Weekly Update
Announcements From Around the Virginia Synod
The Joy of Christmas
Grown women riding bicycles down the aisles of Walmart--that's the joy of Christmas.

Those same women buying the bicycles as Christmas gifts for two girls they will never meet--that's the joy of Jesus.

Each year in October a teacher at Riverheads Elementary School sends two emails. The first goes to all the teachers to ask if they will send a slip home to parents who could use some help making Christmas special for their children. The second email goes to area churches asking for help to meet the requests that come pouring in each year.

Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church in Staunton and Redeemer Lutheran Church in Middlebrook are two of the churches that always answer this call.

"I've been pastor for over 26 years and they've been doing it longer than I have been here," said Pastor JoAnn Bunn.  

"The goal is to spend about $50 per person but we almost always go over that amount," she said.

All the area churches join together to participate in this program called Christmas Alive. Each of Pastor Bunn's churches participate in slightly different ways but with the same outcome: the joy of a child on Christmas morning.

A volunteer at Mt. Tabor takes the children who have been identified by teachers and parents and prints their name along with one gift suggestion on a simple paper ornament. Each ornament is hung on the Chrismon tree where congregation members pick one (or more) children to shop for. Once they've selected the perfect gift, they wrap the present and bring it back to put under the tree. 

At Redeemer, Pastor Bunn takes all the present suggestions and writes each gift idea on an index card along with the child's gender and grade. The stack of index cards aren't separated until all the women of the Church's Women's Group come together for shopping day.

When the women of Redeemer gather at Walmart there is excitement buzzing in the air. They break into teams and after the index cards are handed out, they begin the shopping spree. Oftentimes running into each other multiple times while in the store, each encounter bringing giggles filled with joy.

"One year there were two little girls and the only gift suggestion that was written down were bicycles and that was much more than we could afford," said Pastor Bunn. "We had two ladies who went to look at the bicycles and when they saw them, they just couldn't walk away. I had to keep them from riding up and down the aisles. They were just so determined to buy those bicycles that they didn't care if they had to pay for them out of their own pockets."
Excitement surrounding Christmas Alive doesn't stop after December 25th is over. Each year members of the churches participate in fundraisers to make sure they have enough money to buy presents for the children the following year. They even have their own auction at the church.

"You can't afford our German Chocolate Cake," Pastor Bunn said with a chuckle. "We have homemade cakes that can go for $80."

The church members come together as a body of Christ to show the love of Jesus to children in their community who they never meet. They raise money, shop for presents, and spend their time wrapping each gift.

"It's always a joy," Pastor Bunn said. "Sure, it's extra stuff to do in an already busy season, but it's always a joy and it's always worth it."

Announcements
  xmas-tree-icon.gif

The Synod Office will close for the holidays on Dec. 24 and will reopen on Jan. 4th.

Have a very Merry Christmas!
 
Winter Celebration*  
is our annual weekend retreat for youth in grades 9 through 12 and their adult advisors. We have 
Large Group  and 
Small Group  gatherings that consist of singing, comedy, worship, faith sharing and presentations on our event theme. On Saturday afternoon during 
Free Time  we will also hold out annual 
"Talent Show"  and in the evenings you will have time to relax in your 
Cottage 
and talk with with other youth and adults from your congregation and other congregations about how Winter Celebration is going.


 
 

Caroline Furnace opened registration in time for Christmasgift giving!  The full Summer 2016 Schedule is on our website and we encourage you to  #givecamp  to a favorite child in your life.

Registration is Now Open!

"In the Breaking of the Bread: 
Finding Christ in Full Communion"
A retreat for Lutheran and Episcopal clergy and rostered leaders
 

Renowned scholars Gordon Lathrop and Neil Alexander will serve as keynote presenters for a retreat held May 16-18, 2016, at Shrine Mont Conference Center in Orkney Springs, Virginia. "In the Breaking of the Bread: Finding Christ in Full Communion" will gather clergy and rostered leaders of Lutheran and Episcopal churches, equipping them for shared ministries of word and sacrament. 
 
Coming together in the peaceful setting of Shrine Mont, retreat participants will share in worship, fellowship, and education with one another. Bishops will lead "instructed eucharist celebrations" in Lutheran and Episcopal traditions, and national denominational representatives will be present throughout the gathering. Participants will also learn about local partnership possibilities in their home settings.
 
