Allentown, PA, couple honored for exemplary leadership and service to the church and the seminary
The Rev. Dr. Harold S. Weiss '55 and Mary Anne Weiss have been presented the Soli Deo Gloria Award from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), honoring the Allentown, PA, couple for their decades of service to the Church and seminary.
The honor was conferred during the seminary’s December 5 Advent Vespers Dinner that annually pays tribute to donors and friends of the seminary. (in the photo - l to r - LTSP President Philip Krey; LTSP Board of Trustees chair The Rev. Dr. John Richter; Mary Anne Weiss; The Rev. Dr. Harold S. Weiss; LTSP Foundation Board chair Dr. Robert Blanck; Northeastern PA Synod, ELCA, Bishop Samuel Zeiser - click for publication quality version)
Dr. Weiss served for 13 years as Bishop of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and for many years as a seminary trustee. Mary Anne Weiss has been involved in decades of volunteer and church service in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.
In expressing thanks for the award, Mary Anne Weiss encouraged support for the seminary, noting in her experience “that the congregations that do well have the best-trained pastors and best-prepared lay leaders.” She urged the laity in the audience to “take advantage of the opportunities before them to minister.”
Harold Weiss recalled the names of influential mentors, such as Professors Martin Heinecken and Ted Doberstein. He also acknowledged the late Wilson Touhsaent, who preceded him as synodical bishop, and others. “Thanks for this honor,” Weiss said. “It is meaningful to us beyond words. As the name of the award says, the glory for an award like this is really God’s alone. While the spotlight shines on us tonight I hope you will see this as an occasion where the floodlight shines on all around us who minister well and support the seminary and the church.”
“Hal” and Mary Anne Weiss met at St. Paul’s Union Church in Amityville, PA, where they taught Vacation Bible School during their college years. They were married June 11, 1955. The couple has two daughters, Rebecca Mary Bergman of North Oaks, MN, and Elizabeth Anne Wilson of King of Prussia, PA. They have six grandchildren.
Harold Weiss, who grew up in Boyertown, PA, graduated from Boyertown Area High School in 1948 and from Muhlenberg College Summa Cum Laude in 1952 with an AB degree in English. Having made the decision to become a Lutheran pastor, Weiss enrolled at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, receiving his MDiv degree in 1955. “My seminary years were good years,” he says. “I enjoyed great academic preparation from wonderful professors. I studied with lifelong colleagues and friends. The seminary has come a long way since those days.”
Mary Anne Weiss, who grew up in Yellow House, PA, graduated from Amity High School in Berks County in 1949. She received her BS in Home Economics from Hood College in Frederick, MD in 1953. She served two years as a dietitian at Reading, PA, Hospital until her marriage.
Pastor Weiss’s first call was to Toms Brook Lutheran Parish in Toms Brook, VA, where he served for six years. In 1961, he began an eight-year call to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fleetwood, PA. In 1969, he accepted an appointment as Assistant to the Bishop in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod. At the conclusion of Bishop Wilson Touhsaent’s service as bishop in that synod, Weiss was elected to the office in 1983. He served as bishop for 13 years, retiring in 1996 and was named Bishop Emeritus of the Synod.
Bishop Weiss served on the Board of Trustees of Muhlenberg College from 1983 to 1996, and holds the title of Life Trustee. In 1978 the College conferred upon him an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree. He served on the Board of Trustees of Good Shepherd Home in Allentown from 1996 to 2005, and holds the title of Emeritus Trustee. In 1999 he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Muhlenberg College’s Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, where he is still a member. From 1999 to 2009, he chaired that board.
Harold Weiss served two terms on LTSP’s Board of Trustees – from 1983 to 1987 and from 1991 to 1996.
Mary Anne Weiss over the years has served as a Sunday School and Catechetics teacher and Church Council member at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Allentown, and has been a part of Witness Ministry activities. At Redeemer Church, the couple sings together as members of the church choir. Mary Anne coordinates a Quilt Project, which has made 80 quilts for Lutheran World Relief over the past year.
While in Fleetwood, PA, Mary Anne was a Troop Leader for Campfire Girls. In Allentown, she was a Girl Scout Troop Leader and later chaired the neighborhood group of Scout leaders. In 2000, she was recognized for her 32 years as a volunteer with VIA, an agency, which serves people with disabilities. Today she continues her long-term community volunteer service with Allentown’s Ecumenical Food Bank.