14 August 2013

We Should All Be #ChurchNerds

I got up excited this morning.  Today was the first day of school for our girls:  Ainsley is a 1st grader and Alanna will start pre-Kindergarten tomorrow.  In addition to this momentous occasion, the third ballot for Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was to be held in Pittsburgh at 7:00ish CDT, and thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I could follow via streaming video even though I'm halfway across the country.  So I sent this out:

Bishop Jessica Crist, Montana Synod, ELCA
This morning, there were seven incredibly gifted leaders on the third ballot for Presiding Bishop.  Three of them asked to be removed from the ballot:  Dr. David Lose of Luther Seminary, Dr. Barbara Lundblad of Union Theological Seminary, and Pastor Peter Marty of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, IA.  The four remaining candidates were Bishop Jessica Crist of the Montana Synod, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Northeastern Ohio Synod, current Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, and Bishop Ann Svennungsen of the Minneapolis Area Synod.  (I've listed the remaining four candidates in alphabetical order by last name).  After the ballot, Bishops Crist, Eaton and Hanson were the top three vote-getters and will move to this afternoon's 4th ballot.
Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Northeastern Ohio Synod

As I prepared breakfast (bacon, scrambled eggs & toast to
Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop, ELCA
celebrate the big day for my girls), I listened to the four candidates address questions, along with approximately 700 others following the stream.  It was a remarkable conversation.  All four spoke with passion and conviction.  At times their answers were clear and memorable.  At times, not so much.  Like all those who've been elected to positions of political leadership in any modern organization, it's very easy to lapse into answers that can't be parsed into something that wasn't intended.  All four candidates are obviously very good at not putting a foot in it.  And let's be honest:  four answers limited to 90 seconds each and one extemporaneous bonus question (Which theologian would you like to have a beer with, and why?) doesn't give the speakers enough time to really dig deep into the many complex issues facing our denomination in coming years.  For that, the assembly will need to have conversation among themselves, particularly with those who know the remaining candidates well enough to speak in favor or against their election to the office of Presiding Bishop.

When I sent out that tweet this morning, I included the hashtag as if it were something for which I should feel a little bit of chagrin or shame.  Yeah, it's a little bit of geeky wonder to get charged up listening to pastors talk about their faith and how they might lead our church into the future.  But honestly, we should be proud to be church nerds.  We should be proud to have such capable, committed, passionate leaders in our church - and we should be particularly proud that over half the roster of seven and three of the final four were women.  In a faith where the largest body of believers still prohibits women from seeking the priesthood, and where almost every other Lutheran body also excludes women from ordained ministry, we have given the world ample evidence that women can and should be leaders in the body of Christ.  If that isn't reason enough to be a church nerd, I don't know what is.

Come on - let's be #churchnerds together.  Get your geek on for your faith, even if your church isn't electing new leadership this week.  Ain't no shame in flying your colors proud.  If you need me, I'll be glued to the computer.  Next ballot comes up in four hours or so.

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