[Diocese of West Virginia] The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer announced his plans to retire July 31, saying he will resign as bishop of the Diocese of West Virginia as of Oct. 13, 2022. On that date in 2001, Klusmeyer was consecrated as the diocese’s seventh bishop.
“I have experienced God in the faces and voices of the people of the diocese,” Klusmeyer said as part of his announcement. “Each time I stand at the altar, celebrate Eucharist with the people, drive through this beautiful state of West Virginia, I see God’s presence.”
Klusmeyer is known for his dedication to healing and serving. During his time as bishop, The Episcopal Church stepped forward on critical issues in the state. It responded to severe flooding needs, was the first church to be called to carry Narcan in its parishes and sponsored numerous coaching and recovery programs to help those suffering from various forms of addiction. But his most important work has been as an advocate for equality and justice.
Klusmeyer in 2002 commissioned a committee within the church to work on racism and diversity. Presently, the church is working to fulfill obligations under the “Seven Steps to Justice” pledge.
During the state’s 2019 legislative session, Klusmeyer invited Ibtesam Barazi, vice president of the state’s Islamic Association, and Rabbi Victor Urecki, B’ani Jacob, to join him in opening a morning session of the West Virginia House of Delegates. There, they prayed together for understanding, unity and peace. The three have spent countless hours working on behalf of refugees and to end racism.
His work for equality and justice did not stop with race relations; Klusmeyer led the church to serve the needy in various counties. Two examples are a mobile health clinic, based in Lewisburg, and the Highland Educational Project (HEP), serving McDowell County.
The mobile clinic was built with guidance from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. Most recently, it was dispensed to provide support to the Greenbrier County Health Department for COVID-19 testing. HEP places its focus on mission groups, education, home improvements, senior services, recovery and children and families. Presently, it is serving youth through a camp-in-a-box program and working with several education-based programs.
“Bishop Klusmeyer has been a good and faithful shepherd of the Episcopal diocese of our state,” said the Rev. Paul Hicks, president of the Diocesan Standing Committee. “His love of God, people and humor are evident in all aspects of his life and service. We are thankful for him and offer our prayers of thanksgiving and ask that God’s blessings be upon him.”
As Klusmeyer begins to wind down his time, the diocese is working to identify his successor by selecting a bishop coadjutor. A committee will announce the slate of candidates Aug. 2, 2021. Candidates will visit the state in late August. In September, the coadjutor will be elected at the diocese’s convention. That person will become the eighth bishop upon Klusmeyer’s retirement.