winter Celebration: Ridgeline
Winter Celebration, the Virginia Synod youth event for 9th through 12th graders was held over the weekends of January 20-22 and January 27-29 at Eagle Eyrie Baptist Convention Center in Lynchburg. This year over 400 youth and adult participants engaged with and witnessed the theme based on the passage Psalm 121.

This year's planning group was made up by  Sammi Crittenden of  St. Stephen Williamsburg, Hannah Girard of Salem Mount Sidney, Johnny Kiewer of St. Mark Charlottesville, Kelsey Welch of Good Shepherd Tidewater, Erin Watcher of Epiphany Richmond, and Karl Zimbauer of  St. Stephen Williamsburg. The group worked with Pastor Dave Delaney, Pastor Rick Goeres- the event chaplin for both weekends, as well as Pastor Stephen Bohannon and Nicole Smith who both served as advisors to the group.
During both weekends, youth and adults enjoyed the planning group's skits, which were set around a group of hikers making their way up Echo Mountain in search of an echo unlike any other. Each skit had the hikers continue their asscent up the mountain, with members of the group sharing their fears, hopes, and disapointments as they occured along their shared journey. These skits supported both silly and serious themes, from a hiking guide spouting off silly fact about the trail, to memebers of the group learning understand and support a fellow hiker's nervous nature.

During the Saturday night worship service, Pastor Goeres touched on the skit's hiking focuse, reflecting on hikes he took with his dog when they lived near the mountains. His sermon highlighted the event's emphrasis on every step of life being a step of faith, and that God's presence and voice can be experieced anywhere on your path. "Take what you recieve here and reflect to others out there- where it is often loud and angry and where violent voices are heard and the challenging questions of life are asked. It is there where we reflect the light of Jesus and his saving grace to all. You see it's always a good time for a walk in the woods, and along the ridgeline because faith is now. God is with you. It's always a good time to walk, and work, and play with Jesus."
In addition to serving as advisor to the planning group and crafting this year's set pieces, Pastor  Stephen Bohannon once again donned his trench coat and fedora, to become the Roving Reporter. This year's Roving Reporter interviewed all sorts of characters- from a park ranger who works at the least visited national park to Amazon's voice actress for their new Echo device, each comcial skit and quiz show linked back to the Ridgeline and the echo heard there.

Following large group presentations, the participants at Winter Celebration got the chance to break off into small groups, arraigned by age group. In these small groups, participants were able to reflect on the weekend theme and relate it back to their own faith life through conversation, games, and crafts- a favorite for this year was the game spoons played with a Grouch Marx twist!
Throughout both weekends a few visitors joined the participants during the events, such as Chaplain Chris Bowen of Roanoke College,  Maren Corliss of the Bishop's Election Transition Committee, as well as former youth ministry leaders Pastor Paul Hendrickson and Dwayne Westerman. Both stopped by during the second weekend to take in an evening of fun during the large group. Pastor Paul reflected on events past compared to this year's Winter Celebration stating, "It's the same kind of crazy still."

Bishop Mauney also visited both Winter Celebration weekends. He spoke to the youth about the importance of being an Ambassador for Christ, presided over communion, and like the graduating seniors performed a final "Pharaoh, Pharaoh" as bishop during a youth event. This performance was celebrated both weekends as youth and adults wore celebratory shirts, old event t-shirts made during Bishop Mauney's tenure, and all event attendees donned sunglasses to match Bishop Mauney's signature look! 
While speaking to the youth, Bishop Mauney lifted up the ongoing campaign in the Virginia Synod, Forwarding Faith. Many attendees during both weekends were proof of the value of Faith formation events like Winter Celebration, with adult leaders, pastors, and youth all with great stories to share of their time spent at youth events in the Virginia Synod.

"I have been coming to these events since 2009 and what always brings me back is the community that has been built and passed down through the years," Matt Leonard of St. Philip Roanoke reflected on his transition from youth to adult advisor, "now coming back as a leader I get to share my experiences and help the next generation grow in their faith and spread God's love!"
Winter Celebration 2017 was filled with laughter, joy, worship, and deep conversation that encouraged p articipants to reflect on their faith journey like a hike up a mountain trail, sharing the valleys and peaks with new friends made along the way.
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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 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
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.  
To begin the survey 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
2017 YAGM Application 
Imagine, for a moment, stepping into an experience that will transform your life. A year dedicated to serving others, experiencing a new culture and living in deep mutual relationship.

If you or a loved one are between the ages of 21-29, consider applying to the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program, a one-year, international, faith-based service opportunity in one of 11 country programs around the world.

The YAGM application is live and ready! Online applications can be found at , and are due Feb. 15, for service beginning in Aug. 2017.

For questions, please contact or call 773-380-2562
Job Opportunities
Philanthropy Director Winchester, VA
For more information or to submit a resume, please email Annette Damron
All job postings can also be found online at . If you have a position opening you would like posted, please email Emily Pilat at