Synod Assembly in action
Synod Assembly 2019
of the
West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod

  • After Action Report
  • Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports
  • Call of the Assembly
    • Time & Place Details
  • Registration Details
    • Registering for the Assembly
    • Lodging Details
    • Meals Details
  • Focus of the Assembly
    • Keynote
    • Workshops
  • Nominating Committee Report
  • Agenda & Program
    • Worship
    • Elections
    • Legislative Work
    • Reports

A Corrected, Bleary-Eyed, Preliminary After Action Report with Elections Update

The West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod Assembly convened at Grace Lutheran Church, (Bethlehem) Wheeling, WV, on Friday, 31 May 2019, at 1:15 PM. As ordered by the 2018 Synod Assembly, an agenda was proposed to support the assembly's deliberation over the financial position of the synod. To assist in this work, Victoria Flood, Director for Mission Support, ELCA, gave a keynote address on mission support across the church and in the WV-WMD Synod. Nine workshops were also held, each examining a different set of issues related to the budget; three workshops addressed evangelism, prayer, and Bible Study, providing an alternative for those with less enthusiasm for numbers. Except for the report of the Elections Committee and a runoff ballot, the Saturday morning was spent in committee of the whole, resulting in a report that recommended

  • cuts to several lines in the proposed 2020 budget,
  • reduction of mission support share with the Churchwide expression of the ELCA,
  • elimination of budgeted withdraw from unrestricted reserves (more than $43.5K),
  • instruction to Synod Council with respect to building a budget from scratch for Synod Assembly 2020,
  • instruction to Synod Council to explore staffing reduction,
  • instruction to Synod Council to explore combining the bishop's position with the DEM position,
  • and reaffirmation with instructions with respect to the authority of the Synod Council, under the constitution, to refrain from authorizing expenditures should income be insufficient to cover expenses, prioritizing as expenditures the oversight function of the synod and the synod's support of Word & Sacrament, teaching of the faith, and care of souls.

The report of the Committee of the Whole was adopted with amendment for approval of the budget as amended per the recommendations of the Committee of the Whole. More detailed information will be forthcoming once the minutes have been reviewed.

The synod's constitution was amended to change the quorum requirement, pending ratification by the ELCA. Twelve recommendations on amendment of the bylaws were adopted.

As directed by the 2018 Synod Assembly, the assembly program included an extended presentation related to United Lutheran Seminary. This was held as an open hearing of the synod's Ad Hoc Committee on ULS and formatted as a Q&A, with questions posed by the committee and answered by the seminary representatives.

Eight elections were held. The report of those elected can be found here.

Reference & Counsel reported on four resolutions. Two were adopted: a resolution on expansion of accompaniment in the Middle East and a resolution on Synod Assembly cost control. Two were tabled, neither of which were taken from the table before adjournment sine die. To review these resolutions, visit our on-line Bulletin of Reports.

Synod Assembly Mass was held at Grace Lutheran Church on Friday evening. The largest assembly mass offering was collected for the synod's Madagascar fund. The bishop preached on the Visitation and visitation, and the hymn of the day, also on the Visitation, was a newly written work by host pastor, The Rev. Timothy Spence.

This After Action Report is, as stated in the title, preliminary. It has yet to be compared against the minutes. Please visit again to check for corrections.

Watch Synod Assembly

The Synod Assembly was live streamed, and you can watch the playback.Visit our Youtube channel, "WV-WMD Video."

Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports (Update)

The Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports was posted on May 21, as required in our bylaws. The day after publication, we received a few correction requests and a request for clarification. Those were incorporated in the wee hours of the morning of May 23. The changes of note are as follows:

  • Special Rules of Order for the Assembly--it is a mystery as to how this section disappeared. It was entered into the draft a full week before publication. Either we didn't save it properly or we accidentally nuked it while making other changes. It's important.
  • Ad Hoc Committee on Bylaws--Small inclusion in the naming of a congregation in Recommendation #12. Bylaws Committee has approved the change in its report.
  • Nuts & Bolts (Bishop's Report, Part 1)--Inclusion of two new sections in response to requests for clarification. The first, at the beginning of the report, is an explanation of the changes made for the logistics of this year's Synod Assembly. The second, at the end, is a discussion of human resources issues. If you have already read or printed "Nuts & Bolts" prior to 1:00 PM on Wednesday, May 22, you will want to take a look at the updated version posted in the Manula on-line edition.
  • Grace Lutheran Floor Plan--A map has been added so that attendees can find there way around Grace, especially when we break for workshops.


