It’s hard to believe, but we’re entering our third Fall season in the pandemic era. We’re continuing to learn and grow into a “new normal,” and seeking to reconnect after a significant period of isolation. If you’ve been feeling disoriented or disengaged, consider this your invitation to dive deeper into the Muhlenberg community. Below, you’ll read about many ways to worship, learn, serve, and live out Christ’s love both in-person and online. Prayerfully consider how the Holy Spirit may be stirring in your life, calling you to engage in Christian community this Fall. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with our Fall Kick Off events, with a special worship service and activities on September 11 and our church picnic on September 18. We look forward to living in God’s promises together! - In Christ, Pastors Lauren Eanes and Alex Zuber
As our country moves into the next stage of this pandemic—one where we are learning to live with the presence of COVID in our midst—we as a congregation are also shifting our COVID response. Given that the vaccination rate in our Muhlenberg community is high, and that the people of our congregation are committed to being responsible when transmission is happening (by wearing masks after an exposure, and staying home when sick), our new policy is: As long as COVID infections are widespread in our community, our mask policy wording is “welcomed and encouraged.” While masks will not be mandatory, we strongly recommend mask wearing and staying up-to-date with vaccinations and boosters. We request that anyone who is ill in any way, or who has tested positive for COVID, stay home and worship remotely.
We are blessed to have a phenomenal staff at Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, and we’ve got some exciting news and updates for the Fall!
The congregation’s generous response to the "Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow" campaign has allowed us to move forward with building the foundation for an even stronger ministry! We’re thrilled to announce the hiring of a Nursery Coordinator, who will be with us every Sunday to care for our littlest ones. Shayla Forrest will begin Sunday, September 11. Shayla brings a background in church based childcare, and has worked in a childcare setting since she was a teenager. This semester she is in the Master's of Education program at JMU, studying to be a Language Arts teacher. Welcome, Shayla!
Another goal of our campaign was to fund a Youth Minister position. We advertised the position, interviewed several candidates, and have not yet found the right candidate to be our Youth Minister. But given the importance of this ministry, Congregation Council has asked Pastor Alex Zuber to steward our youth ministry for this upcoming school year. Pastor Alex’s responsibilities will shift to focus primarily on Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministries from now through May 2023. Pastor Alex is uniquely gifted to take on this role, given his extensive experience in Synod Youth Ministry and Campus Ministry, and his passion for journeying with young people through seasons of discernment. In the spring, council will reassess and determine next steps forward in oursearch for a permanent Youth Minister.
The final goal of our campaign was to hire a part-time Small Group Ministry Coordinator. Congregation Council and the Personnel Committee are developing a job description, and will begin the search for candidates soon.
For the past five years, Lori Reich has served as the volunteer Building Use Coordinator, navigating all the details of church and support groups and other organizations that use our space. As she steps down from this role, our Administrative Assistant Liz Engleking will now be serving as our Building Use Coordinator. Thank you, Lori, for your faithful service!
Elizabeth Williams has served as our Music Minister for 15 years. In that time, she has brought her incredible gifts of skilled musicianship, dedicated leadership, and deep faith to her work among us. We are so greatly blessed by Elizabeth each and every week. Elizabeth has announced her intention to retire at the end of May 2023. After 46 years as a professional organist, this is a well-earned event! We will have many opportunities over the coming months to thank and celebrate Elizabeth. We are grateful that her advanced notice allows the congregation to discern and plan for the future–and we will also enjoy every single note of music she shares over the coming months!
Services at 8:30am and 11:00am (11:00am Service live-streamed) We have services in the Sanctuary at 8:30 am and 11:00 am each Sunday. Many wish to remain online for their health and safety, and we affirm this choice with our live-streamed Wellstream service at 11:00 am (streamed to our Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.) When worshipping at home, you are welcome to receive Holy Communion. We invite you to have bread and wine/grape juice ready before the service. However, as we believe within the Lutheran tradition that “Holy Communion takes place in the assembly,” and specifically that “the gathered people of God celebrate the sacrament,” we ask that you only partake of the sacrament if you are worshipping with us LIVE at 11:00 am.
Kids & The Nursery - Children are always welcomed and encouraged to be a part of our worship services, and their presence and participation is important! Activity packs are available in the Gathering Area that include quiet activities related to worship and the weekly Scripture reading. We are returning to a weekly children’s message in worship as well. For our very youngest, quality childcare is provided each Sunday in the Nursery 8:15am-12:30pm, so little ones will have a safe space to be during worship and the Christian Formation Hour. Serving in Worship - Our liturgy is, by definition, the “work of the people!” There are lots of ways to get involved in worship, and many find that serving in worship is a meaningful part of their Sunday morning. No experience necessary and we’ll provide all the training! Contact Mary Elizabeth Skinner (email@example.com) to learn about being a Lay Assisting Minister. Contact Kathy Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to serve as an usher, lector, or crucifer. And talk to Communication Minister Christian Perritt (email@example.com)if you’re interested in learning how to run sound or the livestream.
Choral Evensong at Emmanuel Episcopal Church – Sunday, October 2, 5:00pm Muhlenberg’s Choir will be the guest choir at this service of sung prayers, hymns, and anthems.
Blessing of The Animals – Sunday, October 9, 2:00pm Held annually around the Feast of St. Francis, bring your beloved pets to worship outdoors as we give thanks for all creatures great and small!
Christian Formation On Sundays
Our main education time happens on Sunday mornings from 9:45-10:45am for all ages. Adult classes are offered with hybrid options for participants to join in-person or via Zoom. Zoom participants can log in with the Sunday Mornings at Muhlenberglink: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84731416878
Pre-K to 5th Grade - Muhlenberg Activities Center (MAC) and Outside (weather permitting) - Led by Children’s Minister Ashley Saunders, kids will have an opportunity to grow together through the “Living the Word” curriculum, which follows the Narrative Lectionary. Kids will enjoy learning biblical stories, doing activities to put the stories into action, and building strong relationships. Older students will have the opportunity to help share the stories with younger students to cultivate a collaborative community.
6th - 8th Grade Youth Group and Bible Study (Confirmation) - Augsburg Room Led by Pastor Alex, our confirmands will grow together in their understanding of faith and what it means to live out our baptismal calling. This class will offer opportunities for learning and engagement in and out of class as students participate in a year-long game. We'll work together to outsmart Lartin Muther, Martin Luther's diabolical twin who wants to undermine the Lutheran movement. We need the help of our youth because we've unfortunately discovered... The Bishop is Missing! Join us for a family meeting September 11 at 9:45 am to learn more!
Faith Lens Senior High School and Adult Class - Kairos Room Youth and adults partner in an intentional, intergenerational discussion about the Narrative Lectionary text for the day, and lively conversation ensues! Explore the background and context of Biblical texts, and consider how it applies to our lives today. Convener: Jean Helmick
Devotional Classics Adult Class - Nielsen Room In this interactive class for adults of all ages, participants read and discuss Christian literature. From St. Augustine and Teresa of Avila to Thomas Merton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, explore short selections of classic writing that spark conversation on Christian life. Convener: Tilton Weaver
Be a Leader! Share the Christian faith with others as a teacher or convener of a Sunday school class. All you need to lead discussion and activities are provided, as well as training and coaching along the way. Talk with Ashley Saunders (firstname.lastname@example.org) or one of the Pastors if you’re interested in learning more.
Christian Formation On Wednesdays
Wednesday Morning Bible Study - This class gathers each Wednesday from 10:30-11:30am via Zoom (link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/200491556) to dive deep into the upcoming Sunday’s scripture text. Experience the sweep of God’s salvation story over the course of the year by attending each week, or drop in occasionally as your schedule allows. No previous experience in Bible study necessary, just a desire to learn. Starts September 7. Convener: Pastor Lauren Eanes
Faith on the Road - Wednesday nights in October, all ages are invited for this series highlighting faith and travel. We’ll start at 6:00pm with a meal, then hear the stories of travelers who encountered God in new ways while on the road. Special activities for kids will be offered. Speakers include:
Philip Quoqui, a Liberian native and EMU peace and justice grad student, will speak about his family’s experience escaping the 1990s Civil War in Liberia.
Russ Eanes, author of “The Walk of a Lifetime: 500 Miles on the Camino de Santiago,” will share his experiences on a pilgrimage in Spain.
Laura Everett, author of “Holy Spokes: The Search for Urban Spirituality on Two Wheels,” will share how bicycling can become a spiritual practice.
Pastor Alex Zuber will offer reflections on “Holy Stories in Holy Lands”, sharing experiences of Egypt where the Coptic Christian and Muslim faiths grew side by side.
Elementary - Fun events are scheduled each month! Join your friends and make new friends, too.
Roller Skating at Funky’s – Sunday, September 11, 4:00-5:30pm - A private party just for us! Muhlenberg will have the rink all to ourselves. Skate rentals are covered, and snacks and drinks will be provided. This is open to all families of kids from Pre-K to High School.
