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Layman named head of council

February 01, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Layman named head of council

Bringing the Washington County church community together has traditionally been a clergyman's job.

But for the first time, a layperson, Bob Hyssong, is taking on that role.

This month Hyssong was named executive director of the Washington County Council of Churches.

"I thought I would try to give it the best that I knew how," he said.

Hyssong's main goal is recruiting more churches into the council. Currently, about 40 of the county's 175 churches are members.

Together, the council can accomplish goals that individual churches could not, he said.

"You have more talent, more financial resources. It improves the quality of life of the community," he said.

The council helps people who have fallen on hard times through its social service center, operating at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown. Member churches refer people there who can't pay their light bills or put food on their tables.

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The council sponsors an annual CROP Walk, which raises more money for charity by drawing on a large base of churches.

Hyssong, 75, is starting with a little public relations. He plans to visit area churches to talk about the council. Since he is the first layperson in this role, he doesn't know what kind of reaction to expect.

It's an important job with an important title, but Hyssong isn't doing it for the money.

Hyssong receives a small stipend, but it is mostly a volunteer job, said the Rev. David Buchenroth, president of the Washington County Council of Churches.

Hyssong, who is retired, will work 10 to 15 hours a week.

Hyssong said he's doing it "to contribute to a better lifestyle and a better physical and spiritual community," he said.

The council went without an executive director for about three or four years, Buchenroth said. When Buchenroth became president in July, he made it a priority to fill the position, he said.

"I think the Council of Churches needs to have greater visibility," he said.

In addition to being a liaison between the council and area churches, Hyssong is the council's record-keeper.

"The executive director would be the glue that holds the organization together," even as presidents come and go, Buchenroth said.

Hyssong is setting up an office at Christ's Reformed Church, 130 W. Franklin St. in Hagerstown, where he has been a lifelong member.

A Hagerstown native, Hyssong has been retired from the U.S. Post Office for 10 years. In his last job there, as supervisor of delivery and collection for 18 years, he was in charge of scheduling all the city mail carriers.

About two years ago, Hyssong took a second retirement from the real estate business.

In the past, Hyssong has also done volunteer work with the Catoctin Association of United Churches of Christ and the Elks Club.

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