Faith formation is No. 1 Four speakers spoke of Christian faith formation in a changing world at the Virginia Synod Assembly May 30June 1 at Roanoke College in Salem. Bishop Jon Anderson of Southwest Minnesota Synod: God is working to reform us as individuals and communities. Our heritage should serve as apostolic fuel to drive us to mission. We have to learn new languages to communicate. Prof. Susan McArver of Southern Seminary: We’ve got to pay attention to our children more than one day a week. At home and in church, every thing we do is faith formation. History gives us a story, not a blueprint. Prof. David Lose of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.: The universal decline in church attendance is not your fault. You are just as hard-working, creative and faithful as generations before. In this age of digital pluralism, most of us are drowning in information but stories are important. We have moved from an age of duty and obligation to an age of discretion---what do I get out of it? Prof. Andrew Root of Luther Seminary: Although families once were the center of life, that has changed and parents don’t understand their children, so how can they pass the faith along? We need people who will share their experiences with young people. Bishop Anderson, speaking as ELCA representative: The ELCA is healing and growing stronger but it is operating with dramatically less people. As a companion synod with Virginia, Southwest Minnesota is looking at more links, like social media. Bishop Jim Mauney said the synod is preparing for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. He said the synod has raised over $211,000 toward a goal of $250,000 to buy mosquito nets to stop malaria in African countries. Fifteen congregations received chocolate kisses and hugs for collecting $1,000 for the drive. Roanoke College President Michael Maxey welcomed almost 400 Lutherans to “your collegiate home away from home.” He said almost $375,000 has been raised toward a goal of $500,000 for a Luther Plaza, to be the main entrance to the large Cregger Center under construction on campus. p.2 Synod Assembly actions Sonia Williams-Giersch was ordained at the annual, festive service at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke. Formerly an AIM and lay minister at Gravel Springs/St. John’s near Winchester, she was called to continue there as pastor. Three clerical members elected to Synod Council for three-year terms are Pastors Chris Carr, Salem, Mt. Sidney; Kelly Derrick, St. Philip, Roanoke, and Meredith Williams, Ascension, Danville. Dana Cornett, Muhlenberg, Harrisonburg, was re-elected. Bishop Jon Anderson and Gwen Arneson, vice president of Southwest Minnesota Synod, dedicated a tree planted near the synod office in memory of Pastor Chip Gunsten, a close friend of Anderson in seminary and longtime assistant to Bishop Mauney. The Assembly approved a 2015 budget of $1.77 million, up 1.95 percent from the current schedule. Most of the increase is in slight growth of the amount sent to the ELCA. The synod has turned the corner in financial contributions, said George “Skip” Zubrod, synod treasurer. Two resolutions were approved without dissent. One called for congregational programs to prevent child/youth sexual abuse in the church. A resolution on aging was amended to memorialize the ELCA to update a 1978 statement on aging as a social message to address senior challenges in the 21st century. Will Southard of Salem, Mt. Sidney, president of the Lutheran Youth Organization, presented the Youth Assembly report. His successor is Maren Corliss, St. Timothy, Norfolk. A Synod Council report said it was unable to make a recommendation on a task force proposal on gun violence because of “the range of issues” but they will be discussed at a fall retreat and hopefully reported to the 2015 Assembly. Bishop Mauney presented retirement plaques to Keith Brown, veteran financial adviser, and Sue Dugas, synod office manager for 20 years.