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Virginia Synod Serves “God’s Work. Our Hands.” 2018

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This week marks Virginia Synod’s 6th annual Week of Service, which coincides with “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday, the ELCA Day of Service on Sunday, September 9, 2018. This week of service provides the opportunity to celebrate who we are as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor.
From September 9th through the 15th, all congregations are 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. The Week of Service is an opportunity for everyone to intentionally invest time in service projects outside the walls of the church, and to further share their stories of service with the Synod! Today we’re highlighting some of the many ways congregations in the Virginia Synod have served their communities.

Rise Against Hunger Serving Together

As a part of the Week of Service, 88 volunteers and contributors from 11 Lutheran Congregations from the Southern Valley Conference (Bethlehem, Waynesboro; Good Shepherd, Lexington; Grace, Waynesboro; Mount Tabor, Staunton/Middlebrook; Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg; New Mount Olive, Fairfield; Pleasant View, Staunton; Redeemer, McKinley; Salem, Mt. Sidney; St. James, Fishersville; and Zion, Waynesboro), as well as 1 Roman Catholic Church (St. John the Evangelist, Waynesboro) and The Legacy at North Augusta retirement community, gathered at Kate Collins Middle School in Waynesboro to assemble 23,325 meals with Rise Against Hunger. The meals, which consist of rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, and a vitamin supplement packet, will be distributed in Haiti to children and adults.

St. Luke Lutheran Church in Richmond also had a team of 70 volunteers working together to package 23,544 meals for Rise Against Hunger as part of the Week of Service. The congregation raised $7400 to purchase the food items and supplies needed for this project. This was the fourth year in a row that St. Luke has completed this hunger project with the help of congregation members and friends.
Rise Against Hunger is an organization committed “to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable and creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources,” provided the materials and organizational expertise to help these groups of volunteers complete their task.

Making a Difference

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Wytheville, Rural Retreat Lutheran Parish, and Walker Mountain Parish got together on Sunday, September 9 to serve at the Minnick School in Wytheville. 25 total volunteers came together from these congregations. The volunteers had lunch together at Holy Trinity before heading over to Minnick. The group worked on landscaping, interior painting, and kitchen organization in the Minnick School’s two buildings. The principals of the two programs worked alongside the group, so it was a great opportunity to get to know them and their schools more.

Give people a fish, and they eat for a day. Give them a fish pond, and they can eat indefinitely! At St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Williamsburg, members generosity raised $2,990 to purchase community fish farms through Lutheran World Relief! God’s Work, Our Hands!

Blessings Packed

Between Sunday services, about 40 members and friends at Grace Lutheran Church in Chesapeake packed 120 Blessing Bags for local distribution and 50 School Kits for distribution by Lutheran World Relief (LWR).

Members at Apostles Lutheran Church in Gloucester gathered together to work on a variety of different projects, including making health kits for a mission trip to Guatemala, cleaning out a fish pond for a member of their congregation, and cleaning up two yards for some clients of Bay Aging, a local agency that cares for the elderly. The group started the day with their annual Worship in the Park at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester. While the day started off rainy it cleared up enough for the group to go out and work. Despite the rain, it truly was a wonderful day for all who came out to serve!

Backyard Beautification

19 volunteers from Our Saviour Lutheran Church in  Christiansburg worked together to weed, landscape, and beautify at the Lutheran Family Services Group Home in Roanoke. The group was inspired to do this project when they learned that the deck was where residents spent the majority of their day and yet there was only one chair for four total residents. “As we were hard at work, weeding and planting a conversation was overheard between Asher and Kylen Porter and their dad Nathaniel about what the purpose of weeding was. After Nathaniel explained why we were pulling the weeds, he patiently showed his sons the best way to get all of the weed including the roots out of the ground. We were all delighted at the end of the day, when one of the residents came out on the deck and promptly sat in one of the chairs, clearly enjoying the new furniture!” Pastor Wanda Childs shared.

Caring for our Neighbors

At First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Richmond, about 20 children and adults got to work making and signing cards for the Homebound. It was raining outside the Sunday of their project, but sunny inside as they lived out God’s Work, Our Hands. Adult volunteers at First English made and served a meal to 15 residents at Safe Haven on Hull Street Road. It is a 21-bed, free-standing facility that offers transitional housing with comprehensive and integrated health and support services for individuals suffering from severe mental illness coupled with chronic Homelessness.

Volunteers at Bethel Lutheran Church in Winchester gathered in between worship services to celebrate God’s Work, Our Hands with several projects serving others in their community. Members made sandwiches and laundry kits for the homeless that we gave to Congregational Community Action Project (CCAP), a local homeless services organization. Folks at Bethel Lutheran also made brownies and thank you cards for local first responders in honor of September 11. “It was a wonderful intergenerational event and what was really special was seeing the policeman and the firefighter in our congregation feel appreciated by their congregation. It was really special.” Pastor Dave Young shared of their project.

Serving in Many Ways

At Christ Lutheran Church in Roanoke, about 80 participants set to work on 6 different service projects that let everyone serve in ways that were meaningful to them. Some members at Christ bagged cookies to sell at a Steel Drum concert fundraiser for Congregations in Action (CIA), a partnership of seven downtown and Old Southwest congregations that serve low-income children in Roanoke City schools. Other members of all talent levels got together to knit and crochet prayer shawls.

Youth and adults at Christ rolled up their sleeves and got to work mulching their Community Playground, building handicap accessible picnic tables for the Lutheran Family Services Adult Day Center, and sprucing up the “Light House” where Family Promise of Greater Roanoke guests are served. Family Promise of Greater Roanoke empowers homeless families with children to achieve sustainable independence through a community-based response. Youth from Christ Lutheran had a fun afternoon playing bingo with residents at Raleigh Court Nursing and Rehab.

Thank be to God to all 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 | 2018-09-20T10:33:00+00:00 September 13th, 2018|Blog, News|Comments Off on Virginia Synod Serves “God’s Work. Our Hands.” 2018

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