The Northeastern Ohio Synod met in assembly May 15-16, 2015, at the John S. Knight Center, Akron, under the theme "We are Church Together".
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding Bishop of the ELCA, led the opening worship.  The Rev. Abraham Allende, Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod, called the assembly to order at 9:00 a.m.
Bishop Allende introduced the Rev. Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as the ELCA representative to the assembly.  He went on to introduce ELCA council representative Marjorie Ellis; The Rev. Jean Hansen, assembly coordinator; Timothy Gilroy, synod treasurer; John Sleasman, interim vice president and parliamentarian; David Lenz, synod secretary; the Reference & Counsel Committee; Credentials Committee;  Elections Committee; ordination candidates Lucas Merritt, Kristina Heise and Angela Storer. 
Bishop Allende announced the dates for the 2016 synod assembly as being May 13 & 14.
The Rev. Dan Caruso, Assembly Planning Committee Chair, welcomed us and gave announcements. 
Bishop Allende called upon The Rev. Doug Fidler to present the nominations for the first ballot. 
Bishop Allende relinquished the chair to John Sleasman, interim Vice President, for the presentation of the Bishop's Report. He repeated the theme "We are Church Together" and introduced the synod staff.  He noted that the staff is the smallest since the early days of the formation of the synod 26 years ago.  He said the desire is to strengthen the synod for ministry and that 3 of 4 Sundays every month staff is present in other congregations.  If he hasn't been invited to your congregation, invite him.
Bishop Allende resumed the chair and called upon Bishop Elizabeth Eaton to bring us up to date on the state of the ELCA.  She advised that our synod has raised $290,500 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign (surpassing our original goal) and that $14.1 million has been raised churchwide to date.  2016 will be the kick-off for observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and the theme is "Freed & Renewed in Christ: 500 Years of God's Grace in Action."  Her vision for the ELCA includes the "what are we questions" - what are we?:
  • Church
  • Lutheran
  • Church Together
  • Church for the sake of the world
And that we should have meaningful worship centered around word and sacrament. 
            "We should live as though we believe that the Resurrection is real".
Bishop Allende then called upon Mark Rollenhagen, chair of the Communications Committee, to introduce "Story Tellers" - the synodical website is being revamped and will allow individual congregations to put their own news and information on it.  He is encouraging us to 'tell the story' about our congregation either by written word or video. 
Jeff Thiemann, the Portico representative, advised the Northeastern Ohio Synod has completed the 65% wellness assessment necessary to give us a 2% savings on the benefits - 100% of the synods are participating.  What are we doing to promote well-being? 
We were treated to a video presentation prepared by Lutheran World Relief.
Bishop Allende called upon Timothy Gilroy, synod treasurer, to present the treasurer's report.  Timothy thanked the synod staff - both current and former - and the congregations for their assistance and understanding through the budget process. 
The Rev. Dan Cammarn, chair of the synod Finance & Budget Committee, presented the Audit Report for the calendar year ending January 31, 2015.  He went on to present the proposed 2016-2017 budget.  He began with a review of the 2015-2016 budget as amended by church council.  He reminded us that 50% of all benevolence dollars is sent to the wider church to help fund camps, seminaries, social ministry institutions, missionaries, the ELCA Youth Gathering and more.  It supports all the missions of the church.  He thanked the Finance & Budget Committee for their assistance in preparing the budget. 
The Rev. Ann Paynter, gave the report of the first ballot.  Those persons elected on the first ballot for synod council were:

