By Rev. Steven Delzer
I have frequently been asked what I think about the recent election of our new Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, at the Churchwide Assembly. With the banner ALWAYS BEING MADE NEW above the stage, it was both marvelous and fascinating to sense the movement of the Spirit as the process unfolded. The Rev. Stephen Bouman, Executive Director of the ELCA unit for Congregational and Synodical Mission reflected on it with these words (used with his permission):
There seemed to be two major parallel metanarratives, each with its own truth and integrity. There was a great sense of gratitude for the twenty-five years of our life together in the ELCA, and especially at this assembly, for the leadership for twelve years of our presiding bishop, Mark Hanson. This gratitude was expressed again and again, in so many public and private moments and gestures. Frankly, the heart of this assembly, speaking for the church, went out to Mark Hanson. And the other narrative was equally strong, yet took nothing away from the gratitude and deep respect for the leadership of our presiding bishop for twelve years of history-making, difficult times. The assembly was ready for change, and pivoted toward Elizabeth Eaton as our next presiding bishop. The way in which both of these gifted leaders joined together in this transition, joined these two narratives together with grace and dignity, was a pastoral gift to the church and a witness to God’s grace in the world.