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Bishop’s Election

An election for Bishop took place during the June 2-4, 2016 Synod Assembly at Carthage College. Thank you to all who participated. Many thanks to those who responded to the Spirit’s call to participate as nominees for the office of Bishop. We are deeply blessed by your faithful witness to the Gospel, your vision for the future of God’s church, and your dedicated ministry. May the Spirit continue to inspire and uplift you.

With joy and gratitude, we announce that The Rev. Dr. Paul Erickson is Bishop-Elect of the Greater Milwaukee Synod.

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This is the webpage with all the information you need to learn about the Bishop Election process, prospective nominees, and resources to engage your congregation.

Prospective Nominees

Prospective Nominees were identified by members of congregations in the Greater Milwaukee Synod. Nominations will occur at the Synod Assembly. Get to know more about the Prospective Nominees by watching video from the Pre-Assembly Forums, reading their bio sheets, or contacting them directly.

The prospective nominees welcome conversation with the people of the Greater Milwaukee Synod. You may contact them at the following email addresses. You may also download their biographical information for your convenience.

Lisa Bates-Froiland-  batesfroi@gmail.com               Bates-Froiland Bio Information
David Dragseth- pastordavid@lakeparklutheran.com               Dragseth Bio Information
Paul D. Erickson- ericksonpaul622@gmail.com               Erickson Bio Information
Lindsay Paul Jordan – pj@ctkdelafield.org               Jordan Bio Information
Joy Mortensen-Wiebe- pastorjoymw@gmail.com                Mortensen-Wiebe Bio Information
Harvard Stephens, Jr.- revdrhs@hotmail.com                Stephens, Jr. Bio Information
Jennifer J. Thomas- jthomas@lstc.edu                Thomas Bio Information

Pre-Assembly Forums

These forums took place throughout the Synod so that everyone had an opportunity to hear from the prospective nominees.

Thank you to the hosting congregations and to all who participated!

Forum #1

Forum #2

Forum #3

Forum #4

Prospective Nominees for Bishop: Please click on names and headings to expand. (Photos under construction)

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Current Position

Pastor

Congregation Membership

Redeemer Lutheran Church, Milwaukee

Date and Year of Birth

December 17, 1969

Date and Year of Ordination

April 09, 2011

Previous Positions

Redeemer is my first call as an ordained minister.

Previously, I taught speech communication at the college level.

Education and Earned Degrees (with institutions and years, most recent first)

Master of Divinity, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 2011

Doctor of Philosophy, Indiana University, 2003 (Speech Communication)

Master of Arts, Indiana University, 1995

Bachelor of Arts, Saint Olaf College, 1992

List up to five (5) current or past synodical or churchwide activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Synod Council, Clergy Representative: Cluster 2

Peace and Justice Commission, Wisconsin Council of Churches

Siebert Foundation for Lutherans Change or Die Conference Planning Team

List up to five (5) current or past community-related activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Zeidler Center for Public Discussion: past Executive Director, current board member and facilitator.

Avenues West Association: Resident Council and Impact Award winner

Avenues West Safety and Security

What gifts would you bring to the office of bishop of this synod?

God has gifted me with 46 years of life in the church.  Along the way, I learned to trust God more than myself.  I’ve learned “problems are normal,” and solutions generally exist–though you often have to be creative in finding and implementing them.  Since childhood, I suspected good communication could make a big difference in just about everything.  So, every job I’ve had and more than ten years of education have been devoted into developing communication skills and strategies. As an evangelist of God’s love, I have evolved into a sincere, devoted steward of stories, both Biblical and personal.

What do you see as the principal challenge to this synod in the next six (6) years and how would you address it?

The challenge is the same as it was for the women at Jesus’ tomb—how to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and have an impact.  Throughout the Greater Milwaukee Synod, we must ask how we will share the gospel as we have come to trust it—Lutheran-style—beginning always with God’s grace, and given even greater urgency due to a growing concern for sustainability, relevance, inclusion, and context.

