A Time of Deep Reflection
Bishop Jack Urame is the Head Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, where our partner Synod, the New Guinea Islands District (NGI) is located. 

In an interview with the Lutheran World Information he shared insights into the challenges faced by his church, his leadership experiences and insights gained during the Retreat of Newly Elected Leaders. This retreat of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) took place in Geneva, Switzerland, and Wittenberg, Germany, from the 7th to 16th of September.
Bishop Urame, please tell us something about the context you and your church live in.
Papua New Guinea is a former German colony which was taken over as mandated territory by Australia after the First World War. In 1975 our country gained its independence in a peaceful process.

The Lutheran church in Papua New Guinea also has German roots, namely in the mission work of  Neuendettelsau in Bavaria – we still have a partnership with them today. The church has grown to about 1.5 Million people and is the second largest church in the country, after the Roman-Catholic church.

I have the function of Head Bishop over 17 districts with about 1,000 pastors. It is common practice that the congregations take care of their pastor or that the pastor has another profession with which to earn his living. I myself used to be a teacher. Once I finished my theological studies I worked at the  Melanesian Institute for Pastoral and Economic Services, an ecumenical institute doing social and cultural research for the churches.
What are some of the major issues you are dealing with in your church?
On the one hand society in Papua New Guinea is very traditional with people relying on agriculture to sustain them. Patriarchal social groups and tribes are widespread. On the other we had a high influx of new technologies, particularly in the mining industry, and neo-capitalism. Cities have developed where people must find new ways of interacting with one another. One of the ways of doing this is to establish new congregations.

During my work at the ecumenical institute we did research on topics still relevant today. Sorcery, Witchcraft and Christianity is one of them. It strives to bring to light problems following from accusations of sorcery and witchcraft in Papua New Guinea.

Another is The Politics of Give and Take which echoes the views that the way Papua New Guineans appoint their leaders, and the way those leaders conduct themselves is still strongly influenced by the traditional “culture of reciprocity” and by very local interests.

The Lutheran church has numerous schools around the country and we did a study on inclusive education which is official policy. The goal is to have pupils with and without disabilities go to the same schools. Those with disabilities are accompanied by special educational staff.

All in all, the church gives recommendations to the government on many issues. Whether they are taken up is not always up to us. However, we have been successful in advocating against the introduction of the death penalty and against plans to take up deep sea mining activities.

The general challenge for church leaders is to provide good leadership to help grow a healthy church. That is a church that takes up theological and social issues in responding to the needs of the people. God’s word must relate to contemporary issues – it must be relevant and meaningful. And it must move people to act.
How did your church commemorate 500 years of Reformation?
This year of Commemoration is a time of deep reflection and a time to ask critical questions about God, about ourselves and about how we can live together as a global community. We need to take up Luther’s ideas about grace, about inequality etc. and make them relevant for today.

When I visit the North, I find that a lot of attention is given to the historical aspects of the Reformation. In Papua New Guinea people identify with Luther not so much as a historical person but rather as a concept or idea of being. “I am Lutheran because of Luther” is the way we would say that in my context. It is like a blood relationship.
What are your personal highlights from the Retreat of Newly Elected Leaders in Wittenberg and Geneva?
I have gained a deeper understanding that I am not alone and the Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea is not alone – that is very encouraging.
I have also come to realize that bishops in other parts of the world have the same challenges as we have in Papua New Guinea. We all face challenges is the pastoral ministry. We all need to improve theological education, also for lay people.

When we have the same challenges, we could possibly also find adequate responses together.
For more information on the Virginia Synod's partnership with New Guinea Islands District (NGI), visit  www.vasynod.org/ministries/global-mission

To learn more about the Lutheran World Federation, visit www.lutheranworld.org
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
Lutheran Disaster Response: Hurricane Relief
Now that the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Imra, and Hurricane Maria is coming fully into focus, we see that the need will be great and recovery will take many years.

Your gifts   to Lutheran Disaster Response designated for “Hurricane Response” at this time will be used in full (100 percent) in responding to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria until the response is complete.  You have an opportunity to make sure our neighbors are not forgotten.

If you’ve already given, thank you so much. Please continue to pray and stay connected through our   Facebook   page. You may also use these resources from LDR in your congregation to help spread the word.
Fall 2017 ACTS Course: The Christian's Call Today
For Bonhoeffer, Christ is the definition of reality. Discipleship, then, is a call to become enveloped by that reality; therefore, the Christian's call is not to turn one's back on the world (enter the cloister) but to be God's presence in the world. In other words, our life in the world, which is lived out in the midst of families, friendships, work, and communities, is meant to display the presence and transformative work of God in the world. Because Bonhoeffer's faith led him to take the world seriously in all of its manifestations, Christian vocation is one that willingly stands up for one's neighbor and gets its hands dirty. Join other ACTS participants as together we explore and learn more about our Christian’s Call through this course.

This year's Fall ACTS course will be held on October 7th and November 4th

For more information and to register for the Fall ACTS course, click here
Lost and Found 2017
Lost and Found  is our annual weekend retreat for youth in 7th and 8th grade and their adult advisors. 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 about 8 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. On Saturday afternoon there is large chunk of  Free Time  during which we will also hold out annual  Talent Show . In the evenings you will relax in your  Cottage  and talk with with other youth and adults from your congregation and other congregations about how the weekend is going.

This year's Lost and Found will be held on November 17th through November 19

For more information and to register for Lost and Found, click here
RSVP for ForwardingFaith Congregational Training!
Does your congregation want to take part in the ForwardingFaith Campaign? Is your stewardship team looking for a training event, but doesn't know where to go? As part of the Forwarding Faith Campaign, we are offering 2-hour training sessions throughout the Virginia Synod to teach your stewardship team how to conduct a special gift appeal.

A part of this training provides materials and information on how to conduct the Forwarding Faith campaign in your congregation, but you can use everything you learn during the training session to conduct an appeal for a new air conditioning unit, parking lot paving, roof, outreach opportunity, or whatever your ministry needs to fund!

For more information and to RSVP, click here
A Mighty Fortress Tour: Luther in Music
The Roanoke College Choir, under the direction Dr. Jeffrey R. Sandborg, presents The Mighty Fortress: Luther in Music tour. The tour includes performances at several churches of the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

This tour commemorates the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and coincides with the 175th Anniversary of Roanoke College's founding. Roanoke is the second Lutheran College in the nation.

Each of the following concerts are free and open to the public.

For more information and to view tour dates and locations, click here
Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp Fall Fest Event
Fall Fest at Caroline Furnace is a free event, held on  Saturday, October 21st  at St. John's Chapel. Fall Fest will include a bluegrass worship service at 11 AM, a picnic lunch (provided), field games, and fall crafts. Bring your friends, family, folding chairs, and be ready for fun!

Spread the word with an event flyer, or a bulletin insert .
Reformation Service at St. Mark, Yorktown
Anniversary liturgy! Hymns! Instruments! Choirs! Join the Lutheran Churches of the Peninsula Conference of the Virginia Synod at St. Mark, Yorktown on Sunday, October 29th at 3 PM to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. 
Looking Back & Called Forward: ELCA500
All are welcomed to register and attend “Looking Back & Called Forward: ELCA500” the ELCA’s Reformation anniversary commemoration event on October 31in Washington, D.C. As a member of a surrounding area synod and congregation, you are invited to join us for this once-in-a-lifetime event.
The day’s event will include speakers and a service, held at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill. ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton will co-host and will be joined by co-hosts Indiana-Kentucky Synod Bishop Bill Gafkjen, ELCA Vice President Bill Horne and Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod Bishop Richard Graham.
Registration is free, however, you will be responsible for your own travel and accommodations. Lunch is included in your registration.  Click here to reserve your seat.
For those unable to attend in person, you may watch the event online at  elca.org/livestream.
The Episcopal Diocese of SW Virginia Presents
Pursuing the Beloved Community: A Continuing Conversation on Race
The Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia is in the midst of sponsoring a series of talks across our region titled, "Pursuing the Beloved Community: A Continuing Conversation on Race".   

The first two talks have already taken place in Lexington and Roanoke. The first talk can be watched in its entirety at  https://youtu.be/h5GgtARL9Ak .

The final talk is in Wytheville on November 8th, which will also be live-streamed. Each event features a presentation by Dr. Wornie Reed, Director of the Race and Social Policy Research Center and Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at Virginia Tech. 

Following Dr. Reed’s presentation, there will be a question and answer time as well as informal discussion.

For more information, click here .
Job Opportunities
All job postings can also be found online at  www.vasynod.org/job-opportunities. If you have a position opening you would like posted, please email Emily Pilat at  pilat@vasynod.org