Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Minneapolis Area Synod gives Johnson second term

ELCA’s largest synod re-elected their leader with 80% on the first ballot

The surprise was not so much that members of the ELCA’s Minneapolis Area Synod gave incumbent Bishop Craig Johnson a second term.

The surprise may be that other candidates stepped forward to run against him, given his evident popularity among members of the largest of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s 65 synods.

It only took one ballot to re-elect Johnson, who received 80.1% of the votes (75% was needed for a first-ballot election).

With 449 votes, Johnson ran well ahead of three other candidates. Susan Engh received 51, Thomas Carlson 32 and Gordon Peterson 27.

When he stepped to the podium at Gustavus Adolphus College to accept the assembly’s decision, Johnson was visibly moved. It was an emotional moment for him, in which he appeared to choke up in the midst of his remarks.
Voters chose Michelle Reichow to serve as synod vice president. She is a member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, East Bethel, Minnesota.

Resolutions approved by the assembly included:

* A resolution affirming a petition to create a “Minn-esota without poverty.”

* A memorial to extend temporary protected status for Liberian persons living in the United States.
n A resolution affirming a program, “Cherish Our Children,” which addresses the problem of sexual exploitation of young people.

* A resolution affirming “faithful solutions to global warming and climate change.”

* A resolution calling for support of those serving in specialized ministries, specifically chaplaincy, pastoral counseling and clinical education.

* A resolution condemning the use of torture.

On the volatile issue of whether to permit gay and lesbian persons living in committed same-sex relationships to serve on the ELCA roster, a series of votes were taken.

* An effort to short-circuit further discussion failed. It would have required the assembly “to refrain from considering all motions favoring revisions related to clergy conduct in the three current ELCA documents, “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline,” “Vision and Expectations,” and the ELCA Bylaws. The motion failed, 247-291.

* A resolution was adopted which would develop an amendment to the “Definitions” and “Vision” documents (see previous bullet), relaxing the parameters for who may be rostered clergy.

* A memorial was adopted which calls for refraining from disciplining clergy living in committed same-sex relationships. There are a number of such pastors currently serving in ELCA parishes, some in the Twin Cities.

Offerings received at the assembly were designated for Lu-theran Campus Ministry ($4,979.77), which marks its 100th anniversary this year; and Wilderness Canoe Base ($1,140), a ministry whose facilities have been severely damaged by fires in recent months.

Special guests represented two companion church relationships maintained by the Minneapolis Area Synod. One was The Rev. Martin Henker, Superintendent of the Leipzig District, Evan-gelical Lutheran Church of Saxony, Germany (see photo) and pastor of Nicholaikirche, Leipzig. It was in Nicholaikirche that German young people began some of the peaceful mass rallies which led to the eventual fall of the Communist regime in East Germany and the eventual reunification of the country.

Also present was the Rev. Peter Bartimawus, provost of Bronnum Seminary, Jimeta, Nigeria.

The Minneapolis Area Synod has 167 congregations, including some of the largest in the denomination. The bishop’s office is in Minneapolis.