Annual synod assembly held

SELINSGROVE – The 27th annual Assembly of the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was held at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove June 20 and 21, with the theme “Listen to the Spirit.”

Bishop Robert L. Driesen led the proceedings and during his annual report, he gave a look at ways the Spirit is working in the synod. He also announced that the 2015 budget reflects a reduction in staff, eliminating one assistant to the bishop position. The remaining assistant to the bishop position will be divided into two parts with one half-time position in the synod office and the six conference deans serving as deployed staff and receiving a stipend.

Revs. Beth Ann and Karl-John Stone, who are the synod’s two full-time assistants to the bishop, have accepted calls to serve on the pastoral staff of Southwood Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. The bishop also shared information on the Campaign for the ELCA. As part of that campaign, the synod also is seeking to raise $30,000 for the new Upper Susquehanna Synod Fund for Leaders. A highlight of the assembly happened when $1,000 was raised by attendees for the new fund and the bishop danced like the Kid Bishop, who was featured in two videos shown on Friday.

More than 300 lay persons and clergy who are members of congregations of the synod attended plenary sessions, workshops and worship. The Rev. Dr. Barbara R. Rossing, professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, was the Bible study leader. She spoke about the book of Revelation and debunked the rapture, drawing on research for her book The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation.

Elected to Synod Council for three-year terms were the following: the Rev. Cheryl Berner of Trinity, Milton; Crystal Bollinger of First, Mifflinburg; Esther Bratton of St. Stephens, Licking Creek; Christopher Kuhn of St. Paul (Leinginer’s), Mount Pleasant Mills; Brent Edgar of Christ United, Catawissa; the Rev. MarthaSue Moll of St. Mark, Elysburg; the Rev. Cinda Brucker of Trinity, Hughesville; and Faith Kohl of Grace, Sunbury; Alfred J. Bashore, II of Pine Street, Danville, was elected to the consultation committee.

At Friday morning’s service of Holy Eucharist, MaryLou Matthews was consecrated as a diaconal minister. Matthews is the first diaconal member to be consecrated in the synod and has been called as chaplain at Williamsport Regional Medical Center.

During a service of Holy Eucharist on Saturday morning, Faron H. Johnson and Rick L. White were ordained. Johnson has been called to serve St. John’s, Delaware Run, and White has been called to serve Zion, Kraterville. Also during the service, the following were remembered posthumously for their service to the synod: William Baker, Rev. John Ballantine, Rev. Arnold Bensen, Rev. Vitolds Gobins, Stephen Schlesing and Rev. Glenn Sullivan.

The Upper Susquehanna Synod is headquartered in Lewisburg and is one of 65 synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The synod is made up of 130 congregations in Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Tioga and Union counties. For more information on the synod and its congregations, visit