The Top 10 Moments from 2016 in the Virginia Synod!

//The Top 10 Moments from 2016 in the Virginia Synod!


We’ve had a great 2016 here in the Virginia Synod! Now that the year is coming to a close we’re taking some time now to look back and celebrate the best moments of 2016!

10- New Website for Virginia Synod
This year we rolled out a brand new look for the Virginia Synod website. With content updated throughout each week, this new design makes it easier than ever to stay connected to what’s important to you in the Virginia Synod! From a full events calendar to those all important Church Council documents, the Virginia Synod Site has just about something for everyone.
Check out to see what’s new!
9- Week of Service 2016
A year just isn’t complete without pulling on your”God’s Work Our Hands” t-shirts! This year was the Virginia Synod’s 4th annualWeek of Service, which coincided with “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday  the ELCA Day of Service on September 11.
All congregations were invited to reach out into their neighborhoods to become God’s hands and feet, to serve those in need and to share God’s compassion with the world, and to further share their stories of service with the Synod. Stories of service from across the Synod showcased great experiences of service, often in partnership with the Virginia Synod’s fantastic Mission Partners.
Click here to read some of the many stories of service shared with the Virginia Synod this year
Click here to check out a roundup across social media for more ways congregations and mission partners of our Synod served during the Week of Service using the hashtag #VASynodServes


8- A New Poohbah in Town for Power in the Spirit
Elizabeth Smythe, following eleven years of outstanding service, has stepped back from her position as Power in the Spirit Coordinator. Taking on this critical role is  Rev. David Drebes, pastor at Prince of Peace in Basye, Virginia.
For Pastor Drebes this is a challenging but exciting new role for him. He is hard at work bringing a new perspective on what Power in the Spirit can achieve, while still maintaining the heart and soul Elizabeth has cultivated in her eleven years as coordinator.
The Virginia Synod warmly welcomes Rev. David Drebes into this exciting position, and wish him the most success as he continues planning for next year’s Power in the Spirit!


7- Youth Event Highlights
From Winter Celebration to 7th Day, this year was filled with exciting Youth Events!
For the first time since 1983, the second weekend of Winter Celebration was canceled due to extreme weather conditions. But, churches in the Tidewater conference didn’t let the weather stop them from having a mini Winter Celebration of their own, showing just how beloved these events are for youth and adults.
At this year’s Kairos, there was a small group room that rapidly became engulfed in flowers and pastel cards bearing the words of Psalm 92:12-15. These tokens, assembled by Small Group 7, were a part of their proclamation presentation, a tradition at Kairos that each small group participates on Thursday afternoon and evening. Click here to read more about this year’s Kairos and to learn more about Small Group 7’s proclamation.
6- Freed & Renewed in Christ: The ELCA Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans
The 14th ELCA Churchwide Assembly and accompanying Grace Gathering  was held in New Orleans,  Louisiana  from August 8-13.   Meeting under the theme “Freed and Renewed in Christ: 500 Years of God’s Grace in Action,”  well over 2,000 Lutherans gathered. The Assembly, the highest legislative body of the ELCA, meets every three years to address the business of the church.
While many across the country followed along with video streaming and online updates, ten voting members from the state of Virginia were present in New Orleans during the Churchwide Assembly.  Jon Boynton , Richard Corliss ,Christy Huffman , Karen Griffith , Bishop Jim Mauney , Linda Motley , Chris Mumaw , David Raeke , Blythe Scott , and
Jody Smiley were all in attendance.
To learn more about the results from the 14th ELCA Churchwide Gathering, and to watch footage from the livestream, visit
5- YAGMs from Virginia
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program invites ELCA young adults ages 21-29 into a transformative, yearlong journey in international service. This year, Virginia has several women serving as missionaries from our Synod in Australia and Southern Africa.
The Virginia Synod is deeply proud of the call these young women are serving overseas, and looks forward to learning from their experiences and time away from home in the stories they share.
Click here to read about one of our YAGMs experience serving.
4- Gathering of the Ministerium Reception for Bishop Jim and Lynda Mauney

At this year’s Gathering of the Ministerium Rostered Leaders took time to honor Bishop Mauney and his wife  Lynda. The evening event was hosted by  Rev. David Derrick, Ministerium team Chair. Rostered Leaders from across the Synod as well as friends of the Mauney family, spoke to their time with the Mauneys and their great appreciation for their services in the Office of the Bishop.
Click here to read more about the fun, and fellowship had at this year’s Gathering of the Ministerium.
5- Flat Bishop
Throughout this year you may have noticed Bishop Mauney visiting your congregation, looking a little bit different than he normally appears. Much less
3-D, and quieter than normal- this was no ordinary Bishop Mauney, but rather a Flat Bishop! Four life size cardboard cutouts made their way throughout the Synod, visiting congregations across Virginia to have some fun, and celebrate Bishop Mauney as his term comes to an end.
There were so many fun photos and videos taken- all in secret to surprise Bishop Mauney and his family at the Gathering of the Ministerium. During the Reception for Bishop Jim and Lynda Mauney, the project was finally revealed with all four Flat Bishops present to surprise Bishop Mauney.
Flat Bishops will still be in circulation throughout 2017, still having fun and posing for photos in congregations throughout Virginia.


2- Hunger Task Force
In it’s third year, the Virginia Synod Childhood Hunger Task Force continued it’s efforts to aid Virginians find and feed hungry children, and continue to foster this as an interfaith and interagency initiative.

This year one achievement was “Changing the World One Backpack at a Time: The Story of Micah’s Backpack and Community Engagement” was published by Jennie Hodge and Nancy Franz,

among the founders of Micah’s Backpack. The book provides encouragement and inspiring information for community organizers looking to begin a helping program or improve their current outreach.
“Nancy and I wanted to convey the possibilities for anyone who has big dreams of making a positive impact in their community,” said Jennie Hodge, former Director of Micah’s Backpack. “By telling the history and philosophy of Micah’s Backpack we hope to inspire others to action!”
Additionally, the  Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy  gave its Faithful Voice Award to  Virginia Synod Childhood Hunger Task Group , an interfaith project of the Virginia Synod Childhood Hunger Task Group that helps find and feed hungry children. Virginia Feeds Kids includes weekend “backpack” feeding efforts, summer programs, and advocates for expanding the state’s school breakfast program with the governor and General Assembly. Click here to read more about this award, and others who were honored during this meeting.
To keep up with our fight against Childhood Hunger, go
1- Forwarding Faith Campaign
This year’s Synod Assembly marked the start of the ForwardingFaith Campaign, an ongoing $2.5 million fundraising campaign that will endow the position for Youth Ministry and Christian Faith Formation in the Virginia Synod. To date over $1.6 million has been given or pledged towards the ForwardingFaith campaign.
There were several great creative fundraising initiatives throughout the year for the campaign, like  Pastor Leslie Scanlon’s $30 for 30, and  Rebecca Williams soap making. There’s also been a great amount of testimony shared from youth and adults who have had their lives shaped through Youth Ministry and Faith Formation in the Virginia Synod-  No matter the age or season of life, faith formation is at the center of our lives in the Virginia Synod!
Stay tuned to for continued campaign updates and news as we continue to fundraise in 2017.
By | 2017-07-28T09:37:12+00:00 January 6th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on The Top 10 Moments from 2016 in the Virginia Synod!

About the Author:

Emily Pilat is the Director of Communications for the Virginia Synod. She is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she earned her BA in in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and a minor in Digital Studies.If you have an announcement, upcoming event, or news story idea you would like to share, get in touch with Emily via email [email protected] or by phone (540) 389-1000