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

Nominations: Public Input Phase
The Nominations Committee is now accepting recommendations from synod lay and clergy members for various positions to be elected at Synod Assembly 2019. Visit the Nominations Committee Page for more information.
The 2019 Synod Assembly will be held in Wheeling, May 31 - June 1, 2019. Here are some things you might like to know.

Focus of the Assembly

The 2018 Synod Assembly ordered that the Bishop prepare an agenda for the 2019 assembly that
  • placed the financial matters of the synod as the primary focus of the assembly,
  • placed presentation of the budget proposal early in the assembly, and
  • allowed ample time for debate on the budget.
In addition, the 2018 Synod Assembly ordered that the Synod Council prepare a white paper on these financial matters and distribute said white paper to the congregations of the synod prior to the assembly with sufficient time for congregational conversation.

In preparation for the 2019 Synod Assembly, the synod hosted a mission support symposium, an invitation having been issued to pastors and congregational leaders involved in financial and stewardship matters, in November 1018 at St. Paul, Morgantown. A "keynoter" has been secured to present an analysis of congregational and synodical trends. Agenda drafting is now in its third stage, valuable input having been provided by the Synod Council and the hosting congregation (as well as several others). The Synod Treasurer has been assembling data for the white paper, and an augmented Synod Finance Committee will soon tackle the hard part of the project.

The 2019 Synod Assembly program will also include a series of concurrent workshops exploring different parts of the budget and connected financial matters. There may be a few workshops not connected to the primary focus of the assembly as well.

Also on the Agenda

Certain reports and activities are required by our bylaws (e.g., officer reports, specific committee reports, elections, mass, etc.). In addition, the 2018 Synod Assembly ordered that an agenda be prepared that included time for an extended report from and conversation with representatives from United Lutheran Seminary.

Unless ordered by the Synod Assembly, there are no planned reports from the many agencies and entities that have typically reported. As always, printed reports received by deadline will appear in the Pre-Assembly Bulletin. We will also be offering an opportunity to such agencies and entities to provide a link to on-line video, said link being included in the Pre-Assembly Bulletin, should an agency or entity want to prepare something in that medium for voting members (and others) to view on their own time.

Time to Think about Your Voting Members

It is not too early to be thinking about who will be your congregation's voting members. Synod Council adopted the following standing rule prior to the 2017 Synod Assembly.
Voting Members of the Synod Assembly serve as the liaisons between the Synod Assembly and the congregation that elects them. With the permission of their congregational  meeting, they are to report to the congregational meeting on the actions of the Synod Assembly and relevant points of discussion. With the permission of the congregational council, they are to report to the congregational council on the actions of the Synod Assembly and relevant points of discussion. Additionally, with the permission of the congregational council, they are to consult with the congregational council on the development of the mission support commitment of the congregation.
In light of the primary focus of the 2019 Synod Assembly, congregations should consider the liaison aspect of the voting member position, recognizing that the voting member, while not a bound delegate of the congregation, best serves when he/she gives voice to congregational concerns in the Synod Assembly and gives voice to synodical concerns in the congregation. While it is not required for this assembly that congregational treasurers, finance chairs, stewardship chairs, etc. be elected to serve as voting members, it may be advisable to elect those best able to fulfill the liaison function with reference to the primary focus of the assembly.

Nominations & Elections

The Nominations Committee Page is now up. We have eight positions to elect at Synod Assembly 2019. To find out what they are and learn about the process, visit the Nominations Committee Page. Keep in mind, this church is set up as a participatory representative democracy. Your input in the nominations process is important.

Some Deadlines

Here are some timeline items; other timeline items will be announced when set:
  • 2 March 2019 -- Nominations Committee: Publication of positions to be elected at SA2019 and solicitation of recommendations for nomination
  • 1 April 2019 -- Call of the Assembly
  • 1 April 2019 -- Nominations Committee: Closure of solicitation of recommendations for nomination
  • 21 May 2019 -- Nominations Committee: Publication of nominees for election at SA2019
  • 21 May 2019 -- Publication of Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports

More to Come

Indeed, there will be more information coming out as various details fall into place.

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.

Elections

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 Manula.com, 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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