First Lutheran, Parkersburg, Easter Vigil
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Page Contents
St. Mark's, Upper Flats, Closing Service

                Flats BaptismSt. Mark's Lutheran Church, Letart, WV, held its closing service on Reformation Sunday, 30 October 2022, marking the occasion with a double baptism. The St. Mark's church building, a.k.a. "White Church," is located in the community of Upper Flats, WV.

The following entry is found in The West Virginia Synod—an Impression (c.1962).

Organized in 1860. This was the favorite congregation of the Rev. Link Miller who began and ended his active ministry in the Mason County Parish having served in the parish at three different times. The present building was erected during his pastorate. The congregation served as the church headquarters of the Roush Family who came to the area about he time of the Missionary Paul Henkel. Throughout its life from 50 to 85% of the members have been named "Roush."

The Rev. Patrice Weirick presided over the closing mass. Bishop Riegel preached and baptized the two children. (Photo by Tara Suchevits)

Parochial Report: Late Filing

*C9.12(b). The pastor of this congregation: shall submit a summary of such statistics annually to the synod.

Parochial Reports were due 1 March 2022, and the interface closed 3 May 2022. That closure was for the Office for Research & Evaluation to crunch the numbers for the reports it has to generate. Now that those reports have been taken care of, the portal has reopened! You may now submit a late parochial report (Form A and Form C) for 2021 until December 2022.

Click here to access the submission interface. If you need help accessing, contact the synod office.

Query: What Do Congregational Officers Need?

A congregation is more like a small town than a small business. That's not to say that there are no business-like aspects to a congregation. It's just an observation about the decision-making processes involved. With an eye to offering some workshops (and other resources) for [vice] presidents, secretaries, and treasurers, we're asking you what you might find helpful and where you are finding particular challenges. If you are a congregational lay leader, please take this very short survey and pass on the link to your fellow lay leaders and your pastor so that we can offer what's of potential use.

Mutual Ministry Committee and the Driesen Manual

At the direction of the Synod Assembly 2021, the Synod Mutual Ministry Committee is promulgating the Driesen Manual as a resource for mutual ministry committee work. Learn more here.

Clergy Compensation Guideline

The clergy compensation guideline for 2023 has been approved and is posted on the Clergy Compensation page . You will also find details on compensation, family leave, sabbatical, and Rostered Leader Debt Reduction there.

Mission Support: Recent History

Mission support was set at 9.39% for 2022, the same level as was set for 2021.

When mission support was set at 9.39% for 2021, it represented a decrease from 10.38% level set for 2020. The Synod Finance Committee, in its report to Synod Council at that time, explained its rationale for the decrease:

This is the number, and the wording, the Finance Committee agreed to after reviewing different methods of projecting future total congregational giving. This is a decrease from our request last year, but not because total congregational giving is going up, but because our spending is projected to go down.

Mission Support

Mission Support Request for 2023

Synod Council, at its 6 August 2022 meeting, adopted the mission support request for 2023 as follows:

Council approved the amended motion that the Synod Council ask congregations that are not yet giving 10% of their total unrestricted congregational giving to the Synod to increase their giving to this level, while asking congregations that are at or exceeding this level to not decrease the greater of their proportional share or nominal contribution.

Making Your Commitment and Remittances

Mission Support Commitment Form: The mission support commitment (pledge) form for 2023 (PDF | MS-Word) is available for download. Please also download the mission support request letter (PDF | MS-Word) as it contains important information on the proportional share figure.

Remittance/Contribution Form: The mission support remittance/contribution form has been updated. When remitting mission support, please include a completed copy of this updated and downloadable Mission Support Contribution Form (PDF | MS-Word) with each remittance.

Trappe Church Pulpit 1919Supply Preachers

Do you need coverage for a service? Click here for the Supply Preacher page. Please note advice on supply preachers related to COVID-19 provided on the Supply Preacher page.

Having trouble finding supply preachers? Apply To Be a Reader!

Having trouble finding supply preachers? In some parts of our territory, it's not easy. There simply aren't folks within a reasonable drive or the few that are are already engaged. To address this problem (as well as reform our longstanding Bishop Lay Worship Leaders Program, Synod Council has authorized the new Synodical Lay Worship Leaders Program, and the first license that is now being rolled out is the "reader" license.

Readers do not prepare their own sermons. Instead, they select a sermon from a reputable source in consultation with an assigned supervisor. They also lead worship, using one of the approved liturgies (i.e., ante-communion, service of the Word, matins, or vespers (if it is an evening service)). While it may be difficult to find a pastor or authorized lay preacher in your vicinity, it shouldn't be too hard to identify a trusted lay member (perhaps more than one) in your congregation and suggest licensure. To learn more about the program, visit the Synodical Lay Worship Leaders page.

