Weekly Update
Announcements From Around the Virginia Synod
"Who's My Neighbor?"
Part Three: Re-Imagining Our Vocations in the Neighborhood

"'I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?'" Isaiah 43.19

Dr. Mary Sue Dreier, our speaker from the 2015 Virginia Synod Assembly
The theme of the last synod assembly was, "Ambassadors for Christ: Knowing Our Congregational Neighborhoods to Do God's Will." This is the third in our three-part series of newsletter articles that continue the journey into our neighborhoods. The first article focused on the neighbor in the neighborhood-really getting to know the people God has placed around us. The second article suggested ways that our Christmas activities might lead us more deeply into relationship among the people and partner institutions around us. This final article will suggest four ways we might re-imagine our congregational vocations in our neighborhoods.

When I meet with congregations and ask about their community engagement, they often list the services they provide. This is important-but don't stop there! Read on for four ways to re-imagine your congregation's vocation in the community . . . 


 

1. Service Provider


 

As just noted, congregations often provide important services in our neighborhoods-serving meals, building Habitat for Humanity homes, helping homeless neighbors by providing a safe place for them to sleep, etc. In fact, Lutherans have a particularly rich tradition of doing these sorts of things. Lutheran Services in America (LSA) comprises one of the largest health care and human services networks in the United States, supported by local congregations.
 
Take a moment and list the services your congregation provides in the community. Typically, we work very hard to deliver promised goods and services. Find a way to celebrate each one of these activities! Now challenge yourselves to move BEYOND providing that nutritious meal or delivering backpacks to the school. Our God of love focuses on people and relationships. Relationships can be built while goods and services are provided. Our congregational resources are stretched and, in many cases, dwindling. Perhaps it's a good time to widen our vision to WHO as well as WHAT. What we can provide is important. But who we are together as givers and receivers of God's grace and generosity is equally important.
 

2. Innovator


Many congregations are living with uneasy fears about the future. Budgets are tight. Too many pews are empty. How long will we survive? Yet, we are different than a business that is driven by a financial "bottom-line." Our "bottom-line" is the unlimited grace and mercy of God. That's what we're here to share! This reality can allow us, even in the middle of our own challenges and changes, to look around and ask, "What problems exist that need the kind of compassion that Jesus has given us?"
 
Members have ideas about this. "Pastor, I understand the prison would like someone to provide worship services . . ." or "Pastor, I hear the pre-school in town needs people to read to the children . . ." I know one congregational staff that, on bitterly cold days, bundles up and knocks on neighborhood doors with packets of hot chocolate mix-just to check on their neighbors and make sure everyone's all right. In the hot summers, they load up wagons with bottles of cold water and do the same thing . . . Since we are not a profit-driven enterprise, what new thing might flow into your community from God's limitless grace within your congregation?

3. Advocate

Sandra, a pastor I know, faithfully attends local county board meetings every month as an observer. She wants to know what's going on so she's aware of the impact on her congregation and community. Through her developing relationships with these local leaders, she has become more comfortable and able to participate in community life.
 
When a little girl's dog was stolen, Pastor Sandra and several congregational members supported the girl in bringing her concerns about safety to the county board community meeting. This is an example of advocacy for personal issues.
 
On a larger scale, Pastor Sandra knew there was tremendous need for a residential senior living facility. Her congregation organized local churches and other organizations to address this need. They advocated and fought for a $1 million dollar project, which culminated in the dedication of a senior living facility nestled in the hills outside town. This is an example of advocacy for public issues.
 
Whether personal or public, what are the local issues that might present opportunities for your congregation to advocate for things that embody God's love and care for all people?
 
4. Values Guardian 

Jesus traveled the cities and villages of Palestine. "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them." (Mt. 9:36) One congregational member, who is a teacher, rode the school bus to discover where the children in her school lived. She was surprised and saddened at what she observed, but it helped her address the challenges (both personal and educational) of her students.
 
