Meet the Office of the Bishop staff
Bishop, Allegheny Synod
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 Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. He holds an MDiv, 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.
Assistant to the Bishop
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, Pastor 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. Pastor Paula returned to school to complete a Bachelor degree at Lebanon Valley College. Following graduation, she began attending Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC, 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 is an Altoona native graduating in 1989 from Altoona Area High School with an emphasis in business. Prior to coming to the Synod office in 2001, she worked as an insurance agent and in banking. As Synod Office Manager, she has a wide range of responsibilities including financial data entry, website maintenance, database management, calendar administration, congregational, rostered leaders and financial records management, office communications, and oversight of the day-to-day operations of the Synod office. She is married and has two children.
The Reverend Rebecca “Becca” Ehrlich grew up in Albany, NY and is currently living in Philadelphia, PA. Before becoming a pastor, Pastor Becca served in children, youth, and young adult ministry positions in inner city Philadelphia and suburban Pennsylvania for 12 years. She was ordained on October 12, 2012 to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the ELCA. Pastor Becca served her first call as solo pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Frewsburg, NY; her second call as co-pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Clarence Center, NY; and her third call as Associate Director of Admissions at United Lutheran Seminary.
Pastor Becca has served on the Upstate NY Synod Candidacy Committee, the Upstate NY Synod Council, the Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center (an outdoor ministry of the ELCA) Board of Directors, and currently serves on the ELCA Spiritual Renewal Team.
Pastor Becca holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Dramatic Arts Criticism from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA; a Master of Arts degree in Theology and Ministry from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA; a Master of Divinity degree from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia; and is currently a doctoral candidate working toward her Doctor of Ministry degree at United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg and Philadelphia, PA.
Pastor Becca is also a writer; she primarily writes about the intersection between the minimalism movement and the Christian faith. She has written for Luther Seminary’s Center for Stewardship Leaders, Virginia Theological Seminary’s Building Faith, the ELCA’s BoldCafe, and regularly writes on her blog, www.christianminimalism.com. She has recently written a 3-part series on Christian minimalism for Living Lutheran that will be published online starting in January, 2020 and she is also currently writing a book on Christian minimalism.
Pastor Becca has been married to her wonderful husband Will Platnick for over 7 years. Will serves in technology ministry as the Principal Site Reliability Engineer for the YouVersion Bible app—the most popular free Bible app for smartphones. They enjoy regularly exploring Philadelphia together and watching lots of movies.