With Bishop Bruce Burnside facing serious criminal charges, the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said today it has appointed the Rev. Blake Rohrer as acting bishop.
Rohrer has been one of Burnside’s assistants since 2008. The synod, based in Madison, oversees 145 congregations in 13 counties.
The action “should not be confused with the appointment of an interim bishop,” the statement says.
In an interview, Rohrer said Burnside retains the position of bishop “without any of the functionality of the office.”
Burnside was charged Wednesday in Dane County Circuit Court with three felonies and one misdemeanor in the death of Maureen Mengelt of Sun Prairie. Mengelt, 52, was struck and killed Sunday in Sun Prairie while jogging.
Prosecutors allege Burnside was driving drunk when he hit her with his sport-utility vehicle. Among the charges is homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. He also is charged with felony hit-and-run causing death for allegedly fleeing the scene of the crash.
Burnside was released from jail on a signature bond Thursday morning and entered an inpatient treatment facility, the synod said.