Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld Will Be the First Female of African Descent to be Installed As Bishop

Marking a new historic season in the ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Rev. Viviane E. Thomas-Breitfeld will be the first female of African descent to be installed in the ELCA and the second female bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (“ELCA”). The ELCA is the largest Lutheran denomination in the world.  This historic event will take place on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at First Lutheran Church, 612 North Randall Avenue, Janesville at 2:00 pm.  Doors open at 1:00 pm.  A reception will follow.

Expected are over 1,000 in attendance including, pastors, deacons and members of 142 ELCA worshipping communities in the synod, former synod bishops, bishops from the other 64 ELCA synods, ministry partners, family members and friends.

In addition to members of synod congregations, Lutheran, ecumenical and interfaith partners will be present. Among the invited guests are ELCA Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA, who will preside, the Rev. Mary Froiland, recent former bishop of the synod, a representative of the Lutheran World Federation, clergy from other denominations in full communion relationship with the ELCA, local dignitaries and community leaders.

Guests will celebrate under the theme of social justice based on scripture text found in Micah 6:8–To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Preaching the gospel message will be the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth A. Eaton.  Special music by gifted musicians led by Music Director of First Lutheran Church, Ben Johnston-Urey will fill the gathering space with a joyful sound.

Bringing a rich history in community involvement while serving in congregations and on several synodical and churchwide teams, Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld envisions a synod that is a model for welcoming all to God’s table.  “I hope I can help the synod become more open to change, so we can become more relevant to all, especially people of color, LGBTQI, and young adults, many of whom are choosing to not attend church.”

Bishop Thomas-Breitfeld is looking forward to the celebration of installation and especially spending time with pastors, deacons and lay members of the synod that she will lead in the years to come.  “There is a love in the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin that is pretty special and a sense of support that is really pretty awesome.  When I was introduced last year at the synod assembly, no less than 20 other clergy came up to me to welcome me. That’s pretty spectacular. That doesn’t happen in most places.”

The Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, Beloit, Wis., was elected May 6 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA.  The election was held during the Synod Assembly May 5-6 at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.  She assumed office July 1 and succeeds the Rev. Mary Froiland who served as bishop from September 2013 through June 30, 2018.

Prior to becoming bishop, Thomas-Breitfeld most recently served as an intentional interim pastor for Atonement Lutheran Church in Beloit and has also served as pastor of several congregations in Wisconsin including Gethsemane Lutheran Church (Brookfield), Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Waukesha), and Cross Lutheran Church (Milwaukee)

She currently serves as the co-chair of the Task Force on Women and Justice, ELCA; the Executive board of the Women of the ELCA; and the South-Central Synod of WI Racial Equity Team.  She served for six years on the board of Trustees (Governance Com) of the Mission Investment Fund as well as the ELCA Representative to the Illinois Synod Candidacy Team.   She has served communities through her work on the Ethics Committee of the Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls, the Campus Ministry Board (Milwaukee), the City of Brookfield Police Department as a volunteer chaplain, Resident Chaplain at St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee and served as a board member of both the YWCA and United Way in Waukesha county.

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld is married to the Rev. Fred Thomas-Breitfeld, pastor of Jackson Park Lutheran Church, Milwaukee.  They have two adult children, Leota and Sean, two son-in laws, and three grandchildren.

The service will be available via live stream.   Watch What Matters and the synod facebook page for the link.

Everyone in the synod is invited!  There will be ample seating and parking.  Pastors and Deacons are invited to vest & process.  The color of the day is red.

“If you have never attended a holy event of this nature, you will never forget it.  We will gather as a large community of saints to offer up prayer and thanksgiving and to contemplate the work that God has set before us.   Moments of music and singing will vary from celebratory rhythms that raise the roof to quieter, more contemplative meditation on the word.  If you are longing for Jesus, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit.  I am certain of it!”

~Deacon Vicki Hanrahan