Press Release from the South Central Synod of Wisconsin, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

On Tuesday, April 16, your Synod Council met and consulted with the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. At the meeting, the Synod Council made the following decisions and recommendations:

In accordance with the constitution and bylaws of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin (+S8.56), the Synod Council accepted the determination of the Executive Committee, which concurred with Bishop Burnside, that he is unable to fulfill the responsibilities of the office of bishop for the duration of his term, which concludes June 30.

In accordance with the constitution and bylaws (+S8.54), and in order to provide for the responsibilities of the bishop, the Synod Council authorized the Executive Committee, in consultation with the presiding bishop, to consider pastors for interim bishop, and to bring a recommendation of a pastor to serve the synod as interim bishop to the Synod Council as soon as reasonably possible.

After deliberation and deep conversation, the Synod Council recommends that the bishop’s election not be held at the upcoming Synod Assembly May 4-5, but instead be postponed to a later date in 2013 at a time and location to be determined by the Synod Council. The Synod Council further recommends that the time that was to be used to conduct an election for bishop at the May 4-5 Synod Assembly instead be used to have facilitated conversation about what we are experiencing now as a synod, and about what God is calling this synod to with regard to its mission and ministry in the future. The recommendation to postpone the bishop’s election will come before the Synod Assembly on May 4.

In the upcoming days, the Synod Council, synod staff, the Synod Assembly Planning Team and many others will be working diligently to make preparations for the implementation of these recommendations. More information about the changes suggested for the May 4-5 Synod Assembly and about plans for the postponed bishop’s election and process will be shared in the coming days.

Please be attentive to communications from your synod so that you do not miss any of these important updates. I ask that you please be patient as many people are working on the multiple facets of these decisions and recommendations.

Please continue to pray for the ministry of your synod and its leadership, as we fulfill our responsibilities to the gospel and to the mission of Jesus that we share.


A Madison bishop, charged in a hit and run crash that killed a jogger, is resigning.

Bishop Bruce Burnside says he is unable to fulfill his responsibilities.

His term as bishop ends June 30th.

Earlier this month, Burnside hit 52-year-old Maureen Mengelt of Sun Prairie.

Burnside is accused of being drunk at the time. He is currently at an in-patient treatment center.



The Sun Prairie Police Department is requesting information from anyone that may have been a direct witness to any portion of this event.  This would include people that were a witness to the actions of the driver after the crash or those that may have had direct interaction with the driver in the parking lot of Kelley’s Mobil (276 Davison Dr.) in Sun Prairie.

Investigators are asking witnesses to contact the Sun Prairie Police Department at 608.837.7336.   



Letter posted online from South-Central Synod of Wisconsin:

Dear Members of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin,

Leaders and members of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin continue to ex-press sorrow and sympathy for the family of Maureen Mengelt, who died April 7, when she was struck by the vehicle of Bishop Bruce Burnside, who was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide while intoxicated.

We pray that God will comfort the Mengelt family – especially Maureen’s husband, Kevin, and her children, Megan, Andrew, and Allyson – and surround them with peace and grace. We ask for prayers for all those left to grieve the death of one of God's dear children. Our sadness for the untimely death of Maureen Mengelt is too great to be adequately expressed.

Throughout these days we have been in prayer for members of the synod staff and the synod council, for Bishop Bruce Burnside and his family, and for the pastors, lead-ers, and congregations of our synod.

Bishop Burnside has been released on bond and he entered an inpatient treatment facility on April 11.

In accordance with the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin's constitution and bylaws, the synod council confirmed the temporary appointment of the Rev. Blake Rohrer as acting bishop to oversee the ministry and work of the synod. This should not be con-fused with the appointment of an interim bishop.

Further information on matters of concern to the synod, including the upcoming Synod Assembly, will be available after this week’s synod council meeting.

“Scripture and Prayer Resources,” as well as public statements and information up-dates are available on the synod website:

Please continue to pray for all those affected by this unfortunate tragedy. We live in the trust that nothing can separate us from God’s love, and we pray that God’s love will sustain us all today, and in the days ahead.


UPDATED Wednesday, April 10, 2013--5:40p.m.

Total bail was set at $150,000 dollars for Bishop Bruce Burnside. He now faces charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle; hit and run resulting in death and homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.

Burnside is a Bishop for the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He was reportedly on his way to a church ceremony Sunday afternoon when he struck Maureen Mengelt with his car. The 52-year-old married mother of three was out for a run when Burnside hit her; she died from her injuries.

The criminal complaint says Burnside initially denied having had any alcohol to drink. However, when he was tested, it says he blew a blood alcohol content of .128.

Today, his attorney expressed sympathy and condolences on his behalf.

One church leader who showed up to offer support said he's keeping both parties in his prayers. "This is a tragic situation all the way around," said Rev. Jerry Hancock, of the First Congregational United Church of Christ. "And we just hope and pray that things will work out for everybody concerned."



A Lutheran bishop is charged with striking and killing a runner in Sun Prairie last weekend.

Bishop Bruce Burnside was charged Wednesday with three felonies and one misdemeanor. The Wisconsin State Journal reports charges include homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Other charges include hit-and-run and homicide by negligent use of a vehicle.

Burnside is bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The 59-year-old oversees 145 congregations in a 13-county area.

Burnside is accused of striking and killing 52-year-old Maureen Mengelt, a married mother of three and an avid runner. Mengelt was a former City of Madison police officer.

Church officials have said Burnside as on his way to a Sunday ceremony at a Sun Prairie church when the crash happened.

A criminal complaint indicates his blood alcohol content (BAC) was .128.  The legal limit in Wisconsin is .08.



A Lutheran bishop who's tentatively charged with homicide by intoxicated driving could soon be in court.

The 59-year-old bishop was in custody Tuesday. He is accused of striking and killing 52-year-old Maureen Mengelt as she was out for a run Sunday.

The suspect is a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. An official at the suspect's synod asks that the current focus be on the victim, not the bishop.

Mengelt was a former City of Madison police officer. She had two daughters and a son.

Kevin Mengelt remembers his wife as someone who loved kids and felt like a mother to every child she met. To honor her love of running, he asks that people who attend her visitation in Sun Prairie on Friday afternoon wear running shoes.



Friends and family say a former Madison police officer was running near her home in Sun Prairie when she was struck and killed by a Lutheran bishop who police say was driving drunk.

The Dane County medical examiner's office on Monday identified the victim as 52-year-old Maureen Mengelt.

The State Journal reports Mengelt was training alone for an upcoming race when she was struck at the bottom of an off-ramp of Highway 151. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Friends say Mengelt was an officer with the Madison Police Department in the late 1980s.

The suspect was arrested and taken to jail. Church officials say the man is a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

No formal charges had been filed Monday.


4/8 - 4:35pm

NBC 15 Reporter: Phil Levin

Police say 52-year-old Maureen Mengelt was killed after being hit by an intoxicated driver in Sun Prairie Sunday afternoon.

The driver of the car was Bishop Bruce Burnside, a local Lutheran leader.

Mengelt's husband Kevin says his wife was out on a 5 mile run, a route she'd traveled hundreds of times. He says she was particularly passionate about an annual 20 mile event from the capitol to Stoughton. Mengelt was recovering from knee surgeries and eager to run the race again.

Mengelt also worked part-time as a chauffeur for Gallant Knight Limousine in Madison since 2006.

To honor her love of running, Keven Mengelt asks anyone attending her wake at Cress in Sun Prairie on Friday from 4-8 p.m. wear running shoes. He says students at Sun Prairie High School, where her son attends, wore red today in her honor.

Mengelt leaves behind three children ages 12-19.


4/8 - 3:25PM

Press Release from the Dane Co. Medical Examiner's Office:

The Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office is releasing the name of the woman killed in the vehicle vs. pedestrian traffic crash on 04-07-13. The crash was reported to authorities just before 3:00PM on 04-07-13. The crash occurred at the intersection of State Highway 19 at US Highway 151 in the City of Sun Prairie, WI. Killed in the crash was:

Maureen F. MENGELT, 52, Sun Prairie, WI

Ms. Mengelt was transported to the Sun Prairie St. Mary’s Emergency Room following the crash and was pronounced dead by a hospital physician.

A forensic autopsy was completed today at the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office. Preliminary results indicate that Ms. Mengelt’s death was due to the injuries sustained in the crash.

Additional testing is underway at this time.

This case remains under investigation by the City of Sun Prairie Police Department and the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office.


4/8 - 7:56AM

Police say a Lutheran bishop was intoxicated when he struck and killed a pedestrian in Sun Prairie.

The 52-year-old victim was hit on the northbound off-ramp of Highway 151 Sunday afternoon. The woman was taken to St. Mary's in Sun Prairie where she later died. She was not been identified.

Sun Prairie Police Lt. Linda Anderson tells the State Journal the suspect was found by police in his vehicle near the crash scene. He was taken to the Dane County Jail. Church officials say the man is a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


4/7 - 9:10PM

Information from a Press Release from Sun Prairie PD:

On Sunday, April 7, at 2:48pm the Sun Prairie Police Department along with the Dane County Sheriff's Department and the Wisconsin State Patrol responded to a vehicle vs. pedestrian crash at the northbound off ramp of U.S. Hwy. 151 at Windsor Street in the City of Sun Prairie. A 52 year old woman was struck by the vehicle driven by Bruce H. Burnside of Madison, WI. The Victim was transported by ambulance to St. Mary's Emergency in Sun Prairie where she died from her injuries.

Burnside was arrested and charged with Homicide by Intoxicated use of a Vehicle. Burnside was taken to Dane County Jail. the case is still under investigation.