Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ELCA News Service: Elizabeth Eaton elected ELCA presiding bishop

August 14, 2013

Elizabeth Eaton elected ELCA presiding bishop


     PITTSBURGH (ELCA) - The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Northeastern Ohio Synod, was elected Aug. 14 presiding bishop of the ELCA at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. She was elected on the fifth ballot. There were 889 votes cast, and 445 votes were needed for an election. Eaton received 600 votes and the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, received 287. Eaton is the ELCA's first woman presiding bishop-elect.

      The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 12-17 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The theme for the triennial assembly is “Always being made new.” This year marks the 25th anniversary of this church.

     “We are a church that is overwhelmingly European in a culture that is increasingly pluralistic. We need to welcome the gifts of those who come from different places, that is a conversation we need to have as a church,” Eaton told the assembly shortly after the election.

     Prior to becoming synod bishop, Eaton served as pastor for ELCA congregations in Ohio. She earned a Master’s of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and a Bachelor’s degree in music education from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.

     An assembly schedule is available at and up-to-the minute news entries at

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Manager of Public Relations
773-380-2956 or
Living Lutheran:

ELCA Elects New Presiding Bishop

From the @ELCA twitter feed:
On the fifth ballot for the office of presiding bishop 889 votes were cast. Eaton 600 and Hanson 287. Rev. Eaton is elected.

Fourth Ballot

Total Votes: 907
Needed to Elect: 545 (60%)

Elizabeth Eaton 523
Mark Hanson 300
Jessica Crist 84

The fifth ballot will be later in the current plenary session.

I Am Stunned!

The third ballot results from this morning, after the top nominees offered brief, 5-minute statements to the Assembly:

Total ballots: 919
Necessary for election (2/3): 613

* Eaton 345
* Hanson 271
* Crist 171

* Svennungsen 130
* Marty 1
* Lundblad 0
* Lose 0

The Bishops Hanson and Crist both declined about 100 votes each. Bishop Eaton increased by 258. It seems Bishop Eaton, in her 5 minute address, spoke of the costs of the decisions this church has made in the past. She supports them, but acknowledged the grief of those of us who do not.

This afternoon's plenary, going on right now, is a Q&A with the top three, and then a fourth ballot. 60% is needed to elect. Well,

Electing a Presiding Bishop

The first/nominating ballot was Monday, with the results (officially announced at the beginning of the Tuesday morning session) getting out that evening:

* Mark Hanson 440 (ELCA Presiding Bishop)
* Jessica Crist 53 (Bishop, Montana)
* Michael Rinehart 36 (Bishop, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast)
* Jon Anderson 26 (Bishop, Southwestern Minn.)
* Elizabeth Eaton 23 (Bishop, Northeastern Ohio)

* Rafael Malpica-Padilla 20 (Exec. Dir, ELCA Global Mission; former Bishop, Caribbean)
* Stephen Bouman 19 (Exec. Dir, ELCA Congreagation and Synodical Mission; former Bishop, Metro New York)
* Peter Marty 16 (Pastor, St. Paul, Davenport, Iowa; last host of the ELCA's Lutheran Vespers radio program)
* David Zellmer 15 (Bishop, South Dakota)
* Kurt Kusserow 12 (Bishop, Southwestern Penn.)

* April Larson 12 (Pastor, First, Duluth, Minn.; former Bishop, La Crosse Area, and the first woman bishop in the ELCA)
* Wayne Miller 11 (Bishop, Metro. Chicago))
* Ann Svennungsen 10 (Bishop, Minneapolis Area)
* Michael Burk 9 (Bishop, Southeastern Iowa)
* Peter Rogness 7 (Bishop, Saint Paul Area)

and 107 other pastors with fewer votes. Other than the number of ballots cast being 877, making the required 75% for an election add up to 666 votes, there was nothing remarkable. The main observations seemed to be, Bishop Hanson will be elected on the next ballot, Bishop Crist (who is also Chair of the Conference of Bishops) and Bishop Rinehart (who overnight posted a blog entry explaining why he would withdraw his name from further consideration) seemed to be highly regard as possible successors when Hanson retires. But, no, the important election news would come later this week as a new Secretary (a very powerful office in the ELCA) is elected.

So the second ballot results that came before the Tuesday afternoon session were a bit of a surprise. Of the 943 votes cast (75% to elect being 708), the top 7 vote getters:

* Mark Hanson 369
* Jessica Crist 272
* Elizabeth Eaton 87
* Peter Marty 45
* Ann Svennengsen 36
* David Lose 33 (Homilectics Prof at Luther Seminary)
* Barbara Lundblad 15 (Professor at Union Theological Seminary, New York).

42 other pastors also received votes. But note that Presiding Bishop Hanson's votes went down by 71. And Bishop Crist's went up by 219.

And apparently the Holy Spirit (and others) had been busy Monday night. They would be busy Tuesday night, too, as these top 7 prepare brief bios and statements for the Wednesday morning plenary -- well, four of them, as Pastor Marty and Profs. Lose and Lundblad are not at the CWA and sent word that they would not be there come Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly

The ELCA's Churchwide Assembly (CWA) is in session this week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One can follow the proceedings live as they happen from the ELCA's website. That particular link will likely expire shortly after the the CWA's adjournment, but will get you not only to the current assembly, but to the whatever is kept on the ELCA's permanent web archive of past CWAs, too.

There are other ways to keep up with what is happening, too. Pr. Dick Johnson, editor of the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau's monthly Forum Letter, is doing up-to-date reports on ALPB Forum Online; just click the "ELCA Churchwide Assembly 2013" section. As at earlier CWAs, he also offers some commentary and behind the scenes reporting; and other members of the pan-Lutheran online forum comments, too.

In addition, this is the first CWA in which, rather than printing everything on paper, most everything is being done electronically, with Voting Members being provided iPads (or using their own tablet device) for just about everything. Most of the material is available to anyone through the apps at the 2013 Assembly Guidebook web page, or this page for any web browser, which include the ELCA's own news blog.

An ELCA Churchwide Assembly receives reports of what is happening within the church, elects people to various offices, sets the budgets for the upcoming years, and acts on various subjects and matters that are part of this church's life. Among the "significant" matters for this one is a proposed Social Statement on Criminal Justice, "The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries," the ELCA's 25th Anniversary, and the elections of a Presiding Bishop and Secretary.

At the moment, it is the Presiding Bishop's election that most observers are focussing on, and it is initially a bit more interesting than most anticipated. The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Hanson was first elected in 2001 (ELCA Bishops have 6-year terms), has led during a time of great controversy, and had announced earlier that he was available for election to a third term. At the Churchwide level, there is no "campaigning" ahead of time at least officially ;). Rather, for the first ballot serves as a nominating ballot, with every ELCA pastor eligible for election.

An election can happen on that first ballot if a pastor receives 75% of the votes, which is what happened in 2007, when Bishop Hanson was re-elected. Every pastor's name written on that first ballot appears on the second ballot, unless the pastor deliberately withdraws, again with 75% needed to elect. A third ballot would be limited to the top 7 vote getters, election happening with 2/3rds of the votes. Fourth ballot has 3 pastors, 60% required for election; fifth ballot is the top 2, majority vote elects.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

RIP: Eydie Gorme

One of the grand entertainers, Eydie Gorme, died yesterday just a few days shy of her 85th birthday. See the Hollywood Reporter's obituary here.

Thanks to "Website Story by Eydie G." at

She has another appearance on Pastor Zip's Blog, featured with her husband, Steve Lawrence, in a classic television commercial for American Express. As we see, their performances live on.