As the summer winds down and many prepare for vacations or time spent relaxing, some 952 voting members from the ELCA's 65 synods and 9,638 congregations will be working Aug. 12-17 in Pittsburgh, making decisions on your behalf at the 2013 Churchwide Assembly.
Hosted by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, 2013 marks the last biennial gathering of the ELCA's highest legislative authority before the assembly transitions to a triennial cycle. Some big decisions face voting members amid daily worship, prayer and Bible studies under the theme "Always Being Made New," based on 2 Corinthians 5:17.
The assembly will:
• Elect a presiding bishop and a secretary for the ELCA. Mark S. Hanson, elected presiding bishop in 2001 and 2007, has said he is open to serving a third term. David Swartling, elected secretary in 2007, is stepping down after one term and returning home to the Pacific Northwest.
Both elections are by "ecclesiastical ballot," a process that involves prayer and asking for the movement of the Spirit. All ELCA pastors are eligible for the first nominating ballot for presiding bishop, and laity or clergy can be nominated for secretary. For either position the percentage needed for an election (75 percent on the first ballot) decreases with successive ballots until the fifth ballot, when a simple majority is required.
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