2020 is a year in which we elect a bishop. Even this is different from how it has been done before. Over 300 people were involved in Town Hall meetings resulting in a profile of the bishop we seek; hundreds more gathered in nominating caucuses to lift up names. A Call Committee has put in countless hours over the past weeks, all to bring to you the four nominees that have emerged from repeated interviews, reference calls, written material. These are gifted people, and one will become our bishop. Study, pray, talk with others, and sense the Spirit’s leading as we enter into this process.
Below you will find detailed information on our election process along with updates and information in ascending order with the most current updates at the top of this page and information on the beginning of the process and FAQ’s towards the bottom of the page. Take note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic some of the process and timeline were modified as were deemed necessary due to state and county emergency orders.
Report of the Synod Bishop Call Committee
Introducing the Nominees for Bishop
Click on the link to the right to read the full report of our Bishop Call Committee and Learn About our Four Nominees for Bishop.
The Bishop Election Task Force conducted two forums with the nominees for bishop. The first held on May 21, 2020 was a live recorded webinar with questions asked of the nominees developed by the task force. The second was also a live recorded webinar held on June 29, 2020 and featured questions submitted by members of synod congregations. Both forums, along with written responses to the final questions from the June 29 forum, are available for viewing by clicking the link to the right.
May 5, 2020 Update from Bishop Rogness Related to Election
March 21, 2020 Update from Synod Council Related to Election – Subsequently Updated May 2 to Reflect Date Updates (underlined below).
At it’s meeting on Saturday, March 21st, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and associated social distancing orders, the Synod Council made several decisions regarding the 2020 Assembly, the Bishop Election Process and other Synod events in 2020.
The Bishop Call Committee, the Council and the Synod Staff have discussed how to keep the Call process moving forward on schedule. The assessment of those involved feel that with the use of telephones, electronic meetings, interviews, and forums; the process will be able to stay on schedule.
From March 10 to April 24th, the Bishop Call Committee receives and researches the names coming from the Conference Nomination Caucuses. It will receive information, conduct interviews, and do background and reference checks. It is charged with bringing forward 4-6 nominees for consideration by the synod for the election of a bishop.
March 10, 2020 Bishop Election Process Update
The next part of the new bishop election process includes the work of the Bishop’s Call Committee. From March 10 to April 24th, the Bishop Call Committee receives and researches the names coming from the Conference Nomination Caucuses. It may receive information, conduct interviews, do background and reference checks. It is charges with bringing forward 4-6 nominees for consideration by the synod for election of a bishop.
Between May 2 and June 20, four Nominee forums will be held around the synod. The Bishop Election Task Force will determine the format for these forums.
February 2020 Message From Bishop Peter Rogness
Introducing our Synod & Bishop Profiles
On October 1, 2019, I began as the interim bishop, to serve during the transition time leading to the election of the synod’s new bishop, scheduled for June 20, 2020. We put in place a process intended, as stated at our recent Town Hall meetings, “to lay the strongest possible foundation for the successful tenure of our next bishop.” That foundation depended on broad input from around the synod. The result of that input is the two profiles that are presented HERE.
Additionally, here is some basic information about this synod, and note the process that follows, based on these profiles:
Basic Information describing the synod in 2020.
To summarize: this synod is following the general trends of our denomination and religious life in the country, a pattern of slow/steady decline. The one statistic that is different is the growth – still slight, but comparatively significant – in the percentage of persons of color in our congregations, moving from 1.3% to 6% in 10 years.
I am grateful to all who attended the Town Hall meetings, and to the scribes, Rev. George Carlson, Mary DeYoung, Rev. Dan Feaster, Rev. Dick Inglett, and Ken Streit, who have taken the insight of the Town Hall attendees and moved it into these Profiles. I trust the Spirit, who has guided the life of the church, is present in this work, and in our movement ahead.
December 2019 Message From Bishop Peter Rogness
About the Election of Our Next Bishop
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.
As part of the discernment process for potential candidates and conferences; there ere are two pieces of information that are being provided here and are are able to be filled out and submitted electronically:
Town Hall Meetings to Take Place January and February, 2020
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.
