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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Hanson enters second term with 'humility and gratitude'

With his wife and a daughter at his side, Mark S. Hanson on Aug. 7 accepted his second term as ELCA presiding bishop with “great humility and deep gratitude.” He received 888 of 1,029 votes cast on the second ballot.

Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson (left)
Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson (left) and Michael L. Burk, ELCA worship director, pray during closing worship. Assembly business stopped each day for eucharist.
Hanson, 60, is the second ELCA presiding bishop to serve two terms—Herbert W. Chilstrom served two four-year terms before limits were changed. When Hanson finishes this second six-year term, he will have been presiding bishop 12 of the denomination’s 26 years.

Hanson, whose second term begins Nov. 1, reiterated what he said when elected to his first term, that it was a “call received” not an election won.

“This is first and foremost a calling with Ione [Agrimson],” he said turning to his wife. His voice choked with emotion as he pointed out that when one spouse receives a call, it often means a “calling away” for the other spouse.

Their youngest of six children, Elizabeth, a student at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, was also present.

Hanson said he also shares the call with his colleagues of the churchwide organization—including the officers of the church, Church Council, Conference of Bishops—and leaders throughout the church.

He said he looks to the next term with prayerful discernment, drawing upon his faith formation: his evangelist father who carried “the aroma of Christ,” his mother’s passion for hospitality, his father-in-law’s antennae for “bureaucracy run amok” and his mother-in-law, who prays for him with “expectant hopefulness.”

“So I come into your midst with deep gratitude and expectant hopefulness for the next six years,” he concluded.

On the first ballot, 107 clergy were nominated. Hanson received 765 votes, two short of the necessary 75 percent.

On the second ballot, Karl P. Donfried, professor emeritus of religion and biblical literature at Smith College, Northampton, Mass., received 73 votes. Barbara K. Lundblad, associate professor of preaching at Union Seminary, New York, received 18 votes. James A. Nestingen, retired pastor and seminary professor, Dallas, Ore., received 17.


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