I would begin to address these challenges using approaches that worked in my pastorate. Getting to know pastors and congregations just as I talked with people living and working on the 68 blocks surrounding Redeemer; mapping the assets we have as a synod; asking about the context influencing each ministry; encouraging stronger ties to community resources, and listening deeply to the unchurched and newly churched.  Key:  We will have some fun doing this.

Describe your leadership style.

I checked in with several people about this question–and they all seemed to say the same thing: though I am clearly comfortable and effective with “front-and-center” leadership, much of my leadership happens “behind-the-scenes.” From behind the scenes, I prepare and invite others to lead, coordinate the gifts of many into a united effort, and quietly solicit the help of others to bring about a greater good.  There’s more to celebrate when many have taken part in an accomplishment for the glory of God.

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Current Position

Pastor, Lake Park Lutheran Church

Congregation Membership

690

Date and Year of Birth

October 1st, 1970

Date and Year of Ordination

August 24th, 1997

Previous Positions

Associate Pastor, Abiding Savior Lutheran Church (1997-1999) Chaplain VNA Care Hospice Cambridge, MA (1996-1997)
Vicar for Student Life, University Lutheran, Harvard Square (1993-1997)

Education and Earned Degrees (with institutions and years, most recent first)

Harvard Divinity School, Master of Divinity (1993-1997)
Dartmouth College, Bachelor of Arts (1989-1993)

List up to five (5) current or past synodical or churchwide activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Supervisor, ELCA Internship Program Trinity and Philadelphia Seminaries Cluster 1 and 2 (Milwaukee Coalition) Dean (2009-12)
Lead and Learn Synod Evangelism Team
Synod Assembly Planning Team
Lutheran Campus Ministry Board

List up to five (5) current or past community-related activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Milwaukee Water Commons Advisory Board

MICAH, Inner-city congregations allied for hope

Writer, Word and Season Devotionals

Milwaukee Rowing Club

Friends of Lapham Peak

What gifts would you bring to the office of bishop of this synod?

I’ve been a pastor for nearly 20 years in Milwaukee; 17 committed to the long-term healthy growth of a city congregation. We moved from debt to life, broken building to lovely church. At Lake Park, I served as co, lead, and solo pastor, mentoring interns at a small and large, old and a very young congregation, all by staying put. I know diverse church types and the value of steadfast faith in one place. A fruit of staying is that I am known in this synod; I count many of you as my friends. Such familiarity is an asset in Christ.

But I often risked stability when it comes to caring for others. We endured protests in LGBT advocacy. We leveraged funds to stand up for young adults in the university community. We were at the forefront of our Eco-Justice work forming the Milwaukee Water Commons and shepherding the first Urban Ecology Center. We shared our life in partnership with El Salvador. We grew a garden with Venice at Alice’s. In all this work, I learned a suffering kind of love and my deep need for others. I learned friendship and my own limits. I still love fiery sermons and creative church, but I know the synod needs a wise counselor, a careful pastor, a servant who will visit when the body is frail.

What do you see as the principal challenge to this synod in the next six (6) years and how would you address it?

The next bishop will serve at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and she or he will not be able to simply invoke Luther’s church, hammering harder the same thesis on the battered door of Wittenberg. She or he must invoke Luther’s faith; the wisdom to see larger, to look beyond the needs of the synod to the more important needs of the world. Our principal challenge is to look beyond ourselves.

Creation groans. We see it in Milwaukee waters, we taste it in our changed air, we realize it as cities are divided. As synod we can give hope to a troubled creation teaching what we have learned. Vacant lot can be community garden. Political debate can be garden friendship. The world will come to our churches to hear it.

Poverty reigns. Our racism, sexism, classism, and political division weaken us physically and spiritually. In a real sense, the only principal challenge any of us should be talking about is that real people in our synod are actually starving.

