- 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
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.
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.
SCCE 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
- 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
- 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.
SCCE 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
Attendance was strong and included pastors from Lower
Susquehanna, Southwest Penn, and Delaware-Maryland.
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
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
If you would like to join the on-going conversation, join
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,
- God image and trauma
- Grieving developmental wounds
- Anger as movement toward healing
- Prayer style and somatic wounds
WVCC | All Are Welcome: Understanding the Autism
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
A recording of the webinar can be watched on the WVCC Facebook page.
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
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
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
Although the book study has wrapped up, you still engage
engage in conversation on the Christoph
Blumhardt Reading Group (facebook).
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
Qui Jesum vidit, qui mundum et
Arndius in scriptis vivit ovatque suis.
Arndt, who saw Jesus, and conquered the world and the
lives and triumphs in his writings.
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.
Each 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
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
St. Paul and Early Christianity
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
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.
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,
- 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
Each 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
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
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
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.
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
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 two SCALDs so far, and a third is coming
9 November 2023. To learn more about SCALD and read up
on past SCALDs, visit our dedicated SCALD