The registration fees, including room and board, are $160 (double occupancy room) and $190 (single occupancy). For more information and to register online, visit: www.VirginiaLutheranEpiscopal.wordpress.com. Printed registration materials will be available soon.

Lutheran Campus Ministry Retreat
All college students are invited to attend the Lutheran Campus Ministry and Friends Retreat, February 19-20, 2016, at Massanetta Springs in Harrisonburg, VA. Join college students from all across the state to connect with old friends and meet many new ones! The retreat starts Friday evening and ends Saturday after lunch. For more information and to register by February 8, please  CLICK HERE

2016 Trip to Germany
 

There will be a 9 day trip to Germany endorsed by the North Carolina Synod and co-sponsored by the Virginia Synod ACTS in 2016. Inlcudes Basic Tour & Guided Sightseeing, Roundtrip International Airfare from cities listed (Additional baggage & optional fees may apply, see fine print for details) Fuel Surcharges and Government Taxes (Subject to Change) . Admin. Fees, Entrance Fees, Gratuities & Program Fees . Daily Buffet Breakfast & Dinner . Deluxe Motorcoaches . First Class Hotels and Much, Much More!
Click here to see the full brochure with registration information. If you would like a brochure mailed to you, please email  milton@vasynod.org

AGAPE and RACHEL KURTZ in Concert in Harrisonburg
A gape and Rachel Kurtz are coming to Muhlenberg Lutheran in Harrisonburg on January 9th at 7:00pm. AGAPE and Rachel Kurtz are singers, songwriters, and speakers who will have shared their faith and talent at many of the ELCA National Youth Gatherings and churches across the country. Everyone is invited to join in on the fun! Tickets are $5 at the door and children 4 and under are free. 
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. 
Job Opportunity:
Handbell Director Position
Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, located in Harrisonburg Virginia, is seeking a part-time Handbell Director to provide support and leadership to the Music Ministry's Handbell Choir with primary focus on teaching and directing. Qualifications should include a strong commitment to the Christian faith, Bachelor's degree in music (or equivalent in training and experience) and the ability to teach and direct the Handbell Choir(s) ranging from beginning to advanced levels. This part-time position would require at least one practice per week (extended rehearsal times may be required during Advent/Christmas and Lent/Holy Week) September - May, and would perform every 4-5 weeks in Sunday morning worship (currently three services each Sunday, 8:00, 9:30 & 11:00), and occasional additional services during Advent & Lent. The Handbell Director is responsible to the Music Minister. Those interested in this position should forward a resume to info@muhlenberglutheran.org . Hard copies can be mailed to: Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, 281 East Market Street, Harrisonburg, Va., 22801, ATTN: Elizabeth Williams. Resumes will be accepted until position is filled.

Job Opportunity:
 
Full Time Prison Chaplain for 
Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women

GraceInside seeks a Prison Chaplain for Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women (FCCW), the state's largest women's prison. The chaplain serves as a Christian pastor and as the coordinator for religious services and programs for inmates of all faiths for all women incarcerated at FCCW.

Qualifications:
(1) Formal Education: An undergraduate degree from an accredited college/university and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) or equivalent degree from an accredited theological seminary. (Equivalent educational degrees and/or ministry experience may be considered.)
(2) Ordination: Fully ordained and currently in full connection and in good standing with his/her denominational body, church, etc.
(3) Endorsement: Where applicable, endorsed by his/her responsible denominational agency as to current good standing and confirmation of abilities to perform the duties related to chaplaincy.
(4) Preferred, but not required: 12 months of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and three to five years of pastoral ministry or other ministerial experience; experience in jails/prisons or criminal justice system a plus.
Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume as email attachments (and request an application) to  kateshelton@graceinside.org. For more information about our ministry, please visit our website at  www.graceinside.org.   DEADLINE to receive all application materials: January 5, 2016
Job Opportunity:
Director of Ministry to Children, Youth, and Families in Moneta, VA

TRINITY ECUMENICAL PARISH in Moneta, VA seeks an energetic and enthusiastic person of integrity who is dedicated to engaging children, youth, and families in a life giving transformative faith. Click here for a list of competencies and job description and go to www.smltep.org for information on Trinity. Interested candidates should send a resume including educational training and ministry experience, a cover letter explaining your vision for children, youth and family ministry and references to  blfuzi@centurylink.net by 1/15/16.

Do You have an announcement, upcoming event or news story Idea? Send it to fuller@vasynod.org!
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