New Pastoral Transition & Vacancy Page

We've gathered together on one page items related to pastoral transitions (coming and going) and pastoral vacancy. Check it out.

Polity for Congregations

One can scarcely have had much experience in deliberative meetings of Christians without realizing that the best of men, having wills of their own, are liable to attempt to carry out their own views without paying sufficient respect to the rights of their opponents.
 --- Henry M. Robert*

Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty.
 --- Henry M. Robert

It is difficult to find another branch of knowledge where a small amount of study produces such great results in increased efficiency in a country where the people rule, as in parliamentary law.
--- Henry M. Robert

*US Army Corps of Engineers, Historical Vignette 038 - An Army Engineer Brought Order to Church Meetings and Revolutionized Parliamentary Procedure.
Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 10th Ed., p. v.

The Wild and Wonderful World of Procedure

Parliamentary Authority: Robert's Rules of Order

It is not uncommon to hear complaints about parliamentary procedure, complaints ranging from, "It's confusing," to, "It slows things down," to, "It complicates what should be simple." We don't know whether a young Captain Henry Martyn Robert, U.S. Army, thought the same thing before he went in to chair his first church meeting, but he came out convinced that he would never chair another meeting without a grasp of parliamentary law. A few years later, he was asked to chair another church meeting meeting; this time, however, it was worse: the participants came from all across the United States, bringing their different local customs, customs which did not fit together. This inspired the now Major Robert to write his first manual of parliamentary procedure. That's right, folks: The church is the birth-mother of Robert's Rules of Order!

A recommended provision in The Model Constitution for Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America states,

C10.07. Robert’s Rules of Order, latest edition, shall govern parliamentary procedure of all meetings of this congregation.

It is doubtful that this recommended provision found its way into The Model because of the churchly origins of Robert's Rules of Order. More likely, it is recommended because it is the most commonly used parliamentary authority in the nation.

RONR 12thTo be honest, it is not required that a congregation adopt the latest edition of or even Robert's Rules of Order at all. C10.07 is a recommended provision. Still, Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised, lasted edition, makes a lot of sense because it is so popular. Many of your members will be somewhat familiar with it because of prior experience in civic organizations. Its popularity also means you can find a lot of help out there if you need it. It is, however, the prerogative of the congregation to adopt something other than RONR, e.g., Cushing’s, Roberta’s, Martha's, Atwood's, etc. can all be used instead. A body may even write its own rules of order. It is vitally important that rules of order, once adopted, be followed. It is also vitally important that any rules of order adopted preserve the rights of the members both individually and collectively.

The 12th Edition has just been released. There is a very helpful appendix covering modification of the standard rules for electronic meetings. Several sections have been clarified, and a new coding system has been added to make it easier for people to talk across the print and digital versions of the book.

The National Association of Parliamentarians is the custodian of Robert's Rules of Order. You will find on their website educational resources and an on-line store. It is even possible to become a member of NAP and acquire certification and credentials. If you would like further assistance in matters related to parliamentary law and procedure, feel free to contact Bp. Riegel.

Congregation Meeting in Time of Pandemic

If you haven't started wondering about this, you will. The first part and second part of a series related to Congregation Meeting and the challenges posed by the pandemic have been uploaded.

  • Part I explores not holding a Congregation Meeting and how to handle budget, elections, pastoral compensation, reports, and other constitutional requirements. (Revised 9/16/20)
  • Part II explores meeting in-person in both indoors and outdoors. It also explores meeting electronically and what to do if you can't hold an electronic meeting. (Revised 10/7/20)
  • Part III will cover adaptation of procedure that facilitates meeting electronically.

Email Voting by Congregation Council

Guidance has been posted on the question of email voting by congregation councils, as the question has come up more than once and will probably come up even more with the pandemic-restrictions that are currently in place. Click here to access.

Updating your Congregation's Constitution

Churchwide Assembly (CWA) 2022 adopted revisions to both the required provisions and recommended provisions of the Model Constitution for Congregations. This happens every CWA (which, since 2013, takes place every three years). It is advisable to update your congregation's constitution after every Churchwide Assembly.

Remember, both *C16.03 and *C16.04 require that the amended constitution be transmitted to the synod for filing and, in the case of the former, for ratification. When doing so, please include a redline version with the final form (unless it is a revision rather than an amendment of the constitution). It is preferred that a redline version use strikethrough for deletions, italics for insertions, and red font or red highlight for both. If you have any questions, contact the bishop or one of the synod parliamentarians for assistance.