First Annual Muhlenberg Trunk or Treat – Saturday, October 29, 4:00 - 6:00pmJoin in a time of fun and celebration for the Muhlenberg community and our neighbors! From 4:00-5:00pm, children of all ages will have the opportunity to “trick or treat” around cars parked in the Ott St and MAC parking lots. Adults and groups are encouraged to sign up and use their creativity to decorate their trunks and have a chance to win the Trunk Cup. From 5:00-6:00pm we will have snacks, hot cider, games, and a dance party! Invite your friends and neighbors to mark their calendars now, and contact Ashley Saunders (email@example.com) if you’d like to volunteer.
Middle School - Activities and outings for our middle school students will be communicated and planned through our Confirmation program on Sunday mornings to build fellowship and expand on what we’re learning in class. But 7th and 8th graders should mark their calendars now for the Virginia Synod Event “Lost and Found” happening at Eagle Eyrie on November 18-20. More details to come!
High School - Our High School students will be a part of the Faith Lens class on Sunday mornings, studying the Narrative Lectionary text for the day and discussing how we can live out and apply its message to our lives. Beyond Sunday Mornings, we'll have some exciting Youth Group events. Mark your calendars for the dates below and we’ll decide together what else we hope to do this fall!
September 11 - 3:00pm Ice Cream at Kline's; 4:00pm Muhlenberg Skate Party @ Funky’s
October 9 - 2:00pm Blessing of the Animals Service, 3:00pm Service Project (animal related)
November 6 - 12:30pm Lunch together after church; 2:00pm Escape Room
December 4 - Time TBD for ADVENTure Sunday
Join the Team! Do you like working with children and youth? Help make a difference in the lives of young people by joining the children’s or youth ministry committees. We also need volunteers to serve alongside our Nursery Coordinator each week in the nursery. Contact Ashley Saunders (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Pastor Alex (email@example.com) for more information.
Lutheran Campus Ministry
Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) at Muhlenberg serves students attending James Madison University, Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite University, and Blue Ridge Community College. All are welcome to join us, even if you do not have a Lutheran background, as we strive to build a community where all people are seen, heard, and valued. LCM also strives to connect students with faculty and staff who are Muhlenberg members to form friendships and support that transcend the campus and classroom.
LCM members have access 24/7 to the campus room at Muhlenberg to gather, study, eat, and be our community center. We gather regularly throughout the semesters for food, fellowship, and conversations about faith and life. For more information, follow along with us on Instagram and Facebook @LCMatMLC, or contact Pastor Alex Zuber (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord! Choirs are open to all, even if you haven’t participated in the past. If interested, contact Music Minister Elizabeth Williams for more information (email@example.com). Adult Choirs
Celebration Singers (10th grade and up) - rehearses every Tuesday evening from 6:30-7:30pm, and sings on Sundays at the 8:30am service. This choral group focuses mostly on unison singing, with occasional part singing. Musical diversity is key, and a “joy of singing” is your only requirement!
Sanctuary Choir - (10th grade and up) - rehearses every Wednesday evening 6:30-7:45pm, and sings on Sundays at the 11:00am worship service. This group will sing a wide variety of styles, ranging from Renaissance to Contemporary choral works. Former choral singing is graciously welcomed!
Cherub Choir - Sundays, November 6 – December 18, 12:15 – 12:45pm. For ages 4 - grade 2, led by Rachel Peters. The Cherubs will practice in preparation for singing in worship during Advent and Christmas Eve. Rehearsals will take place in the Music Room.
Tweens and Teens - Sundays, November 6 – December 18, 12:15 - 12:45pm.For grades 3 - 8, led by Music Minister Elizabeth Williams.The Tweens and Teens will practice in preparation for singing inworship during Advent and on Christmas Eve. Rehearsals will takeplace in the Sanctuary.
Gloria Dei Ringers - Tuesdays, 7:00 - 8:30pm - Led by Handbell Director Kath Wissinger. *Note - the September 6 rehearsal will be an “open ring” night! Anyone interested in ringing or learning more about bells is welcome to attend. Rehearsals will take place in the Sanctuary.
