The annual conference Power in the Spirit took place last week on the campus of Roanoke College in Salem from July 11-13. Together attendees from across the state gathered to explore the promise of baptism, and how everyone in a church- regardless of age- receives the newly baptized. Through worship, Bible study, keynote addresses, workshops, and fellowship attendees dove into the mysteries and promises of baptism, and how we can recognize each other as children of the same heavenly Father— no matter our differences.
This year attendees had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Dawn Rundman, who served as the keynote presenter for the weekend. Dr. Rundman is an expert in child developmental psychology and develops faith formation resources for Sparkhouse and Augsburg Fortress, two publishing units of 1517 Media. Over the event, Dr. Rundman provided an intersection of science and faith, with a particular focus on how very young children experience God, and how families and congregational communities can use science to teach faith.
The Rev. Dr. Rolf Jacobson, returned for his third year to Power in the Spirit as the bible study leader. He serves as professor of Old Testament and the Alvin N. Rogness Chair of Scripture, Theology, and Ministry at Luther Seminary. In addition to authoring many books, Dr. Jacobson co-hosts two weekly podcasts, “Sermon Brainwave” and “The Narrative Lectionary.” A popular presenter, this year will mark Dr. Jacobson’s third visit with the Power in the Spirit community.
George Donovan, music Director for Bethel Lutheran Church, was present as well and led worship music for the contemporary worship services. George assembled a band of talented musicians from across the Virginia Synod and beyond- including Dr. Rundman who performed accordion with her daughter joining in on violin.
Kids are Welcome
Power in the Spirit is an event for all ages, and this year’s kid participants got to take part in special activities just for them, reading stories, making crafts, and having their own biblical focus during the event. This portion of power in the Spirit was led by Renee Durieux of Peace Lutheran Church, Charlottesville.
This year’s Power in the Spirit supported two services projects, Habitat for Humanity and Recess Support for Minnick Schools! Pastor Paul Henrickson led the Habitat for Humanity service project which took attendees on a work excursion to a Roanoke area Habitat build, to help construct a house! It was a great way for folks wanting to get out into the Roanoke community and give back as they were able to folks in need, putting God’s love into action.
Cards were also crafted by attendees of Power in the Spirit for immigrants and refugees aided by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS). LIRS has been serving refugees and immigrants, both here in the United States and around the world, for over 80 years. In their own words, “LIRS history reflects American Lutherans’ deep immigrant roots and passionate commitment to welcoming newcomers, especially those who are most in need.” These welcoming cards that were created will be given to people just as they are wondering if they are welcome in this country.
Workshops during this year’s Power in the Spirit nurtured and challenged attendees as they reflected on the life that flows from the font and out into the world. This year workshops offered attendees a wide variety of topics and interesting speakers to learn from. Bishop Humphrey and Assistant to the Bishop Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick asked: “Why Synod?” sharing on what we do together as a church and as a synod, and how in our journey together we can build one another up to accomplish the ministry God is calling us to do.
Assistant to the Bishop and Director for Evangelical Mission Pastor John Wertz Jr. led two sessions at Power in the Spirit this year. The first covered how to build a culture of generous stewardship, and the second on how to become a generous host to new worshipers in your congregation. There were also additional opportunities to hear and learn from the weekend’s Bible Study Leader and Keynote speaker, to incorporate music and craft into worship, learning how to serve in accompaniment with our global siblings in Christ, and so much more. With workshops for all ages and interests, there were opportunities to learn and grow for everyone in attendance this year at Power in the Spirit.
Power in the Spirit also offered renewing and uplifting worship opportunities through the event. This year’s worship planners included Pastor Michael Church, Pastor Paul Toelke, George Donovan, Cindy Henry, and Kitty Miller who each creatively contributed to a variety of worship services. From evening Eucharist and morning meditation to beer and hymns and the Power in the Spirit Conference Choir, there was always an opportunity to share with one another in fellowship, and we thank the worship planners for their hard work presenting a diverse range of services throughout the weekend.
Photos above provided by Sonja McGiboney