Synod celebrates 25th anniversary; bishop re-elected

SELINSGROVE – The 26th annual Assembly of the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was held at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove in June with the theme “Woven Together in Christ.”

Bishop Robert L. Driesen led the proceedings and was re-elected as synod bishop for a six-year term beginning Sept. 1. Driesen was elected with 178 votes to 88 votes for Rev. Daniel May, pastor of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Turbotville, on the fifth ballot. During his annual report, Driesen gave a look back at the last 25 years and how life has changed in that time period.

About 350 lay persons and clergy who are members of congregations of the synod attended plenary sessions, workshops and worship during the two-day event. During both days, workshops were held over the lunch period and were themed around topics to help “equip the saints.” The workshops provided practical information that attendees could use in their own congregations. Dr. Rick Carlson, the Glatfelter Professor of Biblical Studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, was the Bible study leader. The assembly also heard greetings from Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons.

The ELCA churchwide representative was the Rev. Linda Norman, treasurer of the ELCA. Norman shared greetings from the churchwide office and showed a video featuring greetings from presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. In addition, Pastor Stephen Herr, of Gettysburg, brought greetings from the ELCA Church Council.

In assembly business, voting members adopted a memorial in support for Peacemaking with Justice in Israel & Palestine. The assembly adopted a 2014 budget of just under $1.1 million, as well as salary, housing and health benefit guidelines for ordained ministers and associates in ministry.

Elected as vice president for a four-year term was Karla Bohmbach, of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Shamokin Dam. Carol A. Waltz, of Messiah Lutheran Church in South Williamsport, was elected as synod secretary. Elected to Synod Council for three-year terms were: Edward Coup, of Christ, Milton; Samuel Leister, of St. Stephens, Licking Creek; the Rev. Amanda Range, of the Salem Parish, Selinsgrove; the Rev. Jeffrey Bohan, of St. Luke, Bloomsburg; Christy Zeigler, of St. Luke, Sunbury; Sandra Olson, of Siloa, Morris Run; and Courtney Schrey, of Botschaft, Grubbs, Mt. Pleasant Mills (young adult member).

The assembly elected John Fulkroad (St. Stephen’s, Licking Creek), the Rev. Lisa Schuster (Trinity, McClure), George Groff (Trinity, Sunbury) and the Rev. James Rill (United, Sunbury) to the committee on discipline. The Rev. Paul Kampa (St. John, Belleville), the Rev. Matthew Schuster (Messiah, Troxelville) and the Rev. Theodore Cockley (St. Luke, Williamsport), Frank Bardo (St. John, Jersey Shore) and Jeffrey Mitchell (St. Paul Erdley’s, Middleburg) were elected to the consultation committee. Elected to a four-year term on the board of directors of Susquehanna University was the Rev. Dr. Lois Martin, St. Matthew in Shamokin Dam.

On June 14, Driesen installed the Camp Mount Luther 2013 Summer Ministry Team for their work on behalf of the synod. That morning’s Eucharist was a celebration of the synod’s 25th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of Camp Mount Luther, which also takes place this year. Chad Hershberger, executive director of the camp, gave an update later that afternoon about the golden anniversary and some of the special events happening to commemorate that milestone. Bishop Emeritus A. Donald Main was the preacher for the morning Eucharist.

Two in-gathering offerings were received for Camp Mount Luther and Zion (Arbogasts) Lutheran Church, Mount Pleasant Mills. The collection for the camp was for its birthday candle project, raising funds to retire the debt of its evergreen center dining and activities building. The assembly gave more than $2,000 to that cause. The assembly gave $1,600 to Zion (Arbogasts) to help with recovery after a fire at its church. In addition, almost $6,200 was raised, mostly in quarters, to send to ELCA World Hunger as part of their “good gifts” program. The program provides livestock and tools to help families escape for the good the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Congregational Milestones celebrated during the assembly included Christ’s United Lutheran Church in Millmont (50th anniversary) and Christ Lutheran Church in Milton (125th anniversary). Three individuals were recognized for their own milestones in 1988, including one who was baptized, one who was confirmed and one pastor who was ordained that year. Six pastors were installed as conference deans and those pastors celebrating significant ordination anniversaries were recognized.

During a service of Holy Eucharist on June 15, Richard A. Adams was ordained. Adams has been called to the Liberty Valley Parish in Tioga County. The Rev. Boyd Gibson and the Rev. Dr. Theodore Lindquist Jr. also were remembered posthumously during the service.

The Upper Susquehanna Synod, headquartered in Lewisburg, is one of 65 synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The synod is made up of 131 congregations in Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Tioga and Union counties. For more information on the synod and its congregations, visit