Synod Cont. Ed Event

West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Page Contents

Don't Forget About Cont. Ed

Don't know how we lost it, but, somewhere along the line, we dropped the link to the Education for Clergy & Laity page. Now it is back. Be sure to check it out. There are plenty of things happening inside and outside the synod.

Supply Preaching

Compensation Schedule Addendum

An addendum to the Supply Preaching Compensation Schedule has been posted on the Supply Preaching page. The addendum covers how to handle compensation when remote and hybrid services are provided.

On the List?

If you are clergy available for supply preaching/presiding does +Riegel know? With the pandemic and pandemical conditions changing from week to week, preachers identifying themselves as available (or not) for supply work has been a moving target. If your availability changes, let +Riegel know. To check and see how you are listed, visit the Supply page.

Clergy Compensation Guideline

The clergy compensation guideline for 2021 has been approved and is not posted. Go to the Clergy Compensation page for details on compensation, family leave, sabbatical, and Rostered Leader Debt Reduction.

Erzkus & Erzkus

Clergy Transition

Roster Changes

Welcome: Erzkus & Erzkus

The Lutheran Campus Ministry at WV announced July 22 that it was calling not one but two chaplains. This followed with a further tease on July 23 in which the new chaplains told us something about themselves but did not give us any names. On Saturday, July 24, the chaplains, The Revs. Courtney and Ben Erzkus introduced themselves via Facebook Live.

Ben and Courtney will be sharing the work at the Lutheran Campus Ministry at WVU, each working half-time. This unusual arrangement brings the complementary skills of two people to bear on the ministry.

Both are 2015 graduates of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg. Both also had internships that involved campus ministry, Courtney at Nebraska Lutheran Campus Ministry-Lincoln (serving the University of Nebraska) and Ben at Grace Ev. Lutheran Church (serving Appalachian State). Courtney also served a YAGM year in Palestine (no, not Wirt County). Ben spent his early childhood in Franklin (yes, Pendleton County). If you've put two and two together, you've figured out that Ben's father is The Rev. Chuck Erzkus who served Upper Tract, Franklin, and Minnehaha Springs.

If you have Facebook, you can still watch a recording of their Saturday, July 24, Facebook Live video. Also check out their teaser from Thursday, July 23.

They will officially begin there duties on August 1. Move-in day(s) start August 12, and classes begin August 18.

Installation: Setley

The Rev. Anthony "Tony" Setley was installed as pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Morgantown, WV, on Sunday, 25 July 2021, at 2:00 PM, Bishop Riegel presiding and preaching. Setley served previously as the chaplain of the Lutheran Campus Ministry at WVU.


Welcome: Tom Darr

The Rev. Tom Darr has accepted a call to serve as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Vienna, WV. The following is expected to appear in the Christ Lutheran Church newsletter.

Pastor Tom Darr was born August 16, 1950 in York Pa. He graduated for Dallastown Area High School in 1968.  He graduated from York College of Pennsylvania in 1974 with BS degree in accounting. Then in 2000 he received his Master of Divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, which is now a theological school of Lenoir Rhyne University.

But prior to graduating from seminary Pastor Tom married Elizabeth in 1995 and brought together a blended family with five children. Since that time, those five children have started families and Tom and Liz are the proud grandparents of 16 grandchildren.

