Currently, I’m in Pittsburgh, PA as a voting member at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Yesterday afternoon, we voted to elect Rev. Elizabeth Eaton as the new Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. This of course means that Rev. Mark Hanson will no longer be serving in that role.
This picture, taken by photographer Brett Nelson catches an incredible moment after the plenary session was complete.
While the excitement about our new bishop is still palpable in the plenary hall, I am deeply grateful for Bishop Hanson’s service to the church, and all he’s done for so many people around the world. He has helped to navigate the Lutheran church through 12 of the most difficult years we’ve gone through with clear vision and courage.
During a time when I was extremely resistant toward church and the kind of hypocritical, hateful, and exclusive “Christians” that distort the good news of the Gospel, every time I heard Bishop Hanson speak, I heard messages about unconditional love and inclusiveness and our call to respond to the grace that’s been showered on us in our baptisms and each time we take communion.
I absolutely love hearing him speak, and will miss his voice in this role. However, I’m also incredibly excited about Bishop Eaton and her ability to speak directly to issues that matter to all of us– God’s children. Hopefully you all see what I saw in her during her Q&A sessions and speeches.
She spoke about how we need to re-think our identity as Lutheran– it’s hard to reach out to “the other” when we’re so focused on “what it means” to be Lutheran: Jello salads, hot dish, lutefisk, etc. She wants to spark people’s sense of mission in our communities and in the world.
Perhaps most exciting to me, though, is her passion in talking about issues surrounding youth and young adults, and the fact that so many of us (“us” being young adults like me… for now) aren’t affiliated with a church community.
Please feel free to email or call me if you have any questions about the discernment and election processes, about my thoughts about the future of the ELCA, or about Bishop Eaton. I’m excited. I feel honored and grateful to have had this opportunity to respond to the Holy Spirit at work in this church body. I want to talk about this with– well– anybody.
Stay safe, and be good to other humans.