We’re excited to hear stories about congregations who have joined in the ForwardingFaith campaign and creatively spread the good news of faith formation in Virginia during their appeals. This week we’re sharing good news from College Lutheran Church in Salem who have recently concluded their campaign!

College Lutheran Church in Salem is a congregation that holds a rich history of leadership with faith formation events in the Virginia Synod, with members like the Rev. Dwayne Westermann, the Rev. Jim Mauney, and theRev. Paul Henrickson.

Pastor Westermann served as Assistant to the Bishop of the Virginia Synod, and directed the youth ministry program for ten years. He redesigned Winter Celebration around the large group/small group model encouraging engagement of the youth with their work of faith and is currently serving as the Director of the Forwarding Faith Program. Bishop Emeritus Mauney has been an ardent support of Virginia Synod’s faith formation programs thanks to his great work in the Synod Office for nearly 30 years. Pastor Henrickson, the former Chaplain at Roanoke College served as the Program Director of Lost and Found and Winter Celebration for more than 20 years. Thanks to these members significant contributions, the congregation at College Lutheran worked to generously thank their hard work in our Synod, and to propel it for future generations.

College Lutheran has sent many young people to a variety of synod events over the years as well, and these events continue to be a critical part of their faith lives today. This year, College Lutheran had students attend 7th Day, Lost and Found, Winter Celebration, and Kairos. “The students always return from these events with a renewed vigor for living Christ-like lives in the middle of their day to day chaos with school and extracurricular activities. The Synod events help them see that church is relational, not just a Sunday ritual,” explained Grace Casola, who currently serves as Coordinator of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries at College Lutheran.

The testimonies given by the youth at College Lutheran became the catalysts for this congregation’s campaign. “While all the words of our adult leaders were taken seriously, it was when the youth spoke about their experiences that really sealed the deal in our congregation,” Pastor Henrickson, who served as the congregation’s campaign leader, explained. College Lutheran Church had a talk during the Sunday School hour during which Serena Pick, Carolina Bowen, and Kara Yates each spoke eloquently about the vital need for these faith initiatives the synod. The youth also sang several “synod songs” that they learned at the events, asking the adults in attendance to sing and make the hand motions with them.

The response has a positive one from College Lutheran, with just over $11,000 received in pledged on their pledge Sunday. “Not only was this an opportunity to underwrite the Faith Formation Programs of the Virginia Synod, additionally it gave us the chance as a parish to underscore the vital dimension of Forwarding Faith to future generations. This campaign served as a wakeup call for our parish to attend to the needs of education for the faith in all the seasons of our lives. This has been a wonderful ministry moment at College Lutheran,” said Pastor Henrickson.

The Virginia Synod celebrates the generous commitment members at College Lutheran have made to the ForwardingFaith campaign, and looks forward to celebrating with so many more congregations who have set dates for appeals of their own.