December 3, 2019

Dear Ministry Partners,

In the not-quite-two-months since I’ve been here, I’ve been immersed in fine conversations around the synod, which I know have been helpful to me and I trust helpful to others. I’ve now been with rostered leaders in eight of the synod’s 12 conferences, the other four to be completed in December; we’ve had time to talk about the recent past and look forward to the future.  I’ve met several times with the Synod Executive Committee and Bishop Election Task Force, two synod council meetings, retired pastors and deacons gathering, one synod assembly (!), Sunday preaching and presence, and lots of other conversations. I’ve been part of the planning for coming synod events, LEAD and Synod Assembly among the largest. This rolling stone has gathered no moss!

I am glad to be here, to be encountering many fine people doing faithful work in quite varying settings. My call is to assist in laying a strong foundation through this time of transition for the next chapter of this synod’s life.  Much of that task is now laid before us in the adoption of the Process that will lead us to the election of your next bishop in June.

Town Hall Meetings

The foundation begins to be laid by first naming where we are as a synod, and, from that, what kind of leadership skills we need to seek in the next person to serve as our bishop. This is fundamental to a good call process in any congregation and just as fundamental for us as a synod.

Below is a link to a bulletin insert that is an information piece that can be used as such, can be handed to church council members or others in congregational leadership, or posted openly.  We encourage broad participation in this step.  We will center on two descriptions: (a) this synod – its strengths and challenges, what makes it unique, what is it facing at this moment in history; and, from that snapshot, (b) the skills and characteristics that would serve us well in the person of the next bishop.  That emerging “bishop profile” will be the lens through which further consideration of potential nominees will happen. I will have a team of scribes to gather the observations of all who attend.  They will then condense what has emerged from those meetings into a profile of the synod, and a profile of the bishop we seek.

We suggest that those who will ultimately be present to represent your congregation in the assembly that will vote for the next bishop would be logical attendees. But these meetings are not legislative, and any interested members of our congregations are welcome to come. Please share this information with people who might attend and encourage their participation!

Attention has now turned to the formation of a Bishop Call Committee, the group that will receive the names that arise from the Conference Nominating Caucuses and do the work that Call Committees normally do; in this case, unlike a congregational call committee that recommends one person for call, this committee will send 4-6 names to the synod assembly for consideration and election. Deans are receiving and sending to me suggestions for persons who might serve well on that committee.  It will be intense and important work.

Following is the process going forward – I attached this in my first letter to all pastors and deacons last month, but now it is officially adopted.

This process has arisen from consideration by the Bishop Election Task Force, the Synod Council, and Executive Committee, and was originally drafted by Interim Bishop Peter Rogness. Over time, as it was reviewed and discussed, changes were made. It has been reviewed and affirmed by staff at the Office of the Presiding Bishop; it has been presented verbally to the Bishop’s Convocation October 6-8, verbally and in writing at the November 2, 2019, special Synod Assembly.  It was formally adopted as presented here at the November 9, 2019 meeting of the Synod Council.

I value your partnership in the life of the church here.  And next week, as people gather in homes throughout the country, my prayers of Thanksgiving will include this time we share together.

Grace and Peace,

Peter Rogness
Interim Bishop