Cathy Byers, Akron-Wooster, 3 yr term, lay             

Ken Reinhoel, Canton-Massillon, 3 yr term, lay

Paul R. Lund, Cleveland East, 3 yr term, lay

Eric Edwards, Eastern, 3 yr term, clergy

Susan Smith, Richland-Ashland, 3 yr term, lay         

Laura Barbins, Cleveland East, 2 yr term, clergy

Paula Maeder-Connor, Cleveland West, 3 yr term, clergy    

Darla Ann Kratzer, Canton-Massillon, 1 yr term, clergy

Bryan Penvose, Vice President, 3 yr term, lay

Ann Marie Winters, Consultation Committee, 6 yr term, clergy

Kate Venable, Consultation Committee, 6 yr term, clergy

Kathryn Lad, Consultation Committee, 2 yr term, lay

2016 Churchwide Assembly Delegates :

Chip Belanga, CM & SO, clergy

N. Marlene Fleming, EA, lay

Karen Liddy, RA & AW, clergy

Nate Jackson, CM, AW, RA & SO, lay

Chuck Mosberger, CE, SW, EA, lay

Barbara White, CM & SO, lay

Karolyn Miller, RA & AW, lay

Jackie R. Shakir, person of color or other language, lay female

Charles Benning, person of color or other language, lay male

Michael Moentmann, young adult 18-30

Tanazia Adams, youth 14-17

A second ballot was needed so that was taken.        
The Rev. Ed Kropa presented the 2016 Compensation Guidelines, which are broken down into 3 categories:
  • Associates in Ministry, Diaconal Ministers & Deaconesses
  • Clergy
  • Non-Rostered
The Rev. Darla Ann Krazter, chair of the Reference & Counsel Committee advised that there were no resolutions brought forth from the assembly.
We received greetings and well wishes from some of our Ecumenical Partners -
  • Catholic Diocese of Youngstown
  • East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church
  • Ecumenical Officer of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese
  • Association General Minister of the United Church of Christ
  • Transitional General Presbyter of the Presbytery of the Western Reserve
The vote was taken for adoption of the 2016-2017 budget and it was adopted.
A By-Law Amendment was presented to the assembly in regard to the Conference Deans being appointed by the bishop rather than chosen by their peers.  The term of the appointment will be co-terminus with that of the bishop.  A two-thirds majority was needed for approval.  293 votes were taken - 213 in favor, 80 against, 31 abstained.   By-Law Amendment was approved.
The total offering on Friday was $2,535.08 which will be given to LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service). 
The congregations celebrating significant anniversaries were recognized:
200th    Jerusalem, Columbiana
            St. Jacob, Massillon
175th    Clay Memorial, Mansfield
            First, Plymouth
            Zion, Wooster
150th    St. Paul, Alliance
            Peace, Ashland
The rostered persons celebrating significant anniversaries were recognized:
70th      The Rev. Walter Heber

60th      The Rev. Bela Bernhardt                                            

55th       The Rev. Theodore Grotjohn
The Rev. James Kennell              
The Rev. Donald Pentz                                 

50th      The Rev. Thomas Baumgardner                               
The Rev. David Hammel
The Rev. Bruce Hathaway                   
The Rev. Gerald Keller
The Rev. Clyde McGee
The Rev. Richard Schluep
The Rev. Paul Williams

25th      The Rev. Elizabeth Hazelton
The Rev. Randall W. O'Donnell
The Rev. Gail Patton
The Rev. Brian Rossow
The Rev. Joyce Taipale
The Rev. Ann Paynter reported the results of the second ballot.  Those elected were:

Dirk van der Duim, 2016 churchwide assembly voting member, CE & EA, Clergy

Cheryl Gerber, 2016 churchwide assembly voting member, CE & CW, Lay

Randy O'Donnell, 2016 churchwide assembly voting member, CW, Clergy


The vote was taken for approval of the 2016 Compensation Guidelines and they were approved.
The Rev. Angel Jackson, Process Builder for Women & Justice: One In Christ, explained how a social statement is created and how, once it is created, it can save hours of research when someone is asked "where does the ELCA stand on this?" Learn more at   She asks us to invite her to a Listening Event at our congregations.  You can email her at  She is pastor at St. John, McZena. 
We were greeted by The Rev. Dr. Rick Barger, President of Trinity Lutheran Seminary.
We enjoyed a Question and Answer period with Bishop Eaton and Bishop Allende.  Members of the assembly were invited to submit their questions during the assembly on Friday.
The Rev. Darla Ann Krazter, chair of the Reference & Council Committee brought forth the Courtesy Resolution and it was approved by applause.
Door prizes were awarded.
Newly elected council members and churchwide assembly voting members were installed and the assembly was adjourned. 
The worship was done in a different way at this assembly.  Rather than have one worship service or go off-campus for the worship service, it was done in parts.  On Friday, we celebrated Gathering and later in the day, we had Word.  We closed with Meal.  On Saturday, we had Morning Prayer and later in the morning we had Prayer Around the Cross.  It was wonderful the way it was done. 
We should all live as though we believe the Resurrection is real."  
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton.

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