New bishop takes reins in new Hedgesville Ward for church

November 16, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - At age 60, many people are looking forward to retirement or at least cutting back a little. That's not the case with Don Fishel.

Fishel is taking on new responsibilities as the bishop of the newly created Hedgesville Ward, which was organized at the October conference of the Martinsburg, W.Va., stake for area members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"It's a great opportunity to get to know a lot of good people," Fishel said. "Our belief is family is the center of life - I just help with that."

According to Jane Dumont, publicity chairwoman, Fishel was called to serve the new congregation, which was created from two existing congregations - Martinsburg and Mill Creek wards.


He has filled a number of positions during his 34 years in Mormon church service. He served as bishop of the Martinsburg ward in 1982. Most recently he was a member of the stake high council.

He said he and his wife, Annette, "were raised in Pennsylvania. She was Catholic and I was Methodist," Fishel said. "When we moved to Martinsburg for my job with Allegheny Power, we met with some Mormon missionaries and decided that was the way we wanted to go."

When they first became involved in the Mormon church, congregation members were meeting in a house adjacent to the church building they built in 1977.

Together, the wards had about 1,000 members before being reorganized. Fishel said the Hedgesville Ward now has a membership of 395.

Fishel said the new Hedgesville Ward will meet temporarily in the Martinsburg Ward building.

"Plans are in the works for a location in the Spring Mill area for two of the three wards currently meeting in Martinsburg," he said. "That building will be big enough for two wards also."

A stake in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a geographic area that encompasses a number of wards, or congregations, that in turn are usually presided over by bishops.

The Martinsburg stake has 10 congregations with about 3,500 members in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The church has an entirely lay clergy. The office of bishop requires leadership and skill in delegating and requires the ability to kindly make assignments and to follow up.

Other responsibilities include watching over his congregation's spiritual and temporal needs, working with the youth and community, and presiding over and conducting congregational meetings.

He has chosen two counselors from his congregation, Don Wrye and David Smith, to help him fulfill his duties.

Fishel said he encourages his members to be good citizens and will help them reach out to community organizations in worthy causes.

He and his wife are the parents of six children. They have lived in Martinsburg since 1967. Fishel will continue working for Allegheny Power, where he has been employed for 40 years.

The church is at 1050 Lovelace Way in Martinsburg.

Times for Sunday services for the three wards are: Martinsburg Ward, 9 a.m. to noon; Hedgesville Ward, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Mill Creek Ward 1 to 4 p.m.

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