Virginia Synod Serves 2017

//Virginia Synod Serves 2017
This past week was the Virginia Synod’s 5th annual Week of Service, which coincides with “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday, the ELCA Day of Service on Sunday, September 10th. As we observe the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we are reminded of the gospel’s promise that we are freed in Christ to love and serve our neighbors. In “The Freedom of a Christian,” Martin Luther wrote: “A Christian is lord of all, completely free of everything; a Christian is a servant, completely attentive to the needs of all.”
From September 10th through the 17th, all congregations of the Virginia Synod 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!

Little Hands, Big Help

Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg had little hands helping during their week of service. The children’s Christian Formation classes, Kindergarten through 5th grade, prepared and packed 120 lunches for the congregation’s “Second Home” children. Second Home is a before and after-school program. Many of these children’s parents are the working poor in our community the main Elementary school that most of the children attend have a population 97% living below poverty. The kids learned about hunger in their community and that Jesus calls us all to care for one another. They had a wonderful time using their hands for God’s work!
The children and youth at First English Lutheran Church in Richmond held a bake sale in front of the church, with all proceeds going to Lutheran Disaster Response for hurricane Harvey and
Hurricane Irma relief. Located off Monument Avenue, there’s always a lot of foot traffic around the church and so the weekend bake sale did quite well. The kids and some adults who helped were all excited to see and serve their neighbors and to raise funds to help those in need!

Serving Those Who Serve Us

The congregation of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Martinsville took advantage of this year’s Week of Service to show appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the staff (doctors, nurses, lab techs, housekeeping, etc.) of SOVAH Health – Martinsville (formerly Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County.) Members of the congregation baked, packaged and then delivered over 30 dozen cookies to different stations within the hospital on Sunday, September 10.

Members of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Petersburg participated in the Week of Service on September 9th and 10th. Members reached out to their community by cleaning up outside the church, cleaning and weeding out a community flower bed, picking up trash along the city streets, making blankets for shelters for battered women, and baking cookies for our Local Heroes, our firefighters, and policemen.


Caring for Our Neighbors

St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Norfolk had plenty of ways for youth and adults to serve their community during the Week of Service. Members at St. Timothy put together blessing bags, created plarn from plastic shopping bags to be crocheted into mats for the homeless, baked cookies with homemade thank you cards for the local fire station, collected books to be donated to a local prison ministry, and picked up trash off Kempsville Road.

At St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Williamsburg, members were invited to gather between services to make table centerpieces for The Harbor, a daytime place of respite and food for those who are homeless, as well as placemats to be used at the Community of Faith Mission shelter. They also are serving with Habitat for Humanity by hosting a ‘house shower’ for three of ten homes currently being built in the Grove area of James City County. Over the next five weeks, items needed will be collected for these homes and blessed in an upcoming Sunday service.

St. Philip Lutheran Church in Roanoke got to visit their neighbors, residents of Melrose Towers, an independent living for individuals who are 62 years of age or older, or who are disabled. There they served a picnic lunch and played bingo together!

Members of Christ Lutheran Church in Richmond created over 100 cards for Minnick Schools, packed snacks for Moody Middle school, worked together on quilts crafted for Lutheran World Relief, and made hat and scarves for Moody Middle School for the coming season! Christ worked in partnership with Thrivent to fulfill needs for Lutheran Family Service for their foster kid fundraiser this fall as well.

First Lutheran Church in Portsmouth members Week of Service event worked in conjunction with the Red Sand Project, helping to bring awareness to human trafficking. With a sidewalk intervention, members at First found cracks in the brick sidewalk and filled those with red sand. This project reminds us that we can’t merely walk over the most marginalized people in our communities.

The Week of Service also serves as a great way for volunteers to aid some of Virginia Synod’s mission partners. This year at Camp Caroline Furnace thanks to staff alumni donations, the camp was able to rent a stump grinder for the weekend. Over the course of a weekend, a group of seven volunteers removed roughly 80 stumps and 15 dead trees from our Cabin Village!

Serving Together

As a part of the ELCA’s God’s Work Our Hands Day of Service, ten Lutheran Churches Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Waynesboro, Christ Lutheran Church in Staunton, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lexington, Grace Lutheran Church in Waynesboro, Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church in Staunton, Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg, Redeemer Lutheran Church in McKinley, Salem Lutheran Church in Mount Sidney, St. James Lutheran Church in Fishersville, and Zion Lutheran Church in Waynesboro – and St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic, Waynesboro, teamed up to Rise Against Hunger on Saturday, September 16th.

All eleven Shenandoah Valley area congregations donated funds to purchase over 15,000 meals, and 100 volunteers from nine of the eleven congregations gathered at Augusta Expo in Fishersville to assemble, weigh, seal, and pack the dehydrated meals of rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, and supplemental vitamin powder, which are sent to one of 74 countries around the world to feed children at any one of hundreds of schools. For many children, it is the only meal they will receive during the day.

Rise Against Hunger leaders shared with the church volunteers that in the last couple of years, progress has been made against hunger and malnutrition in the world. While four or five years ago 1.25 billion people lived on less than $1 per day, that number has been reduced to approximately 800 million; still a significant number, but greatly reduced in a relatively short period of time. The food for this event will likely be routed to children and schools affected by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean, most likely to the nation of Haiti. Rise Against Hunger is a worldwide organization which not only feeds children and adults, but provides clean water, and education and training to help children and adults learn necessary work skills that together provide “life-changing aid.”

Thank you all to everyone who participated in the Virginia Synod Week of Service! Every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life – flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.

By | 2017-09-25T13:27:24+00:00 September 21st, 2017|News|Comments Off on Virginia Synod Serves 2017

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