The Election of Presiding Bishop-Elect Elizabeth Eaton

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A statement by Bishop Larry Wohlrabe Northwestern Minnesota Synod

ELCA Bishop-Elect Elizabeth Eaton

ELCA Bishop-Elect Elizabeth Eaton

Over 900 voting members of the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly have been praying, listening, reflecting and conversing in Pittsburgh about the election of a presiding bishop. Our 23 voting members from the Northwestern Minnesota Synod have given themselves to this call process, honored to have been part of this historic assembly.

For twelve years this church has been well served by Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson. He is a man of passion, insight, deep faithfulness, extraordinary communication gifts, and an outgoing personality that has allowed him to relate well to all sorts of persons–both inside and outside of the ELCA. Bishop Hanson has offered calm, courageous, sensitive leadership during some of the most tumultuous years of the ELCA’s life.

Although Bishop Hanson generously offered to continue as presiding bishop if invited to do so, the discernment of members of the Churchwide Assembly led them to call forth a new presiding bishop–the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, who has served as Bishop of the ELCA’s Northeastern Ohio Synod since 2006. Having greatly appreciated Bishop Hanson, I am delighted by the election of Bishop Eaton. She brings to her new calling a profound faith, a sterling Lutheran identity, a keen intellect, an outgoing personality, and a delightful wit that is both disarming and self-effacing. Within the Conference of Bishops I have found her to be a wonderful colleague and friend.

When the results of the fifth and final ballot were announced yesterday afternoon, Bishop Eaton received a thunderous ovation before addressing the Assembly. Moments later, though, Bishop Hanson also received a long standing ovation–with enthusiastic shouts of praise and affirmation, to boot. It was very clear to me that this Assembly was embracing both our current Presiding Bishop and his successor, with great joy and gratitude.

As we prepare for worship on Sunday, I encourage all congregations of the synod to include in their liturgies heartfelt prayers of thanksgiving for the ministries of Bishop Mark and Ione Hanson–along with petitions for wisdom and strength for Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and her husband, the Rev. Conrad Selnick.

Bishop Larry Wohlrabe
Northwestern Minnesota Synod

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