Women across the Synod met at the 32nd Annual Virginia Synodical Women’s Organization (VWSO) Convention at First Lutheran, in Norfolk, August 2-3. Over 70 women gathered, under the theme “All Are Welcome at the Table” following Galatians 3:28. The convention serves to conduct the business of the Virginia Synodical Women’s Organization, provide suggestions for congregational units, provide learning opportunities that strengthen women to act upon their faith and to provide fellowship for women across the synod.
The Rev. Leslie Weber of Grace, Chesapeake served as convention chaplain and started the weekend with opening devotions focused on how we are welcoming to others, and raising questions about who might be missing from the table.
At the business session on Friday, delegates took part in business matters including elections held for president, treasurer, board member positions, and delegates to send to the national Triennial convention. Simultaneously, non-delegate attendees were able to take part in three different workshops. “Reenergizing Your Congregational Unit”, led by Linda Hawks and Erin Bain Hagar, focused on uplifting women’s groups in congregations. They shared motivation and ideas for how to keep participants and membership up in congregation as well as at annual and triannual events. Congregating Digitally, led by Emily Pilat the Director of Communications for the Virginia Synod, shared information and content ideas for congregations interested in making better use of websites and social media to welcome and connect. “Deskercise” led by Martha Swirzinski educated participants in the health impact that sitting for prolonged periods of time and exercises that can be performed at the desk to combat this.
On Saturday, awareness sessions were held for all participants, serving to educate in a number of areas. “Music Therapy” led by Becky Watson, shared her work as a music therapist with an interactive workshop. “An Immigrant’s Story” led by Fio Lewis featured Fio sharing her own immigrant story and how congregations can become involved and support immigrants new to their area. The Rev. John Wertz Jr. Director for Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop led the day’s bible study, which took a close look at Galatians 3:28 as well as a series of other text to explore God’s love for all people. He also shared ways churches and individuals can extend welcome to all those in their community.
The Rev. Jean Bozeman preached at the Saturday closing worship service. In her sermon Pastor Bozeman encouraged those present to be welcoming to those in our communities, and that the church is an ever-expanding space for all.
Women in attendance also had the opportunity to give back as they were asked to bring school supplies which will be donated to Norfolk area schools. In addition, they had the option to provide support to two other organizations Knots of Love and Case for Smiles.
The 32nd Annual Virginia Synodical Women’s Organization Convention was a time of extending a warm welcome to all, by way of education, faith, and fellowship.