Pastor Tom's first call in ministry was in Clearfield St. John Lutheran Church. While there he was involved with the youth, community service, as well as, serving as a volunteer chaplain at the local hospital. In the fall of 2002, he was called to Angel of Joy Lutheran Church in Lufkin Texas. Angel of Joy had just come off mission status shortly before his arrival, so a large portion of his duties were pastoral guidance, both spiritually and administratively. Also during his stay the two hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, came to the area which affected his congregation. In the summer of 2006, Pastor Tom was called to Flohr's Lutheran Church outside of Gettysburg Pa. His vision there was to journey with them in discovering how God's Word was redefining their purpose and ministry. While there Pastor Tom also served  the greater community. He was instrumental in starting a backpack Ministry for the local elementary school that both fed and clothed needy children. He was involved in a cooperative inter-denominational midweek youth group called Slice of Faith, as well as cooperative confirmation program of 10 churches with six pastors and 25 youth. He was also a member of a local Lions club and served as an associate chaplain at Gettysburg Hospital. After Flohrs, Pastor Tom, completed a brief pastorate at Trinity Lutheran in Topton Pa., whose purpose was to help them discern their future. Recently Pastor Tom came to St John Center Lutheran Church in East Earl Pa. Once again, his primary vision was to guide them from a sole pastorate to a shared ministry as they are living in the latter part of their life cycle.

Pastor Tom enjoys music of all kinds, plays guitar whenever possible. He loves the out of doors, taking walks with Elizabeth and just being in the mountains.. He is a trout fisherman and a diehard Atlanta Braves fan. He is an avid reader, has his own website, where he posts a daily devotional under . His most favorite thing though is spending quality time with the love of his life Liz.

Thomas and FeliciObituary: Don Thomas

The Rev. Donald Thomas transfered from the Ecclesia militans to the Ecclesia triumphans on the morning of 12 July 2021. Thomas served his first call on our territory (when it was still the W.Penn-WV Synod of the LCA) at the Aurora-Redhouse Parish. He concluded his earthly ministry at St. John's Meadow Mountain, Swanton, MD, serving as the part-time pastor for the last several years. In between, he served many years as the Dean of the Senior Camp, Camp Luther. He was also active in social ministry, serving on both the Glade Run and Community Lutheran Partners boards of directors. A standing-room-only memorial service was held for Thomas at St. John's Lutheran Church, Addison, PA, on Saturday, 17 July 2021,with Bishop Riegel preaching and presiding. The published obituary follows.

The Rev. Donald Roy Thomas, age 75, died July 12, 2021.  Born in Waterman, PA to Alvin L and Margaret M Thomas.  Preceded in death by son Roy D., sister Pauline (Frank) Payak, brothers Lawrence W (Geraldine) and A Earl (Geraldine); brother in law Gerald Fender; nephews Daniel and Gary.  Survived by wife Judith Charlesworth; brother Robert E; sisters Patricia Fender and Ruth Jarells; and many loved nephews, nieces, friends, and “unadopted” children.

Don graduated from Thiel College in 1968, received his Masters of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia in 1972, and Masters of Health Administration in 1991. His first parish was Red House, MD and Aurora,WV where he served for 6 ½ years;  and his second was Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Beaver, PA where he served for 29 years; and in retirement served several congregations in Garrett County, MD the last was St Johns Lutheran Church Meadow Mountain, Swanton, MD.  Don was very active with Camp Luther, Glade Run Foundation, and Community Lutheran Partners.

In lieu of flowers donations in his memory may be made to Camp Luther, PO Box 893, Franklin, WV 26807, or Glade Run Foundation, 30 Glade Run Drive, Zelienople, PA  16063.

Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Installation: Harden

The Rev. Emily Harden was installed as pastor of The Church of the Covenant, Grafton, WV, on July 11, at 3:00 PM. Per Presbyterian protocols, the service was attended by the Presbytery's Commission on Ministry. Bishop Riegel was also in attendance. Pr. Harden serves the only federated congregation in the Synod, a federation of a pre-existing Lutheran congregation and also a Presbyterian congregation into one shared entity. This was established in 1974, roughly twenty-five years before the Formula of Agreement, the instrument of ELCA-PSCUA/RCA/UCC full-communion. Bishop Emeritus Dunkin served the Church of the Covenant as his first call.

Evan ChristensenIntern Changes

Christinsen Replaces Christensen

It was reported some time back that Hillary Christensen completed her internship with the Mountain Lutheran Parish only to be succeeded by Evan Christensen. It seems in order to introduce everyone. So, here's what Evan has to say about himself.

