10 June 2007

Northwestern Minnesota Synod Assembly - Sunday, 10 June, 6:53 p.m.

No, we're not STILL at the Synod Assembly - we got home about 20 minutes ago. But we skedaddled as quick as the business was completed because we were afraid Ainsley had taken about all she could take. Memo to Concordia College: will you for the love of God PLEASE get air-conditioning for the basketball arena? Wow, is that room miserable when the temps outside get above 80 degrees.

Now, about the election of our bishop. Rolf Wangberg, our incumbent bishop was one of three finalists, all of whom I respect and all of whom I think have some skills appropriate to the office of bishop. But Rolf finished with the least votes on the fourth ballot and was thus eliminated from consideration for a second term. I don't know if I've ever seen anything more painful than the last 30 minutes of our assembly. It was a close vote, and the entire assembly rose to thank and applaud Rolf and the Synod office staff for their work the past six years. There were a lot of tears, a lot of hugs, and a lot of very disappointed friends and colleagues. And before they could get their grieving done, the remaining candidates were forced to continue addressing the assembly so that we could vote on a new bishop. Though it was necessary due to time constraints, it was uncomfortable to say the least.

I never once voted for the Bishop elect, Larry Wohlrabe. I think he'll do a fine job, mind you - as I said, all of the three finalists and, in fact, most of the seven finalists were people in whom I have great confidence and trust. But the transition is going to be awkward and painful and difficult and certainly a time of high tension for our synod. It's interesting to note that on the final day, each of the three finalists finished in first place at least once - the difference being, of course, that the last ballot is the one that really matters.

In other news, I was elected to our Synod Council (did I already mention that?) and a resolution asking the Synod to form a comittee to investigate possible alternatives for future bishop's elections was passed. All in all, a very non-contentious Assembly, marked by a high degree of collegiality and a great deal of camaraderie between voting members, lay and ordained alike. It was long and arduous, but also genuinely enjoyable until the final hour, and I'm proud of our Synod for the manner in which we conducted ourselves this year. Hopefully next year will bring more of the same.


  1. That's interesting. We re-elected
    Bishop Johnson on the first ballot.

  2. We also elected a new Bishop, as ours was no longer eligible for re-election after 2 terms.

    It sounds like it was a painful time.

    So, what alternatives might there be for elections in the future?

  3. At the moment our Synod uses a wide-open ecclesiastical ballot: nominations are entered the first night of the Assembly and we proceed from there. I think there are those who would rather enter nominations prior to the Assembly to both provide more time for reflection on leaders and more time for those who wish to be taken off the list to get it done. I'm told that at least one Synod in our region actually does regional gatherings to introduce the top five candidates prior to the vote; I can't imagine the logistics and cost working for us, but it couldn't hurt to discuss some options.