Synod Cont. Ed Event

Working Vacation
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Karen Erskine-Valentine in PulpitWorking vacation?

Sounds crazy, right? Consider this:

  • You give us
    • two Sundays of worship leadership (preaching and Eucharistic presidency),
    • a round of shut-in calls (with sacrament),
    • hear any confessions, and
    • any emergency hospital calls that may come up.
  • We'll give you
    • a parsonage for the week and
    • a small stipend
  • What you get on the side
    • access to to some of the best outdoor recreational opportunities in the continental United States,
    • the quiet and laid-back pace of rural and/or small town life, and
    • the joy of getting into the chancel to serve God's people in an underserved region as well visit some shut-ins who would very much like a visit.

You didn't become a pastor for the council meetings, did you?

True, some of us do enjoy council and committee meetings, but we really didn't enter the public ministry of Word & Sacrament for that, did we? We entered it to discharge the public ministry of Word & Sacrament. So, here's your chance. No council or committee meetings (unless you really want to); just the ministry of Word & Sacrament. Of course, the ministry of Word & Sacrament includes the shut-ins. That's mutual conversation & consolation of the saints. What could be better than doing that thing you were called to do without all the administrative stuff?

Who would you be serving?

WV-WMD has several vacancies scattered throughout the synod. Some of these congregations have been without a regular pastor for years—the longest is measured in decades. Unlike some synods, we are not flush in retired clergy or clergy in specialized calls who would be free on Sunday mornings. Some of territory might well be described as clergy desserts (not unlike food desserts) in which the next available pastor (even including full-communion partners) is more than sixty miles away (over Appalachian roads). So, you would be serving people who might have gone a long time without the Eucharist and shut-ins who may not have had a pastor visit them for even longer. In all likelihood, they would be pretty happy to have you among them for a week.

No, we will not work you to death!

While this is a working vacation, and we've already mentioned the work, vacation is a part of it. These congregations do not have extensive shut-in lists. Even coupled with sermon/worship prep, there should be plenty of free time to enjoy what central Appalachia has to offer.

                Run at Blackwater FallsThe Great Outdoors

Outdoor recreation is one of the most popular draws to central Appalachia. Activities range from the vigorous, like whitewater rafting, to the very relaxed. Seriously, wouldn't you like to sit on the front porch of the parsonage with some local beverage in your hand and watch the sun set over the western ridge? Maybe you like skiing. Maybe you like hunting or fishing. Maybe hiking is your thing. Then, of course, there is motorcycling—the bishop will vouch for the twists and turns. Maybe you just want to get away and enjoy a different view.

How much would you have to pay for a condo in one of the resorts? The parsonage is part of the deal.

Paw Paw Festival at WVUHistory & Culture

There's not just outdoor stuff to do. There is history and culture as well. Interesting museums, music festivals, local art, and the fabric of local life are all part of it. What you find will vary from region to region within the synod, but, for history and culture buffs, exploring is part of the fun.

Depending upon how far you travel, you might also consider us a launching place. From our Eastern Panhandle, a day in DC is easy. From the Northern Panhandle, a run into Pittsburgh requires no planning. The Shenandoah Valley is over the mountain from our Potomac Highlands. The bishop has even been known to run to Cincinatti, when he supplies in the westernmost part of the synod, just to visit an exhibit at the Cincinatti Art Museum.

Who would want to do this?

Well, you, hopefully. This might be a great option for

  • retired pastors
  • pastors who need time to write or think—working on your dissertation?
  • pastors who want to explore our mountains and hollows on a budget
  • pastors on leave from call
  • seminary or college professors on break or sabbatical

Who can do this?

Clergy on the roster of ministers of the ELCA are invited to apply. Yes, we've used the term, "pastor," repeatedly, but that is because we have difficulty finding folks with presbyteral ordination to celebrate the Eucharist. We are not closed to having a deacon come.

Because of full-communion agreements, TEC, PCUSA, RCA, UCC, Moravian, and UMC presbyters can be considered within the terms of those full-communion agreements.

Members of church bodies that subscribe to the UAC can be considered, but there is an extra step involving Synod Council approval, which is not guaranteed.

How does one apply?

Contact Bishop Riegel. There are no fancy forms at this point. Just drop him an email. If you don't hear back, call the office number (as things do end in spam folders).

From there, we'll talk about the places that are open and when they are open. We'll also work out the details of the agreement.

If you would like to take a peek at the current vacant congregations list, click here.

Recommend Someone for a Call

If you know someone that you would recommend for a call in this synod, contact +Riegel

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

Last updated: 1 March 2022