Concerning the Election of a Synod Bishop
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When our Southeastern Pa. Synod meets in assembly May 4-5 we will elect a new synod bishop. Bishop Claire Burkat was first elected to a six-year term in 2006. She was elected to a second six-year term in 2012. Bishop Burkat has indicated that she will retire at the end of her term this summer.
Electing a bishop is one of the most important responsibilities in the life of a synod in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a key responsibility of the Synod Assembly. (The Synod Assembly is comprised of all the pastors and deacons of the synod along with at least two lay voting members from each congregation. Dick and Kris Hughey will be voting members from Reformation.)
I have participated in or observed more than a dozen elections of synod and ELCA bishops. The process and dynamics of such elections are unlike any other election procedure.
As an election, it is a process governed by the constitution of the synod. Any ELCA pastor is eligible to be nominated on the first (nominating) ballot. If you are interested in the specific constitutional process you can find it here.
However, unlike other kinds of elections, it is also a call process. We pray and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us as we engage in prayerful reflection on individual potential nominees and on the needs of the synod as a whole.
At the synod assembly the election process will be suffused in prayer. In the weeks that remain before the assembly I hope you will include in your daily prayers intercessions for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we prepare to call a new bishop.
Let us pray. Almighty God, giver of all good gifts, look on your church with grace and guide the minds of those who will choose the bishop of the Southeastern Pa. Synod, that we may receive a faithful servant who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Wayne Matthias-Long