Service and Advocacy
“Knowing Our Neighbor” - a Local & Global Missions Ministry project - It's Monday and it's been a long day at work. You go to pick your child up at daycare and the first thing you hear is “What's for dinner?” You wish someone would wave a magic wand and dinner would just appear. Well Muhlenberg, the Local and Global Mission Ministry team invite you to help make some magic happen! On Monday, September 12, in conjunction with the ELCA’s Day of Service, Muhlenberg will provide a bag dinner for the families and staff of Second Home Learning Center. We invite everyone to be part of the magic:
On Sunday, September 11, write an encouraging message on the white bags we will use for the dinner. Bags, markers and suggested words of encouragement will be in the Gathering Area. We need to decorate 350 bags, so do as many as you can!
We received a Thrivent Action Grant to help with purchasing hot dogs and carrots, but to help stretch our budget we are asking for donations of boxes of variety snack-size chips and bags/boxes of cookies that we will repackage. Your donation may be dropped off anytime by September 11.
Help us welcome our neighbors! Join us September 12 anytime between 3:00-6:00pm to put the bag dinners together and to hand them out to happy parents and kids from Second Home. Our goal is to let the parents, children, and staff of Second Home know that we are happy they are on our campus and we pray they have a terrific school year.
If you have questions or are able to volunteer September 12, please contact Karen Thomsen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Local & Global Mission Committee - Muhlenberg’s Local & Global Mission Committee coordinates outreach, service, and advocacy in both our local community and around the world. Through sharing Mission Moments in worship, overseeing various collections for community organizations throughout the year, and planning service events and mission trips, Local & Global Mission introduces our congregation to our neighbors and their needs, and provides opportunities for our congregation to serve. All are welcome to join this Ministry Team and/or help with the important work of Knowing Our Neighbor and Serving With Them! The Local & Global Mission Committee meets on Ministries Night, the second Monday of each month at 7:00pm. Contact Council Liaison Karen Thomsen (email@example.com) or Vicki Heitsch (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Patchwork Pantry Collection - One of our ongoing projects is a monthly collection for Patchwork Pantry, a local food pantry. On the first Sunday of each month, we collect non-perishable food for Patchwork Pantry in the Gathering Area. The Pantry is also in need of paper products (paper towels, wraps, food storage bags, toilet tissue, etc.), cleansers (dish, laundry, all purpose), diapers, and all types of hygiene products.
Faith in Action - Faith in Action is a coalition of diverse faith and community organizations in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County working together to make change and justice in the Shenandoah Valley. Muhlenberg partners with 25 other local congregations and organizations to address community issues such as criminal justice and housing. Contact Cathy Copeland (email@example.com) or Nancy Martin-Finks (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more!
Comfort Makers - Comfort Makers meet every Thursday starting September 8 at 8:00am in Wayland Hall. If you can tie a knot, want to help keep your neighbors warm, and have an hour or 3 to spare for others, come join us Thursdays in Wayland Hall (downstairs in the church). We work from about 8:00am-12:00pm, but we welcome you for any time during those hours. If you haven't tried it, come by and see what we're all about. All are welcome! For more information, contact Linda Morrison (email@example.com).
Prayer Shawl Group - The prayer shawl group will meet at 6:30pm on Wednesday, Sept 7, then move to their regular meeting time, the first Saturday of the month at 10:00am starting in October. Join us in the Gathering Area to create a prayer shawl through knitting or crocheting. No experience necessary; we'll teach you basic stitches! This prayerful ministry and spiritual practice reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy. If you desire a prayer shawl to give to someone who is ill, recovering from an illness, healing from broken bones, grieving a loss, parent with dementia, awaiting a birth, in need of comfort, new birth, a grandmother, birthday, wedding, on a journey, graduation, etc. please contact Jackie Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lay Communion Ministry - Each month, those who are homebound and unable to attend worship can receive communion delivered to them by a member of Muhlenberg. Often a special relationship forms with saints of our community through these visits! The time commitment is about an hour each month, and you can schedule the visit when it’s convenient for you. This is a great activity for a parent and kid to do together. All training and supplies are provided. Contact Linda Morrison to learn more (email@example.com).
Diamond Jubilee Luncheon – October 23, 12:15pm - Join us for an annual gathering and celebration of Muhlenberg members aged 75+. Want to help make it happen? Provide a ride for a senior, assist with set-up and clean-up, or help with planning and coordination. Contact Linda Morrison (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stephanie Hudy (email@example.com).
