Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bishop's Election, Part Five

As my seven readers may know, we in the Rocky Mountain Synod of the ELCA are getting closer to the election of a new bishop. You who have been reading along know that I have some opinions about our next bishop.

You should also understand that I recognize the truth that most of my posts in anticipation of the election of the new RMS bishop have been negative ~ namely, I've complained about the way things shouldn't be more than I've offered suggestions which might lead to improvement.

Keith Anderson has written a very helpful piece in which he articulates five qualities he believes are important in a new bishop. Since he's written so well about qualities that any current bishop ought to embody, I'll not worry about the more general.

I'm especially concerned about the election of a bishop to this particular synod. In particular, what qualities and assets would be desirable for our bishop, given the peculiarities of the Rocky Mountain Synod?

1) We are an especially large synod. I often hear people refer to the geographic size of the synod as a problem to overcome. I would hope a bishop would actively help synod leadership to understand our vastness as an asset instead of a liability.

We who are called to ministry in the geographic area are bound together, in spite of our diversity, by the accident of bureaucratic proximity. However, instead of seeing this diversity as a liability, let's start to see the unique gifts our diversity brings us as blessing.

2) We find ourselves in a unique and fascinating cultural location. It's an intersection where the traditional mid-western Lutheran culture meets post-modernity; where western individualism meets congregational communalism; where Native and Mexican and white and African and African-American and Asian cultures intermingle (with greater or lesser degrees of comfort); where cultural Christians and cultural atheists argue; where some people talk on phones that are attached to the wall, and some people use their phones for everything but talking.

I would hope a bishop is not so steeped in church that she or he would not be able to recognize these intersections; and then, I would hope a bishop would enter into, and lead the synod into, the midst of these intersections.

3) I hope that our new bishop is able to articulate a vision for synodical staff which moves us away from a centralized and business-corporate mindset.

Of course, a synod office which operates out of a church basement doesn't think highly enough of itself; at the same time, a synod office operating out of a professional office building projects the wrong image of who the church is in the world. We need a bishop who will not try to make the synod something it isn't, and will not apologize for who the church is.

These are a couple initial thoughts. I may have more as we approach nearer to the election.


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