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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Is this the best way to elect a presiding bishop

I'm extremely nervous about the process that we use to elect our presiding bishop — even when it results in an outstanding choice.

The ecclesiastical ballot, in which the first vote is for nominations, is a wonderful approach when people know each other. But our church is too large for the assembly's voting members to have such firsthand experience of viable candidates. Without an earlier nomination process, we come to balloting without knowing which people are willing to be considered.

The current system gives too much influence to the bishops and churchwide staff and doesn't allow biographical information to have an advance review.

Too much also depends on a handful of short comments at the assembly. It would be better to nominate seven people in advance. That would give a base of candidates, which could still be combined with an open (ecclesiastical/nominating) first ballot.


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