event at Martinsburg

Past Cont. Ed Events
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(12 April 2024)

Page Contents
  • 2024
  • 2023
  • 2022
  • Winter/Spring 2021
  • Fall 2020

We started posting AARs (After Action Reports) during the pandemic as a way to let folks know what we have been doing. Well, that started cluttering up the Education for Laity & Clergy page, suggesting that those AARs needed a page of their own, and here it is. Wander through and review what we've been up to. Not everything is here, but these are some of the highlights.

We want to make sure to thank those clergy who have completed their service on the Synod Clergy Cont. Ed Events Team: The Revs. Christine Olson (past chair), Paul Schafer, Casey Linemann, Ryan Heycock, Ruth Bullwinkle, Kevin Mackey, Randy Richardson, and Sally Bartling.


                Church DebateBishop's Lenten Book Study: The New Church Debate

The New Church Debate: Issues Facing American Lutheranism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983) is a collection of papers given at the conference held at LSTC, 6-11 February 1983, on the subject "The New Church and Its Ministry: The Ecclesiological Challenge Facing American Lutheranism." The published book included ten of the lectures given at the conference:

  • William Lazareth, "Evangelical Catholicity: Lutheran Identity in an Ecumenical Age"
  • Robert Jenson, "Sovereignty in the Church"
  • Walter Bouman, "The Identity of the Ordained Minister"
  • Philip Hefner, "Can We Have Bishops—Reformed and Evangelical?"
  • Nelvin Vos, "The Vocation of the Laity"
  • Kathleen S. Hurty, "Embodying the Gospel in an Inclusive Church"
  • Robert Bertram, "Confession the Faith in the Church"
  • Timothy Lull, "The Catholicity of the Local Congregation"
  • Elizabeth Bettenhausen, "Missionary Structures and World Struggles"
  • Robert Benne, "The Social Sources of Church Polity."

From 19 February through 18 March 2024, Bp. Riegel lead a Zoom-based book study covering five of the chapters (Lazareth, Jenson, Vos, Hurty, and Lull). Copies of The New Church Debate, proved difficult to obtain, but Augsburg Fortress graciously provided limited copyright permission. There is a Facebook for the book study; feel free to join The New Church Debate Reading Group.


CA 28What's aPrince-Bishop To Do...Or Not?

During the fall of 2023, Bp. Riegel traveled the synod lecturing on Article XXVIII of the Augsburg Confession, interpreting the material in light of Melanchthon's political theory as found in four of his works: Oratio de leligibus, Summary of Ethics, Commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics, and Commentary on Aristotle's Politics. When developing the Augsburg Confession, Melanchthon wrote Article XXVIII first. In this article, Melanchthon delivers a vicious critique of the bishops of his day, but he also lays a framework for thinking about civic engagement by the ecclesiastical estate and its agents that respects the distinction between the ecclesiastical estate and the political estate. The lecture was given in each of the four conferences.


Bishop's Lenten Book Study 2023: Godlust

The worm of discontent that rotted Herod's soul and threatens ours is the lust to throw away the constraints of humanhood and become God—not, mind you, "godly" or godlike," but God. — Kerry Walters

For Lent 2023, we studied a work written at the cusp of the centuries, Kerry Walter's Godlust: Facing the Demonic, Embracing the Divine (1999). Employing the image of consumption, Walters takes us from the eating by our first parents to our own eating of truth, beauty, and the good. The elenchtical Law is delivered thoughtfully and unflinchingly. For those interested in reading Godlust or any of Walters other works, visit the Kerry Walters' Godlust Reading Group on Facebook.

Jake JacobsonSCCE Winter/Spring 2023 | Walking With God: What's Next? with The Rev. Harold "Jake" Jacobson

The Rev. Harold "Jake" Jacobson joined us 15-17 February 2023 at North Bend State Park, Cairo, WV, presenting under the theme, "Walking with God Today: What Now?" Sessions looked at critical issues facing the church today and provided some directions and tools for the future.

  • Session 1 — Walking Out of COVID —This session looked at our experiences and learnings during the COVID pandemic and their implications for the church of the 21st Century.
  • Session 2 — Blessings and Curses — Blessings of our Lutheran faith tradition come in conflict with the dominant religiosity of 21st Century culture.
  • Session 3 — Walking the Walk — Implications of our Lutheran theology and spirituality on our creating people of faith and nourishing our faith communities.
  • Session 4 — Walking the Walk/Wrap Up

At the mass, reaffirmation of ordination vows was included as a rite. The bishop's sermon included an exploration of one of the themes in Lutheran Scholasticism's arguments for ordination, that theme being "for the sake of conscience," for the sake of the conscience of the hearer and for the sake of the conscience of the preacher.


SatterleeSCCE Fall 2022 | My Burden Is Light with The Rt. Rev. Dr. Craig Satterlee

The Fall 2022 Event is history, and, based upon the texts and emails from participants, it was a success on all counts but especially with respect to the educational component. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Craig Satterlee, Bishop of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod, ELCA, (click here for a biographical sketch), lectured on the topic of his upcoming book, My Burden is Light: Making Room for Jesus in Preaching.

The event was held over the course of three days, 16-18 November 2022, at Cacapon Resort State Park. This is the first time that the synod clergy cont. ed event has been held at this park. The facilities were excellent. Unfortunately, a cold snap militated against some of the outdoor recreation options, but that did not get in the way of participants enjoying the setting and local amenities.

Attendance was strong and included pastors from Lower Susquehanna, Southwest Penn, and Delaware-Maryland.

Melanchthon on fbBishop's Book Study | Melanchthon's Loci communes

Throughout the fall of 2022, a weekly book study on Melanchthon's first edition of his Loci communes was held by Zoom. Published in 1521, the Loci communes was praised by Luther as so good and faithful that it should have been included in the canon of Scripture. Participants were invited to secure their own copies of the Loci communes, the following being recommended as English translations:

  • Commonplaces: Loci Communes 1521, Christian A. Prues, trans. (CPH, 2014);
  • The Loci Communes of Philip Melanchthon: With a Critical Introduction by the Translator, Charles Leander Hill, trans. (Boston: Meador, c.1944);  and
  • Melanchthon & Bucer, The Library of Christian Classics Series, Wilhelm Pauck, ed. (Westmintser John Know Press, 1997) — a benefit of this edition is that you also get Martin Bucer's De regno Christi.

You can also find the Latin text online on Google Books here.

Participants included four different Lutheran bodies and ranged from the Mid-Atlantic to Florida to Montana to Canada.

If you would like to join the on-going conversation, join the "Melanchthon Reading Group" Facebook group.

Bonus | "God Is Fair? Life Isn't? A Discussion of Job"

The Rev Dr. JT Miller, pastor of Zion Lutheran, McGregor, TX, delivered a stimulating lecture on the Book of Job on Wednesday, 27 July 2022, to a gathering of clergy and laity, representing six different judicatories.

Miller is the first to try out our "Working Vacation" invitation. He is spending a little over a week on the Mountaintop, providing pastoral services to the Aurora-Redhouse Parish. While among us, he consented to provide the lecture.

Some participants decided to take advantage of their time in the highest-altitude incorporated city in West Virginia, renting a cabin at Blackwater Falls. Rumor has it that some excellent sausages in cider was served up for dinner. A confirmed report of Pr. Ruth Bullwinkle beating out four others at hearts has been received. Folks planning on joining us for the Synod Clergy Cont. Ed Event at Cacapon State Park should consider the recreational opportunities afforded by the venue (and maybe challenge Bullwinkle to a card game).


SCCE Winter 2022 | Grief with Sr. Carol Riley

In response to requests from synod clergy, the Winter 2022 was offered in a hybrid format, with eight synod clergy attending at the John XXIII Center and several others joining by Zoom. Sr. Carole Riley, CDP, lead an intense and information packed program on grief, addressing

  • God image and trauma
  • Grieving developmental wounds
  • Anger as movement toward healing
  • Prayer style and somatic wounds

WVCC | All Are Welcome: Understanding the Autism Spectrum

The West Virginia Council of Churches held a webinar on Dementia-Friendly Worshiping communities on 8 December 2021 with The Rev. Kathy Fogg Berry. Berry wrote the book When Words Fail: Practical Ministry to People with Dementia and Their Caregivers and co-authored, Dementia Friendly Worship: A Multifaith Handbook for Chaplains, Clergy, and Faith Communities.

The Rev. Kathy Fogg Berry received a Masters of Religious Education from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a Masters in Patient Counseling and a postgraduate certificate in aging studies from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. During Kathy’s tenure at Westminster Canterbury Richmond, she provided spiritual care for residents with dementia diagnoses, their families, and the staff who care for them. For the last five years, Rev. Berry has offered the “When Words Fail” seminar for clergy and lay leaders throughout Virginia and she speaks regionally and nationally about spirituality and dementia.

A recording of the webinar can be watched on the WVCC Facebook page.

                FB Bishop's Lenten Book Study | Blumhardt's Action in Waiting

Last year, we explored Johann Arndt's master work, True Christianity. This year, we fast forwarded a few centuries and dove into Action in Waiting by Christoph Blumhardt. The Rev. Grant Eckhart, chaplain of Jacob's Porch, moderated sessions that were held every Tuesday in Lent via Zoom. Clergy and laity from several judicatories participated.

Christoph Blumhardt has a fascinating biography. He was born about the same time as his father, Johann Blumhardt, exorcised a demon from a certain Gottliebin Dittus. After the exorcism, a revival swept through the parish. Christoph followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a renowned evangelist and healer, and also continuing the work begun by his father at Bad Boll, a thermal spa that the senior Blumhardt had converted into a Christian retreat. Though the healing ministry would have been considered successful in terms of the numbers of people drawn to Bad Boll, Blumhardt saw something of greater significance, saying,

I do not want to suggest that it is of little importance for God to heal the sick; actually, it now is happening more and more often—although very much in quiet. However, things should not be promoted as though God’s kingdom consists in the healing of sick people. To be cleansed is more important than to be healed. It is more important to have a heart for God’s cause, not to be chained to the world but be able to move for the kingdom of God.

Eventually, Christoph Blumhardt entered the world of politics, serving in the Württemberg legislature, but he ultimately become disillusioned, refusing to stand for a second term.

Although the book study has wrapped up, you still engage engage in conversation on the Christoph Blumhardt Reading Group (facebook).

Winter/Spring 2021

Bishop on Polity | Updating Your Congregation Constitution (Jan. 25)

The "Updating Your Congregation Constitution" session was held on January 25 with attendance from four different synods. Despite one Zoom glitch---we'll not make that mistake again---the session went well with both clergy and lay attendees. Bishop Riegel, who has an unnatural affection for parliamentary law, led the session.

When some of our counterparts on the other side of the synod borders heard about it, they asked that it be reprised as an event for the "Rural 8s" (NWPA, Allegheny, USS, and WV-WMD Synods). This session was held on 6 February 2021. After the formal part was completed, attendees were free to stay for what could be described as more of a workshop in which items of relevance to specific congregations were discussed.


Bishop's Lenten Book Study | True Christianity: A Weekly Lenten Book Study of Arndt's Wahres Christentum

Qui Jesum vidit, qui mundum et daemona vicit,
Arndius in scriptis vivit ovatque suis.

Arndt, who saw Jesus, and conquered the world and the devil,
lives and triumphs in his writings.
---Tombstone inscription

If Philipp Jakob Spener is the Father of Pietism, Johann Arndt is the Grandfather. His Wahres Christentum (True Christianity), published in stages with revisions, 1605-1609, served as the formative text for generations of Lutheran clergy and laity. So, even if we think of Arndt as a Proto-Pietist, the movement cannot be adequately understood apart from his influence.

This weekly study explored this seminal work. With a grand vision of getting through the entire work, it was quickly agreed that just Book I would be enough to tackle. The energy and depth of the in-session conversations, however, just as quickly impressed upon the participants of an even more modest goal. While only the preface and first twenty-nine chapters were completed, it was generally agreed that the time was well spent and that not rushing the conversation was the best option.

ArndtEach Monday in Lent 2021, Bishop Riegel facilitated the seminary. Fortunately,  the work is in public domain and several free editions were available on-line, among them the one found at CCEL.org. Session met for usually seventy-five minutes, and the option was given for morning and evening sessions each Monday via Zoom.

Some members of the seminar stated that they wanted to continue, and this is an option (though all agree that waiting until a future date is a good idea). If you are interested in participating in a continuation of this (even if you did not join for the first round, contact +Riegel by email or, better yet, join the Johann Arndt Reading Group on Facebook.

Facebook EventEcclesiastical Discipline, Spiritual & Temporal (March 25)

In response to the question, "Where's excommunication in the Constitution of the ELCA?" Bishop Riegel offered a Zoom presentation that explored the two domains of discipline in the church. The Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA (along with other supporting documents) include provisions for discipline; these may be thought of under the category "temporal disciplines" (or polity/political discipline). Excommunication, on the other hand, may be thought of under the category "spiritual discipline." During the session, +Riegel explored the differences, the respective ends, the sources of their authority, manner of employment, and resolution. The two-hour session was held by Zoom on Thursday, 25 March 2021.

St. Paul and Early Christianity (April 12)

On April 12, The Rev. Dr. Mark Vitalis-Hoffman presented via Zoom on "St. Paul and early Christianity" with a Q&A following. Vitalis-Hoffman focused on the Greco-Roman context of the church of Paul's day.

