Pastor’s Message for March

I’ve Had It.

I’m tired of hearing some Christians whining that they’re being persecuted for their religious beliefs. Usually, this comes when they don’t get their way on a  public issue. They have no idea what persecution really is all about. Go someplace like Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Tibet, Myanmar, and countless other places in the world where your religious affiliation is tantamount to a death sentence. Now, that’s persecution.

I’m fed up with blowhards taking the media spotlight and claiming to hold “the Christian world view.” As if there were some agreement among all Christians as to what the faith teaches about their pet issue(s). There has been precious little that the church has agreed on in its two thousand years of existence. I doubt that there is such unanimity today. All I know is that the version of Christianity they speak of bears no resemblance to the faith I treasure for life and trust for salvation.

I’m underwhelmed by those who claim that a particular behavior or societal construct is somehow justified as holy because “it’s always been that way.” As though there hasn’t been any variation in cultural preferences or technological advancement over the years. They’re usually just fighting against change – particularly change at the expense of their own comfort or privilege.

I’m turned off  by the religious figures who claim to speak for all of us, yet do so in ways that violate the very laws of God that they seek to impose on everyone else – false idols, slander, gossip, coveting, stealing, even killing. Not only do they sully the holiness of Judeo-Christian ethics, but they make a mockery of our faith that encourages others to dismiss it as irrelevant, illogical, and impotent.

I’m done trying to reason with the closed-minded and hard-hearted. I’m not going to spend any more precious energy and time trying to understand the incomprehensible. I’ll no longer tolerate someone speaking publicly who claims to speak for me but expresses a corrupted gospel.

The gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims hope in the face of despair; peace instead of violence; freedom to those in bondage; joy where there is mourning; love wherever there is hatred; and life in the midst of death.

Too often, I’ve left others speak for me in the public square. Perhaps you have as well. All that the world knows about our faith is framed by this perversion that gets all the attention. So, I’ve had it.

How about you?

Shalom, Pr Mark

(inspired by Rev. Sarah Withers Lewis’ Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post, dated January 24, 2015)

No Nurture & Nourish Today; Yes for NOVACO Mtg tonight at 7 p.m.

Support Stop Hunger Now

Emmanuel is making it annual support for Stop Hunger Now (SHN), a nonprofit organization that seeks to end world hunger, a major focus during Lent. SHN messages are in the Lenten Daily Pause E-mails, and a fundraising effort to raise $20,000 is underway. Read more

Save the Date! Vacation Bible School begins July 20

Online registration for this year’s Vacation Bible School–which will take place July 20-24, 2015 from 9:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.–begins the week of February 22. Children from age 4 through 5th grade can register. Early bird registration (until June 1) is $45. Teen and adult volunteers are needed!  

Contact Kathy Uffelman for more information.


URGENT: NOVACO Support Team Meeting Feb. 26

A new NOVACO family is moving into the local condo soon! The current Emmanuel support team must expand or our ability to support a new family is at risk.  Learn how you can help on Thursday, February 26 at 7:00 p.m.  


NOVACO provides transitional housing and mentoring for women who have suffered physical or psychological abuse.  

Nearly 20 years ago, Emmanuel provided seed money ($40,000) for the purchase of a local condo to be used as a part of this program.  We have supported every family who has lived in this condo since it’s purchase.  Families stay for approximately two years and then are expected to become independent.

Our current family will “graduate” in the mid-May/late-June time frame. We will totally refurnish the condo and help a new family move-in. After that, we will support the family in conjunction with their NOVACO case worker. The needs of each family are unique, and we rely on the Spirit working through us to meet these needs. Please join us next Thursday to see what role you might be able to play, be it large or small. Contact Jane Holtorf with questions by e-mail or at(703) 938-5917   

Taking Ash Wednesday to the streets

On Ash Wednesday, February 18, Emmanuel Lutheran Church will be offering Ashes and Dashes, a new approach to a centuries-old Christian tradition, in its church parking lot from 6:45-8:30 a.m.

Emmanuel is part of a new nationwide movement that has clergy and lay people stepping outside of churches to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by in parking lots, at transit centers and on street corners with ashes and encourage them to gain a better sense of self by examining their humility and mortality, and seek renewal.

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. Ashes and Dashes seeks to reach those who have lost their connection to a church and provide them with an opportunity to reconnect, and reach people who have never participated before.

“Ashes and Dashes is about bringing the important traditions of our faith out from behind church walls and into our daily routine,” says Pastor Mark Edwards, who is introducing the ministry this year. “People are busy, and we need the church to evolve in new and non-traditional ways if we ever hope to reach those who don’t regularly attend worship services. Everyone needs reminders of forgiveness in the fast pace of our daily lives.”

Contact Emmanuel’s church office for more information about Ashes and Dashes at 703-938-2119 or visit their website,


Tawana Jacobs
Communications Director
Emmanuel Lutheran Church
301-325-8687 – Cell
703-938-2119 – Office

Blog: Italian Soul Food

Here’s another great recipe from Care for Creation team member Desiree DiMauro.  She says:  “One of my favorite dishes growing up was Italian sausage and pepper sandwiches. How can a vegetarian have all of that tastiness and none of the meat? Here’s the vegetarian version; we call it “Italian soul food” at our house!”


  • 1 package Smart Sausages Italian Style (available at Whole Foods, Safeway, online, etc)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • Hot dog buns


  1. Slice peppers and onions into long, thin strips
  2. Put 4 tbsp olive oil into each of two frying pans and heat. Fry Italian sausage in one pan and peppers and onion in the other (until the pepper and onion are very soft)
  3. Place sausage into hot dog bun and top with peppers and onions. Enjoy!

Lent 2015 at Emmanuel

Churches like Emmanuel may be good at making members, but Jesus wants the making of disciples! How are you moving your faith forward during this Lenten season?

Please keep reading and learn more about all Emmanuel is doing this year!

Lenten Daily Pause E-mails

Lent is a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. How are you reflecting? If you’re interested in receiving a very short e-mail containing a brief Scripture reading and a point to ponder in prayer, contact Zoe Plaugher, ELC’s Media Specialist at

Wednesday Night Lenten Soup Suppers and Prayer Services

Lenten Soup Suppers begin promptly at 6:00 p.m., and conclude with a prayer service from 6:45-7:30 p.m. During this year’s prayer services, we will reflect on our vocations as ministries offered to glorify the Lord.  We will light candles and lift Prayers Around the Cross–especially for those whose work extends Christ’s work. Health and Healing, Education and Business Management are among the vocations that will receive special emphasis.

Volunteers are still needed to help with the Soup Suppers. Sign-up to drop off a pot of soup or help with set-up/clean-up:

Ugandan Kids Choir Perform Wednesday, March 18

The Ugandan Kids Choir–a ministry of Childcare Worldwide–will be performing at Emmanuel in place of the traditional prayer service on Wednesday, March 18 at 6:45 p.m. Come out and enjoy the evening and support Childcare Worldwide’s mission to end child poverty. Learn more about the choir.

Stop Hunger Now

Every year, Emmanuel comes together with others in the community to package meals for Stop Hunger Now (SHN), a nonprofit organization that seeks to end world hunger. The church will be supporting this organization’s valiant effort during Lent by including SHN messaging in the Lenten Daily Pause E-mails and with a fundraising campaign. This year’s goal is to raise $20,000. Fundraising is underway. The big community packing event is on April 18. If you haven’t already done so, pick your Chinese takeout shaped donation box in the church foyer. Contact Carolyn Staska or Gretchen Thiele for more information.

Lenten Excursions

In addition to the Wednesday night Soup Suppers, we are offering several opportunities to move your faith forward this season in a Small Group setting. Read the brief descriptions and register here:

Get Up and Move with Bike & Bible

Each Saturday at 8:30 a.m., depending on the weather, Andrew Buck will lead a group a cyclists on a short journey during which they will ponder over a question or two related to a shared scripture, parable, or teaching of Jesus. Cyclists will gather at the end of the path to share insights and join in a closing prayer.

Personal Coaching

Did you know there are personal trainers to help with spiritual fitness? In addition to Pastor Beth and Pastor Mark, Emmanuel members are willing and able to mentor your discipleship growth.  Do you want to have a stronger prayer life?  Do you need new ways to exercise forgiveness?  Contact Kathy Uffelman or the pastors about your goals, and ask for a faith mentor!

Men on the Move

On Friday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m., Brad Reed and Malcolm Uffelman will lead interested men in a faith-building discussion over a meal in the Fellowship Hall. Cost is $5 per person, and men (high school and older) are invited to share the evening and explore discipleship.  Note: This could start a new ministry at Emmanuel—as different generations of men help build faith together!

