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Synod Assembly 2021
of the
West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod

Synod Assembly 2022!
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2021 Proceedings
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  • Elections
  • Legislative Action
  • People
  • Venue and Time
  • Proceedings
  • Synod Assembly 2020

The 33rd Annual Synod Assembly of the West Virginia-Western Maryland, ELCA, convened Saturday, 16 October 2021, at the Mon County 4-H Center, Mylan Park, outside of Morgantown, WV.


The Synod Assembly conducted more elections than at any time in its history since the constituting convention, electing a bishop, a secretary, a treasurer, eight Synod Council members, five Consultation Committee members, five Discipline Committee members, and five voting members to the Churchwide Assembly.

  • The Rt. Rev. Matthew Lynn Riegel, S.T.M., was reelected Synod Bishop on the first ballot with 83% of the vote.
  • Mrs. Norma Gensler was reelected Synod Secretary.
  • Dr. Brian Crawford was elected Synod Treasurer.
  • Newly elected to Synod Council were  Mr. Rick Losh,  Dr. Bruce Dalton, Miss Rachel Shockley, and Miss Laurel Muhly-Alexander; reelected were The Rev. Ruth Bullwinkle, Mrs. Andrea Brock, Mrs. Nancy Weeks, and Sem. Mary Sanders.
  • Elected to the Consultation Committee were The Rev. Karen Erskine-Valentine, The Rev. Ben Erzkus, The Rev. Michael Wright, Mr. Marvin Beckman, and Mr. Brian Felici.
  • Elected to the Synod Discipline Committee were The Rev. Sally Bartling, The Rev. Patrice Weirick, The Rev. Matt Holbert, Ms. Pamela Pritt, and Mr. Shawn Gilmore.
  • Elected to Churchwide Assembly 2022 were The Rev. Linda Muhly, Dr. Bruce Dalton, Mrs. Norma Gensler, Miss Grace Riegel, and The Rev. Ben Erzkus.

Legislative Action

The Synod Assembly adopted six of the seven implementing resolutions of the Committee on the Bishop’s Report, the seventh being ruled out of order as a result of a bylaw change ordered early in the session by the assembly. Five of the implementing resolutions ordered the following.

  • Synod Mutual Ministry Committee distribute the Driesen Manual, providing instruction and support, to conference deans so they may instruct pastors and congregational councils in their conference on its use for mutual ministry in their congregations.
  • Post advice concerning pandemic baptism on the synod’s website and encourage clergy and laity to review these. Also distribute by mail to clergy and congregational leadership advice and counsel on pandemic baptism.
  • Post advice concerning the mutual consolation and conversation of the saints and encourage clergy and laity to review these, as well as distribute by mail to clergy and congregational leadership advice and counsel on the means of grace found in the Book of Concord, as well as their proper use during a pandemic.
  • The synod council and the bishop work together to organize a task force with the responsibility of establishing a comprehensive recruitment strategy for raising up leaders in our synod for rostered ministry within our synod. Such a recruitment strategy should be able to be implemented on many levels; from the bishop, synod council and our synod’s DEM to conference deans, congregational pastors and lay leaders. This committee also encourages the bishop to continue to develop relationships with other synodical bishops who may have a surplus of first call pastors looking for a first call, for the purpose of inviting them to consider a call in our synod.
  • Synod council establish benchmarks for fiscally imperiled congregations, by putting together and training an advisory panel to work with the bishop in addressing conversations with congregations who hit the fiscally imperiled benchmarks. This advisory panel should be able to assist the bishop in leading a congregation through the process of becoming fiscally healthy, as well as the steps in closing a congregation.

The sixth implementing resolution referred three queries to the Mutual Ministry Committee.

  • If the question of how we move forward in a pandemic is to be a responsibility of the Synod Mutual Ministry Committee, will the bishop and synod council give direction and guidelines to the committee for such an extensive examination? Should not synod council be responsible for examining these things?
  • In considering the benefits of well-designed operating manuals for the synod, who would be responsible for putting together, vetting, and updating such manuals?
  • In considering the remedial instruction in congregational polity, could this be part of a clergy continuing education event with congregational councils also in attendance with their clergy?

The Synod Assembly also adopted several amendments to the synod’s bylaws, including

  • dissolution of the Committee on the Bishop’s Report,
  • revocation of the requirement that mass be offered at each regular Synod Assembly,
  • modification of the duties of the Nominating Committee,
  • clarification of the mechanisms for call of a Synod Council meeting, and
  • some general housekeeping to bring items into conformity with current relationships and situations.

A synod budget with projected synod expenditure (not counting mission support proportional share) of $275,800.24 for FY2022-2023 was adopted.


The Synod Assembly was introduced to Mary Sanders, the new Executive Director of Community Lutheran Partners, Inc.. Sanders is a life-time member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Redhouse, MD. She is currently on her internship year as a diaconal candidate, through United Lutheran Seminary.

The Synod Assembly welcomed The Rt. Rev. William “Bill” Gohl, Bishop of the Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA, who served as the Churchwide Representative. In that capacity, he served as chair pro tem of the assembly, overseeing the process for election of a bishop.

Mon 4-HVenue and Time

Synod Assembly 2020 was not held because of the pandemic. Also because of the pandemic, Synod Assembly 2021 was held four months later than usual. Another unusual aspect of this Synod Assembly was the plan for a one-day session with option for an adjourned meeting a month later. While a second day was not ordered, this was probably the first time that non-consecutive days were contemplated. Also unusual was the choice of venue. The Mylan Park facility offered the possibility of holding the business meetings of the assembly outdoors (under a pavilion). Until just a few days before the Synod Assembly convened, it looked like a real possibility. A storm system, however, moved the business meetings indoors. Both masking indoors and the best attempt at physical distancing in the assembly chamber were employed. Lunch was not served as part of the Synod Assembly program. Instead, attendees were given over ninety minutes to take advantage of local eateries or picnic. This may have also been the first assembly in the synod’s history not to charge a registration fee.

Convening shortly after 10:05 a.m., the assembly adjourned sine die on a motion from the floor prior to the exhaustion of the agenda around 1:58 p.m..

Some assembly members headed home upon adjournment, but most stayed for a simple mass.


Proceedings will be posted here as soon as they are finalized. If you would like to be notified when the proceedings are posted, visit our Synod Assembly Communications page to enroll in one of our communication channels.

Synod Assembly 2020

Synod Assembly 2020 was not held because of the pandemic. Learn more about the decision and consequences by visiting our Synod Assembly 2020 page.

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This page was last updated 23 March 2022