Marking a new season of ministry in the life of the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), more than 630 people gathered Sept. 9 at First Presbyterian Church in Waynesboro Virginia for the installation of the Rev. Robert F. Humphrey as the Virginia Synod’s bishop, the synod’s first new bishop in 18 years.
The installation service had over 100 individuals process, as over 90 Rostered Minister of the Virginia Synod were present, along with five ELCA Bishops of Region eight and nine, and 12 ecumenical guests. A majority of Virginia Synod mission partners leadership were in attendance as well.
Participants at the installation service showcased the vibrant congregations Bishop Humphrey has served at in Virginia, as well as the leadership within the Virginia Synod. The Rev. Brett Davis formerly served as co-pastor with Bishop Humphrey at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church and is currently serving at Georgetown Lutheran in Washington DC. For the service, she provided the second reading of the day. Evan Davis, the Treasurer of the Virginia Synod, served as assisting minister for the service.
Special music at Bishop Humphrey’s installation was offered by a choir made up of members of Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg, Grace Lutheran Church in Waynesboro, Zion Lutheran Church of Waynesboro, and Christ Lutheran Church in Staunton. Elizabeth Williams, the Minister of Music at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg served as the pianist, and Mike Myers, the Choir Director and Organist at Grace Lutheran Church in Waynesboro served as Choir Director. Special thanks to Florence Jowers, of Christ Lutheran in Staunton, who led the installation worship as organist and music director for the service.
Members of the Lutheran Youth Organization of the Virginia Synod also participated in the service, including LYO Board president, Isaac Wilson. Members of Synod Council and members of the transition team also served in voluntary roles through the day- helping visitors on the bus route, parking, ushering, and more.
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton of the ELCA presided over the installation and preached the sermon. She preached on the text John 21:15-19. In her sermon, Bishop Eaton looked to turning points in scripture, in the church, in the life of the Virginia Synod, and in the world. She also lifted up Bishop Humphrey’s desire for this service not to exist in a vacuum, reminding us,
“Nothing that we do as Christians, and nothing that we do as the Lutheran movement within the church, and nothing that we do as the church is something that is done in private, or something that we keep to ourselves. Your new bishop wanted to make sure that at the beginning of his Episcopal ministry we were clear that this is a message for the entire world and that Lutherans do not withdraw from the world, but we engage with it and we can engage in it because we are redeemed people who are forgiven and set free.”
The installation began as Blythe Scott, Secretary of the Virginia Synod presented Bishop Humphrey to Bishop Eaton. Following with address and question, with readers, The Rev. Richard Bansemer, Bishop Emeritus of the Virginia Synod, The Rev. James Mauney, Bishop Emeritus of the Virginia Synod, The Rev. Herman Yoos, Bishop, South Carolina Synod, and Charles Downs, Vice President of the Virginia Synod each read from scripture.
The kneeler used for the installation service was made by a member of Zion Lutheran Church, the first congregation that Bishop Humphrey served. The kneeler will reside in the office of the Bishop in Bittle Hall on the campus of Roanoke College.
In brief remarks following the installation rite, Bishop Humphrey, expressed, “What a holy, amazing moment,” he thanked his family, friends, the Virginia Synod ministerium, and God for this day, concluding, “So now, together we continue this critical race, that has been run throughout the history of the church. That’s what this day is about.” Humphrey served as presiding minister following the installation rite, changing into a chasuble that had previously been worn by his father-in-law.
Following the service, all were invited reception held at Grace Lutheran Church in Waynesboro. Guests there enjoyed the great weather, yummy food, and good company under tents on the front lawn.
If you were not able to attend the service, you can view the full service on the Virginia Synod’s Vimeo account. To view the recorded video of the installation, click here.
You can also view photos from the installation service on the Virginia Synod’s Flickr account. To view the installation photos, click here.