The 2019 Synod Assembly will be held in Wheeling, May 31 -
June 1, 2019. Here are some things you might like to know.
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.
Focus of the Assembly
The 2018 Synod Assembly ordered that the Bishop prepare an
agenda for the 2019 assembly that
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
- 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 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
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
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.
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
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
Federal Chaplaincy: Ministry at the
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
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.
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.
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
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
- Others were amended to facilitate the work of the
Synod Council and bring it in compliance with
- 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.
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
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
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