The world is divided. Our relationships, attention spans, our souls are scattered. A synod needs to take seriously how lonely God’s children are, how separated we’ve become. We need to proclaim unity and model community for a world apart.

Describe your leadership style.

Once in college in campus ministry, I asked my friend, The Rev. John Lemkul, about leadership. “What makes a great leader?” He put down his sandwich, pulled a Bible from his unruly German Shepherd’s puppy mouth and opened to the book of John. “I have no longer called you servants, I have called you friends. Be a great friend, David, it is much more interesting than being a great leader.” And then he gave the Bible back to the dog. For years I’ve pondered the truth of John’s words. Leadership is friendship so that we, together, can find a way. One simply befriends, and the ideas race, and the grace abounds, and the world is redeemed. I believe the terrain of friendship requires good administration and creativity. A leader needs a relational mind, creative in changing stuck systems. Any leader must know they are limited, one part in a priesthood of all believers. The word synod confirms this. Its translation from the ancient Greek is redemptive: the way together. That is the only way.

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Current Position

Director, Agora

Date and Year of Birth

June 22, 1961

Congregation Membership

Salem Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, MN

Date and Year of Ordination

August 19, 1989

Previous Positions

Assistant to the Bishop for Evangelical Mission, Saint Paul Area Synod (2008-2014);

Associate Pastor, Augustana Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, MN (2003-2008);

Pastor, Faith/Santa Fe Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, WI (1993-2003);

Pastor, First Lutheran Church of Logan Square, Chicago, IL (1989-1993)

Education and Earned Degrees (with institutions and years, most recent first)

Doctor of Ministry, Congregational Mission and Leadership, Luther Seminary, 2012

Master of Divinity, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1989

Bachelor of Arts, Gustavus Adolphus College, 1983

List up to five (5) current or past synodical or churchwide activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Guatemala Companion Synod Task force (2005-16)

ELCA Assistant to the Bishop Gathering Planning Committee (2012-14)

ELCA Churchwide Assembly Voting Member, 2007

List up to five (5) current or past community-related activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Member, ISAIAH Clergy Caucus (2003-13)

Trainer, ELCA Congregation Based Organizing Event, 2014

What gifts would you bring to the office of bishop of this synod?

I have a passion for God’s church, God’s people, and God’s world, and I love exploring new places and finding new ways to connect with others. I love to sing, teach, preach, and laugh, and I try to use my gifts in a way that creates a space in which others can be their best selves. I’ve spent much of my life working in cross-cultural settings, and I’m fluent in Spanish. I’ve served in a variety of settings (including nine years on the Near South Side of Milwaukee), and I have a good sense of the breadth and depth of the church’s work. I’m deeply committed to an accompaniment model of ministry, working to build sustaining relationships of mutual accountability and trust.  I am also blessed with the ability to listen well, think creatively, and communicate concisely, weaving together various themes into a coherent whole.

What do you see as the principal challenge to this synod in the next six (6) years and how would you address it?

Let’s face it; the old ways just don’t work as well as they used to. The beloved and familiar patterns of our ministries, which have served us so well for so long, need to evolve.  We need to find new ways of telling the old story, engaging the hopes, fears, and passions of our neighbors in a world too often fragmented by fear, competition, and isolation. We need to work together to identify, support, and release new leaders who can articulate the Gospel and build and sustain vibrant and diverse faith communities. I am abundantly hopeful for our future, not because we’re so smart and faithful, but because we belong to a God who is faithful  and who will use the best and worst of what we have to create communities of justice, compassion, and hope.

Describe your leadership style.

I believe that the leader’s job is not so much to declare what the vision is and convince everyone to follow, but to cultivate an environment that allows people to imagine and collaborate to create a better future. This cultivation includes asking the right questions, giving permission to experiment and initiate,  and embodying a deep trust and confidence that this is God’s church and God will lead and guide us all. I seek to be a collaborative leader, giving affirmation, encouragement, and inspiration so that ministry can flourish.

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Current Position

Pastor, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Delafield, WI

Congregation Membership

Christ the King Lutheran Church, Delafield, WI

Date and Year of Birth

December 29, 1966

Date and Year of Ordination

June 4, 1995

Previous Positions

Sr. Pastor, Good Shepherd Lutheran, Viroqua, WI; Pastor,

Halfway Creek Lutheran, Holmen, WI; Pastor, Bethlehem Lutheran, Ridgway, PA;

Intern Pastor, Epping Lutheran, Epping, ND;

Youth Dir., Como Park Lutheran,St. Paul, MN;

Youth Director, Faith Lutheran, Albquerque, NM

Education and Earned Degrees (with institutions and years, most recent first)

Doctor of Ministry, Congregational Mission and Leadership, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN, 2009-2014

Master of Divinity, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN, 1991-1995

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, 1987-1989

Associate of Arts, Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa, 1985-1987

List up to five (5) current or past synodical or churchwide activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Synod Council, Greater Milwaukee Synod (also on Executive Committee)

Synod Council, La Crosse Area Synod (also on Executive Committee)

Conference Dean, 3x, Two in La Crosse Area Synod, One in NW-PA Synod

Companion Synod Team, Ethiopia, La Crosse Area Synod (also Delegation Coordinator)

Voting Member, ELCA Churchwide Assembly, 2007, Chicago, Illinois

List up to five (5) current or past community-related activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Lake Country Partners in Ministry Ecumenical Group, meeting in Oconomowoc, WI

Board Member, Bethel Home and Services, Viroqua, WI (continuous care facilities)

Board Member, Viroqua, Community Theater, Viroqua, WI

Member, Ethics Committee, Vernon Memorial Hospital, Viroqua, WI

As Pastor: Oversaw food bank, clothing closet, emergency fund, and community meal, Good Shepherd, Viroqua, WI

What gifts would you bring to the office of bishop of this synod?

I am optimistic about God’s future for the church, confident that Christ’s life will transform us through the Holy Spirit. I am a contextual leader; having served in a variety of contexts, I adapt leadership to situations I encounter. I practice cooperative leadership grounded in prayerful discernment with other leaders. I am an organized leader, comfortable with administration and adept at communication and technology. I am a gifted teacher and constant learner, always challenging myself to grow, for the sake of the church.

What do you see as the principal challenge to this synod in the next six (6) years and how would you address it?

Biggest challenge: To help congregations articulate, imagine and step into God’s future for the church. I will call us into mutual conversations about God’s mission. I will encourage churches to engage in transformational ministry processes and will systematically visit congregations to support and encourage leaders and pastors. Congregational vitality and mission are central concerns of mine.

Describe your leadership style.

My leadership style is collaborative, prayerful, and challenging. I regularly engage  people, through learning opportunities, to think about how faith guides us in ministry. My conviction that God calls the church to engage God’s ongoing mission in the world leads me to encourage and challenge leaders to act optimistically so that God’s preferred future might be known more fully in the world. I focus on fostering scriptural imagination in leadership teams.

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JoyM-W

Current Position

Interim Pastor St. Paul’s Lutheran, Mayville

Congregation Membership

St. Pauls, Mayville

Date and Year of Birth

2/14/1967

Date and Year of Ordination

7/26/1992

Previous Positions

Pastor, Living Hope Lutheran Church, Saukville 2014-4/9/2016

Director of Evangelical Mission/Associate with the Bishop, East Central Synod of Wisconsin, 2004-2014

Pastor, All Saints Lutheran Church, Oshkosh, 2000-2004

Chaplain, Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh, 1995-2000

Education and Earned Degrees (with institutions and years, most recent first)

Master of Arts, Community Counseling, Lakeland College, 2003

Master of Divinity, Luther Northwestern Seminary, 1992

Bachelor of Science, Religion, Carroll College, 1988

List up to five (5) current or past synodical or churchwide activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Director of Evangelical Mission/ Mission Director for 10 years