My name is Evan Christensen. I grew up in the “good life” of Nebraska, but I have loved and deeply appreciated my time in wild, wonderful West Virginia. We arrived in Pocahontas County a year ago when my spouse, Hillary, began her internship with Mountain Lutheran Parish. I continued my ministry studies remotely through United Lutheran Seminary last year, and now our roles have reversed. My capstone internship began in June and is set to conclude in May 2022. I am serving and learning with the congregations of Mountain Lutheran Parish and the Episcopal community, Chapel on the Mount, at Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

Prior to answering God’s call to ministry and moving to Gettysburg, PA to attend seminary, I completed my undergraduate studies at Midland University (formerly Midland Lutheran College) in Fremont, NE. I majored in special education and youth and family ministry. Certified to teach k-12, I worked mainly with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade learners as a public educator. In the summers of college, I worked at a Lutheran summer camp. Much of my time was serving as a confirmation camp site coordinator. In this role I had many opportunities to support the ministries of both camp counselors and the ministry leaders who brought their confirmands to camp. I had the opportunity to witness a glimpse of Camp Luther this summer, and it brought back many fond memories of encountering Christ in the sacred experiences uniquely present in outdoor ministry.

Additionally, I am an avid fan of board games—both playing and collecting (we have more than two bookshelves full). Back in Nebraska, Hillary and I hosted a monthly game night which brought upwards of thirty people to our small, two-bedroom apartment. We continued this tradition in Gettysburg until Covid-19. Since moving to West Virginia, only the Revs. Felici and family have shared in our hobby. Before internship ends, I hope to share my appreciation of cardboard, meeples, and tokens with the folks of Mountain Lutheran Parish. We also look forward to the return of monthly game nights in the future.

My other interests include lamenting over the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhusker Football team, celebrating the success of the UNL Volleyball team, and exploring the countless outdoor adventures of West Virginia--hiking, biking, climbing, and camping! I am deeply thankful to have (at least) two years to experience all the wilds and wonders of this amazing place.


Cochran starts at Coop

Vr. Lucas Cochran has begun his one-year internship at the Lutheran Cooperative under the supervision of Pr. Sean Smith. Cochran's immersion in parish ministry will include work with Messiah Lutheran Church, Moundsville, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, New Martinsville, Trinity Lutheran Church, S. Wheeling, and St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, Benwood. He introduces himself in the coop newsletter, writing

My name is Lucas Cochran I am thirty years old and a lifelong ELCA member. I grew up in northern Virginia in a ELCA church that my entire family attended since it’s founding. I have been living in Richmond Virginia since 2009 when I moved to attend Virginia Commonwealth University. While there I studied to get my bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security and in Religious Studies. While attending college I met my wife Wendy and we have been married since May of 2019.

I started my candidacy process in becoming a pastor in 2017 and it began with attending Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond VA. After two years attending Union, I transferred to United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg PA to finish my Masters in Divinity and I have loved every moment of my education. I am an individual that loves to learn and grow in my ministry by engaging with those I am ministering to in new, unique and interesting ways. This can range from zoom calls, new styles of bible study, and challenging congregants to ask questions and really kick the tires of their faith and see what it is all about. With me faith formation is not about relearning and refreshing oneself in the information they have learned about since they were a kid, but rather to ask the questions that can help one learn more about their faith and what it means to be an ELCA Lutheran. In my style of teaching and ministry I always try to make it as fun and as memorable as possible for all of those involved so that they will never forget what they learned and feel eager to share what they learned with others.

I have spent a lot of time working and volunteering with those in retirement communities and who are transitioning from an independent living situation to a more assisted living ranging from multiple different degrees of needed assistance up to and including working with patients who have developed memory issues and need supervision. Before the covid19 pandemic I spent at least a few hours a week working with individuals and their families who needed assistance in understanding these change of life events and them wanting to know how their faith in Christ was going to help them during these difficult times. I have sat with loved ones as they have passed away, I have helped grieving spouses as they have slowly watched their partner decline either mentally or physically, as well as helping those who have forgotten much about their lives due to a medical condition rediscover the love, hope and joy that comes from the faith that God has blessed all of us with.