Since then, we've received requests for corrections to the directory, a new resolution, and a report from a special committee. We've also had to shuffle committee members. Lastly, some explanatory material on the assembly committees was added. If you have already printed/downloaded your Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports, you don't have to chuck it. The new and corrected material can be printed individually right from the on-line Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports. To make that a little easier, visit the Errata and Additions page. The chart on that page explains each of the changes and provides a link to the specified section. If you want that section, you can print that one section by hitting the print icon in the upper right of the page.

Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports
Read it on-line!

We're using Manula as an on-line platform for the second year. Click her to read to access it. This will work on your computer, tablet, and phone. Be advised: there will not be public WiFi at Grace. There is good mobile data. You may want to download the Friday-Only Version if you do not want to use your data.

The last update of the Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports is now available in PDF. We offer three different download versions.

  • Full Version: This is the full Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports, including the directories and statistical data for the synod. It is beefy: 214 pages and just shy of 16.33 MB.
  • Business Version (without directories and statistical data): This has all the reports from committees, officers, the Churchwide expression, etc, but not the directories. Not as beefy: 146 pages and just shy of 5 MB.
  • Friday-Only Version: For those planning on using their computers and mobile devices to access the bulletin on Saturday, this version has the organizational material and the reports and action recommendations that are scheduled for Friday. There will not be WiFi on Friday (though your mobile data plan should work). Even smaller: 73 pages and just shy of 1.25 MB.

To download, click on the linked version name.

You also have the option of printing only those pages you want. By going onto the Manula on-line platform, you can go directly to any section by clicking the item on the Table of Contents (to the left of your screen on a computer, a button labeled "Table of Contents" upper right of your mobile device screen). Each section features a print button in the upper right of the page. Hit that print button and only that section will be printed.

In general, it is advisable to have a PDF or paper back-up whenever and wherever you plan to use an on-line platform. One never knows when the internet will go out.

Call of the Assembly

Formally issued on April 1, 2019, at 11:44 PM local time...
Pursuant to B7.01 of the Bylaws of the WV-WMD Synod, the call of the 2019 Synod Assembly is hereby made: The West Virginia-Western Maryland 2019 Synod Assembly shall convene at 1:00 PM, on Friday, May 31, at Grace Lutheran Church, 16 Ridgecrest Road, Wheeling, WV.

Time & Place Details

The 2019 Synod Assembly will meet in two different locations, beginning at Grace Lutheran Church, Wheeling, WV, at 1:00 PM on Friday, May 31, and continuing on its second day at the Highlands Events Center at 8:30 AM on Saturday, June 1. All Friday activities (business, workshops, dinner, and the assembly mass) will be at Grace. All Saturday activities (business and lunch) will be at the Highlands.

Agenda & Program
May 31
1:00 PM - c.9:30 PM
Grace Ev. Lutheran Church
16 Ridgecrest Road
Wheeling WV 26003
Church Website
Google Maps
  • Opening Devotions
  • Reports
    • Secretary
    • Nominations Committee
      • including floor nominations
    • Bishop
    • Vice President
    • Treasurer
      • including budget
  • Elections
  • Keynote
  • Workshops
  • Dinner
  • Mass
  • Reception (with live entertainment)
June 1
8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Highlands Event Center
355 Wharton Circle
Suite 235
Triadelphia, WV 26059
Event Center Website
Google Maps
  • Opening Devotions
  • Reports
    • Elections Committee
      • including second ballot if needed
    • Churchwide Representative
    • Committee on the Bishop's Report
    • Reference & Counsel
    • Resolutions Committee
    • Bylaws Committee
  • Ad Hoc Committee on ULS
  • Lunch
  • Closing Devotions & Installations


On-Line Registration is closed. You may register at the door. There is a registration fee of $20 (meals and breaks not included).

Voting members are reminded of the statement adopted by Synod Council a few years ago:
Voting Members of the Synod Assembly serve as the liaison 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.

Lodging --- Important!

Lodging Options

Fairfield Inn and Suites
Wheeling Triadelphia
(adjacent to Highlands Event Center)
660 Cabela Drive
Triadelphia WV 26059
Price: $129.00 per night
Rooms must be reserved by 30 April 2019
Holiday Inn Express
45 Wayfarer Drive
Triadelphia WV 26059
Price: $129.00 per night
Rooms must be reserved by 23 May 2019
The rooms will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

Comfort Inn and Suites
675 Fort Henry Road
Triadelphia WV 26059

Econo Lodge Inn and Suites
87 Jenkins Lane
Triadelphia WV 26059

Hampton Inn and Suites
35 Bob Wise Drive
Triadelphia WV 26059

Hawthorn Suites
20 Bob Wise Drive
Triadelphia WV 26059
Microtel by Wyndham
85 Fort Henry Road
Triadelphia WV 20659