Prayer Exercises

Beginning Wednesday February 25 at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and continuing for five weeks, Kathy Uffelman will meet with participants in the Chapel to lead them in new prayer exercises and introduce new prayer forms. Each session lasts 45 minutes.

Prayer Walkers

Similar to Bike & Bible, June Fraim will guide participants on a walk each week at a time & place of their choosing. Prior to meeting each week, walkers will be emailed a suggested meditation for their walk. Contact June for more information.

 40 Days with the Lord’s Prayer

Sunday, February 22 at 4:30 p.m., and continuing for six weeks, Pastor Mark will lead a Bible study and discussion about the “Book of Faith 40 Day Lenten Journey.” Participants will also engage in the daily practice of meditation.

Praying the Lenten Hymns—Will You Come and Follow Me?

Sunday, February 22 from 12:45-1:30 p.m. and continuing each Sunday for six weeks, Rod Harbin will challenge participants to work through the text of some of our most meaningful Lenten hymns, learn about their writers, and discuss how these hymns can still inspire and guide today’s disciples. Handouts will be provided. Each session will begin with the sharing of table fellowship (bring a bag lunch).

 Book Studies to Move & Challenge Growing Faith

Beginning the week of February 23 on Mondays from 6:30-8:00 pm, at the Amphora Restaurant in Vienna (a la carte) or Wednesdays from 7:30-8:45 p.m. at Emmanuel (following the Soup Supper and Worship Service) and concluding the week of March 23, Pastor Beth will lead participants in a discussion about the book, “Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?”. Written by two of today’s Christian leaders, discussion topics will include Worship, Hell, Racism, Environmentalism, War, Economics, Islam, Sexuality, and more.

 If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat!

Beginning Thursday, February 19 from 6-7:30 p.m. and continuing for six weeks, Kitty Dewitt will meet with participants at Emmanuel to discuss John Ortberg’s popular book, “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Off the Boat.” In this video/book study, new insights will be gained and shared. Bring a bag supper!

Moving Through the Good News—According to John

Each Thursday during Lent at 1 p.m. in Emmanuel’s Library, Nedda Davis will lead participants in a discussion about The Gospel of John over a shared lunch.

Register here for one of these Small Groups or contact Kathy Uffelman with questions.

New Info: Inclement Weather Policy

Emmanuel Lutheran Church (ELC) Inclement Weather Guidelines

The goal of this policy is to protect the safety of ELC members and guests coming to the church for worship, activities or meetings.

  • Emmanuel Lutheran Preschool follows the FCPS weather policy.
  • Sunday worship services are cancelled by the senior pastor. If in question, call the church to confirm or look for a notice on the church website or Facebook page.
  • Church activities for children and youth are cancelled if Fairfax County Schools (FCPS) are closed due to weather conditions. Look for a notice to confirm cancellation on the website and Facebook page. If FCPS declares a delayed opening, afterschool activities are not affected. 
  • Church meetings and other adult activities also adhere to the FCPS weather policy. However, if roads are safe for automobile travel, the church parking lot is accessible and the church office is open, groups may meet at the discretion of their leaders. The leaders will communicate with you directly regarding weather cancellations and scheduling updates.

Contact the church office at 703-938-2119 with any questions.

Blog: Eggplant-Mozzarella Melt

Here’s another great recipe for your vegetarian resolutions!  Desiree DiMauro says, “I found this tasty recipe for an easy “burger” grill in the summer issue of Martha Stewart Living and made a few changes and additions (in parentheses).”

Eggplant-Mozzarella Melt


  • 4 slices of eggplant, 1 inch thick
  •  1 large red onion, sliced in ½ inch rounds (I used sweet onion, like Vidalia)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing (I used olive oil spray or mist)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ pound mozzarella, cut into slices
  • 4 brioche buns, preferably with sesame seeds, halved (I used King’s Hawaiian hamburger rolls)
  • 4 small leaves of Bibb or Boston lettuce (I used spinach, because that’s what was in my frig, and all worked out OK!)
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (we added slices of tomato too)


  1. Preheat grill. Spray eggplant and onion with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill onion until it’s softened.
  2. Grill eggplant on one side. Flip and add cheese to new side. Grill until cheese is melted.
  3. Layer basil, eggplant with cheese, onion, tomato, and spinach on roll and enjoy!