This morning, at our Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly, we elected Pastor Jim Gonia to serve as the next Bishop of our Synod. He will be installed and begin serving in that position in September, although I'm sure he'll be plenty busy over the next months in preparation for assuming that office.
I was pleased by the results of the election. I expect Pr. Gonia to serve very well as our bishop. I believe his gifts for ministry match well with the next steps we need to take in our synod.
It seems to me that one of the gifts it seems to me that Pr. Gonia brings to this office is that he's willing to consider staffing the office of the Bishop in ways that will be unusual in our synod. See, for my entire tenure in this synod, the professional ministry staff are all part of the same demographic group … well, besides gender. They're all white baby boomers.
Now, as I've noted before, I don't have any problem with baby boomers. However, I do find it problematic when the leadership for a diverse group doesn't reflect in their own makeup the diversity of that group. In this case, the membership of the congregations of our synod is fairly diverse ~ there are newborns, 100-year-olds, and everyone in between.
Unfortunately, though, the leadership of our synod (the synod office staff) has represented only a narrow slice of that diversity.
Obviously Pr. Gonia won't staff the synod office with a 90-year-old in the office next to the 12-year-old. But to call on the gifts and different perspectives on our changing world that are represented by people of different age groups would be a good move for the synod office. And maybe, with a variety of different perspectives on ministry in our contemporary world, our synod will begin in new ways to recognize and celebrate the exemplary ministries in our synod instead of simply lamenting decreases in giving and worship attendance.
Of course, simply installing a new Bishop won't alleviate the problems in our synod or in our congregations, and we'll probably discover new problems that we don't have (or recognize) now ~ but I believe, under Pr. Gonia's leadership, we'll make good strides in the right direction.