Suburban Extended Stay Hotel
40 Robinson Drive
Triadelphia WV 26059

Super 8
2400 National Road
Wheeling WV 26003
Unlike previous synod assemblies, lodging is not included in the registration process. Attendees are responsible for making their own lodging arrangements. There are several hotels at the Highlands (and nearby). Blocks of rooms have been reserved (as is often done for weddings) at both the Fairfield Inn and Suites Wheeling Triadelphia (adjacent to Highlands Event Center) and the Holiday Inn Express. If making reservations at either of these, indicate that you are attending the Lutheran Synod Assembly. The rate for both these hotels is $129 per night. Price points, amenities, and distances vary for the other hotels in the area. For those looking for bargain rates or for those looking for more stars, you have the freedom to pursue your housing as you see fit. This is the first time that we have had an assembly with so many options in the immediate area, and, given the concerns surfaced at the previous assembly about the cost of participating, we are offering everyone the freedom to pick their own price point.

Meals --- Important!

Meals will also be handled differently. The only meals provided as part of the assembly are dinner on Friday night and lunch on Saturday afternoon. Coffee etc. will be part of the assembly. Attendees are on their own for lunch on Friday and breakfast on Saturday. Again, we are offering everyone the freedom to pick their own price point. The Highlands features well over a dozen eating establishments ranging from fast food to steak houses and sushi. Include in that the number of restaurants in Wheeling and Washington, and there is not shortage for the variety of tastes, dietary needs, and budgets found among assembly attendees. Again, we hope that this approach takes some of the strain off congregational assembly budgets.

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. That white paper is still in the works.

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.


Our keynoter for the assembly will be Ms. Victoria Flood, Director for Mission Support of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Flood has spearheaded a major shift in the approach to mission support in the ELCA, supported by probing analysis for mission support trends and capacities.


The 2019 Synod Assembly program will also include a series of concurrent workshops exploring different parts of the budget and connected financial matters. There will also be a few workshops not connected to the primary focus of the assembly for those who might like to take a break from the numbers.

Nominating Committee Report

The Nominating Committee has completed its work and now waits to make formal report on the assembly floor. You may read the Report of the Nominating Committee by clicking here. This report includes info about the candidates and the offices to which they have been nominated as well as explanation of process and instructions for making a nomination from the floor.

Agenda & Program

The assembly is properly divided between agenda and program. This division will be much more obvious this year. The agenda governs the business of the assembly. The program is much larger in that it includes the agenda and all the non-business things as well. The keynote, workshops, meals, worship, and one particular committee, are all program but not agenda items. The usual reports, elections, legislative work, etc. are all agenda items.


The assembly mass will be held Friday night at 7:00 PM at Grace Ev. Lutheran Church (the site of the first day of the assembly). It is open to the public.

Devotions will be offered at the start of the assembly and again at the start of Saturday's meeting. Closing devotions will also be held at the end of the assembly, accompanied with the installation of newly elected officers, council, and committee members.


We will be holding elections for Vice President, six Synod Council Members, and one member of the Consultation Committee. For more information about elections, visit the Nominations Committee Page. The report of the Nominations Committee will be published on May 21, 2019. The report will include the names of those nominated for the various positions to be elected along with candidate information.

Legislative Work

For a resolution or memorial to be included in the Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports, it must be submitted by May 5.
The Synod Assembly is the highest legislative authority in the synod. The legislative process is highly participatory. There are four ways in which a legislative proposal can come before the assembly.
  • A voting member of the Synod Assembly may propose a resolution (through either advance submission or on the floor of the assembly).
  • A congregation may memorialize the Synod Assembly on a matter related to itself.
  • A conference may memorialize the Synod Assembly on a matter related to itself, the synod, or the larger church.
  • A committee with standing in the Synod Assembly may propose legislation as part of its report.

An online submission form for resolutions is available: click here. You will also find on that page a guideline for proper formatting of resolutions. Note well,

  • It is not required that the pastor of a congregation concur with the submission of the resolution. This question will be eliminated in future assemblies.
  • If you are a voting member submitting a resolution (and not submitting on behalf of a congregation or conference) please so indicate in the upload file submission.
  • If you are a congregational officer submitting a memorial from your congregation, please so indicate in the upload file submission.
  • If you are a conference member submitting a memorial on behalf of your conference, please so indicate on the file upload submission.
  • Synod committees bringing legislative proposals should contact the Bishop about the submission process.

If you are planning to submit a legislative proposal and would like some assistance, please feel free to contact the Bishop for referral to one of the parliamentarians.


For a report to be included in the Pre-Assembly Bulletin of Reports, it must be submitted by May 5.
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. This is programmed for Saturday morning.

Unless ordered by the Synod Assembly, there are no planned oral  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.

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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