"God works in mysterious ways," Carlos Peña said after his Aug. 16 election as ELCA vice president. "God has issued this call. I humbly accept the challenge and I ask for your help and support."
Peña, 50, was elected to a six-year term on the fifth ballot (627-346) over Mary Froehlig, a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Southern California School of Religion, Los Angeles. He succeeds Addie Butler, who in recognition for her service was given a farewell reception and the ELCA Servus Dei award at the assembly.
The vice presidency is an unsalaried lay position. Key among the duties is serving as chair of the Church Council.
In a press conference after the election, Peña spoke of his role in navigating some of the difficult issues facing the church. "I use humor to defuse volatile situations. Humor helps," he admitted with a wry grin.
Sobering, he added: "I can listen to both sides. ... I'm not one to make a rash decision or jump to conclusions."
The ELCA vice presidency "will take precedence over other things," he said, adding that he would need to evaluate some commitments.
Peña is president of Kleen Supply Co. Inc., Galveston, Texas, and C.M. Distributing in Houston. He and his wife, Diane, have two children: Steven, 21, and Stephanie, 13. They are members of First Lutheran Church, Galveston.
© 2015 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers