Getting to know the Synod staff...

Bishop Michael L. Rhyne
 Pastoral Oversight and Care, Congregational Transition, Conference of Deans, Reconciliation, Outreach, Evangelism, Constitution and Bylaws Committee, Synod Outreach, Global Missions and Partners, Finance

The Rev. Michael Rhyne was called as Bishop of the Allegheny Synod in June 2014.  He previously served the Geeseytown/Newry Lutheran parish, a two point parish in Newry and Hollidaysburg, PA.  Bishop Rhyne was a second career pastor, having worked for 12 years in the professional theater and worked as a theater manager and instructor at Huntingdon College (Montgomery, AL) and taught at other colleges and universities in central Alabama before going to seminary.  He holds an MFA in acting and theater from the University of Alabama, and did his undergraduate work at UNC-CH.  Bishop Rhyne is married and is a father of three.  Bishop Rhyne's hope for the Allegheny Synod is that we can all remember that Christ Jesus is alive, active, and at work in our churches.  If he wasn't, we wouldn't have made it this long.  But Jesus continually takes the loaves and the fishes that we have, that we may not think sufficient, and uses them to bring life and blessing to this world.  The Bishop hopes we can always remember that what is important is not who we are or what we think we can do, but what is important is who Jesus is and what he is doing and has been doing in, with, and through us.  Because Christ is here, anything is possible.  Jesus uses us (regular old you and me) to be ministers of Jesus' peace and love to this world.

The Rev. Paula Schmitt
Candidacy, Pastoral Care, Leadership, Congregational Transition, Lay Worship Leaders,
 Reauthorization Committee, Discerning Your Discipleship (DYD)

Pastor Paula is a native of Pennsylvania, having grown up in Lebanon County. She graduated from Cedar Crest High School and then attended Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in Lancaster, PA. Following graduation Paula worked for an advertising agency and a free newspaper. After the birth of her son, Samuel, Pastor Paula began freelance graphic design work and volunteering more in her home congregation, Friedens Lutheran in Myerstown, PA. It was during that time she sensed a growing call to ministry. Paula returned to school to complete a Bachelor degree at Lebanon Valley College. Following graduation, she began attending Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina graduating in 2005. Following graduation, she accepted a position in the Office of the Presiding Bishop at the ELCA Churchwide office as an Executive Administrative Assistant. She returned to the candidacy process in 2008 and accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran in Sidman and St John Lutheran in Summerhill. She began an interim position at Bethany Lutheran Church in Altoona in 2010, was called as the full time pastor in 2012, and served Bethany until accepting the call to serve in the Allegheny Synod office as Assistant to the Bishop.

Michelle Bossler 
 Office Manager, Administration, Communications

Michelle has served in the Allegheny Synod office for 12 years.  Her wide range of responsibilities include data entry, website maintenance, dealing with rostered leaders, and making congregational contacts.  A native of Altoona, she graduated in 1989 from Altoona Area High School with an emphasis in business.

What is the Allegheny Synod?

The root words of synod basically mean "on the road together". A synod is a grouping of congregations who collectively do the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are 65 synods in the ELCA.

The Allegheny Synod is a grouping of 116 congregations with more than 35,000 total baptized members, whose mission is to inspire, encourage, and support those churches.

The Allegheny Synod consists of seven counties in central Pennsylvania which are: Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Huntingdon, and Somerset. The Allegheny Synod is also made up of eight conferences, or groups of congregations, cooperating to do ministry.

Synod Organization & Officers

Synod Assembly: the highest legislative authority of the synod.
Synod Council: serves as the synod's board of directors between annual assemblies.

Bishop: Rev. Michael L. Rhyne
Vice President: Sam Dunkle
Secretary: David Finney
Treasurer: Todd Hammaker

Where We're At

Our churches are located in the Central Pennsylvania. Click here to locate a church near you.

Allegheny Synod, ELCA

701 Quail Ave.
Altoona, PA 16602

Phone: 814.942.1042
Fax: 814.941.9259


Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM-12:00 PM, 1:00 PM-4:00 PM