Invite one or two other congregational members and do a "windshield tour" around your community, street-by-street or county road-by-county road. Really look around you.  Go out more than once-at different times, different days.
 
The values guardian category opens our eyes and our hearts to neglected people groups within our communities-people in poverty, people formerly or presently incarcerated, migrant farmers living temporarily in a makeshift trailer park, forgotten elderly languishing in sub-standard living conditions, and the like. Values guardianship requires noticing groups of people that are often invisible or struggling in our communities, taking their situations to heart, and finding ways to accompany them toward the flourishing life God wants for all.
 
Service provider. Innovator. Advocate. Values guardian. What's your community vocation? Whatever it might be, it is certainly an adventure in God's "deep and wide" compassion!
 

Announcements
 If you want to submit an announcement, please  check out the Submission Guidelines and send your submission to fuller@vasynod.org.
Register for 7th Day! 
Youth Event for 5th & 6th Graders
7th Day  is the Virginia Synod's 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.  7th Day is March 5-6, 2016, from noon Saturday to 1:30 on Sunday at Eagle Eyrie.  

Cost for participants:  $125 


2016 Spring ACTS Course
Save The Date - April 9 & May 14

The ACTS Spring Course, "A World According to God: Practices for Discipleship" will be April 9 & May 14, 2016. The presenter will be Dr. Martha E. Stortz, the  Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation at Augsburg College, a position she has held since 2010.

ACTS is the Virginia Synod's Adult Faith Formation program. For more information about ACTS, click here.


Sorry for the broken links last week!
It is that time of the year when TWO reports are due from rostered leaders and congregations:
1.) The Parochial Report - Form A and C (statistical information about your congregation, reported to our churchwide partners). 
The form can be found on the right side bar a  www.elca.org/Resources/Office-of-the-Secretary 
2.) Rostered Leader Report to the Bishop - Each rostered leader completes this form and sends it to their Synod Bishop. The various forms are found under the "Synods" tab at  www.elca.org/Resources/Office-of-the-Secretary

Questions? Contact the synod office!
#ELCAvotes
We are called to conversation and prayer around our role as U.S. residents and as people of faith in ensuring our election systems promote dignity and respect for all.  We are called to act by speaking out as advocates and engaging in local efforts to guarantee the right to vote to all citizens. The ELCA has started an initiative called ELCAvotes Expand the role of the church in encouraging faithful and non-partisan voter participation by providing faith based resources around voting;


To sign up for up-to-date information on ELCAvotes, visit: https://goo.gl/xg7gNk
Veterans Legal Services Clinics
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) and the Virginia State Bar (VSB) have partnered to launch the first pro bono Veterans Legal Services Clinics to provide estate planning services to low-income veterans throughout the Commonwealth. 
 
At these clinics, qualified Virginia veterans and their spouses can receive legal wills, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives prepared at no cost by volunteer lawyers. These important documents can provide veterans, their partners, and families with peace of mind and planning for the future.
 
These clinics will be held during the first week of March at the following locations across the Commonwealth:
  • HAMPTON ROADS: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at Tidewater Community College - 1428 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322 
  • RICHMOND: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College - Parham Road Campus, 1651 E Parham Road, Richmond, VA 23228
  • ROANOKE: Thursday, March 3, 2016 at Virginia Western Community College - 3094 Colonial Avenue, Roanoke, Virginia 24015
  • NORTHERN VIRGINIA: Friday, March 4, 2016 at Northern Virginia Community College - 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003
Click here for more information or to register. Walkups cannot be accepted. If you have questions, p lease contact Senior Assistant Attorney General Heather Lockerman by phone at (804)786-0067 or email at hlockerman@oag.state.va.us.
In the Breaking of the Bread: Lutheran/Episcopal Retreat
Join clergy and rostered leaders for an ecumenical retreat held May 16-18, 2016, at Shrine Mont Conference Center in Orkney Springs, Virginia.  Participants will gain working knowledge of The Book of Common Prayer and Evangelical Lutheran Worship and how to use them to preside with instruction from renowned scholars. Learning and fellowship with national ecumenical officers, bishops, deployment officers, synod staff, and full communion clergy partners in your area will equip you for shared ministries of word and sacrament.

