A Pastoral Message on COVID-19, Racism, and White Supremacy
“In our longing to be church together, let us be even more intentional in sharing with each other, easing each other’s burdens, consoling each other in our fear and grief, condemning what is contrary to the gospel and living out our baptismal covenant ‘to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.’” Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has released a message on COVID-19, racism, and white supremacy. Read the pastoral message from Bishop Eaton.
Office of the Bishop Statement on Gathering Again
Due to the highly infectious nature of COVID-19, the lack of available testing, the absence of an effective treatment for the disease, and the time needed to prepare for gathering again leads the  Bishop’s Office to recommend abstaining from in-person gatherings through Forward Virginia Safer at Home Phase 1, Phase 2, and possibly beyond.  As each new Phase of reopening occurs in Virginia, congregational leaders will need to consider how to protect the health and well-being of the entire community, not simply do what is allowable or legal. 

Visit vasynod.org/gathering-again to access the recommendations from the Office of the Bishop on Gathering Again, resources from the ELCA on Returning to In-Person Worship, and the Forward Virginia website from the Governor Northam’s Office. Please carefully review the information found on the website as you begin preparations for gathering again.
Virtual "Tongues of Fire" 5K for Pentecost Sunday
Registration Deadline Tuesday May 26, 2020
The Virginia Synod invites you to join us in your home or neighborhood for a  Virtual 5k on Pentecost Sunday May 31!

We all wish we could be together. It's at this time of year when we'd be excitedly preparing to gather as the Synod for our annual Synod Assembly. We're maybe feeling cooped up inside, so let's do something together to get moving! Let's safely steward our bodies as we share an event as the Body of Christ and join in prayer along the way.

A Tongues of Fire Litany will be ready on Wednesday on the Synod website. The litany can be used in worship on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, and or used at home by those who will participate in the 5K.

For more information and to register for the 5K, visit  vasynod.org/virginia-synod-5k. The deadline to register for the 5K is Tuesday May 26th, so make sure to get you and your team's registration in ASAP!
Virginia Synod Gospel Reading and Sermon Resource for Sunday May 24
The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick, Assistant to the Bishop will be providing a gospel reading and sermon for Sunday May 24th, 2020. Her gospel reading and sermon will be available this Thursday on the Synod website as part of our Pulpit Supply and Sermon Resource page at vasynod.org/resources/pulpit-supply

Any congregation is free to use Pastor Bayer Derrick's sermon as part of their upcoming worship as they see fit.
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
Church Together for the Sake of the World: Wifi for Minnick Students
Thank you for your tremendous response to the WiFi for Minnick students project. Thanks to your generosity the Virginia Synod is currently providing WiFi for students to allow them to continue their education while at home. With your help, we will meet and exceed our goal of providing WiFi to 25 Minnick students who were without WiFi. While we established 25 as the initial goal, with every student sponsored beyond 25, Lutheran Family Services will be able to expand this project to include more students, so if your congregation hasn’t participated yet, go to: vasynod.org/church-together to get involved.

According to the Minnick Schools Technology Coordinator John Davis, “The participating families are very excited to get started...Families without access to reliable internet are at a great disadvantage in the current situation and we hope that this program will not only help to enhance the student's learning, but also provide the entire family with the ability to access things like telemedicine, online worship services, and social interaction that may otherwise be currently unavailable to them.”

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of Minnick students and their families!
Social Isolation Webinar
How can the church respond with compassion and understanding to those suffering from the “radical aloneness” that can result from social distancing? Find out by joining us on Wednesday, May 27 for a timely webinar entitled Social Distancing, Not Social Isolation: A Family Systems Perspective. Registration for both sessions is now open!

Social Distancing, Not Social Isolation is a 90-minute webinar that will show church leaders how they can help people overcome the potential loneliness of social distancing, and also reflect on how this time of “sheltering in place” can be used to facilitate life-giving connections with others.  This webinar integrates Bowen family systems theory with the research of John Cacioppo, social neuroscientist.

This webinar will be presented via Zoom on May 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The fee is $30. To register or to learn more, including our cancellation policy, please visit www.brownpapertickets.com/producer/720852. A link to this webinar will be sent to you upon registration, and you can attend on your computer, iPad, or Smartphone device.
ELCA Social Message Feedback Needed
The ELCA is preparing a social message on government and civic engagement. From March 20 to May 27, you are invited to provide feedback on how to strengthen the draft of the message. The draft of a “Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement: Discipleship in a Democracy” is available here. To offer feedback, please fill out this survey.
Join the 75,000 More! Face Mask Challenge
When Lutheran World Relief launched the 75,000 Face Mask Challenge less than a month ago, they knew the compassionate response would be overwhelming – and that good people like you would meet the challenge. They just had no idea you’d pull it off so quickly. Thank you!

As COVID-19 continues to make its way around the world, the poorest communities stand to bear the heaviest burdens. Cloth masks are a first barrier of defense, and the need is only increasing. To reach even more people in dire need, Lutheran World Relief is collecting 75,000 more masks! How many will you make to help stop the spread? Sign up for more info. www.lwr.org/masks
Caroline Furnace Summer Update
Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center has been providing small group Summer Camp experiences for over sixty years. For generations, campers have been returning to Fort Valley each summer to share a welcoming, prayerful, playful space - a simple environment disconnected from the distractions of technology and the world. We believe in the power of small groups, the importance of time spent in God’s creation, and the life-changing potential of Summer Camp.

Caroline Furnace is committed to providing unforgettable faith, education, and renewal experiences in God’s creation for all God’s people. Although we are not yet ready to safely gather, we will continue to build a Christ-like community in new and creative ways.

Thank you for your patience and grace as we develop the best course of action and continue to adapt to this ever-changing situation. We are creating plans to provide the best experience possible through a combination of Camp at Home (virtual camp) and overnight, on-site Summer Camp - once it is safe to do so.

  1. Summer Camp will continue as scheduled but with modifications, beginning with Camp at Home on June 14. Look for more details to come soon. This is a new program; registration opens May 22.
  2. On-site, overnight Summer Camp is suspended until July 5. Look for a new schedule to come out soon. This is based upon the anticipation of Virginia being in Phase 2 by July 5.
  3. We will work with area churches to consider Camp on the Go, a small group, mobile day camp or VBS led by our trained camp counselors and hosted at churches regionally.

Online registration remains open for our on-site camps beginning with Week Three (July 5-10). If you are already registered for Summer Camp, you will receive a second email with further details and options. Please be patient with our staff as we coordinate with each camper family.

We have learned so much in the past two months and expect to see more developments in the coming weeks. Our staff and Board of Directors have been learning, discerning, consulting, and brainstorming with many other organizations and industry leaders across the country. We will continue to implement new standards and guidelines as recommended by the American Camp Association (ACA), CDC, and the state of Virginia. We are following the ACA Field Guide for Camps, which offers guidance from experts in OSHA, CDC, and EPA.

We’re doing the best we can and trust you to make the best choice for your family. Please continue to gather your information from reputable sources and follow the guidelines shared by the CDC and state of Virginia. We miss you and look forward to welcoming you back to Fort Valley soon!

Stay tuned! We’ll share further updates about overnight Summer Camp on June 15 once more information is available. The anticipated July 5 start date is dependent upon being in Phase Two in Virginia.

For more information from the May 15th announcement, visit www.carolinefurnace.org/may-15-reviving-our-roots.
Job Opportunities
Job Opportunities can now be found on the Virginia Synod website at vasynod.org/job-opportunities If you have a position opening you would like posted, please email Emily Pilat at  pilat@vasynod.org.