My wife Wendy and I along with our two dogs Ke$ha and Eminem are excited to start this next chapter in our lives as I take on the role in the coming year as your Vicar. I am someone who always has an open-door policy and loves talking with people about anything that might be bothering them either in their religious life or in their personal life, as well as helping spread joy when good news happens to someone and they need to share it. As stated previously my style of ministry is meant to be fun, engaging and a little bit different so if anyone ever has a question or needs support when it comes to understanding anything about what it means to be an ELCA Christian I am always available to listen and grow with you when it comes to learning more about Christ, the Gospel and everything else in between. I look forward to meeting everyone in the Co op and for all of us to learn from each other and develop as a church united in the faith that Christ bestows upon us all.


A new Pastoral Transition & Vacancy page has been uploaded. You will find there guidance related to transition (coming and going) as well as multiple forms that should be completed as part of a transition process. The "going" (i.e., the pastor is leaving the call) has been completed in the upload. The "coming" (i.e., a pastor is moving into a new call) is still being formatted; the old information is here until formatting on the new page is complete.


Pastors looking to enter mobility (whether intrasynodical or extrasynodical) should contact the bishop. The Rostered Ministers Profile (quondam "Roster Leader Profile" and "mobility form"), other forms, and supporting instructions are available at's Rostered Ministers page. Click on the link you will find there, and it will take you to your login screen. If for any reason, you need your Rostered Leader Number, contact the Bishop.

vacancy tableOpportunities for Ordained Ministry in WV-WMD

Are you a member of the clergy of the ELCA (or full-communion partner) interested in learning more about WV-WMD (or do you know someone who might be? Drop us a line. You can email the +Riegel at or call the office (304-363-4030). There is plenty to commend service and life in our mountains and in our valleys. Like Nebraska, it's not for everyone, but, for those who aren't afraid of an adventure, we have a great mix of challenge and gift. A list of openings reviewed by visiting our Pulpit Vacancies page (or click on the table at right). You will find there opportunities for congregational ministry and also any specialized ministries that might be open at the moment.

WV-WMD Pastors' Letter on Racism

Thirty-seven pastors of the WV-WMD Synod, joined by two pastors from other judicatories, subscribed to a letter published June 4, addressing racism and stating, "we call home that racism has no place in our congregations or communities in which we live." For more information, click here.


A constellation of pages related to COVID-19 are available on the Synod website. You can access them all through the lead page by clicking here. Most importantly, a page dedicated to reopening recommendations is linked from that page.

Rostered Leader Debt Reduction

The WV-WMD Synod has conducted a rostered leader debt reduction program since 2002. Through this program, pastors and deacons with educational debt can be assisted with payment on the principal. The Rostered Leader Debt Reduction Fund is supported by voluntary contributions from individuals, congregations, church-related auxiliaries, and a line item in the synod budget. The amount in the fund is expended each fiscal year as direct payments to lending agencies. Guidelines for the Rostered Leader Debt Reduction Program can be downloaded here.

Apply for RLDR Grant

The grant cycle for FY2020-2021 is now closed and distributions have been made. All clergy with educational debt are encouraged to review the guidelines (supra) and make application if they meet the application criteria. RLDR can be downloaded here. The next cycle (FY2021-2022) will open December 2021.

Donate to RLDR Fund

Donations to the Rostered Leader Debt Reduction Fund can be routed through your congregation or sent directly to the Synod at the following address with a notation on the memo line indicating "Rostered Leader Debt Reduction Fund:"

West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod
℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church
309 Baldwin Street
Morgantown, WV 26505

West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, ℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church, 309 Baldwin Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
304-363-4030  +