The Rev. Paul M. Orso, Former Lutheran Bishop and LSS Leader, Dies

10/28/2003 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Paul M. Orso, bishop of the
Maryland Synod of the former Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and
former executive director of Lutheran Social Services (LSS),
Washington, D.C., died Oct. 22 at his home in Gwynn Oak, Md.
Orso, 84, had Parkinson's disease.
     A memorial service is scheduled for Oct. 30 at Our Shepherd
Lutheran Church, Severna Park, Md., where he and his wife Joan
were members.
     Orso was a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America (ELCA), which was created in 1988 through a merger of
the American Lutheran Church, Association of Evangelical Lutheran
Churches and LCA.
     Ordained in 1944, Orso served as bishop of the LCA Maryland
Synod from 1968 until he retired in 1983. Prior to that he was
executive director and pastoral counselor for LSS from 1953 to
1968.  He was a visiting professor at the Lutheran Theological
Seminary at Philadelphia, one of the eight ELCA seminaries;
associate professor of psychology at Upsala College, East Orange,
N.J., a former college of the ELCA; supply pastor at Evangelical
Lutheran Church, Hartwick Seminary, Oneota, New York; assistant
professor of psychology, Hartwick College; supply pastor at St.
Mark Lutheran Church, Boston; and chaplain at the Marine
Hospital, Baltimore.  He served an internship at Luther Place
Memorial Church, Washington, D.C.
     Orso served eight congregations as interim pastor in the
Washington, D.C., area and in recent years was a supply pastor to
many congregations.
     Orso was born in 1918 in Montoursville, Pa.  He graduated in
1940 from Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pa., one of 28
ELCA colleges and universities.  In 1944 he earned a bachelor of
divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
(LTSG), an ELCA seminary.  In 1949 he earned a doctorate in
pastoral counseling from Boston University, Boston.  He studied
at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; Johns Hopkins
University, Baltimore; and the Pastoral Care Institute,
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
     In 1968 Susquehanna University awarded Orso an outstanding
achievement award, and in 1969 it awarded him an honorary doctor
of divinity degree.
     Orso served with many church organizations during his career
and in retirement, including Tressler Lutheran Home for Children,
board of directors, secretary and  vice president; Lutheran Welfare Conference in America, president; LCA Board of Social Ministry;
Division of Welfare, Standing Committee, Lutheran Council in the
U.S.A.; Council for Lutheran Theological Education in the Northeast, member and chair; Bishop as Counselor, Conference of Synodical
Bishops, chair; LTSG board member; counselor, Executive Committee
for Special Ministries, ELCA; and Maryland Synod Examining Panel.
     Professional and community organizations he served were Family
Life Association, Washington, D.C., president; Institute of Pastoral
Care; American Association of Pastoral Counselors, fellow;
Psychologists Interested in the Advancement of Psychotherapy;
American Protestant Hospital Association, College of Chaplains;
American Psychological Association President's Committee for the Employment of Physically Handicapped; and American Cancer Society,
Anne Arundel County, Md., board of directors.
     Orso wrote for several publications including "The Lutheran,"
the magazine of the ELCA, "Lutheran Church Quarterly," "Lutheran
Young Adults" and "Journal of Pastoral Care."
     In addition to his wife Joan, Orso is survived by a son, Donald,
and a daughter, Carolyn Bertelsmeyer, both from his first marriage.  
Orso and his first wife, Kathryn, were married 33 years before her
death in 1979.
     Orso will be cremated.  Interment will be private.
-- -- --
A scholarship fund in Orso's named has been established for
students at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  Funds
will be used to support students entering church vocations.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or


You can receive up-to-date
ELCA news releases by email.