Chaired the Endowment Committee of the East Central Synod of WI for 10 years

Organized and Facilitated the annual Synod Assembly of the East Central Synod of WI for 10 years

Oversaw the Candidacy Committee of the East Central Synod of WI for 10 years

Participated in many churchwide training events (Coach training, Natural Church Development, Stewardship)

List up to five (5) current or past community-related activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Family Promise of Ozaukee County volunteer

Member of the multi-synodical Candidacy Committee with Greater Milwaukee Synod

Relay for Life team member Ozaukee County

Captain of Metro Milwaukee Women’s Hockey Team- Brew City Blades Green

Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh Executive Committee member and board member

What gifts would you bring to the office of bishop of this synod?

I am a patient and resilient leader who has a great love for the church. In addition, I approach difficult situations in a calm and determined manner. I have a sense of humor; this has been especially helpful in times of high stress.  I am also decisive, willing to step up to make necessary decisions. Moreover, I am skilled in building relationships. In my years of ordained ministry, I have been fortunate to have served in a variety of ministry contexts which have helped me develop my gifts of empathy, curiosity, and compassion. My training as a professional counselor and as a chaplain have helped me distinguish and uphold our vocational call as God’s children, and has further helped me use my gift as an encourager and teacher of the faith. I meet people where they are at and communicate in a clear, down-to-earth style.

What do you see as the principal challenge to this synod in the next six (6) years and how would you address it?

Synods exist to support and equip congregations and rostered leaders. They also exist to communicate and support the work of our churchwide structure. We are a church that exists in three expressions and we are all in mission together for the sake of Jesus Christ. The GMS is a diverse synod and faces a great challenge to be relevant to congregations. Synod staff, including the Bishop, support the ministry of congregations, helping them to discern their unique call to mission, and share in the collective joy of service in the name of Jesus. I will be a bishop who invites us into scripture, into listening to the Word of God. I will be a relational, hands-on bishop. I am very comfortable with people and I will want to get to know the community that makes up all of the GMS—including our institutions and our social ministries—and encourage us to truly listen. We are better when we recognize that we all have something to learn from one another. As we listen to each other and to God, we will discern our way forward. I will also explore and expand the outreach ministries available through technology and communication, needed for a changing church.

Describe your leadership style.

I am a hopeful, positive leader because I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s Word does what it says and this compels me to stay focused, hopeful and loyal in the face of injustice, hopelessness and despair. As a public leader, and someone who has worked in a synod before, I know that it is important to remain balanced and to be accountable. I have found that having integrity and clear boundaries is necessary in the face of difficult times in ministry.  I readily share leadership and invite others’ perspectives so that we may all grow as a community and be better equipped to achieve our goals. I make exercise and family interaction a priority in my life, and play hockey regularly to keep my mind and body fit and sharp. As captain of my hockey team, I have learned valuable leadership skills that I regularly apply to my daily life. My leadership style marked by inclusion, decisiveness, and collaboration.

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Current Position

Dean of the Chapel and Pastor to the Community, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC)

Congregation Membership

St. John Lutheran Church, Kenosha, WI

Date and Year of Birth

September 19, 1951

Date and Year of Ordination

October 3, 1987

Previous Positions

Senior Pastor, Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (2011-2013; 1994-1996)

Dean of the Chapel, Carthage College (2003-2011)

Lutheran Campus Pastor, Howard University, Washington, DC (1999-2003)

Pastor-Developer, Truth Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mitchellville, MD (1996-1999)

Education and Earned Degrees (with institutions and years, most recent first)

M.Div., Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 1987

BA, Harvard University, 1978

Education and Earned Degrees (with institutions and years, most recent first)

  •  M.Div., Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 1987
  • BA, Harvard University, 1978

List up to five (5) current or past synodical or churchwide activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Presenter, ELCA Worship Jubilee, July 2015, Atlanta, GA

Contributor, ELCA Table and Font discussion resources, 2015

Chaplain, Young Adults in Global Mission Discernment Events, 2006-2015

Writer, Augsburg Fortress: Sundays and Seasons lectionary resources, 2016-2017

Music Director, Multicultural Youth Leadership Event, New Orleans, 2009

What gifts would you bring to the office of bishop of this synod?

The bishop serves at the hub of many critical relationships, and this person needs to encourage trust and mutuality in all aspects of synod life.  This is not so much about multi-tasking as it is about being aware of the spiritual gifts, cultural values, and critical concerns of our interdependent body of Christ.  I am a leader who can move in fluid connection with the interactive parts that comprise the synod.  I am confident in Christ’s promise to be in our midst, and my own spiritual formation equips me to serve as pastor, teacher, administrator, colleague, and leader.  The bishop represents his or her own faith in Christ while seeking to discern and represent the particular expressions of faith and service that come from our congregations and diverse ministries.  Through all of this, the unique voice of this synod emerges and speaks to the world in which we proclaim Christ and engage in the life-giving work of fostering reconciliation, justice, and the things that make for peace.

What do you see as the principal challenge to this synod in the next six (6) years and how would you address it?

As we acknowledge the 500th year of the Reformation, we have a unique opportunity to energize our witness as 21st century Lutherans.  We are challenged by our hesitancy to embrace opportunities for innovation that can revitalize us as a public church and deepen the faith of our people.  We must listen to the Spirit as a community in Christ and discern the open doors for renewed ministry that God has placed before us.  Our synod’s transition is not primarily about calling a new bishop, but about moving together into a future that is unfamiliar and somewhat intimidating yet full of great promise.  Congregations need to be supported in their discernment about their future, the kinds of leaders they will need, and the possibilities of sharing resources to enhance their effectiveness.  As we listen to one another and encourage ministries that value transformation over maintenance, we will be renewed as ambassadors for Christ who bring signs of new life within our multi-cultural context.

Describe your leadership style.

I am a pastor who builds trust through collaboration.  I know that doing ministry is a relational experience, and I will respect and support the leaders of this synod so that we can renew and further empower our partnership in the gospel.  I will listen to our youth and young adults while also seeking the wisdom of those who have served for many years within our community in Christ.  I strive to begin with the end in mind, and I will do my best to cast a clear vision of where we are going and how God’s word informs and guides us as we journey together.  I am interested in the history of our ministries, spiritual disciplines, and cultural practices, and I will help this synod blend tradition with innovation in order to create hopeful signs of God’s new creation in all that we do.  I am accountable to the legacies that have formed us and excited about how we can be more effective as a reconciling presence in southeast Wisconsin.

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Current Position

Gift Officer, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), 2014- present

Congregation Membership

Salem Lutheran, Lenexa, KS

Date and Year of Birth

July 30, 1972

Date and Year of Ordination

July 26, 1998

Previous Positions

Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Kansas City, MO 2007 – 2014

Pastor, Lake Park Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, WI 1998-2007

Education and Earned Degrees (with institutions and years, most recent first)

M.Div., Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1998 with a certificate in Urban Ministry

B.A. Math and Religion, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD 1994

Milbank High School, Milbank, SD 1990

List up to five (5) current or past synodical or churchwide activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Dean – Kansas City Metro area, Central States Synod, 2011-2014

ELCA Church Council, 2003-2007 and Budget Committee during that tenure

ELCA Blue Ribbon Committee on Mission Funding, 2005-2007

Greater Milwaukee Synod Synod Council, 2001-2005

Milwaukee Coalition, 1998-2007

List up to five (5) current or past community-related activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.