Vitalis-Hoffman is the Glatfelter Professor of Biblical Studies at United Lutheran Seminary. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale, his dissertation being titled, Psalm 22 and the Crucifixion of Jesus.

Hybrid Church with The Rev. Dave Daubert (May 18)

Announcing the event, D.E.M. Sherri Schafer wrote,

"What's next for the church?" I hear this question a lot when talking with church members and pastors. I am teaming up with Pastor Daubert on Tuesday, May 18 at 1:30 PM to offer this workshop based on his latest book [Becoming a Hybrid Church]. You do not have to read the book prior to the discussion. I'm hoping that the workshop and/or book will be the launch point for discussion in your congregations and your conference.

The book is available from Day 8 Strategies. There is also a Kindle version.

This event was open to clergy and seminarians of all judicatories.

Matt Day
                demonatrating camera set up

Fall 2020

We split up our fall offerings across several weeks, holding our sessions by Zoom but also spacing them out so as to mitigate zoombiefication, Here's what happened.

Best Practices for Live Streaming (Sept. 24)

Matt Day kicked us off with "Worship Streaming without Breaking Your Back or Your Bank." Held the morning of September 24, Matt Day demonstrated some methods and resources for making a congregation's online worship presence easier and better without breaking either your back or your bank. The session lasted two hours. The session was recorded and is available on the Synod Youtube Channel.

Susan Claytor Linda Muhly Ian Reid Michael Wright

Best Practices for Pandemical Worship (Oct. 6)

The "Pandemical Worship Panel" was held by Zoom on Oct. 6. A wide range of topics were discussed with four of our clergy leading the way:

  • The Rev. Susan Claytor, St. Stephen's Episcopal and St. Luke's Lutheran, Beckley, WV
  • The Rev. Linda Muhly, St. Mark's Lutheran, Clarksburg, WV
  • The Rev. Ian Reid, First Lutheran, Parkersburg, WV
  • The Rev. Michael Wright, St. Paul's Lutheran, Aurora, WV, and St. John's Lutheran, Redhouse, MD

                  eventEach has had to figure out what works in their own context (and for two of them it is contexts). Different sizes of congregations, different community settings, different status quo worship practices, different ecclesiastical politics, and a even a different denomination all make for challenges, suggesting that one size does not fit all.

Some of the answers to questions from the floor might be of interest to you. We posted those to the facebook event for the panel. You'll find there links for

  • messaging programs/aps,
  • unlicensed, low-power FM transmitter use, and
  • a video "switcher" program to amp up your videography/streaming. 

Feel free to visit this event on facebook.

Racial Sensitivity Training (Oct. 19)

Monday, 19 October 2020, the clergy of the synod met via Zoom for racial sensitivity training with Ron Scott of Wheeling. This training fulfilled Churchwide Assembly action CA16.05.22. The event was sponsored by Community Lutheran Partners, Inc., with the associated costs covered by an ELCA grant issued to Community Lutheran Partners, Inc.


Creative Christian Education and Empowering Families in Times of Covid (Nov. 4)

The event was held on 4 November 2020 via Zoom under the description,

Clergy are called to preach and teach and administer the sacraments. Parents and congregations make promises at the baptism of our young people to place into their hands the holy scriptures, to teach them the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments, and to nurture them in faith and prayer. Now more than ever, families are struggling to get through the grind of daily life with enormous changes all around them. This workshop is intended to explore creative solutions to equip families and congregations to engage in Christian Education. Pastor Jess Felici will share some of the things the Mountain Lutheran Parish has done and will help brainstorm and share resources for some ideas on engaging households for Advent. The presentation is scheduled to last about an hour with time following for resource sharing and exploring ideas for Christian Education in Coronatide.

If you missed it, you're still in luck. The session was recorded (available on Youtube). You can also find these items on the Facebook event.


The West Virginia Lutheran-Anglican-Roman Catholic-United Methodist tetralogue meets annually. Everything related to LARCUM has been moved to a dedicated page. Read about what we have done and what we are planning on doing from our LARCUM page.


SCALD (Symposium for Central Appalachian Lutheran Dogmatics) is designed as a day of theological discussion, employing the symposium model. Presenters give papers with discussion of those papers open to all participants. It is about providing an intellectually engaging and profitable opportunity for rank and file pastors and lay theologians (amateur and professional) to test their all too often private ruminations among those capable of being critical and convivial at the same time.

We've held three SCALDs so far, and we are thinking about when the next one will be held. To learn more about SCALD and read up on past SCALDs, visit our dedicated SCALD page.

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