"I am so grateful for your leadership, Bishop Hanson." "I am so joyful over Bishop Eaton's call to serve as our presiding bishop." Throughout the Churchwide Assembly and after, I heard those sentiments expressed often. Isn't it wonderful that we can share gratitude for one person's service and at the same time rejoice over another's call for the same position? It is part of our witness that we are not bound by the divisive partisanship too often seen in society.
We are Christ's body. Unity is God's gift to us in baptism and at the Lord's table. In Christ we each receive a variety of gifts from the Spirit to serve the gospel and participate in God's mission of reconciliation. We steward those gifts in our varied callings among families and friends, in our congregations and communities, in the workplace, as citizens and as inhabitants of God's creation. How we best use our gifts is not only for us to decide but also for the community.
In Pittsburgh the Churchwide Assembly voted to call Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton of the Northeastern Ohio Synod to serve as the ELCA's fourth presiding bishop and Wm Chris Boerger, a former synod bishop, to serve as its third secretary. The church called two pastors with marvelous gifts for leadership.
Eaton is a passionate proclaimer of the gospel. She is a wise theologian committed to a strong Lutheran evangelical confessional witness, and she sees great opportunity for such a teaching moment in the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. I appreciate her love for God's people, her constant attentiveness to healing divisions, and her focus on our unity in God's mission. She has a strong commitment to the flourishing of congregations and leaders.
As secretary, Boerger will be clear that good order serves the gospel. He will interpret our governing documents with openness to change in service of God's mission. He will help us explore what is good governance in an increasingly complex and connected society. Both are committed to growing a church culture of collaboration and trust.
As I reflect upon our Churchwide Assembly, I am grateful for the signs of our unity in Christ. As an assembly, Christ is present for us at the center of our work in worship and Bible study, where the word of Christ dwells in us richly in word and water, bread and wine.
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