This week from October 15th through the 17th, rostered ministers from across the Virginia Synod gathered for the annual Gathering of the Ministerium in Virginia Beach. In an effort to build and maintain collegial relationships and to foster collaboration and partnership this gathering takes place as one part of connecting rostered ministers with one another but also churches with one another. This year’s gathering offered many opportunities for relaxation, worship, renewal, sharing, play, and continued education as rostered ministers renewed their covenant with each other.
This year, the synod also welcomed rostered ministers, interns, vicars, and seminarians new and returning to the synod to arrive early to Virginia Beach for an additional event, Virginia Synod Orientation. Folks attending this event had the opportunity to meet the Virginia Synod staff and to hear more about the expansive ministries of the Virginia Synod. They also had the chance to get to know others who are new to the Synod, building new relationships within the body of Christ.
Each year at the gathering, the Virginia Synod ministerium renew their covenant, which you can read fully here. The Virginia Synod ministerium covenant holds them together as rostered ministers. Those who were in attendance at the Virginia Synod Orientation event were invited to sign a copy of the ministerium covenant during the Covenant Renewal Litany, joining their signature with the many other members of the ministerium who have done so before them.
The Rev. Dr. Jill Y. Crainshaw was the presenter for this year’s gathering. She is the Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgy and the acting dean at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. She serves as the director of the School’s clergy leadership program, funded through the Lilly Endowment, and also facilitates healthy boundary training workshops for clergy. During their time together Dr. Crainshaw presented on this year’s theme, “Cultivating Brave Spaces: Ministry, Leadership, and Incarnational Conversations”. During their time together she shared stories, facilitated dialogue, and helped those in leadership in the church to engage in difficult conversations in healthy, faithful, and grace-filled ways.
Rostered ministers attending the Gathering of the Ministerium had plenty of time to relax and have some fun together! Relaxation and play can mean many different things to different people so the gathering provides a variety of activities for all to take part. For some, playing a round of golf is a great way to unwind. Others instead had a great time competing in the corn-hole tournament, with friendly competition and plenty of trash talk to go around. Some took the opportunity to tour an active serving Navy ship docked in Hampton Roads! Still other rostered ministers spent their free time giving back in the Tidewater area. Over an afternoon together they exemplified God’s Work, Our Hands in their work at Luther Manner, volunteering to prepare for an upcoming Octoberfest event.
Members of ministerium got to enjoy one another’s company during the Monday evening reception, and break times that occurred between presentations. Monday evening’s reception was sponsored by Lutheran Family Services of Virginia and Virginia Lutheran Homes, Inc., and the breaks were sponsored by Roanoke College. We are thankful for all of our mission partners for their generous support of this important time for our rostered ministers.
At the Gathering of the Ministerium, the ministerium joins together in worship, confessing, singing, and hearing God’s word. During the Monday evening prayer, rostered ministers gathered for a unique worship, Prayer Around the Cross. The service was led in song and scripture by The Rev. Ingrid Chenoweth of Good Shepherd Front Royal, The Rev. Stephen Bohannon of St. Michael Virginia Beach, and The Rev. Martha Sims of Grace Winchester. During this reflective worship service, those present were joined in song and were later invited to go to the cross, light a candle, and pray.
Along with hearing from Dr. Crainshaw, worshipping, learning, and sharing with one another- rostered ministers attending Gathering of the Ministerium had plenty of time to relax and have some fun together at Virginia Beach. This is such an important event for all rostered ministers to attend as continuing education, and forming and maintaining collegial relationships. Do encourage your leaders to be a part of the Gathering of the Ministerium next year!