Passage: Bishop Harold Weiss (BD 1955), LTSP Distinguished Alumnus, Trustee
The Rev. Harold S. Weiss, 86, Bishop Emeritus of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, died peacefully at home on July 15, 2017.
Bishop Weiss was born on December 5, 1930, near Boyertown, Pennsylvania, the son of Alvin S. and Mary E. (Sheeler) Weiss. He graduated from Muhlenberg College in 1952 and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1955.
Following his ordination by the Ministerium of Pennsylvania on May 26, 1955, he served as pastor of Toms Brook Lutheran Church in Toms Brook, Virginia, and, in 1961, he was called as pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. In 1969, he was called to serve as assistant to the bishop of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, and in 1972 he also became the synod secretary. In 1983 he was elected the second bishop of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, an office to which he was reelected when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was formed in 1987. He was reelected to a third term in 1991. Bishop Weiss retired in 1995, but continued to serve as interim bishop by appointment of the Synod Council until 1996.
Throughout his ministry, Bishop Weiss served the wider church in many capacities. This included serving on the as a trustee of both Muhlenberg College and The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and on the board of directors the ELCA Board of Pensions. After his retirement, he served as the interim director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, an organization that he had helped to found. He also served on the board of trustees and faithfully supported the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network in Allentown.
The service that Bishop Weiss rendered was widely appreciated and recognized. In 1978, Muhlenberg College honored him with an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia presented him with its Alumni/Alumnae Award for Distinguished Service in 1996, and in the same year the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod named him Bishop Emeritus. In 2010, he was honored as a recipient of the Raker Memorial Award from the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network. Also in 2010, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia presented Bishop Weiss and his wife Mary Anne the Soli Deo Gloria Award in recognition of their decades of service to the church and the seminary.
Harold touched many lives, inspired people with his wisdom, humility, and compassion, and, as a bishop, was a highly respected pastor to pastors and congregations. As longtime members of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Allentown, Harold and Mary Anne particularly enjoyed singing in the choir together. Growing up on the family farm led to a lifelong passion for gardening and quiet moments at the family’s cabin in the woods. He loved volleyball, classical music, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years, Mary Anne (Body) Weiss; his two daughters and their families: Rebecca and Thomas Bergman of North Oaks, Minnesota, and their children Matthew (Katherine), Andrew (Jennie), Laura, John; and Elizabeth and Guy Smith of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and their children Megan, Emily, Dylan, and Ryan; brother Gerald (Rebecca); many loved nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and by brothers and sisters Ray, Pearl, Calvin, Henry, Howard, Marie, and Herbert.
A memorial Service was held on July 22, 2017 at the Egner Memorial Chapel on the campus of Muhlenberg College.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Muhlenberg College, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, or United Lutheran Seminary (formerly The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia).
Bishop Weiss was a regular attendee at the annual Spring Convocation – here in several anniversary photos of the Class of 1955: