Mpls. Lutherans Elect 1st Female Bishop In Minn.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis-area Lutherans have a new leader, and she’s making history. Pastor Ann Svennungsen was elected as the first female bishop in Minnesota to lead the nation’s largest Lutheran synod.

A majority of Lutherans voted Saturday to install Svennungsen as the new bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which has 192,000 baptized members. She is currently an interim college pastor at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Both of the final bishop candidates were minority leaders who would have changed the future of the church. The other pastor up for the position was Kelly Chatman, of Redeemer Church in North Minneapolis. He was poised to become synod’s first black leader.

It was a close vote between the choices, with nearly 700 votes cast. Chatman received 317 votes, and Svennungsen received 339 votes.

The election comes as ELCA Lutherans are working to overcome declining membership and attract more ethnic minorities to the faith.

“Well, they’ve been white, male, in their fifties since the beginning of the ELCA in 1987,” said interim bishop Glenn Nycklemoe, referring to past bishops. “I think it is more than symbolic, it is real to who we are as a church….We are open to the leadership of a woman, to the leadership of an African American man.”

Svennungsen says she spent a career breaking barriers.

“I come from a long line of Lutheran pastors, all men. So I was the first to go onto the parish ministry in my generation. I have actually in many of my callings been the first woman,” she said.

Svennungsen is married, with three grown children, and she is also a new grandmother. She says she will move to Minneapolis from Northfield for her new job.

Chatman said that even with the close vote he celebrates the diversity in leadership that “comes out of communities overlooked way too long.”

“It was a great voice of our body and the diversity of our church lifting it up…I think it’s an affirmation we have talented and gifted leaders, so I am feeling really food right now. I am not only going back to my church, I’m excited to go back to my church,” Chatman said.

Svennnungsen will now be the seventh female ELCA bishop out of 65 bishops across the country. There are only two non-white bishops in the ELCA nationwide.

The Minneapolis area ELCA synod bishop position opened up because the former bishop, Craig Johnson, became pastor of Mount Olivet Church in Minneapolis, the largest ELCA congregation in the country. He took over after longtime pastor Paul Youngdahl passed away last summer.

The election also follows a decision from church leaders Friday to oppose a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

Synod members say no money will be spent as a result of the decision, and no organized campaign will be launched. They say the main point was to send a simple message of tolerance.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. Al Frankenstien says:

    Lefsa for everyone!

  2. Welcome to the 21st Century says:

    What!!!!! Women can be religious leaders too!!!!

    1. Tom says:

      @ Welcome to the 21st Century

      In certain religions yes! You will never see this in a Catholic Church though!

  3. Proud of ELCA Lutherans says:

    Both candidates were great–and in some future day it will be commonplace to have a woman bishop and an African American Lutheran bishop.

  4. Be honest says:

    The ELCA has for many years not been a Christian based group, but is more like The Lions Club,only with a Womens Lib. agenda.

    1. Dontbedumb says:

      That is not honest at all. What warrant do you have for such a ridiculously ignorant comment?

      1. Carolyn says:

        I think their headquarters are also at Hogwarts. Which, also by the way, has a female headmistress since Dumbledore died (OOPS! spoiler alert!).
        So wait OMG that obviously means the ELCA practices witchcraft. I should have known.
        Actually what bothers me most about that is that it is WITCHcraft not WORLOCKcraft. Now women’s lib has even taken over the wizard world! WHEN WILL IT END?!?!!!
        Oh my God wait – the thing that bothers me even MORE than that is that Hogwarts is in England. What’s the deal, ELCA? Forgot 1776? Do you hate freedom? We beat those redcoats. THE ELCA IS A BUNCH OF UNPATRIOTIC WITCHCRAFT PRACTICERS! You heard it here first.

      2. Tom says:

        @ Dontbedumb

        “Behonest” must be Catholic!

    2. Carolyn says:

      I think their headquarters are also at Hogwarts. Which, also by the way, has a female headmistress since Dumbledore died (OOPS! spoiler alert!).

      So wait OMG that obviously means the ELCA practices witchcraft. I should have known.

      Actually what bothers me most about that is that it is WITCHcraft not WORLOCKcraft. Now women’s lib has even taken over the wizard world! WHEN WILL IT END?!?!!!

      Oh my God wait – the thing that bothers me even MORE than that is that Hogwarts is in England. What’s the deal, ELCA? Forgot 1776? We beat those redcoats. THE ELCA IS A BINCH OF UNPATRIOTIC WITCHCRAFT PRACTICERS! You heard it here first.

  5. Belinda says:

    “The election comes as ELCA Lutherans are working to overcome declining membership”

    Their support of of gay marriage will cause even more members to leave.

    1. Dontbedumb says:

      All do respect Belinda, it’s not about numbers. The church is about loving and accepting ALL of God’s children. Who am I to deny somebody the gifts of this life that God has gifted to all?

    2. Carolyn says:

      I know! And they even let black people in their church too! The bible CLEARLY states that it’s cool to have slaves. What’s the deal, ELCA? It’s almost like you view people as people or something, not as objects for you to oppress. Why don’t you join the rest of conservative Christianity and figure out intellectual and exegetical gymnastics to pull off so that you can slap on a divinely ordained veneer to your bigotry!

      1. Marilynn says:

        Carolyn: The Bible does talk about salvary and it also says that slaves were inheritors of their Owners estate. What are you implying? Are you trying to say what America practiced as slavary is the same thing? Maybe a history lesson of both American slavery and biblical slavary is in order. I think for to long American (African Americans) has use the male dominace stand to keep from having educated pastors, pastors with one wife and no girlfriends on the side, but getting rich and fat off the poor people they serve. The ELCA is braced to try something different to help point out the faults of the church and rectify them prayerfully. Doon’t be so mad – get involved.

  6. Geri says:

    Oh Belinda….stop the hating!

    1. Belinda says:

      Geri,

      Hating? Are you in denial? It’s a simple fact. You may not like reality but living in a fantasy world is not healthy.

      1. Dontbedumb says:

        Go Geri! What is this denial you speak of Belinda? What is your reality? What fantasy do you think Geri is in? You make no sense!

        1. Belinda says:

          I will use small words and short sentences to help you.

          -ELCA is now pro gay marriage.
          -Most Lutherans are not.
          -Members will leave the church because of this.

          Why is that hateful? It is the truth.

          If you deny the truth, you are in a fantasy.

          Clear?

    2. Meg says:

      Belinda is right! Support of gay marriage is the ELCA’s downfall. It’s the reason why we left the ELCA.

      1. Dontbedumb says:

        So did you leave Christianity to Meg? “Love your neighbor as yourself” sound familiar?

        1. dontbedumb is dumb says:

          YOU don’t be dumb dumby.A follower of the Most Highg God HATES wicked sodomites…get your scripture in context.

          1. rightiousness says:

            Yes Lutherans are as paganistic as catlicks.They going into Gehenna for sure if they don’t repent.Woman bishop.Satans work.

      2. Tom says:

        @ Belinda and Meg

        Yes while this group of ELCA may have gotten some blowback for supporting gay marriage and electing an open gay man as their bishop. At least they are willing to look a the changes that are happening to the REAL world. While the rest of you are to afraid to leave your bubble and use and hide behind their religion to preach hate and supporting your bigorty to people you believe are not “normal” in your eyes. Well i hate to tell you there is no such thing as “normal”!

      3. Ruth says:

        By not supporting tolerance is like placing a huge sign in front of the church stating “some folks are not welcome here” God welcomes all people. If you consider eing gay a sin, (wich I certainly do not) well then Jesus loves sinners enough to die for them. So are you better than Jesus?

  7. Thanks for clarifying says:

    You are all so caught up in your rules and fantasies. Is it possible to find an authority on wcco’s comment board?

  8. Lutheran chick says:

    When our church left the ELCA b/c of the support of GLBT pastors, we left that church to find another, more welcoming, accepting, and loving ELCA church. If the ELCA gets smaller b/c of their open , loving, acceptance of ALL people then so be it! I’d rather be a small loving group than a big hypocritical one.

    1. Tom says:

      @ Lutheran chick

      I will give you and others like you who were willing to take a chance and leave the bubble and except change, rather than stay in the bubble and talk down to people who don’t share your views like some of your other members want to do. You elected the first openly gay bishop in Mpls a few years back. And now this. But you still have some of your members who believe that if they accept anyone other than those they are told to accept their heads will explode!

    2. Ruth says:

      I think an open loving church that excepts all people is what is expected of Christians. So who is hypocritical? The bible says “All have sinned” The sin is to not feed the hungry, poor, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, etc. Christians have no right to tell certain people they are not welcome in God’s house and they are not allowed to serve in God’s house. Shame on you for your hyprocracy and calling the ones who except all who will come to God hypocritical.

  9. MN-SNAP says:

    I surely hope ELCA Lutherans also back away from following local Catholic Archbishop Nienstedt as he and his officials continue to fight correcting Minnesota Civil Law – Childhood Sexual Abuse. The Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, the United Methodist Church, Synod of Lakes and Prairies Presbyterian Church, and the Missouri Synod of Lutherans – need to stop filling Nienstedt’s secret legislative budget to keep child sexual abuse a crime of silence. — CORRECT MINNESOTA CIVIL LAW – CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE —

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