Synod Polity
West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod

Updated: 15 May 2024

Governing Documents
Page Contents

The current governing documents of the WV-WMD Synod can be downloaded here. N.B., both the Constitution of the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod and the Bylaws West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod were amended at Synod Assembly 2023. The amended constitution and bylaws are posted here.

For information regarding congregational governing documents, visit the Congregations page.

Synod Assembly

If you want to find out about Synod Assembly in general, visit the new Synod Assembly page. From there, you can access information about specific synod assemblies.

Officers

Terms begin for officers, synod councilors, and members of the Consultation Committee and the Discipline Committee on the first day of the third month following election. This lists below will be updated to reflect the change in seats at that time.

Office
Occupant
Term
Term Period
Bishop
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Lynn Riegel, S.T.M.
2
2021-2027
Vice President
Nancy Weeks
1
2023-2027
Secretary
Norma Gensler
3
2021-2025
Treasurer
Jim Nichols
1
2023-2027

Synod Council

Synod Council meets regularly three to four times during the year with special meetings held, often by teleconference, as needed. The Synod Council is chaired by the vice president. The membership of the Synod Council includes the four officers of the synod and twelve voting members from around the synod, representing a balance of clergy and laity, geographical distribution, and age. The president of the synodical women's organization serves as an advisory member (with voice but not vote). "Until next regular assembly" indicates that a vacancy appointment has taken place, and those appointments continue until replaced by the next regular Synod Assembly and seated shortly thereafter according to the bylaws.

Seat
Occupant
Term
Term Period
Clergy MVMC
The Rev. Ruth Bullwinkle 2
2021-2024
Clergy PC
The Rev. Sally Bartling
1
2023-2026
Clergy OKVC
The Rev. Tom Darr
1
2022-2025
Clergy UOVC
The Rev. Sean Smith
1
2022-2025
Laity MVMC
John Knoll
1
2022-2025
Laity PC
Rick Losh
1
2021-2024
Laity OKVC
Andrea Brock
2
2021-2024
Laity UOVC
Marilyn Jacobs
n/a
vacancy appointment
Laity At-large
A. J. Beckett 2
2023-2026
Laity At-large
Bruce Dalton
1
2021-2024
Young Adult
Laurel Muhly-Alexander
1
2021-2024
Youth
Evan Ack
1
2023-2024
WELCA (Advisory)
Priscilla Horner
n/a
WELCA President

Boards appointed by Synod Council or Executive Committee

Executive Committee of the Synod Council

The four offices, one clergy member of the Synod Council, and two lay members of the Synod Council are appointed by the Synod Council to serve as the Executive Committee of the Synod Council. The ExComm is chaired by the synod vice president.

Seat
Occupant
Bishop
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Lynn Riegel, S.T.M.
Vice President
Nancy Weeks
Secretary
Norma Gensler
Treasurer
Jim Nichols
Clergy
The Rev. Ruth Bullwinkle
Laity 1
Rick Losh
Laity 2
Bruce Dalton

Candidacy Committee

The Candidacy Committee oversees candidates for the ministry, including reinstatements and reception of ministers from churches with whom the ELCA does not have a full-communion agreement. WV-WMD shares a joint candidacy committee with Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, the committee being called the Bisynodical Candidacy Committee. Both synods appoint their own members according to an agreement confected that the beginning of the ELCA. The current membership is The Rt. Rev. Matthew Riegel, The Rev. Sean Smith, The Rev. Ruth Bullwinkle, Tamara Riegel, Jerry Bouquot, and Michael Grimm.

Commission on Synodical Lay Worship Leadership

Charged with review of the Plan for Synodical Lay Worship Leadership, reporting back to Synod Council with recommendations, and with development of initial steps for implementation, an ad hoc committee of The Rev. Sean Smith (Chair), The Rev. Sally Bartling, and Stephanie Setley rendered valuable service. Its work being completed to the satisfaction of the Synod Council, the ad hoc committee was discharged by Synod Council at its April 2021 meeting, and new appointments made with The Rev. Sean Smith (chair), Paul Wangerin, The Rev. Ian Reid, and The Rev. Ruth Bullwinkle.

Standing Committees Appointed by Synod Council or Executive Committee

Nominating Committee

Seat
Occupant
Clergy MVMC
The Rev. Ruth Bullwinkle, Chair
Clergy PC
The Rev. Karen Erskine-Valentine
Clergy UOVC
The Rev. Sean Smith
Laity MVMC
Mary Sanders
Laity PC
Wm. "Bill" Ack
Clergy OKVC
The Rev. Ian Reid
Laity OKVC
John Perry
Laity UOVC
Lois Gray

Finance Committee

Members: Rick Losh, Phil Brown, Brian Crawford, with the synod treasurer serving ex officio.

