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HANSON RE-ELECTED BY ELCA'S ST PAUL AREA SYNOD

Mark Hanson

Mark Hanson

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson was re-elected to a second term as bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) during an April 20-21 synod assembly. Voting members gathered at Concordia University, St. Paul, for their annual bujsiness meeting. Hanson, 54, was elected on the third ballot. Other candidates included the Rev. Connie McCallister, the pastor of Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minnesota; and the Rev. Joel Bexell, who serves St. Luke Lutheran Church, Cottage Grove, Minnesota.
McCallister, who received support from voting members favoring the work of “The WordAlone Network,” said in her remarks to the assembly before the voting began, that she thought the bishop, who now serves full-time, could function adequately in a part-time capacity. She also encouraged the reduction of the number of staff people salaried to assist the bishop.
Prior to his election to a first term, in 1995, Hanson served Prince of Glory Lutgheran Church and University Lutheran Church of Hope, both in Minneapolis, and Edina Community Lutheran Church, Edina, Minnesota.
Hanson’s election came just days before an act of ecclesiastical disobedience was scheduled to take place in his synod. On Saturday, April 28, Anita Hill, pastoral ministry at St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, St. Paul, was ordained as a full sacramental pastor. Hill, who lives in a committed lesbian relationship, was ordained outside the accepted ELCA guidelines for who may be included on the church’s clergy roster.
In a press release, Hanson issued a statement jointly with Janet Thompson, synod vice president. They said, “The ordination of Anita Hill is not recognized as an ordination into the ministry of Word and Sacrament in the ELCA.” The statement indicated that the St. Paul Area synod council would continue to consider the consequences for St. Paul-Reformation Church which, the document said, “has chosen to act contrary to the standards of this church.”
Voting members at the synod assembly also took note of the ordination of Hill. They adopted a resolution supporting her call and ordination and encouraging Bishop Hanson and the synod council to retain the congregation in the synod and delay taking steps to censure, suspend, or expel it.
The assembly also approved a resolution asking the ELCA churchwide assembly to move toward changing the rules in the church which preclude ordinations like Hill’s.