The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Boerger elected on fifth ballot

Serves up ‘yummy’ parts of ELCA Constitution

Photograph by Julie Fletcher

Wm Chris Boerger, a former bishop of the Northwest Washington Synod, will serve as the third secretary of the ELCA.

Boerger, 64, succeeds another synod member — David D. Swartling, a trial attorney who didn't seek a second term. Boerger, who once recommended Swartling for a stint as the Churchwide Assembly parliamentarian, told him, "I think I got you into this. ... Payback is, in fact, fun."


Boerger received 489 of the 867 votes cast on the fifth and final ballot, over Michael Cooper-White, president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.). Cheryl G. Stuart, an attorney from the Florida-Bahamas Synod, had led on the first three ballots.

Speaking to voting members, Boerger remembered his mother, who before her death asked for the entire book of Ephesians to be read at her funeral. Her words: "I know that's too long. Then read Ephesians 2. If that's too long, pick the yummy parts."

Boerger said Ephesians 2:8-10, his confirmation verses, could really be considered the first four chapters of the ELCA Constitution. It "points us in the direction God wants us to go and gives us the structure to accomplish it," he said.

As the church shares the good news of Jesus, we must know our rules, gifts and history, he said. "And that's what the secretary does: plans events, makes sure the records are up-to-date, makes sure the constitutions are working, makes sure the manual for the maintenance of the roster is in the hands of every synod office and that everybody knows what they are," he said.

Boerger begins serving his six-year-term Nov. 1.


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