Missouri Faith Voices, Jefferson City, MO statewide congregation organizing, 2012-2014

Communities Creating Opportunity, Kansas City, MO regional congregation organizing, 2007-2014

Missouri Jobs with Justice, Kansas City Workers’ Rights Board, 2014-present

MICAH Religious Leaders’ Caucus, Milwaukee, WI 2000-2007

Lutheran Planned Giving Partnerships in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Central States regional areas through LSTC

What gifts would you bring to the office of bishop of this synod?

My love of God, my neighbor, and the church are my top gifts for this call. I am gifted in administration, community organizing, strategic mission planning, and stewardship. Additionally, I know how to build community, recruit and equip leaders, provide care, and invite people to Christ and the church. I’m excited about what God is doing here. My experience with the church, its joys and sorrows, has ignited my sense of call to leadership. In my first call, I led the congregation to a vision to grow as a healthy congregation with a mission to proclaim the gospel, advocate for justice and serve others. I learned in my next call about how synod staff could assist congregations in change. Challenges in relating in healthy ways present in that congregation are present across the ELCA. My skills for leadership were recognized early, leading to my call to serve within coalition, on the synod council, and some task forces. My connections across the church led to my election to serve on the ELCA Church Council. My work led to my appointment to the Blue Ribbon Committee on Mission Funding. I honed skills at engaging people, compromise, and leading forward with compassion and justice.

What do you see as the principal challenge to this synod in the next six (6) years and how would you address it?

I’m excited about what we could do together as church in this region. Many in the church have lost faith in the value of being church together. We must ask: “What is God calling us to do?” I see great strengths, ministries, and potential in the Greater Milwaukee Synod. The region needs the church to show up and make a difference. There is no greater time in the history of the church to be the church. We have so much to offer. We have the good news to proclaim. We have the gifts and capacity to serve others and advocate for justice. God’s faithfulness and our blessedness equip us to face the realities of decline and to continue to ask what new thing God is up to now. This is a premiere synod of the ELCA, representing the diversity that is our church – progressive/conservative/in-between, people of color and diverse ethnicities, rural/suburban/urban, rich and poor. We are called to the journey together, to serve and advocate for those in need in our communities.

Describe your leadership style.

My seminary and contextual education provided the theological base I need to be an effective church leader. Additional leadership training through the Gamaliel Foundation and the PICO Network has shaped my collaborative and grass roots leadership style. Fostering relationships through one to one conversations, deep listening, mapping assets, and determining the potential of myself, others, congregations, and other partners are leadership skills I would employ. Relationships with Lutheran, ecumenical, and interfaith colleagues have led to service, advocacy and outreach ministries. I’ve served on community organization leadership tables in Wisconsin and in Missouri. In Kansas City, my leadership gifts were quickly recognized by my bishop, and I was appointed as dean of the Kansas City metro area. I partnered with an Episcopal congregation to provide Spanish liturgies. I have experience in supervising staff, raising money for building projects, in building and remodeling existing buildings, and in money management. The last year in alumni relations and fundraising in theological education has been an adventure in church leadership.

FAQs about the Bishop Election:

Who is eligible to serve as Bishop?

  • Ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Nominated by receiving at least one vote on the first ballot at the June 2-4 Greater Milwaukee Synod Assembly

What are some of the responsibilities of the Bishop?

  • Preach, teach, and administer the sacraments in accord with the Confession of Faith of this church. (S8.12.a.)
  • Have primary responsibility for the ministry of Word and Sacrament in this synod and its congregations, providing pastoral care and leadership for this synod, its congregations, its ordained ministers, and its other rostered leaders.(S8.12.b. and S8.12.h.1)
  • Ordain, commission, consecrate approved candidates for various ministries (or provide for these actions in accordance with the constitution), attest letters of call, and install ordained and other rostered leaders (S8.12.c.-f.).
  • Exercise leadership in the mission of the church within the territory of the Greater Milwaukee Synod (S8.12.g.).
  • Be responsible for administering the constitutionally established processes for the resolution of controversies and for the discipline of ordained ministers, other rostered leaders, and the congregations of this synod (S.8.12.h.2).
  • Be the chief ecumenical officer of the synod and serve as a sign of the unity of the church in the world (S.8.12.h.3)
  • Serve as a liaison and link to the wider church across the ELCA and around the world. (S.8.12.h.3-7).
  • Be an administrator for the work of the synod (S8.12.i.)
  • Advocate and encourage governmental and societal leaders toward the greater establishment ofjustice. (S14.02.a.5).

