South Dakota Lutherans will gather to elect bishop

South Dakota Lutherans will gather to elect bishop An estimated 800 Lutherans from across South Dakota will gather for the 14th annual assembly of the South Dakota Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA).

The assembly will be held at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, Thursday through Saturday, May 31 to June 2.

Attending from this area are Pastor Elizabeth Johnson, Donna Henriksen, Verna Nelson and Alberta Pearson, representing Pleasant Valley and First Lutheran churches, and Pastor Judy Johnson, Pastor Ed Anderson, Cindy Osborne and Jill and Scott Munger, representing Trinity Lutheran Church, Vermillion.

The election of a bishop will be one of the most important decisions facing the voting members. An election for bishop of the synod is held every six years.

Five candidates will vie for the position, with a majority of the ballots cast by the voting members required for election.

The candidates are the Rev. Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl, current bishop of the South Dakota Synod, Sioux Falls; the Rev. Randall Eisenbeisz, pastor of Hayti Lutheran Church, Hayti; the Rev. Paul K. Erbes, pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Gillette, WY; the Rev. Robert D. Hansen, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Beresford; and the Rev. Gregory P. Johnson, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Tea. Johnson previously served at Trinity Lutheran Church in Vermillion.

Prior to the first ballot on Thursday evening, the voting members will hear a presentation on "How a Bishop Is Chosen" by the Rev. Marta Poling-Goldenne, the ELCA's director for witness, evangelism and Christian education, and hear short addresses by the candidates. If one candidate does not receive a majority of votes on the first ballot, a second ballot will be cast on Friday morning.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Nyiwe, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon, will be the preacher at the opening worship, which will be held at Our Savior's Lutheran Church at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. The South Dakota Synod and the church in Cameroon are partners in the Companion Synod program of the ELCA.

Sandra LaBlanc, the ELCA's director of rural ministry resources and networking, will speak at a prayer breakfast Friday morning. Dr. Leonard Sweet, the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University in Madison, NJ, will present the keynote speech, "Carpe Ma�ana: Is Your Church Ready for the Future?" later that day.

Bishop DeGroot-Nesdahl will preside over all business sessions. Resolutions before the assembly deal with Stand with Africa, the ELCA's campaign to support African churches and communities as they work to withstand HIV and AIDS and banish hunger; the support of mission congregations; and Called to Common Mission, the full communion agreement between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church. The voting members will also consider the adoption of a $2,321,235 budget for the year 2002.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America numbers 120,000 baptized members in the South Dakota Synod and 5.15 million nationwide.

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