For Constitutions Last Updated with Churchwide Assembly 2019 Changes

If you updated you constitution after CWA 2019, updating will be easy. Download the 2022 Amendments to the Model Constitution for Congregations and follow the procedures for amendment. Note the following:
  • You have the option of not revising anything in your constitution.
  • If you revise anything in your constitution, your constitution must be brought into compliance with all required provisions in the Model.
  • If an exception to the rule above is sought, consultation with the bishop is required.
  • It is not necessary to adopt the recommended provisions.
  • The congregation may, of course, adopt additional provisions which are not in the Model so long as they do not conflict with required provisions to extend permitted in the CBCR/ELCA.
  • In all this, follow the provisions for the amendment of your constitution scrupulously.
  • If none of this makes sense to you, contact the bishop.

For Constitutions Updated with Churchwide Assembly 2016 Changes But Not Updated with 2019 Changes

If you updated you constitution after CWA 2016 but did not update after Churchwide Assembly 2019, you will have to do a little extra work because you will have to capture two sets of changes (those made by CWA 2019 and those made by CWA 2022). Download both the 2019 Amendments to the Model Constitution for Congregations and the 2022 Amendments to the Model Constitution for Congregations and follow the procedures for amendment. Note the following:
  • You have the option of not revising anything in your constitution.
  • If you revise anything in your constitution, your constitution must be brought into compliance with all required provisions in the Model—n.b., changes to required provisions made in both 2019 and 2022 must be included.
  • If an exception to the rule above is sought, consultation with the bishop is required.
  • It is not necessary to adopt the recommended provisions.
  • The congregation may, of course, adopt additional provisions which are not in the Model so long as they do not conflict with required provisions to extend permitted in the CBCR/ELCA.
  • In all this, follow the provisions for the amendment of your constitution scrupulously.
  • If none of this makes sense to you, contact the bishop.

For Constitutions Older than Churchwide Assesmbly 2016

If your constitution was not revised after CWA 2016 (or is not in compliance with the Model in areas other than the CWA 2022 update), you may want to contact the bishop. CWA 2016 produced a massive revision to the Model, especially to required provisions of Chapter 9. The bishop can provide advice on how too reduce the weeping and gnashing of teeth involved in making this sort of update. The first step in this process is to download the 2022 Model Constitution for Congregations. Note the following:
  • Everything on the list for the simple update applies here along with some additional points (listed here).
  • It may be easier, depending on how far your constitution is out of compliance with the required provisions of the Model, to start with the Model as your base document and do a whole sale replacement of your constitution.
    • When doing so, first go through an identify all your recommended provision and all provisions unique to your congregation.
    • Compare your recommended provisions (i.e., provisions that are not required) with that in the Model and decide which you would like to to keep, modify, or trash.
    • Incorporate as appropriate.
    • In less drastic cases, entire chapters can be replaced.
    • Do the same with any local provisions (i.e., items unique to your congregation) in your constitution.
  • Follow the provisions for amendment of the your constitution as they appear in your current constitution (not as they appear in the Model, as they may be different).
Again, feel free to contact the bishop or one of the synod parliamentarians for assistance.

Trustee formWV Congregations: Filing Your Trustees with the County

If your congregation is in West Virginia, has it updated its list of trustees at the county court house? You might want to take a look at Article One, Chapter Thirty-five of the Code of West Virginia. You will find under §35-1-5 the material related to appointment and removal of trustees and under §35-1-6 the material related to properly recording trustees at your local office of the clerk of the county court. For your convenience, we've provided a form that should be acceptable to most clerks of the county court: download the form here.

COVID-19 Page

COVID-19 posses special challenges for congregations and their leadership. A special page has been set up on the synod web site for COVID-19 related information. Please visit to access the latest material.

Workshops & Presentations

The WV-WMD Synod offers workshops and presentations for congregations on a variety of topics. The following are currently available, but more will be added as time goes on. If there is something you would like to see that is not listed, contact Bishop Riegel. To make arrangements for a presentation or workshop, email Bishop Riegel (

  • Compline Workshop
                  at MartinsburgWorship
    • Praying Compline
    • Praying Matins
    • Praying Vespers
    • Tips for Singing Psalms
  • Polity & Governance
    • Intro to Roberts Rules of Order
    • Updating Constitutions & Bylaws
  • Theology, Bible, Ethics, and History
    • Sanctification in a Lutheran Key
    • The Rhetoric of First Corinthians
    • A Theological Argument for the Political Animal
    • German-speaking Lutherans in the Great War's America
    • Making End of Life Decisions
    • The History of the History of the Reformation
    • The Geo-Politics of the Reformation

Events that have been scheduled can be found on the Synod's Education page.

A Seed Planted Mission Fund

Synod Assembly 1996 established “A Seed Planted” Mission Fund to stimulate innovative outreach by or from congregations. Awarded grants went for a range of activities from a coffee house Bible study to printed promotional material to efforts with unaffiliated populations. To download information on the fund and guidelines on application for a grant, click here.

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West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, ℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church, 309 Baldwin Stee, Morgantown, WV 26505
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