West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod

Consultation Committee

The Consultation Committee plays a role in both conflict resolution and discipline. Though rarely activated---some have served their entire term without an activation---when it is, the work is challenging, demanding good listening and observational skills, analytic ability, a commitment to justice and equity, prudence, the ability to maintain discretion and confidentiality, and an understanding of human nature.

As with any committee in this synod, it is very helpful to have access to email, but it is not required. Because of distance, the Consultation Committee usually employs teleconferencing for its committee meetings, but work with those outside committee almost always involves travel and face-to-face meetings. When doing a site investigation, the inquest panel, an ad hoc subcommittee of the Consultation Committee, might take overnight lodging.

Consultation Committee*
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Riegel, Chair (2015-2027)
Ms. Pam Pritt (2014-2020)†
The Rev. Emilie Theobald-Rowlands (2014-2020)†
Mr. Stephen Gnegy (2015-2021)
The Rev. Sally Bartling (2016-2022)
Ms. Dinah Courrier (2016-2022)
Ms. Jane Hazer (2016-2022)
Ms. Jeanne LeMasters (2016-2022)
Mr. John Harney (2018-2024)
The Rev. Linda Muhly (2018-2024)
The Rev. Randy Richardson (2018-2021)
The Rev. Jess Felici (2019-2025)

Consultation Committee Members-Elect
(Terms begin 12/1/21)
Mr. Marvin Beckman (2021-2027)
The Rev. Karen Erzkine-Valentine (2021-2027)
The Rev. Ben Erzkus (2021-2027)
Mr. Biran Felici (2021-2027)
The Rev. Michael Wright (2021-2027)

*Prior to Synod Assembly 2021, The Rev. Diane Day took a call in another synod, creating a clergy vacancy on the committee.

†Synod Assembly 2020 was not held because of the pandemic. Consequently, Ms. Pamela Pritt and The Rev. Emilie Theobald-Rowlands terms were continued until the seating of new members by Synod Assembly 2021.

The Consultation Committee of this synod totals thirteen members. Twelve of these members are elected by the Synod Assembly. Six are lay members of the synod. Six are clergy. The term is six months, the term beginning September 1 following election. There is a one-term limit. To be eligible for election, the individual must be a voting member of a congregation of the synod. The thirteenth member is the synod bishop, who serves, ex officio, as chair.

In the Governing Documents

The specific duties of the Consultation Committee and the related general processes are codified in our governing documents.

WV-WMD Constitution

†S11.01. There shall be an Executive Committee, a Consultation Committee, a Committee on Discipline, a Mutual Ministry Committee, an Audit Committee, and such other committees as this synod may from time to time determine. The duties and functions of such committees, or any other organizational units created by this synod, and the composition and organizational structure of such units, shall be as set forth in this constitution or in the bylaws or continuing resolutions, and shall be subject to any applicable provisions or requirements of the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

†S11.02. The Consultation Committee of this synod shall consist of at least six persons and not more than 12 persons, of whom half shall be ministers of Word and Sacrament and half shall be laypersons, who shall each be elected by the Synod Assembly for a term of six years without consecutive re-election. The functions of the Consultation Committee are set forth in Chapter 20 of the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and in Chapter 17 of this constitution. The size of the Consultation Committee, in accord with  this provision, shall be defined in this synod’s bylaws.

†S17.03. When there is disagreement between or among congregations of this synod on a substantive issue that cannot be resolved by the parties, the council of an affected congregation may petition the synod bishop for a consultation after informing the other affected congregation(s) of its intent to do so. If this consultation fails to resolve the issue, the bishop shall refer the matter to the Consultation Committee of the synod, which shall undertake efforts to find an appropriate solution. If the Consultation Committee’s efforts fail to resolve the issue(s), the entire matter shall be referred to the Synod Council for adjudication by whatever process the council deems necessary. The decision of the Synod Council shall be final. (Coordiante: CBCR/ELCA 20.75)

†S17.11. When there is disagreement between or among factions within a congregation on a substantive issue which cannot be resolved by the parties, members of the congregation may petition the synod bishop for consultation after informing the president of the Congregation Council of their intent to do so. The synod bishop shall seek a timely resolution of the dispute. If the issue relates directly to the pastor, the bishop may begin the process in †S14.18.d. In all other matters, if the bishop’s consultation fails to resolve the issue, the bishop shall refer the matter to the Consultation Committee of the synod, which shall undertake efforts to find an appropriate solution. If the Consultation Committee’s efforts fail to resolve the dispute, the entire matter shall be referred to the Synod Council for adjudication by whatever process the council deems necessary. The Synod Council’s decision shall be final. (Coordiante: CBCR/ELCA 20.76,  *C15.11)

WV-WMD Bylaws

B11.01. There shall be a Consultation Committee consisting of twelve (12) persons, of whom three (6) shall be ordained ministers and three (6) shall be laypersons, who shall be elected by the Synod Assembly for a term of six (6) years without consecutive reelection. The bishop of the synod shall be a member of the Consultation Committee ex-officio except in instances when the bishop brings charges against an ordained minister. The responsibilities and procedures of this committee shall be those outlined in Chapter 20 of the constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

WV-WMD Continuing Resolutions

CR3.01. When there is a disagreement among people or factions within a congregation, as related to †S17.11 of the West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod Constitution, and the Consultation Committee is called in to consider the matter, the Committee shall deliver, in writing, a report to the congregation, within 60 days of the receipt, by the chair of the Committee, of the request for assistance.

CR3.02. If the Consultation Committee thinks it will be unable to finish the report within 60 days, the Committee must contact the synodical bishop as soon as possible to request extra time, up to 30 days, for a total of no more than 90 days from the receipt of the request for assistance, to finish the report. The exact amount of extra time is granted at the bishop’s discretion and can be denied.

CR3.03. The synodical bishop, after being contacted by the Consultation Committee for a request for more time, has the right to grant, refuse, or amend the request based on his or her assessment of the situation and the work of the Committee.

Model Constitution for Congregations

Chapter 15. DISCIPLINE OF MEMBERS AND ADJUDICATION

*C15.01. Persistent and public denial of the Christian faith, willful or criminal conduct grossly unbecoming a member of the Church of Christ, continual and intentional interference with the ministry of this congregation, or willful and repeated harassment or defamation of member(s) of this congregation is sufficient cause for discipline of a member. Prior to disciplinary action, reconciliation and repentance will be attempted following Matthew 18:15–17, proceeding through these successive steps, as necessary: a) private counsel and admonition by the pastor, b) censure and admonition by the pastor in the presence of two or three witnesses, c) written referral of the matter by the Congregation Council to the vice president of the synod, who will refer it to a consultation panel drawn from the Consultation Committee of the synod, and d) written referral of the matter by the consultation panel to the Committee on Discipline of the synod. If, for any reason, the pastor is unable to administer the admonitions required by paragraphs a. and b. hereof, those steps may be performed by another pastor chosen by the Executive Committee of the Congregation Council.

*C15.02. The process for discipline of a member of this congregation shall be governed as prescribed by the chapter on discipline in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. If the counseling, censure, and admonitions pursuant to *C15.01. do not result in repentance and amendment of life, charges against the accused member(s) that are specific and in writing may be prepared by the Congregation Council, signed, and submitted to the vice president of the synod. The vice president shall select from the synod’sConsultation Committee a panel of five members (three laypersons and two ministers of Word and Sacrament). A copy of the written charges shall be provided to the consultation panel and the accused member(s). The consultation panel, after requesting a written reply to the charges from the accused member(s), shall consider the matter and seek a resolution by means of investigation, consultation, mediation, or whatever other means may seem appropriate. The panel’s efforts to reach a mutually agreeable resolution shall continue for no more than 45 days after the matter is submitted to it.

*C15.03. If the consultation panel fails to resolve the matter, that panel shall refer the case in writing, including the written charges and the accused member’s reply, to the Committee on Discipline of the synod for a hearing. A copy of the panel’s written referral shall be delivered to the vice president of the synod, the Congregation Council, and the accused member(s) at the same time it is sent to the Committee on Discipline of the synod. The Executive Committee of the Synod Council shall then select six members from the Committee on Discipline to decide the case and shall appoint a member of the Synod Council to preside as nonvoting chair. Those six members, plus the nonvoting chair, comprise the discipline hearing panel for deciding the case. The Congregation Council and the accused member(s) are the parties to the case.

Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA

20.41. The disciplinary process for members of congregations shall be set forth in the bylaws.

20.41.02. Discipline for an offense shall be administered consistent with the procedure which Christ instructed his disciples to follow (Matthew 18:15–17), proceeding through these successive steps, as necessary:

a. seeking repentance and reconciliation through private counsel and admonition by a pastor;
b. censure and admonition by a pastor in the presence of two or three members of the Congregation Council;
c. written referral of the matter by the Congregation Council to the vice president of the synod, who will refer it to a consultation panel, pursuant to bylaw 20.41.03.; and
d. written referral of the matter pursuant to bylaw 20.41.04. by the consultation panel to the Committee on Discipline of the synod, which shall hold a hearing and render a final decision.

20.41.03. If for any reason a pastor of the congregation is unable to offer the counsel and administer the admonitions required by bylaw 20.41.02., those steps may be performed by another pastor chosen by the Executive Committee of the Congregation Council. No one shall serve as a member of the consultation panel or the discipline hearing panel if such individual (I) is the accused; (ii) is related to an accused; (iii) is a member, an employee, or a former member or employee of the congregation bringing the charges; or if the participation of an individual on either panel could give rise to the appearance of partiality even if the individual would in fact be impartial. For these purposes, a related individual is one who, with respect to the accused, is a spouse, parent, son, daughter, sibling, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild, including corresponding members of blended families and in-laws (parent, son, daughter, or sibling of a spouse, spouse of a sibling, or the parent or sibling of the spouse of a sibling).

20.41.04. If the counseling, censure and admonitions pursuant to bylaw 20.41.02.a. and b. do not result in repentance and amendment of life, charges against the accused member(s) that are specific and in writing may be prepared by the Congregation Council, signed, and submitted to the vice president of the synod. The vice president shall select from the synod’s Consultation Committee a panel of five members (three laypersons and two ministers of Word and Sacrament). A copy of the written charges shall be provided to consultation panel and the accused member(s). The consultation panel, after requesting a written reply to the charges from the accused member(s), shall consider the matter and seek a resolution by means of investigation, consultation, mediation, or whatever other means may seem appropriate.

20.41.05. The goal of the consultation panel is to seek repentance, amendment of life, forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation. The consultation panel’s efforts to reach a mutually agreeable resolution shall continue for no more than 45 days after the matter is submitted to it. If the consultation panel fails to resolve the matter, the panel, upon the request of the Congregation Council, shall refer the case in writing, including the written charges and the accused member’s reply, to the Committee on Discipline of the synod for a hearing. A copy of the consultation panel’s written referral shall be delivered to the vice president of the synod, the Congregation Council, and the accused member(s) at the same time it is sent to the Committee on Discipline of the synod.


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Last updated: 23 October 2021