Featured Stories, Lutherans in Minnesota

Steven Delzer installed as bishop of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Steven Delzer, bishop of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA, receives the bishop's cross from his predecessor, the Rev. Harold Usgaard. Metro Lutheran photos: Bob Hulteen

The Rev. Steven Delzer, formerly pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Faribault, Minnesota, was installed as bishop of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA during a September 7 service at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Owatonna. Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson was the preacher.

“I was surprised how heavy those hands [of the bishops during the installation blessing] were on me,” Delzer told the congregation. “It is a reminder of the tremendous weight of this call, … the call to be a slave,” referring to the day’s assigned gospel reading (Mark 10:42-45).

“I would tell [Delzer], ‘be a pastor,’” the Rev. Harold Usgaard, retiring synod bishop, told Metro Lutheran. “He knows how to do that well. If he keeps that focus, he’ll do fine.”

Delzer, who received his M.Div. from Concordia Seminary–Seminex, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1975, explained, “You heard me say at the synod convention, ‘I love this church.’ And I do, … because it welcomes many people, and I’ve experienced that personally.” Prior to 2000, Delzer had served congregations in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

The Rev. Steven Delzer (center) shared communion during his installation service as bishop of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Owatonna, Minnesota, on September 7.

He cites his education at Seminex as influencing his ability to be flexible and to adapt to change, a significant factor cited by voting members who elected him as bishop. Delzer’s Faribault congregation has welcomed Sudanese Christians who have established a Lutheran worship service for area immigrants.

Delzer says that he hopes that the people of the Southeastern Minnesota synod will feel challenged by him to move out “beyond the walls of their congregations into their communities, letting the community know that the Church cares about the community, and finding out what needs doing to help people in the community and figuring out a way to do it. And that leads to people asking, ‘What is it about those Lutherans?’ and people responding, ‘They’re the ones who helped us.’”

Delzer was elected bishop at the synod’s annual assembly on June 8 in Rochester, Minnesota. He succeeds Usgaard, who had been bishop since 2001 and was not eligible to seek re-election.

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