Care Committee and Shepherd Groups - Our Care Committee and shepherd groups strive to help our community be connected and cared for in all seasons of our lives. Participants write notes, make phone calls, and plan events to share Christ’s love, especially with those who are sick, grieving, or going through other life transitions. The Care Committee meets on Ministries Night, the second Monday of each month. Contact Linda Morrison, Stephanie Hudy, or Sandy Randolph (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Fellowship Committee - Our Fellowship Committee plans all the fun! Help coordinate events like the church picnic, Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, and whatever new, creative ideas you’d like to see happen! Contact Barbara Roadcap (email@example.com) or Meg Wightman (firstname.lastname@example.org) to join the team.
“Mule ‘N Bergers with Cheese” Kickball Team - Yes, Muhlenberg has an adult kickball team! Games are played on Tuesday nights through the Fall at Ramblewood Athletic Complex. Even if you haven’t played kickball since junior high, come on out to play or cheer on the team. Contact Russell Presnell (email@example.com) for details.
Property, Finance, and Administration
Property Work Day - Saturday, October 8, 8:00am - 1:00pm We have a beautiful facility and invite all Muhlenberg members to help keep it that way! Join in the next Property Work Day to help with small projects to keep our building and grounds in tip top shape. We also have a lot of fun working together! Contact our Sexton, Jeff Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org), for more information.
Property Committee - The Property Committee stewards the resources we have in our building and grounds, overseeing repairs, maintenance, and general upkeep. If you have the knowledge of a handyman or simply willing hands to help out, you’re invited to join this team! The Property Committee meets on Ministries Night, the second Monday of each month, at 7:00pm. Contact Steve Reich (email@example.com) or Shane Doyle (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Endowment Committee - This committee is responsible for the Mission Endowment Fund, which promotes the faithful Christian stewardship of all resources by encouraging personal wills and estate plans that reflect love for family, neighbor, and God's work throughout the church. If you have a finance background, or a willingness to learn, this could be a great place for you to serve! The committee meets quarterly. Contact Doris Stone (email@example.com)
Columbarium Committee - The Columbarium Committee oversees the administration of columbarium niches and records, and maintains the columbarium itself. This is an important ministry that honors the saints who have gone before us. The committee meets quarterly. Contact Pastor Lauren for information (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Communications Committee - "Communications" at Muhlenberg can mean so many things! From the live-streamed services we broadcast every Sunday to the emails and mailers our congregation receives to the social posts we send out to keep our church family up to date - the communication from Muhlenberg to its members is robust and engaging. If you would like to use your passion, expertise, and creativity to help tell God's story and the story of our church community, contact Communication Minister Christian Perritt (email@example.com)!
Office Volunteers - Parish Administrator Linda Depoy oversees a mighty team of dedicated volunteers who answer phones, make copies, proofread The Chimes, fold bulletins, file documents, and do a thousand other little things that help keep our church running smoothly. If you’re interested in a regular weekly volunteer commitment, or providing occasional, as-needed assistance, contact Linda Depoy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Women in the Gospel of John"- Bible Study by Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick - Tuesdays, September 6, 13, 20, 27, and Oct. 4 - 7:00-8:15pm via Zoom - The Gospel of John is filled with stories of Jesus' encounters with women – Mary, the Mother of Jesus; Martha of Bethany; the Samaritan woman at the well; Mary Magdalene; and many others. From these experiences, we learn much about Jesus (Martha tells us he is "the Messiah, the Son of God"!) and much about how Jesus calls us all to follow, to witness, and to lead (Mary Magdalene is the first to proclaim: "I have seen the Lord!"). Expanded from Pastor Kelly's Power in the Spirit Workshop, this study invites participants to dig deeper. Participants are welcome to attend just one session or all five. Register at vasynod.org/event/women-in-the-gospel-of-john.
"Saving Us" Book Study - Thursdays in October - 7:00-8:00pm via Zoom, led by Deacon Phyllis Cox - Individuals and congregations are invited to read Katherine Hayhoe’s book, Saving Us. Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian who is a climate scientist. Sessions will be recorded and shared with those who register. Register at vasynod.org/event/tapestry-book-study-saving-us/.
All Lutheran Women's Retreat - November 3 - 5 - Held at the Natural Bridge Historic Hotel and Conference Center, the theme is “Bloom Where You Are Planted - Thriving in Times of Change”. The retreat leader is Donna Marie Todd, motivational speaker, master storyteller, and singer. Several members of Muhlenberg (including Kathy Thompson and Judy Wilfong) are part of the planning team and would love to tell you more! Registration deadline is October 4. Registration information is available at the Connection Center or you can get more information and register online at sites.google.com/view/alwretreat.
Use these quick links to connect with Muhlenberg Lutheran Church and our staff!