S.E.PA. Synod Assembly Elects New Bishop

Report of our voting members:

The 31st annual assembly of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod was held May 4-5, 2018. Kris and Dick Hughey were the voting members from Reformation and attended together with our rostered leaders, Pastor Wayne, Pastor Alina and Deacon Beth. The setting for the meeting was the Franconia Mennonite Church in Telford, PA. The Church has wonderful facilities and a sanctuary large enough to accommodate the more than 500 voting members and guests.

The main topic this year was the election of a new bishop. Bishop Claire S. Burkat will complete her second six-year term at the end of July and has announced her retirement effective at the end of her term. The election process ran over the course of two days and is an ecclesiastical process: anyone can be nominated on the first ballot, then top seven, top three and, finally, top two, if necessary. Only four ballots were necessary and the Rev. Patricia Davenport was elected, collecting over 60% of the votes cast. It was an historic election because Bishop-elect Davenport is the first African-American woman to be elected bishop in the ELCA. (Less than 24 hours later Pastor Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, also an African-American woman, was elected bishop in the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin.)  Bishop-elect Davenport is currently the Director for Evangelical Mission/Assistant to the Bishop in our Synod. She is well known to many members of Reformation having accompanied one of our groups on a trip to Tanzania and having assisted us in a capital campaign. She brings many skills to the office of bishop.

Many of the candidates spoke about the diversity which exists in our Synod which encompasses rural, suburban and urban congregations. We all have unique challenges but look forward to a leader who expressed part of her vision and purpose as “…creatively invest(ing) in our rostered ministers and laity, equipping the body of Christ for the work of ministry in our neighborhoods and in congregations, that will cause a ripple effect in church and society that will bring hope in despair and light into the darkness.”

We look forward to her leadership.

Kris and Dick Hughey