Audit Committee

Members: Bruce Dalton, Paul Wangerin, and Janis Smith.

Synod Mutual Ministry Committee

Appointed by the Executive Committee, the Synod Mutual Ministry Committee (SMMC) is described in nebulous terms in the required provision in the CBCR/WV-WD. In meetings over the past year, SMMC worked out a plan to make its work more effective and relevant to the life and ministry of the synod. Synod Council took action to request the Churchwide Assembly to amend the required provision of the Constitution for Synods to allow the changes sought by this synod.

Members: Paul Wangerin, The Rev. Ruth Bullwinkle, the The Rev. Sean Smith, The Rev. Patrice Weirick, and Paula Mitchell.

Bylaws Committee

At its 22 January 2022 meeting, Synod Council enacted a continuing resolution establishing a standing bylaws committee "with those duties and prerogatives normally associated with a bylaws committee, including, but not limited to, regular review of the governing documents of the synod, recommendation of amendment of the same to the Synod Assembly or the Synod Council, and execution of referrals by the Synod Assembly or the Synod Council."(CR8.01) Appointment is made by the Synod Council. The current members are Laurel Muhly-Alexander, The Rt. Rev. Matthew Riegel, and Brian Crawford.

Standing Committees Elected by Synod Assembly

Consultation Committee

To learn what the Consultation Committee does, click here.

Seat
Occupant
Term Period
Clergy 1
The Rev. Linda Muhly
2018-2024
Clergy 2
The Rev. Karen Erskine-Valentine
2021-2027
Clergy 3
The Rev. Ben Erzkus
2021-2027
Clergy 4
The Rev. Nancy Knoll 2023-2029
Clergy 5
The Rev. Kevin Mackey 2023-2029
Clergy 6
The Rev. Ruth Bullwinkle
2022-2028
Laity 1
Joseph Harney
2018-2024
Laity 2
Marvin Beckman
2021-2027
Laity 3
Brian Felici
2021-2027
Laity 4
John Knoll
2022-2028
Laity 5
Lois Broyles
2022-2028
Laity 6
Eric Valentine
2023-2029

Discipline Committee

To learn what the Discipline Committee does, click here.

Seat
Occupant
Term Period
Clergy 1
The Rev. Tony Setley
2018-2024
Clergy 2
The Rev. Sally Bartling
2021-2027
Clergy 3
The Rev. Patrice Weirick
2021-2027
Clergy 4
The Rev. Matt Holbert
2021-2027
Clergy 5
The Rev. Ben Erzkus
2023-2029
Clergy 6
The Rev. Randy Richardson
2023-2029
Laity 1
Brandon Mitchell
2018-2024
Laity 2
Nancy Weeks
2018-2024
Laity 3
Pam Pritt
2021-2027
Laity 4
Shawn Gilmore
2021-2027
Laity 5
Cheryl Stemple
2022-2028
Laity 6
D. Lynn  Newman
2023-2029

Conferences & Deans

The WV-WMD Synod has four conferences, three of them further divided into two clusters each:

  • Mon Valley-Mountain Conference (MVMC): The Rev. Ruth Bullwinkle, Dean
  • Ohio-Kanawha Valley Conference (OKVC): The Rev. Randy Richardson, Dean
  • Potomac Conference (PC): The Sally Bartling, Dean
  • Upper Ohio Valley Conference (UOVC): The Rev. Sean Smith, Dean

A full listing of the congregations of each conference can be found here and in B12.01 of the Synod Bylaws.

A new protocol for deans was adopted by Synod Council at its January 2020 meeting. It is currently under review for codification by the Ad Hoc Committee on Governing Documents. It will be posted upon completion of codification. In the meantime, you may request a copy of the Provisional Guidance Related to Deans from the bishop.

Other Entities & Appointees

Various church-related entities have boards or other positions which are filled through the appointment of the Synod Council or the bishop.

Entity
Position
Occupant
Term
Appointment
United Lutheran Seminary
Board of Directors Melody Stevens
2020-2023 Synod Council
West Virginia Council of Churches
Council
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Riegel N/A
Ex officio
Caroline Furnace
Board of Directors The Rev. Eric Valentine At Will
Bishop
WV-WMD Hunger
Hunger Lead
Mary Sanders
At will
Bishop
Lutheran Campus Foundation at WVU
Board of Directors
The Rev. Sean Smith
N/A
Bishop

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