How do I suggest someone I think would be a great Bishop?

  • Nominate that person to be a part of the Pre-Assembly Discernment Process by February 29.
  • Be a voting member at the 2016 Greater Milwaukee Synod Assembly and write in that person’s name on the first ballot.

When will I know who the prospective nominees will be?

  • Names and biographical information will be posted on this webpage on March 25.

What's a prospective nominee?

  • This is what we will call those who have been nominated as part of the Pre-Assembly Discernment Process.
  • Prospective Nominees will be invited to be a part of the forums prior to the Assembly.
  • They are called this because the ecclesiastical ballot process requires that nominees be written in on the first ballot at the Synod Assembly, so they are not “nominees” until they are named on that ballot.

Do nominees have to be from the Greater Milwaukee Synod?

  • No, they can be from any of the synods of the ELCA.

How do I learn more about each of the prospective nominees?

  • Watch this website; biographical information will be posted on March 25.
  • Attend a Pre-Assembly Forum (or all of them!) to ask questions, hear statements, and mingle with the prospective nominees.

Who gets to vote for Bishop?

  • Voting members from each congregation of the Greater Milwaukee Synod who participate in the June 2-4 Synod Assembly.

How long does a Bishop serve?

  • Bishops are elected to a six-year term.
  • In the Greater Milwaukee Synod, Bishops have a two term limit.

How can I get my congregation more involved?

  • Include the Greater Milwaukee Synod, Prospective Nominees, Synod Office Staff, Synod Council, and Elections Process in your prayers.
  • Have conversation about your congregation, the synod, and your hopes for the future during education hours and council.
  • Take the synod survey emailed to your congregation.
  • Organize a group trip to the Pre-Assembly Forums.

GMS Bishop Profile

GMS Bishop Profile Description

This downloadable .pdf provides more information and questions to consider in nominating a candidate for the office of Bishop. This resource will also be beneficial for all voting delegates to the Synod Assembly as they prepare and pray for discernment in the ecclesiastical process. Consider printing this concise two page document in your church newsletter.

GMS Bylaws and Constitution For more details, read the Bishop section in “CHAPTER 8. Officers” of the Constitution.

Meet the Bishop's Election Committee

Elections Committee

The Elections Committee will handle all aspects of the election together with churchwide staff.

Esther Rusch: Faith, Cedarburg, Chairperson

Rev. Elizabeth Davis – Cross, Ixonia
Rev. Jacob Werkheiser – First United, Sheboygan
Rev. Arthur Bergren – Resurrection, Racine
Rev. Kristin Rice – Cross, Burlington
Tom Natalini – Unity, Milwaukee
Ericka Jones – Redeemer, Milwaukee
Mary Lou Zuege  – Kingo, Milwaukee
Barb Loberg – Kingo, Milwaukee
Robert Gee – Capitol Drive, Milwaukee
MaryBeth Hoffman – All People’s, Milwaukee

Elections Policy – Approved by the Assembly May 2015

Read this if you’re really into details. This document also describes how the election will happen at the Synod Assembly.

Bishop Election Policy 2016 2015 05 27 Approved

Nominations Form

Nominations for Bishop candidates are due by 5pm on February 29. Any member of a congregation of the Greater Milwaukee Synod is able to nominate a candidate. 

Bishop Nomination Form

Current Bishop

Bishop Jeff Barrow has faithfully served the Greater Milwaukee Synod for the past six years. Read about Bishop Jeff’s decision to retire.

Timeline