Saturday, June 10, 2023

Bishop Elections

I am a seminary candidate housed in the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA (the larger branch of the Lutheran church, the one that is less conservative and more inclusive).  I wasn't able to go to Synod Assembly, which ended yesterday, because I have a part-time preaching job Sundays at a church in Bristol, Tennessee, and that's too much driving, even for me.

It was the Synod Assembly when we elect a bishop, which only happens every 6 years, so I knew that it would be packed, if past assemblies are any indication.  I also had heard that our current bishop would run for another term, so it didn't feel vital that I be there for the election, unlike past assemblies.  In short, I felt good about my decision not to attend.

According to the few accounts I saw, Bishop Pedro Suarez was re-elected with no drama.  Hurrah!  I wasn't expecting drama, but still one never knows.

I am selfishly glad for continuity.  I have heard horror stories of new bishops who come in and change much in the lives of their seminary candidates, for better and for worse.  I don't know if it still happens as much as it once did, but I have heard of bishops who decided not to ordain entire categories of people:  certain ages, divorced people, and then there's the LGBTQIA+ categories that are under more threat from a bishop change than I am (almost 60 year old, white female).

The Florida-Bahamas synod is much older and whiter than many synods.  I do wonder how the synod might change if a different person was elected bishop.  If the past is any indication, probably not radically.  I do wonder at what point climate change will impact the synod more than it has and whether or not a bishop will need to address it in different ways.  There may be issues that feel much more immediate, and that scares me too.

But for now, I'm celebrating the re-election of a bishop who seems to be working well in the position, and I'm praying for his continued renewal and inspiration--and for the continued renewal and inspiration of us all.

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