Synod Staff (from left to right): Bishop Robert Hofstad, Pastor Valinda Morse (Assistant to the Bishop), Pastor Don Fossum (Assembly Coor.), Allison Ramsey (Office Manager), Pastor Melanie Wallschlaeger (Director for Evangelical Mission/ELCA staff), Pastor Ron Hoyum (Assistant to the Bishop). On the other side of the camera, hidden from view, is Rachel Pritchett (Synod Communicator)
The Rev. Robert D. Hofstad
What is a Bishop called to do? In the constitution of our Southwestern Washington Synod, it says: The Bishop is to “Preach, teach, and administer the sacraments in accord with the Confession of Faith of this church,” as well as to have “Primary responsibility for the ministry of Word and Sacrament in this synod and its congregations, providing pastoral care and leadership for this synod, its congregations, its ordained ministers, and other rostered leaders.” This means that a bishop is both a pastor and an overseer–both at the very same time. Often these two tasks compliment one another, but at times they seem to be competing for the same few hours of the workday.
I find my role to be one of keeping balance between these two responsibilities: being a pastor, and being an overseer. I pray daily for God’s guidance, and for your understanding as I try to discern how to be faithful to both of these responsibilities at the same time.
Bishop Hofstad was elected to his second 6 year-term of office as Bishop of the Southwestern Washington Synod at the Synod Assembly in 2007. He and his wife have two children and two grandchildren.
The Rev. Ronald A Hoyum
Assistant to the Bishop
Pastor Ron Hoyum works with the call process, mobility, candidacy, interim ministry, and he is the liaison to the Leadership Support Board. Prior to coming to the Synod Office, Pastor Hoyum was a Co-Pastor, with his wife Lori, at Port Madison Lutheran Church on Bainbridge Island, and Assistant Pastor at Emmanuel in Tacoma. Pastor Hoyum was an attorney before going to seminary to become a pastor–two skills that work well together. Pastor Hoyum, and his wife, also a Lutheran Pastor, are parents to a teenage son and daughter.
The Rev. Valinda I. Morse
Assistant to the Bishop
Pastor Morse works with congregations in transition and those needing redevelopment. She leads the Healthy Congregations, Natural Church Development, & Conflict Management programs and works to equip congregations with resources for positive ministry, including strategic planning and asset mapping.
Pastor Valinda Morse has over 12 years experience as a parish pastor, most especially in congregations experiencing transition. Prior to attending seminary to become a pastor, Valinda was a successful businesswoman. Besides the following specialties, Pastor Morse is the liaison to the Congregational Ministries Board, Fiscal Board, Outreach Board and Mission Endowment Fund Board.
She and her husband are kept busy as the parents of two children and grandparents of three active young boys.
The Rev. Melanie Wallschlaeger
Director for Evangelical Mission
Pastor Wallschlaeger began in the new ELCA position of Director for Evangelical Mission in 2009. Prior to this calling, she served in several congregations in the midwest. She is a graduate of Luther Seminary and holds a Doctorate in Mission Development. She and her husband, also a Lutheran Pastor, have two daughters.
Allison’s background is in program management working with youth and adults, and in mental health counseling. Allison is a graduate of PLU with a bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Education- Counseling and Guidance. She is a lifelong Lutheran and enjoys her work with the synod office meeting new people and facing new challenges. She is the extremely proud parent of a teenage son.
Rev. Donald G. Fossum
Adjunct Staff, Assembly
Rev. Don Fossum “retired” in 2000 after serving 35 years in three congregations of the Southwestern Washington Synod. He has served in the synod office since 1998 as an adjunct staff person with a variety of different tasks. Presently, his primary responsibility is as the administrator for the annual Synod Assembly. Rev. Fossum is the synod staff advisor to the Hunger and Earthkeepers committees. On his “off-time” Pastor Fossum is active in the Washington State Junior Golf Association.
Adjunct Staff, Communications
Rachel is the editor of The Lutheran Insert and producer of the synod’s monthly newsletter, “Moments for Mission”. Her full-time job is as a reporter for the Kitsap Sun newspaper. She and her husband are the proud parents of three daughters.