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.
Below is the schedule of Town Hall Meetings. No registration is necessary. Ideally, we would like you to attend the conference in which your church is assigned. Links to bulletin inserts that may be shared in congregations and other information is located to the right.
Please join us at any of these forums to give voice to conversations on the strengths and challenges of this synod and what we need in a bishop.
Forums are approximately 90 minutes in length. Find out which conference you are in HERE. We hope to see you there.
Following these Town Hall Forums voting members of the Synod Assembly from each conference will gather in late-February/early-March for Nomination Caucuses. Participants are rostered leaders and lay voting members of the 2020 Synod Assemblies (or ’19, if you haven’t selected 2020 voting members yet). Each Conference may identify up to five Ministers of Word & Sacrament in the ELCA for consideration for nomination as bishop. The schedule for these caucuses are as follows:
Find out which conference you are in HERE.
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.
The focal elements of the process are as follows:
Timeline and description of the Process:
June 20 – the members of the Synod Assembly reconvene for the Election of the Bishop.
*Nominees for bishop must be on the roster of Ordained Ministers of Word and Sacrament in the ELCA. They need not be from that conference, or from this synod.
On Saturday, January 11, 2020 the Synod Council appointed the members of the Bishop’s Call Committee. The Executive Committee had a large pool of recommended committee members and we are grateful to everyone who was willing to serve.
This is your Bishop Call Committee:
Why are we making changes to the process of electing a bishop? It’s not the first time. For the first several elections, there was no pre-work at all, only a nominating ballot at the assembly. Later we followed what a number of other synods had done, which was to identify nominees beforehand and hold forums for those willing to be in the election. We continue to seek improvement.
Are the changes at this time because of our track record? Yes and no. Many synods tinker with changes to the process. In our case, we recognize that only two of our six bishops have left office at the conclusion of a term. There’s no one single reason, but it does suggest we could make changes that would allow for more thought and consideration to candidates prior to the election.
So what are the key differences being introduced this year? There are several:
Who will be on the Bishop Call Committee? The members of this committee will be appointed by the Synod Council in January. It will be separate from the existing Bishop Election Task Force, which deals only with the process. Deans are invited to suggest persons to serve by December 10.
Isn’t every synod supposed to use an “ecclesiastical ballot?” The model constitution for synods describes an election process via the “ecclesiastical ballot,” which means the first ballot is a nominating ballot. But it is not a required provision, and the constitution of the South Central Synod of Wisconsin says “The Synod Council shall be responsible for determining the process to be used in the election of a bishop.” (S9.04.01)
Have other synods used a process like this? Yes. To cite some neighbors: the Lacrosse Area Synod begins the process by involving assembly voting members at a “conference nominating caucus,” that raises up nominees; no further nominations are allowed at the Synod Assembly. Northeast Iowa elected its current bishop using a Synod Call Committee that gathered nominations, did work similar to what we propose, and forwarded five names to their assembly. In recent elections, both Northwest Washington and Eastern Washington-Idaho synods had a pre-nomination process and no floor nominations. These are only a few examples.
Doesn’t this call for much more involvement by people throughout the synod? Yes. Especially if you are a rostered leader or a lay member identified as a voting member of the synod assembly. You should plan on participating in (a) a Town Hall meeting; (b) a Conference Nominating Caucus; (c) two synod assemblies (the regular May 1-2 Assembly, and the one-day June 20 election assembly); and (d) a forum in your area to become familiar with nominees.
Town Hall Meetings in Conferences
“Bishop Profile” Produced & Distributed
February 20-March 8
Conference Nomination Caucuses
March 10-April 24
Bishop Call Committee Receives & Researches Names Coming from the Nomination Caucuses and Brings Forth 4-6 Nominees
May 15, 4:00 p.m. (CT)
Nominees are Introduced Online
May 22, 11:00 a.m. (CT)
First Digital Forum Released Online
June 29, 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Second Public Forum Held Digitally
August 29, 2020
Special Synod Assembly for the Election of the Bishop