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Dear Partners August 2021



A major goal in the long-range plan adopted in November 2019, Forward Together by Grace, was to “Maintain, renovate, or expand our facilities to provide a safe, pleasant, and productive setting to meet the needs of faith, community, and service.”

On Sunday, July 11, 2021, we took a major step toward that goal when we approved engaging and funding ESa Architects of Nashville, Tennessee to help develop a Master Plan for the renovation of facilities, primarily the Administration and Education building and the sanctuary. The Master Plan Task Group will work closely with the architects on the scope of work and to review the fee schedule.

Church buildings are not necessarily important in and of themselves; they aren’t the church. The church is the people of God gathered around Word and Sacrament, called to love each other, our neighbors, and to continue Christ’s mission to make God’s love and saving grace known in the world.

The buildings, “the facilities,” provide space to be about mission in the specific place God has called us, downtown Winchester, Virginia, the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

The buildings offer a place:

  •  to worship that reflects the glory of God, and teaches through liturgy, Scripture, symbol, stained glass windows, and paraments, the story of God’s love for all.
  • sufficient space for ministry; a place to grow in faith and in relationship with God and each other, in classrooms, rehearsal space, and gathering spaces for all ages.
  • to which we can welcome others who are searching for a church home, or searching for a loving and welcoming God.
  • to provide for the needs of the community, and for non-profit service groups to meet.
  • to be equipped and sent out in mission in the world.
  • that is safe and accessible for all, maintained so that it lasts for generations.

In the coming months, in partnership with the Facilities Master Plan Task Group and Congregation Council, the architects will be engaging the whole congregation: members, leaders and staff in a process of a needs assessment of the facilities. All will be encouraged to participate when called upon. As we prepare for an expected building project, plans will also begin taking shape for a capital campaign to help fund this exciting endeavor.

Going forward there will be updates in TIDINGS, Constant Contact, and special mailings.

Your partner in ministry,

Martha Miller Sims, Pastor

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

Posted by Martha Miller Sims

The Rev. Martha Miller Sims, M.Div., has served as pastor of Grace since July 2002 and Senior Pastor since 2013. She is an alumna of the University of Arizona having completed a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies in 1988 and a Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary, Columbia, South Carolina in 1994. Pastor Sims was ordained in 1994 and first served the Gravel Spring/St. John Lutheran Parish in Frederick County, Virginia. In 1998, she was called to serve two half-time positions as Campus Pastor at James Madison University and as Associate Pastor of Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Prior to seminary, she served as Minister to Youth and Young Adults at Dove of Peace Lutheran Church in Tucson, Arizona. She received a certificate in Spiritual Direction from Sursum Corda in 2009 and training as a coach for congregations and clergy in the Virginia Synod. She also serves as Dean of the Northern Valley Conference of the Virginia Synod. Her husband, The Rev. George L. Sims, is a retired pastor of the ELCA.

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