Registration deadline is April 18. For more information and to
register online, visit: VirginiaLutheranEpiscopal.wordpress.com
Regional Informational Sessions for Feeding Children in the Summer Months
Virginia Feeds Kids (The Virginia Synod Childhood Hunger Task Force) is hosting Regional Sessions for congregational leaders to explore feeding children during the summer months.

Link up with a food-providing sponsor and learn how to integrate a meal into your summer programs (like Vacation Bible School). 
Hunger Rumble Youth Retreat in Richmond
Your youth group and advisors are invited to participate in an overnight retreat and juice fast with learning & service based on hunger related issues. 
 
WHEN: FRIDAY, FEB. 26 - SATURDAY, FEB. 27
ARRIVE: 7 PM FRIDAY
DEPART 12:30 PM SATURDAY
WHERE:  Christ the King Lutheran Church
9800 W. HUGUENOT ROAD, RICHMOND, VA
FOR:  8th - 12th Graders.
GROUP RSVP TO: 804-272-2995 or info@ctkrva.org
WHAT TO BRING: a Canned Food item, an Adult Advisor, Juice to drink during the fast, Rice or Beans to break the fast, your Bible, overnight bed & toiletry item s

This event is co-sponsored by Epiphany & Christ the King 
"Religion & Spirituality in A Changing Society" Lecture
Diana Butler Bass presents the James H. Taylor Memorial Lectures " Religion & Spirituality in a Changing Society." There will be three FREE lectures at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynchburg, VA. On Friday, March 11 at 7:00 pm the topic will be "Spiritual Revolution: The Rise of the Mystics". On Saturday, March 12 at 9:00 a.m. the topic will be "Experiencing God in Nature: Challenge and Promise" and at 11:00 a.m. the topic will be "Experiencing God in Our Neighbors: Great Command in Action". Please click here for more information.  Please Click Here For More Information
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 fuller@vasynod.org. 
Associate Director for Philanthropy for the Fund for Leaders
This position secures gift revenue in support of the priority fundraising objectives of the ELCA as outlined in its case statement for Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. It is responsible for identifying, cultivating and soliciting individuals with capacity for leadership gifts to the ministries of the ELCA, and will maintain a portfolio of major donor prospects.
 
This position could be a deployed position with the professional working from his/her home office, and may not require relocation to Chicago. The position requires up to 60-70% travel.
 
Download the Position Profile http://bit.ly/1KsC9Dz
 
Applications and inquiries may be directed, in confidence, to Gaye Lindfors: 651-490-9550; Gaye@SignificantSolutionsInc.com

Manager for Donor Relations for the ELCA Campaign
This position secures gift revenue in support of the priority fundraising objectives of the ELCA as outlined in its case statement for Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. It is responsible for identifying, cultivating and soliciting individuals with capacity for leadership gifts to the ministries of the ELCA, and will maintain a portfolio of major donor prospects.
 
This position could be a deployed position with the professional working from his/her home office, and may not require relocation to Chicago. The position requires up to 60-70% travel.
 
Download the Position Profile http://bit.ly/1KsC9Dz 
 
Applications and inquiries may be directed, in confidence, to Gaye Lindfors: 651-490-9550; Gaye@SignificantSolutionsInc.com

Part-time Executive Director of 
Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries
Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries is seeking a part-time executive director.  The position involves organizing and carrying out day-to-day operations of SVLM, working with the Board of Dirctors and volunteers, representing SVLM in the community.  Candidates should have administrative and managerial skills plus experience in fundraising,, grant writing and working with non-profit organizations.  If you are interested in being the 'public face' of SVLM or know someone who might be, respond to Cathy Christovich  valleycathy@gmail.com  and request a full job description.

Do You have an announcement, upcoming event or news story Idea? Send it to fuller@vasynod.org and make sure to follow our
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