Synod Assembly in action
Synod Assembly
of the
West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod

The West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod gathered in assembly, 1-2 June 2018, under the theme...

Federal Chaplaincy: Ministry at the Margins

Under the Theme

The Synod Assembly moved quickly into its theme with a Bible study on Acts 10 lead by our keynoter, The Rev. Eric Wester, Director for ELCA Federal Chaplaincy. Wester explored the relationship between Peter and Cornelius, a centurion of the occupying Roman military. On the second day, Wester gave a keynote lecture on Federal Chaplaincy that included short video clips of ELCA federal chaplains talking about their work and experiences. Among them was our own Chaplain Anthony "Tony" Setley, a chaplain with the National Guard.

The Rev Carl Ames and The Rev. Rick Egtvedt reported at length on two programs that connect the life of our congregations with those related to military service: Centurion Connection and Partners in Care.

Setley, reporting on his work as chaplain of the Lutheran Campus Ministry at WVU, drew parallels with his service as a National Guard chaplain and talked about how the two dovetail in strengthening service to each constituency.

Also a federal chaplain, The Rev. Linda Muhly, chaplain captain of the Clarksburg Composite Squadron, West Virginia Wing, Civil Air Patrol, served as lector for the evening mass along side The Rev. Ron Kreiensieck, our retired Navy chaplain.

We also welcomed visitors to our assembly: Chap. Faith of the WV Air Guard and Chap. Tiffany from the Martinsburg VA.

Bishop Riegel made a point of reminding the assembly that federal Chaplaincy includes prison ministry, CAP, and VA ministry and that there is room for volunteer ministry by pastors and laity within these arenas.

Budget Concerns

Synod Treasurer Joseph Solberg prepared a message on the fiscal situation in the synod and gave an outstanding report highlighting the threats and offering different paths that the synod could pursue. He argued that the sorts of changes that could reestablish a balanced budget, if those changes were made on the expense side, would constitute a major philosophical shift in the synod's self-understanding and its understanding of its mission. You can download Solberg's message here.

Several questions were asked during the Q&A phase of Solberg's report. The bishop suggested that it was within the rights of the assembly to set a time (e.g., in a few months) for a meeting of the Synod Assembly to take up this question of the budget in detail without other business. It was moved on the floor to instruct the Synod Council to take such action. After debate and amendments, it was voted, instead, to make the fiscal questions surrounding the budget the principal focus of the 2019 Synod Assembly, to instruct the bishop to prepare an agenda that places consideration of the budget early in the order of business to allow ample time for consideration, and to have the Synod Council prepare a white paper on the fiscal situation and possible courses of action, disseminating the same well in advance of the 2019 Synod Assembly.

Legislative Action

Video-conferenced Synod Assembly

A resolution submitted to Reference & Counsel by The Rev. Linda Muhly to instruct the Synod Council to investigate and implement a plan for holding Synod Assembly by multi-site video-conference in alternating years was moved following consultation between the mover and the committee. Floor debate followed with amendments being offered and adopted. The amended resolution failed to pass.

United Lutheran Seminary

The Rev. Jerry Kliner moved a resolution in response to the report of United Lutheran Seminary. It was referred to Reference & Counsel which, later, proposed two amendments, only one of which was adopted by the assembly. The resolution expressed concern over the state of affairs at ULS, referenced concerns raised by the 2016 Synod Assembly, and called upon this synod's ULS board member to share those concerns with the ULS Board of Directors. The resolution was adopted.

Veep & Churchwide Assembly

Early in the assembly, when the report of the Nominating Committee was given, a question was asked from the floor why there was no nomination (or election) for a lay male voting member of Churchwide Assembly. The chair explained that the ELCA Constitution stipulated that, unless the synod determine otherwise, the Synod Vice President served a lay voting member ex officio, and, given that the sitting veep is male and there is a 50-50 male-female requirement upon the lay voting members, that means no male would be elected by WV-WMD. In response, the Resolutions Committee offered a resolution instructing Synod Council to prepare the necessary legislative proposal for consideration at the 2019 Synod Assembly to determine that the Synod Vice President is not an ex officio member of the Churchwide Assembly. After debate, marked by some confusion over the consequences of a motion to refer, the resolution was adopted.

Commending Chap. Setley

Resolutions Committee offered a resolution commending Chap. Setley for his work at the Lutheran Campus Ministry at WVU. The resolution was adopted.

Governing Documents: Amendments

An addendum to the Bishop's Report included over twenty proposed changes to the governing documents (constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions) of the synod.

  • Some of the changes were amendments that employed recommended, but not required language in the Constitution for Synods authorized by the Churchwide Assembly.
  • One local change to a non-required provision of the constitution received a first reading. This proposed amendment, relating to the quorum of the Synod Assembly, will come to the 2019 Synod Assembly for a second reading and action.
  • Several bylaws were struck to eliminate redundancies or remove impediments to the work of the Nominating Committee.
  • Others were amended to facilitate the work of the Synod Council and bring it in compliance with representational principal.
  • Repeal of all continuing resolutions related to the Seed Planted Fund, allowing Synod Council to develop new policies in light of current realities.

The Committee on the Bishop's Report moved adoption of recommended amendments en bloc. The motion was adopted. The revised governing documents can be downloaded from the Member Portal. A list of the amendments can be found here.


Sixteen people were elected from a field of fifty-five nominees. To access the list of those elected, visit out elections page.

Shepherdstown Fun

The Eastern Panhandle Cluster arranged a dinner on Thursday evening for early arrivals. Although planned as an outdoor feast at a local farm, no one complained when it was moved to the St. James, Uvilla, fellowship hall in anticipation of foul weather. The food was ample and tasty and the company excellent. One can't beat pot-luck cooking served up by members of local congregations. Later that evening, a good number of folks took advantage of the Shepherdstown "Ghost Walk." A few attendees mentioned exploring the local historic sites.

Assembly Minutes

The draft minutes are under review and have been referred to Synod Council for action. So, posting of the minutes will have to wait until they have been approved by Synod Council. Synod Council's next meeting will be August 4. In the meantime, you can watch the video recording of the business sessions of the assembly on Youtube by clicking here.

Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports: Online

This was out first year employing, an on-line platform, for our Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports. Due to an unexpected hospitalization, not everything got uploaded as soon as we would have liked. Still, the platform shows promise. We'll be working with it over the course of the year to see how we might better use it for both Synod Assembly and other applications.

The Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports can still be reviewed by downloading the PDF version here. Warning: It is a 10 MB download, but, in addition to reports and things directly related to the Synod Assembly, it also includes the directories of the synod.

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